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As It Was: Tipsy Jurors Reluctantly Find Bootlegger Guilty

During Prohibition in 1925, a group of Curry County Circuit Court jurors decided to corroborate the evidence during the trial of Mormon Brown, a small-dairy farmer recognized for producing consistent batches of fine, clear, white-lightning liquor.

Federal officers had arrested him during a raid on his remote location on the Winchuck River.

After the prosecution and defense had presented their cases, the jury adjourned to a cloak room for deliberations, where a half-gallon of confiscated hooch sat in the middle of the table. The jury foreman, known for being partial to moonshine, asked his fellow jurors, “How do we know that’s really moonshine in that jug without us taking a sample?”

“Aye,” replied all, with anticipation.  Off popped the cork, and each juror tipped the jug and swallowed deeply, followed by a pleased smack of the lips.  Enough remained for a second verification round and more satisfied slurps.

One juror stood up and asserted, “Any man who can make corn likker tastin’ that good, shorely can’t be guilty of breakin’ any laws.”

On further consideration and despite their appreciation of the high-quality hooch, the jury reluctantly found Mormon guilty.

Source: Adams, Mike. Chetco. Brookings, Oregon, The Chetco Valley Historical Society, 2011.

Laurel earned a Bachelor’s degree in Geography from Humboldt State. Her research efforts as a volunteer for the Curry Historical Society produced numerous newsletter articles and exhibits and earned her a reputation as a seasoned local history buff. Laurel is the author of "Renderings from the Gold Beach Pioneer Cemetery", a 50-page booklet containing a walking tour and snippets about the lives and times of folks buried there. She is also a contributing writer to Oregon Coast Magazine.