As anyone who has ever done a search for artifacts of the past will tell you, it’s usually ten percent digging, thirty percent research, and sixty percent sheer luck. A local business owner seemed to have his share of luck in making a discovery recently.
Buried beneath the building in what could have been a root cellar or storage space a crate from the 1920’s containing Canadian Scotch Whiskey was discovered while he was renovating the building. It’s unknown yet as to whether this was a personal cache of alcohol hidden during Prohibition, or part of a Bootlegger operation where they would bring the alcohol from Canada and stash it to later transport to speakeasies in the United States.
He told me:
“There were three layers of flooring, the bottom most of which was so rotten you could pick it apart with your fingers. I was tearing it all up so it wouldn't sink when I brought in some heavy machinery. In one corner the wood gave way to show a metal trapdoor. It had rusted nearly completely shut, but when I had it broken open, down inside was an Old Farmer's Almanac and this wooden crate with the top half off.”
“Well, being kind of curious, I moved the top out of the way, and stuck inside with a bunch of straw like packing material were a bunch of glass bottles with light amber liquid in them. Well naturally the labels stating they were Canadian Scotch Whiskey was a sure sign that I had found something.”
After that he contacted the local Historical Society, and according to the director, Professor Dorian Teal, all those materials have been donated to the society for historical research and display in Museums for that period in history.
Professor Teal stated:
"It really is an amazing find. So much about that period has been romanticized, or erased outright. Bootleggers and Rum runners of the period weren't exactly keen on keeping detailed journals or records just in case. It's also rare to find a case like this with intact bottles, most of the regulators of the time simply smashed the containers and let the contents run into the gutter. So not only do we have the batch numbers printed on the labels but other clues that will let us trace the shipment back to where it came from."
"it's a pity that all the records of who owned the building this was found in were destroyed in the town hall fire back in the nineteen sixties, but using the distillery numbers we can get all manner of information from the plant where they bottled these. We may never have an answer as to what happened to those souls who stored the crate, or why they only left twenty-two of the bottles in a box clearly designed to package twenty-five, but this donation will make a grand addition to the society's collection from a period where we have little information about the specific routes that smugglers would take to bring illegal alcohol into the United States."
This reporter asked the lucky man who found the stash just why it is that he chose to donate it to a historical society, he had quite the amusing response.
"It makes a good Tax write off? I did think about holding a roaring twenties party for myself a a couple dozen friends, dress up in suits and fedoras and such and serve authentic period booze. But that seemed like a bit too self indulgent for such a find. I mean for all we know these bottles could have been slated to sit in the private stock of Al Capone, John Dillinger, Lucky Luciano, Neil Castelli, Herbert Hoover or other famous Criminals. Someone like the professor could figure that out and if they have historical significance or not."
I also inquired why he thought the case was incomplete.
"Who can say. If it was a personal stash they probably drank them. Maybe they had to bribe some cops and hadn't been paid yet. The three bottles could have broken during travel, or been used as samples for speakeasies to prove that they weren't offering colored water with rubbing alcohol. No way of knowing really. I guess that's part of the mystery the Professor has ahead of him to figure out."
Quite a mystery, who were they? What happened to them? Why didn't they come back for their stash? Could they have run afoul of competitors? Been caught or shot by Regulators? Lots of questions that only time and investigation can answer.
As an aside, I feel I should mention that the chances of other finds like this is quite rare, and most readers should be careful before tearing apart walls or floors of their homes or businesses looking for similar items.
A Final question I asked was what he decided to do with the underground storage space now that he knew it was there.
"probably seal it back up and put my floor in. I could use it for storage I guess, but the ladder in it is kind of rickety. Maybe I'll get a Sealed box and put several bottles of Whiskey in it with some laminated photos and a note to whomever re-discovers them in the future telling them to have a drink or three on us."
Contributed by: Harrison Leefolt