Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Sunday haircuts outlawed; tobacco users get a pass

Physicians Harmon Heed and William J. Baird were advertising their infirmary, then located in the Mallory Opera Bock, in The Patriot of April 28, 1875, alongside columns of new Chariton city ordinances passed by the city council on April 14.

Back in the day --- in some cases not that many years ago --- most Iowa cities took it upon themselves to promote Sunday as a day of rest by enforcing what commonly are called "blue laws." And Iowa remains one of 13 states where it remains illegal to sell a car, truck or motorhome on the Sabbath.

So I was intrigued to find the official publication of Chariton's 1875 blue law in The Patriot of April 28, that year, along with many others governing various aspects of public life, including forms of transport of the time --- trains, horses, mules and oxen.

The interesting thing, I thought, about the rules governing the Sabbath was that the sale of tobacco products was considered essential and humane while the sale of "spiritous" liquids was not. Here's the text of Chariton Ordinance No. 27:

An Ordinance to enforce the observance of the Sabbath.

Section 1. Be it ordained by the City Council of the City of Chariton, that it shall be unlawful for any person on the first day of the week, commonly called Sunday, to sell, show or expose for sale any kind of goods, wares, merchandise, wines, malt or spiritous liquors, or chattels of any kind, except as provided in Section two hereof, or to open any room, shop, or saloon for the sale of malt or spiritous liquors, or to allow persons to congregate therein on Sunday for the purchase or use of such wine, malt or spiritous liquors, or to open any room or shop for the purpose of shaving or hair-dressing, or for any other purpose by which the Sabbath may be desecrated or the public peace disturbed.

Section 2: the provisions of this ordinance shall be so construed as not to prevent works of charity or necessity, or the sale of medicines by druggists, or the sale of bread, meat, ice and milk, and cigars and tobacco at retail, and daily papers by dealers.

Section 3: Any person violating any of the provisions of this ordinance shall, upon conviction, be fined in any sum not less that one, nor more than twenty dollars, and costs, for the first offense, and not less than five, nor more than forty dollars, and costs, for each subsequent offense.

Three ordinances were designed to deal with the most prevalent modes of transportation of the time:

Ordinance No. 26, regulating the hitching of horses, teams, etc., in the public streets. The ordinance declared in unlawful for any person to hitch or fasten any horse, mule, ox or other animal, or team, to any shade tree growing in the streets of the city,  or to any lamp-post, or to any fence, except by and with the consent of the owner thereof. Further, "It shall be unlawful for any person to lead or drive any horse, mule, ox, or team of any description on or across any of the sidewalks of this city."

Ordinance No. 28, regulating the speed of railroad trains within the city limits: "Be it ordained by the City Council of the city of Chariton, that it is hereby declared unlawful to run any train, engine, cars, or hand-cars, over or upon any railroad track within the city, at a greater rate of speed than six miles per hour."

Ordinance No. 30, "prohibiting the running at large of horses, during the year, and cows and other cattle, from November 1st until the 30th day of April."

And then there was Ordinance No. 22, to regulate the keeping and sale of gunpowder. "Be it ordained ... that no person, firm or company shall keep within the limits of this city, in any store, house, shop or other place, any gun or blasting powder, in any quantity exceeding at any time twenty-five pounds."

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