“Never, in the history of our country, has the public mind been wrought up to such a state of excitement; never has the historian’s pen been called upon to record such noble and ignoble deeds. So closely has one momentous occurrence crowded up a second, that we have had hardly time to recover from the surprise occasioned by the one before the other has filled us with dismay or joy.”
Apparently the people of the city took that joy and dismay very seriously, as according to City Marshal Bickford Lang’s annual report, 1123 of the city’s 1926 arrests that year (58 percent) were for drunkenness, another 116 for being “common drunkards” and 28 for disturbing the peace.
Of the 1926 arrested, 1508 were men, 418 women; 1536 were considered “foreigners” with the remaining 390, “Americans.”
At the time Lowell had a population of about 40,000 people and the Lowell Police Department was made up of 29 men.
City Marshal Bickford Lang was born in Limerick, Maine in 1823 and came to Lowell in 1843. He spent seven years as superintendent of the City Farm, 10 years as City Marshal, two years as Deputy Marshal and the 20 years before his 1894 death as the truant officer. The school boys called him “Daddy Lang.”
When he died at his home at 69 Forrest Street on April 11, 1894 The Sun noted he was “perhaps the best known citizen of this city.”
But, back to the shenanigans of 1862 that kept Marshal Lang and his men busy. In addition to enjoying distilled spirits and getting into trouble, Lowellians were up to a few other things that found them on Lang’s bad side.
Three folks were arrested for “snowballing in the street”; four for disturbing public worship; three for doing business on the Lord’s day; eleven for “pasturing cows on the street”; five for adultery; six for fornication; eight for bathing in the river.
Eighteen were picked up for driving fast in the streets or on the Central Bridge (apparently with their horses and carts); while another eight were captured for throwing rocks in the street and four for discharging firearms.
Seventy-two men were arrested for deserting the Army. And two people were arrested for “disguising sex,” which in my storyteller’s imagination I hope refers to women pretending to be men to sign up to fight in the Civil War, rather than men wearing corsets and dresses to sneak into the ladies’ bathhouse.