Untold stories of local Moonshine history

Published 9:24 am Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Everything we know about moonshiners and moonshining history is wrong.

That’s one of the themes of the Center for Cultural Preservation’s new documentary film on regional moonshine history, The Spirits Still Move Them. David Weintraub, award-winning director / producer of forty history films interviews nearly three dozen moonshiners and their families in Western North Carolina, East Tennessee and the Dark Corner of South Carolina to tell a story about moonshine history that’s never been relayed before. 

According to Weintraub, “The myth that all moonshiners are violent, lazy, drunk criminals hiding in the woods wearing long beards and longer arrest records has been recounted by the media for over 100 years. In reality, liquor production was hard, backbreaking work that only the most entrepreneurial farmers conducted which they did in order to survive difficult circumstances and put food on the table. It’s a fascinating story and far more interesting than the myths and distortions we’ve heard.” 

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The film digs deep into Southern Appalachian history exposing the stereotypes and fabrications about mountaineers that have been fodder for movies and cable television programs for generations from the Beverly Hillbillies to the Moonshiner Show. Says Cody Bradford, fifth generation moonshiner and owner of Howling Moon Distillery in Asheville, “People think all moonshiners were outlaws, but it was the federal government that enacted an excise tax after the Civil War that poor farmers had to bear. It was either starve or make liquor and it’s not difficult to understand which one they chose.” 

Also featured in the film are the Hyder Family, twelve sisters and brothers from Landrum whose father was a moonshiner and involved the entire family in the operation. Larry, Steve and Tony Hyder discuss making peach brandy and corn liquor and how it helped put food on the table during hard times.   

The film will have its Tryon premiere at the Tryon International Film Festival at the Tryon Theater on Saturday, October 9 at 2:00 p.m. For more information, visit the film festival’s website tryoninternationalfilmfestival.com 


Submitted by David Weintraub