County Towns Long Alternated On Allowing Local Liquor
Two Historic Years When Montague Went Dry-
1910 Year in Which Several Returned to License-
Sentiment Divided Today
That Franklin county was as divided in its "wet" and "dry"
opinions in pre-prohibition days as in those since is revealed in a study of
returns from elections in March 1910 and 1916.
Following the 1910 elections, the Recorder reported that one of six towns in
Franklin county which were licensed in 1909 turned to "no"- Shelburne,-
the "no" margin being 24 compared with 26 "yes" majority
the preceding year.
To the "yes" towns flocked Greenfield, Montague, Orange, Whately,
Conway, making a net grain of five towns for license.
Montague was conceded to license from the outset, but it was expected that
Deerfield, from disfavor with the extensive business of the year, would be redeemed.
The old town came no nearer to redemption than the cutting down of the "yes"
majority of 47 to one of 29. Orange swung to license with a majority of 77.
The "yes" majority in Colrain was increased from four to 21. Bernardston
said "no" by a margin of only seven votes. Buckland increased her
"no" majority to 78. The other towns nearly all keep about the same
margins on the "no" side.
In 1916 Montague voted "no" on the license question for the first
time in seven years. Only a margin of 21 votes separated the drys and the wets,
the former polling 475 votes against the 454 for the latter.
The previous time Montague went dry was in 1909 when the vote was 552 "no"
to 463 "yes". That was a year when "no" license wave struck
the county quite generally Greenfield was one of the towns to go dry. Only five
went wet. They were Deerfield, Shelburne, Wendell, Erving and Colrain.
Since repeal the towns which have changed from wet to dry in less than 18 months
are Charlemont, Gill, Hawley, Rowe and Shutesbury. Of these five Gill has been
dry before to the extent of being opposed to beer and wine in 1933, while at
the same time favoring repeal; and Shutesbury, though in favor of repeal in
June of 1933, was divided in opinion at the same time on the question of malt
Of all the county towns, Bernardston is the only one which was definitely dry
in 1933 and which has changed this year to definitely wet. Three towns chose
to compromise. One of them was Warwick, which was for both repeal and malt beverages
in 1933, but tightened up this year to the extent of favoring only beer and
Buckland and Shelburne got together and agreed that conditions ought to be
the same on each side of the Deerfield river. Buckland, definitely wet last
year, has now decided that beer and wine are sufficiently strong drinks. Shelburne,
on the other hand, has voted dry just as regularly as Buckland had voted wet,
until this year when it conceded the point that if folks can get along on beer
and wine they may as well do their drinking in Shelburne Falls as to cross the
river into Buckland.
For the most part other county towns have been consistently on one side or
the other; the larger places generally wet and some, though by no means all,
of the smaller places generally wet. Conway, Deerfield, Erving, Greenfield,
Monroe, Montague, Orange, Wendell and Whately haven't moved out of the wet column
for years. Conway, Deerfield, Erving, Greenfield, Montague, and Wendell, in
fact, voted for near beer away back in 1924 and according to the records, have
voted for the strongest liquor available on every possible occasion since that
time. Monroe has never been dry since 1924.
Ashfield, Colrain, Heath, Leverett, Leyden, New Salem and Northfield have been
consistently dry. Sunderland voted against beer and wine and against repeal
in 1933, favored malt beverages last spring, but went back into the dry column