Prohibition in Fort Atkinson

Date in History: 1917-1919

The local temperance movement flexed its muscle in 1917 when Fort Atkinson voted to become a dry town, joining 40 other communities statewide. Eleven towns, including Jefferson, voted to keep the taverns open. “Jefferson saloonkeepers are getting ready for one big carouse,” the newspaper reported after the election. “Boozers don’t need to worry over Jefferson. She’ll be wet when Hades freezes over.”

Fort soon tired of its self-imposed sobriety and a year later voted to reverse their decision. They weren’t wet for long though, as a few months later the 18th Amendment prohibiting the manufacture, sale or transportation of liquor went into effect. The bars closed on July 1st, 1919 and stayed closed for the next 14 years – even in Jefferson.

This historic document aired on the radio as an Historic Minute on 03/10/2003.

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