The 1920 Evansville, Indiana Police Department Whiskey Conspiracy Trial

Evansville, Indiana Police Shield

The year 2020 marked the centennial anniversary of what is colloquially known as the Evansville “booze boat” or “whiskey ring” trial. Over seventy-five defendants were indicted, including Chief of Police Edgar Schmitt, numerous policemen, officials, and others. This event in Evansville’s history highlighted Indiana’s struggle to become an early adopter of prohibition while surrounding states remained “wet.”

I am a great-grandson of Evansville Police Captain Andrew B. Friedle, the officer in charge of the infamous police “booze boat,” and in order to learn more about my great-grandfather, I studied everything I could get my hands on. Like most people who research this period of Evansville history, I found that it was covered extensively by the newspapers of the day; however, I soon discovered that their accounts of the trial were not always accurate. What began as a genealogy search, turned into an in-depth examination of the start of prohibition in Evansville. What a fascinating tale it has turned out to be.