Crime: Final Outcomes

Where were cases seen?

  Local cases were seen in the Town Hall. This building was designed to have multiple purposes. There was a county law library as well as a spacious courtroom that was used by both by the police and probate court. In addition, the Town Hall building had a space for lockups and the city police. More serious crimes were dealt with in the Superior Court or sent to another jurisdiction.


Out of the 503 crimes reported in Willimantic in 1910, the most common dispositions were jail time, suspension of judgement, and most commonly fines. Unique dispositions for crime were comitting someone to an insane hospital or to an industrial school for girls. 

According to the 1909 Annual Report of the Mayor, the disposition or final outcomes for the 503 crimes committed were:

  • Appealed cases: 1
  • Acquitted: 2
  • Bond furnished for support of children: 1
  • Bound over: 7
  • Comitted to jail: 126
  • Committed to Insane Hospital: 9
  • Committed to Industrial School for girls: 2
  • Discharged by Court: 7
  • Execution of judgement suspended: 72
  • Fine and costs remitted: 28
  • Fine and costs paid in part: 2
  • Fine paid, costs remitted: 3
  • Fine and costs to be collected by probation officer: 2
  • Judgement suspended: 70
  • Nulled on payment of costs: 3
  • Nulled: 3
  • Paid fine and costs: 118
  • Released without trial: 26
  • Turned over to parents: 1
  • Turned over to other officers: 20

Total: 503

Beyond the Numbers

Occasionally the Willimantic Chronicle provides us with more mundane examples. From the November 2, 1910 issue:

In the Police Court

Patrick Clifford Placed on Probation for the Third Time.

Patrick Clifford got drunk again last night and as a result kicked up a rumpus in the home of his sister, Miss Mary Clifford, with whom he boarded, with the result that he was arrested on complaint of his sister. He was arraigned in police court this morning charged with being drunk and with breach of the peace. Miss Mary Clifford told of the disturbance and Clifford in his own behalf promised to stay away from his people in the future. In view of this promise Judge William A. Arnold placed him on probation under a penalty of thirty days on each count. In sentencing Clifford Judge Arnold said that it was the third time he had been placed on probation, and the only time that a man had ever been placed on probation for the third time in this city. If he visited his folks at all he would be arrested again and sent over to serve his sentence.

Comparing this anecdote with other sources highlights the need to corroborate information, as well as reminding us of the difficulty of reconstructing the past with certainty. Possibly suggestive of the assumption that (older) men were in charge, the 1910 census lists a 36-year old Patrick Clifford, an out-of-work thread mill twister living at 37 Quercus Avenue, as being the head of the household, living with his sisters Mary (25) and Bridget (23), both boarders and employed as thread mill winders, as well as their 56-year old widowed mother Mary. The city directory for 1909-1910, however, reports that the widowed mother owned the house, though it may have been mill employee housing owned by ATCO - the census indicates Patrick was renting. The widow Mary's children Patrick and Mary are listed as boarders in the directory, along with presumably a third child and boarder, Daniel F. Clifford, who is not listed at all in the census. On the other hand, the sister Bridget is not listed in the city directory, but a Mrs. Kate Cronin is also listed as a boarder at 37 Quercus, although the census locates her residence on census day (April 15 1910) as 21 Church Street. It's up to historians to attempt to synchronize the sources from different dates, and to seek out new sources for further context (such as property records). More fundamentally, it's up to historians to decide whom to believe - the census enumerator? the courtroom reporter? the city directory?