A look back at the early days in Aberdeen

Aberdeen has a lot of looking back to do! The Aberdeen Fire Department is celebrating its 125th anniversary this year. In just a short year or two, the City of Aberdeen will be celebrating its 125th!

We talked about the fire department last week, but for now, we'll talk about those days at the last of the 1800s in Aberdeen.

At the Aberdeen Room Archives and Museum, that is exactly what we do. We look at old photos and listen or read about the recollections of lifelong residents to give us a feeling of everyday life in Aberdeen's early days.

The old photos and documents can supply for us a mind's eye view of Aberdeen in the late 1800s. Bel Air Avenue was a dirt road which led from Halls Crossroads to Churchville. It was narrow, dusty and had no sidewalks or electric street lights. Homes and stores dotted the two main streets and farmland came to their back doors. Aberdeen was very rural in nature, and its streets were traveled by horses pulling hay wagons, carriages and other delivery wagons.

Interspersed with the horses, wagons and foot traffic were animals which farmers brought to market on the hoof or who wandered in from nearby pastures.

One of the Town Fathers' first act as a Board of Commissioners was to put a stop to what must have been a pretty commons sight. Ordnance 1, passed a mere two months after March 22, 1892 (date of the incorporation of the Town), clearly decreed "it shall not be lawful for swine, mules, horses, goats, geese and cattle to run at large within the corporate limits of the Town."

The Bailiff, the town's only peace officer, was directed to round up these unruly beasts and fowl, and impound them. The owners had to pay $1 for the return of his animals. Half of the fee went to the bailiff for his duty.

The bailiff was also directed by Ordinances 2, 3 and 5 to arrest all people engaged in "riotous or disorderly conduct," those who were caught in the "unnecessary firings of guns or pistols" and to make sure all dogs had licenses.

Since there was no sewer system at that time, Ordinance 6 ordered "all owners of pig pens, privies and cesspools had to be cleaned whenever they became offensive," or at least once a year before June 1. This was another of the duties of the bailiff, and he got the $1 fine for each offense.

As we said before, animals were brought to town on the hoof, and where did they go? To the slaughter house? But this business left a lot to be desired in the way of downtown beautification, because Ordinance 4 ordered "all persons carrying on the business of butchering to immediately remove all offal and offensive matter from his premises and beyond the corporate limits of the Town."

Lastly, the Town Fathers, in their infinite wisdom, left the best for last. Ordinance 7 addressed the "T" word. They said "That for the purpose of meeting the expenses, that a tax be levied on all real and personal property within the corporate limits, of fifty cents on every one hundred dollars worth of said property."

Yes, as the years went by, the animals disappeared from Bel Air Avenue (although in the early 1930s, Mr. Aaronson's pigs still roamed our lawn on Broadway, and ate our flowers and shrubs).

Anyway, the slaughter houses closed down, and we no longer have to deal with "Privies."

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