On This Day in Wisconsin History: 1931 Prohibition Bust

Prohibition Bust Wisconsin

Driving down I-94 with a a few hundred cases of Spotted Cow in the trunk is just a normal gameday for any Wisconsinite in 2021. But in the depths of Prohibition that wasn’t exactly welcomed by local authorities. Alcohol was banned across the country for 13 years from 1920-1933. They really expected Americans to go on a cleanse for that long?

Here’s the story of a Crandon man who probably disappointed the party he was headed to by not showing up with copious amounts of alcohol.

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So what happened on May 11th? Well in 1931, Clifford Khan of Crandon (how’s that for alliteration) was apprehended by Janesville Police with 90 gallons of moonshine in his car. That’s only like 960 beers but 960 beers that would be like 100 proof. So a lot of alcohol.

At this point in time, it was the largest single seizure of illegal alcohol by any local law enforcement.

Khan got a $700 fine and two months in jail, so basically the same punishment as a drunk driver in Wisconsin today. When worlds collide! $700 in 1931 adjusted for inflation would be $5,313 in 2021. That makes a lot more sense as punishment for driving 1,000 drinks around when it was illegal. But just two months in jail? Seems generous.

It’s also very Wisconsin-esque to have an entire day in history dedicated to how a man was caught with a bunch of alcohol in his car. You could probably dedicate every day in Wisconsin history to an alcohol-related event if you really wanted to.

Stay on the lookout for our new series “On This Day in Wisconsin History” with posts like this one!

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