Exploding Mason Jars

My Great Uncle was a moonshiner. And anyone who knew him, knew this to be true.


He was constantly harassed by the “revenuers”, as he called them.

But was never caught, that I know of.

I remember as a child wondering what was in all those various sized mason jars that sat on shelves, in cupboards, on the t.v….in other words placed here and there all over the house.

It looked like water to me. Perfectly clear.

He was well known in the small town he lived near. Not only for his moonshine, but for being mean. I’ve heard of him being referred to as being the meanest man that walked Elk River, in his day.

He sold his moonshine in town in broad daylight or in the cover of darkness. Didn’t make no never mind to him.


He painted empty milk jugs white, up to about where the milk would be if it had been filled, and filled them with moonshine. Then when he needed a little money, he’d make a trip to town.

When he passed away, one of his granddaughters inherited his farm. They began cleaning a lifetime of collections belonging to him.

They cleaned out the cellar and various outbuildings. Burning what was capable of being burnt and hauling off the rest.

That left the chore of tearing down the old dilapidated sheds. Instead, they decided to burn them down. With the old wood it would be quicker to just burn it where it stood than to tear down, haul off and burn.

One building in particular was completely cleaned out, then set on fire.

With water hoses handy, they watched it burn as they worked in other areas.

Within minutes of setting this “empty” shed on fire…

It exploded!

Luckily, no one was standing nearby. And no explaination could be given.


But those who knew him, knew exactly what he had hidden somewhere inside that “empty” shed.


14 comments on “Exploding Mason Jars

  1. Your Great Uncle sounds like a real character! Makes you wonder how many hiding places he had. Love the way you took the pictures for this post-they just fit it perfectly!

  2. Do you know if he ever met Robert Mitchum? Oklahoma was a dry state for many years and I knew more than one person that would take a trip out of state every now and then for “supplies”.

    Great story. Thanks for sharing.

  3. My grandpa, Ballengee, Summers County, WVA, was a moonshiner and got caught more than once and always went to prison. My mom, her sisters and one brother would all go live with their uncle Issac when their pappy went to prison. I am not sure when he quit making corn liquor but the last time I saw him before he died, I didn’t see any Mason jars with water in them.

    I perfectly enjoyed this post.

  4. Becky, that was a very well put together and interesting post. You do have a talent for story telling. I think there were some moonshiners around here when I was young too.

  5. Well, Becky my husband could tell you a few stories about his family in Virginia. We have what I think they call a sawed off shotgun (I don’t know much about guns) that’s been passed down to him that his ancestors used to guard the still with.

  6. Oh my what a wonderful story from the past. You know he was laughing so hard when that shed blew up. It was probably his foundation…lol

    My grandfather lived in Chicago at the time of the mob wars on the corner…many times he said he would have to dive for cover… this made me think of that Thanks Becky 😉

  7. Many times I’ve driven out Dutch Ridge with my Hubby and he’d point in one direction or another and tell me ‘they used to make moonshine over there.’ 🙂

  8. Your great uncle sounds more colorful than my uncle by marriage. He didn’t make his own, but he would drive across the state line into Indiana and buy bottles of alcohol.

    When I was small and would stay with my aunt and her (first husband) Waldo, I often wondered how he had so many friends. They would come to the back door, knock, walk in, and Waldo always offered them a shot glass or two, sometimes water also, and when they would leave, I would see coins laying on the kitchen table. Several times I would be with them when they drove to Indiana, and along the way, my aunt would pitch the bottles out in to the side ditches.

    Then one day when I went to visit he wasn’t there, and my aunt said we were going to visit him, and take him a bag of popped corn. We did, we went to the county jail and visited him. So I guess he was called a bootlegger, even though he didn’t make his own.

    As I got older, I didn’t stay with them that often, plus we had moved into the same town they lived in, so I have no idea if he kept doing this as he got older. My aunt stayed married to him until he died, he left her terribly in debt with gambling debts. He was about 30 years older than her. So she sold off some of the property they had, got out of debt and married a man about 17 years younger than herself.

    I guess we both come from colorful families. LOL

Be a part of the discussion, leave a comment!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s