Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History

Interview with John C. Miller, September 11, 1987

Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries
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00:00:03 - Introduction / marijuana and moonshine

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Partial Transcript: This is an interview with Russell Stockton and Jack C. Miller, who for eighteen years...

Segment Synopsis: Betty Ellison, the interviewer, introduces Jack Miller, the interviewee. Stockton and Miller compare moonshine making with growing marijuana, especially related to cost and labor efficiency.

Keywords: "white whiskey"; Kentucky; cost; finding marijuana; labor; marijuana; money; moonshine; profit; work

Subjects: Distilleries.; Distilling, illicit.; Kentucky. Dept. of Alcoholic Beverage Control.; Marijuana--Growth.; Whiskey.

00:04:15 - Dangers of modern moonshine / booby trapped marijuana patches

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Partial Transcript: Are you finding very much, uh, moonshine now, or do you know of any, any great...

Segment Synopsis: Miller contrasts the moonshine currently being produced with the way it was made by the old style moonshiners. He also talks about some of the ways that marijuana growers have trapped the area around their plants to keep law enforcement away.

Keywords: "blue gray sweep" (??); boards; fish hooks; health hazards; leaves; marijuana; marijuana plants; moonshine; moonshiners; nails; pit bulls; pride; quality; traps

Subjects: Clay County (Ky.).; Distilleries.; Law enforcement.; Marijuana--Growth.; McCreary County (Ky.).; Pulaski County (Ky.).; Rockcastle County (Ky.).

00:08:31 - Marijuana theft

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Partial Transcript: Uh, one more, one more thing. Down in my territory, when I was working...

Segment Synopsis: Stockton and Miller discuss the act of stealing marijuana from patches where it was being grown. Miller recounts a (then) recent incident in which two young men were shot for trying to steal from a marijuana patch.

Keywords: bear traps; deputies; fences; gunshots; marijuana plants; police officers; sheriffs; shooting; shotguns; stealing; stealing marijuana; traps; violence

Subjects: Law enforcement.; Marijuana--Growth.; Pulaski County (Ky.).; Theft.; Wayne County (Ky.).

00:12:12 - Moonshiners vs. marijuana growers / people wanting moonshine to prepare camphor with

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Partial Transcript: Well--(clears throat)--getting back to, uh to moonshine. We've heard and I know you have too...

Segment Synopsis: Stockton and Miller compare the old style moonshiners with modern day marijuana growers. Stockton tells a story about a number of people asking the sheriff for moonshine to use with camphor.

Keywords: bootleggers; camphor; deputies; drugs; honor; marijuana; marijuana growing; medicine; moonshine; moonshiners; retirement; selling drugs; selling moonshine; sheriffs; work

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

00:16:32 - A stakeout in the cold

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Partial Transcript: Jack? You had some, uh, real good experience in our eighteen years of working, working together.

Segment Synopsis: Stockton and Miller remember a stakeout in which they camped out in sleeping bags, watching a still for several days.

Keywords: Cannonball Ridge; Charlie Overstreet; Ellis Reed; Jim Dillon (??); Joe Hardy; army blankets; cold; moonshine; pine trees; snow; stills

Subjects: Distilleries.; Kentucky. Dept. of Alcoholic Beverage Control.; Law enforcement.

00:20:11 - An encounter with a dead snake / an early morning raid

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Partial Transcript: You remember there in Laurel County then another interesting...

Segment Synopsis: Miller shares a story about finding a dead snake that was put there to scare off revenuers. Stockton tells a story about an early morning raid and a chase that occurred during it.

Keywords: Bob Wiley (??); Copperhead snakes; Judge Monahan; Sam King; barrels; bread; breakfast; clefts; cliffs; fried potatoes; guns; hunger; ladders; scrambled eggs; snakes; snow; stills; surveillance; windlass

Subjects: Distilleries.; Laurel County (Ky.).; Wayne County (Ky.).

00:26:01 - "little blue snow" / difference between modern and traditional moonshiners

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Partial Transcript: Oh, going back to... some people might not know what the little blue, uh, blue snow...

Segment Synopsis: Stockton clarifies what he means by "little blue snow". He also talks about some of the hazardous things that (then) modern moonshiners put in their whiskey. He gives his opinion that they have fewer moral qualms than their older counterparts.

Keywords: "dirty stills"; alcoholics; bead; bootleggers; children; cleaning; cleanliness; drunkenness; formaldehyde; hail; making moonshine; money; moonshine; moonshiners; poison; poverty; pride; proof; quality; snow; stills; worm (whiskey making)

Subjects: Distilleries.Whitley County (Ky.).; Whiskey.

00:31:22 - Moonshiners and bootleggers / pride in moonshine quality

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Partial Transcript: Uh, we were talking about moonshiners and, and, uh, also bootleggers...

Segment Synopsis: Stockton describes the difference between moonshiners and bootleggers. Miller and Stockton discuss the pride that the old time moonshiners took in their product.

Keywords: bootleggers; corn whiskey; honor; legal whiskey; making moonshine; moonshine; moonshiners; proof; quality; selling moonshine; taste testing

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

00:34:53 - Lack of danger in dealing with moonshiners / a moonshiner who was intentionally caught

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Partial Transcript: 'Course, down--(clears throat)--down through the years, and your experience and my through, through the years...

Segment Synopsis: Stockton states that most of the time moonshiners weren't very dangerous when caught. Miller tells a story about a moonshiner who was intentionally caught so that he had a warm place to stay in the winter.

Keywords: Bob Bridgewater; Ed Coun (??); Old Man Hansel (??); danger; fairness; friendliness; gun control; guns; judges; letters; moonshine; moonshiners; stills; weapons

Subjects: Distilleries.; Kentucky. Dept. of Alcoholic Beverage Control.; Laurel County (Ky.).; Law enforcement.

00:38:39 - Changes in the court systems regarding moonshine

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Partial Transcript: Uh--(clears throat)--that's uh, that's true. Course in, in uh, the early, early years that we, uh...

Segment Synopsis: Stockton and Miller discuss how the Federal and local court systems have changed, especially related to how moonshiners are prosecuted.

Keywords: Federal courts; Federal government; cities; court; court systems; economic depression; hijacking; inflation; local courts; moonshine; moonshiners; novelties; poverty; probation; selling moonshine; stills

Subjects: Distilleries.; Distilling, illicit.; Kentucky. Dept. of Alcoholic Beverage Control.; Law enforcement.; Liquor laws.; McCreary County (Ky.).; Whiskey.

00:43:54 - Enjoyment of being a revenuer / newspaper clippings

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Partial Transcript: Uh, there's uh, a lot of, a lot of the uh, agents of, uh, various departments...

Segment Synopsis: Stockton shares some of the reasons that he enjoyed his job as a revenuer. Miller and Stockton also briefly discuss the practice of clipping out newspaper articles to keep track of the stills they found.
[there is a break in the recording]

Keywords: bootleggers; deer; fairness; moonshine; moonshiners; nature; newspaper clippings; newspapers; outdoors; plants; police officers; respect; squirrels; truth; witnesses; woods; writing

Subjects: Law enforcement.

00:47:55 - The importance of informants / tracking moonshiners

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Partial Transcript: Uh, in any law enforcement job, especially as we used to work on moonshine...

Segment Synopsis: Stockton and Miller comment on how important good informants are to law enforcement. They also talk about ways to track moonshiners in the woods.

Keywords: Four Wheelers; dune buggies; finding stills; information; luck; moonshine; police officers; relic hunters; stills; terrain; tracking; trails; woods

Subjects: Distilleries.; Informers.; Law enforcement.

00:52:18 - Ways of tracing the revenuers

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Partial Transcript: If I don't quit these--(coughs)--cigarettes, they'll get me one of these days...

Segment Synopsis: Miller and Stockton talk about different ways that the moonshiners were able to tell that the revenuers had been around.

Keywords: "pinty-toed shoes"; "tailor-mades"; barrels; chewing tobacco; cigarettes; fires; footprints; matches; moonshiners; revenuers; rocks; sheriffs; shoes; smoking; stills; tobacco; tracks; twigs

Subjects: Distilleries.; Law enforcement.

00:55:53 - Making moonshine as a livelihood / New Deal programs

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Partial Transcript: Oh, there's a, there's a lot of, lot of exciting things and a lot of interesting things...

Segment Synopsis: Stockton and Miller discuss the fact that many people who made moonshine did so because their families needed the money and there were no other jobs at the time. They also discuss how the New Deal programs made some of these families less reliant on selling moonshine to support themselves.

Subjects: Law enforcement.; Theft.

01:00:58 - First becoming a police officer / the police uniform

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Partial Transcript: There's a--(clears throat)--there's a lot... course, uh, I don't indulge any...

Segment Synopsis: Stockton talks about his becoming a police officer in the early 1950's, describing what the requirements were to become one then. He mentions the first arrest that he made and describes his uniform.

Keywords: "Sam Browne belt"; alcohol; arrests; clip-on tie; council meetings; crimes; danger; drinking; drunkenness; guns; harm; medicine; military service; moonshine; pistols; police officers; police uniforms; training; work

Subjects: Distilling, illicit.; Law enforcement.; Monticello (Ky.).

01:06:32 - Stockton's first arrest / Miller's first arrest and police career

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Partial Transcript: But, uh, anyway, about this... big dude. And he could take a bottle cap...

Segment Synopsis: Both Stockton and Miller share stories of the first arrests that they made as police officers. Miller also talks about different positions that he has had as a police officer.

Keywords: "Morntown" (??); Henry Jay (??); London City Police; Mr. Scovell; Ray Websol (??); arrests; chief deputy; deputy sheriffs; drunkenness; fear; friends; handcuffs; nervousness; physical strength; pistols; police cruisers; prison

Subjects: Kentucky. Dept. of Alcoholic Beverage Control.; Laurel County (Ky.).; Law enforcement.; Monticello (Ky.).

01:10:29 - Miller's grandfather / Miller and Stockton's professional relationship

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Partial Transcript: But my grandpa, he was always the deputy sheriff and under...

Segment Synopsis: Miller talks about his grandfather, who was a deputy sheriff for over forty years. Miller and Stockton also discuss their professional relationship and friendship.

Keywords: blackjacks; coworkers; deputy sheriffs; fairness; friends; grandfathers; grandparents; partners; pistol holsters; police officers

Subjects: Law enforcement.

01:15:37 - The importance of fairness and truth / professional relationships

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Partial Transcript: And uh, speaking of treating people fair and honest, uh, as long as you do that...

Segment Synopsis: Both Stockton and Miller talk about the importance of a police officer's being fair and honest. Miller returns to the earlier topic of his and Stockton's professional relationship.

Keywords: common sense; education; enemies; experience; fairness; friends; friendship; honesty; laws; police officers; respect; truth; witnesses

Subjects: Law enforcement.

01:19:36 - Two incidents during raids on stills

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Partial Transcript: Well--(clears throat)--I'd better retract the better part of my statement a while ago...

Segment Synopsis: Miller and Stockton recount two incidents in which someone was accidentally injured during a raid on a still. The interview is concluded.

Keywords: Les Cole (??); car doors; cars; chicken coops; eye patches; hospitals; injuries; police raids; tree branches; trees

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