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Old Time Laws

Port Jervis By-Laws -1853

by Charlene Lehn


I have been doing a lot of research lately on Port Jervis history using local

resources such as the “ Where The Rivers Meet” and “ Port Jervis Diamond Jubilee 1907-1989”. I’ve discovered many interesting facts and events which I will be sharing on the blog periodically. One such article is about the by-laws of Port Jervis when it was incorporated in 1853. Some of the more interesting ones are listed below. ( There is some paraphrasing.) According to an inflation calculator, a fine of $1.00 in 1853 would be equivalent to $36.21 today.


Any male resident eighteen years or over who shall refuse to attend any fire or refuse or neglect to assist in extinguishing a fire when required to do so was liable for a fine of $5.00 for each and every such refusal or neglect.


Any person who shall store, deposit, or allow to be stored or deposited in any building in the Village within 200 ft . of another building more than 25 lbs of gunpowder at any one time, shall be liable for a penalty of $25.00 per offense.



Any person who shall be yelling, shouting, ringing bells, blowing horns, or making other loud and improper noise either on public streets or passages between the hours of six o’clock p.m. and six o’clock a.m. shall be liable for a penalty of $5.00 for each and every offense.



Any person who shall be found drunk or exhibits any riotous or disorderly conduct in the Village shall be liable for a penalty of $2.00 for each offense.




No person shall ride or drive a horse or horses faster than a walk when turning corners and any person who does shall pay the sum of $10.00 for each and every offense.


In addition, no person shall ride on horseback or drive any horses, mules, etc. on any of the streets of the Village greater than the speed of a slow trot or pace, not to exceed 6 miles per hour. The penalty for violating this is the sum of $10.00 for each and every offense.


It is unlawful for any person to bathe in any of the rivers, streams, or bodies of water within the Village limits between 6:00 am and 8:00 pm under penalty of $1.00 for each and every offense.



On April 28, 1862, the Village adopted an additional by-law which stated that any person that willfully injures or destroys any shade tree along the sidewalks and streets of the Village unless authorized by the owner or Village trustee shall be liable for a penalty of $10.00 for each offense.


Some fairly steep fines for their time.



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