History of the Cowlitz County Peace Officer

Cowlitz County has had a colorful history. Through it all, the Peace Officer has always been there. From the first Sheriff who who had to perform a public hanging to the deputies who had to corral a maurading elephant. Join me as I gather the facts and true stories that describe the journey of the law enforcement officer in Cowlitz County from 1854 through today.

Friday, July 3, 2009

I Guess You Got Me Boys

In the late 1960’s, a big-time moonshine operator ran his still near Silver Lake. A lot of moonshine was produced and ultimately called the attention of the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax authorities, who spent weeks searching for the location. The finally found it hidden behind the fish farm pond where they stopped to buy fish for dinner. Here they found evidence in a batch of mash scattered along the bank where the spent grain was left as fish food. In order to proceed, a search warrant was necessary, so Sheriff Merle Bevins was contacted.

Without hesitation Sheriff Bevins secured a warrant and joined the party. At that point of time, he himself had to serve it and make the arrest. Unfortunately no one was home when the search warrant was served. Never-the-less, the site was located and searched. It was well-hidden in an old saw-filing shed from the early logging days. The inside walls were lined with bales of hay which kept the light from shining through the cracks while the still was in use at night.

Being persistent, they finally found the moon-shiner at home. The Alcohol and Tobacco Tax authorities told him they knew he was making “moon” and did he want to show them where he had his still? According to Sheriff Bevins, “He stuck his hands in his bib overalls and looked down at the ground for a long time, then he said: ‘I guess you got me boys!’ Then I served the warrant and arrested him.”

He took us out to the shed where we found a bunch of gallon jugs sitting around, one of which was full. This was taken as evidence. “I took the man to jail,” said Bevins.

In the end it was discovered that this still operator had been supplying wholesalers who bottled it for resale.

Interestingly enough, I found this story in “Law Enforcement in Washington State: The First 100 Years”. One day, while at the beach, I was browsing through the book and read this story. As I read the part where “He stuck his hands in his bib overalls and looked down at the ground…” I realized that I had a picture from this event. In one of the first batch of photos I got from the museum, there was this one. The description that came with it said “Sheriff Bevins with man arrested in an illegal wine making operation.” Sheriff Bevins is on the left in the photo and there is also an unidentified deputy on the right. I was facinated at how well the story described the photo perfectly since the book did not have any photos for the story.
~ DcU

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