Let’s suppose you want to start town. Let’s call it, “Bradley.” Let’s further suppose that Bradley has elected its first (and succeeding) Town Council(s). You’ve been honored by your fellow citizens of the town by being elected Alderman. Now you have to actually begin governing. You need to adopt some ordinances. What matters are the most important and, therefore, will be dealt with by the first few ordinances? Well, here they are:
Ordinance No. 1: “To prescribe the rules for the regulation and government of proceedings of the town of Bradley, Arkansas.” Any of the procedural rules adopted in this ordinance could be suspended by a two-thirds vote of the Town Council.
Ordinance No. 2: “An Ordinance to Prohibit Noise, Threats, Violent or Obscene or Profane Language, Discharging Fire Arms, Fast Driving and Running Horses, Within the Incorporated Town of Bradley, Lafayette County, Arkansas.” The fine was “any sum not more than Three Hundred ($300.00) Dollars.”
Ordinance No. 3: “An Ordinance to prohibit the Carrying [of] Concealed Weapons Within the Incorporated Limits of the Town of Bradley, Lafayette County, Arkansas.” The weapons prohibited were “any knife, dirk, bowie knife, or Sword, or Spear in a Cane, brass or Metal Knucks, Razor, or Pistol of any kind whatever….” The fine was “any sum not less than Fifty ($50.00) Dollars, nor more than Two Hundred ($200.00) Dollars.”
Ordinance No. 4: “An Ordinance to Prohibit the Obstructing of the Streets, Alleys and Sidewalks Within the Incorporated Town of Bradley, Lafayette County, Arkansas.” The Town Marshal was to notify any offender, who then had six (6) hours to remove the obstruction. The fine was “any sum not less than One ($1.00) Dollar, nor more than Twenty-five ($25.00) Dollars.”
Ordinance No. 5: “An Ordinance to Prevent Jumping on and off Moving Trains, in the Incorporated Town of Bradley, Lafayette County, Arkansas.” Further, “It shall be unlawful for any person or persons [to] lounge around the depot or sitting rooms of said depot without they [sic] actually have business there to transact, or that they expect to leave on first train going north or south, provided this act shall not apply to persons awaiting the local freights, trains [sic] as well as the regular passenger trains.” The fine was “not less than one ($1.00) Dollar, nor more than five ($5.00) Dollars.”
Ordinance No. 6: “To Preserve the Health of the Inhabitants of the Incorporated Town of Bradley, Lafayette County, Arkansas.” This was a sanitation ordinance. Section 3 provided: “That it shall be the duty of the occupant of each and every house, store, hotel, livery and private stable, barnyard or other place within the corporate limits of [sic] town, to gather offal, trash, animal and vegetable matter, sour and unclean liquid, created or found on such premises and put the same in barrels or other suitable vessels and have the same thrown or emptied at such place as the Marshal may designate, at least once in every forty-eight hours, at his, her, or their expense; and it shall be the duty of each said occupant to keep his said place of business or premises clear an [sic] clean from all trash, vegetable, and animal matter, sour or unclean liquids and all other things likely to impair the health of the citizens of the town and to keep all their hen houses, hog-pens, water closets, privies, and out houses of every kind and character, cow-lots and yards, within the corporate limits of the town, under their control as shall meet the approval of the Council.” The fine was “any sum of not less than two ($2.00) Dollars nor more than Twenty-five ($25.00) Dollars, and each day upon which such violation may be committed as permitted to be done, shall be a separate offence, punishable without reference to any previous trial, conviction, or acquittal.”
Ordinance No. 7: “An Ordinance to Prohibit and Punish Illegal Cohabitation in the Incorporated Town of Bradley, Arkansas.” Section 1 provided: “If any man and woman shall cohabit together as husband and wife, without being married, each of them shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor, and shall on conviction be fined in any sum not less than Twenty ($20.00) Dollars, nor more than One Hundred ($100.00) Dollars, upon the first offence, and on the second conviction of said offence, the offender shall be fined not less than One Hundred ($100.00) Dollars, and may be imprisoned in the jail house not exceeding twelve months.”
Ordinance No. 8: “…An Ordinance to Provide for the Election of a town Marshal, Define his duties and fix his salary; and who shall be Ex-Officio Street Commissioner, and define his duties as such Street Commissioner and fix his Salary as such Commissioner.” The Marshal was to be elected by the Town Council, not the citizenry, in April of each year, and was to be paid the same fees as Sheriffs and Constables for performance of certain duties, plus “Ten ($10.00) per month for his services” as Marshal and $2.00 per month for his services as Ex-Officio Street Commissioner. Section 12 provided that, “As Ex-Officio Street Commissioner, It shall be his duty to warn all male persons residing in the limits of the town for ten days, who are subject to street or road duty, to work on the Streets…” Section 13 provided: “That all male persons residing in the Corporate limits of the said Town between the ages of 18 and 45 years, shall be subject to work on the Streets and alleys in said Town who has resided in the town for ten days before the day of warning to work, when he is warned as stated in the preceding section; that every person so warned may pay in money the sum of Two ($2.00) Dollars for each day he is so warned to work on or before the day of working, said money to be paid to the Street Commissioner as be paid to the Treasurer of the Town of Bradley….”
Ordinance No. 9: “…An Ordinance To Prohibit Drunkenness at Public Gatherings, or on the Streets in the Incorporated Town of Bradley, Arkansas.” Section 1 provided: “Any person who shall appear at any picnic, barbecue, children’s day services, Sunday School celebration, church service, litiary [literary] society, or other public gathering or on the public streets … in a drunken or intoxicated condition, shall be … fined in any sum not less than Ten ($10.00) Dollars nor more than Twenty-five (25.00) Dollars.” [Apparently, drunks appearing at literary society meetings must have been a common occurrence.]
Ordinance No. 10: “…An Ordinance to Prohibit and Punish Sabbath-Breaking, In the Incorporated Town of Bradley, Arkansas.” This ordinance prohibited “laboring” on the “Sabbath or Sunday,” and prohibited stores from opening for business on those days. Section 3 provided: “Every person who shall on the Christian Sabbath or Sunday, be engaged in any game of craps with dice, brag, Bluff, poker, Seven-up, three-up, or any other game of Cards known by any name known to the laws, for any bet or wager on such games, or for amusement, without any bet or wager, shall, on conviction thereof, be fined in any sum not less than Twenty-Five ($25.00) Dollars, nor more than Fifty (50.00)Dollars.”
More ordinances will follow in a later post.