Letter from Winfield S. Church to Thomas W. Bickett, 18 July 1919
Copy for US Attorney General who is also solicited to take action for [illegible] relief.
Summit N. C. July 18th 1919.
Hon T. W. Bickett,
Govenor of North Carolina,
Dear Govenor Bickett:-
I am writing you in the intrest of Law and Order for our outraged "Whisky Ridden" community. First I happen to be the only Justice of the peace in this community, Second I happen to be the only sunday school superintendent who has succeeded in keeping his sunday school going through this season of whisky making, selling and drinking here, Third I happen to be the only Laymember of a Church here who will dare stand up and denounce Lawless Liquor making and selling here. I only name this so that you may know who it is that is writing you.
Summit is located approximately midway between Wilkesboro Boone and Jefferson, in the Mountains, Not even a phone line here, and this section has almost unanimously turned to liquor making and our Deputy Sheriff is one main leader in the enterprise.
Our Church Deacons, Church members, and it is said some of our preachers are backing it, many engaging directly in the lawless enterprise. My Daughter Miss V Church, who has taught in sunday school for many years succeeded in organizing the better element of Girls in our sunday school into a Law sympathising band, who will not associate with drunken young men, and these girls are receiving contempt, scorn, and gross insults from a majority of our people. If we cannot have some sort of special aid in bringing Blockaders to justice it looks like we are soon to be doomed. I have had repeated warnings that all my buildings including my store house in which the U. S. Postoffice is kept will be burned if I report or meddle with Blockaders.
It is rumored frequently that any man caught looking for Blockade Distilleries in the woods will be shot. I dont think I am a coward, and believe I proved it when I left my family and business, altho in my 40th year, and enlisted in the U. S. Army and did my bit to whip Germany, but I do prefer that my name shall not be published as one who solicits that Blockaders be brought to justice in these mountains. I have a family of 8 to support and educate, and need all the property I own, well as Law and Order to protect this family and the children of my neighbors who are growing up in this community among all graves of Cryme. You see Govenor, we are Twenty miles from our Sheriff who it is said has finelly cut up a few Distilleries down near Wilkesboro, after havang received stacks of reports. We are also twenty miles from the nearest Revenue officers, who recently come to this section and as destroyed 25 or 30 gallons of liquor at an open lawless Saloon, but no arrests have been made and the saloon proseeded as usual.
I believe our officers are in good faith, but they do not get the support of our people, and do not get accurate reports for the fact those in possession of the propper evidence are afraid of their verry lives to hand it out, even to an officer.
I do not get out among the mountains to hunt them, as I have a business which requires all my time and attention, and I usully here of a plant (quite a number of them) just when the runs have been completed and distilleries removed.
Can there not be men sent from other sent from other sections here to round up the evidence and bring to justice the Blockaders? and thus save hundreds of boys who are drinking to their own distruction and to the destruction of our community.
From reports the leaders seem to be W. A. Payne D. S. Summit N. C. K. H. Beshears, J. S. Beshears, B. H. Calloway, and R. V. Beshears of Walsh N. C. H. L. Beshears, Dock Beshears, Bine Beshears, Cicero Mikeal, Will Fleenor, J. S. Green, Miss Nancy Ann Payne, Mrs. Naomi Waters, Jake Waters, Joe Payne, Alonzo Beshears, A. G. Beshears, Ellis Woodie, H. A. Woodie, J. M. Greer, Tom Blanton, and J. A. Kees of Summit N. C. I only mention those said to lead in the business. I earnestly solicit Govenor that my name be held in confidence, there are dangerous and threatening men among the names given. If there is a way by which we may be aided we shall appreciate it.
W. S. Church.
W S Church [signed]