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Columbia City constable detains cow and is himself detained in 1903. Essay 3319 : Printer-Friendly Format

In a 1903 case involving an errant cow and a hotheaded defender of bovine rights, Columbia City's constable ends up on the wrong side of a jail cell.

Deputy Sheriff Fremont (Free) Scott Parker (an early settler of Columbia City), had impounded a cow that was in the habit of roaming from her home turf -- a farm at 46th Avenue S and S Ferdinand Streets -- into the business district of what was then a bustling mill town. The owner of the cow was a friend of a rowdy youth named Menzo LaPorte. In his later years, LaPorte became a barber and a respected member of the Columbia City business community, but as a young man he was, according to one account, "handsome, big, a brawler and frequently drunk" ("Centennial History").

LaPorte accosted the much smaller Parker and demanded that the cow be released. However, his effectiveness as an advocate for the cow was impaired by drink, so much so that Parker was able to put him in a cell in the city jail, in the Town Hall at Rainier Avenue S and S Hudson Street. When LaPorte sobered up, he swore to get even.

Crime was an infrequent visitor to Columbia City in those days -- four years before it was annexed to Seattle -- and law enforcement did not require constant vigil. One evening the deputy fell asleep in his chair in front of the jailhouse stove. He awoke to find himself, and his chair, locked inside a jail cell, relocated by LaPorte and his friends.

The record is unclear about what happened next, but the story is that the prudent deputy did not pursue the matter any further.

"Centennial History: Columbia City, Rainier Valley, 1853-1991," dated 1992, comp. by Carey Summers for Pioneers of Columbia City, Rainier Valley Historical Society, Seattle, Washington; State of Washington, County of King, notice of reappointment of Fremont S. Parker as deputy sheriff of King County, January 9, 1905; Buzz Anderson, "Gardner and LaPorte," (

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