Sunday Laws

James A. Armstrong, the second time

On the 9th of July, 1886, Mr. Armstrong was arrested the second time, by A. M. Dritt, marshal of Springdale, for working on Sunday, June 27, and taken before the mayor, S. L. Staples. When brought before the mayor, Mr. Armstrong called for the affidavit on which the writ was issued. The mayor stated that he himself had seen Mr. Armstrong at work in his garden on Sunday, and that Mr. A. J. Vaughn had called his attention to Armstrong while he was at work, and had said: "Now, see that you do your duty." This made an affidavit unnecessary. The case was tried before the mayor, acting as Justice of the Peace. A. J. Vaughn was the first witness. 

Justice of the Peace. -- "What do you know about Mr. Armstrong's working on Sunday, June 27?"   

Vaughn. -- "I did not see Armstrong at all that day; I only heard he was at work."   

J. I. Gladden was the next witness called. 

Justice. -- "What do you know about Mr. Armstrong's working on Sunday, June 27?"   

Gladden. -- "While at the depot, I saw some one at work hoeing in Mr. Armstrong's garden; but I do not know for certain who it was."   

Millard Courtney was the next witness called. 

Justice. -- "Tell us what you know about Mr. Armstrong's working on the Sunday in question."   

Courtney. -- "While on the platform of the depot, I saw some one hoeing in Mr. Armstrong's garden. I am not positive who it was."   

Having failed to prove anything from the witnesses regularly summoned, the case was "rested" while the marshal was sent out to find somebody else. He brought in Gideon Bowman, who was then questioned as follows: -- 

Justice. -- "Do you know anything about Mr. Armstrong's doing work other than customary household duties of daily necessity, comfort, or charity on the Christian Sabbath, June 27?"   

Bowman. -- "I do."   

F. -- "State what you saw."   

B. -- "As I came into town, having been out east, in passing Mr. Armstrong's house, I saw him hoeing in the garden."   

F. -- "Did you recognize this person to be J. A. Armstrong?"   

B. -- "I did." 

Here the prosecution rested the case, and Elder J. G. Wood assumed the cross-examination in behalf of the prisoner. 

Wood. -- "Mr. Bowman, you say you were coming along the road from the east when you saw Mr. Armstrong at work in his garden?"   

B. -- "I did."   

W. -- "Were you coming to town?"   

B. -- "I was."   

W. -- "About how long were you in passing Mr. Armstrong's house? and what was the length of time you saw him at work?"   

B. -- "I can't tell."   

W. -- "Do you think the time to have been two minutes, or more?"   

B. -- "Don't know; can't tell."   

W. -- "Could it possibly have exceeded one minute?"   

B. -- "I don't know. It makes no difference. I am not here to be pumped."   

W. -- "Mr. Bowman, we are only wanting the facts in the case. Are you sure it was Mr. Armstrong you saw hoeing? Might it not have been some other man?"   

B. -- "I am not mistaken. I know it was J. A. Armstrong."   

W. -- "What was he doing?"   

B. -- "I told you he was hoeing."   

W. -- "What was he hoeing? Was he hoeing corn, or hoeing out some potatoes for his dinner?"    

B. -- "He was hoeing; that is enough."   

At this point the Justice of the Peace interfered: -- 

"It seems, Mr. Wood, that you are trying to make it appear that Mr. Armstrong was only digging a mess of potatoes for his dinner. If that is so, and he was doing a work of comfort, necessity, or charity, he can prove it." 

W. -- "If your honor please, Mr. Armstrong is not here to prove a negative. The law allows him to do such work as is of necessity, comfort, or charity; and until it is clearly proven that he has violated this law, which thus far has not been proven, it is unnecessary for him to offer proof. A man stands innocent until he is proven guilty." 

Justice. -- "We proceed."   

W. -- "Mr. Bowman, you say you were in the road when you saw Mr. Armstrong?"   

B. -- "Yes."   

W. -- "Do you remember whether there was a fence between you and Mr. Armstrong?"   

B. -- "Yes; there was."   

W. -- "About what is the height of that fence?"   

B. -- "Don't know."   

W. -- "Was it a board fence five boards high?"   

B. -- "Can't say."   

W. -- "Was there a second fence between the road and the garden, beyond the house and lot?"   

B. -- "I think there was."   

W. -- "Was that second fence a board fence or a very high picket fence?"   

"I don't know, nor don't care. It makes no difference."  

W. -- "I understand, then, that you don't know. Well, Mr. Bowman, what time in the day did you see Mr. Armstrong in the garden?"   

B. -- "In the afternoon."   

W. -- "About what time in the afternoon, -- was it one or two o'clock, or later?"   

B. -- "It makes no difference. I am not here to be pumped. If you want to pump me any more, just come out on the street with me."   

W. -- "Sir, I have no desire to pump anything but truth from you, and only wish to know the facts in this case. Was it about one or two o'clock in the afternoon, or about four or five? Please tell us about the time of day."   

B. -- "It was between twelve noon and sunset. That is near enough."   

This closed the testimony in the case. Mr. Armstrong was declared guilty, and fined one dollar and costs, the whole amounting to $4.65. In default of the payment of his fine, the mayor, acting as Justice of the Peace, told him he would send him to the county jail, and allow him a dollar a day until the fine and costs were paid.   

The marshal went at once to the livery stable to get a rig, and within four hours from the time of his arrest, Mr. Armstrong, in charge of the marshal, was on his way to jail at Fayetteville. He was locked up with another prisoner, with nothing but a little straw, and a dirty blanket about thirty inches wide, for a bed for both. The next night, he was allowed to lie in the corridor on the brick floor, with his alpaca coat for a bed, and his Bible for a pillow. The third night, a friend in town furnished him a quilt and a pillow. On the fourth night, his friend brought him another quilt, and thus he was made quite comfortable On the fifth day, at noon, he was released.   

When Mr. Armstrong returned to Springdale, the mayor notified him that his fine and costs were not satisfied, and that unless they were paid in ten days, an execution would be issued, and his property sold. Mr. Armstrong filed an appeal to the Circuit Court, and the appeal was sustained, and he was released from further penalty. 

1889 ATJ, CGRAS 128-132