Charlie Webster, the sheriff of Richmond County from 1984 to 2000, was recently called out of retirement to lend his aid and advice to officials who found a moonshine operation in south Richmond County. Before he became sheriff, he was a state revenue agent combating moonshiners.
1. Why did you become a state revenue agent?
Well, when I first came out of the United States Navy - I was in there from 1952 to 1956 - I came home and I didn't have a job at the time. I was talking to one of my brothers-in-law, and he asked me if I wanted to be a revenue agent. I worked with him for a few days to see how I liked it, and I really did like it. I went in on April 2, 1956, and I really enjoyed the job.
2. Back in the day, how would you go about finding these moonshine operations?
When you learn about liquor and how it's made, it gives you an instinct on where to look. For most good investigations, you'd have informants.
3. Were you ever in any pretty dangerous situations?
Not particularly, maybe one close call. But it turned out fine. On the whole, a lot of the moonshiners, about 80 percent of them, were good people.
4. How widespread were moonshining operations back then?
It was plentiful. There was a lot of corn liquor made back then. I worked in Burke, Richmond and Columbia counties. There was more in Burke than the other two counties because there were a lot of good places to hide it. It was one of the top counties in the state for moonshine.
5. What ended the heyday of moonshine in rural areas?
Drugs came in during the late 1960s and started pushing it out.