Old Laws

When in Blacksburg, Respect the Sabbath, Control Your Horse

Blacksburg - A favorite promise made by politicians throughout this year's elections was to get the government off the backs and out of the pockets of citizens. But look at the "By-laws of the Corporation of Blacksburg," put in force on June 14, 1875, shows that government regulation is not a 20th century phenomenon.

None of these laws, recently rediscovered by Town Attorney W. Thomas Hudson, is now in effect. Their only purpose now is to liven up the 1981 Town Calendar, due out next month and to show people how times change.

The following with Hudson's permission, is a sneak preview:

"Section Two: It shall not be lawful for any boys or other persons to assemble, on the Sabbath day, in any part of the town, for the purpose of playing at any game, or for any other amusement, as wrestling, running, shouting, or for committing any immoral act."

(The fine for committing immoral acts on Sunday was $1.)

"Section Eight: Any wagoner, cartman or drayman, who shall be found working his wagon, cart or dray, or loading or unloading the same within the limits of this corporation, on the Sabbath Day (except in cases of necessity) shall pay a fine of $2 for every such offense."

"Section Nine: The owner, if known, of any animal that may die within the limits of the corporation, shall immediately remove the same to such a distance without the said limits as will prevent its offensive smell from reaching any part of the town, under a penalty of $1 for every four hours such dead animal may be permitted to remain."

"Section 10: If any owner or keeper of any stud-horse or jack, shall expose or permit the same to be exposed, for the purpose of trying or covering a mare, within the limits of the corporation, he shall pay a fine of $1 for every such offense."

"Section 11: A fine of $1 is hereby imposed on the owner of any (female dog), if he shall permit her, when in heat, to go at large within the corporation; and in the event the owner is notoriously insolvent, it shall be the duty of the sergeant to kill her, or have her killed, by the most prompt and effective mode he can adopt."

"Section 16: A fine of $1 is hereby imposed on any person who shall carry a candle, or fire of any kind uncovered or exposed, into a stable or barn, within the limits of the corporation."

"Section 19: A tax of $10 shall be collected from every menagerie or circus."

"Section 21: It shall be the duty of the town sergeant to collect the taxes, report all violations of the by-laws to the mayor and council, see that all laws are enforced, and all fines and penalties collected."

"Section 26: Any person having more than one dog, shall pay a fine of 10 cents per month on each dog they have more than one, the fine to be collected monthly."

"Section 31: Upon every dog within the limits of this corporation, a tax of 50 cents per year shall be levied; said tax to be paid by the person who owns or harbors the dog, and in case of refusal to pay said tax, the dog shall be destroyed by the sergeant."

Return to Newspaper Articles

Last updated October 27, 1997