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A Look Back: The Old Village Ordinances

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By Jolene Hawkins

Looking back, this week I decided to have some fun. In 1910, a booklet was created that contained the Village Ordinances for Springville. Let’s learn about some of them.

Part of Ordinances 1, read that… “No person shall within the limits of said Village keep or maintain any disorderly or gambling house or house of ill fame.”

“No person shall take part in or join, aid or abet any riotous or tumultuous assemblage upon the streets on in doorways or stairways adjacent thereto or loiter about such places.” Geez, you need a dictionary to figure out some of these, don’t you?

And, “no person shall use or engage in any profane, vulgar or obscene language or conduct in upon the street or public places.” I guess you got to keep your swearing to your own home!

“No person shall, on Sunday, nor upon any other day, between the setting and rising of the sun, make or contribute to the making of any loud noises, or fires, or discharging of guns, or be guilty of any loud hallooing, or yelling or blowing trumpets, beating on fences boards, buildings or rattling any sticks or bones.” Oh, and no ball playing or any other games on Sunday. Wow, can you believe that? If you violated this ordinance, you shall for each offense forfeit and pay the sum of $10 for the use of the village.

To give you an idea, you could buy a nice coat or a suit for $10; a dress was from $2 to $10; a pair of shoes, $4 and up; a kitchen cupboard was $7.50 to $16, coffee was 25 cents a pound and bread 10 to 15 cents a loaf, so we are not talking a small sum they had to pay.

Ordinance #2 regarding sidewalk usages read in part as follows… “No person shall ride, drive or lead any horse, team, cow or other animal on the sidewalk except a dog.”

“No person shall slide upon any sidewalk on a sleigh, sled board or other contrivance.”

“No person shall buy, sell or advertising goods upon the streets, attract a crowd and obstruct the sidewalk.”

“No person shall construct any sidewalk, except under the supervision, and in accordance with the direction of the street commissioner.” Again, if these are violated you shall pay the sum of ten dollars for the use of the Village.

Now, this next group from Ordinances #3 is the best… “Every person operating a motor vehicle on any of the public streets or alleys of the Village shall drive in a careful and prudent manner and at a rate of speed not to exceed 15 miles per hour.”

The Model T during this time frame could go up to 45 miles per hour, got 20 to 30 miles per gallon and started with a crank, just to give you an idea.

“No person shall race or run any horse or team or engage in fast driving or trial of speed in or upon any street, lane or alley in Village.”

“No car, engines or trains shall stand upon any street crossing longer than five minutes at one time.”

“No person shall cause, authorize or permit any horse, cattle, sheep, swine or other animals to run a large upon the streets or alleys or public ground.” The same fine would apply as the others if violated, a sum of ten dollars for the use of the Village.

Ordinances #5 reads in part… “No person shall swim or bathe in open water, exposed to the public, within the bounding of the Village.” Now we laugh at some of these, but if you think about it, for there to be an Ordnances, these things must have happened.

“No person shall willfully or maliciously break, tear, injure, remove or deface any building, fence, awning, signboard, tree, etc., in the Village, including inciting or inducing dogs to fight, anywhere on the streets or public places.” If these were violated, a sum of ten dollars was charged for the use of the Village.

Ordinance #7 was for the licensing occupation and read… “No person shall pursue or exercise any of the following trades or occupations within the Village, without first obtaining a license, for auctioneering, except sales by executors, administrators or by residents in good faith disposing of their goods, three to ten dollars a day for a license.”

Hawking and Peddling was two dollars a day; circuses, theatres, exhibition or performances, amusement devices, was 15 dollars a day.

If you want to read more on the Ordinances of the Village of Springville, or any other history of this town, stop by the Lucy Bensley Center on Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., email lucybensleycenter@gmail.com or call 592-0094. The center is located at 23 N. Buffalo St.

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