Let’s Talk Clovis: Board of Trustees and Clovis Ordinances of 1912

The first Board of Trustees for the City of Clovis. Standing left to right: Albert S. Kirkpatrick, City Recorder; Jake C. Horschman, City Marshall; Dr. J.S. Boynton, Trustee; L.E. Weldon, City Clerk; Floyd W. Redford, City Treasurer. Seated left to right: Perry S. Jackson, Trustee; Lewis W. Gibson, President; A.E.D. Scott, Trustee; John Shackelford, Trustee. (Clovis Museum)

The City of Clovis was incorporated on Feb. 27, 1912. Local merchants, civic leaders and churches had begun passionate civic discussions and demonstrations against saloons and all sales of liquor (fire water) prior to the incorporation of the City.

The first three City ordinances, public laws that are set forth by municipal officers, were approved on March 8 prior to the April City election by President L.W. Gibson, R.E.L. Good, Frank Drury, R.B. Norrish, A.E.D. Scott and Frank Smith.

It was affirmed that “a member shall speak respectfully, shall confine his remarks to the question under discussion and shall avoid personalities.”

Standing committees were established: streets and alleys were to be inspected at least four times a year, and the fire department would inspect all chimneys and flues at least four times a year. Sanitary status, especially in the summer, would be enforced.

The common seal of the City of Clovis was circular in form with an outer and inner corrugation. Within the corrugation was a fruited olive branch and at the outer the inscription read: “City of Clovis, incorporated February 27, 1912.”

The issue that dominated the first election of the Board of Trustees on April 9, 1912 was the moral standards of Clovis families. They were supported by the newly formed Clovis Woman’s Club, Clovis Tribune Editor H.E. Armstrong and numerous churches.

The Clovis Tribune headline read: “Clovis Goes Dry, Elected Dry Slate.” President L.W. Gibson (merchant), Dr. J.S. Boynton, P.R. Jackson (merchant), A.E.D. Scott (Superintendent of Fresno Flume and Irrigation), J.B. Shackelford (merchant), L.E. Weldon (merchant who would serve as Mayor 1940-1948) and C.R. Nevins (merchant).

The defeated “wet slate:” R.E.L. Good (first Clovis Merchant), Frank Drury (early day realtor), J.M. Heiskell (pioneer rancher), R.B. Norrish (President of The First State Bank), Jas. McCord (owner of Civic Hall on Fulton (Clovis Ave.), J.T.  Crissman (merchant) and Frank Smith.

The fourth Ordinance provided for the general municipal election to be held on the second Monday of April of each even numbered year. All ordinances were posted within the City of Clovis, one at the Post Office (622 Fourth), The Southern Pacific Depot (east of 4th and Front Street) and the Clovis Chamber of Commerce.

The fifth Ordinance stated regular meetings would be held on the first and third Mondays of each month at the John Freitas store building on the southwest corner of Fifth and Front Street. The 500 Club is now at that historic building.

The sixth ordinance declared and provided for the punishment of misdemeanors. Non-compliance of an ordinance was punished by a fine not exceeding $300 or by imprisonment not exceeding three months, or both.  An alternative judgment would be imprisoning such person for one day for each $2 of such fine.

It was a misdemeanor to hitch any animal to any tree, awning, post or hydrant. You had to use a regular hitching post. You could not picket out a cow, horse or other animal upon the public street or sidewalk. You were not allowed to drive your horse or any other animal within the city immoderately or beyond a moderate gait, no greater speed than eight miles per hour.

You could not engage in any disorderly or boisterous conduct or disturb the peace of others. You could not utter in the presence of two or more persons bawdy, lewd or abusive words or epithets. The house or assignation (a secret arrangement to meet especially by lovers), prostitution or ill-fame was addressed.

Any person who visited any house within the City of Clovis for the purpose of soliciting food, clothing, or alms (shall apply only to those able-bodied persons commonly known as tramps), is guilty of a misdemeanor.

You could not carry a concealed pistol, firearm, slung shot, dirk (short dagger) or a Bowie knife, or any other deadly weapon without the written permission (revocable at any time) by the President of the Board of Trustees.

A lamp, a bell or horn was required for each bicycle, tricycle or velocipede (wheeled vehicle propelled by the rider). The bell or horn must be rung continuously before and while traversing every public street and crossing.

The first “Clovis City Dads” provided us an interesting and rich heritage.