Essay on The Cause And Effect Of The Whiskey Ration

1502 Words Sep 22nd, 2016 7 Pages
The death toll was by far highest in the economically poor areas in the low-lying ground right around Lake Okeechobee, such as Belle Glade, Chosen, Miami Locks, Pahokee, and South Bay.[134] Around 75% of the fatalities were among migrant farm workers, most of whom were African American.[135] The African American men were ordered at gunpoint to collect bodies. One man was shot for refusing to do so.[136] Despite Prohibition laws at the time, those searching and collecting bodies were given rations of bootleg whisky, which was provided by a local rum-runner. Pioneer Lawrence E. Will stated that "without the stimulated effect of the whiskey ration, it is doubtful if many would have the stamina to continue."[137] The body collectors were given gloves that were regularly disinfected. They would tie usually about half a dozen bodies together by the ankle and then load them onto trucks. After a truck departed, the men would then receive their ration of whisky. This process continued day and night until October, while the search for bodies continued until November 1.[138]

Due to racial segregation at the time, the coffins provided were used for the white victims, most of whom received a proper burial at Woodlawn Cemetery in West Palm Beach.[135] The bodies of the African Americans who were killed and some of those whose race could not be identified were disposed of by other means. Some were burned in funeral pyres, while many were placed into mass graves,[71] including about 1,600…

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