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First legal whiskey returns to Bulloch County in 1938
Bulloch History
roger allen
Roger Allen

Note: The following is one of a series of columns looking at places and events of interest in Bulloch County history.

  In the May 4, 1938 edition of the Bulloch Herald, on the coming Saturday of May 6, 1938, the first legal whiskey would be sold in Bulloch County since Dec. 19, 1879.

Governor and Gen. James Edward Oglethorpe, Georgia's founding father, had wanted to create a sober colony from the very beginning, but the colonists had other ideas and simply ignored him.

Even when King George flatly banned the sale of rum in Georgia in 1735, the colonists continued to party on. The Trustees of Georgia finally gave up in 1742 and began licensing taverns and public houses to sell alcohol.

In 1880, a Georgia state statute was passed that allowed individual counties to ban the sale of alcohol. Partly because of the Atlanta Riots of 1906, in 1907 the Georgia state legislature voted to ban the sale of alcohol statewide.

Prohibition had been instituted nationwide in the United States after the passage of the 19th Amendment by the United State Congress in 1919, which forbade the manufacture, distribution and sale of alcohol.

The United States government finally repealed this national prohibition of alcohol with the passage of the 21st Amendment to the Constitution on Feb. 20, 1933.

As this was the only amendment to the Constitution which repealed an earlier amendment, it required special state ratifying conventions. Thirty-eight of the nation's 48 states ratified the amendment. Hawaii and Alaska had not yet been granted statehood.

However, two states' conventions openly rejected the 21st Amendment (North and South Carolina), while another eight states had refused to hold conventions at all (Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, Kansas, Oklahoma, Nebraska, and North and South Dakota).

In April of 1938, the Bulloch Herald had announced the results of a special election held to decide the legalization of the sale of alcohol in Bulloch County. Of the 5,000 voters qualified to participate in the special election, 425 voted for the legalization, whereas 103 voted to the contrary.

The citizens of Brooklet (District 1523) had opposed the new legislation the most strongly of all of the county's districts, with 26 voting for and 24 against. Over in the Club House (District 44) all 23 voters were in favor, making the district's vote unanimous. Bulloch County was one of 22 of Georgia's 159 counties to approve the sale of liquor within its borders.

The first three businesses to be approved under the new legislation as licensed purveyors of alcoholic beverages were licensee No. 1 Lem Gould, licensee No. 2 W.W. Mallard and licensee No. 3 Paul Johnson.

Not surprisingly, the United Brewers Industrial Foundation flooded the newspaper with advertisements which stated that “Beer is an honest drink... mild, wholesome, and refreshing. There is nothing more promising to combat the evil of drinking too much alcohol than the opportunity of drinking good beer.”

Roger Allen is a local lover of history. Allen provides a brief look each week at the area's past. E-mail Roger at

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