Tuesday, November 13, 2018

The Bootlegger from Oklahoma

Thurman “Cowboy” Hice (1910-1988), a native of Oklahoma, had constant run-ins with the law as a bootlegger from 1937-1946 with 1938, 1939, and 1946 being particularly troublesome years. Thurman Hice was a high school graduate and a veteran of World War II.

Just what is a bootlegger?  The bootlegger was someone who sold illicit liquor – usually whiskey.
Bootleggers usually hid the bottles in their boots; thus, the name bootlegger. So, when someone bootlegged, he sold whiskey illegally. The “bootlegged” whiskey was legally distilled and bottled in other states and then "imported" to the bootlegger’s state.

The first documented evidence of Thurman’s bootlegging activities is in 1937 when he was 27 years old. He probably started at a younger age but had the unfortunate situation of getting caught and charged in 1937 with possession of 30 pints of whiskey:

1937 - August 19:  Ada Weekly News (Ada, Oklahoma) -- Three Arrested for Possession; Si Herion, Thurman Hice and Arthur Wardlow Free on Bonds
            Si Herion, Thurman Hice and Arthur Wardlow, all of Ada, were free under bonds Thursday after being arrested by the sheriff's force for possession of tax paid whiskey . . . . Hice also made a $2,000 bond. [Sheriff Clyde] Kaiser reporting capture of 30 points in this raid. Wardlow had only a small amount and was released under $500 bond, the usual procedure for first offenders.

From the above-excerpt, it can be deduced that Thurman was not a first-time offender. One of the individuals, Arthur Wardlow, only had a “$500 bond, the usual procedure for first offenders.” However, Hice’s bond was $2,000: Definitely not a first-time offender.

Even though Prohibition had been repealed on the national level in 1933 with the enactment of the 18th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, Oklahoma continued to be a dry state until 1959. In fact, after national prohibition was repealed, the state legislature passed a law so that nothing stronger than 3.2 beer could be sold in Oklahoma – including at dance halls. Thus, the allure of “importing” illegal whiskey and making sales in dance halls. The bootlegger became a fixture at dance halls. [1]

Thurman again appears in the Ada Weekly twice in 1938. The newspaper reported on February 10, 1938, that Hice had been arrested in a raid at “his establishment” and charged with the unlawful possession of 77 pints of whiskey. On August 25, 1938, the Ada Weekly reported that Hice was one of five men arrested in raids for the illegal possession of liquor, and “a total of 105 pints of tax paid liquors were confiscated and over 100 quarts of home brew and five gallons of wine poured out.”

Thurman Hice is not seen in the Ada Weekly newspaper again until 1939. During that year, there were five stories all involving his arrests for illegal possession of liquor; and one of the men on the list was his older brother, Chester Hice (1906-1982): It apparently was a family business. And, for the first time, Thurman and his brother Chester were charged with a felony as seen in the following excerpt:

1939 - January 19:  War Is Declared On County Bootleggers In Series of Raids; Seven Men Held in County Jail on Felony Counts as Two Others Are Freed Under $2,000 Bond As Officials Use New Tactics
            County Attorney Wadlington Saturday declared war on Pontotoc county bootleggers and by late Saturday night seven men were being held in the county jail and two others were free under $2,000 bond each following raids headed by Sheriff Clyde Kaiser . . . . Wadlington filed felony counts against seven men arrested in liquor raids made Friday night by sheriff deputies and members of the city police force.
            Bewildered over the turn of events and facing the felony counts for the first time, three of the men, bill Cummings, Thurman "Cowboy" Hice and Chester Hice, asked for time to plead when arraigned before Peace Justice A. W. Oliver . . . .
            In invoking a little-used law in liquor possession cases--a misdemeanor ordinarily--Wadlington charged the seven with liquor possession, "a second and subsequent offense,”  Conviction carries a maximum penalty of a $2,000 fine or five years in the state penitentiary.
            In the series of raids Friday night, deputies and police officers confiscated 329 pints of whiskey, gin and alcohol.
            In the raids Friday night . . . 73 pints from Thurman Hice . . . . , 31 pints from Cummings, the officers reported.  The others were picked up and committed on old fines and sentences.
            The raids were made by Sheriff Kaiser, Deputies Joe Porter, Charles Shockley and Jim Rogers, Police Chief Raymond Rains, Policemen G.W. Vandiver and Luther Davis and Deputy U. S. Marshall Allen Stanfield.

The Ada Weekly reported on 27 April 1939 and 1 June 1939 that Thurman and Chester Hice were again charged with felonies for illegal possession of whiskey.

After 1939, Hice does not appear in the Ada Weekly again until 1946 – presumably after his stint as a Private in the U.S. Army during World War II. 

On October 17, 1946, The Ada Weekly News reported that Thurman paid two fines of $45 each for two charges brought against him for, again, the illegal possession of whiskey. After 1946, Thurman Hice disappears. The only other record I have been able to find for him is from California’s Death Index. Thurman “Cowboy” Hice died November 18, 1988, in Sacramento, California.

Thurman and his brother Chester are my biological 2nd cousins 2x removed.

[1] Logsdon, Guy. “Moonshine.” The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture, Oklahoma Historical Society, (accessed 24 Oct 2018).

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Who Do I Think I Am?

We have all seen the ads on television advertising finding your heritage through DNA testing. There are people who do specifically know where their ancestors came from; people who have no idea where their ancestors came from; and, like most of us, people who think they know where their ancestors came from. 

Those who are adopted probably have more questions than others. Being adopted, my adoptive parents were always open about my background and were pretty sure about my hereditary cultural background. So, I always felt pretty sure from where my ancestors came.  However, being the curious sort, I opted to do the testing offered by – this was done several years ago. Most of my suspicions about my background were confirmed, but there were a few surprises. Having received the results, I did not bother with the DNA results again – until recently.

Again, television advertising led me to go back and review my results. The ads were touting that the results were now being able to give you more detailed locations as to where one’s ancestors came from and even migration timelines. So, I revisited those DNA results. And, what a change!
Originally, I was given the following estimates that no longer apply:

            15% from Ireland/Scotland/Wales
              5% from South Europe
              4% from Iberian Peninsula (Spain/Portugal)
              3% from Eastern Europe
              1% from Finland/Northwest Russia

Next, I was originally given the following estimates that have changed:

            Great Britain is now 39% - an increase from 9%
            Norway is now 27% - refined from the generality of Scandinavia of 20%
            France is now 21% - refined from the generality of Western Europe of 43%
            Sweden is now 17% - refined from the generality of Scandinavia of 20%

So, I originally went from having a potential of eight nationalities in my background (some of which were pretty general) to having just four:  Great Britain, Norway, France, and Sweden.
I have to admit that I am surprised by the proportion of my background to be English and also the inclusion of Sweden. But overall, it’s satisfying to get these refined results as I always did wonder about some of the background given in the initial results.

I guess I will not wait again for a couple of years to pass before checking those results.