HISTORY OF SMITH TOWNSHIP
Worth County, Missouri

Missing Money From
The Moonshine Still





About a mile and a half north and east of William Kirk’s home place (near where Gilbert Batt now lives), on a south branch off Lot's Creek was a cabin. Well, I guess it still is to some degree. If you look hard you can still see some of the remains even after nearly a hundred and twenty five years.

In the summer of 1884 or 1885 a man by the name of Dugan (no one seemed to know if that was his first name or last) suddenly and quietly appeared. He was a loner, and could have been there months earlier and nobody might have known.

Rumor had it that he had tired of domestic life and henceforth left a wife and children somewhere in Ringgold County. That was not an infrequent occurrance during those times, so there just might some credibility to that rumor.

Or, then again, maybe it was just his passion for a easy money that kept him a step or two ahead of the law.

Dugan ran a still. He slow-cooked his mash in iron kettles in a lean-to hooked to the back of his house. Then, he milked the juices from it in a still beneath an old tarp just a few feet away.

He would stop in at the Allendale store every few weeks to pick up a supply of sugar that had been waggoned in from the train depot at Grant City. Now, the sugar was pretty obvious. There's only one occupation that uses that amount and everyone in the area knew it. No one was about to tell, though, as that would dry up the only supply of decent moonshine for miles around. In just a few short months Dugan had built up quite a clientele.

Dugan sold a lot of hooch, and questions were always popping up as to what he did with his money as he never seemed to venture from that cabin except for those few supplies. Supposition was that he either kept it secreted somewhere in his cabin, or possibly buried it somewhere nearby. Wherever it was, it had to be close at hand so that he could grab it and run at a second's notice.

Understand, now, that the law could be pretty lenient in those days. After all, there's a good chance the lawmen liked to have a swallow every now and then. As always happens, though, somebody complained, and the law came calling. He must have heard them as they sneaked through the timber and, as they broke through the nearest trees, let go with both blasts from a double-barrelled shotgun. He missed but, apparently, they didn't. He was shot from behind as he fled down the gully toward Lott's Creek. They did a quick search for him, but turned up nothing, so they assumed he was able to successfully get away through the heavy underbrush. They returned to the cabin and smashed the still, undoutedly taking a few gallons with them as 'evidence.'

What exactly happened to Dugan is not known. That winter, scattered bones were found a couple of miles north along Lott's Creek. Human bones. Wolves and coyotes had pretty much taken care of the body but a neighbor did identify remnants of the coat as Dugan's.

Much searching was done around the cabin site over the next few years for the money Dugan had earned from that elixir. The floor was dug up and chinks taken from between the wall logs. Digs were made of likely spots around the cabin but, after a leafy fall and wet winter, any trace of Dugan's digging, if he had indeed buried his stash, was obliterated.

Now, those were the days before metal detectors and other fancy electronics. The money is there somewhere. Some would have probably been in currency, long ago rotted away. But coin was then still preferred by most, so it is likely that, somewhere near that cabin, is a considerable sum of who-knows-what.



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