Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Mt. Pleasant's First "Lockup"

1873 In the council chambers, liquor dealers asked that on account of the dull times their license be reduced. . . . Motion prevailed to have them dropped to $25.00 for each three months. . . . Motion also prevailed to accept for taxes, where no money was available. wheat at 1 and1/4 cents. . . . Taxes ranging from 30 cents to $2.05 were remitted for several persons. . . . Resolved, that any councilor not attending Council meeting, without a lawful excuse, after being notified, be fined $5.00. . . . Voted to build a Lock Up. . . . The committee appointed to locate same.

The story is told that prior to this, a policeman, and by the way there were many, after locking up a prisoner, when turning a corner on Main Street, came face to face with the prisoner.
1878 The marshal said by representation of a prisoner to sickness at night, he wished council concerning allowing one of the police to sleep with said prisoner, also to labor of said prisoner, and as to where he should take his meals. Council sanctioned that some one sleep with the prisoner. There being no ordinance as to labor of pris­oners, this cannot be enforced. That the prisoner take his meals in jail." . . . . . "Question of granting license for the sale of liquor, the council unanimously expressed themselves not in favor of li­censing the sale, if it could possibly be avoided, but it seemed impossible to stop sale, and thought under present circumstances they had better license than do worse." . . . . . "On motion of Peter Monsen, agreed to fence the lockup with lumber twelve feet high."
A twelve foot high lumber fence was placed around the lockup. The lockup referred to was the one built the year previous, and was a rock building, built on the north public square or north fort. Few claim they ever saw the inside of this lockup, but many do remember a prisoner, who in the early hours of the morning, would sit upon the roof of the building and sing the popular songs of the day. This, however, was after the high board fence had been placed around it.
Another story of later date is told, of a prisoner who started a fire on the floor in the center of the room, and but for the timely arrival of Marshal Joseph Monsen would surely have suffocated.
From the records of 1879 is quoted: "Council agreed, along with city recorder to attend all meetings without charge to the city." . . . . . "A petition from Peter Johansen and 349 others, praying that an ordinance may be passed prohibiting the sale of spirituous, vinous, and fermented liquors in our city was read by the recorder." pp 155,156 "History of Mt. Pleasant" by Hilda Madsen Longsdorf.

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