Historic Pelham

Presenting the rich history of Pelham, NY in Westchester County: current historical research, descriptions of how to research Pelham history online and genealogy discussions of Pelham families.

Monday, July 06, 2015

Police Raided a Massive 300-Gallon Illegal Liquor Still on Corlies Avenue in 1932

A badly-damaged copy of the April 15, 1932 issue of The Pelham Sun details a police raid on a house located at 137 Corlies Avenue in Pelham Heights during which police seized a massive 300 gallon still at the height of Prohibition.  Though much of the article is illegible due to damage to the only known copy of the newspaper, there is a fascinating photograph of two local policemen inspecting two of the nine huge vats of fermenting prune mash.  That photograph appears immediately below.

Huge tubs of mash found in Corlies avenue house.
Patrolmen James Tierney and Ellsworth Totten
inspecting liquor fermentation vats.  Photo by Frutkoff."
-- Raid Liquor Plant In Pelham Heights:  300 Gallon Still Seized:
Arrest ThreeThe Pelham Sun, Apr. 15, 1932, p. 1, cols. 4-5.

Pelham, like so many other residential communities near New York City at the time, was a hotbed of illegal liquor activity during Prohibition.  During Prohibition, Pelham had bootleggers. Pelham had illegal stills. Pelham had speakeasies. Pelham even had a speakeasy section. Now research reveals that Pelham also had rum-runners who attempted to deliver illegal liquor by the boatload to the shores of Pelham Manor. 

I have written extensively about Pelham's struggles with Prohibition and the enforcement of the unpopular laws that it spawned. See: 

Fri., Jun. 19, 2015:  More Liquor Raids in Pelham During Prohibition in the 1920s.

Wed., Jun. 17, 2015:   Prohibition Rum-Runners Delivering A Boatload of Booze Were Foiled in Pelham in 1925.

Fri., Apr. 24, 2015:  The North Pelham "Speakeasy Section" Created Quite a Stir During Prohibition.

Tue., Nov. 18, 2014:  More Bootleggers and Speakeasies Raided in Pelham in 1929 During Prohibition.

Fri., May 23, 2014:  How Dry I Am -- Early Prohibition Efforts Succeed in Pelham in 1896.

Thu., Apr. 03, 2014:  The Prohibition Era in Pelham:  Another Speakeasy Raided.

Tue., Feb. 18, 2014:  Pelham Speakeasies and Moonshiners - Prohibition in Pelham: The Feds Raid the Moreau Pharmacy in Pelham Manor in 1922.

Thu., Feb. 07, 2008:  Village Elections in Pelham in 1900 - New York Athletic Club Members Campaign Against the Prohibition Ticket in Pelham Manor.

Thu., Jan. 12, 2006:  The Beer Battle of 1933.

Thu., Aug. 11, 2005:  How Dry I Am: Pelham Goes Dry in the 1890s and Travers Island Is At the Center of a Storm

Bell, Blake A., The Prohibition Era in Pelham, The Pelham Weekly, Vol. XIII, No. 25, June 18, 2004, p. 12, col. 2.

Today's posting to the Historic Pelham Blog sheds a little more light on Pelham's battles with illegal moonshiners during Prohibition.  It transcribes as much of the text as possible of the article that appeared with the photograph that appears above, followed by a citation and link to its source.

Raid Liquor Plant In Pelham Heights:  300 Gallon Still Seized:  Arrest Three

For the second time in five weeks U.S. prohibition agents uncovered a liquor distilling plant in the heart of a residential district of Pelham on Saturday afternoon, when they raided the ten room dwelling house at No. 137 Corlies avenue, Pelham Heights.  A three hundred gallon still, nine huge vats of fermenting prune mash was seized and three men were arrested by federal prohibition agents acting on a tip received from an unidentified [illegible].  Agents approached the entrance to the house at [illegible] o'clock on Saturday and completed their raid without any trouble.

The men who were arrested gave their names as Hyman Brooks, 60, of No. 647 East Fifth street, New York City:  Vencenzo Russi, 28, of No. 2520 Bravesend avenue, Brooklyn; and Ralph Schein, 30, of No. 208 Roger avenue, Brooklyn.  They were held at the Town Hall until Monday under bail of $3,500 pending their appearance in Federal Court.

The liquor plant was similar to that which was seized at the [illegible] residence on the Boston [illegible] on March 4.   

[Illegible] Judge Anthony M. Menkel, formed

(Continued on Page 4)


Federal agents stated that the plant must have been in operation for at least two weeks, and that the still could have been put in use within a few days.  It is believed that the bootleggers are members of a group who are attmepting to establish liquor plants to manufacture whiskey to sell to the Hebrew trade.  Many similar plants have been uncovered in Westchester County during the last six months.  In most of the instances the bootleggers have selected old well constructed houses in residential districts."

Source:  LIQUOR PLANT IN RESIDENTIAL DISTRICT -- Raid Liquor Plant In Pelham Heights:  300 Gallon Still Seized:  Arrest Three, The Pelham Sun, Apr. 15, 1932, p. 1, cols. 4-5 & p. 4, col. 3.

Labels: , , , , , , ,


Post a Comment

<< Home