Moonshiners, Bootleggers, Prohibition and Federal Revenuer

Just as I have been learning more about my husband's Conner and Rogers family in Tennessee and Georgia, the very moving and relevant "When Love is Not Enough: the Lois Wilson Story" aired tonight on CBS. The Hallmark Hall of Fame's presentation is based on the true story of the "sorely-tested but ultimately enduring love between Lois Wilson, co-founder of Al-Anon, and her husband Bill Wilson, co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous." Their story took place during the years 1918 and 1934. James Ray Rogers was nine years old when Lois and Bill got married and he died four years before Lois, in 1934, finally witnessed Bill get and stay sober – not through her help, but from the support of a fellow alcoholic and later Dr. Bob Smith. Out of their relationship, AA was born. But I did not intend to tell the Wilson's story, but to tell you of the young Ray Rogers. My father-in-law, Ray Allen Shubert, used to tell me of a couple of his uncles, George or "Shorty" and Jim, whom he remembered coming into Lenoir City in their fast cars and their fancy clothes and staying at the hotel down town. He said he thought they were bootleggers and that they had eventually moved from Blount County, Tennessee, to the Columbus, Georgia, area as whiskey dealers. He also told me Ray Rogers was killed by Federal "Revenuers" while he was carrying whiskey for his father, George. The Rogers descendant who provided the photos for this article, Paul Rogers, has told me that my father-in-law was correct. His grandfather, George "Shorty" Rogers, and greatuncle, James "Jim" Rogers, were the ones Mr. Shubert was talking about. Mr. Rogers sent me pictures of George and James "all dressed up like I imagine they were in Lenoir City so long ago."

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George R. "Shorty" Rogers on Left James "Jim" Rogers on Right Brothers and sons of Jesse and Martha M. Graves Rogers

I do not know the identity of the first of the Tennessee Rogers to go to Columbus, Georgia, but go they did! No one knows why they chose Columbus, but everyone agrees that they had to leave Tennessee – some believe they were "run out" of the state. George had many ties to moonshine before and after leaving Tennessee and in the 1920 Muscogee County, Georgia Census he lists his birthplace as the "United States” – not Tennessee or Georgia or Arkansas – just the United States! Do you think he didn't want anyone to know where he was? 2

George worked as a cab driver in Columbus and later owned a grocery store, selling and delivering moonshine in the Columbus area. He had many conflicts with the law and others during the Prohibition time. His son, James Ray Rogers, paid the ultimate price while working for George. On July 25, 1930, at the age of twenty-one he was killed by a federal dry agent while delivering a gallon of moonshine in Columbus. It was ruled that the agent's gun went off accidentally and the case was dismissed.

James Ray Rogers 1909 - 1930 Son of George "Shorty" Rogers and Elizabeth Humes Stinnett Brother of R. M. Rogers

When Prohibition ended, George and his son, R. M., opened one of the first liquor stores in Georgia, Rogers Liquor Store. They also opened the popular Rogers Supper Club, a restaurant next door at 14th Street and 5th Avenue in Columbus.

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R. M. Rogers 1914 - 1988 Son of George "Shorty" Rogers and Elizabeth Humes Stinnett Brother of James Ray Rogers

It is said that George's brother, Jim Rogers, never married or had children. He slipped one morning and hit the back of his head on the foot-board of his bed. The fall killed him. He is buried in the Rogers family plot in Riverdale Cemetery in Columbus.

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"The Killing of Ray Rogers" by Billie Atkins Permission to publish here by Paul Rogers

James Ray Rogers Dec. 12, 1909 - July 25, 1930 "Gone But Not Forgotten"

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George R. "Shorty" Rogers holding his son, R. M. with son, James Ray standing beside them.

I wonder where their mother, Eliza, was when this photograph was taken. Was she looking on, smiling proudly at the men in her family or was she sitting with them in the next photo?
Judith Richards Shubert Tennessee Memories February 5, 2012 judyshubert@yahoo.com SOURCES Websites: “Hallmark Video - Sneak Peek - CBS.com.” CBS TV Network Primetime, Daytime, Late Night and Classic Television Shows. N.p., n.d. Web. 26 Apr. 2010. “Moonshiners, Bootleggers, Prohibition and Federal Revenuers” Tennessee Memories. Author of blog, Judith Richards Shubert. Copyright 2013. Photographs: All photographs in the private collection of Paul Rogers, Columbus, Georgia. Digital format by Judith Richards Shubert. Permission given to publish here. Copyright 2013.

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