Tag Archives: Volstead Act

A Case of Mooo-nshine: Tipsy Cows Hit the Mash

The Volstead Act that ushered in the era of Prohibition was designed to prevent the manufacture, transportation and sale of alcohol in the United States. Don’t tell that to the cows.

It seems some of the dairy cows belonging to Robert Hanneman of Portage County, Wisconsin, found themselves in a state of intoxication in July 1922. How? Some mischievous bootleggers thought it would be fun to leave a barrel of mash in the pasture for Hanneman’s cows to eat. When Hanneman arrived at the pasture one mid-July evening, he was shocked to discover a half-dozen hammered Holsteins.

Talk about your mooo-nshine.

Wood County Undersheriff Cliff Bluett responded to the call.  “The whole herd was staggering around and they were in a worse intoxicated condition than any human can get,” Bluett reported.

According to the account in the Wood County Tribune: “One cow was missing entirely, another was dead drunk and could not be moved off the ground, five cows were finally driven into the barn but were so ‘pickled’ that it was found unsafe to leave them inside and had to be turned out and another cow was ‘so bad off’ that she collapsed in her over-intoxicated condition and could not be moved again, the undersheriff said.”

Farmer Hanneman reported one cow was so dead drunk she could not be budged from the pasture. Five bombed bovines stumbled about the barn and had to be let loose. Eventually, most of the crapulous cattle submitted to the evening milking. That left the farmer with a serious quandary: would this unusual “whole milk” put him afoul of Prohibition laws?

“A joke is a joke,” he said, “and we will deal with the culprits.”

No word if those pioneer cow-tippers were ever caught. Undersheriff Bluett was from Wood County, but the Hanneman farm was in Portage County. He sent his findings to his counterparts across the county line.