Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Law & Order: Reisterstown

[WARNING:  Some of the contents of this blog post are NOT appropriate for children!]

We're trying something a little different for this month's blog.  Rather than focus on a particular family, this post is going to focus on a book.  Specifically, a recent find by our researchers at the Reisterstown Library's history room:  an old magistrate's ledger kept by Justice of the Peace Nimrod Cromwell Logsdon between 1880 and 1897.

It's an interesting reflection of the times, covering everything from mundane debts to more appalling  crimes.  We tend to view the past through rose-colored glasses, so some of the events in the ledger could come as a bit of a surprise to some.  Certainly, Nimrod Logsdon and his constables and deputies were kept busy over the years.

By far, most of the 573 cases documented in Logsdon's book were debts.  Keep in mind that there was no bank in Reisterstown until 1901, and so residents turned to each other for loans.  As a sample, here are three typical cases from a ledger page in 1883.  The amounts involved may seem small now, but $40 in the 1880s would be about $900 today.

(Also remember, spelling was somewhat creative back then, too.)

Debt warrent issued April 5th 1883 to Geo. W. Stocksdale constable, returnable April 14th 1883, no return, April 28th 1883 returned, summons continued to May 12th 1883, trial judgement non oras, plaintiff to pay cost one dollar and ninety-five cts

Debt warrent issued April 10th 1883 to Geo. W. Stocksdale, returnable April 21st 1883, returned summons continued to May 5th 1883, judgement by default of plaintiff for fourty one dollars debt and two dollars and five cents cost with intrest untill paid, settled September 25th 1883

Debt summons issued to Sameul P. Storm dept. May 12th 1883, returnable May 19th 1883, returned summons continued to May 26th 1883, continued to June 2d 1883, trial judgement for plaintiff for thirty one dollars and fifteen cents debt two dollars fifteen cents cost with intrest untill paid

However, the ledger's entries contain quite a few crimes of a much more serious nature that were committed in Reisterstown.

No. 210
State warrent issued to George W. Stocksdale constable June 7th AD 1886, charged with assault and starking Miss Susan Hall with a stone, returned June 10th cipi, committed to the House of Correction for three months

No. 233
State warrent for assault with attempt to kill issued to Charles J. Beckley Depty February 7th AD 1887, returned cipi February 8th AD 1887, trial fined one dollar and cost, cost three dollars and eighy eigth cents and bound over to keep the peace

No. 484
State warrent to George W. Stocksdale constable June 29 AD 1896 on oath of Jennie Young with assaulting and throughing her down and threating to strike her with hoe, returned cipi July 1st AD 1896, plea of guilty to common assault, fine of one dollar and cost, cost two dollars and ninety five cents and gave security for one hundred dollars Charles Mitchel George McFatridge for six months

No. 340
Warrent for assault with attempt to commit rape issued to Charles J. Beckley, returned cipi August 29 AD 1888, held for futher hearing September 8th AD 1888, September 4 AD 1888 case dismissed for want of proscution, letter filed of proscutrix and her father, cost paid

No. 439
States warrent for assault with attempt to commit rape, summons issued to George W. Stocksdale December 27 AD 1889, returned, case settled as per order of partes

No. 214
Case of bastardy examination taken this 13th day of July AD 1886, papers sent to Carroll County

No. 336
Case of bastardy warrent issued to Charles J. Beckley constable August 14th AD 1888, parties appeared, settled by defendent paying Mary E. Bowen sixty dollars and cost of one dollar + seventy cents

No. 78
State warrent issued third August to D.L. Wagner dept. for stealing chickens, returned cipi August 1883, committed for the action of grand jury

No. 56
State warrent issued to Geo. W. Stocksdale January 27th 1883, charged with takeing horse from J.J. Umpries, returned cipi, trial held for the action of the grand jury

No. 334
Arrested by George W. Stocksdale constable for the larceny of mare buggy and harness, committed to Towson jail July 27th AD 1888 for the action of Pennsylvania authorities

No. 48
State vs. unknown

Warrent on suspicion of being implicated in the murder of Wm. A. Russell, warrent issued to D.L. Wagner special constable December 1st 1882

This last entry was a year after Reisterstown's great murder mystery.  For more information on William Russell, see our November 2013 blog post.

Then there are the cases which, nowadays, just seem humorous.

No. 63
State warrent issued March 31st 1883 to Geo. W. Stocksdale constable for curseing and sweareing and fighting on the public highwaye in Riesterstown, returned cipi March 31st 1883, trial commited in default of ten dollars fine and eight dollars and sixty cents cost

No. 200
State warrent issued for assault and curseing and swearing to George W. Stocksdale constable April 22nd AD 1885, returned cipi May 1st AD 1886, trial not guilty of asault, guilty of curseing and swareing on the public highway, fined one dollar + cost two dollars and forty cents, paid

No. 86
State warrent issued November 4th 1883 to D.L. Wagner const., charge swering on Rieserstown, trial fine five dollars one dollar and sixty five cents cost, commited to jail in default of fine and cost

No. 81
State warrent issued August 12th 1883 to Geo. W. Stocksdale constable, charge gambling at Asbury Grove Camp, returned cipi, fined five dollars and one dollar and ninty cents cost

Oddly, despite his length of service to the town, Nimrod Lodgsdon isn't even buried here.  After his death in 1911, he was interred at the Stone Chapel Cemetery in Pikesville.



  1. This is great stuff. Thank you for this. Can you add the names of the people who are being charged to this blog? To someone who doesn't look at the pictures, or they don't load, they may miss the names of the accused and it looks like the constable himself is being charged. :) George W Stocksdale had an interesting career. I'm curious as to what happened with Jesse now and will have to examine what may have angered him so much at such a mature age. Is there more information on these cases in the ledger or would I need to inquire at the Maryland State Archives? Great find! Thanks again for sharing!
    Tami Stocksdale Maerten

    1. Hello! Glad you liked the blog!

      The names of those charged are visible in the images, but we didn't want to post them. Some of the defendants have living descendants, and we didn't want to offend anyone who might Google their ancestor and receive an unpleasant surprise.

      The ledger itself doesn't have much more information about the cases than you see here. My guess is any official files, if they still exist, would be either at the Maryland Archives, or at the courthouse. Also, some of them (like William Russell's case) possibly made the newspapers, too.