UPPER TOWNSHIP — The 1920s ushered in a period of unbound prosperity and changing moral values and ended with the greatest stock market crash in our history, plunging our country into a Great Depression.
Tuckahoe experienced all the vicissitudes of those times and weathered the storm.
In 1920, the 18th Amendment to the Constitution — prohibition — went into effect and made the nation dry. New Jersey, however, was one of only three states that had not ratified the amendment when it went into effect. New Jersey Gov. Edward I. Edwards promised to make New Jersey “as wet as the Atlantic Ocean.” When he left the governor’s chair and ran for the U.S. Senate, which he won in 1922, his slogan was “Wine, Woman, Song and repeal of the Eighteenth Amendment.”
Illegal stills sprung up all over Cape May County and especially in the northern part of the county around Tuckahoe. The Historical Preservation Society of Upper Township has in its’ possession a small moonshine still that was discovered on the Godfrey property on the Tuckahoe River. Another still was discovered on the property of Jerry and Carroll Bailey in Steelmantown. Parts of the still are scattered in the woods along with an old iron water pipe leading to a small stream. It is located deep in the woods and only Jerry Bailey can find it! The Eighteenth Amendment could not stop all the booze from flowing and the old “Tuckahoe White Lightning” could be found throughout the area.
At the same time our country was also experiencing a religious revival as churches and communities across the nation were clamoring to reinstate their moral values. Methodist churches were firmly behind Prohibition, and that included our very own Tuckahoe United Methodist Church. Members of the congregation were united against the effects of alcohol in their community.
There was a big hotel in Tuckahoe with a very inviting wide front porch with lots of rocking chairs. The Kerchoff family owned and ran it, and they were very nice people, but most of the town’s folks shunned them because they sold whiskey. There were exactly two men in town who drank and they, too, were ignored. One winter’s night when the Tuckahoe Methodist Church was having a revival meeting, one of them was converted and never drank another drop for the rest of his life. That church is still there today, reaching out and helping all those in need.