Monday, February 11, 2013
Moonshining in Alabama
Laying on his floor of his house, writhing in pain from burns covering his hands and feet, Marion surely knew that it would only be a matter of time before officers of the law would begin to arrive. One minute he was hiding in the woods and the next minute he was frantically running through the dense tangle of trees from a murder scene to the temporary safety of his home. Once safely inside and desperate for an alibi, he intentionally burned his hands and feet and then, while in excruciating pain, he laid there and waited. Things had spun out of control so quickly.
With the help of his son, Isaac, cousin Johnny Gurganus and John Morgan, a relative by marriage, Marion built and ran a still, tucked in the woods near Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Things had been going well until the thirteenth of April in 1910, when they caught wind of a rumor that a revenuer was in route. There were often concerns and rumors circulating from time to time about revenuers and officers of the law on the lookout for moonshiners, but one could never risk ignoring such a rumor. And so, they hid in the woods hoping that they would not be discovered.
I can imagine that the tension built as Marion and his boys crouched down in the underbrush and trees, watching and waiting. I can imagine that they felt fear of what possibly might come, fear of getting caught, and fear of ending up in prison. It was while hiding in the dense thicket of trees, not far from their still, that they spotted Mr. Anderson, a revenuer, riding up in his buggy. Believing that the revenuer was going to shoot, Marion raised his rifle, took aim and fired first.
Marion Washington Gurganus was the son of William David Gurganus and Louisa E. Humphries. Born 7 February 1859, in Alabama, he was one of eight children, seven of whom were boys. His grandfather, John Wesley Gurganus was brother to James Gurganus, my third great grandfather. Marion Washington Gurganus was a farmer and a moonshiner. I will never forget the day that I ran across the first newspaper article about him and began to piece together his story. Come back and I will share what happened next.
Illustration showing men making moonshine originally published December 7, 1867 in Harper’s Weekly. Image in public domain.
Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2013