A Day in Judge Cady’s Court

    On September 15, 1887, a muscular man stood in the First District Police Court listening to Judge Cady.  As he looked out between eyes almost swollen shut and a busted lip, he waited to see if justice would be done.  It was as Judge Cady told the beaten man, “$10 fine for disturbing the peace.  $100 for resisting arrest.  You have until sundown to be back in East St. Louis.”

     The man was John Carroll, a vicious street fighter from East St. Louis, Illinois.  Carroll and his friend, Pat Cowan, had beaten all the tough men in the East St. Louis Bottoms, so they decided to make their way to St. Louis for some new challenges.


Four Courts Building in St. Louis in early 1900s

     Generously imbibing alcohol as they passed through Downtown, they decided to stop at Daly’s Saloon.  The Daly family were professional pugilists and bar owners, who enjoyed a deserved reputation as tough men.  Carroll and Cowan decided it would be a great place to find a fight.

     Carroll and Cowan ordered drinks and refused to pay for them.  Charles Daly approached the men and ordered them to pay for their drinks.  Daly told them he would summon the St. Louis Police.  Carroll laughed and told Daly he intended to clean out the St. Louis Police as well.

     Despite Carroll’s reputation, Charles Daly evicted him rather easily.  Cowan must have been experiencing second thoughts as he walked out to the sidewalk.  All three men encountered St. Louis Police Officers Collins and Wilson.  As Daly explained the situation, Cowan submitted to arrest but Carroll was furious.

    Carroll kicked both officers and bit their hands.  Collins and Wilson resented such treatment, and in the common tactic of the day, began to strike Carroll in the skull with their billy clubs.  Today, head injuries are taken much more seriously but this treatment was common in the 19th and early 20th Centuries.

     Carroll was subdued and in a frightful state, when brought before Judge Cady.  Judge Cady was unmoved by his appearance and levied the maximum fine.  Judge Cady let Cowan off with a $5 fine.

     Fred Kambst had beaten his wife, who provided all the family’s income, and chased his entire family from their house with a knife.  Interestingly, Judge Cady admonished Kambst for his drunken behavior but fined him $25 likely to be paid by his wife, the victim.

     J.P. Horner, a professed mystic but confessed con man, was given two days to leave St. Louis.  If he returned to the city, he would pay a $200 fine and spend several months in the Workhouse.  After levying a $25 fine for soliciting to a local prostitute, Judge Cady called it a day.

     While it is common to laud the “good old days”, there never really was such a time.  Horrible and petty crimes have existed throughout time.  They may be reported on more today but it isn’t worse than any other time.

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Source: St. Louis Post-Dispatch, September 15, 1887 edition, p. 4

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