Black Sheep Sunday – Arrest by Prohibition Agents

Today is the anniversary of the beginning of Prohibition. One hundred years ago, just a week after Armistice Day and the end of World War I, the US Congress passed the temporary Wartime Prohibition Act. This banned the sale of alcoholic beverages containing greater than 1.28% alcohol, and was intended to save grain for the war effort. This was followed by the Eighteenth Amendment, which was ratified in January 1919, and the country went dry in January of 1920.[1]

The result was a large underground network of illegal drinking clubs: speakeasies. I have wondered how my ancestors may have been affected by Prohibition. I found out with a newspaper search looking for my Linneman family.

Christian “Christ” Linneman was my great-grandmother’s oldest brother. He never married and lived much of his life with his mother or siblings in Monessen, a steel town south of Pittsburgh. I recently wrote about his father’s suicide here. My father remembers Christ as being quiet and and reading his Bible.

Christian &  Elizabeth Linneman
Christian Linneman with his sister Elizabeth, my great-grandmother.

Christ worked consistently as a bartender in Monessen – at a hotel, the VFW club, or the Turner Hall, a German social club. He served in World War I from 1918-1919, and in 1920 both Christ and his mother were “stewards” at the Turner Hall.[2]

The Daily republican. monongahela.12nov1928

So it’s not surprising to find an article that mentions Christ in The Daily Republican in neighboring  Monongahela, Pennsylvania.[3]

“At East Monogahela, the officers visited the East Monongahela hotel where they arrested Peter Yalch, 46, of Monongahela and Christ Linneman, of Monessen. They were released on bond in the sum of $1,000 for hearings November 20 before U. S. Commissioner Roger Knox. Beer on tap was found here, the officers say. The warrant was sworn out when a federal officer reported that he purchased four drinks at fifty cents each.”

A similar article about the arrests ran in The Monessen Daily Independent, but Christ’s name was not mentioned.[4] There were no newspaper articles after the November 20 hearing date. A Pittsburgh newspaper from May of 1929 reported “10 Sent to Jail in Liquor Cases:”[5]

“ … Christ Linneman, East Monongahela, three months in Westmoreland county jail … ”

I need to check federal and county records for more information about Christ’s case. A year later, Christ is found working as a laborer at the steel mill.[6] This was the first and only time I found him working as anything but a bartender or steward. After 1930, and after the 21st Amendment repealed the 18th Amendment in 1933, Christ continued to work as a bartender.

I’m not sure that Christ was so much of a Black Sheep – just doing his job during a difficult time. I found no other articles about his involvement in other incidents. There were other raids on speakeasies in Monessen, but Christ’s name was not mentioned. I guess it was hard to be a bartender during Prohibition!

Have you found any bartenders in your family? How did Prohibition impact your ancestors?


[1] Wikipedia (, “Prohibition in the United States,” rev. 14 November 2018.

[2] 1920 U.S. census, Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania, population schedule, Monessen Ward 2, Enumeration District (ED) 152, sheet 2-B, p. 147 (stamped), dwelling 22, family 38, Elizabeth Lineman household; digital images, ( : accessed 15 November 2018), citing National Archives microfilm publication T625, roll 1666.

[3] “Dry Agents Hit Six Places In District,” The Daily Republican (Monongahela, Pennsylvania), 12 November 1928, p. 1, col. 1; digital images, ( : accessed 31 January 2014).

[4]  “County Detectives and Federal Officer Make Raids Over Week-end,” The Monessen Daily Independent (Monessen, Pennsylvania), 12 November 1928, p. 1, col. 7; digital images, ( : accessed 31 January 2014).

[5] “10 Sent to Jail in Liquor Cases,” The Pittsburgh Press, 18 May 1929, p. 1, col. 4; digital images, ( : accessed 15 November 2018).

[6] 1930 U.S. census, Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania, population schedule, Monessen, Enumeration District (ED) 65-93, sheet 16-A, p. 52 (stamped), dwelling 279, family 346, Elizabeth Linneman household; digital image, ( : accessed 15 November 2018), citing National Archives microfilm publication T626.