Marshfield, April 1901: Tarred and feathered
A rowdy crowd clamors for the medieval punishment
By Kris Leonhardt
The method of tar and feathering originated with Richard the Lionhearted in the days of the Crusades. The cruel torture later found its way to America’s New England seaports, becoming a popular way for patriots to abuse colonists loyal to the Crown.
From there the threat of tar and feathering would find its place as a common ultimatum in mob mentality in the early days of America, and the city of Marshfield would be no exception.
On a Wednesday afternoon in April of 1901, cries rang out from a Second Street residence. As the woman shrieked in agony, neighbors were propelled into action. This had become a common event over the past year, and family and friends were fed up.
Possibly due to his father’s passing a few years earlier, A.C. Loucks had taken to drinking to dull some type of pain. The habit strained the family finances, which Loucks’ wife struggled to maintain. The altercation that would ensue from these domestic struggles would leave Mrs. Loucks beaten and bruised.
On this particular day, Marshfield resident Matt Wright meant to put a stop to the neighborhood upheaval at the Loucks house. Confronting Mr. Loucks at the corner of Central Avenue and Second Street, Wright set to educating Loucks on the pains of his abuses.
Soon neighbors and concerned citizens had joined Wright in the process. As the crowd grew, chants advocating tar and feathering soon followed as Loucks stood fearful.
Lucky for Loucks, Mayor Vollmar and an alderman were trying to locate a Marshfield police officer. When one could not be found, Vollmar deputized local resident John Brackendorf, who took Loucks into custody, ushering him to his home.
There, they found a beaten Mrs. Loucks, and Marshfield officer Griffin took Mr. Loucks to the city lock-up.
Loucks was charged with intent to do great bodily harm, a crime with a maximum penalty of three years.
Two weeks later Loucks would plead guilty to a lesser charge of assault and battery. He was sentenced to pay a $100 fine, plus court costs, or spend six months in jail. When the fine could not be paid, Loucks was taken to jail.
Once released, Loucks remained at odds against his neighbors and later moved to the city of Abbotsford, where he would find a new job.
Kris Leonhardt may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.