Showing posts with label Gurganus Johnny. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Gurganus Johnny. Show all posts

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

This Telephone Business Has Got to be Stopped!

Perched on the end of my Grandma's cushioned rocker, my cousin and I glanced nervously at each other as she slowly and quietly lifted the receiver. Then squeezing closer together, we leaned into the phone so that we could both hear the conversation.  

Grandma had gone out to her garden and we knew we only had a few minutes before she would be back. We also knew the call wasn't for Grandma because each person on the party line had their own distinctive number of rings. But curious as to what gossip might possibly be shared that day and feeling a little bored, we decided to listen in, making sure not to make any sound that would give us away.

Over the years, telephones have gone from party lines with multiple households sharing the same line to cell phones, where every family member with a cell phone has his own line. Phones have been used to unify friends and family, as a source of information and mischief and unfortunately, they have also been the source of trouble.

Recently I came across the following article which shows just how much trouble can be caused by a telephone, which in this case resulted in the death of one man and the imprisonment of three. The newspaper article provides additional information for my three-part series "Moonshining in Alabama" which continues to be one of my most visited series on my blog. Part 1 of the series can be found here HERE

moonshine, Alabama, revenuer, telephone, ancestry, genealogy, family history, Gurganus,
Atlanta Georgia and News 1907-1912
June 13,1910
Georgia Historic Newspapers, Image 7

John Morgan, who has begun a 20-year sentence in the Atlanta Federal prison, was convicted on a peculiar charge, that of telephoning a warning to the murderers of Deputy Collector W. A. Anderson. In speaking of the matter, J. H. Surber, revenue agent said:
"In the case of John Morgan, who was convicted of the conspiracy and who is now serving a 20-year sentence in the Atlanta Federal Penitentiary, he was accused of telephoning old Man Gurganus of the approach of the officers. 
"He had nothing to do with the actual firing of the fatal shot, but the private system of telephones throughout the country was the greatest menace which the revenue officers had to contend with.
"In searching for the murderers we discovered at least 30 telephones. 
"This telephone business has got to be stopped and the sentence of Morgan should be a good warning to all others." 

Public Domain

The very phones that were supposed to help keep Marion and his boys from getting into trouble with the law ended up being the thing that set everything into motion, ultimately resulting in a charge of conspiracy for John Morgan and ensuring that Marion and Johnny Gurganus were fired up and waiting for the revenuer when he showed up. Truly it would have been best for them all if their telephone business had been stopped. 

Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2018, All rights reserved

Monday, February 11, 2013

Moonshining in Alabama- Part 1


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