Friday, July 17, 2015

Curfew Rings in Naperville

Today’s municipal code makes it “unlawful for a person less than seventeen” to be in public after 12:01am, but curfew certainly isn’t a modern concept.

In May of 1896, Mayor Willard Scott and Naperville’s Aldermen enacted a curfew ordinance that caused some consternation, particularly with our “Night Police Force” who seems to be just one guy. 

Curfew rang in Naperville again last night without causing as much alarm on the part of the volunteer fire department and nervous citizens as it did on Saturday night, when its solemn notes were tolled for the first time by the old town bell. 

To guard against any further misunderstanding the night police force of Naperville made it his business yesterday to make a house to house canvass of the members of the fire department and carefully explained to them how to distinguish between the dignified tolling of the curfew and the wild, riotous note of the bell when employed in informing the community that a fire was in progress.

“Where's the fire?’ demanded the breathless boys who have the proud distinction of “running with the machine.”

"It hain't no fire,” responded the night police force, as he danced up and down on the bell rope. "It's for curfew.”

The man whose duty it is to open the engine house door and yell, "Look out" when the start is made and who had just come from a barber's chair, looked blank. Then he wanted to know who Curfew was, why he died, and when he was to be buried.

The night police force got red in the face. There came near being a fight.

“Say,” said the force, “you're a beaut.” Then he proceeded to explain that curfew was rung according to an edict of the Common Council as a notice to youths of tender years to immediately hie themselves to their respective homes or be imprisoned in the town gaol.

It made the volunteer firemen so mad they put in the next half hour trying to entice George Alonzo Betts, the only descendant of a member of the Town Council amenable to the curfew act, to come outside the yard. Then they were going to get the night police force and have him carry off George Alonzo to the dungeon keep.

But George Alonzo was crafty. He staid right in his own back yard and will continue to stay there every night after the sounding of the curfew.

Thomas Betts was an alderman in 1885, 1891 and 1892 as well as Mayor 1901-1902. He had two sons:  Thomas H. and Charles who was alderman in 1896 when the curfew ordinance was passed. But Thomas H. and wife Cora had no children, so who “George Alonzo Betts” is remains a