Prohibition opened a new world of commerce in rural Hancock County. Bootlegging and moonshining were illegal but profitable and many tracts of woods had hidden stills. |
Enough time has passed that the Cuevases and their kin talk about the rum-running era, which Otis and Ann Sharpe bought into it. Literally.
In the late 1990s the couple purchased a two-story 1890 house on the Kiln-DeLisle Road.
"Our home was one of the centers of boot-legging, and they had two cat houses and a casino on the back of the land," said Otis Sharpe. "At least that's what we're hearing.
"Everyone who comes along tells us about it. Some knock on the door and say 'We want to see what you've done to the old house,' and they come in and look and start talking. We've heard that out front Cy Cuevas had a little store with sugar stacked to the ceiling because he furnished to the bootleggers."
The house was built by a Cuevas, who owned a Rotten Bayou sawmill, and the Sharpes bought from then-92-year-old "Miss Jessie" Cuevas. They stabilized, stripped layers of paint of cedar paneling, redid floors, then filled the rooms with 1800s antiques.
"When we finished," he said, "the house looked just like it did in 1890."
It still does, on the outside, but that is deceptive. Katrina washed eight feet of water from the Jourdan River and nearby bayous into the house. Without direct surge from the Gulf, the exterior fared better but the interior first floor was wrecked. They lost antiques and their restoration was undone.
"We're going to restore it back just like it was," said Sharpe, a retried contractor who agreed to help Waveland recovery by directing the building department. "We're already buying Federal Empire furniture and putting it in storage until we have a place for it."
- KAT BERGERON