Sunday, July 8, 2018

My Step Great-Great Grandmother's Arrest and Acquittal

Newspapers can be a wonderful resource to get insight into ancestors' lives, beyond the brief facts noted in census records, ship manifests and the like.

My great-great grandfather, Yechiel Suttleman, was married three times; his third wife, Ida Himelfarb Suttleman, was the only spouse who came to America.  There are lots of family stories about how the family made moonshine and had the younger kids sell it (since they'd be more likely to be let off if/when caught).  But the January 5, 1923 edition of Baltimore's Evening Sun mentioned how Ida herself had been arrested for possessing moonshine.

Ida had been charged with the manufacture of liquor (remember, this was during Prohibition), but the charges were dismissed because the "dry agents" did not have sufficient evidence to ask for permission to search her home.
It seems my step great-great grandmother had 11 gallons of alcohol, 22 barrels of mash and six empty five-gallon cans in the house.  So she was definitely guilty--but because there was no evidence (besides the smell!), the case was dismissed on a technicality.

Aren't old newspaper articles great, especially when they back up family lore?

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  1. Funny---I am working on a similar post about the back story of one of my relatives as revealed in newspapers. I must say that those newspaper databases are among my very favorite genealogy resources.

  2. I've just recently started researching in old newspapers. They almost always add some color to whomever I'm researching. This was an interesting find!