Perhaps some of these entries from an old booklet of Eau Claire city ordinances at the Chippewa Valley Museum should still be enforced.
1. WATCH YOUR MOUTH (1874)
No one likes a dirty mouth, but back in 1874 the City of Eau Claire had some pretty strict rules against foul language. According to a booklet of ordinances published that year, you could be fined up to $50 for speaking “any bawdy, lewd, or filthy words.” Furthermore, your neighbors could perform a citizen’s arrest if you cursed: According to the ordinance, “any householder in Eau Claire can apprehend lawfully somebody who violates” that rule.
2. SLOW DOWN (1874)
Back in the 19th century, the pace of life was slower – literally. Under the 1874 ordinances, it was “unlawful to ride or drive a horse or a team faster than a walk on a bridge longer than 20 feet.” In addition, the speed limit for horses on “streets, alleys, lanes, and highways” was a comparatively swift 7 mph.
3. WATCH YOUR COWS (1874)
In recent years, the Eau Claire City Council has debated whether to allow residents to raise chickens. When Eau Claire was incorporated, rules about animals were more relaxed, but they still did exist. “Horses, mules, cattle, goats, or swine” weren’t allowed to run at large; if found, they could be impounded. (Imagine that impound lot!) Interestingly, this rule didn’t apply to cattle owners as long as Bessie was tied up after 10pm.
4. SAVE THE BEEVES (1874)
In the interests of promoting public health, it was unlawful to “kill or slaughter any beeves, sheep, hogs, or other animals within the limits of the city.” Yes, you read that right: The slaughtering of “beeves” was banned. And no, “beeves” doesn’t refer to Wally Cleaver’s little brother or Butt-Head’s buddy: it’s just an archaic plural of the word “beef” – in other words, cattle.
5. MIND YOUR CARCASSES (1882)
And while we’re on the subject of slaughtering livestock, an edition of the city ordinances published in 1882 prohibited “putrid carcasses or other unwholesome or nauseous substances” from being deposited within the city or its waters. If enforced, this ordinance would have prevented those “charming” tales from Eau Claire old-timers about kids playing in the river with inflated pig bladders!