Thursday, July 31, 2014

Insisted on Trial after Sodomy Charge

Was Mr. Farrell naughty too?
In the midst of reading old newspapers today, my attention was drawn to the case of Margaret Delf, who was (repeatedly) charged with prostitution and brothel keeping in 1884 St. Paul. The search term that lead me to Margaret was “sodomy,” which was not one of the things she was charged with, but was the charge for the case described immediately after hers.

Unlike Ms. Delf, for whom this was to be the last reference in the St. Paul Daily Globe, there is a follow-up to the second story. I’ll give it all here.

This is a continuation of the police court column of the Saint Paul Daily Globe, July 31, 1884.
It was a busy morning in the police court, and after several victims to the elegant tanglefoot had been disposed of the case of C. Farrell, charged with sodomy was called. The audience was immense, and so great was their morbid curiosity that they stood upon the sets to get a better view of the bull pen, and Bailiff Clouse had his hands full to keep order. Farrell who is a genteel intelligent looking fellow and whose appearance would indicate that he would be incapable of the crime laid at his door, was represented by Lawyer Goforth. Mr. Murray would have been willing to have had the case dismissed on certain conditions but the attorney refused to have the case dismissed with any stain on the character of the accused. This made the chancellor mad and he then insisted on a trial which was postponed until to-day.
It’s not clear who the “genteel intelligent looking fellow” was. The street directories for the period list a Charles A. Farrell who was a barber. There’s a Charles Farrell in the 1885 Minnesota census, who was 25 years old in 1884. Could this be our fellow? Probably not. Charles Farrell seems to have lived in St. Paul from 1877 to 1884.

This is the police court report on August 1.
Yesterday was a prohibition day in the police court and for a special wonder there was not a single case of drunkenness on the docket. For all that though the bull pen was croweed and there were cases which developed a depth of depravity and vice along of which the venial sin of drunkenness would stand out a shining virtue. The poor victim to bug juice and the seductive tanglefoot is usually his own worst enemy but there are other nameless crimes to breath the name of which is almost contamination. The case which attracted the most attention on this red letter morning of iniquity was that of C. A. Farrell, the young man charged with sodomy. When the case was called Mr. Murray renewed the motion to dismiss, explaining to the court that while the testimony was of a particularly nasty character it was not strong enough to convict on the charge named. The accused was thereupon discharged.
I suspect the reason I’m not finding Charles Farrell, a barber in St. Paul for the 1885 Minnesota census is that he probably found St. Paul uncongenial, even after beating the sodomy rap. For that matter, the evidence was “not strong enough to convict on the charge named.” While he may have escaped being punished by the law, Mr. Farrell probably found that he was being punished by his fellow citizens nevertheless.

In 1890, there’s a Charles Farrell working as a barber in Winnipeg, Manitoba. It’s about 465 miles away from St. Paul and may have represented a refuge and a new start to Mr. Farrell. The 1891 Manitoba census notes that Charles Farrell, a barber, was born in the United States, about 1861. I think that's our man.

I hope he found happiness in Canada.
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