May 14, 1902
For The Gazette.
There a young city not generally known to the people and officials of Union Parish, and it is so different from other cities that it may be of interest to the public to know something of its locality and history. It is “Silver City,” in the northern part of Union Parish. It is without churches, blacksmith shops, dry goods and grocery stores, hotels, livery stables, drug stores, school houses, city council, mayor or marshal. Quite a unique city without government, law or rule; and the inhabitants do as they did in ante-diluvian days, when all did as they pleased. While lacking in all the above conveniences of a modern city, yet there is one thing they have that compensates the citizens for all else; that is, they have plenty of “booze,” which is the life of the place. Now for a word of history as to this remarkable place; Junction City, Ark., and La., has ever had a fight with whisky and the drink demon. Under vigorous measures by the authorities of the town, county and circuit courts of the Arkansas side, the whisky crowd was made to shake the dust off their feet and leave that state. Later on the parish authorities of Claiborne made it too unprofitable for business success, and not to be outdone, the town authorities on the Louisiana side, by adopting high license, caused the erstwhile persistent whisky man to seek new quarters; and on December 31st, 1901, at midnight, the doors of the open saloon were closed, and there was a sigh of relief to the good people of Junction City, when for the first time in its history the town was without a whisky shop, or “hell trap” as they had proved to many, and thanks went up to God for the relief. The opprobrium which had rested so long on the authorities of the town was now removed, for when complaint was made to the higher authorities about the blind tiger running almost in full blast, the town officials were blamed for not stopping them, and the town authorities now had bid them depart; and Junction City felt better. The whisky crowd had occupied one position so long that they had apparently lost the use of their limbs, and like an old woman’s dance, the march soon came to an end, and just outside the city limits they called a halt and pitched their tents and booze has been flowing almost like the streams of water since the 15th of January. As might be expected, the manners of the people of the new city are not very mild, for there are no officials to preserve order; wherefore, lawlessness has been rampant and with fights, revelry debauchery, midnight orgies and such like proceedings reminds one of pandemonium unbridled rather than a civilized community of a great state, and the name “Silver City” is a misnomer and “Hell’s Half Acre” would be more appropriate. The police jury of Union Parish has placed liquor license at $4000, for which they deserve the heartfelt praise of every lover of the young men of the country, and as they have shown such regard for the good name of Union Parish and Louisiana, it is to be devoutly hoped that the other officials, parish and district, will show equal zeal for law and the preservation of order, and will make an unannounced visit to this plague spot, which is as gangrene eating into the vitals of the state, and show them how to conduct government in a proper way.
A great deal of revenue is due the parish by these whisky vendors and they should be made to pay as they have grown rich by their illicit traffic. The only way to stop them is to enforce the law, and that has been demonstrated to be very effective in the case of Union county and Claiborne Parish, and Union Parish officials should not be slow to enforce the law, and this blind tiger crowd will seek more congenial climes.
J. C. Williams, Junction, Ark.,
May 6, 1902
In another column appears a communication in reference to the “blind tiger” at “Silver City”, near Junction City. We do not suppose that any person at all familiar with the situation at “Silver City” doubts but what whiskey is illicitly sold there. But the law presumes a man to be innocent until he is proven guilty. Men cannot be convicted upon even the strongest belief that they have violated a law. Proof, and not belief, is necessary. If the good people of Junction will make affidavits against the individuals who are violating the prohibition laws and see that a warrant is put in Sheriff Murphy’s hands, we will guarantee the malefactors will be either promptly arrested, or else made to skip that neck-o’-woods; and after his arrest, if those interested in law and order will put District Attorney Preaus in possession of the names of witnesses, he will make it hard for the liquor vendor. It is the duty of all good citizens to assist the officers in upholding the majesty of the law.