On Thursday, September 21, historian Phillip Andrew Gibbs will give a talk about his new book, Murder and Mountain Justice in the Moonshine Capital of the World. His is a story of hard spirits and defiant souls in Franklin County, Virginia.
The talk will begin at 7 pm at the Salem Museum, which has featured on display a century-old still from Virginia’s mountains. Gibbs will sign copies of his book after his talk. This program is free and open to the public.
The descendants of the Scots-Irish who settled in the mountains of Franklin County openly defied the law and employed their own notions of justice to defend their traditions and livelihood. During Prohibition, the production of moonshine skyrocketed in “the Moonshine Capital of the World,” but the liquor didn’t stop flowing from the mountains when the Eighteenth Amendment was repealed.
County and state officials struggled to maintain order in a region where unsolved murders, strange disappearances, and senseless killings were a way of life. The peak came in 1978, with nine murders linked to moonshine and drugs in the county. Gibbs will tell the story of that terrible year.
Phillip Andrew Gibbs, a native Virginian, is Professor Emeritus of history at Middle Georgia State University. His ancestors have lived in Franklin County and the Blue Ridge Mountains since the 1750s. An avid cyclist and tennis player, he also works as a professional musician and is a founding member of the Midlife Chryslers, a rock, pop and R&B band that performs throughout the southeastern United States.