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Arts & Life

The Gentlemen Bootleggers of Templeton, Iowa


The Prohibition Era is filled with stories of bootleggers who defied the law to produce liquor for thirsty Americans. In his new book, Gentlemen Bootleggers: The True Story of Templeton Rye, Prohibition and a Small Town in Cahoots, Bryce T. Bauer brings to life the tale of Templeton, Iowa with its townspeople peacefully cooperating in the production of a special rye whiskey known for its quality and safety.

Farmers, small merchants and even the town’s mayor and church monsignor were involved in the bootlegging operation. It was led by a man named Joe Irlbeck. His chief nemesis was prohibition agent Benjamin Franklin Wilson who chased Irlbeck for over a decade. Their cat-and-mouse game is at the center of this slice of Iowa history.

Bauer grew up fifteen miles from Templeton hearing stories of the town's colorful past. He joined Dakota Midday and discussed the gentlemen bootleggers of Templeton.