June 13, 1913 – Mendocino County Sheriff Ralph Byrnes raided the homes and businesses of Joseph Granskog and Michael Nolan, searching for contraband liquor. Alcohol sales were banned in Mendocino in 1909, long before National Prohibition took effect in 1920.
Armed with search warrants issued by Judge William True Wallace, “the Sheriff, his deputy, and a representative of the Beacon descended upon Granskog’s place, taking the proprietor completely by surprise. When the Sheriff entered the door, he greeted Granskog pleasantly, and asked him if he had any whisky in the house. Granskog answered that he had no liquor on the premises.” During the search, “a large quantity of whisky, wine and beer was found in barrels, cases and bottles, many of the bottles being partially emptied. A number of empty whisky bottles, flasks, glasses and trays were also found.”
Mike Nolan was passing by in his wagon and “Byrnes immediately flagged him and told him he was under arrest and that he had a warrant authorizing him to search Nolan’s premises for liquor. Up the street they went until Nolan’s stable was reached. Mike insisted that there was no liquor in the place except some in his wagon shed” which he was storing for people in Comptche and Fort Bragg. The wagon shed contained “many cases of beer and numerous barrels and demijohns of whisky and wine” which Nolan claimed did not belong to him. The sheriff also searched Nolan’s bedroom where “he found a pile of empty whisky bottles and in a locked trunk 17 full bottles of whisky and several bottles of wine. Mike seemed surprised to see them and was unable to give a satisfactory account of how they had come there.”
In the middle of July, Nolan and Granskog pled guilty to charges of “illicit selling of liquor.” Because it was Granskog’s first offense, he was ordered to pay a fine of $100. Nolan was put on probation, ordered to pay $400 in fines, and signed “a written promise to forever quit the business of selling liquor in Mendocino County.” The following week, Nolan was again arrested for selling liquor illegally and served 6 months in the county jail in Ukiah.
More historical photos of Mendocino available in “Perley Maxwell’s Mendocino,” by Bruce Levene. Includes the Mendocino High School Photography Students 2002 Then & Now Project. $25.