THE STORY OF TEMPLETON RYE

 
 
Templeton is perhaps best known for "Templeton Rye," which was produced in great quantities here during the prohibition era. Prohibition became law on Jan. 16, 1920, when the 18th Amendment to the US Constitution was enacted forbidding the manufacture and sale of whiskey and other alcoholic beverages.

The following are selected excerpts from an article titled "Templeton Rye," which was written by Lam Schwaller, c 1981.

In 1920, Templeton, like the rest of the nation, was trying to recover from the effects of World War I. This is the year, according to seasoned opinions, that bootlegging, Templeton Style, began to appear. Early products were made from corn, but shortly thereafter, the famous rye whiskey was commonly produced. As the 20ís progressed, more people became involved in the illegal process until it reached its peak in 1930-1931. Local residents had large families or mortgage payments to be made and many saw this as a means of survival.

The going price for a gallon of Templeton Rye was about $5.25 to $5.50. The product, perhaps initially made for local consumption, was of the highest caliber. Many out-of-town buyers asked for some of the "special" stuff and paid a premium for it. As the reputation grew, the demand increased, until at one time, as many as three truckloads of kegs left Templeton in one week, destined for Des Moines, Denver and Chicago.

Many legends and rumors have surfaced over the years concerning Templeton Rye. Al Capone, notorious gang leader in Chicago, is said to have been involved in our story. The evidence then and now still indicates that he was never more than a paying customer.

All of this would have been very exciting and very profitable, except for one problem, the Federal agents. They did their best to enforce the law and especially so in Templeton. The local booze runners did all they could to avoid being caught. After a while, the Federal men and some of the hard to catch bootleggers knew each other and almost mutual respect developed, with the agents vowing to get them "the next time."

A few people feel that the Templeton Rye era is a skeleton in our municipal closet and should not be exploited. However, many feel it is a prominent part of our history and heritage and should be presented. It is, perhaps, the most notable thing we have done in Templeton and the one thing that sets us apart. We could have all been bank robbers, you know, or worse!