“Enforcing the 18th Amendment”
All articles were taken from the Andover Newspaper

It isn’t my intention to slander anyone’s name of any town or village in this story.  But people died around this area from drinking bad homemade booze during prohibition. Here are a few stories that were written.  I didn’t copy all of them, just a few.

On January 15, 1920, the federal government passed the 18th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, making it illegal to sell and drink alcohol.  When it did the making of homemade alcohol became big business.

We all know the stories of Joe Kennedy importing illegal scotch and gin and Aristotle Onassis bringing boatload after boatload of the illegal alcohol and even heroin to the U. S. to be sold at huge profits. Each of these men acquired huge mounts of money and power  during this time.

We all think of the cities of Chicago and New York when we think of prohibition, but now we are going to hear about Allegany County.

On August 28, 1925, the headlines read “ENFORCING THE 18TH AMENDMENT” Frank Chapman Arrested and Cocoman Place Raided:  Federal enforcement officers, county deputies and local officials were much in evidence Saturday afternoon in Andover. At about noon, Deputy Marshal Lord of Buffalo, armed with a warrant issued by U. S. Commissioner Colin McLennen of Hornell, with Deputy Sheriff Witter and local officers made a raid on the John Cocoman place on West Center St. in an effort to get evidence of the violation of the prohibition law.

The deputy marshal took samples of brew found in the place and sent them in for analysis.

It is generally believed in Andover that the place had in some way been tipped off and were prepared to receive the officials.

A dry law detective by the name of Mead had been in Andover a few days and is supposed to have secured the warrant to raid the place.

Saturday night officials were tipped off that a jug of “hard Stuff” had been “planted” in the brush on the East side of the pond, for someone. Local men set a watch and discovered the jug.  Then a vigilance committee remained all night watching to see who came to take the jug away.  They were partly successful at about 9:30 Sunday morning when Frank Chapman came along and filled a bottle from the contents of the jug.

As Chapman finished filling his bottle officers spring up from hiding and placed him under arrest.  He was taken before Commissioner McLennen of Hornell, Sunday night and held under $500 bail to appear before Justice Hazel at some future date.  George Hunt went his bail.

January 1, 1926: “TROOPERS RAID “GREASY SPOON”.      Sporting House Near Elm Valley “Pulled” Tuesday Night.  State troopers raided the roadhouse between Wellsville and Andover, a mile west of Elm Valley, last night.

The house is just at the foot of a hill, and the property was formerly known as the Deer Lick Spring Farm but has lately changed owners and, according to rumor, has been running wide open as a sporting house for some time, wearing the euphonious title of “The Greasy Spoon.”

When Sgt. Burnett of Canisteo, accompanied by two state troopers, gained admission to the house, shortly after 11 o’clock last night, they found three women and three men, also a little girl ten years old.  All were placed under arrest and brought to Wellsville, where they were taken before Justice of the Peace Norton York, for a midnight court session.  The woman in charge of the place gave her name as Bertha O’Dell, claiming Elmira as a residence, and is said to be around 30.   She pled guilty to being the proprietor of the place, and was arrested on a charge of keeping a disorderly house.

The two other women, a few years younger, gave their names as Helen Hart and Loretta Smith, both of Salamanca and were arrested on a charge of being inmates of a disorderly house.

The three men found in the house at the time of the raid gave their names as Harry Brackett, James McDonough and William Edwards, and claimed residence all the way from Boston to Chicago.  They were arrested charged with violation of Section 43, Paragraph 1, of the Penal Code, and pled guilty to being in a disorderly house and in a place where intoxication liquors were sold. They were each fined $10 and quickly paid their fines and drifted away in the night.

In the meantime, the examination of the three women continued before Justice York, and it was three o’clock in the morning before the examination was completed.

The woman, Bertha O’Dell, was also charged with having a child in the house ten years of age and of corrupting the morals of a young girl.  The women claimed that the little girl was a sister of one of the inmates, Helen Hart, but had only been in the house a short time.  The child was immediately taken to the Memorial hospital, after the raid, and the little girl’s case will be disposed of later before Judge Ackerman in children’s court at Belmont.

The O’Dell woman was held in $500 bail and the two inmates, $200 each for appearance before the grand jury, as they were unable to raise the required amount of secure bondsmen, the three of them were taken by deputy sheriff Frank Pease to Belmont at three o’clock this morning and put in charge of Sheriff White at the county jail.

For some time the place has been suspected by the authorities and there have been numerous complaints of the character of the house, and the liquor alleged to have been sold there. It was difficult, however, to get affidavits or witnesses until the state police took the matter up which culminated in the raid Tuesday night.  It is expected there will be a large number of witness called before the grand jury, when it convenes early in January when the cases of the three women are brought up for disposition.

March 26, 1926:  “TROOPERS CONDUCT RAID AT BOLIVAR”, a large Amount of Alleged Beer Was Found at Bolivar Ice Plant.  A raiding party composed of a U. S. marshal, two other officers, Sgt. C. G. Burnett of Canisteo and Cpl. P. K. Leitner of Friendship and Trooper E. Gavin of Canisteo staged one of the most productive raids ever made in Allegany county, Saturday afternoon when they entered the Bolivar ice plant on Boss St. in that village and seized large quantities of alleged contraband.  Anthony Sanzo and Louis Ross of that place were arrested and will be arraigned before Commissioner Albert Robbins tomorrow.

The raiders entered the supposed ice plant and seized 25 cases of alleged beer, 10 half barrels of the same mixture and 14 pint bottles of alleged distilled spirits.  Sanzo and Ross, who were in the place and were said to be the proprietors, were arrested and charged of violating the national prohibition act placed against them.  The raid was staged late in the afternoon and is said to have been the largest raid of its kind made in that village.

Much credit is due Cpl. Leither of Friendship, who furnished the information on which the search was based.  Assisted by Cpl. Burnett and Trooper Gavin, the raid was managed without a hitch.

It is expected that Sanzo and Ross will be arraigned here tomorrow before Commissioner Robbins.  Their cases will be the first ones heard by the commissioner since his appointment.

April 20, 1928:  “FEDERAL AGENTS RAID JOINTS HERE”  Six from Andover Officially  Stamped Bootleggers; All But One Plead Guilty.  Bail at $500.   Tuesday was an anxious day for Andover’s bootleggers.  Just like falling from a clear sky, when business was good and not a cloud obscured the light federal prohibition officers and Andover’s police, swooped down on the village, all loaded with search and seizure warrants and picked off six of our energetic salesmen, and found them with the goods.  They were, Elmer Coats, Jack Fleishman, Sam Treman, John Ross, Paul Ross and Floyd Randall.

The raid was staged just before noon, Tuesday.  At Elmer Coats’ the officers found 200 bottles of home brew, which he acknowledged to be of his brand.  Jack Fleisman and Sam Treman gave their home as Rochester. They have been staying in Andover ostensibly purchasing junk.  The officers relieved them of about ten gallons of liquor which some might call whiskey.

At John Ross’ residence a small quantity of liquor was found and in the other side of the house the home of Paul Ross, several cases of home brew awaited the arrival of the officials.  At Floyd Randall’s Andover’s colored merchant, four-dozen bottles of home brew was in evidence.

While investigation of the property of Sam Treman, a revolver was found and Sam was taken before Justice E. A. Mullen and given a $10 fine for having it in his possession without license for firearms.

The parties were ordered to report to Commissioner Robbins of Hornell and tell him their troubles at 3 o’clock Tuesday afternoon. At that time they all pled guilty excepting Treman, who refused to plead guilty and was taken to the Bath jail to await trial.  The other were given 24 hours in which to secure bail bond of $500 each.

Some are unkind enough to suggest that the regular protected bootleggers business was being interfered with by these lesser lights so something had to be done to stoop their activities in securing business.

May 4, 1928: “FEDERAL MEN RAID PLACES HERE.”  The Grove Street Joint, Visited by Federal Prohibition Officers.  Only Brew Was Found.   Federal agents paid a flying visit to this vicinity Tuesday confining their activities to Andover and Wellsville.  The complaints were filed with Commissioner Albert Robbins before whom three persons were ordered to appear.

An establishment on Grove St., Andover, was the first place visited by the officers.  A quantity of alleged home brew was found and seized.  All told there were 48 bottles.  Helen Gracier was ordered to appear before Commissioner Robbins.

The federal men then proceeded to Wellsville, where two successful raids were made.  The first place entered was that of F. A. H. Patterson at No. 28 North Main St.  After a careful search of the place five gallons of cider was found. Patterson also ordered to appear before Commissioner Robbins.

Shortly after conducting this raid, other members of the raiding party visited the establishment of William P. Ryan of No. 104 North Main St., Wellsville.  A gallon and one half of alleged white distilled spirits was found and seized.  Mr. Ryan was ordered before Commissioner Robbins.

In a doctor’s office in Wellsville, the officers seized records for an investigation to be made later.

Before returning to Elmira, the officers searched a car on Seneca St. but found nothing.  Further developments are expected in this case.

June 8, 1928: “SHERIFF RAIDS ALLENTOWN PLACE”  Quantity of Alleged Liquor and Beer Found When Officers Appear, Saturday Night.    Sheriff Brigham and Under-Sheriff Schuyler Cline did an A No. 1 job on an Allentown bootlegging plant when they secured the necessary evidence and then, assisted by Federal enforcement officer, Ira Easton, raided the place on Saturday night.  The officers surrounded the place about midnight and then walked in on the supposed restaurant where they place under arrest Frank Femia, of Olean, said to be the owner of the joint, Phil Cravatti, an alien in charge of the place and Nowell Simmons, alleged bartender and handy man. The officers also gathered up around 40 cases of alleged beer and many bottles of alleged Canadian whiskey, wine, etc. all of which was loaded onto a truck and the prisoner brought into Wellsville about midnight and lodged in the city jail.  The prisoners were taken to Hornell for appearance before Federal Commissioner Robbins.

The restaurant was opened up in Allentown only a few weeks ago and had all the appearance of being an up-to-date eating-place, but from the general report of the thirsty, it was also an oasis that provided plenty of cheer for those who had money to lie down for alleged liquor.  Five dollars was necessary to secure a pint of alleged Canadian whiskey, while alleged beer, guaranteed to have plenty of kick was in ample supply and few restrictions were laid upon purchasers, either men or women, the most important part of the transaction was to lay the money on the counter.

The place has been under the eye of Sheriff Brigham for some time and from the numerous complaints of residents of that section, the place has been running day and night and providing much cheer and disorder.  The officers have plenty of proof of possessing and selling, as well as conducting a public nuisance and there should be no trouble in conviction.  Cravatti, who was supposed to have been hired by the owner, Femia, is said to be an alien and it is hoped that he can be deported and thus rid the country of such unnecessary inhabitants.

September 14, 1928: “FEDERAL OFFICERS RAID DRINK JOINTS”  Hornell, Wellsville, Alma and Belmont Places Inspected by Elmira Prohibition Officers.    Three men, representing themselves to be federal agents out of the Elmira office, visited two roadside resorts after dark, near Hornell, Friday night and claimed they made a buy at each place.

Late Friday the three persons were still in Hornell, past the time that they had been directed to appear in Elmira.

Federal agents visited Roseland Tea Room on the Hornell-Almond road and say they secured five bottles of Canadian ale, a quart and three ounces of colored distilled spirits, a half quart of wine and two drinks of colored distilled spirits.

William Stebbins’ place in Wellsville was visited by agents and the agents claim they secured 827 pints of brew, a pint and one-half colored distilled spirits, 77 gallons of home brew mash and 40 gallons of cider.  Stebbins was arraigned before U. S. Commissioner Albert W. Robbins Friday and was held in $1,000 bail for federal grand jury action.

Elmer Watson, Alma, Allegany County, was ordered to appear here before Com. Robbins.  Agents found they say 1,200 bottles of home brew, 12 pints of colored distilled spirits and 60 gallons of mash.

Harry Davis of Belmont was arraigned before Commissioner Robbins Friday and held on $1,000 bail, to await the action of the grand jury in a federal way.  Agents claim that on Thursday they raided and secured a gallon and a pint of colored distilled spirits and 240 pints of home brew.

Commissioner Robbins held James Torrence, of Bolivar, raided August 3, in $1,000 bail for a federal grand jury Friday.  Agents raided this place on August 3.

January 18, 1929:  “FEDERAL AGENTS SEIZE PLANT”  Find Large Distilling Plant in Operation at Allegany Capable of Producing Much Alcohol.   A trio of Federal prohibition officers assigned by Rudolph E. Langshans, chief of the Buffalo dry force, aided by a deputy sheriff, seized an alcohol distilling plant with an estimated hourly earning capacity of $330, about 100 yards west of the Erie Railroad station at Allegany, shortly after 11 o’clock yesterday.  A man who identified himself as William Brown, 40 of Allegany, was arrested.

The plant probably was the largest seized to date in Cattaraugus County the agents said.

The agents came from Buffalo this morning with information of the distillery’s alleged operation and enlisted the aid of a deputy sheriff.  Surrounding the plant one of the agents gained entrance after he told the alleged operator, “Open up buddy, Federal agents.”

Brown submitted stolidly to arrest but solidly kept tight-lipped when the Federal men asked him for information they suspected him of knowing.

The equipment included two stills, one of 4,000 gallon capacity and another of 1,500 gallons.  Seven wooden vats containing 3,000 gallons of mash each, two electric motors, a pump, a 30 horsepower steam boiler, 125 steel drums with capacities of 50 gallons, 200 five-gallon tin cans and a number of smaller containers were seized.

May 26, 1929:  “SEIZED LIQUORS GETTING WORSE”  Chemist Shows That T.N.T Base, Wood Alcohol and Kerosene Included in Ingredients Used.   Analysis of 1,975 samples of liquor captured from bootleggers in Massachusetts during the last three months shows more that 5 per cent, containing wood alcohol, with many others holding impure substances and the samples as a whole the “worst ever seen by the department,” it is declared in a report by Hermann C. Lythgoe, Massachusetts stat chemist.

Entirely exclusive of the samples containing wood alcohol, according to Mr. Lythgoe, others, classified as “peculiar samples,” contained materials ranging from kerosene to toluene, from which T.N.T. is made.

Listing these “peculiar samples” of so-called liquor, Mr. Lythgoe showed that among them five were composed of completely denatured alcohol, three of diluted and clarified denatured alcohol, two were flavored with anise oil and one with kerosene oil, tow contained a commercial antiseptic while on consisted entirely of glycerin.

One sample, he continued, contained 40 per cent by volume, of toluene, and another 60 per cent by volume.  Still another contained 16 per cent of alcohol, together with a large quantity of blue coloring matter.

September 13, 1929:  “BOOZE BOYS HIT BY GRAND JURY”          many Indictments Returned Under the Nuisance Law, Speakeasies Will Have to Answer for Their Sins.  The Grand Jury, setting at Belmont Monday and Tuesday, found indictments against the following persons, for maintaining a nuisance in their respective localities.  Warrants were issued and bench warrants served:

Clarence Common, “Red Dragon,” Angelica, second offence.
Joe Mussolini, second offence.
Jeanne Mussolini, “The Patch,” Andover
Elwin and Clarabell Robaracher, Crittenden farm, Hallsport-Whiesville road.
Elmer McKibben, Sand Hill road, Almond-Angelica road.
Adelbert Kellogg, “Dad’s Place,” Almond
Frank and Addie Spratt, Almond.
William and Elmer Watson, Pikeville road, Alma.
Bertha Walcutt, Centerville.
Henry Baker, Transit Bridge.
Other indictments were not made known as the jury will not make its final report until Monday.

On December 5, 1933 it was all over, with over 75% of the states passing the 21st amendment to the Constitution abolishing the 18th amendment.  So it was now legal to drink again.

Was it all worth it?  I don’t know. There are two sides to every story and I’ll let you be the judge.

These were just a few of the stories printed.  I don’t mean to hurt anyone in anyway. But the problem that was bothering the nation was also bothering the little towns, villages and Allegany County.

Submitted by William A. Greene, 2006.