The first literary notice of the conspiracy trial appeared in the issue of Liberty Magazine for November 2,1935. The author was Sherwood Anderson, who, it was stated, had "attended the trial." The article was entitled "City Gangs Enslave Moonshine Mountaineers." It was two pages in length; the reader was informed that the reading time was 9 minutes 50 seconds.
The Great Moonshine Conspiracy Trial of 1935, t. Keister Greer. (849)
What is the wettest section in the U.S.A., the place where during prohibition, and since, the most illicit liquor has been made? The extreme wet spot, per number of people, isn't New York or Chicago...the spot that fairly dripped illicit liquor, and kept right on dripping it after prohibition ended…is Franklin County, virginia.
Sherwood Anderson, liberty Magazine 1935
Abshire, who asserted he did not have his own gun out of its holster, said he then walked toward the boys and told Jack that neither he nor Rakes was afraid and that although one car had gotten away the best thing for them to do was to surrender and "take their medicine." Rakes then drew his gun, abshire continued, and told the boys they were under arrest, but Jack turned sideways as if to draw his gun and Rakes fired as Abshire failed in his effort to catch Jack's arm.
Forrest, hearing the shot, ran toward them and Rakes shot again, dropping him in the snow covered road.
"Deputy Abshire Gives Version of Shooting of Bondurant Boys" The Roanoke Times, june 11,1935
Courtroom exchange during Grand Jury investigation between Forrest Bondurant and defense attorney Timberlake:
Defense Attorney Timberlake: You and your brother Jack Bondurant were both armed, weren't you? Bondurant: Yes, sir. Timberlake: And you covered the officers with your pistols while Everett Dillon made off with one of the liquor cars, didn't you? Bondurant: No, sir. We never touched our pistols. Timberlake: You told (Deputies) Rakes and Abshire that "somebody is going to die." Unless they let you go across the bridge, didn't you? From Grand Jury testimony as recorded in The Great Moonshine Conspiracy Trial of 1935, t. Keister Greer. (140) Fred O. Maier of Standard Brands also attended and testified that 70,448 pounds of a single standard brand yeast was sold in Franklin county in four years. There were other startling figures introduced by the government on the purchases of commodities necessary to illicit liquor making, such as sugar,33,839,109 pounds; corn meal,13,307,477 pounds; rye meal,2,408,308 pounds; malt,1,018,420 pounds; hops,30,366 pounds; and miscellaneous grain products,15,276,071 pounds; non-gurgling five-gallon tin cans,600,000... "The sugar would be enough for two tons per person, while the five-gallon cans, if flattened out, would be enough tin to roof 2,900 homes of 40x40 feet." An Old Virginia Court, marshall Wingfield 1948 R.A. Sink, a member of the Franklin Conty Board of Supervisors, testified that the reputation of the Bondurants, jack, forrest and Howard, for telling the truth,"could not be other than bad. People throughout the community seem to have lost confidence in them and don't believe what they say." He commented on the "drinking liquor, shooting and fighting around their gas station." "I've heard the women folks say they were afraid to pass there." Sink quoted their grandfather (in-law), r.L. Minnix, as saying that they (the Bondurants) were "the toughest mess that ever struck our section." From Grand Jury testimony as recorded in The Great Moonshine Conspiracy Trial of 1935, t. Keister Greer. (445) Both victims came to their deaths from pistol and buckshot wounds inflicted by "persons unknown,"…wounds on Richards' indicate he was shot from behind with a shotgun since the buckshot wounds on his hands showed they probably were on the wheel. Several bullets passed completely through his body but one slug found appeared to be from a .45 colt automatic. Richards was slain 17 days before the grand jury, before which he was to testify, convened at Harrisonburg. "Start of Alleged Conspiracy Laid At Hodges' Door" The Roanoke Times, may 28,1935 Somebody, we say, ought to write a book about Franklin County and the extraordinary revelations of these several and continuing actions. But if anybody does, it is to be hoped that he will not be merely a dramatist. He ought also to be enough the sociologist and economist to probe deep beneath the surface in an effort to understand first causes in Franklin County. For people in Franklin County were not any worse in the beginning than people in other counties. An Old Virginia Court, marshall Wingfield 1948 Here is revealed the beauty of discipline: it provides a means for guilty man to suffer chastisement on earth instead of having to wait for the day of judgment. Doctrinal Treatise: Old German Baptist Brethren "Cruelty, like breadfruit and pineapples, is a product of the south." A Story Teller's Story – Sherwood Anderson Wake up, wake, up, darlin' Cory What makes you sleep so sound When the revenoo-ers are comin For to tear your still house down? Go away, go away, darlin' Cory Stop hangin' around my bed. Bad liquor destroyed my body, Pretty women's gone to my head. Don't you hear those bluebirds a-singin'? Don't you hear their mournful sound? They are preachin' Cory's funeral In some lonesome graveyard ground. The last time I saw darlin' Cory She was sittin' on the bank of the sea, With a jug of liquor in her arm And a .45 across her knee. Appalachian Mountain song The shooting of the Bondurants is the nadir of Franklin County historical culture. The Bondurants plainly were not saints. The Great Moonshine Conspiracy Trial of 1935, t. Keister Greer There is a great black bell without a tongue, swinging silently in the darkness. It swings and swings, making a great arch and I await silent and frightened. Now it stops and descends slowly. I am terrified. Can nothing stop the great descending iron bell? A Story-Teller's Story, Sherwood Anderson
Attorney Dillard: Are you the Commonwealth's attorney of Franklin County? Lee: I am. Dillard: Are you familiar with the facts concerning the death of Jeff Richards and his prisoner Jim Smith? Lee: I am. On the night of October 12,1934, richards' car was discovered on the roadside with its lights on, in gear and with the switch on. His body lay 15 feet to the rear, pierced with buckshot and .45 caliber pistol bullets. The bullets were fired while Richards was on his back, one of them being fired directly into his head. His prisoner Jim Smith was mowed down by a charge of buckshot as he started to run and found dead in front of the car. Commonwealth Counsel: Were you a deputy sheriff in October of 1934? L.W. Frith (witness): I was. CC: Did you have occasion to be at the murder scene on the morning of October 13,1934? L.W. Frith: Yes. Mr. Love and I were walking around the scene shortly after daylight on the morning of October 13th. We heard and automobile start up in the woods. We went that way, and saw a man walking on a little road. There was a car near him, and woman at the wheel. The man was carrying what looked like a shotgun. He got in the car, which was a maroon colored model, and they pulled away before Love (sheriff) and I could get near enough to get the number. From Grand Jury testimony as recorded in The Great Moonshine Conspiracy Trial of 1935, t. Keister Greer. In one county (Franklin) it is claimed 99 people out of 100 are making, or have some connection with, illicit liquor. Official Records of the National Commission on Law Observance and Enforcement, vol. 4, p 1075. Indeed, anderson is out of fashion. But ironically Anderson's place as hero has been taken by two writers who owe him a great debt: Ernest Hemingway, the recipient of this year's Nobel Prize for literature and the 1953 Pulitzer Prize, and Willaim Faulkner, by general agreement our most distinguished writer of fiction, awarded the Nobel Prize in 1950. The development of these two prize pupils forms a curious pattern; in each case Anderson helped the younger man break out of anonymity and into print, lent him important parts of his art, watched the novice refine his craft and exceed Anderson's own work in quantity and quality, and finally found himself rejected as mentor and friend. Sherwood Anderson's Two Prize Pupils, by Willaim L. Phillips, the University of Chicago Magazine, january 1955 There is a special poignancy in the failure of Anderson's later career. Anderson is connected with the tradition of the men who maintain a standing quarrel with respectable society and have a perpetual bone to pick with the rational intellect…Anderson never understood that the moment of enlightenment and conversion – the walking out- cannot be merely celebrated but must be developed, so that what begins as an act of will grows to be an act of intelligence. Sherwood Anderson, by Lionel Trilling Neither of us – Hemingway or I – could have touched, ridiculed, his work itself. Be we had made his style look ridiculous; and by that time, after Dark Laughter, when he had reached the point where he should have stopped writing, he had to defend that style at all costs because he too must have known by then in his heart that there was nothing else left. Sherwood Anderson: An Appreciation, by William Faulkner So there I was on Dreiser's doorstep facing him. I am quite sure my voice trembled. "I am Sherwood Anderson. I thought I would come to see you." "Oh, hello," he said. He shut the door in my face. The Memoirs of Sherwood Anderson I got a letter from Hemy. This after he had written and published the book called The Torrents of Spring, and I thought it the most completely patronizing letter I had ever received. In the letter he spoke of what happened as something fatal to me. He had, he said, written the book on an impulse, having only six weeks to do it. It was intended to bring to an end, once and for all, the notion that there was any worth in my own work. This, he said, was a thing he had hated doing, because of his personal regard for me, etc., but that he had done it in the interest of literature. Literature, i was to understand, was bigger than both of us. The Memoirs of Sherwood Anderson Soon there will be no such thing as individuality left. Hear the soft purr of the new thousands of airplanes far up in the sky. The bees are swarming. New hives are being formed. Work fast, man. The Memoirs of Sherwood Anderson For fear the hearts of men are failing, For these are latter days we know The Great Depression now is spreading, God's word declared it would be so I'm going where there's no depression, To the lovely land that's free from care I'll leave this world of toil and trouble, My home's in Heaven, i'm going there In that bright land, there'll be no hunger, No orphan children crying for bread, No weeping widows, toil or struggle, No shrouds, no coffins, and no death "No Depression in Heaven" The Carter Family 6/9/36 Both victims came to their deaths from pistol and buckshot wounds inflicted by "persons unknown,"…wounds on Richards' indicate he was shot from behind with a shotgun since the buckshot wounds on his hands showed they probably were on the wheel. Several bullets passed completely through his body but one slug found appeared to be from a .45 colt automatic. Richards was slain 17 days before the grand jury, before which he was to testify, convened at Harrisonburg. "Start of Alleged Conspiracy Laid At Hodges' Door" The Roanoke Times, may 28,1935 In one county [Franklin] it is claimed that 99 people out of a 100 are making, or have some connection with, illicit liquor. Official Records of the National Commission on Law Observance and Enforcement,1935