Dry Counties

by David J. Hanson, Ph.D.

A dry county is one whose government forbids the sale of alcoholic beverages in some form. There are hundreds of dry counties across the United States. About 18,000,000 people live in the 10% of the area of the US that is dry.

Following the repeal of national Prohibition in 1933, a large proportion of the population continued to support prohibition. Some states chose to maintained their own prohibition and others permitted local jurisdictions (especially counties) to decide whether or not to continue prohibition within their borders. The latter is called local option.

Dry Counties in the U.S.

This is a partial list

  • ALABAMA
    1. Bibb
    2. Blount
    3. Cherokee
    4. Chilton
    5. Clarke
    6. Clay
    7. Coffee
    8. Cullman
    9. DeKalb
    10. Fayette
    11. Franklin
    12. Geneva
    13. Jackson
    14. Lamar
    15. Lauderdale
    16. Lawrence
    17. Marion
    18. Marshall
    19. Monroe
    20. Morgan
    21. Pickens
    22. Randolph
    23. Washington
    24. Winston
  • ARKANSAS
    1. Ashley
    2. Benton
    3. Boone
    4. Bradley
    5. Clark
    6. Clay
    7. Cleburne
    8. Columbia
    9. Craighead
    10. Crawford
    11. Faulkner
    12. Fulton
    13. Grant
    14. Hempstead
    15. Hot Spring
    16. Howard
    17. Independence
    18. Izard
    19. Johnson
    20. Lafayette
    21. Lawrence
    22. Lincoln
    23. Little River
    24. Lonoke
    25. Madison
    26. Marion
    27. Montgomery
    28. Nevada
    29. Newton
    30. Perry
    31. Pike
    32. Polk
    33. Pope
    34. Randolph
    35. Saline
    36. Scott
    37. Searcy
    38. Sevier
    39. Sharp
    40. Stone
    41. Van Buren
    42. WhiteYell
  • FLORIDA
    1. Lafayette
    2. Liberty
    3. Madison
    4. Suwannee
    5. Washington
  • KANSAS
    1. Barber
    2. Chautauqua
    3. Cherokee
    4. Clark
    5. Clay
    6. Comanche
    7. Doniphan
    8. Elk
    9. Gove
    10. Grant
    11. Greeley
    12. Hamilton
    13. Harper
    14. Haskell
    15. Jewell
    16. Kiowa
    17. Lane
    18. Logan
    19. Meade
    20. Morton
    21. Osborne
    22. Ottawa
    23. Rice
    24. Scott
    25. Sheridan
    26. Stafford
    27. Stanton
    28. Stevens
    29. Wallace
    30. Wichita
    31. Woodson
  • KENTUCKY
    1. Adair
    2. Allen
    3. Ballard
    4. Barren
    5. Bath
    6. Bell
    7. Breathitt
    8. Breckenridge
    9. Butler
    10. Caldwell
    11. Carlisle
    12. Carter
    13. Casey
    14. Clay
    15. Clinton
    16. Crittenden
    17. Cumberland
    18. Edmonson
    19. Elliott
    20. Estill
    21. Fleming
    22. Garrard
    23. Grant
    24. Graves
    25. Grayson
    26. Greenup
    27. Hancock
    28. Hickman
    29. Jackson
    30. Johnson
    31. Knox
    32. Knott
    33. LaRue
    34. Laurel
    35. Lawrence
    36. Lee
    37. Leslie
    38. Letcher
    39. Lincoln
    40. Livingston
    41. Marshall
    42. Martin
    43. McCreary
    44. McCreary
    45. McLean
    46. Menifee
    47. Mercer
    48. Metcalfe
    49. Monroe
    50. Morgan
    51. Ohio
    52. Oldham
    53. Owen
    54. Owsley
    55. Powell
    56. Pulaski
    57. Robertson
    58. Rockcastle
    59. Russell
    60. Shelby
    61. Simpson
    62. Spencer
    63. Taylor
    64. Trimble
    65. Trigg
    66. Wayne
    67. Webster
    68. Whitley
    69. Woodford
  • MISSISSIPPI
    1. Alcorn
    2. Attala
    3. Benton
    4. Calhoun
    5. Clarke
    6. Franklin
    7. George
    8. Greene
    9. Leake
    10. Lincoln
    11. Newton
    12. Pearl River
    13. Pontotoc
    14. Prentiss
    15. Scott
    16. Simpson
    17. Smith
    18. Tate
    19. Wayne
    20. Webster
  • TEXAS
    1. Andrews
    2. Angelina
    3. Armstrong
    4. Bailey
    5. Borden
    6. Bowie
    7. Floyd
    8. Cochran
    9. Collingsworth
    10. Cottle
    11. Crosby
    12. Dawson
    13. Delta
    14. Erath
    15. Fisher
    16. Franklin
    17. Gaines
    18. Hale
    19. Hansford
    20. Hemphill
    21. Houston
    22. Johnson
    23. Jones
    24. Kent
    25. Knox
    26. Lamb
    27. Lubbock
    28. Lynn
    29. Morris
    30. Motley
    31. Ochiltree
    32. Panola
    33. Parmer
    34. Roberts
    35. Rusk
    36. Sherman
    37. Smith
    38. Sterling
    39. Swisher
    40. Terry
    41. Throckmorton
    42. Tyler
    43. Van Zandt
    44. Wood
    45. Yoakyum
  • VIRGINIA
    1. Appomattox
    2. Bland
    3. Botetour
    4. Buchanan
    5. Campbell
    6. Carroll
    7. Charlotte
    8. Craig
    9. Dickenson
    10. Floyd
    11. Franklin
    12. Giles
    13. Grayson
    14. Greene
    15. Halifax
    16. Henry
    17. Highland
    18. King William
    19. Lee
    20. Louisa
    21. Lunenburg
    22. Mecklenburg
    23. Montgomery
    24. Patrick
    25. Pittsylvania
    26. Pulaski
    27. Russell
    28. Scott
    29. Smythe
    30. Surry
    31. Tazewell
    32. Warren
    33. Washington
    34. Wise
    35. Wythe

Today, almost one-half of the counties in Mississippi are dry with their own prohibition against the production, advertising, sale, distribution, or transportation of alcoholic beverages within their boundaries. It is even illegal to bring alcohol through a dry county in Mississippi while traveling across the country in the process of, for example, moving a personal wine or spirits collection to one's new residence

The reason for such a high proportion of dry counties is clear: Mississippi is uniquely temperance-oriented. Mississippi imposed state-wide alcohol prohibition in 1907, over a dozen years before the rest of the country. It was the very first state to ratify the 18th Amendment to create National Prohibition. Following national rejection of Prohibition through Repeal, the state maintained its own state-wide prohibition for another one-third of a century. After that, it specifically “reaffirmed prohibition” when it decided to permit local option regarding alcohol.

Of the 120 counties of Kentucky, 55 are completely dry and 30 are wet [1]. The remaining 35 counties are “moist, fall somewhere between.

Of Texas' 254 counties, 74 are completely dry and many of the rest are moist. The patchwork of laws can be confusing, even to residents. In some counties, only 4 percent beer is legal. In others, beverages that are 14 percent or less alcohol are legal. In some "dry" areas, you can get a mixed drink by paying to join a "private club," and in some "wet" areas you still need a club membership to get liquor-by-the-drink, reports the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

The newspaper demonstrates how variable the alcohol laws can be, even within small geographic areas. "Move from Fort Worth to Arlington and you’ll be surprised that you can buy beer but not wine at the grocery store. Move to Grand Prairie and you can’t even find beer there, but you can buy alcoholic drinks at restaurants in both towns. Then move to Burleson, which has alcohol sales in the Tarrant County portion of the city but not in the Johnson County side of town."

Alabama, Arkansas, Kansas and Virginia also have a large number of dry counties. Kansas was where Carrie Nation became well-known for using her hatchet to destroy bars and terrify patrons.

Smaller jurisdictions exist which prohibit the sale of alcoholic beverages as well, such as dry towns. There are 129 dry towns and villages in Alaska. In thirty-two of these communities the mere possession of alcohol is a crime. There are hundreds of other dry towns in the United States, some existing within wet counties.

In addition, many counties and municipalities in the United States are dry on Sunday or part of Sunday, which is the Sabbath for most Christians. This is a result of Colonial-era Blue Laws, which were designed to promote Christian morality.

 

The Wikipedia Encyclopedia’s entry titled “dry counties” is based on this page.

filed under: Prohibition

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