In the nineteenth and early twentieth century, you may be surprised to find how many of your ancestors were convicted of a crime or misdemeanor by the courts, and how many had to serve a prison sentence. Many things for which the police would just give a ticket today were brought before the court. Poor people often received a (short) prison sentence instead of a fine, or would be sent to prison if they did not pay a fine.
Some examples of crimes my poor ancestors were convicted of:
- Public intoxication
- Public urination
- Not leaving an inn when asked
- Disturbance of the peace
- Turning a plow in the road
- Not cleaning the road in front of their house
- Putting out the garbage at the wrong time
- Gathering fallen leaves or branches from a forest
- Cutting grass
- Having a cow graze in someone else’s meadow.