prohibition

The National Prohibition Act passed over Woodrow Wilson’s veto on October 28, 1918 and provided enforcement for the 18th Amendment outlawing liquor. The Act took effect on the Federal level on January 29, 1920 and was not repealed until December 5, 1933. During these Prohibition years in America, it was illegal to produce, transport, or possess liquor. However, sailing vessels routinely used Tubbs Inlet to smuggle rum, whisky, and other liquor into Brunswick County from the Bahamas, Jamaica and Canada. You will find liquor bottles scattered in the woods all around the Ocean Isle Beach area even today as locals back in the 1920’s transferred smuggled liquor into other containers, because if caught with the glass containers they would have been arrested. Residents would quickly unload the contraband cargo at Seaside Landing and discard the glass liquor bottles in the woods all around this landing area. Isolation of this area in the 1900’s made Brunswick County ideal for smuggling liquor during the Prohibition era. Illegally smuggling liquor was big business in the Ocean Isle Beach area throughout the 1920’s.

The hill on Ocean Isle Beach where the brick Odell Williamson house is located is called Gause’s Hill. That hill was originally part of the William Gause Plantation that stretched from the ocean to several miles inland. Gause’s Hill has always been the highest point on Ocean Isle Beach. In the late 1920’s, E.J. Smith built a dance hall on Gause’s Hill. The dance hall on Gause’s Hill in the 1920’s was just a Honky Tonk and that people as far away as Whiteville would come to there to party. They would drive to Gause’s Hill in their Model A and Model T automobiles on clay and gravel roads. Ford produced the first Model T and Model A automobiles in 1907 and 1927 respectively. This dance hall operated at the height of the Prohibition era so any liquor in possession of anyone would have been illegal.

 

Prior to 1934 when the Inland Waterway was dug through this area, you could easily walk or drive from the mainland to the ocean. So Ocean Isle Beach was not even an island until 1934.

 

The Great Depression in the United States began with the stock market crash on October 29, 1929 and ended with the onset of World War II in 1939. During the Great Depression, farm prices fell 60 percent, construction halted everywhere, unemployment rates skyrocketed, and people suffered. Cities were especially hard hit. However in the Ocean Isle Beach area, people were already unemployed and almost poverty stricken.