Monday, April 28, 2014

March 30, 1923: A gang of 25 Baltimore men attempted to rob Carroll County distillery.

March 30, 1923: A gang of 25 Baltimore men attempted to rob Carroll County distillery.

The robbers received some buckshot in the hide, but no liquor.

By Kevin Dayhoff, March 30, 2014

On March 30, 1923, in the depths of prohibition, a local newspaper rang the alarm that “About 25 men, all from Baltimore, it is reported, attempted to raid McGinnis Distillery in Carroll County, just east of Westminster.”

It needs to be noted that although prohibition, known as the “Volstead Act,” did not go into effect throughout the nation until January 20, 1920; Carroll countians voted to outlaw the sale of alcohol in the county six-years earlier - in 1914, according to research by historian Jay Graybeal for the Historical Society of Carroll County.

Prohibition remained the law of the land until President Franklin Roosevelt signed into law the Cullen-Harrison Act on March 23, 1933.

Meanwhile in Carroll County, Graybeal reports, “production at local distilleries continued even after Prohibition began ….  These rural distilleries became tempting targets for gangs who supplied liquor to speakeasies and individuals who still imbibed.  The Industrial Grain Products Corporation in Carrollton was robbed in broad daylight and the story was front page news in the November 23, 1923 issue of the Westminster Democratic Advocate newspaper…”

That same newspaper reported on March 30, 1923 that the McGinnis Distillery robbery attempt was the second try, “within two weeks to rob the warehouse which contains 4000 barrels of the precious fluid.  The truck to haul the whiskey away was left at Cranberry about 2 miles from the distillery,” near Westminster.

The next morning 25 five-gallon “containers were found along the warehouse which was to be used to put the whiskey in.  The iron shutter was opened but they failed to gain entrance.”

The newspaper account further reports that on this occasion, the guard on duty was prepared and defended the distillery from the would-be whiskey-robbers.  “Guard Charles Thomson, who was on duty, was the target for the raiders.  

“They opened fire on Mr. Thomson, who returned it, and made it so hot for the gang that they retreated over the hills for safety…  

“Two men, Saturday morning, it is said, full of blood and mud, took the 6:30 a.m. train at Cranberry for Baltimore.  It is evident that some of the gang received some of the buckshot in their hide, but none were seriously injured.”

Although this attempt on the distillery ended in failure, a lengthy newspaper account from January 8, 1926 details a gang of 50 men who literally attacked the distillery. The ensuing battle, which appears to have lasted for a considerable length of time, eventually witnessed even the Carroll County State’s Attorney and the Sheriff joining the battle and being fired upon.

Other newspaper accounts of prohibition in Carroll County took a lighter approach. According to Graybeal, “An article from the May 30, 1924 issue of the Democratic Advocate newspaper about the discovery of bootleg hooch provided the writer, Ira N. Barnes of Freedom, with an opportunity to comment on Prohibition…

In an effort to properly dispose of the alcohol, Barnes, “dumped the contents of the jars, one by one, into the secluded retreat of this elusive animal….” A groundhog that had taken-up residence on the Barnes farm.

“The next night following this eventful discovery, alone wanderer traveling down Morgan Run Valley was greatly surprised to observe by the light of the moon about a dozen ground-hogs engaged in a disgraceful tango, bunny-hug and turkey trot to the accompaniment of jazz music, furnished by a frog orchestra from an adjacent morass. 

“A large number of sober animals ranged around viewing the performance were so completely scandalized at the affair that they were compelled to bow their head in shame, excepting a few old skunks…”


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Westminster Methodist minister Lowell Ensor helped raise awareness of civil rights in 1940s

Anyone remember the Rev. Dr. Lowell Ensor, the pastor at the Westminster United Methodist from 1940 – 1947 and later became the president of Western Maryland College – now McDaniel, from 1947 – June 30, 1972?,0,3448847.story


By Kevin Dayhoff, March 25, 2014

In 1945, institutional racism in Maryland was a hot topic. In part, the discussion was driven by pragmatism in that, according to research by historian Kenneth D. Durr, more than 20 percent of the population in Baltimore was said to be black. But because of housing segregation laws, the city's black population was squeezed into 2 percent of the city's land mass.

Lowell Ensor would later assume the office of president of the college, now McDaniel, on July 1, 1947, according to Lightner's history of the college, "Fearless and Bold." He served until June 30, 1972, and died in 1975.

Lowell Ensor would later assume pres of college now McDaniel 1Jy1947, according to Lightner's, "Fearless and Bold.",0,3448847.story

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