Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History

Interview with Russell H. Stockton, March 20, 1987

Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries
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00:00:02 - Making moonshine and its medicinal uses

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Partial Transcript: ...Tennessee border. I've, uh, after thirty four years of police service I've retired...

Segment Synopsis: Russell Stockton worked in law enforcement for many years. He discusses some of the reasons that making moonshine whiskey was once a popular way to make a living. He also talks about some of its traditional medicinal uses.

Keywords: alcohol; bootleggers; camphor; herbs; homemade remedies; medicine; moonshine; moonshiners; poverty; roots; stills

Subjects: Depressions--1929.; Distilling, illicit.; Kentucky. Dept. of Alcoholic Beverage Control.; Whiskey.

00:03:04 - Signals used by moonshiners / an exploding still in Whitley County

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Partial Transcript: The, uh, communication for the moonshiners in the remote areas of the county...

Segment Synopsis: Stockton describes some of the signs that moonshiners used to alert each other that the revenuers were coming. He also tells a story of capturing a still and how he accidentally nearly made it explode.
[There is a break in the recording near the end of the segment]

Keywords: Jack Miller; Joe Hardy; anvils; arrests; explosions; families; fire; flour; hollers; hollows; mash; moonshiners; revenuers; signals; stills; sulfur; water; work

Subjects: Distilling, illicit.; Kentucky. Dept. of Alcoholic Beverage Control.; Wayne County (Ky.).; Whiskey.; Whitley County (Ky.).

00:08:01 - Humorous episode with a snake and a ladder

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Partial Transcript: And as you know, in any kind of profession, there's so much humor...

Segment Synopsis: Stockton tells a story about Jack Miller, one of his fellow revenuers, who stepped on what turned out to be a dead snake. It had been put at the bottom of a ladder to scare the revenuers away.

Keywords: Bob Bridgewater; Jack Miller; humor; ladders; rattlesnakes; snakes; stills; stories; water

Subjects: Distilleries.; Distilling, illicit.; Laurel County (Ky.).

00:11:25 - Another humorous anecdote / ingredients in whiskey

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Partial Transcript: ...But another little humor story that, uh, happened years ago...

Segment Synopsis: Stockton shares another story about a sheriff and a young boy whose father was making whiskey. He also talks about some of the ingredients that are used to make moonshine and how some of them that are now added can be quite dangerous.

Keywords: ball corn; carbides; corn whiskey; cornmeal; danger; demand for moonshine; grapevines; ivy bark; logs; lye; making whiskey; mash; medicine; moonshine; moonshiners; novelty; phone lines; products; quality; rye; sheriffs; stills; sugar; whiskey

Subjects: Distilling, illicit.; Whiskey.

00:17:07 - Building a still

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Partial Transcript: The... making of moonshine whiskey is a hard job.

Segment Synopsis: Stockton describes how stills are built. He talks about the supplies that are needed for it and some of the containers used to store the whiskey in.

Keywords: barrels; boxes; building a still; cans; caps; copper; fruit jars; furnaces; glass; jugs; milk jugs; mud; springs; stills; streams; sugar; thump kegs; troughs; water; worm (whiskey making)

Subjects: Distilling, illicit.; Whiskey.

00:21:31 - The process of making moonshine / a friend who made moonshine

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Partial Transcript: Going back to the making of, uh, uh, moonshine whiskey... uh, and as I've said before...

Segment Synopsis: Stockton describes the process of making moonshine whiskey in detail. He also talks about a friend of his who had been making moonshine for a number of years when he was finally caught.

Keywords: Bowling Green (Ky.); bubbles; cooling barrels; corn meal; fermentation; flour; friends; malt corn; mash; moonshine; steam; sugar; testing whiskey; thump kegs; water; worm (whiskey making)

Subjects: Clinton County (Ky.).; Distilling, illicit.; Whiskey.

00:25:14 - Complaints to the law about making moonshine / home remedies that use moonshine

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Partial Transcript: Most of the, uh--(clears throat)--law enforcement agencies that I know anything about works on, uh...

Segment Synopsis: Stockton states that moonshiners were generally only investigated after someone made a complaint to law enforcement. He also details some of the home remedies that use moonshine as an ingredient.

Keywords: "burnt whiskey"; alcohol; black pepper; bootleggers; character; colds; complaints; coughs; crowds; drinking; ethics; fires; getting caught; honey; investigations; lemon juice; medicine; moonshiners; morals; popularity; remedies; underage drinking; young people

Subjects: Distilling, illicit.; Informers.; Law enforcement.

00:29:53 - Old vs. younger moonshiners / locations of stills

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Partial Transcript: Uh, as I say, the moonshine industry, or the old timers that's making moonshine for, for a purpose other than...

Segment Synopsis: Stockton talks about the difference between the older and younger moonshiners, especially comparing their honesty. He also describes some of the more unusual places that he has found a still.

Keywords: barrels; basements; bootleggers; cellars; chicken coops; court dates; mash; moonshiners; mountains; mules; propane gas; pumps; search warrants; sleds; smoke; stills; surveillance; tractor trailers; trailers; water; water supply; wood

Subjects: Distilling, illicit.; Law enforcement.

00:35:53 - Bootleggers and moonshiners / morality among moonshiners

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Partial Transcript: Seem like, uh, fascinates, uh, a lot of people when you bring them into the courthouse, or...

Segment Synopsis: Stockton talks about the difference between moonshiners and bootleggers. He also discusses some of the more moral things that moonshiners were known to do, such as refusing to sell to people who were underage.

Keywords: alcohol; bootleggers; bootlegging; concrete; courthouses; dilution; drunkenness; dry communities; lard cans; laws; moonshiners; penalties; selling whiskey; stills; taxes; underage drinking; washtubs; watering down alcohol; young people

Subjects: Distilling, illicit.; Law enforcement.; Whiskey.

00:41:36 - Moonshine making vs. marijuana growing / thump kegs / tempering whiskey

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Partial Transcript: The uh--(clears throat)-- moonshine business, or industry in, in this part of the, uh, state...

Segment Synopsis: Stockton compares the amount of labor needed to grow marijuana and make moonshine whiskey. He attributes marijuana's popularity to the ease of growing it. He also talks about the use of a thump keg in making moonshine and the process of tempering whiskey after it is distilled. The interview is concluded.
[the recording cuts out]

Keywords: "dope"; addictions; alcohol; doubling whiskey; drugs; equipment; gateway drugs; honor; labor; marijuana; marijuana growers; mash; money; moonshine; moonshiners; paste; proof; steam; stills; tempering whiskey; thump kegs; water; work

Subjects: Distilling, illicit.; Marijuana--Growth.; Whiskey.