What to do at the Museum this Month

by Jane Ahrens

Opening Reception Saturday, June 29.

Tour the new exhibits all season. Everyone is welcome!

The H. L. Ferguson Museum’s annual exhibitions are generously sponsored by Altus Partners and Chubb.

Rumrunner Bali ashore on Fishers Island, N.Y. May 31, 1932. Museum Collection. Donated by Richard Baker

Armed battles off the coast of Fishers Island, secret radio transmissions and code breakers, shipping embargos and concealed cargos—welcome to the era of Prohibition in the United States.

In 1923, the wreck of the Thelma Phoebe on Chocomount Beach brought some 2,400 cases of illicit scotch to the island’s shoreline and waters. Island residents and fort soldiers made every attempt to steal away with the cargo, despite the Coasties and Customs agents guarding the rumrunners’ spoils. Four other rumrunners—the Bali, the Barbara, the La Mascotte IV and the Columbia—also ran aground on Fishers Island during the era.

Illustration from The Shadow of the Bottle – Published in the Interest of Nation-Wide Prohibition of the Liquor Traffic by Review and Herald Publishing Assn. c.1917. Museum Collection. Museum Acquisition.

There’s plenty to learn about the history of Prohibition on Fishers Island and surrounding coastal communities in the Museum’s 2019 exhibition Against the Tide: Prohibition on Land and at Sea, 1919–1933. View historic photos and artifacts, attend a lecture titled Scotch on the Rocks—and don’t miss the display of uproarious Prohibition-era cartoons in the W.C.!

If you have a devotion to dogs, be sure to visit the second floor for the Museum’s other 2019 exhibition: The English Springer Spaniel on Fishers Island. This show details the period from the 1920s to the 1940s when Fishers Island was the center for English Springer Spaniel field competitions in the United States.

Did you know? A fireman’s uniform provided the perfect cover for smuggling hooch during the Prohibition era. The 1920s uniform on display in the Museum’s foyer was donated by the granddaughter of the smuggler. He donned it when ferrying liquor across the sound from Fishers Island to a speakeasy in Stonington, Connecticut.

Hooch Hound February 23, 1922 Courtesy of the Library of Congress. Hooch Hound, a dog trained to detect liquor, sniffs at flask in the back pocket of a man (actually a prohibition agent) fishing on a pier along the Potomac River.

Find more details visit FergusonMuseum.org.

Featured Photo

USCG Eagle passing the Race early morning March 18, 2023 on her return from the Chesapeake Bay . Photo Credit Marlin Bloethe

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