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Master Moonshiner and Loving Family Man
Alonzo was born to Carter and Tabitha Stephens in the Stearns mining town of Barthell on October 10, 1916. He joined the Army during WWII and served as a military policeman, having the honor of being one of the MP’s assigned to guard both Presidents Franklin D. Roosevelt and Harry S. Truman during their respective tours of war-torn Europe.
At the end of the war, Alonzo returned to McCreary County and started a family. He worked as a miner, carpenter and block layer, but with 13 children he also made moonshine off and on for more than 50 years to supplement his income. He started making moonshine during the depression with his brother. To him and many others, setting up a still in a remote hollow was an honorable, if not legal, way to make a living during hard times. He said he never really made any money at it, “just tried to keep food on the table”. He often commented he thought it better to make and sell a little moonshine than to steal from others to feed his family. “A man worth anything at all will not let his little children go hungry and a man that wants something to drink will get it no matter how many laws are broken”.
Alonzo, like most people from this region, believed a job worth doing was worth doing well. He applied this philosophy to all his trades including moonshine. “I never had any kicks on any I ever made”, he once told a reporter from the Lexington Herald-Leader.
When Alonzo died September 24, 2001, at the age of 81, a storied piece of Kentucky History died with him. He was a true patriot, father, and friend. Grandchildren of Mr. Stephens frequently visit the McCreary County Museum to marvel at his superb workmanship. His moonshine was renowned throughout the region. In recent years, people who still possess some of his moonshine have shared how much they cherish it, as well as his craftsmanship.