125 Years Ago - Cowboy Evangelist Sent To Jail For Obstructing Lackawanna Avenue
March 24, 1894
Good Friday not so good for cowboy
Justin R. Rice, a cowboy evangelist, appeared in police court on Good Friday, March 23, after he was arrested the evening of March 22 for causing an obstruction to a public road.
According to the arresting officer, Rice was standing on Lackawanna Avenue in front of the Wyoming House singing very loudly. The officer told him he was violating a city law and that he should move to a nearby vacant lot to stay out of trouble. Rice responded, “I defy the law.” The officer then arrested him.
While taking Rice to the station, the officer said the man of God was acting more like a man of the boxing ring. The officer produced his nightstick, and Rice said, “If you use that stick on me, you will never use it on another.”
Scranton Mayor William Connell, who presided at the hearing, asked Rice if he said that to the officer. Rice said yes.
An attorney representing Rice said his client was in Scranton “to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ, and his good intentions should be taken into consideration. If he was a little indiscreet it might be overlooked as all men are not angels even if they are preachers.”
Connell asked if Rice had anything to say. Rice denied the charges against him and said he would sue the city if he was placed in jail or fined.
Connell responded with “$15 or 20 days?” Rice chose the lockup and was taken to Lackawanna County Jail.
Get ready for Easter
Pick up flowers for Easter Sunday at R.W. Palmer’s on Spruce Street.
Need a new hat, cloak or cape for Easter Sunday? Brown’s Beehive on Lackawanna Avenue has you covered.
Need items for your Easter basket — candy, novelties, baby chicks? Visit the 4 Cent Store on Lackawanna Avenue.
BRIAN FULTON, library manager, oversees The Times-Tribune’s expansive digital and paper archives and is an authority on local history. Contact Brian at firstname.lastname@example.org or 570-348-9140.