Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Decatur County in the Boardwalk Empire Era

New to the library's collection is season 3 of the award-winning HBO series Boardwalk Empire, which is set in Atlantic City, New Jersey during the Prohibition era. The show was adapted from Boardwalk Empire: The Birth, High Times, and Corruption of Atlantic City, a book by Nelson Johnson about "historical criminal kingpin" Enoch L. Johnson.

If you're anything like me, as you watch the show you'll find yourself wondering what life was like in Decatur County during this era. Season 3 takes place in the year 1923, so I decided to peruse the local newspapers from that year to see what was going on in Greensburg while Nucky was ruling over Atlantic City in his powder blue limousine.

Greensburg Daily News headline, 4 January 1923

Just four days into the new year, I found my first Prohibition-related headline. In late 1922, police raided the vulcanizing shop at 119 W. Main St. in Greensburg, which was operated by brothers Walter and Burney McCoy, and found a "secret room" upstairs containing six barrels of fermenting liquor. 

Photo provided by Beacon Local Goverment GIS.
119 W. Main St. as it appeared in 2002. During the Prohibition era, the McCoy brothers operated a vulcanizing shop here - and made their own liquor in a "secret room" upstairs.

The two men were charged with illegal possession, manufacturing, and sale of liquor. They pled guilty to unlawful possession; the other two charges were dropped for lack of proof. On 4 January 1923, they were sentenced at the Decatur County courthouse - fines of $180 apiece. After the trial, police poured out the confiscated liquor. 

Check back soon for more stories from the Prohibition era in Decatur County!

"Liquor cases settled with plea of guilt," Greensburg Daily News, 4 January 1923.
1924 Greensburg City Directory.

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