THE CONSTITUTION
Atlanta, Georgia
November 12, 1875

CROOKED WHISKY IN THE MOUNTAINS

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The Men Who Keep the United States
Marshals on the Alert
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[From the Knoxville Press]

Newman's Ridge is a small, rough mountain on the border of Hancock
county, East Tennessee. The Morristown Gazette says that for years
it has been well known that illicit distilleries were at work in the
deep, dark, gorges of the ridge, making large quantities of whisky
and brandy, which liquors have been distributed all over east
Tennessee, southwest Virginia, and western North Carolina, and
secretly sold. Efforts have been made at various times to suppress
this illegal traffic, and to capture and punish the manufactures of
the illicit liquor; all of which proved fruitless.

It had been given out and was generally understood that if any United
States officer went into the ridge he would be shot, and from the
reckless and desperate character of the mountain men who had made the
threats there was every reason to believe they would be carried into
execution. It was hard to find an officer who was willing to risk
his life in such an uneven fight, where he was almost sure to be
secretly shot from some dark laurel thicket without even a sight of
his murderer. And so, the whisky business went on year after year.
Wagons, with an old bedstead, a few chairs, a pot and a skillet, a
dark looking man and a slatternly woman, might occasionally be seen
slowly moving along our roads. Of course people took them for
ordinary 'movers' only going from one neighborhood to another in
search of a better home, but the 'instilled' knew there was a barrel
or a ten-gallon keg of crooked whisky concealed under the household
furniture. In this way, and in various other ways, liquors have been
peddled from Newman's Ridge in large quantities for several years.
the traffic has grown to be an extensive one but of late it has
received a check, and promises to be entirely broken up soon.

The Gazette says:

This change n the affairs of the ridge has been brought about
chiefly, as we learn through the energetic action of Mr. Thomas J.
Berry, who has of late been acting in the capacity of Deputy Unites
States Marshal. Berry is a very quiet, harmless looking man but he
is as cunning as a fox, as watchful as a mink, and as courageous,
when occasion demands, as a 'lion.' he has been assisted in his work
in the mountain by Colonel Berry, who is equally well fitted for an
enterprise of the kind, and who, when he undertakes a job, is not apt
to sop sort of complete success. They have already destroyed
something over twenty distilleries, the last one only a few days
ago, and Mr. berry says he thinks the one on the Tennessee side of
the line has 'gone up.' there are supposed to be several on the
Virginia side yet, in operation, but Berry has no authority to cross
the line into another district, so these fellows will work on with
impunity for the present. It might be a very good idea for the
government to make Tom Berry marshal for that part of Virginia for
awhile. It would not take him long to bring the last one of
those "crooked whisky" fellows to terms. He has straighted out
things in Hancock; now let him go over the line and give the Virginia
MOLUNGEONS a hitch.

Mr. Berry has not broken up these distilleries without running great
risk and exposing himself to danger. A less courageous or a less
prudent man would have been murdered, and Tom may, yet be. He has
been shot at several times, and so has Colonel Berry, but thus far
they have come off unharmed.

It has long been a reproach to revenue officers in this section of
country that these men were permitted, without license and almost
interrupted, to defy the law and the government, and manufacture and
sell whisky by thousands of gallons. It is to be hoped that the
whole of this illegal traffic will be suppressed now.


DOCUMENTING THE MELUNGEONS