Chasing the Good Ol’ Boys and Girls of Wilkes County, North Carolina

ASU Author/Contributor (non-ASU co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Aaron Ennis Lancaster (Creator)
Appalachian State University (ASU )
Web Site:
Bruce Stewart

Abstract: In the 1950s, Wilkes County, North Carolina, was known as the “Moonshine Capital of America,” a reputation of dubious distinction. Through integrated qualitative, empirical, and primary evidence, including personal interviews with former bootleggers, moonshiners, and their descendants, this thesis traces Wilkes County’s ingrained culture of distillers from its late 18th century Scots-Irish settlers, through state and federal prohibition of the early 20th century, and finally to its diverse characters in “dry” Wilkes during the glory days of the 1950s. Wilkes’ moonshine culture crossed all socio-economic boundaries. As these resourceful moonshiners faced both natural and economic hardships through the centuries, they used the distilling resources available to them and the crops they raised, and perfected methods to preserve and transport their harvest. For men and women, blacks and whites, producing and selling distilled alcohol, without paying rigorous taxes, meant the difference between material poverty and economic survival. Although many wild chases between revenuers and bootleggers occurred, this thesis provides evidence of an “unwritten code” that effectively discouraged violence between revenuers and bootleggers during the 1950s and Wilkes’ moonshining zenith. Viewed through an interdisciplinary Appalachian Studies lens, this moonshine Mecca is studied with a new perspective, understanding, and appreciation.

Additional Information

Lancaster, A.E. (2013). Chasing the Good Ol’ Boys and Girls of Wilkes County, North Carolina. Unpublished master’s thesis. Appalachian State University, Boone, NC.
Language: English
Date: 2013
Moonshine, Wilkes County, North Carolina, Moonshine Capital of America, Bootlegger, Revenuer

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