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And Now You Know: Orange had traffic problems 96 years ago

Mike Louviere
And Now You Know

The Orange Daily Leader in January 1923 reported several different traffic problems that were being a problem for Sheriff J.W. Helton. They ranged from skating to speeding to vehicular homicide.

The sheriff had issued a warning to both parents and motorists. To the parents he said that children were roller skating on the new concrete road.

Sheriff Helton said that not only were they skating on the road and being in danger of being struck by a vehicle, they were also hooking onto the rear of cars and being pulled by the car for several blocks.

“It would be accidental and maybe fatal if one of the children should fall into the path of another car.”

He also said that unless the practice is done away with, there would probably be an officer detailed to stop skating on the road.

The warning he issued to motorists concerned motorists driving on county roads without headlights or with only one headlight. He stated the practice is becoming common and while no arrests have been made, it is a violation of the law and in the near future violators would be punished.

J.T. Rice who was arrested for reckless driving on the concrete road after his car collided with another car being driven by Mrs. Will Fountain. He was fined $50 in county court.

B.N. Kiker of Port Arthur pled guilty to a charge of violation of the speed laws in Orange County and was fined $27.50 in county court.

After announcing that he was ready to go to trial, county attorney Lee Davis withdrew the case of the State versus Joe Molley. Molley was charged with negligent homicide.

When the case was first called an agreement was reached to adjourn shortly after it was called. The jury was released for a number of hours to give the attorneys time to “round up” witnesses in the case. When the court reconvened, Davis’ withdrew his “ready” announcement and left the disposition of the case pending.

The charge against Molley resulted from the death of Mrs. Dora Hill Denman last April (1922) when she was struck by a truck driven by Molley. The incident happened at the intersection of 12th and Main Streets.

The defense was expected to prove that the brakes on the vehicle were faulty and that even though Molley did his best to attempt to stop when he saw Mrs. Denman, it was impossible to do so.

Molley was a driver for the bottling company he owned along with his father.

The case was scheduled for the July session of the county court but was continued until the October session at which time it became necessary to issue new papers for the case. This could not be done in time for the October session, so the case was again continued until the January session.

Davis then withdrew his announcement that the case was ready for trial, resulting in another continuance. At press time, no specific session had been given.

Autos in 1923 may have sped, but it appears that at times the wheels of justice moved slowly.

“And now you know.”