The 300 Club was a speakeasy located at 300 West Merrick Road. Nellie Watson, the estranged wife of vaudevillian “Sliding Billy Watson,” ran this roadhouse with her companion Henry Kothe. In 1926, both Mrs. Watson and Kothe were shot and killed by waiter Karl Kieferle.
Kieferle was fired for refusing to wash Watson’s two Pomeranian dogs. In a fit of rage, Karl went up to Kothe’s room and took his .32 caliber Mauser pistol. Upon finding Watson and Kothe, Kieferle exclaimed “Take that!” and fired five shots. After killing his victims, Kieferle hailed a taxi and was taken to the police station where he turned himself in.
At the crime scene, the Freeport police found several thousand dollars’ worth of alcohol including champagne, Scotch, Irish and Kentucky whiskey, cordials, various wines and beer.
At the murder trial, Kieferle described the customers of the 300 Club as “refined people” and that the only person to get thrown out was a “[drunken] policeman.”
The district attorney for the case was Elvin N. Edwards and the defense attorney was Frederick A. Coles. One of the most memorable moments of the trial occurred when Coles asked Kieferle to point out the police and county officials in the court room he said had frequented the club and who were served liquor free of charge. Edwards objected.
In addition to its well positioned clientele, it was rumored that Kothe may have once worked for the prohibition service and, therefore, knew who to bribe to keep the authorities from raiding the club.
Kieferle was convicted and sentenced to a prison term of 20 years to life. He was originally sent to Sing Sing Prison (Ossining, NY) and later transferred to Dannemora Prison (Clinton, NY).
According to the 1940 Census, Kieferle was still at Dannemora.
Boats at the three mile limit were often referred to as the "whisky armada," the "barrage of bottles, and the "liquor flotilla."
"Liquor Planes Take 75 Cases Each Trip." The New York Herald. December 13, 1922, 3. Accessed December 13, 2017. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn83045774/1922-12-13/ed-1/seq-3/.
Researched by Regina G. Feeney, December 13, 2017.
James Tiernan ran a speakeasy at 154 South Main Street. He lived at 142 Broadway. Tiernan was arrested after a raid on his establishment in 1932.
"Trio Held in Three Nassau Dry Raids." The Brooklyn Daily Eagle. April 11, 1932, 22. Accessed December 18, 2017. https://bklyn.newspapers.com/image/58224268/?terms=freeport%2Braid.
Researched by Regina G. Feeney, December 18, 2017.
Joseph Troutman ran a speakeasy which was located at the intersection of South Grove Street (now Guy Lombardo Avenue) and Merrick Road. His establishment was raided in March 1929.
"Building Owners to Face Arrest in Nassau Rum Raids." The Brooklyn Daily Eagle. March 14, 1929, 7. Accessed December 8, 2017. https://bklyn.newspapers.com/image/59897121/?terms=building%2Bowners%2Bto%2Bface%2Barrest.
Researched by Regina G. Feeney, December 8, 2017.
In 1924, the United States signed an anti-liquor treaty with Great Britain which resulted in moving the legal limit from three miles to 12 miles off the United States coastline. The movement of Rum Row to 12 miles from shore necessitated rumrunners to use larger and faster boats to transport their illegal goods.
Malcolm F. Willoughby, Rum War at Sea. Washington, DC: Treasury Department, United States Coast Guard, 1964.
Researched by Regina G. Feeney, December 26, 2019.