The Obese Judge

If you will be remembered in history, don’t be remembered as the fat guy who got stuck in a fence.

It was 1874, and the Temperance Movement was in full swing. Laying the groundwork for Prohibition, the movement was designed to reduce, and ultimately eradicate drinking in the United States.

Dayton had its own chapter of the movement, the Women’s Christian Temperance Union. The ladies were influenced strongly by Carrie (Carry) Nation, a well-known radical. Fueled by piety and wrath, Carry would lead women to bars and clubs, encouraging them to intimidate the bartenders and owners by singing hymns and praying for wrath to be incurred on those within.

On March 28, 1874, ladies from the Women’s Christian Temperance Union raided the Dayton Clubhouse at 31 S. Main Street, surprising roughly a dozen men inside as they drank champagne. Startled and quite surprised at the spectacle, many of the men jumped and fled through the back entrance, ducking through a hole in the fence for quicker escape.

All except one. A “rather obese” former judge – who is not mentioned by name – lagged behind the others as they ran, then got stuck in the hole during the hasty retreat. He remained stuck in the fence, having to listen to them praying and singing for “a long time” until the ladies finished their sermon.

A telegram describing this incident sparked the interest of the New York Times, who published an article on April 14th, 1874.

There is no record of who helped the judge get out of the fence.

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