Michael J. Malone
Douglas County Law Library

Judicial and Law Enforcement Center
111 East 11th Street
Lawrence, Kansas 66044
Phone: (785) 838-2477
Fax: (785) 838-2455

This Month in Legal History

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This page contains the "This Month in Legal History" column as published in the current Michael J. Malone Douglas County Law Library E-Mail Newsletter. The column features a different event from the history of law and jurisprudence of Douglas County, Kansas, that occurred during the month. It is published monthly in the Michael J. Malone Douglas County Law Library E-Mail Newsletter and on the Home page of this website.

Archived entries from this and previous years can be accessed by visiting the This Month in Legal History Archive page on this website.

September 1907 - County Attorney Harley busts the liverymen's and barbers' trusts.

Around the end of August 1907, the owners of boarding houses in downtown Lawrence, Kansas, all raised their weekly rates. A week or so later, the boarding stable men in town all raised their rates. Not be outdone, the liverymen and hack drivers in town had a notice(1) published in three succeeding editions of the Lawrence Daily Journal newspaper, on September 9, September 10, and September 11, 1907, in which they announced that they had all agreed to charge the same fares for hiring out their transportation services. The amounts they would charge were spelled out in the notice, which also included the names of all those who were participating. The published notice of the price increase did not mention a date when the agreement was to go into effect, but it was reported to have been planned for the 15th. Someone took offense at this price fixing, and complained to the County Attorney of Douglas County, Kansas, Thomas Harley on the morning of September12th. He investigated, and soon determined that under state law, the liverymen and hack drivers were creating a trust. Creating a trust was a misdemeanor violation of the law in Kansas. The penalty for violating the law was imprisonment for "not less than thirty days nor more than six months," and a fine for each of the participants of "not less than one hundred dollars nor more than one thousand dollars." In addition, for "each and every day" that the violation continued, there would be a one hundred dollar fine levied against each participant. The statute also made clear that it was "the duty of the county attorneys to diligently prosecute any and all persons violating any provisions" of the act. Failure to do so would be a misdemeanor with a penalty of imprisonment in the county jail for "not less than ten days nor more than ninety days," and a fine of "not less than one hundred dollars nor more than five hundred dollars." Conviction would also result in the county attorney forfeiting his office. Harley wasted no time in contacting the liverymen and hack drivers and had them come to his office the afternoon of the 12th, where he "laid down the law" to them. Harley had determined that since the trust had not yet gone into effect, no violation had yet occurred. The published announcements did not by themselves constitute a violation of the law. He advised the liverymen and hack drivers sitting in his office to dissolve their trust as soon as possible, and to publish a notice of the withdrawal of their agreement in local newspapers. At first they argued their position with him, but soon promised to follow his advice. Harley also contacted the local newspapers, telling them to cease publishing the notices as they were "aiding and abetting" the criminal activity. One newspaper pointed out that the previous actions of the boarding house and boarding stable owners to raise their prices apparently would also come under the law, and that "there would be no escape for the violators if anybody file[s a] complaint with the county attorney, as both agreements have already gone into effect." If this was not enough, the very next day, September 13th, the barbers in Baldwin City, Kansas, published notices(2) in the two newspapers in their town, the Baldwin Ledger and the Baldwin Republican, advising their customers that after September 20th, they would all charge five cents extra for a neck shave. Someone filed a formal complaint with County Attorney Harley on the morning of the 17th, which included the notice from the Baldwin Ledger and "a pointed reference to his action in stopping the liverymen's trust in Lawrence." He wrote a letter to the Mayor of Baldwin City, Charles W. Mitchner, stating that the barbers' trust was in clear violation of the law and must be dissolved. It was reported that Mayor Mitchner was expected to communicate with the barbers that evening. He must have done so, and it must have been taken to heart, because a notice(3) from the barbers appeared three days later in the September 20, 1907, edition of the Baldwin Ledger, withdrawing their notice of the extra charge for neck shaves. No retraction notice from the liverymen and hack drivers in Lawrence can be found in local newspapers, so it appears they did not follow that part of County Attorney Harley's advice. There is no indication that any were prosecuted, so they must have quietly disbanded their trust before the 15th. There is also no indication that the boarding house and boarding stable owners every got into trouble with the law for their previous actions. There are several possible explanations for this. One possibility is that no one cared enough to file a complaint against them, but given what happened to the liverymen and hack drivers in Lawrence, and the barbers in Baldwin City, this does not seem likely. Another possibility is the that while the liverymen and barbers publically announced their agreements by publishing notices of them in newspapers, the boarding house and boarding stable owners made no public announcements of their supposed agreements, so without one of the participants admitting to agreements existing, County Attorney Harley could have been hard pressed to find grounds to prosecute. Given what he would have been risking if he did not prosecute when he should have, it is likely that he would have made every effort to do so if evidence existed. There is also the possibility that given the serious penalties that would result from prosecution and conviction, all the parties involved quietly worked things out. Why all the interest in trusts at that time? Theodore Roosevelt was President of the United States in 1907, and among other things, he was known as "The Trust Buster" for his tireless efforts to reign in predatory monopolies and the "Robber Barons" of the era. This had put trusts and trust busting in the minds of many Americans.

(1) The text of the notice appeared as follows.

State of Kansas, Douglas County, ss:
          We, the undersigned Liverymen and Hackmen of the City of Lawrence, Kansas, hereby agree that all Hack hire shall be from or to either Railroad depot, 25; for conveying each adult person as far South as Ontario street and West to Arkansas street, South of Elliott street in said city, except that part of said city south of Quincy street and west to Ohio street, where the fare shall be 50 cents and to any part of said city other than herein above named, the fare shall be 50 one or two persons, more than two, 25 cents each, and the fare to or from Haskell Institute for a load of Four persons or any less number of persons shall be $1.00, and for each additional person 25; for one or two persons North of Elliott street 50, and more than two 25 each. For a team and surrey for a half day, Sundays $4.00; for week days $3.00 for each half day, and for one horse and surrey for Sunday half day $3.00, and week days $2.50 for half day. Single horse and buggy half day Sunday forenoon $1.50, afternoon $2.50, after supper $2.00; week days forenoon $1.50, afternoon $2.00, after supper $1.50. Hacks for funerals $3.00 each. For Union Pacific depot east to Dicker's Store 25 east of that 50 cents.
          Will Spurgeon,
          Donnelly Bros.
          C.H. Hunsinger,
          E.P. Hunsinger,
          Moak Bros. & Sharpe,
          W.J. Francisco & Sons,
          Anton Anderson.

(2) The text of the notices appeared as follows (note: the correct spelling is Burgett).

Baldwin Ledger -

After September 20th we will charge 5 cents extra for neck shaves.
          Geo. Burgett,

Baldwin Republican -

After Sept. 20th, 5c extra will be charged for neck shaves at the following barber shops.
          Bugretts, Axtons and

(3) The text of the notice appeared as follows (note: the correct spelling is Burgett):

The notice given last week of the charge of 5 cents for neck shave to begin September 20th is hereby withdrawn.
          GEO. BURKETT,

From: Lawrence Daily World, v. 16, no. 131 (September 12, 1907), p. 1; Lawrence Daily Journal, v. 51, no. 215 (September 9, 1907), p. 3; Lawrence Daily Journal, v. 51, no. 216 (September 10, 1907), p. 3; Lawrence Daily Journal, v. 51, no. 217 (September 11, 1907), p. 3; Jeffersonian Gazette, v. 27, no. 5 (September 18, 1907), p. 7; Baldwin Ledger, v. 25, no. 6 (September 13, 1907), p. 2; Baldwin Republican, v. 6, no. 50 (September 13, 1907), p. 8; Lawrence Daily World, v. 51, no. 222 (September 17, 1907), p. 1; and, Baldwin Republican, v. 25, no. 7 (September 20, 1907), p. 4.

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Created: November 27, 2006; Revised: September 2, 2014