Law and Order


In the early days of Mead, crime was a rarity. Most of the people who spent time in the jail house did so for public drunkenness or for bar fights. The speed limit was 10 mph, with 8 mph around corners. However, I have never heard of anyone being arrested for exceeding those limits. The speed limits were not changed until well into the 1960s.

There is a story that Clint Smith, who had the reputation of coming into town on Saturdays and getting drunk, was also a blacksmith. He was hired to do the ironwork for the new jail. Sure enough, it wasn't long before he landed in the clink. The Police Magistrate left him locked up while he did his rounds. When he returned about a half hour later, Clint was gone. There was no sign of how he escaped, everything seemed in order. The next day, the Magistrate ran into Clint and asked him how he had escaped. All Clint would tell him was that he should never lock the person up who built the jail! Non-deterred, the next Saturday, the Magistrate once again ran into Clint, this time at the local saloon. Sitting next to him, he started an easy conversation, all the while keeping Clint's glass full. Once Clint was totally drunk, he was asked the question again. This time, the answer was forthcoming. All Clint did was pull the hinge pins, let himself out and then slipped them back in. The next day, Clint was back at work at the jail-house, welding the pins in.

The first Town Marshall was J. L. Ballinger hired May 13, 1908 with a salary of $26.00 a year. It was later changed in 1910 to $10.00 a month. W. H. Wilson was the first Police Magistrate appointed - June 1908. By 1911, M. S. Adams is listed as the Justice of the Peace and both Adams and H. C (Hubert Charles) Mathews are listed as the police magistrates. I find it interesting that Adams is both arrester and judge. I don't think that too many people would want to be arrested at that time in Mead!

The first jail was a building 12' x 10' x 7'. It was a wooden frame with a flat top. The first lumber bill was for $105.00 and the land the jail stood on rented for $10.00 a year. In about 1940, the old jail house was moved up on 4th street and was sold in 1943 for $35.00.

The second jail was abandoned sometime in the 1980's. All prisoner's now go to the Weld County Jail in Greeley. One of the two old jail houses is located on Boulder Scientific' property. I'm not sure which one it is, some say it is the original, others say it is the second one.

Life wasn't always just arrests for public drunkenness The Longmont Ledger, December 16, 1921. headlined,

Bank Robbery at Mead
The robbery was at Mead last week Thursday when the First National Bank of Mead was entered and the safety deposit boxes rifled and a number of valuable papers were taken. They did not get into the vault, or the loss might have been considerably greater."

Just below the above story, was the following,

McCormick's Store at Mead Robbed.
Mead seems to be out of luck. The sensation of the bank robbery had not passed the next day or Friday before the department store of W. H. McCormick was entered, the thieves prying the front door open, notwithstanding a street lamp was shinning near by. The robbers had an auto and carried off about $1,500 worth of clothing, consisting of men's suits, including twelve serge suits, one large fur overcoat, several mackinaws, thirty pairs of men's shoes, neckties, etc. The thieves made bags out of some blankets to carry the goods to the auto. This auto was traced as far as Frederick and then lost.

Makes me wonder what the thieves planned on doing with all those men's clothing items? Open their own men's clothing store?

And finally:

During the Great Depression times became so tough, that even the bank president was tempted to rob his own bank. There is a story going around, which is not verified, but was supposedly observed by a young child living across the alley from the bank, that one night, the bank president (who shall remain unnamed in order to protect the innocent and not so innocent), broke into the store next door to the bank and proceeded to dismantle a section of the brick wall between where he was and the bank vault on the other side. He labored for long hours, but was not successful in breaking into the vault itself. What to do? In desperation, he went out into the alley, and started firing his gun, all the while shouting, "Someone tried to rob the bank! Get him!" They never caught the robber, and due to hard times, the last of the two original banks in old time Mead, went under a few months later.

Pauli Driver-Smith