Whiskey Making on Finley Island, Alabama


    In about 1924 Will and Tressie Moore were living in South Pittsburg, Tennessee.  They had three children at that time.  Will's first cousin and best friend, Leamon Moore and his wife Leila (Fatty), came to visit with them.  Will and Leamon decided to leave the area; so they, their wives and the three kids piled into Leamon's old Model-T and headed south.

    They first ended up in the Decatur, Alabama area living in a tent.  There was very little work to be had other than farming; but they did not have the tools to do that.  So they decided that they could turn up some funds by making moonshine.  They selected Finley island in the Tennessee River as the site for their still. The island is under water now; but at that time it was wooded.  They used a rowboat to go back and forth to the island.

     One morning when Will and Leamon went to the still to make a run, Will's intuition told him that something was not quite right.  He expressed his concerns to Leamon; but Leamon  said "Will, you worry too much.  Everything is just fine".  But as they neared the still; even Leamon become concerned that thing were not what they should be.   So they decided to make a run for it back to the rowboat with escape on their mind. 

    Will was short, slim and fast; so he quickly outran both the revenuers and Leamon.  When he reached the boat, he jumped in and started rowing out into the river.  At that time Leamon reached the bank, and shouted "Damn it Will, you know I can't swim".  Will turned the boat around and went back to pick up Leamon.  As he neared the bank a revenuer jumped  into the water and grabbed onto the boat.  Will raised his paddle to knock him off; but just in time saw another one aiming a shotgun at him.  Fortunately better sense ruled and Will put the paddle down.

     Will and Leamon were put into the jail in Decatur.  Now Will was a wanted man in Marshall County, Alabama; so they knew it was just a matter of time before the Decatur police would find out who he was.  That evening Tressie and Leila baked a saw inside of a cake and brought it to the jail for them.  During the night Will and Leamon sawed through the bars and escaped.  They knew they had outstayed their welcome in Alabama; so they headed for Florida.