Thursday, March 26, 2015

Much ado about misdemeanors in 1902 Ogden

  Driving a train more than 8 mph, or without continuous bells was a misdemeanor in 1902 Ogden.

THERE was a big fuss in the Ogden area during early 1902 over the committing of misdemeanor crimes.
Here are some of the misdemeanors that existed in Ogden City back then, according to a Standard-Examiner article from Feb. 24, 1902:
-To drive a horse fast.
-To run a locomotive or train in Ogden over 8 mph.
-To run a locomotive in the inhabited part of Ogden City without continuously ringing the bell.
-To ride a bicycle on certain sidewalks, or to ride bicycle without a lamp.
-To spit on the sidewalk.
-To slap a man or boy.
-To threaten a man or woman.
-To get drunk.
-To carry a concealed weapon.
-To place a sign on the sidewalk.
-To throw a piece of old meat or decayed vegetable or fruit on your own or neighbor’s lot, or in the street.
-To tack a card on a telegraph pole.
-To shoot or kill quail in Ogden City.
-To have a pig pen, cow stable or dairy within the limits of Ogden City.

                It was illegal to walk on the grass in any park in Ogden City in 1902.

-To walk on the grass of the city parks.
-To cut a flower, branch or twig from any shrubbery or trees in any city park.
-To have the measles, chickenpox or whooping cough in your house and fail to notify the health board.
-To take a newspaper from your neighbor’s lawn.
-To shake hands with the cook on duty at the Ogden Pest House (or “Fever House,” where those with communicable diseases used to be put).
That last misdemeanor was what Ogden Mayor William Glassman (also the Standard-Examiner owner/publisher) was cited for and fined $10 (more than $239 in today’s values) a few weeks before the 1902 story was printed. This set off a public clamor of how serious a misdemeanor was.
“A misdemeanor is the smallest possible violation of any law,” the Standard article stated. It also said that “probably no man lives to the age of 21 years without having been guilty of a misdemeanor.”
The story also stated that no person, even the Governor of Utah, hadn’t committed some misdemeanors over the years.
The Standard pointed out that Utah Governor Heber Wells had spit on the sidewalk recently when he visited Ogden. Although not cited, he was technically guilty of a misdemeanor.
-In another historical tidbit: “Trout swim in Ogden gutters; Tourist agents please notice” was a June 24, 1915 headline in the Standard.
Earl Carver, a young family member of the J.S. Carver Grocery Store, caught a three-quarter-pound trout swimming in the gutter in front of the store. He didn’t need a hook, or pole, but did show a fishing license to keep his prize.
The story also reported that rumors were that other trout were found and caught in the gutter on eastern 24th Street. The screens at the head of the canal in the foothills were also going to be inspected.

(-Originally published on-line and in print in the Ogden Standard-Examiner on March 27-27, 2015, by Lynn Arave.)

-NOTE: The author, Lynn Arave, is available to speak to groups, clubs, classes or other organizations about Utah history at no charge. He can be contacted by email at:  

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