Richland Co., Ohio


Historical Records

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Petition to keep the Jesse James production out of Mansfield

Source:  THE MANSFIELD HERALD: 27 March 1884, Vol. 34, No. 19


Submitted by Amy


The equestrian drama of the Bandit King, in which J.H. Wallick personated the character of the murderer and cut-throat, Jesse James, was advertised to be produced at Miller's Opera House on Thursday evening last.

That the tendency of such performances, by familiarizing the youth of the city with scenes of bloodshed, robbery and other crimes, and by making heroes out of outlaw and desperadoes, was corrupting to their morals, was the feeling of a number of people, and that the city might be saved from the disgrace of an exhibition so injurious to the minds of the rising generation, the following remonstrance, as signed, was placed in the hands of the Mayor on the morning of that day:

March 20, 1884 -- 

To His Honor, Mayor Stough:

SIR: The undersigned respectfully request you to exercise your authority as Mayor, by suppressing the intended exhibition of the Jesse James Co. to-night and by directing further that hereafter all minstrel shows composed of women performers shall not be permitted at Mansfield. We ask you to do this, not because we object to any reasonable or proper form of amusement, but to prevent indecent and demoralizing exhibitions. We with to protect the young, and the old for that matter, from all shows, exhibitions or performances which are vicious or which present crime in a romantic and attractive form.

James Reynolds Charles Herr George Brinkerhoff
L.A. Armentrout F.J. Kalmerten John W. Jenner
F.E. Tracy Simon Grove H.M. Weaver
Geo. W. Blymyer Willis M. Sturges A.D. Knapp
Geo. F. Carpenter A. Kallmerten Jos. S. Hedges
Benj. Blair N.N. Leyman R.R. Maxwell
Hiram R. Smith J.E. Brown S.A. Bronson 
F.M. Iams R. Lean P. Bigelow
Martin Hammond W.P. Clarke F.A. Gilbert
Ben Hurxthal Jacob Steinrock Chas. M. Lain
James White Albert Berno A.J. Gilbert
A. Anderson J.M. Waugh Geo. Knofflock
Chas. F. Harding S.A. George B.L. Bevington
J.A. Anderson A. Scattergood Henry Schiret
Hobart Scattergood A.P. Seiler M.D. Harter

Later in the day one of the most prominent petitioners sought a personal interview with the Mayor and put the question direct to him: "Do you mean to stop the performance?" The Mayor said he thought he would, but intimated at the same time that he did not wish to involve the city in any litigation that might result unless the petitioners backed up their remonstrance with a bond. This, signed by a dozen or more wealthy citizens, was forthcoming, and the gentleman left the presence of His Honor with the assurance that the play should not be allowed.

Acting under the instructions of his superior, Marshall Weil in the afternoon called upon M.L. Miller, lessee of the Opera House, and notified him verbally that should they attempt to produce the drama, he would be compelled to exercise his authority. Mr. Miller referred the Marshall to Mr. Wallick, who demanded "the papers" usual in such cases. These could not be produced, and the Marshal, having obeyed the orders of His Honor, retired.

The Mayor, in his endeavors to retain the good will of Mr. Harter (the long list of other petitioners was ignored), then hunted up and asked the advice of two or three different lawyers as to the most effective way to bring about the desired result. He was told to examine the statutes covering the cas in point, and that the best plan to pursue would be to serve an injunction on the manager of the show. Near the hour for ringing up the curtain, the Mayor ran across Mr. John A. Connolly, the City Solicitor -- "my legal adviser", as referred to by the Mayor when found in consultation with that gentleman in an uptown grocery by a HERALD reporter -- and the two proceeded to the Solicitor's office to hunt up authorities and to get out the necessary warrants. The reporter went directly to the Opera House to await developments and tarried until the performance was well under way, but no officer armed with power to hustle Jesse James and troupe headlong down the stairway appeared, and the play proceeded to the end undisturbed.

The Mayor, after passing the greater part of the day and some saloons, finally wandered in to the Opera House -- to judge for himself of the immorality of the play -- and was a deeply interested spectator of the blood and thunder scenes there depicted.

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