CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. (DC News Now) — For history buffs in the region, Charles Town is steeped in the Civil War. The city also has a rich history involving prohibition.
“Prohibition impacted many people in this area,” said. Lori Wysong, director of the Jefferson County Museum. “There is a strong tradition of moonshining here too.”
Wysong did extensive research on the prohibition era in Charles Town.
“There was a statewide prohibition in West Virginia on drinking booze,” says Doug Perks, a historian at the museum.
Much of the history associated with prohibition has unfortunately been lost, said Perks.
“Nobody was writing down their bootlegging activities,” Wysong explained. “It’s not like they kept a diary, ‘Hey, I smuggled like four jugs of booze across the state line,’ or something. So most of what we have is from those who got caught doing it as reported in the newspapers.”
“There were grave concerns about the effects, the devastating effects, of alcohol on family members — the debilitating effects,” said Perks. “And you see a concerted effort on the part of temperance groups to eliminate the use of alcohol.”
“There are versions of, ‘Oh my, my granddaddy, you know, he was moonshining,'” said Wysong. “Everyone seems to know someone who was involved in this sort of activity during that area.”
A walking tour this weekend through Charles Town will complement the museum exhibit which Perks says “is a unique look at out county’s history.”
The museum exhibit runs through the summer.