1910 City of Concord Prohibits Swearing, Playing Cards, and … Peanuts

11 Jul 2014

1910 city code prohibited entrance into any church, school, barn or vacant house “for playing cards…or any immoral purpose.” Photo courtesy of the Library of Congress.

The 1910 Code of the City of Concord contains the charters and acts for the city, as adopted by Mayor Charles B. Wagoner and Aldermen William W. Flowe, J. W. Cannon, Jr., John W. Propst, Dr. R. Morrison King, Mr Barrier (possibly Charles T. or Clarence H.), and Mr. Burton (possibly William B.), and compiled by City Attorney L. T. Hartsell. While each of the ordinances was enacted to insure the safety of Concord residents and the efficient operation of the city government, a few of them seem unusual by current standards.

One of the most important considerations of the day was the maintenance of good health. To that end, the Board of Aldermen was empowered to enact quarantines to prevent contagious or infectious diseases from entering the city or from spreading. This included the right to “stop, detain and examine…every person coming from places believed to be infected with such disease.” Health laws ordered compulsory vaccinations of persons living or working in the city, and persons who stayed in town for 10 days or longer. Anyone refusing vaccination was subject to arrest and “compelled to be vaccinated, using whatever force may be necessary.” Violation of health ordinances carried fines of $50 ($1,219.51 in 2014 dollars) or imprisonment for 30 days.

The Aldermen were also concerned with the moral well-being of Concord residents. Ordinances prohibited the use of loud and profane swearing, indecent and abusive language, and entrance into any church, school, barn or vacant house for “playing cards…or for any immoral purpose.” The 1910 City code also prohibited Sunday work, including the buying and selling of all goods except medicine. There were ordinances which specifically prohibited sales of tobacco “in any form,” and sales of “soda water, lemonade, limeade, coco cola, malt, ice cream, sherbet, or other drink of …like character.” Violation of these ordinances carried fines of $5 ($121.95 in 2014 dollars) or imprisonment of 5 to 30 days.

Presumably public safety was the reason behind the ordinances prohibiting skating and bicycle riding on the sidewalks, or playing ball and shooting slingshots on city streets. However, one of the most intriguing ordinances is one from the chapter of miscellaneous items: “That it shall be unlawful…to eat or hull peanuts in any public building in the City of Concord. Anyone violating this ordinance…shall be fined $5 or imprisoned for 5 days.”

Courtesy of the Cabarrus County Public Library, Lore Local History Roo