Saturday, September 13, 2008

Rosedale, North Longmont, or Boozedale?

The old "North Longmont" town was mentioned in a Johnnie St. Vrain column a while back (I can't find it online) so it might be fun looking back at proper Longmont's evil cousin with it's "wild west" history.

First thing to remember is that one of the original Longmont Chicago Colony principles from its 1870 charter was temperance: no drinking or saloons allowed. Colony members had this printed on their membership certificate, and anyone caught consuming liquor had to turn their land back to the Colony. This strict rule lasted about five years but the temperance attitude remained much longer.

Fast forward to 1903. A group of folks living on a piece of land just north of the city boundary, at Main and 9th Avenue, voted to incorporate themselves as the town of Rosedale, with a population of 100. This land was known as the "Howze and Shiers Addition" although they were never previously admitted to the city. They tried, though. It seems that their application to Longmont didn't include enough water rights and the council rejected their entrance and told them to come back when their application included more ditch water. These "malcontents" (as the Longmont Ledger called them) apparently had enough of Longmont and decided to make a town of their own, thus the birth of Rosedale as its name and postal address. It was also called "North Longmont" and it looks like that name stuck more than Rosedale (also, see discussion at the end of this article about another Rosedale in Weld County).

The corner of 9th and Main today, looking NE at what used to be prime North Longmont saloon grounds.

To make matters worse for temperate Longmont, Rosedale voted 42 to 8 to be saloon and liquor friendly. They hired a marshall, a magistrate, and built a jail, too, operating as a profit center, using jail fines to partially fund the city. As an example, here's an incident from the Longmont Ledger in March, 1904:
Tuesday evening in Volk's Saloon at North Longmont was the scene of a little "unpleasantness." As near as we can get at it, Mo, Shug, and Burr Epperson pounded and abused an old man named John Chase, till they nearly killed him. Tom Cole the Marshall was caring for Mr. Chase when Mo again tried to injure the man, and Marshall Cole placed him under arrest, as well as his two brothers. Mo cut the Marshall on the arm with a knife, when Mr. Cole knocked him insensible with a billiard cue or as much so as was needed, considering that liquor had already done part of it. Shug ran away making for the cemetery, but was followed by Mr. Cole , and secured.

They were taken before the police magistrate of North Longmont, who fined them $15, $50, and $75.
The strong anti-saloon Ledger newspaper editorials frequently referred to Rosedale as "Boozedale".Boozedale was a problem to Longmont, just like an evil cousin. Drunks would come out of the saloons, cross the street, and bother residents in the 9th Avenue neighborhood. Having saloons just a hop away from Longmont was a temptation to city residents. Gambling and fights were common (as seen above). Murder in North Longmont was documented, too.

Shift ahead to 1908, an election year (Taft vs. Bryan for president). First, in April of that year, North Longmont voted to continue their saloons and liquor sales for another two years. But in the general election later that year in November, all four precincts of the Longmont area voted to be dry, including Precinct 24 (the vote was 511 dry vs. 116 wet) which included the North Longmont boundaries! Back then, Precinct 24 was defined to be the area:

West of Bross Street and North of Fourth Avenue as far west as Bowen Street, then the country between Third Avenue and the Hygiene Road. From east to west, this precinct measure about two miles.
(Do you think "the Hygiene Road" is what is now 17th Avenue? ) It was immediately assumed that North Longmont had thirty days to close their saloons. Once again, the Ledger editorialized (and rejoiced):
Longmont breathes a sigh of relief that these hell holes will be done away with. That temptation to the weak will be gone and the gambler's work we trust will be over
Not so fast, North Longmont said. They had voted just six months earlier, as an incorporated town, to remain a saloon town, and contended that as a corporation, the vote of the surrounding precinct did not control it.

Perhaps anticipating the larger precinct vote, North Longmont did petitition to create their own Precinct in January of this election year. A precinct, however, needed 500 voters, among other things, and North Longmont only had 125.

North Longmont appealed an injunction served to it (supposedly backed with money from the brewery and liquor industries), to close its saloons, and the case eventually made it to the Colorado Supreme Court. A year and a half later, in July 1910, the Court handed down its decision in Colorado 6665, which came down to a ruling made about the clarification between a ward and a precinct. The Court ruled that if a larger ward voted "dry", every precinct was controlled by the ward vote. North Longmont, being surrounded by a temperate community, was doomed.

Boozedale was no more, although there were reports of some ongoing bootlegging problems up there. Pool-cue swinging Marshall Cole was hired by Longmont as a night policeman. One more appeal was denied in February 1911, and that was the beginning of the end of North Longmont. "Dry! Dry! Dry!" was the exclamation of the Longmont Ledger.

North Longmont eventually unincorporated itself and was annexed into the City, around 1913. Ten years of conflict all started by water!

Note 1: Strangely enough, there was also a Rosedale up in Weld County that was incorporated 30 years later in 1939. It too, had the nickname of Boozedale! Hmm, that wikipedia entry needs to be updated to include our Rosedale!

Note 2: There was also a "Rosedale addition" to the City of Longmont in 1908 but it doesn't appear to be related to North Longmont. The Rosedale Addition is the area bounded by Longs Peak Avenue on the North, Lincoln Street on the West, Carleton Place (then Carleton Avenue) on the South, and Bowen to the east.

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