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September 28, 2015 / Joanne Yeck

 The Buckingham Whiskey Wars: Part I


In 1920, the Volstead Act prohibited the production and sale of alcohol across the United States. Many years earlier, however, a significant number of citizens of Buckingham County were in favor of going “dry”—following a national trend towards temperance.

On March 19, 1903, Richmond’s The Times-Dispatch mentioned that on April 11th, Maysville District in Buckingham County, which included Buckingham’s courthouse and the town of Maysville, would hold an election to “decide whether or not liquor will be sold here after the expiration of the licenses now held by the saloon-keepers here, and the whiskey men say they will make a fight if the temperance people do.”

The newspaper punctuated the notice, commenting: “More clear money has been made in the business here than most any other, and they are loath to give it up.”

One of the whiskey men in Maysville was Nathaniel M. Saunders. In 1900, he was about thirty-three years old, single, and living alone. His occupation, as stated on the census, was “Barkeeper.” His immediate neighbors included a doctor, a lawyer, a hotelkeeper, a deputy sheriff, and a minister. How would they vote in the upcoming election? At the very least the doctor, deputy sheriff, and minister had professional reasons for controlling the abuse of alcohol.

Coming next: “The Votes Are In”

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