Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Nefarious Activities - 1884

Patience Athletic Club
        Early Sunday morning, about 3 am., October 13, 1884, Police Constable     Hawkins saw a young man come out of a doorway on John street near Main.
           When the young man noticed the policeman, he hastened away from the area. Suspicions aroused, Constable Hawkins called for fellow constable        Strongman and together they entered the doorway from which the young man had exited :
          “They went upstairs and tried all the doors but could not get in any of them. They did not hear any noise or see any light. When coming down stairs again, they heard low whispering and the noise of feet moving stealthily about.”
          “The Patience Athletic Club : Where Tables, Cards and Liquor Are the Athletic Apparatus”
             Spectator. October 15, 1884.
          After summoning another fellow patrolman for assistance, the three Hamilton policemen together were able to arrest three men located in the suspicious building. A key was found on one of those arrested, and with it, the police were able to enter the gang's club rooms and make a thorough search :
          “They found in the first room, a card table with a pack of cards on it and a lot of leather checks. A back room they found fitted up as a bar, with racks for beer barrels and a table fitted like a counter. They got over two dozen bottles of beer, two bottles of whiskey and a lot of old tom gin. The police found five more packs of cards and several pairs of boxing gloves.”
          The arrests made in connection with the Patience Athletic Club caused a sensation in Hamilton. On October 20, 1884, the Spectator published an article about young men's “clubs” in the city and how they operated.
          It was estimated that usually between two or three dozen young men would organize a club and proceed to rent a room or two in the upper flats of large commercial buildings in the downtown core :
          “The resort is familiarly known among the brotherhood as the 'dazh' and each carries a key which unlocks the door. The location, even the existence, of the place, are kept secret except to the few who bear the expense of it, and perhaps to a limited number of privileged friends. Now, it is a fact that there are many of these mysterious resorts in Hamilton, and it is also a fact that if their walls could speak, they could tell appalling tales of vice.”
          “Young Men's 'Clubs' : How Some Hamilton Youths Pass Their Leisure Hours”
             Spectator. October 20, 1884.
          Saturday night, October 18, 1884, a gentleman was walking along John street north, near King, shortly after midnight when he heard a young woman sobbing uncontrollably while another slightly older woman was both consoling and remonstrating her.
          The gentleman went up to the pair to ask what was wrong and was told by the older of the two that there was nothing wrong:
          “ ' It is something,' said the other, suddenly rising to her feet, 'and I'm going to tell all about it.' She was quite young – a mere girl, rather pretty, and nicely dressed. Her companion, who was evidently four or five years her senior, and was much more brazen in her appearance, appeared to be anxious to get her away, and said, threateningly, 'You'd better not give them away.'
          “ 'I tell you I will,' said the younger one, and she turned to the gentleman and began her story when her companion roughly interrupted her. 'Don't be a fool, Carrie,' sad she; 'You'll get yourself into trouble, as well as the boys if you don't hold your tongue.' “
          The gentleman persisted with is inquiries into the nature of the young girl's difficulties. She told him that she and her companion had met two young men that evening. Her friend went with one of the fellows, while she went walking with the other. After about an hour, the young girl was led to a door in a King street east building and was told that her friend was upstairs:
          “She went up with him and was taken into a room where she found the other girl and the youth whom she had gone off with when they separated. The girl here broke down, and could nor or would not proceed with her story. She only said, amid a flood of tears, 'It wasn't my fault – I didn't know.' She refused to give her name. 'My brother would kill me if he found out, and he mustn't know.' “
          The gentleman then questioned the older woman about what happened and was told :
          “ 'She went to the room of her own accord,' said she. 'She saw me and my friend go in together, and she and this other fellow followed us. The boys only treated us to some wine – that's all, and her head is a little turned, 'cause she is not used to it. That's all that's the matter with her. She'll be all right tomorrow – won't you Carrie?' “
          At this point, the measured step of a police patrolman was heard, and the gentleman threatened to have them both arrested if they didn't reveal their names. After their piteous pleadings to be let go, the gentleman agreed and the two guests of a young men's club hurried off down John street and disappeared into the darkness.

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