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Thursday, June 30, 2016

King of the Moonshiners #history #georgiapioneers

Jeannette Holland AustinKing of the Moonshiners
By Jeannette Holland Austin
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"Ayres Jones was a character. Lieutenant McIntyre of the United States Army was killed while assisting US deputy marshals to raid a Gilmer County in the spring of 1878. There was a mystery about the killing of McIntyre which needed clearing up. At the time, it was thought that Ayres Jones and his brother were guilty of this killing. For months, deputies sought out Ayres Jones and his brother, to bring them to trial. They lived in the wildest and most thinly populated portion of Georgia, and knew the mountain paths well, so they were able to elude and defy arrest. About a year after McIntyre was killed, however, the Jones brothers were captured by a bold plot to share them, planned by Deputy Marshal J. B. Gaston and two assistants. When the brothers were brought into Atlanta, they looked more like wild men than dwellers in a civilized community, having long, wiry, black hair which fell loosely over their shoulders, and thick beards. The brothers were gaints in form and their eyes had a ferocious, but furtive glance, which betrayed their fiery nature.

Moonshine Still
Moonshine Still near Ellijay, Georgia.

The United States District Court tried them, but they were acquitted because of lack of evidence to connect them with the MyIntyre murder. Upon their release, they returned to Gilmer County, but did not settle in the old places. The glimpse they had gotten of the civilized world upset their former habits. Before capture, they had never seen a locomotive and knew nothing of the ways of the world. From mountain desperadoes, they were converted into wily moonshiners, who depended on cunning more than reckless behavior.

But it was not too long before Ayres Jones and his brother were heard of again, not in connection with the homicide, but as crafty and successful evaders of the revenue detectives who sought out the dens of mountain moonshiners. Warrant after warrant was produced, but they could not be found. As they fled from place to place, reports were received of their being from all parts of the north Georgia mountains. Eventually, Ayres Jones was heard of as being in Chattooga County. Marshall Nelms sent Deputies E. C. Murphy, William Killy, and H. C. Garrison to capture them. After being gone a week, they discovered that the gang of moonshiners had spread among people who refused to provide information." Ref: The Constitution, Atlanta 8-18-1885

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