Disturbing the Peace: A Skirmish at a Secret Society

Two days after the birth of his second child, Henry Joseph Adam of Sioux City, Woodbury County, Iowa got himself into a scuffle. On 26 August 1913, the Sioux City Journal reported:

After the Goat, Maybe

H. J. Adams [sic], 218 Market street, was taken into custody at 10 o’clock last night by Patrolman William Dempsey, who declared that Adams tride [sic] to break up a lodge meeting in a hall near Fifth and Douglas streets. Adams said that trouble started when he forgot the password. When the police arrived at the scene a battle was being waged between Adams and the other lodge members. He was charged with disturbing the peace.1

Henry, a carpenter by trade who was at that time thirty-two years old, was slight of build and no more than five feet five inches tall.2 Any further details of his encounter with the lodge members are unknown, including the identity of the lodge itself. The 1912 Sioux City Directory lists a number of “secret societies,” also known as fraternal organizations, located at or near Fifth and Douglas streets. The night of Henry’s encounter was a Monday, and assuming the locations and meeting times did not change between 1911, when the directory was printed, and August 1913, the only lodge meeting held on Monday nights at Fifth and Douglas streets was the Improved Order of Red Men.3 Why Henry was desperate to gain entrance to the meeting is anyone’s guess; perhaps he had a prior conflict with the organization, or perhaps he simply stumbled upon the meeting when out for a night of carousing away from the squalls of a newborn baby.

From left: Melanie (Lutz) Adam, son Gerald Joseph Adam, Henry Joseph Adam, and son Leon Francis Adam, Sioux City, Woodbury County, Iowa, circa 1915; digital image 2010, privately held by Melanie Frick, 2019.

In any case, however, Henry was let off easy. A newspaper headline the next day announced “LENIENCY FOR HUSBAND,” and the subheading stated: “Wife Recently Became Mother, and Man Gets Freedom.” It was reported that Henry had been released the previous day out of “sympathy toward the wife.”4

Henry’s wife of almost eight years, Melanie Veronica (Lutz) Adam, must have been sincerely embarrassed by this turn of events, particularly as she was an upstanding member of a fraternal organization herself. Both Henry and Melanie were also active members of Sioux City’s Saint Jean Baptiste Catholic Church, not to mention the parents of two young children.5 However, if no news—meaning no more headlines—truly meant good news, it seems that Henry may have been able to avoid further trouble with the law for many years to come. As for whether he ever found a place within one of Sioux City’s secret societies, he did, in fact, with the Knights of Columbus.6

Copyright © 2019 Melanie Frick. All Rights Reserved.


SOURCES

1 “After the Goat, Maybe,” The Sioux City [Iowa] Journal, 27 August 1913; digital image, Newspapers.com (www.newspapers.com : accessed 25 February 2019).
2 “U.S, City Directories, 1821-1989,” database, Ancestry.com (www.ancestry.com : accessed 25 February 2019), entry for Henry Adam; citing “R. L. Polk and Co.’s Sioux City Directory, 1912 (R.L. Polk & Co., 1911),” 49, and “U.S. World War II Draft Registration Cards, 1942,” digital images, Ancestry.com (www.ancestry.com : accessed 25 February 2019), card for Henry Joseph Adam, no. 2458, Local Board No. 2, Sioux City, Woodbury County, Iowa; citing Selective Service Registration Cards, World War II: Fourth Registration, Records of the Selective Service System, Record Group Number 147. National Archives and Records Administration.
3 “U.S, City Directories, 1821-1989,” database, Ancestry.com (www.ancestry.com : accessed 25 February 2019), entry for Improved Order of Red Men; citing “R. L. Polk and Co.’s Sioux City Directory, 1912 (R.L. Polk & Co., 1911),” 37.
4 “Leniency for Husband,” The Sioux City [Iowa] Journal, 28 August 1913; digital image, Newspapers.com (www.newspapers.com : accessed 25 February 2019).
5 “Henry J. Adam,” 30 March 1944, Sioux City [Iowa] Journal; Adam Family, privately held by Melanie Frick.
6 “Henry J. Adam,” 30 March 1944, Sioux City Journal.

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