Boonsboro Reflections: The Roaring Twenties

Posted on Nov 9, 2017


Congress ratified the 18th Amendment on January 19, 1919, banning the manufacture, sale and transport of alcoholic beverages. But underground distilleries and saloons supplied bootlegged liquor to an abundant clientele, while organized criminal gangs fought to control illegal alcohol markets. That mayhem prompted the U.S. Department of the Treasury to develop the Bureau of Prohibition into a veritable army to fight organized crime.  Men and women were hired as Prohibition Agents, often referred to as “Dry Agents” by the public.  The Boonsboro Museum of History displays a collection of stills that were covertly operated by moonshiners and sought out by Federal revenuers in our area.

In 1927, Prohibition Agents Hunter Rizer Stotler, C. C. Jack and P. W. Parr interviewed a confidential informant in Hagerstown about a 2,000-gallon steam boiler operating near Boonsboro.  After the interview, Agent Stotler and the informant left Hagerstown and drove to Boonsboro to interview another person.  Sometime thereafter, the informant, Reginald E. Walters, killed Agent Stotler.  Walters, was convicted at trial for the “murder of Hunter R. Stotler, Western Maryland dry chief, whom he slew on a lonely road near Boonsboro”.  He was sentenced to life imprisonment.   Agent Stotler joined the Prohibition Unit on October 27, 1925, at a salary of $2,500.

 

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