Wednesday, January 6, 2010

6 January 1849: New City Council Plans for Law, Order, & Tax Collection

On this day in 1849, the newly elected Athens city council met at the town hall to plan for the following week when they would elect the Marshal and three Deputy Marshals to serve in the coming year. Terms for the council and the positions they "elected" started with the new year and ran until the end of December.

Responsibilities for the Marshal, the early version of police chief, were "to collect the taxes, attend to the market, superintend the working of the streets, and attend all other duties usually required of such officers." The salary was $250.00 for the year, approximately $52,000.00 in today's dollars.

The Deputies, the early version of police officers, "shall be required to patrol the Town during the night, under the direction of the principal Marshal, and shall be liable an average duty of four hours out of every twenty-four, besides Sundays and other holidays. They shall also be required to assist the Marshal when called upon in cases of emergencies." Their salaries were $100.00 for the year, approximately $21,000.00 in today's dollars.

The following week, William H. Dorsey was elected by the council as Marshal, and his deputies were William H. Saye in Ward 1, John R. Roberts in Ward 2, and Daniel M. Clower in Ward 3. Athens would not establish a regular police force until the Civil War, when shortages of food and other basic necessities caused an increase in crimes of theft.

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