Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Red Light District Becomes Thing of Past in Marietta

Marietta Daily Times, April 8, 1915

Keepers Agree to Close All Their Houses

Fines of $200 and costs were assessed against the four proprietresses of disorderly houses in this city when they were arraigned before Mayor Okey just before noon today. Upon their agreeing to abate the places at once, the fines were suspended. The conditions of the suspension make it impossible not only for the women to resume the conduct of the places, but prevents them leasing or renting their places for immoral purposes.

Another condition of the suspensions was that the women are prohibited from occupying any other houses in the city for immoral purposes, and that the fines may be in force upon their violating any of the city ordinances. The women in court were Mary Snider, 231 Ohio Street; Anna Slack, 313 Ohio Street; Pearl Anderson, 313 Church Street; and Lucy Lee, 128 S. Third Street.

The following statement was made by Mayor Okey before disposing of the cases:

"In carrying out the plan of trying to secure the best condition of order possible in the city, it was necessary to give attention to the so-called social evil. It was attempted to control the evil as far as possible by preventing the increase in the number of houses, and by suppressing those not disposed to observe order. During the last year, six houses have been closed and the inmates dispersed, and one assignation house was prosecuted. Applications made by keepers of houses in other cities to set up here were turned away. All with the view of finally reaching the point of entire suppression of all public houses so far as the authority provided would authorize.

"The progress has not been rapid, and was conducted with as little sensation as possible. No credit will perhaps be given any where for what has been done, and criticism may be expected from those who use the cloak of pretended piety and morality to promote business or political purposes. The present proceedings will close out, by the voluntary action of the defendants, all public houses having regular inmates. The houses of assignation, which are a great deal more objectionable from several points of view than a house with regular inmates, will remain to be treated as evidence can be obtained to suppress them.

"In taking action in the present cases, I wish to say frankly that the closing of these houses is, in my opinion, only the beginning of the suppression of the evil. An eminent historian has said that 'in all nations, ages and religions, a vast mass of irregular indulgence has appeared, which has probably contributed more than any other single cause to the misery and the degradation of man.' The law may reach those who, like these women, are openly conducting houses; but the ten times greater number who are constantly contributing to the misery and degradation of humanity cannot be reached by law. The experience of the world has demonstrated  that human passions cannot be controlled by laws on the statute books. The reformation in this regard, if ever made, must be in the homes, the schools and the churches, and especially in the homes."

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