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McDuffie Mystery

Editor's Note: Each week, the museum will highlight a mystery item on the Reflections page of The Mirror. Director Jenny Lindsay said the purpose is to provide education about McDuffie County's history. Sometimes the item may seem obvioius, but Ms. Lindsay encourages readers to try and figure out the details behind the item. This week's mystery, (pictured) comes from Dearing. Look in next week's edition of The Mirror for the actual identity, which will be provided by Ms. Lindsay.

I'm very excited to be writing a monthly column for the McDuffie Mirror.

As a curator, I have daily experiences that are amusing, entertaining, even shocking, and I'm delighted to be sharing them with all of you.

Two weeks ago, I heard a story that sparked my interest and has caused me to ask this question: Has anyone ever heard that Al Capone and Joseph Kennedy, President Kennedy's father, came to McDuffie County during prohibition to buy moonshine? It seems strange and perhaps far-fetched, but I've come to realize that sometimes, true history can be quite unbelievable.

I will tell the story as it was relayed to me, and, then you the reader, can draw your own conclusions.

During prohibition, there was a large group of men in this county that had liquor stills and made the best moonshine in Georgia. Although no names were ever mentioned, I could tell that some of these men were quite prominent in the area.

It was a major operation that involved long hours and secluded property, so they wouldn't have been discovered by those who were more law-abiding and morally upright.

The year that Mr. Capone and Mr. Kennedy visited, the moon shiners worked hard and brewed enough liquor to cover two square acres! They must have been counting on prohibition lasting the entire 20th century.

The legend teller could not remember why or how these two historic figures heard about McDuffie County's moonshine, but for whatever reason, they came to personally pick their bottles.

Perhaps it was so good, that news of its refinement spread all over the country. Or they could have had some type of connection here, like an acquaintance or family. Who knows?

I also was told that law enforcement at that time, although they were good people with high morals and integrity, were fully aware of the illegal alcohol production but never made any arrests.

I suppose, in exchange for this allowance, they received free liquor. Not a bad trade, some would say!

I would love to know if there's any truth to this tale. Did one of the most infamous criminals of the 20th century and father of our 35th president really visit this county?

Or is it all just a great story that one of the moon shiner's made up to entertain his friends or sell his liquor? If any of you have the answers, please stop by or call the museum 706-595-9923. I would love to hear from anyone. These stories -- and more -- will soon be on display in our "Local Legends" section.

Don't forget to look for my next column in October where I'll shed light on the museum ghost!

Web posted on Thursday, September 24, 2009

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