USC Digital Folklore Archives / Posts Tagged ‘One Armed Joe’
Legends

The Local Legend of One Armed Joe

Nationality: American

Primary Language: English

Other Language(s): None

Age: 71

Residence: Margaretville, NY USA

Performance Date: April 12, 2017 (telephonically)

 

Allote is a 71 year old woman, born and raised in Catskill, New York who lives and owns a farm in upstate New York. She was a high school graduate and raised three children. She is a 6th generation American of Scottish Ancestry.

 

Interviewer: Good Afternoon. You mentioned that your current house is linked to a local legend. Appreciate if you could explain it to me?

 

Informant: Not a problem, I would love to. Ok we just ah bought a house that was built in 1928 and they told us that our chicken house was a historical building, because it used to be, there use to be a still in there. The owner always wondered why it is 30 feet long on the outside and 27 on the inside and when they investigated they found a false wall and when they took it down found a still in there, a pearl handle revolver in the wall and in the cement floor outside where all the chicken manure was there was a cut in the floor they kept all their bottles. And they say his name was “One Armed Joe” and he sold moonshine all around the Catskills at the farmers markets, He hid it underneath his corn when he went to the markets”.

 

Interviewer: And what town was this in?

 

Informant: Margaretville, New York in the Catskills

 

Interviewer:  What years?

 

Informant: Well they built the house in 1928, so I imagine it was about this time. People say that he carried on for a number years

 

Interviewer:  Did you ever see the still, revolver or bottles?

 

Informant: Nope.  When we bought the house from the owner I guess he kept them or sold them or maybe gave it away.

 

Interviewer: What does this piece mean to you?

 

Informant: In our small town, it is great to be a part of a local legend.  It helps business in selling our vegetables to locals and visitors. The kids that stop by really love hearing about the story.

 

 

Thoughts about the piece: 

Margaretville in upstate New York continues to be known for clandestine illegal businesses like marijuana farming but moonshine (and its folklore), has been adapted to upscale retail sales at local farmer’s markets. http://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/22/dining/22Distill.html The term “moonshine” may come from English smugglers or “moonrakers,” historically describing backwoods Southerners.

 

 

 

 

 

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