Saturday, August 20, 2011

Big Rapids, Michigan Scandal

The following article is from the Pioneer Magnet (Big Rapids, Mecosta County, Michigan) newspaper.  The article was dated Thursday, December 20, 1877.  It is located on page 5, column 2.

Arrested - About two weeks ago a young girl names Sarah Miller came to this city in destitute circumstances, and went to several of our citizens to find employment.  She had considerable trouble in finding places to stay over night and in getting her meals, being poorly clothed and presenting a filthy appearance.  On Thursday evening she wandered into Byers and Jones' saloon in a state of intoxication, Deputy Marshal Perry finding her took her to jail.  She was brought before Justice Nottingham the following morning and sentenced to sixty days in the House of Correction.  Since that time it has been rumored that some of the young men of this city, abused her shamefully while in the saloon and even went so far as to violate her person.  Seven of them have been arrested and will be tried before Mr. Nottingham tomorrow.  We have had conversation with several of the boys in regard to the matter, who claim that they were merely spectators and that the girl was not ill-treated or abused, but was under the influence of liquor.  We hope the trial will bring out the facts in this case.

The following week from the Pioneer Magnet (Big Rapids, Mecosta County, Michigan) newspaper dated Thursday, December 27, 1877 is this small report located on page 5, column 1:

Appealed - The trial of seven of our citizens upon a charge of assault and battery, was held before Justice Nottingham, last Friday.  It resulted in acquitting four of them, the other three being found guilty and fined as follows: M. C. Byers, seventy dollars and costs, amounting to ninety two dollars and fifty cents; Thomas Ward forty dollars and costs; and Edward Hooper twenty dollars and costs.  The case will be taken to the Circuit Court.

I've been working my way through the Mecosta County Pioneer Magnet looking for anything that might shed light on my ancestors who were living in the Big Rapids, Michigan area.  The first article mentions Deputy Marshal Perry [Henry Perry b. 1842].  Henry Perry is a younger brother of my second great grandfather, James Perry, so this tragic story attracted my attention.

I tried to locate the individuals who were fined, but can't say for certain who they may be.  Is M. C. Byers the owner of the bar?  He was assessed the most of three individuals fined.  As for Sarah Miller, I wonder if she was freed after this terrible experience?  There is a Sarah Miller living in Wheatland Township, located a few miles from Big Rapids in the 1880 Census.  If this is the Sarah Miller, she would only have been 15 in 1877!  I'll keep an eye out for any more mentions of this assault.
As for Deputy Marshal Perry, it was reported in the same edition of the Pioneer Magnet with the first article I quoted, that he was removed from his office.  I wonder if it had something to do with this assault?  So many questions and no answers...

No comments:

Post a Comment