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Calhoun County Boot-leggers

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The Fort Dodge Messenger: March 20, 1907

Calhoun County Boot-leggers

One of Them is Convicted in Court and Fined Five Hundred

Stern Warning to Violators

Had Been Running Joint at Town of Jolley – Better Class of Citizens Caused Prosecution to be Made Against Him.

Rockwell City, March 20 – (Special to The Messenger) – When County attorney F.F. Hunter secured the conviction of Martin Johnson in the district court today, and Judge Powers imposed a fine of $500 ($11,547 today) and costs, they sounded a note of warning to the violators of the liquor laws, and won the admiration of all law abiding people of Calhoun County.

It was alleged that Johnson had been running a joint in the town of Jolley for some time and had been selling intoxicants freely and without fear or favor until he had become a menace to society in that locality. Fights and street brawls were a common occurrence, and it was charged that Johnson was responsible for the lawlessness that prevailed. The city marshal was unable to cope with the element that caused the disturbances, consequently things around Johnson’s place of “business” ran with a high hand. The better class of Jolley’s citizens became disgusted and the matter was brought to the attention of the grand jury which was in session here last week. An indictment was returned against Johnson, which he ignored. It is alleged that he continued in his nefarious business until court convened yesterday, when he was arraigned to answer to the charges that had been preferred against against (sic) him. He was found guilty of running a “joint” contrary to law, and when the jury returned a verdict Judge Powers immediately imposed a fine of $500 and costs, or an equivalent jail sentence. It was suggested to the Judge that he reduce the fine to $300 and Johnson would pay it rather than spend the summer in jail, but his Honor refused to entertain such a proposition and said: “No sir. I will not reduce it one cent. If I do anything I will increase it. These “bootleggers” are a menace to a community and their business must stop.”

With these burning words the accused was permitted to retire from the court room to decide what course he would pursue. With a long jail sentence staring him in the face he decided to pay his fine, which he did. It is said that he stated before leaving for his home that he is done selling liquor contrary to law and hereafter expect (sic) to live a respectable life.

It is understood that there are still a few more places in the county on which the “search-light” will be turned when the grand jury meets again and the county attorney has given assurances that any and all violators of the law will be prosecuted with all the vigor and energy that he commands.