VERDE HERITAGE 1925: COTTONWOOD Pool Hall Raide
News about the liquor raids at Cottonwood appeared first in the "Verde Copper News" on Monday, March 9.
"SHERIFF VISITS:" Yavapai County "Sheriff Ed Weil and two deputies were in Cottonwood last Saturday night [March 7]. With the aid of local officers they made a series of raids and searches at various places in the town that have been accused of peddling moonshine. They were diligent in the search and managed to get several small bottles of yellowish liquid and several larger bottles, and captured one violator of the law. About 11 p.m. they carried the violator before Judge Robinson, who promptly released the prisoner on bail."
"Among the places searched were the old Realto Theater building and the old Clyde and Requena pool hall. The movements of the officers were rather spectacular."
"There were about 20 persons in the Requena pool hall. The sheriff and chief deputy entered the front door and made all the loiterers put up their hands and keep them up until a thorough search of the premises could be made. Sheriff Weil himself sat on the pool table with two wicked-looking revolvers in hand and directed the search. The doors were locked and not a soul could get out until the search was over. An amused crowd congregated in front and watched the proceedings. Puts a fellow in mind of Arizona 40 years ago."
(Verde Copper News; Jerome; Monday, March 9, 1925; page 2.)
Information about the raids was telephoned to Prescott for publication.
"LIQUOR RAIDS AT COTTONWOOD"
"Lining up between 30 and 40 customers in the pool hall of Leo Regina at Cottonwood last night, Sheriff Weil and a force including federal and local authorities, conducted a search that revealed a considerable amount of liquor, according to accounts telephoned to Prescott."
"Regina, who has conducted a pool room at Cottonwood for a number of years, was arrested and taken before Justice of the Peace Robertson, who released him on $250 cash bond. This was the first raid on record against this pool hall, so far as is known here."
"The confiscated liquor is said to have amounted to 10 small and 8 large bottles of moonshine."
(Weekly Journal-Miner; Prescott; March 11, 1925; and The Verde Independent; March 10, 2013.)
Ed Weil was the Sheriff of Yavapai County from January 1, 1925, until December 31, 1926. He ran for sheriff on the Republican ticket.
Another version of the events was published.
Ed Weil was called "the two gun sheriff. ... Before the election he promised that if he got the job he would clean up the wide open places around the mining camps." Everyone knew that a wide open dive near a mining camp was a pretty rough place. "He was told that if he tried it, he would be ridden out of town on a rail."
Sheriff Weil blew into the Tia Juana dance hall in Cottonwood at night with his six shooters and two deputies. "He lined 45 men and 22 women in the place up against the wall," and sent his deputies through the place to gather up the evidence. While waiing for his deputies to collect the 2 truckloads of evidence, "Sheriff Weil sat on a pool table, legs dangling over, and two pistols displayed careless-like. The men with hands up grew restless." Sheriff Weil "began joking with them and finally told them to go sit down and be good little boys. The whole 45 obeyed as though they were in Sunday school."
"Among the 45 men were some bad hombres, a number with seveal notches in their pistols." Sheriff Weil "did not even take the trouble to relieve them of their guns, telling them he supposed none of them wanted to commit suicide," Sheriff Weil and his deputies "drove the whole crowd out into the street, nailed up the dive," loaded their 2 trucks with evidence, and went back home."
"The tough, wide open, vicious Cottonwood dives are wide open no more. A little white mule corn liquor is smuggled in there, of course, as everywhere, but just try to buy a drink after the word has come that Ed Weil's big Studebaker car is on that side of the mountains!" Sheriff Weil is still waiting to be ridden out of town on a rail.
Ed Weil "told the folks of his county that if he were elected sheriff, he'd clean the mining country up so's it would be fit to raise a family in. All around in the mountains, up canyons and gullies and in deep holes in the rocks or out on deserted ranches, were moonshine stills, bringing into being out of corn mash, wheat, rye or even fruit --- vile, powerful liquor that would run an automobile engine except that it might blow the cylinder heads off. Yavapai County has an area of 8,130 square miles, with an average of 3 persons to the mile."
"The sheriff asked --- and got --- a Big Six Studebaker automobile. Then you ought to have seen him clean up! He has had stills piled up all over the big car, and for awhile, the copper production of his office, in the shape of stills, almost equaled the production of the big mines in Jerome."
"He didn't 'monkey around' either. Where there was a still, he just simply went and got it. ... Grumbles Sheriff Weil: 'Here I've got a dozen more places to raid and I need room to store the copper in. I'm running a sheriff's office, not a copper storage warehouse.'"
(THE ARIZONA SHERIFF; by Major Grover F. Sexton; "The Deputy from Yavapai;" published by The Studebaker Corporation of America; 1925/1928; pages 8-10, 24-25; and The Verde Independent; March 11, 2013.)
A response was printed in the "Verde Copper News' on January 15, 1926.
"Cottonwood was most willfully and maliciously libeled in an article purported to have been published first in the 'Saturday Evening Post' and later in a book which is being circulated by the Studebaker Corporation. This book is entitled 'The Arizona Sheriffs,' written by Major Grover F. Sexton, and illustrated by Benton H. Clark. On page 10 under the title of 'Copper' appears the libelous matter stating that Yavapai's Two Gun Sheriff Weil raided the Tia Juana dance hall in Cottonwood and held 45 men and 22 women in suspense with hands up, while a corps of deputies searched the premises and secured a great amount of liquor, and that since his raid the 'vicious Cottonwood dives are wide open no more.'"
"There is some truth in the article, namely that Sheriff Weil did raid a pool hall and sat with two guns at his command, and that some evidence was secured in violation of the Volstead amendment. But the statement regarding the number of men in the pool hall at the time of the search was overdrawn by about 23, and there were no women. There is not and never was any such dance hall operated in Cottonwood as above stated. These statements are all absolute falsehoods and the writer should be taken to task for his slanderous remarks and may yet be."
"Cottonwood is an unincorporated town with about 800 population and about 42 business houses. It joins with Clemenceau, also unincorporated, in one of the best schools for its size in the state. Cottonwood has had representation of two strong church organizations within its confines and has patrons of two more in the sister town. Its citizens are just as much law abiding in proportion to its population as will be found anywhere, and the town is strangely free from hypocrites. In time of need the little town has always rallied to the support of the needy, and many an indigent case is taken care of and the outside world hears nothing of it."
"It is true that there is some boisterousness at times, but most of these times the hilarious ones have been accompanied by well filled bottles on their entrance to the town, and many are loaded before they arrive. If ever a woman was seen to mingle with men in a pool hall it has been very rare indeed, and no bawdy women are allowed to frequent pool halls and never have been here."
"The general makeup of the citizenry of Cottonwood is as good in proportion to their number as in any other town or city. A petition is to be freely circulated and sent to the offending publishers, and a retraction is demanded. The citizens of Cottonwood do not mind hearing the truth, but such deliberate falsehoods must be corrected."
(Verde Copper News; Jerome; Friday, January 15, 1926; page 5.)