Making Moonshine & Molasses: Tales From The Great Depression

When Eugene Michalsky was born at home on the farm in January 1931, the midwife who assisted his mother received a pint of fresh sweet cream in payment. 

“In those days, there wasn’t much money,” says the 86-year-old Fayetteville resident. 

Eugene was the third of nine children born to Peter Paul and Frances Krenek Michalsky. The family grew cotton and corn on a 34-acre farm about a mile east of town on what was then called Roznov Road, now FM 1291. Sharecroppers, the Michalsky’s rented the land and their three milk cows. Their landlord received part of the cotton and corn harvest and all the calves to pay the rent each year. At one time, though, Peter Michalsky owned the land he later rented. 

“I’ve been told that prohibition put my daddy out of business and made him broke. He had a business in town, a café that also sold liquor in two buildings that stood where the new Fayetteville Bank was built. Daddy lost that business, which he inherited from his father, Valentine Michalsky. He lost the land where we lived because he couldn’t make the payments,” Eugene says.

During prohibition, Eugene’s grandparents, who lived near Ellinger, and many of their neighbors, cooked corn whiskey in stills. Eugene remembers when he was a small child the excitement when the family got word that three cars of revenue agents from the federal government’s Bureau of Prohibition were headed their way. The revenuers combed the farm, but never found the still Mrs. Michalsky had hidden in the nearby creek.  

“Somebody had turned my grandparents in. Informers,” Eugene explains. “But everybody was cooking whiskey just to get by in those days. I’ve heard it said that the Colorado River from Columbus to La Grange smelled like a brewery.” 

 

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Fayette County Record

127 S. Washington St.
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La Grange, TX 78945
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