“Decoration Day Drunks” – Hazleton residents who imbibed too freely on the holiday to honor Civil War veterans

Not everyone in Hazleton, Pennsylvania marked Decoration Day (Memorial Day) with reverence and solemnity. The holiday, designed to honor the sacrifices of Civil War veterans who perished during the conflict, had been regularly celebrated in Pennsylvania since 1868.

On Decoration Day 1889, some in the Luzerne County city “imbibed too freely” and ended up in trouble with the law.

From the Hazleton Semi-Weekly Standard, June 1, 1889:

Decoration Day Drunks

Decoration Day Drunks.

Burgess Longshore’ s court was busy yesterday trying prisoners who imbibed too freely on Decoration Day. Joe Kloski was arrested by Frank Orawitz for raising a disturbance in the “swamp.” Joe was unable to pay the $4.50 fine imposed and left his watch for security.

Andrew Gallow, was also arrested by Orawitz for drunkenness and sleeping on the street. He was unable to pay his fine and was sent below for 24 hours.

A Hungarian named Evanko, of Milnesville, was arrested by Constable Martin and Officer Mumaw for attempting to stab a man on Broad street. A fine of $6.50 was imposed by the Burgess, but Evanko was of the opinion that he could not earn that sum any easier than by serving time, and was remanded to the lock-up for three days.

Sebastian and Frank Seliga, were the next prisoners called. They with Joe Kloski, were arrested for fighting in the saloon of Anthony Yuras, on South Vine street. The three ruffians assaulted Paul Maker and cut him about the head with a beer glass, severing an artery. Sebastian Seliga also struck Yura’s wife, resulting in the arrest of the trio. The Burgess imposed a fine of $8.50 on Sebastian and $6.50 on Frank. They refused to pay and were sent below for five and four days respectively. After spending the day in the lock-up they decided to pay their fines. This they done last evening and were released. Just as they left the lock-up, they were arrested on a warrant sworn out by Maker, charging them with assault and battery.


Featured Image: Hazleton, Pennsylvania in 1884 (Boston Public Library)


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