In 1916, Nebraskans voted to pass an amendment
to outlaw the manufacturing, sale, and transportation of intoxicating
Prohibition went into effect in Nebraska on May 1, 1917. Nearly two
years later Congress ratified the 18th Amendment in 1919. Not long
after the law passed in Nebraska, illegal stills began popping up across the
Prohibition ended in Nebraska in 1933 when voters repealed the state’s
constitutional prohibition by a 60 to 40 percent margin.
Observations About Buffalo County
County Court records
1928-1931, now part of the Archives collection, show warrants issued for
illegal production of alcoholic beverages.
Eleven warrants were
issued in this 18-month period
Locations: one each in
Shelton and Odessa; three in Kearney.
Five in country near Ravenna, Shelton, Elm Creek &
two near Gibbon (but in different directions)
There were no illegal
liquor cases all winter, 1929-1930 – waiting for next crop of grain to grow
Fine was usually $100 + costs
Warrants issued, no stills found:
1. (A warrant for a place but unknown
residents) Search warrant for farm home 1½ mile northwest of Elm Creek, home
of _____ Smith, John Doe, Mary Doe for intoxicating liquor, hootch, beer,
alcohol, wine, whiskey
[No report of any findings]
2. (Quite specific) Roy
was accused of keeping a still and other equipment, mash, and other
materials used to manufacture intoxicating beverages on the second floor of
a building a block south of the Union Pacific railroad track in Shelton.
The warrant was returned several days later with the report of “No goods
3. Phillip was believed to have stills and other
equipment, mash and materials for manufacturing of intoxicating liquors in a
private dwelling house west of Kearney.
issued, no goods found
4. Jake, east of Gibbon,
believed to have a still, equipment, & ingredients for manufacture
month he was believed to be manufacturing and selling liquor
Concealing liquor, mash, and stills in barrels, bottles, casks, and cases in
rooms, walls, or beneath the floor.
A search warrant was issued. Sixty-six bottles of beer were found.
Charged with possession of more than 70 bottles of beer
Arrested, plead guilty, and was fined $100 plus costs of $4.80.
[Apparently the still was not found]
1. A search warrant was issued for a place
near Shelton turned up 6 bushels of mash and other material and equipment
for manufacture of intoxicating liquors.
2. Joe in Kearney,
arrested for having a still and 3-4 gallons of liquor
over to district court for trial
3. Walter and John were
charged with having a still at Walter’s home southwest of Gibbon
the search they were found to have two still equipment, mash, and liquor in
Charges were filed
4. Search warrant for residence of a man living in
Odessa in a house described as a “place for the manufacture of and a resort
for drinking intoxicating liquors”
supplies were found in rooms, in wells and beneath floors.
John of Kearney was arrested for possession of 3 gallon jugs of whiskey and
20 pints of beer which he had manufactured.
Arrested, plead guilty to possession, but not to manufacturing it; fined
Bond was set at $500.
could not pay either the fine or the bond so he went to jail with credit for
7 days time served
years later – News Headline: Cab Driver Not to Blame for Death
About 10:30 on a dark December night, John was walking along the side of the
road near the Burlington
tracks. He walked directly in front of the cab when the driver sounded his
horn. John was survived by his
wife and a number of children.
6. A search warrant for a place halfway between
Shelton and Ravenna found 45 gallons of whiskey, 10 barrels of mash, 1 “red
hot” still, and bodies of Robert, 23, and Karl, 45 [the bodies were live]
Charged; bond set at $1000 for each which neither could pay so they were
[Case went on to District Court]
Further research show both men were from Shelton
Robert: went on to live in Shelton, raise a family, employed shearing sheep
Buried in the Shelton Cemetery
Karl: Born in Germany, immigrated in 1909 at age 25
The still was probably found on his farm
When he was 33 he married Mabel, 14
When he died, he was buried in Shelton Cemetery
Mabel remarried; died 1 day short of her 99th birthday; buried beside Karl
7. Search warrant for Ray
in Kearney; arrested, charged, and bound over for district court.
(Hub report) Make A Big Haul Of Beer
Apparently Operated in a U. P. Box Car
Finding a small amount of hootch and a few bottles of beer in the bushes on
east 27th street led police to the
largest haul of beer ever credited to the department.
Miniature brewery in a box car on a siding near Optic
(where a string of grain cars had been set aside for harvest)
Nearly 600 quart bottles of beer and brew in various stages, bottles, caps &
20 cases were brought to city as evidence, car padlocked.
about 32 cases were left for railroad special agent to decide what action to