Tuesday, March 19, 2019

CCC (Craven County Corn)

Treasures from the Kellenberger Room

Featuring books, pamphlets, photographs, documents, and the occasional object from the collections of the New Bern-Craven County Public Library

Today we begin a new series of posts highlighting some of the interesting, rare, and in some cases, just plain odd items in our collections here at the Kellenberger Room. Enjoy!

by John B. Green III

From the late 19th century through at least the mid-20th century one of Craven County's most enduringly popular, if illicit, products was corn liquor or moonshine.  At times illegal to produce, at other times merely illegal to produce and not pay the proper taxes on, local law enforcement always took a dim view of the product and the producers.  As a result these home-grown distilleries tended to be hidden deep in the woods and swamps, far from prying eyes. 

Now to the above photograph from our collection.  The view is of a vehicle parked behind the Craven County Jail on Broad Street and loaded down with the remains of captured liquor stills. An inscription on the back of the photo identifies the date and scene as "March 1923  6 large copper Stills fully equiped [sic] Caught one man & destroyed 14,500 gals of beer [mash] Lost three men who out run me" The front of the photo identifies the three men seen as, left to right, Jas. S. Bryan, deputy sheriff, J.D. Williams, Sheriff, and W.H. Whitford, deputy sheriff.  A check of the local newspaper, The New Bernian, reveals that the all-day raid took place in the Harlow section of Craven County on March 8, 1923. 

Joseph D. Williams (1875-1930) was sheriff of Craven County from 1921 to 1924 and this photograph as well as the similar photo seen below was donated to the Kellenberger Room by a descendant.