Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

Date of Graduation

Spring 5-7-2010

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Department of History


Dan Kerr

Gabrielle Lanier

David Dillard


Known as the second oldest profession, moonshining has had a significant presence in Rockingham County since the influx of Scots-Irish settlement in the Shenandoah Valley in the mid-1700s. Once used as a commodity for barter and sale and an ingredient in home remedies, a limited number of people still continue to make moonshine. But the practice is most widespread as the subject of oral histories and folklore as told by Rockingham County residents. Often framed as an honorable tradition whose practitioners were heroes and at times even martyrs in their communities, the collective narrative of those closest to moonshining—the sons, daughters, wives, and neighbors of moonshiners and moonshiners themselves—suggests a nostalgic worldview of an illegal practice. Basing the bulk of my research on over fifteen oral histories, I will discuss the way in which moonshining‟s relationship to three themes—natural environment, family and community, and folkways—shape and reflect how local residents positively perceive moonshiners and how moonshiners perceive themselves. The discussion will conclude with a commentary on the paradoxical state of moonshining currently in Rockingham County and the contradictions that arise from claiming to be a traditionalist as compared to a capitalist moonshiner.

Included in

History Commons



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.