Editor’s Note: Sunday, March 24, was the 130th anniversary of the signing of the articles of incorporation for the city of River Falls. The following are excerpts from a series of articles written in 1985 by Tim Ericson, formerly Archives Director of UWRF, and now (1985) with the Wisconsin Historical Society, detailing the early history of River Falls. “Amid jubilation, the first municipal elections took place on April 7, 1885. Dr. Abraham D. Andrews, president of the Board of Trade and one of the charter’s most ardent supporters, receive an almost unanimous mandate (317 of  319 votes) and became the city’s first mayor. George E. Pratt was elected treasurer; E.H. Daniels, assessor; and E.R. Bourn justice of the peace at large. First Ward officers included W.W. Wadsworth, alderman; E.S. Reed, supervisor; R.R. Bourn, justice of the peace; and Robert Johnson, constable. From the Second Ward, S.M. Rosenquist, J.D. Putnam, R.N. Bevans and W.H. Toser. Third Ward were R.N. Jenson, M.C. Pierce, A.T. Carroll and William Reynolds; while the Fourth Ward elected Leonard Stiles, C.R. Morse, Joel Farnsworth and J.W. Barrett. A long list of ordinances in the Journal soon bore witness to the fact that things were going to be different with the newly empowered common Council passing a wide-ranging series of local laws. To ensure protection against disease and pestilence the council established a Board of Health, regulated the dumping of trash within the city limits and required licensing for local slaughter houses. In order to promote general safety, aldermen limited the speed of railroad cars traveling within the corporate limits of River Falls, prohibited horse racing or “immoderate driving or riding in the streets” and regulated the speed of vehicles crossing bridges. Council members also passed a general ordinance prohibiting a wide variety of “disorderly practices” including gambling, prostitution, soliciting, public drunkenness, unnecessary noise, loitering, discharge of firearms and vagrancy. Finally, the council adopted measures forbidding damage to city property, requiring saloons and other places of public entertainment to be licensed and preventing nuisances such as free-running dogs or farm stock in the city. As the City flexed its muscles there were numerous arrests for vagrancy, gambling, ‘obscene and profane langue,’ public intoxicants and other liquor related abuses. Virtually every arrest was followed by a conviction. Most offenders understood the message and adjusted their conduct accordingly. The only persistent violator was the notorious Mrs. A.M. Baker who operated a ‘house of ill-fame’ on the western outskirts of the city. The incorrigible proprietress and her employees were hauled into the judge’s chambers no fewer than five times between May 1885 and August 1886. Inevitably, each complaint resulted in a conviction, although the punishment, it seems, did not befit the crime. Patronage was evidently high enough for the wayward women to absorb the ‘ten dollars plus costs’ levied against them each time and still turn a profit. The problem was alleviated only when the state finally brought criminal charges against Mrs. Baker in 1888. With six convictions, the miscreant madam was sentenced to a year in state prison and decided subsequently either to reform or to ply her trade elsewhere. E.G. Rollins was appointed Street Commissioner and he set about refurbishing roads and bridges that were in need of repair. Dr. Edward Ballard accepted the post of City Health Officer and soon residents were warned to clean up alleys and yards and to remove ‘noxious’ weeds from their property. --Pat Hunter, archivist phunter@rivertowns.net

Editor’s Note: Sunday, March 24, was the 130th anniversary of the signing of the articles of incorporation for the city of River Falls.The following are excerpts from a series of articles written in 1985 by Tim Ericson, formerly Archives Director of UWRF, and now (1985) with the Wisconsin Historical Society, detailing the early history of River Falls.“Amid jubilation, the first municipal elections took place on April 7, 1885.Dr. Abraham D. Andrews, president of the Board of Trade and one of the charter’s most ardent supporters, receive an almost unanimous mandate (317 of  319 votes) and became the city’s first mayor.George E. Pratt was elected treasurer; E.H. Daniels, assessor; and E.R. Bourn justice of the peace at large. First Ward officers included W.W. Wadsworth, alderman; E.S. Reed, supervisor; R.R. Bourn, justice of the peace; and Robert Johnson, constable. From the Second Ward, S.M. Rosenquist, J.D. Putnam, R.N. Bevans and W.H. Toser. Third Ward were R.N. Jenson, M.C. Pierce, A.T. Carroll and William Reynolds; while the Fourth Ward elected Leonard Stiles, C.R. Morse, Joel Farnsworth and J.W. Barrett.A long list of ordinances in the Journal soon bore witness to the fact that things were going to be different with the newly empowered common Council passing a wide-ranging series of local laws.To ensure protection against disease and pestilence the council established a Board of Health, regulated the dumping of trash within the city limits and required licensing for local slaughter houses.In order to promote general safety, aldermen limited the speed of railroad cars traveling within the corporate limits of River Falls, prohibited horse racing or “immoderate driving or riding in the streets” and regulated the speed of vehicles crossing bridges.Council members also passed a general ordinance prohibiting a wide variety of “disorderly practices” including gambling, prostitution, soliciting, public drunkenness, unnecessary noise, loitering, discharge of firearms and vagrancy.Finally, the council adopted measures forbidding damage to city property, requiring saloons and other places of public entertainment to be licensed and preventing nuisances such as free-running dogs or farm stock in the city.As the City flexed its muscles there were numerous arrests for vagrancy, gambling, ‘obscene and profane langue,’ public intoxicants and other liquor related abuses. Virtually every arrest was followed by a conviction.Most offenders understood the message and adjusted their conduct accordingly.The only persistent violator was the notorious Mrs. A.M. Baker who operated a ‘house of ill-fame’ on the western outskirts of the city. The incorrigible proprietress and her employees were hauled into the judge’s chambers no fewer than five times between May 1885 and August 1886. Inevitably, each complaint resulted in a conviction, although the punishment, it seems, did not befit the crime. Patronage was evidently high enough for the wayward women to absorb the ‘ten dollars plus costs’ levied against them each time and still turn a profit.The problem was alleviated only when the state finally brought criminal charges against Mrs. Baker in 1888. With six convictions, the miscreant madam was sentenced to a year in state prison and decided subsequently either to reform or to ply her trade elsewhere.E.G. Rollins was appointed Street Commissioner and he set about refurbishing roads and bridges that were in need of repair.Dr. Edward Ballard accepted the post of City Health Officer and soon residents were warned to clean up alleys and yards and to remove ‘noxious’ weeds from their property.--Pat Hunter, archivistphunter@rivertowns.net

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