History: "The Justice Court", York
Township, Clark Co., WI
Contact: Loyal Public Library
----Source: Excerpt from "The Centennial History of the York Center United Methodist Church, 1880 - 1980..
THE HISTORY OF YORK TOWNSHIP, CLARK COUNTY, WI
THE JUSTICE COURT
An important office in the early days was the Justice of the Peace. Mr. H.G. Chase served for many years. He heard cases and dispensed justice much as the small claims courts and the Justice Court do today. Cases ranged from the trivial to the serious. With transportation being difficult and distances great, the local Justice Court served the area.
Mr. Chase's office was in his home. He lived on what is the Shaw's home now. but formerly known as the John Pietenpol farm, not far from where many of the residents lived in the 1880's.
Among the interesting cases were those which involved collecting of debts owed, much like small claims courts today. Many of them were settled out of court. The summons and court costs amounted to about $2.57 on simple cases. In another case a debt of $100 was collected by selling the defendant's goods. This must have been a major case as the assessed value of the personal property of a family at the time (1880) was not more than $100.
Assault and battery, striking or slapping a Town of Grant constable cost the defendant a fine of $2.00 and costs of $1.00.
In another case, a citizen was iued for $5.94 due on a sawbill. He had not paid for the sawing of 1,420 feet of rock elm lumber. The mill owner collected, first the $5.00 and finally the last 94cents.
A case in which one neighbor accused the son of another of stealing his hoe led to one man being brought in as a prisoner and the whole matter complete with witnesses being decided in court. The witness declined to take sides. Apparently the neighbors were working on adjoining land and one had a mind to "thrash" the other, so they both jumped over the fence into the public highway for the altercation. The man who started it got a fine of $2.00 and the court costs (including witnesses) were $6.00.
There were more serious cases. Where a clear decision was difficult to reach the cases were referred to the Circuit Court. As one reads these cases, justice appears to have been done.
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