Congress declared that on April 7, 1933, 3.2% alcohol beer could once again be sold. After 13 years of national Prohibition, beer was back. They called it “New Beer’s Day.” Ray Gesell, Randolph and Catherine’s grandson, opened the Old Trail Tavern that July just outside the city limits of Moorhead. Today, that bar is Jerry’s Tavern on 11th Street North, Moorhead. Here is a page from the diary that shows the opening day.
Throughout history farmers have used fermentation to preserve fruit harvests. The Probstfield family of Oakport could not possibly eat all the apples grown in their orchards before the fruit rotted, so they turned their apples into alcoholic cider which could be enjoyed throughout the year. The juice would naturally start to ferment (turn alcoholic) after just a day or two! As long as the family did not sell it or move it off their property, making cider or other fruit wines did not violate Prohibition laws.
Congress declared that on April 7, 1933, 3.2% alcoholic beer could once again be sold. After 13 years of national Prohibition, beer was back! They called it “New Beer’s Day.” Applicants had to get permission from their Township Boards before applying for a license from the County Commission. All ten rural 3.2 beer establishments in 1933 opened in the more alcohol-friendly western part of Clay county. The Downer Mercantile and Baker Confectionery were the first in line for licenses. Adopted from the Clay County Auditor’s Records.
The Wambachs are Clay County pioneers who have been close neighbors and friends of the Probstfields since the 1870s. Here we see the Palm Saloon in Georgetown, opened by Matt Wambach in 1904.
The Probstfield family was Progressive in their politics. Randolph and Catherine’s daughter Cornelia was active in the Women’s Suffrage movement. She married and moved to La Crosse but her son, Ray Gesell, returned to the Probstfield Farm in 1916. He was the driving force behind the farm until his death in the 1980s. Although the Women’s Suffrage movement was often Dry in their politics, Cornelia’s father (Randolph) owned a saloon for a time, her brother (Andy) worked in a brewery, and her son (Ray) opened a bar after Prohibition.
Probstfield family diary entries mention that Randolph stopped by John Erickson’s brewery from time to time on trips into Moorhead. He bought Erickson’s beer and he also bought hops, which indicates German-born Randolph did some homebrewing. One of Randolph’s oldest and closest friends from the pioneer days, Nick Hoffman, owned a brewery in East Grand Forks. Randolph’s son Andy worked at Hoffman’s brewery. According to family letters, Randolph eagerly awaited Andy’s gifts of Bock beer in the spring.
The Probstfield Farm Living History Foundation invites you to save the date for our Spring Picnic and Annual Meeting to be held on May 16, 2016. Rainout date is May 19. Wagon rides start at 5:00pm, potluck picnic at 6:00pm, annual meeting at 6:30pm. Hope we see you there!