Okay. Sometimes you look at a blank screen and realize, “I got nut’n.” After six years of writing this column, I’ve about covered every major issue of our collective historical past. Unless you want me to tell a queer and inconsistent story from November, 1891.
All right, if you insist.
It was a dark and chilly November evening when Salt Lake City Detective William Daggett decided to take the Warm Springs Trolley to the Beck Street Bath House for a good Saturday night wash. Being late in the evening, there were but two men in the plunge when he arrived. They were J. H. Murphy, foreman of the Union Pacific Depot roundhouse, and his friend John J. Hull, foreman of the Rio Grande boiler shop. The two naked men “loitered” in the room, but soon after Daggett got into the water they left and went to the dressing rooms.
Daggett said he was at the lower end of the pool when the two men came out of their dressing rooms. After Murphy went outside, Hull allegedly called out to Daggett “asking him if he wasn’t lonesome.” The detective told Hull, “it was a little lonesome” and waded over to the platform where Hull was standing. Daggett claimed that Hull then asked him “to get out as he wanted to have some fun with him.” Daggett, unaware of Hull’s intentions, climbed out of the pool and stepped into the dressing room “at the invitation of the railroad man.” There Daggett alleged that Hull tried to touch his junk and “made an assault of the most infamous character.” Incensed, the detective bitch-slapped Hull in the face, but realizing he “was naked and in no position to exercise authority at that moment, jumped into the pool again.”
Just then, the bathhouse manager entered the place and Hull skipped out. Daggett called to the manager expressing “great indignation at the heinous assault.” The manager was so pissed off that he said “that it would have served the man right if he had been killed then and there.”
After climbing out of the plunge and putting his drawers on, Daggett “made up his mind to arrest the man on the charge of attempting to commit the ‘Crime Against Nature’.”
Daggett found Hull outside the bath house, apparently hoping for another go at him. Instead, Hull found himself before a police officer who dramatically threw back his coat and displayed his star saying, “I will just arrest you for this.” Hull, according to Daggett, then “commenced to plead for leniency saying that he had only been married a few months and that this exposure would simply ruin him forever.”
“Let me go,” pleaded Hull. “And I give you my word as a man that I will never repeat this offense.” With the palm of his hand thrust forward, Daggett — as melodramatically as possible — retorted, “You cannot give the word of a man because you are only a dirty cur.”
Hull wasn’t going down without a fight, and Daggett reported that he had to strike him in the neck with his fist wrapped around handcuffs. That got his attention; Daggett wasn’t to be fooled with.
Coming out of a daze, Hull, however, again appealed for mercy. He even tried to bribe Daggett by “taking off his watch and chain and ring and thrusting them into my hand.” Stoic Daggett told him, “It was no use he would have to go along.”
About this time Hull’s friend Murphy appeared, and seeing Hull detained he wanted to know what the heck he was charged with? Daggett said he “began to feel a little sorry for Hull and not wishing to expose him to his friend said it was a girl scrape.” Murphy persuaded Daggett to release Hull on his own recognizance after getting the addresses of Hull and Murphy.
The next morning Det. Daggett went off to see if Hull had given him the correct address of 415 W. First North. When Hull came to the door, Daggett notified him that he had an appearance before a city judge on Monday. At this point, Daggett said that Hull again tried “to square the matter” by promising to give Daggett $100 if he would let the matter drop. Daggett then informed the other man that he “had a great mind to take him up to the hall [station]” right then for his impudence. Hall retorted, “I will get my hat.” Instead, he skipped out of the back door.
At about this time, Hull’s wife confronted Daggett wanting to know what was the charge against her husband. Daggett told her, “I couldn’t state it to you, little woman.”
As Daggett was returning to the police station, Hull and his friend Murphy hunted up a Salt Lake City commissioner and charged the detective with attempted robbery and assault upon him. Upon this information, a complaint was sworn out charging Daggett with assault with intent to commit a felony and a warrant was issued for his arrest.
Here was Hull’s side of the story: On that Saturday evening, he said he went up to the Hot Springs with his friend Murphy to take the vapors. When they left the pool, that was when Daggett went in. They were all buck naked. (I put that in for sensationalism.)
After getting dressed, Murphy went outside while Hull remained inside for a short time walking around the platform talking with Daggett. When the bath house manager entered to announce the place was closing, he then went outside to find his friend.
Hull stated that while he was standing outside, Daggett came up to him and asked if he was going to the city. Hull said he was and walked down to the end of the station with Daggett. There Daggett pulled a gun and demanded Hull’s watch and chain. Hull instead ran back into the bath house waiting room, at which point Daggett followed him. Hull then ran from the bath house and shouted for Murphy for help. It was then, he said, that the detective struck him in the neck with his pistol, dazing him.
Murphy soon appeared and asked Daggett what he was doing. The detective replied that he was arresting Hull on a “case of long standing.” However, Daggett released Hull on his own recognizance only to appear at Hull’s door the next day demanding money to let the matter drop. Hull told the detective that he had no money, and Daggett then demanded his watch and chain. When Hull refused to give the jewelry to the officer, he “notified him that he would have to go to jail.” Hull then ran through the back door, jumped over a fence and hid.
A neighbor named Taylor, upon hearing the ruckus, went over to Hull’s to see what was going on. There he met Daggett, who informed him that Hull “had got a girl in a fix and money was wanted to square it.” He then added, “If Hull had acted square with me today I could have covered the whole business up for him.”
Later that day, on a gloomy November Sunday, City Detective Daggett was arrested on the mean streets of Salt Lake City.
Newspapers reported that both Hull and Daggett “have many friends and each side insist that neither of the men could have committed the offenses charged against them respectively.”
And that’s how it was, boys and girls, in the City of the Saints in 1891.
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