Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Bootlegger accidentally destroys own house

A bootlegger near Echo accidentally destroyed his own house when law enforcement came to serve a search warrant on his property during Prohibition.

Chester Cox, who lived in a two-story farmhouse about seven miles southwest of Echo, panicked when deputy sheriffs Charles Hoskins and John Arkell showed up at his home about 3 p.m. on January 18, 1928, with a search warrant. Instead of letting the officers inside, Cox dashed upstairs with a hammer and began smashing a number of jugs containing illegal moonshine whiskey.

The officers heard the destruction and forced the door open, finding the kitchen in flames. The moonshine had leaked through the ceiling onto the hot stove, igniting instantly. Hoskins and Arkell rushed upstairs and found the flames had followed the stovepipe to the second story, dooming the house.

A small amount of the liquor was saved in a dish pan as evidence and the officers hurriedly carried furniture and other household articles out of the burning house. Cox reportedly refused to save anything other than his bed, and also attempted to destroy the evidence of his moonshining activities. He resisted when the officers arrested him, but was eventually handcuffed and taken to Pendleton, where he was lodged in the county jail.

Cox pleaded guilty to charges of possession of intoxicating liquor, and he was sentenced in Echo justice court to 60 days in jail and a $250 fine.

The home was completely destroyed.

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