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Uncle Jack Fultz’s Memories of Carter County: Wet, dry and moist: Kentucky’s patchwork alcohol laws are nothing new

By: Jeremy D. Wells
Carter County Times

The Kentucky legislature voted to make the entire state dry in November 1919, a full two months before the Volstead Act led to nationwide prohibition in January 1920. But Kentucky was a patchwork of wet and dry counties before that, and in 1918 the state legislature made it illegal to carry alcohol into a dry county or city. 

The August 1, 1918 edition of the Carter County Herald ran an article titled TRAFFIC OF WHISKEY TO STOP. In that article the paper noted that the Kentucky legislature had made it an offense punishable by fine to take alcohol into a dry territory. The article noted that “City Policeman A.M. Johnson and Deputy George Fraly have joined hands with Police Judge Albert J. Counts and ‘Squire I. F. Tyree” and had pledged to enforce the rule until it was ruled unconstitutional by a court of appeals. 

Of course it wouldn’t be long until prohibition would become the law of the land. Those in favor of temperance laws pointed to spousal and child abuse associated with alcohol and with incidents like the one that occurred at an ice cream social several days before the August 1 story. 

That July 27 article, “BAD ACTER” THAT COULD BE TAMED, related the story of an assault by “Henry Fannin from over the edge of Lewis County” who in a drunken state – or feigning inebriation – assaulted another man at an ice cream social fundraiser for the Red Cross, causing the victim to receive nine stitches over his eye to close the gash caused by the jug. 

Today Olive Hill and Grayson are wet cities in an otherwise dry county, making Carter County “moist” by definition, but there is no fine for adults who wish to legally purchase alcohol in one of those cities and take it to their home in the otherwise dry county. 

Editor’s Note: This is the 15th in a series of articles drawn from the historical newspaper clippings in the scrapbooks of Jack Fultz. We thank Sally James of Sally’s Flowers in Olive Hill for sharing her uncle’s collected clippings with us and the community. – Jeremy D. Wells, editor, Carter County Times

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