Monday, January 4, 2010

Distillery found on the Widow Gotts Farm

Ypsilanti police were informed on a possible illegal still in operation on the Widow Gotts farm in Superior Township in December of 1919. The police were informed that a liquor distillery had been erected on the farm with all the machinery needed to make whisky, beer and wine. The report further noted that suspicious packages were seen going to and from the farm. As the farm was outside the city limits of Ypsilanti, the information was passed onto Deputy Sheriff Dick Elliott, who secured a search warrant from Justice Stadtmiller.

Deputy Sheriff Dick Elliott with Deputies Robinson and Smith raided the farm, some three miles from Ypsilanti, on New Years Day, 1920. In the basement of the house they found a 20-gallon copper still with worm and coils, as well as 14 barrels of corn and raisin mash, with which could be make bourbon or some of the cheaper stuff. They found a bottling works so what was sold would have the look of coming from a recognized distillery plant.

Deputy Elliott and the others spent the day at the farm waiting for the moonshiners to return. They were finally informed the two men who ran the operation, Sam Dromby and Eli Dometri, had been arrested while on their way to Detroit with a trailer fill with contraband. The two men were jailed in Detroit, and later transferred to the jail in Ann Arbor.

“Livestock was found on the farm, which seems to have been abandoned for agricultural purposes,” noted The Daily Ypsilanti Press of Saturday, January 3, 1920. “But there was live stock there, presumably being fed on the waste of the distillery. Horses, hogs, and cattle were being neglected, so the neighbors fed them. Otherwise they would have been with out food or water over the day.”

“The illicit plant,” concluded the account, “was sufficiently large to make its running profitable, of one isn’t caught at it.”

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