Local news

Jim Kershner’s this day in history

From our archives, 100 years ago

Frequent laughter and merriment in the courtroom caused Justice Hyde to warn the crowd that they were attending “a trial, not a vaudeville show.”

It was, in fact, a serious assault trial in which Frank Baird, of Spangle, was accused of knocking out John Matthews, of South Moran, by hitting him over the head with a whiskey bottle at a South Moran dance hall.

Witnesses alleged that a “gang” of young Spangle men crashed the dance and created havoc. They threw cups and saucers, and one of them seized Otto Smith, the hall owner, “and tried to kiss him.” This was apparently one of the statements that created mirth in the courtroom.

When Smith declared the dance over, Baird apparently imitated Smith’s German accent.

Outside the hall, Baird and Matthews got into an altercation that rendered Matthews unconscious. However, Baird claimed that he knocked Matthews out with a right hook, not a whiskey bottle.

At one point in the trial, the judge had to tell a witness to remove the “cud of gum” from his mouth while testifying. The judge said gum-chewing “was the next worst thing to cigarette smoking.”

No verdict had yet been rendered.



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