1602 Tulip Lane Fairmont WV 26554 US
My uncle, Fred Heston, remembers the day very clearly. It was cold and damp, and he was outside gathering a bucket of coal. Inside, his mother and brothers and sister were gathered around the coal stove. His father, Burt Heston, was upstairs in the bedroom lying down on his back; Burt said he always did his best thinking on his back.
A man walked up to the door on the lower side of the house and knocked on the door. He asked, “Is this the house where you buy whiskey?” Fred’s younger brother hollered back, “Yes, come on in. You can get it upstairs.” The man turned around, waved his arm, and whistled. A big touring car came charging up the road. The top was down. There were men inside the car and others standing on the running boards holding onto the sides. The men were all carrying guns.
They charged through the door and loudly announced that they were Revenue Agents. Fred heard a lot of commotion going on as they scrambled through the house. Burt jumped out the second story window and took off running. One of the agents fired his gun in the air and yelled for him to stop. Burt was a Veteran of WWI and knew trench warfare. He only ran faster and harder, zigzagging down a hill until he disappeared into an abandoned mine opening.
In a panic, one of the children threw two bottles of whiskey into the stove. Both of them exploded and caught the house on fire. Surprisingly, the agents were able to put out the fire. As it turned out, those bottles were the only evidence found in the house
Fred’s uncle Joe Bob wasn’t as lucky; they raided his general store at the same time. There they found a large quantity of moonshine. Joe Bob had 8 kids and one on the way. He had been disabled since a train severed his left leg at age 12. He needed the money that moonshine brought—and he thought the government should not be interfering.
With Joe Bob’s pregnant wife seated behind him in the courtroom, the judge’s offered to set him free if he would only swear that he would quit producing moonshine. Joe Bob defiantly refused the offer by telling the judge, “Your honor, give me liberty or give me death.” He left the judge no choice but to sentence him. Feeling sorry for Joe Bob’s wife, the judge sentenced him to less than a year in the county jail so his family could visit. They never found the still.
Our family had arrived in the Monongahela River valley just before the revolutionary war. Settling below Pittsburgh, the Heston boys were known from Fredricktown to Opekeski to Goose Run to Mudlick to Pinchgut Hollow. We had a proud history of serving our country in wartime, and making farm whiskey. However, all the distilling ended on that day in 1932, that is, until now.