Sunday, October 16, 2016

A Sunday in the Acre- 1876

Ad in Lowell Citizen, 1860

Sunday, the day of rest.  How we observe the Sabbath today is quite different than our 19th century ancestors did.  Or is it?  Today a Sunday afternoon might be watching the Pats with a Bud Lite (okay, personal preference here).  In the 19th century liquor laws were quite severe.  Having a libation might put you before the magistrate if you were caught.  In 1876 , a young Irish “lad” by the name of Caroline was found drunk by the seizure police (sort of a Sabbath police who checked on liquor imbibing on Sundays).  He told the officers where he was served in his alcoholic delirium.  Once he sobered up he swore he was only given birch beer.  Even though he was only 16 he was kept in jail until his court date later in the week.

Over at P & J O’Rourke’s on Gorham St. they “found five buffers who looked as though they were having a good time and improving the Sabbath.” They also found a young man concealing a deck of cards (another breech of the law).  At Tom Murray’s establishment he refused the officers entrance.  They were about to leave when someone inside tripped over a dog causing the officers to force their way in.  They took away quantities of gin and whisky.  On a good note at Peter McSorley’s, when the officers checked on him they found him “pleasant and polite as usual” and no violations.

Meanwhile in the Acre: “The seizure officers accompanied by two from the regular force, made a descent Sunday forenoon on a vacant tenement in Mack's yard, off Market street. There were more than 50 men in one small room, the officers say, drinking from a washtub of ale, which was being served in schooners as fast as it could be ladled out. Such a panic as seized the crowd the officers have rarely witnessed. They blocked the doorway, jumped through five windows and a trap door in their eagerness to escape, and in doing so prevented the officers gaining an entrance until the proprietor of the liquor also had escaped.  The officer found a barrel of ale, fixtures, the washtub full and four schooners full which had been left untasted in the crowd's panic to get away.  The place was being run by a man who did not get a license for his saloon, nearby, and he had chosen the unoccupied tenement to ward off suspicion.” (Lowell Citizen)

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