Prohibition in Manistee

‘The readjustment period has begun’

A 1935 picture shows the ornate building that housed Chris Peterson's bar located at 395 River St. It was the last bar to close in Manistee when the prohibition of alcohol was made legal in Michigan on May 1, 1918. Today the building is home to Reusch Jewelers.

By MARK FEDDER, Manistee County Historical Museum

PART 2 OF 3

In hindsight, one of the most interesting aspects of studying history is to see how certain nationwide events changed smaller communities within our country.

Although the nationwide ban on alcohol did not begin until the 18th Amendment took effect in January of 1920, there were many states that voted to prohibit alcohol before that. Michigan was one of those states and although it was voted to become a dry state in November 1916, the state law did not take effect until May 1, 1918.

Like all communities in the state, every saloon owner had to find a new line of work but, what makes Manistee County such an anomaly is that, for a community its size, there were plenty of saloons (26 in all) that had to close.

An article published in the Manistee Daily News on April 27, 1918 provides an excellent look at some of the saloon owners of Manistee; who they were, where their business was, how long they had been in business, and what their plans were now that alcohol was considered illegal:

“Of the saloonkeepers, quite a number of whom have been in business for periods ranging from 20 to 39 years, all appear to have adjusted themselves to the new order of things and none are loudly voicing any complaints. A few were frank enough to say they were glad to see the end of it.

“Adolph Lotz & Son (319 River St.) have already secured the agency for six cereal beverages and are planning, in addition to supplying this section with these gentle brews, on engaging in a large scale in the produce business.

“John Lorenz (279 River St.), 35 years in business, 28 of them in his present location, will turn his attention to the soft drink, cigar, and lunch room business.

“Nels Thompson (300 Sibben St.) and John A. Carlson (400 Sibben St.), saloonists of 23 and 26 years standing respectively, will also continue in business at their present locations, dealing in soft drinks and the like.

“Max Kadzban (219 5th St.), after seven years in business, is going to quit. His plans for the future are not announced.

“Joseph Popa (715 Kosciusko St.), in business 24 years, will continue there, dispensing soft drinks and lunches. In addition, big, genial Joe recently had the honor thrust upon him of being elected a justice of the peace. He says if he ever gets a bootlegger before him he will give him the limit.

“Joseph Jozwiak (272 Kosciusko St.), in business for 14 years, forestalled the future by establishing himself some time ago in the coal business known as South Side Coal Yard at Maple and 12th St. and is well ready for the change.

“Peter Hawley (1500 Main St.), the dean of the fraternity who has been 38 years in the liquor business here, will engage in the light grocery and soft drink business.

“Charles J. Stege (143 Washington St.), another veteran behind the bar, would have been in business 32 years the 10th of May next, and enjoys the distinction of having been the longest established in the business in one place in Manistee. He has conducted the place in the Northern Hotel building during all that period, and was for a number of years proprietor of the hotel in addition. After a month’s rest, during which his place will be refitted, he will begin all over again as a purveyor of mild drinks, lunches, cigars, canned goods, etc.

“Miller & Son (84 Division St.), will convert their place into a restaurant and refreshment parlor.

“Theodore M. Krusniak (459 River St.) will go out of business temporality at least, but after a rest may reopen his place as a soft drink parlor.

“Chris Peterson’s (395 River St.) plans are undetermined. He has been in business 36 years, and has other business interests.

“Gus Carlson (387 River St.) 18 years in the business in Eastlake and Manistee, will retire. His plans are indefinite.

“Otto Bleado (310 River St.), who has conducted the Marine saloon for nine years, declares himself ‘open for engagements.’

“Fred Zimmerman (289 River St.) will continue in business handling soft drinks. So will Hjalmar Johnson (363 River St.), a bit further up the street and Charles Freelund (257 River St.), who has been in business 33 years.

“August Gullander (315 River St.), who has been in the business 30 years, will operate a soft drink establishment at his present location.

“Frank Jurkowski, proprietor for the last six years of North Side Park, an old Parkdale landmark, is another whose plans further than that he will close up Tuesday are indefinite.

“Walter Kinney at Eastlake will go out of the saloon business in Eastlake Tuesday, but will run in the same location a lunch stand, cigar store and camp supply and equipment station. Walter himself will devote most of his personal attention, however, to the business of the Manistee Taxicab Company which he recently joined with Oakley Thompson in establishing.”

Another business that was affected by the ban on alcohol was the C.H. Daniels Brewing Co. who manufactured and distributed beer. With alcohol no longer legal, the company announced that they would manufacture a new cereal health beverage. The company would later go on to manufacture soft drinks.

The bar that stayed opened the closest to the May 1 deadline was that of Chris Peterson and with a few scant words, the Manistee Daily News summed up the final night of legal booze in Manistee:

“The last saloon in Manistee went out of business promptly at the stroke of 11 o’clock last night, when Chris Peterson’s bartenders hustled out the last reluctant customers and the key was turned in the well known front door. This was the only place that held on until the last minute.

“The final ceremonies were orderly and there was much less drunkenness than had been anticipated. Owing to their scarcity, the prices of some liquors went to a premium in the final hours, but popular prices prevailed on those served over the counter.

“Booze is banished in Michigan. The readjustment period has begun.”

Next week will look at some of the events that transpired in Manistee County due to the ban on alcohol and what happened when the ban was finally lifted.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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