While researching Prohibition for THE STILLS, set in 1927, I learned about U.S. Assistant Attorney General Mabel Walker Willebrandt, the highest-ranking woman in federal government in her day. Mabel was the second woman to receive an appointment to Assistant Attorney General, but the first served only a few months, and Mabel served from 1921 to 1929, Her job was to ensure that the laws of the Volstead act, set up to give teeth to Prohibition, were enforced. That included, in part, overseeing the newly formed Bureau of Prohibition. (Previously, a Prohibition Unit fell under the Bureau of Internal Revenue, but in 1927, the unit was elevated into its own bureau.)
Though Mabel personally opposed Prohibition, she did believe in the rule of law, and that it should be enforced for everyone. Her virtuous view didn’t win her a lot of friends—in spite of some spectacular successes in taking down bootleggers and crime bosses—even among those who supposedly, as far as the public was concerned, supported the law.
Because the Anti-Saloon League was headquartered in Westerville, Ohio (where there is now a museum for the league), which is not too far northeast of where Sheriff Lily Ross lives and works, it occurred to me that it would be viable for Mabel to have a speaking tour that would include Kinship. And since Lily is working with a Bureau agent in her confrontation with series bad-guy and big-time bootlegger George Vogel (based on the real-life George Remus, with whom Mabel came into conflict), I delighted in bringing them together for a brief meeting.
You can find out how that works out by reading THE STILLS, and you can learn more about what I discovered about Mabel Walker Willebrandt here, in my essay for Criminal Element. I hope you’ll find her as fascinating as I do!