When I first came to Somervell County back over 20 years ago, I walked the property I was fixing to buy with a neighbor from across the street. He told me he had walked over all the lots then currently for sale, and had decided on his across the road, largely because it was downhill and had some impressive large oaks. For the property I wanted, it was and is on a hill, lots of fossils and rocks, and some woods. I liked it because it had so many different landscaping features. I figured I could fix the caliche by adding dirt, branches and other materials to build up the ground, but also loved the woods along the road that gave privacy. What I didn''t realize with all the cedar wood was that this was also a privacy feature for the moonshiners that used to be in this entire area. Neighbor told me that when he had first walked this property, he saw the remains of a still in the woods.
I was a volunteer at the local Somervell County History Museum, downtown, for awhile, and got a chance to see more relics and information about what had happened with the moonshiners. Apparently at one point, Glen Rose was known as the Moonshiners Capital of Texas. When, in 1919/1920, Prohibition came about, making alcohol in the woods became a regular activity, albeit illegal. From Yesterday''s America
Somervell County, Texas, was perfect for illicit whisky-making, with its rocky hills and hiding places; and it’s proximity to Dallas/Fort Worth meant bootleggers would have plenty of customers just down the road. The small mill town Glen Rose boasted an artesian springs that brought in a few curious tourists. Locals Sam and Rabbit Darnaby set up their still (from the word “distillery’) using artesian waters along Paluxy Creek. Others caught on, and moonshine became the number-one industry in poor Somervell County. Glen Rose would soon gain the attention of the Governor of Texas himself.
Texas Governor Pat Neff enlisted Special Prohibition Agents to bust up and arrest moonshiners.
Governor Neff found his soldier in Texas Ranger Red Burton, who would lead the coming raid on Glen Rose. On August 25, 1923, Texas Rangers made their move against the Glen Rose moonshine enterprise. Lawmen from all around were brought in to assist. All day long, apprehended bootleggers were marched into the courthouse. The public was given a spectacle of confiscated still equipment, dumped on the courthouse lawn. By afternoon, the courthouse lawn was stacked with seven whiskey stills, sixty-six gallons of corn liquor, eight gallons of wine and eight hundred pounds of sugar. The mass arrest yielded thirty-one Somervell County moonshiners and bootleggers.
Here''s a video I did in 2010 with Terry Gosdin telling the story from a perch on his truck while selling farm goods at the downtown Glen Rose farmers market.
But notice, according to the article, that "Dick Watson, the bootlegger turned Special Prohibition Agent, was the star witness in several trials, but was assassinated before he could provide testimony in all. In such a moonshine-friendly community, Watson’s friend the imposing Texas Ranger Red Burton couldn’t convince the grand jury to indict his suspects."
One of the local Somervell citizens who knew about this was Kenneth Hopson. I interviewed and recorded him back in 2010; he has since passed away.
There is an old, gorgeous fossil rock gas station at the edge of town on Hwy 144 at 67. Even it has a history connected with moonshine. Roadtrippers