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The Verde Independent | Cottonwood, Arizona

home : blogsold : verde heritage October 3, 2015

Verde Heritage
By Glenda Farley, Cottonwood, AZ
Local historian Glenda Farley guides us on a journey back in time to discover fascinating moments that make up our Verde heritage and history.
Thursday, May 9, 2013

1915: BOOTLEGGING; Merka's Muddle; May.

Verde Heritage

"BOOTLEGGING TO CEASE WITH HARD LABOR: New Policy in Handling Misdemeanor Cases to be Pursued by Judge Smith."

"Sounding a warning to all bootleggers and others who are convicted of misdemeanors, Judge Smith yesterday in pronouncing sentence of Frank Merka, the bootlegger who pleaded guilty a few days ago said, that hereafter, it will be the rule of the court to abolish the heretofore lenient policy of such cases and set up a new one which will be of benefit to the county in two ways. The convicted persons will be sentenced to hard labor during their terms. This will act as a warning to all offenders and at the same time assist the county materially as men are needed to put the county roads and the plaza into proper shape for the summer. At the same time the men will be earning their meals at the county jail with the final effect of reminding others what the penalty will be in such cases."

"The law must be enforced and Judge Smith began his new policy by sentencing Merka, the man who sold liquor to weary travelers on the road between Jerome and Clarkdale, to 90 days in the county jail at hard labor and a fine of $100 to be worked out on the basis of $1 per day in case of default."

"Merka declared before being sentenced the he had committed the crime not for business reasons but because of necessity."

(Prescott Journal-Miner; Saturday, May 8, 1915; page 5, column 7.)

"MERKA'S MUDDLE GETS HIM INTO TROUBLE: Side Business in Bootlegging as a Station Watchman."

"Frank Merka was entrusted with the duty of watching the closed station between Jerome and Clarkdale owned by Sullivan & Harrington, where a considerable stock of wet goods was stored with other property, and being of a generous nature started to dish out the liquor refreshments to weary travelers with a free hand and he got into trouble."

"He was arrested by Constable Joe Cook, of Clarkdale, and had a hearing before Judge Kearns later. This proceeding was very brief, as well as tame, for Merka admitted being guilty, but pleaded ignorance of the legal situation. He was bound to Superior Court and later his bootlegging business will be sifted down along judicial lines. He is now in jail here awaiting trial, being brought in yesterday afternoon by Constable Cook."

(Prescott Journal-Miner; Saturday, April 17, 1915; page 5, column 3.)


"Frank Merka, who despite the 'dry' law thought he would assist in keeping Arizona 'wet,' appeared before Judge Smith yesterday for arraignmment and pled guilty. Pronouncement of sentence was set for Friday, May 7."

"The charge entered against the offender by County Attorney O'Sullivan was willful and unlawful sale of two bottles of whiskey to George Doty."

"Merka was arrested by Deputy Joe Cook of Clarkdale during the middle of last month at the road house between that city and Jerome, which is owned by Sullivan & Harrington. Merka, who was in charge of the place since it was closed, becoming generous, started dishing the fire water out to revive weary travelers. This did not last long after the law had head of it, and his arrest followed."

(Prescott Journal-Miner; Wednesday, May 5, 1915; page 4, columns 4-5.)

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