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Meet the Folks - Ep. FO8 - … of Oak Springs - Town Marshall Fetter 2
The charges were vandalizing outhouses
Town Marshall Andrew Fetter began on September 1, 1880
On a dark, moonless August night in 1881, Town Marshall Andrew Fetter had apprehended two youth, fifteen-year-old Jimmy Truesdale and sixteen-year-old Clarence Gower, in the act of vandalizing an outhouse on a rental house property in Oak Springs. Along with a neighbor carrying a lantern, Rev. Arthur Boyd, the Marshall marched the young men a couple of blocks to the City Hall and locked them up, in separate holding cells, pending contacting their parents. Methodist Rev. Boyd volunteered to stay and talk to the young men while Fetter walked across town to talk with Lewis and Caroline Truesdale, parents of Jimmy Truesdale. The Gower family lived a couple of miles east of town, so that visit would happen later.
At the Truesdale home, on Patton Road, Fetter asked the parents to see their son, Jimmy. They seemed genuinely surprised that their son was not in his bed, asleep.
Fetter: He is sitting in one of my jail cells, right now, talking to Rev. Boyd. I caught him, along with his friend, Clarence Gower, about to upset the outhouse on the rental house just north of the Methodist Parsonage. I caught them this time because they had done it before, in earlier weeks, this month.
Lewis: I cannot believe what I am hearing.
Fetter: You can believe it. And, I firmly believe this is the fifth Monday night in a row they’ve been out doing this. That neighborhood had been hit by vandals each of those nights. That is why I was there, waiting, this time.
Fetter: Destruction of personal property is vandalism. It is a serious offense.
Lewis: What do we do, next?
The boys sat in jail cells
The Marshall continued to work with the parents
Fetter: Did you know Jimmy and Clarence were together?
Caroline: They have been friends. They’ve seen each other, off and on, all summer. But we didn’t know they were meeting and getting into trouble in the middle of the night. I never imagined that such a thing could happen.
Fetter: They will need to appear before the Municipal Judge, in court. That won’t be tonight, of course. I would recommend you talk to Attorney Preston, of course. I can release your son to you, tonight, if you want to come back up to the jail with me.
They did that. On the way, Fetter picked up one of his horses at the livery stable, so he could ride out to visit the Gower family. That visit followed the same pattern and had similar results. Rev. Boyd had stayed with the Gower boy as the Marshall completed his time with the Gower family, as well. When they all had left, Marshall Fetter expressed his sincere thanks to the preacher.
Boyd: That is a part of my service, Marshall. Just like you, I am pledged to be there when I am needed. I was pleased to be able to minister to these boys, and their families, tonight. I certainly hope, and pray, that this episode will be a wake-up call for these folks.
Fetter: I certainly agree. I’m just happy we could put a stop to it, before it became worse. And I know from experience that it probably would have.
Boyd: I hate to think of such things. But I must agree with your conclusion.
The judge made his decision
Fetter appeared in court with each of the young vandals
The boys each appeared before Judge Coffee in the Municipal Courtroom, on separate days. Their families were in the courtroom with them, along with Town Marshall Andrew Fetter. Attorney Preston represented each boy before the Judge. In each case, Fetter presented the evidence against each boy. They had been caught about to commit an act of vandalism. The Marshall had been there because he recognized a pattern of activity that strongly suggested the boys had been the earlier perpetrators as well. In each case, each boy confessed to the charge, expressed deep remorse, and asked the court for leniency. Preston pointed out, in each case, that it was a first offense, and the time they spent locked up in the jail had caused each to think seriously about the meaning of what they had done.
In each case, Judge Coffee issued a sentence of one-year probation. If they did not appear before the court again, during that time, their record would be wiped clean, he added. The Judge further lectured the boys about the seriousness of what they had done, how lucky they were that no one had actually filed charges in the earlier cases, and that the dollar amount of damages had been minimal, though not insignificant. He added that as first time offenders, they were getting a break. That would not happen again. Think carefully about your actions, he added, because you are ultimately responsible for them.
Note from the author
This is the seventh episode of the short story (FOx) series, Meet the Folks | … of Oak Springs. Each episode will explore, at first hand, some folks who lived in Oak Springs c. 1880. The stories are set in the Ozarks Mountains setting of “The Homeplace Saga” series of family saga historical fiction. These episodes are around the 1880 time frame, following by a couple of years the 40 episodes of “The Kings of Oak Springs” stories. That series had followed the time period of the “American Centennial at the Homeplace: The Founding (1833-1876)” collection of short stories. Some of these earlier stories are published on The Homeplace Saga blog, found at the link, below. These FOx episodes provide depth and background stories for the entire "Saga" series. “The Kings of Oak Springs” Episode 41 has now resumed the stories as 1882 began.
The first 40 episodes of the King Family series have now been compiled into eBooks, titled: "The Kings of Oak Springs" Vol. 1 and Vol. 2. See the link, below, to get yours.
“The Homeplace Saga” historical fiction family saga stories are the creation of the author, William Leverne Smith, also known as “Dr. Bill.”