Historian's Corner

Charlene Cole
Sandy Creek/Lacona Historian
Historian's Corner
February 13, 2015

Photo: Lacona’s Railroad Street (Harwood Drive) business district about 1938. (Margarita Snyder)

The 18th Amendment to the United States Constitution was ratified by 36 states on January 16, 1919, and took affect one year later, beginning the era of prohibition.

The movement for the prohibition of alcohol began in the early 19th century, when Americans concerned about the adverse effects of drinking began forming temperance societies. By the late 19th century, these groups had become a powerful political force, campaigning on the state level and calling for total national abstinence. In December 1917, the 18th Amendment, also known as the Prohibition Amendment, was passed by Congress and sent to the states for ratification.

The Volstead Act provided for the enforcement of prohibition, including the creation of a special unit of the Treasury Department. Despite a vigorous effort by law-enforcement agencies, the Volstead Act failed to prevent the large-scale distribution of alcoholic beverages, and organized crime flourished in America. In 1933, the 21st Amendment to the Constitution was passed and ratified, repealing prohibition.

This news article dated 1899 is interesting -
Sandy Creek News article dated October 26, 1899: In the latter part of the sixties, the Mill Pond of the Salisbury Grist Mill in this village extended well into the island above the main street bridges. In fact we now grow the clumps of thrifty willows; the water was from six to eight feet deep. In those days John Davis ran the carriage shop later owned by G. T. Smith. He employed a dozen men or more the year around, paying many of them $2.50 a day or more.
One night two of his men sat in the shop looking out across Salisbury Pond, chatting while the hours went by until it must have been 11 o’clock. A lantern light was seen on the opposite bank. Where the ice house of F. L. Bishop now stands was a livery barn, and the person carrying the light made his way under the barn, where he was seen to uncover a cask from under the straw and draw some of its contents.

As soon as the lantern had disappeared, the men slid out back of the Davis Shop and constructed a loose raft of boards, on which they attempted to cross the pond. When part way across, the raft went to pieces near where the willows now grow, precipitating the men into some six feet of water. They however continued their investigations and found a quantity of liquor such as was made from corn at an illicit distillery then running at no great distance up the creek.

We draw the picture for its local coloring and to call attention of those who contend that the cause of temperance does not advance from decade to decade, to the status of affairs that cannot be paralleled in this section today. Many of the stores then sold this corn whiskey. The writer has reportedly heard the statement made that in those days, on every road leading from the village, could be found one or more confirmed drinkers who were regular topers and frequenters of the village tavern, where they could be found drunk most any day. Such a condition does not exist today, and we are compelled to the conclusion that “the world do move.”

The Christmas Tree Event has another successful year as 208 people voted for their “favorite tree.” The girls distributed their trees to a family needing a little Christmas cheer. Thanks to Rae Allen for continuing this community service project with the girl scouts.

Charlene Cole
Sandy Creek/Lacona Historian
1992 Harwood Drive
Sandy Creek, NY 13145
315-387-5456 x7
office hours: Friday 9am to 2pm