Sheriff Rice’s moonshine raid

At Koloa, Kauai, on Tuesday, March 3, 1908, Sheriff William Henry Rice of Lihue and his deputy, Tanaka, were told by an informant that John Paris of Lawai was illegally selling, and possibly making, okolehao moonshine made from fermented and distilled ti roots.

Rice, Tanaka and Rice’s whistleblower then went to Paris’s house some three miles up Lawai gulch but found only Mrs. Paris at home.

She got scared when Rice stated his business and freely admitted that a man named Ah Fa was producing the moonshine at a spot another three miles up the gulch, and that Ah Fa could be found at Akama’s house a mile or so above her place.

But Ah Fa wasn’t there, and Akama loudly protested his innocence and ignorance of any wrong-doing.

Minutes later, however, while Rice and his men were viewing the trail ahead of them, Akama made the mistake of taking that opportunity to go behind his house to empty a bottle of okolehao.

Unfortunately for him, he was seen by the eagle eyes of the law, illicit bottle in hand, and was ordered by Rice to accompany him and his men on their search.

When Akama then bolted to an adjacent hillside in an attempt to escape and warn Ah Fa, Rice brandished his revolver and prevented him.

Further along, Rice observed smoke rising from a moonshine still and Ah Fa’s nearby hut. It was then that Akama yelled a warning, but to no avail; Ah Fa was arrested by Rice as he emerged from the hut.

Sheriff Rice noted that Ah Fa’s still was in full operation: a fire was heating mash and moonshine was trickling from the end of a piece of half-inch pipe.

Alongside were three barrels of prepared ti root, a couple of bottles of okolehao, and a bucket of mash.

Upon his return to Lihue, Sheriff Rice wired the results of his successful raid to Water F. Drake, the Territorial Collector of Internal Revenue at Honolulu.


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