Henderson County, Kentucky History


Three years after Prohibition began, there was still more than 5,000 barrels of whiskey warehoused in Henderson. Probably more than a few people licked their lips when they learned of that fact in 1923, when the Gleaner published a story about it, but by that time it was too late - the whiskey had been moved to a facility in Owensboro.

The 5,265 barrels of whiskey had been stored in the bonded warehouse owned by Henry KRAVER, who also owned the Kentucky Peerless Distilling Company, which was located off Second Street near the overpass.

Only about 40 barrels were owned by KRAVER, who said many firms had stored whiskey there, and he was still owed nearly $20,000 in storage costs.

The removal of the whiskey took about two weeks, with several railroad cars being shipped daily under armed guard made up of railroad detectives and federal agents. KRAVER told the Gleaner that none of the whiskey was lost through theft or breakage.

Five government guards lost their positions with the removal of the whiskey.

"The KRAVER warehouses will now be deserted after they have been closely guarded day and night for three years to prevent robbery of the whiskey," the Gleaner reported. "Every hour since the government placed guards around the property it has been guarded with men armed with high-powered rifles and pistols."

The Peerless operation and its bonded warehouse were Henderson's most successful distillery; about a dozen other operations have operated in Henderson County, but only one of them since Prohibition.

In 1889, KRAVER bought an interest in the Peerless distillery from WORSHAM & SONS, who had started the business in 1881.

The WORSHAMS never made more than 300 to 400 barrels a year, although they started the "Peerless" brand of whiskey that was the company's premiere product.

KRAVER said he increased the output and in 1917 distilled 23,200 barrels. During the busy season, KRAVER ran 200 barrels every 24 hours, all of it bound for the wholesale trade. At one time, he said, he had 63,000 barrels in storage and was under $1 million bond to the government to ensure it would be properly aged.

Reprinted with permission.
Progress Edition, The Gleaner, Saturday, March 30, 1996
By Frank Boyett

Contributed by Netta Mullin, HCH&GS
Copyright 2002 HCH&GS