Editor's note: This is the 154th in a series of articles recalling vanished Huntington scenes.
HUNTINGTON - In the years before Prohibition, saloons were plentiful, liquor houses were as common as drug stores, and mail carriers regularly delivered booze - in plain brown wrappers, of course - to homes across the nation, including many in West Virginia.
Ziegler & Behrend, located at 928 3rd Ave., was one of Huntington's busiest saloons. And it had a business in the back room that was equally busy. That's where the saloon bottled and packed whiskey for mail delivery to thirsty customers.
It's believed the saloon opened in the early 1890s. Partners Harry Ziegler and Harry Behrend weren't its first owners. They bought the business from a man remembered only as "Doc Iseman." The partners' saloon was readily identified by a giant straw demijohn that sat on the sidewalk in front of the place.
In the rear of their saloon, Ziegler and Behrend operated a thriving mail-order liquor business. They imported whiskey (always bourbon) in 50-gallon barrels, bottled it in "horse quarts" (nobody had ever heard of a fifth) and sold it under the brand name "Old Cabell." Although the partners had plenty of competition from the many illegal moonshine stills found in Logan, Lincoln and Mingo counties, "Old Cabell" was highly popular with coalfield customers.
Prohibition became the law of the land in 1920, but it began in West Virginia in 1914, years before it was a reality for the rest of the nation. This meant that saloons like Ziegler & Behrend were forced to close their doors, and it brought a halt as well to the partners' busy mail order liquor business.
It's said that on the last night that whiskey could be legally sold in West Virginia, Harry Ziegler and Harry Behrend took the bar glasses off the shelf and handed them out to their customers as mementos.
It wasn't until 1934 that Prohibition was repealed and selling liquor again became legal.
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