Resuming our look at the history of Mercer County, courtesy of Kyle McCormick’s “The Story of Mercer County,” (Charleston Publishing Co. 1957), we now take a look at Mercer County potpourri.
This next item brings to mind an item which that late Millie Scucci told me. For many years, lower Mercer Street below Fifth Street was known as Chinatown, due to the presence of a Chinese laundry there.
A tragic fall off of Pinnacle Rock claimed the life of 15-year-old James Witten of Princeton. Witten, the son of former Princeton Mayor E.H. Witten, was on a Saturday afternoon outing when he slipped climbing down the rock and fell, dying instantly.
Prohibition laws were enforced with zeal in Mercer County, filling the jails with more than 200 state and federal prisoners, several times as many in 1957.
Sheriff G.H. Crumpecker of Mercer County captured 200 stills in four years as Sheriff (1925-29), one a week. There were bounties offered for each still.
A great portion of the liquor that was consumed in southern West Virginia came from Franklin and Floyd counties in Virginia in a spot described as “Shooting Creek.” The moonshiners seemed to have complete control there with a big distilling business going on. The industry had its own officers, political click and even its own newspaper.
The liquor was hauled to the West Virginia border where it was stored in a village named Lurich near Glen Lyn, then transported across the border when the officers ceased being vigilant.
Travel on Shooting Creek was denied to outsiders unless with the permission of the moonshiners, Several residents of Mercer County had hunting dogs stolen and traded by bootleggers for Shooting Creek liquor. The search of the owners looking for their dogs was halted. The bootleggers returned the dogs.
In Princeton, there was an apartment house on Mercer Street at the corner of Mercer and Eighth Streets which was rented exclusively to bootleggers, that is, all the families there were in the “racket'.
One bootlegger remarked to McCormick, “I bootleg as a matter of principle; when the 18th Amendment is repealed I will quit.” He did quit regarding the amendment as an infringement on his personal liberty.
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