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The Franklin News-Post
P. O. Box 250
310 Main Street, SW
Rocky Mount, Virginia 24151
Fax: 540-483-8013

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Moonshine Memories
Rocky Mount woman remembers father’s haulin’ days
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Courtesy Photo: Martha Hubbard’s father, Jesse Law, hauled moonshine when she was a little girl. He is pictured above with his wife, Odell.

Friday, August 31, 2012


With the release of the movie "Lawless" this week, many residents of Franklin County are recalling memories and moonshining stories.

Such is the case with Martha Hubbard of Rocky Mount, who recalls the days when her father, Jesse Law, used to haul moonshine.

"Daddy was a hard worker," she said. "He was a foreman at R.O.W., the window factory that we now call MW or PlyGem."

Hubbard is one of seven children born to Jesse and Odell Law. Her recollections of her father are still very vivid, even though his moonshining adventures took place when she was a very young girl.

"I remember Daddy liked to gamble. I still remember the police coming to the door," she said. "The officer was Mr. Taylor and he lived right beside us and was Daddy's best friend. I'm sure he would try to help Daddy as best he could."

"The year must have been 1956 or 57, and I remember Mr. Taylor coming to the door and telling Daddy he was going to have to come inside and check the house for moonshine."

Law let the officer in, but asked them not to awaken the sleeping children upstairs. The policeman kindly obliged and proceeded to check the house.

"Little did they know, us children were sleeping with the moonshine under our beds," she said. "Most of it anyway. They still found some downstairs and took Daddy to jail. That was the only time I can remember the house being raided."

Hubbard also remembers her father having other run ins with the law. "I remember a time when Daddy would come in with his pockets full of silver dollars," she said. "He told us he had been running from the law and had to jump a fence and had tore his pants all to pieces."

"Daddy lived hard and fast and he died young," she added. "He died when he was 44 from a heart attack. Ironically, nobody shot him."

Hubbard sees herself as very much her father's daughter and recalls seeing the movie "Thunder Road," which she always associates with her father and the way he lived.

Hubbard is pretty excited about seeing the movie "Lawless," even though she is aware that a lot of the facts will be distorted.

"When Kiester Greer was writing his book 'The Moonshine Conspiracy,' I called him and asked if my family would be in his book," she said. "He told me not to ever be ashamed of my heritage. I told him, 'I'm not ashamed. I ate real well'."

Hubbard volunteers one day a week at the Franklin County History Museum. One day, while putting books away, she opened a book right to a page that had a picture of her father working.

"With my daddy dying so young and us not having a camera, we didn't have very many pictures of him," she said. "So it was a huge coincidence that I turned to that page that day and found a picture of him, with his hat cocked to one side. If you look at the moonshining pictures, you can see that they all wear their hats to one side. I made copies of that picture for all my siblings."

Hubbard was told that she also had moonshining uncles on her mother's side.

"I used to think my grandmother was ringing the dinner bell because it was time to eat," she said. "The bell was really being rung as a warning when they thought the police were coming."

Hubbard has two sons and six grandchildren and shares a home in Rocky Mount with her husband, Billie.

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