Prohibition in Houston

Prohibition brought changes to Houston and one of those changes was an increase in criminal activity. In the 1920s, the city was growing but only had about 125,000 residents, not much larger than Corpus Christi is now. Although the city limits extended to Shepherd Drive, according to a recent article in the Houston Examiner. Most people lived and worked within a few miles of downtown.

During the late 1920s, the Houston Post-Dispatch was filled with stories of illegal whiskey production. One of the big stories in the summer of 1927 was that authorities seized a 600 gallon still from a house on Westheimer Road. According to the Examiner, there was a cluster of Italian immigrants who operated a series of moonshine stills out of shacks on Westheimer.

According to the Post-Dispatch, “246 gallons of whisky valued at $2,000 was found in one of the rooms stored in charred cypress and oak casks. A 600-gallon copper still was seized and destroyed by the officers. Other equipment included a 300-gallon cooling tank, pumps that lifted the mash from the barrels to the still, pipes that carried the refuse into a nearby cotton field and some mixing equipment”. In another room about 45 barrels of mash were discovered and taken. A man who identified himself as Charles Romano, age 51, was taken into custody and charged with manufacture and possession of intoxicating liquor. Mr. Romano said he was from Italy but had lived here “for some time”.