Author releases new book on moonshine

Published 9:54 am Friday, November 4, 2011

Book signing set for Saturday at library

Whether you call it white lightning, hooch or mountain dew, moonshine has been as much apart of Appalachian history as the hills it was distilled in.

Saturday, an author with local ties is returning to Ironton to tell the story of the illicit spirits, as she calls it.

Marilyn Thornton Schraff, originally of Lawrence County, now of Marion, will be at the Briggs-Lawrence County Public Library from 2 to 4:30 p.m. for a signing of her latest release, “Moonshine: Illicit Spirits in the Appalachian Hills of Rural Southern Ohio.”

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After the release of her first work, “Appalachian Childhood,” Schraff said she was bombarded by people wanting to hear more about moonshine, which was mentioned only briefly in the book. Some even had their own family stories to share with her.

“It was a community effort, because people had an interest in it,” she said.

“Moonshine” has various accounts of arrests and indictments of runners, distillers and lookouts, as well as news articles, recipes, a drawing of how to set up a still and photos. The book also delves into moonshine’s medicinal uses.

“Appalachian people are known for being very self-sufficient,” Schraff said. “And people are still making it. The recipes have been handed down for generations.”

Schraff said she learned a lot researching and speaking to people about moonshine. She even found out her grandmother was involved in making moonshine, and several other members of her family are included in the indictment published in the book.

Schraff’s daughter, Michal, who is on the cover of the book, was crowned Moonshine Queen at an Ohio moonshine festival in 1988, and said she never knew until now why her own mother had been so proud. She said her family never talked about moonshining when she was growing up.

There are accounts of many Lawrence County natives in the book as well.

“I couldn’t believe all the action in little old Ironton,” Schraff said.

“Moonshine: Illicit Spirits in the Appalachian Hills of Rural Southern Ohio,” will be available for purchase at the signing. The cost is $19.99 and Schraff has agreed to pay the sales tax. Her first book will also be available for sale. Schraff said that some of the families mentioned in the book will answer questions at the signing.

“I want everyone to feel welcome to come,” Schraff said.