What I find interesting is that this collection of arrests etc. took place in a typcial midwestern industry town...Davenport, IA...so if it was widespread there it was all over the place. Some of the newspaper accounts are funny when you consider the legalities and the circumstances.
Davenport Democrat and Leader; Davenport, Scott, Iowa; May 6, 1923
VICTIM’S TALE STARTS POLICE ON CITY RAIDS
Fourteen Arrested in Disorderly Houses Attacked by Officers
Fritz Ziebarth’s lugubrious recital of how he had been robbed of five dollars in the establishment of Mrs. Agnes Thiel, 328 ½ West First street, Saturday afternoon led to a raid on the Thiel place which netted four prisoners last night. As a follow-up police entered the Mrs. Mildred Brennan house at 422 ½ West Second street, arresting seven men and three women.
Ziebarth, who lives in Fishertown, told Chief Schlueter that he had bought several drinks at Mrs. Thiel’s place and that, when he dropped a five dollar bill as he was paying his debt of two dollars, the woman grabbed the bill from the floor and refused to give it back. Ziebarth’s disclosure of conditions at the Thiel place caused the raid.
When police officers Homeyer, Kuehl, Hennely, and Phelan walked in they found two men and two women, who gave their names as F. Blakemore, J. Spencer, Ruth Woods and Hezel Wiese. The four were arrested on charges of immoral living.
At the Brennan place a party was in progress when the officers called. The men and women were sitting at a table with a pint of hooch in evidence. Those arrested gave their names as Al Rush, J. Wiels, J. Russell, Al Johnson, George Morrison and Rose Murray. Mrs. Brennan was taken into custody as the keeper of a disorderly house, while her guests were booked as inmates.
All those arrested in the raids will be tried in police court Monday morning.
Davenport Democrat and Leader; Davenport, Scott, Iowa; May 29, 1923
“Sponge Squad” Seeks to Dry the Mississippi in Big Booze Drive
Prohibition men are “mopping up” the Mississippi Valley today. Federal and state agents were united in a great clean-up trip from Buffalo to LeClaire in which they were raiding houseboats and riverside shanties where bootleggers held forth.
Working on both sides of the river in what is perhaps the biggest “sponger squad” venture ever attempted from Davenport, the prohibition officials hope to choke off he supply-places of Tri-city hip liquor distributors.
Twenty-seven warrants, most of them calling for the arrest of that well known character, John Doe, were sworn out by the deputy sheriffs before they started on their Volstead mission late yesterday afternoon.
Sheriff William Brehmer headed the county officers, while James Risden of the state prohibition force and Federal Prohibition Officer Joseph Terrill were also the raiders. It was reported that a similar campaign,also directed by federal agents, was being carried out on the other side of the river.
Davenport Democrat and Leader; Davenport, Scott, Iowa; June 3, 1923
MONSTER STILL SEIZED SATURDAY ADDS CHAPTER TO RIVER 'LEGGER TALE
Seizure of a big double still, 350 gallons of whisky mash and a quantity of moonshine liquor in a floating hooch manufactory moored at Spencer's Island, opposite Pleasant Valley, Saturday, added a chapter to the story of river rum confiscation developed by Federal Prohibition Agent Roy E. Muhs and his aides during the last two weeks.
Suspicious looking dark smoke rising above trees on the island caused Frank E. Schutter, wealthy Pleasant Valley farmer and owner of the island, to get in touch with prohibition authorities, who timed their raid for Saturday afternoon. Riding to Pleasant Valley in Mr. Schutters luxurious Cadillac sedan, Mr. Muhs and his squad embarked in a rowboat for their objective, Mr. Schutter acting as pilot, Deputy U.S. Marshal Terence Kinney as steerer, and the prohibition agent as an oarsman.
Picking their way thru underbrush, the raiders came upon the houseboat at the Illinois side of the island. When prolonged knocks on the door of the boat failed to elicit any response, the door was opened. Inside the cabin boat a sight to astonish, even a hardened liquor sleuth met the eyes of officers. Two 30-gallon stills, a double condensing apparatus, stood in the middle of the floor, over a gas store. The rest of the floor was occupied by hogsheads of whisky mash.
Fuel for the gas stove was supplied from a gasoline tank on the roof of the boat. Another gas stove for emergency use, was stowed away in a cubby hole. A hydrometer, used for testing specific gravity of whisky, a 5-gallon jug containing three gallons of the finished product, a small quantity of syrup used for flavoring, and a number of children's toys - sling shots and a miniature boat - were found in corners and on unused sections of the floor.
An ax in the powerful hand of Marshal Kinney made short work of the hogsheads of mash, while the liquor manufacturing apparatus and paraphernalia was loaded into the rowboat and taken to the shore.
"Mayme" Keller, a clammer on Spencer's Island, told Mr. Muhs that the bootleggers had landed on the island on Memorial day or the day after coming from somewhere up the river. He said the party consisted of a man, woman, and two children, a girl and a boy. None of these persons were located Saturday afternoon, altho the fact that the stills were still warm when the raiders arrived was taken as evidence that they had made their departure a short time previous. A small blue rowboat, thought to have been used by the bootleggers, was discovered tied to the Iowa shore.
"The apparatus found in the cabin boat is worth every bit of a thousand dollars," Mr Muhs said after the raid. "This haul makes the total number of stills we have seized since last Wednesday thirteen, and the total number of gallons of hooch taken, fifty two."