Third-generation moonshiners share the experience of making the drink in Franklin County

The Moonshine Express will be held this Sunday behind Benjamin Franklin Middle School in Rocky Mount

FRANKLIN COUNTY, Va. – Henry Lee Law is a third-generation moonshiner.

“They scooped up on me a few times, tried to bulldog me into the ground,” Law said.

His grandfather and father have experience making illegal alcohol.

When Law was 18 and began to make moonshine with his father, he was able to escape the law a few times.

“There’s something about it, you making it and getting away from the law, something about when the man tries to bulldog you to ground and you just lost 3 or 4 thousand dollars, but yet you got away, that feels good,” he said.

Law says in the 70s when working with his father, making illegal moonshine It was an intricate operation to avoid jail time.

He says his family always had to keep a lookout for the authorities but also had to constantly move moonshine operations in Franklin County Woods.

[READ MORE: How did Franklin County become the Moonshine Capital of the World?]

These are a few search warrants his father received from the Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Commission.

To help prevent from getting busted, Law’s father, had a police scanner.

“One morning, he call me and he said, ’Henry, the law is at your house.’ What do you mean the law is at my house? I had just put up an electric fence that weekend, where my horses was at. They didn’t know it, they were in there before daylight. They got on that electric fence and they were raising cane, so dad’s listening on the scanner and said don’t get out of bed lay down today the law is at the house.”

While Law has experience making illegal moonshine, his operations are now legal.

“When I applied for my license in Richmond, they kept sending me papers back wanting serial numbers we built everything we built our steels,” he said. “I couldn’t get through to them I sent a letter back saying, I’ll put a serial number on it if you want me to but I didn’t buy it commercially, and finally they quit sending me letters.”

“Moonshine is a big deal around here, it’s legal now most places,” said Linda Stanley, managing director of the Franklin County Historical Society.

Stanley says the organization is hosting a moonshine festival this Sunday in Franklin County.

The goal is to highlight the significance of moonshine to Franklin County.

“Illegal liquor is the way we made money. We put the roofs on churches, We built schools. We did everything with it. Most moonshiners, if you read the history, were very good people. The only bad thing they did was not pay taxes, and maybe get in a shoot-up,” Stanley said.

Now that moonshine is legal, people like Law are pleased to be able to share his history.

In fact, he’s documented the history in a book he wrote.

“Everybody wanted something better for their children. The moonshiners, that’s what it’s all about,” Law said.

The Moonshine Express is Sunday behind Benjamin Franklin Middle School in Rocky Mount.

Admission is $15 and children younger than 15 are free.

The event starts at 1 p.m. and ends at 4:30 p.m.

About the Author:

Duke Carter returned to 10 News in January 2022.