Let’s Talk Clovis: 1912 City Ordinances, 8th & 9th, Outlaw Two Businesses

First board of trustees in the City of Clovis, elected in April 1912. Standing from L-R: Albert S. Kirkpatrick, City Recorder; Jake C. Horschman, City Marshal; Dr. J.S. Boyton, Trustee; L.E. Weldon, City Clerk; Floyd W. Redford, City Treasure. Seated from L-R: Perry S. Jackson, Trustee; Lewis W. Gibson, President; A.E.D. Scott, Trustee; John Shackelford, Trustee. (Courtesy of the Clovis Museum)

The first Clovis Board of Trustees was elected on April 9, 1912 with a “dry” and “moral” slate. They rapidly passed Ordinances 8th and 9th to fulfill their campaign promises. The City was a mile square bounded by Sierra Ave, Sunnyside, Barstow and Minnewawa (now 25.2 square miles).

They held their first meeting at Realtor Frank Drury’s (1852-1953, the Grand Old man of Clovis) office at the northeast corner of Fourth and Pollasky.

The Board of Trustees approved Ordinance 5 that designated the 1906 John Freitas Store Building (southwest side of Pollasky & Clovis Ave, now the 500 Club) as their meeting place.  City Clerk J.E. Weldon posted the new ordinance at the Post Office and the Chamber of Commerce (locations not documented).

The ordinances took effect on June 30, 1912. Our national prohibition was enacted in 1919 and repealed in 1933 by the 21st Amendment. The 1912 Clovis Tribune advertisement placed by the 1895 OK Saloon (women were not allowed entrance) stated that they would be impacted by the 8th City ordinance.

Ordinance 8 was created: “For purposes of regulation and revenue, every kind of lawful business.” Section 3 stated: “It was unlawful to have, posses, control, keep, store or provide any spirituous, vinous, malt, mixed, fermented, distilled, alcoholic or intoxicating liquors in the City of Clovis to be sold, bartered, furnished, delivered, exchanged or given away there or therein, or for the purpose or with the intent there or therein of selling, bartering, furnishing, delivering, exchanging , or giving away the same or any parcel, package, quantity, or kind thereof.”

Early settlers found wild grapes growing along the river bottoms of this area. In 1873 F.T. Eisen planted a vineyard of Muscat grapes in the area bounded by Kings Canyon, Clovis Ave, Belmont and Fowler Avenue. He began crushing grapes in 1875 and produced 200 gallons of wine that year. His production increased to 80,000 gallons by 1881.

Early Clovis wineries were located near the present Fresno Air terminal, Hedrick’s on Shaw Ave and on Clovis Ave at the intersections of McKinley, Tulare and Olive Avenue.

The prohibition did not apply to the privacy of homes when “spirits” were given as hospitality to invited guess within the home.

Ordinance 8 also provided for “Bona Fide” (good faith) purposes, mechanical and scientific purposes could be obtained by submitting a written request (signed by a physician) to a licensed druggist or pharmacist. The request would identify the specific amount required, the location, the purpose and a declaration that it would not be used as a “beverage”. The City Clerk and City Marshal audited all sales.

There are two historic incidents that were recorded during the prohibition. A barrel of wine had been received at the Clovis Depot (east side of Clovis Ave and Fourth). Marshall Horschman decided to leave the barrel on the platform and wait for the party or parties to lay claim of said barrel. After days of waiting it was decided to remove the barrel. It was found to be empty! It was believed someone had siphoned the wine from underneath the depot platform.

We share another embarrassing incident for the City Dads. Wine had been confiscated and stored at the John Freitas store building.  On the day of the court hearing, it was discovered that the wine had disappeared and the case was dismissed for lack of evidence.

Ordinance 9 is an ordinance regarding gambling and prohibiting gambling. The games of “seven-up”, “poker”, “draw poker”, “three card monte” and all other games and devices played for money or other things of value for checks, credit or other representatives of value…are prohibited in all places within the City of Clovis.

“Seven-up” was taught in schools in the 1850’a to improve memory. In gambling it was later called “all fours”. Cards were laid out into books which were like solitaire.

Poker (20 cards) was introduced in New Orleans in 1829 by Joseph Crowell and spread to the West during the 1849 California Gold Rush. “Three card monte” was a complete fraud that encouraged suckers to bet they could identify the Queen from three cards. The dealer usually had an accomplice to complete the hoax.

Those punished for gambling would be charged with a misdemeanor that could result in a fine not exceeding three hundred dollars or by imprisonment in the City or County jail. Marshall Horschman would rent a livery wagon for $2. in order to transport a prisoner to the County Jail in Fresno.

Our first Clovis Board of Trustees (now called Clovis City Council) provided us a rich heritage.

Peg Bos
Peg Bos is the president of the Clovis Museum on 4th and Pollasky avenues in Old Town Clovis. She not only manages the museum but she also writes her Let's Talk Clovis column in our publication which features and highlight the amazing history of our city and culture. One fun fact about Peg Bos, she was the first female mayor of Clovis from 1984-86.