Ward infant killed during war between distillers

Published 9:35 am Tuesday, April 9, 2013

During the fiercest fighting between illicit distillers themselves and Revenue Agents during the 1870s and 1880s, a number of innocent people were killed or severely wounded. The youngest was Jackson Ward’s infant son, who was being carried in his father’s arms when they happened upon Tom Johnson on Feb. 15, 1877.

Ward was carrying his small son because they were planning to go farther than the infant was able to walk down the road at the foot of Glassy Mountain.

Ward and Johnson were long-time neighbors. Each minded his own business, left his neighbors alone unless they needed help, and each produced his own moonshine to support the family.

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At one point, Johnson had a change of heart, and closed down his distillery, vowing to have nothing to do with distilling again. Neighbors were fine with his decision.

Unfortunately, Johnson began to hire out for one-time assignments to Revenue Agents, assisting them when raiding illicit stills and locating caches of moonshine on which no tax had been paid. It wasn’t a lot of money, but it helped provide for the family.