ebook  History of Watertown, Wisconsin



The Best Damned Lawyer in Watertown:


The Bill Cody Story


First part written by Ben Feld


Proofed, reformatted and annotated by Ken Riedl





By the early 1860’s, Dr Cody had established himself as a popular, trusted physician in Watertown and, apparently, in the state as well. In April, 1862 his services “on the field of Pittsburgh” were requested by Gov. Harvey. His service there was short, however, for in January, 1863 the Secretary of War appointed Dr. Cody Medical Pension Examiner of the state of Wisconsin. Just how long he served in that capacity is not clear, but it is apparent that his practice in Watertown flourished. There is no indication that the family life of the Codys was anything but pleasant. Over a period of time, Dr. Cody accumulated two houses and at least a dozen farms in and around Watertown. By the end of the Civil War, the Cody family consisted of Dr. and Mrs. Cody, a daughter who married J. Salick, and three sons, James, Edward and William.


Although the end of the Civil War brought peace to the county in general, it was just the beginning of the troubles which would plague the Codys for many years. The Watertown Democrat reported the first of a series of tragedies:


In Fulton, Illinois, on the 1st of May, 1865, JAMES M. CODY, son of Dr. James Cody of this city, in the 16th year of his age. He was pursuing a course of study at a military school in the place where he died, and the intimation his father had of his son’s sickness was on last Saturday. Dr. Cody immediately started to visit him, but before he reached his destination, was met with the sad intelligence that his boy was no more. The remains were brought to his home here, last Tuesday afternoon and he who went away with high hopes and a thousand blessings for his health and welfare is sorrowfully brought back shrouded for the grave, making desolate the household his presence would have filled with gladness. Such is life, and such are the dark shadows that may any hour fall across the sunniest pathways.


WD MAY 4, 1865


Four years later a second son, Edward, died suddenly.


In the city of Watertown, on the 13th inst., at the age of 16 years and 11 days, EDWARD D. CODY, son of Dr. James and Adeline Cody.


The sudden death of this exemplary and promising youth is a severe and trying affliction to his bereaved parents, being the second son, whose untimely loss the have been called to mourn within the past four years. The many hopes that clustered around him render his death all the more painful to the family circle, thus sadly broken by the departure of the one so cherished and beloved. The tender sympathy of numerous friends will be with the sorrowing parents and relatives, but no ministrations of kindness can alleviate the anguish of such dispensation.


WD JUNE 17, 1869


Dr Cody's life was further devastated by the death, August 8, 1872 of his wife Adeline, the daughter of Captain James Rogan, "A sincere Christian, warmly cherished and tenderly beloved by those she knew". At the time of her death, the couple had two living children; a daughter, Mrs. J. Salick, who lived on West Washington Street, (Note:  In the 1880's there were two Washington Streets; one west of the river commonly referred to as North and South Washington, and an eight-block street running from South First Street east to North Street, today called Market Street. It is unclear which part would have been called West Washington) and a son, William G. Cody, who appeared to live at "the homestead".  Dr. Cody and Theresa, nee Kelly, his second wife, who he married January, 1889 had two minor sons at the time of the divorce proceedings which so shocked the community.



Part I






Some said he did it to assure his inheritance of all his father's wealth; some said he genuinely loved his father and wanted only to bring an end to an unhappy second marriage; but whichever it was, surely young Bill Cody (no relation to the Cody of buffalo fame) did not expect to start a chain of events which would soon pique the curiosity and interest of the entire state. And surely he did not expect things to turn out quite the way they did.


Judging from the lack of newspaper articles indicating otherwise, the marriage of Dr. and Mrs. Theresa Cody seemed to be normal with no hint of any trouble until Thursday, July 2, 1885:


Thursday afternoon at 11:00 o’clock Dr. James Cody was discovered in his office in a comatose state, suffering from what was supposed to be a fit of apoplexy. The news of his alarming condition soon spread on the streets and several physicians were at once summoned to render him assistance. Remedies were applied, but it was several hours before there was any relaxation of his dangerous symptoms. Before evening, however, he revived sufficiently to be able to articulate a little, but continued in such a state of stupor that it was not deemed prudent to remove him to his home until Friday evening, since which time he has been improving slowly.


WR JULY 8, 1885


For six weeks the community must have assumed Dr. Cody was convalescing and were not prepared for the revelation, when it was revealed in the Milwaukee Journal, that trouble was brewing in the Cody household.


The community was thrown into considerable excitement Saturday evening by the receipt of the news trough a telegram from Juneau appearing in the Milwaukee Journal that Dr. James Cody, of this city, had commenced proceedings in the Dodge County Circuit Court against this wife, Theresa Cody, for absolute divorce. Somers & Somers of Milwaukee, attorneys for James Cody, filed the complaint on the 14th inst. Among other things the complaint sets forth that the plaintiff and defendant were married January 27, 1880, and their issue is one child, a son, four years old.


WR AUGUST 19, 1885


The legal mill begins to turn. Charges and countercharges, demands and counter demands are filed.


Mrs. Theresa Cody, through her attorney, Harlow Pease, has filed with a Clerk of Court at Juneau an answer to the complaint made against her by her husband, Dr. James Cody, in which are alleged grounds for divorce, the defendant in said answer denying each and every allegation set forth in said complaint. A demand is made for a change of venue in the case to Jefferson county and a order for alimony to the defendant has been allowed by Judge Sloan in the sum of $75 per month, and $150 for expenses in part for defending the action for divorce or any other personal property on the premises occupied as a homestead is not to be interfered with.




Somehow the Milwaukee papers and the Chicago Tribune learn about Dr. Cody's troubles. Their reports give us a closer look at what was transpiring.


The Chicago and Milwaukee papers have lately contained several startling episodes in the matter at issue between Dr. James Cody and his wife. The following special relating to this interesting case appeared in the Chicago Tribune of last Friday and opened up a new denouement in the sad affair:


STEVENS POINT, Wis., Sept. 17 - The Dr. James Cody divorce case, of Watertown, in this state, came to the surface here today. Mrs. Cody arrived in the company of Mr. And Mrs. D. D. Scott, of Watertown. This morning she went before County Judge Kingsbury and obtained a writ of habeas corpus alleging that he husband was restrained of his liberty at the house of Dennis Peters. Armed with this writ Chief of Police McDonald preceded to the Peter’s residence, At first he was denied admission, but upon his threat to break the door in it was unlocked by Mrs. Peters. A search of the house from cellar to garret and of the barn was made, but the doctor could not be found. In an interview this afternoon Mrs. Cody charges all her troubles to young William G., son of the doctor by his first wife. She thinks the doctor has been stopping with the Peters family nearby ever since the separation took place, almost two months ago. The doctor is supposed to have been seen here yesterday, and is supposed by Mrs. Cody to get a personal interview with her husband all would come out with. It was to obtain this interview the journey here was made. It is stated that since his arrival here the doctor has made over to his son about $13,000 of personal property, consisting mostly of mortgages here simply as mutual friends of both parties.


Next in order the Sentinel of Sunday published the following summary of news about the doctor from which it would appear that he left Stevens Point and proceeded to Milwaukee:


Dr. James Cody, a prominent physician from Watertown, mysteriously disappeared from the Republican House, in this city, at a late hour on Friday night, and all day yesterday detectives, relatives and lawyers had been searching for him. Various rumors were afloat yesterday as to his whereabouts, but none of them have as yet been substantiated. It was believed by some that he had been abducted by two detectives in the employ of his wife, from whom he is seeking a divorce; others believed that he quietly left the city, while the police are inclined to the theory that he committed suicide because of his domestic troubles.


Friday evening Dr. Cody, accompanied by two ladies, came to Milwaukee. They registered under factitious (sic) names. The women were assigned to a room adjoining Dr. Cody’s, and on his retiring Friday night they locked the door of his room and kept the key in their possession. About 1 o’clock at night there was a call from Dr. Cody’s room. When the bell boy reached it he was obliged to use his pass key to secure admittance. As the door was opened, Dr. Cody passed out and left the hotel without saying a word to anyone, and since that time he has not been seen. He was missed at an early hour yesterday morning, and the police were notified, and Dr. Cody’s son was summoned by telegraph from Watertown. Detectives who worked all day on the case were inclined to the theory that the doctor had ended his life, as he had previously made an attempt at suicide. From over a column of later developments contained in Monday’s Sentinel we clip the following:


Dr. James Cody, the Watertown physician, whose mysterious disappearance from the Republican House was reported in The Sunday Sentinel was found yesterday, and he is now in the custody of his son. He was found on the road to Wauwatosa by E. E. Davis, the druggist doing business at the corner of Wells and Eleventh street, by whom he was brought back to the city.


“I was driving along the road to Wauwatosa,” said Mr. Davis to a Sentinel reporter last evening, “and just before reaching the bridge beyond Chestnut street, we overtook Dr. Cody. He was going in the same direction - towards Wauwatosa - and was walking in the middle of the road. I could scarcely believe my eyes, yet I could not be mistaken. I had known Dr. Cody from boyhood. He and my father had been the warmest of friends for many years. He was covered with mud, his clothes were wet, and he looked as if he had been out all night in a rainstorm. He was a most wretched looking object. As we overtook him I called out to him and asked:


“What in heaven’s name are you doing here? Where have you been?”


“The doctor seemed greatly distressed and humiliated. I knew of the trouble he was having with his son and with his wife, and I had seen the account of the flight from the Republican House in The Sentinel. So I did not press the question and it was easy to see that he had slept outdoors whether one or both of the past two nights. I immediately insisted that he should go home with me. He readily consented. He waited by the roadside while I took my wife to the streetcar at the head of Wells street, and I then returned for him.


“On the way to my home the doctor appeared greatly depressed and sorrowful. When I asked him why he left the Republican House, he would only say that William, the son, ‘was acting very imprudently, and had disgraced him very much.’ He referred, of course, to the publicity given to the alleged relations of his wife with Clarence Brown, and to the fact that he and the two ladies with him at the Republican House Friday night had been registered under fictitious names. He saw no occasion for this, and was mortified that it had been done.”


“What time did you find him?”


“It was about half past 2 o’clock. We got back to my house between 4 and 5 o’clock. I took him to the place where I live, 144 Eighth street. I gave him food and cleaned him up.


I then had to go to the store and he was determined to go with me. He was afraid to be alone, fearing that his son might find where he was and take him away.


On reaching the store I telephoned to the police station and told him that if anyone should call for Dr. Cody they might tell him that the doctor was at my store. In a surprisingly short time the son, William, who had brought the doctor to Milwaukee and locked him up in the Republican House, came bounding into my store. He looked very nervous and frightened, immediately asked for his father, who was then behind the prescription counter. I did not want the doctor to go away with him and told him so. He told me that Major Gardner was with him, and he had advised the doctor to go with him.”


Mrs. Cody, the wife of the doctor accompanied by her attorney, Harlow Pease, and Col. D. D. Scott, of Watertown, arrived in the city yesterday afternoon. They used every effort within their power to secure an interview with Dr. Cody who was last seen at Daves’ drug store about 5 o’clock in the afternoon. And until that time he said repeatedly that he wanted to go home, but his son at length induced him to go away with him. It was thought that they intended to go to the Republican House, but inquiry did not reveal that was the fact. This is Col. Scott’s version:


Mrs. Cody, accompanied by Col. Scott and Attorney Pease, drove to the house of Clerk Meiswinkel, of the municipal court, to obtain a warrant for the arrest of Wm. G. Cody, the doctor’s son, on the charge of kidnapping his father. Clerk Meiswinkel refused to get out of bed, however, as it was nearly midnight. A writ of habeas corpus was finally obtained from the Court Commissioner A.G. Fraser, directed to William Cody, and ordering him to produce the body of his father at Commissioner Fraser’s office, 427 Milwaukee street. The writ was given to Deputy Sheriff Buckley, who made the round of the depots and watched the outgoing trains, but he failed to find the missing father and son, Sheriff Paschen also drove to residence of E. E. Davis, the druggist on Eighth street, in the hope of discovering some clue to Dr. Cody and son. The hack containing Mrs. Cody and her attorney was going about the streets the greater part of the night in the vain effort to secure a warrant for young Cody’ s arrest.


Yesterday’s Sentinel contains the following on the affair:


After all the fuss made by Mrs. Cody in her vain efforts to discover where abouts (sic) of her husband and the claim that he was detained by her son against his will, it was somewhat of a surprise when Dr. Cody walked into the law office of Somers & Somers between 8 and 1 o’clock yesterday morning. He claimed that he had, with his son, spent the night at the house of a friend in the city and that the son had gone to Watertown on the morning train. He remained in Somer’s law office the greater part of the day, resting upon a lounge. He seemed very much worn and spoke only when spoken to. During the morning the doctor was visited by father Corby (sic) the Watertown priest, of whose congregation he is a member; W. C. Spalding, of Watertown, who attended Dr. Cody in his recent sickness, and by Colonel D. D. Scott, of Watertown, who is working in Mrs. Cody’s interests. Dr. Cody told Mr. Scott that he had been sick ever since he had left Watertown to go to Stevens Point, and that he had gone through so much as to be entirely worn out. When asked if he would be willing to make up the matter with his wife, he said repeatedly that he would not live with her under any circumstances. He refused to see his wife, but said he would be willing to consult her attorney as to the amount of alimony to be paid her pending a decision in the divorce suit.


This morning’s Sentinel says that Dr. Cody was committed to Passavant Hospital where he will receive medical treatment.




Few in Watertown were not concerned when it was revealed Dr. Cody was not in the best of health for he was a highly respected, much loved doctor, and those privy to the conjugal climate in the Cody household were not much surprised when they read the newspapers of late September, 1885 and learned that Theresa Cody had already filed for divorce. The marriage, some said, should never have taken place.


And the presence of young Bill Cody did nothing to alleviate any existing animosity. From the very start of proceedings, Bill was very much a thorn in Theresa's side. Although he supported his father completely, he never seemed to offer the good doctor any real comfort and/or support. His testimony, during the divorce proceedings has been preserved:


Jefferson County Circuit Court Filed October 21st, 1885

Theresa Cody Plaintiff

William G. Cody Defendant.


The above named the defendant, William G. Cody, for answer to the plaintiff’s complaint herein, admits, denies and alleges as follows, to wit:


He admits that on the 28th day of January, 1880, the plaintiff and James Cody motioned in the complaint, became a husband and wife, and that the plaintiff is a resident of the city of Watertown, in the county of Jefferson, and State of Wisconsin. But this defendant alleges that on or about the 13th day of August, 1885, the said James Cody commenced and action in this court for a divorce from the said plaintiff herein, and set up in the complaint in said action, as a ground of said divorce, that the said plaintiff was guilty of adultery with one Clarence Brown.


That the said Theresa Cody, on or about the 16th day of October, 1885, commenced an action of divorce against the said James Cody, and alleged in her complaint therein, as the grounds of divorce, cruel and inhuman treatment towards her by the said James Cody.


This defendant, in answer to the first cause of action in the plaintiff’s complaint herein, alleges that he is the son of the said James Cody mentioned in the complaint herein, and the said James Cody, suspected that his wife was on terms of criminal intimacy with the said Clarence Brown mentioned in the complaint, requested this defendant, his son, to give to him such information, and to give to the said James Cody’s attorneys such information, upon the subject of the criminal intimacy before mentioned, as this defendant might have upon that subject. That as this defendant is informed and believes, one Daniel Hall, a practicing attorney in the County of Jefferson and State of Wisconsin, duly licensed to practice law, and one George W. Bird, of Jefferson, a practicing attorney in Jefferson County, and duly licensed to practice law, were retained by the said James Cody for purposes of consultation and advice upon the subject matter of bringing an action for divorce against said Theresa Cody by the said James Cody. And this defendant alleges that pursuant to such instructions from his father he imparted to his father much knowledge as he had upon the subject of such intimacy; that he imparted to the said attorneys for his father such knowledge as he possessed pertaining thereto, and that in the presence and hearing of the said James Cody, and in the presence and hearing of the said Daniel Hall, and the said George W. Bird, and in none others, did at that time mentioned in the complaint, say that he saw Cass Brown come to the house, and Mrs. Cody was at home alone, at 9:30 A.M. “I was down cellar at the register, listening, and I heard said Brown and Mrs. Cody in the parlor over my head, talking. That they were talking smutty and mentioned something as to the size of Mrs. Cody’s leg, and they were also talking about what good times they had had, and mentioned the evening of the 26th of May; and I heard him tell and he asked her to take off her dress, and she said she wouldn’t and I heard her grunt, and he said, ‘that is enough’ and I heard them get up and he left the house at 10:15 A.M. and went off. The parlor doors must have been locked, as I heard it click and door opened when they left the parlor. I saw him come and go. And Cass Brown also said ‘don’t lock the doors’ when they walked into the parlor. She said it was safer, and I also heard her make the remark that it was a good deal nicer on the floor than in the buggy, as there was more room. Then heard Cass Brown asked her to lay down on the floor again; she said no, but she would come to his room tonight, if she could get a good chance to get out.”


And this defendant further alleges that the said words spoken by him to his said father and to his said father’s attorneys at his father’s request, were true, and were not uttered maliciously, or with any intent to injure the plaintiff; and he denies that he uttered said words to any other person or persons, except to his said father, and to the said Bird, and the said Hall.


And this defendant and alleges upon information and belief that said communication so made at his father’s request and to the said attorneys, was privileged.


This defendant for answer to the second cause of action herein, alleges that he is the son of the said James Cody mentioned in the complaint; that the plaintiff herein is a married woman, and is now a resident of the city of Watertown, in the county of Jefferson and State of Wisconsin. This defendant admits that on the 8th day of August, 1885, at the city of Milwaukee, he spoke to the plaintiff herein, and spoke of her infidelity to her and this defendant’s father but he denied that he used the words set forth in the second cause of action as having been uttered by him at the time and place in said second cause of action stated. He admits that at that time and place, he stated that in his opinion the said to plaintiff had committed the crime of adultery with the said Clarence Brown, on the 18th day of June, 1885 in the city of Watertown, Wisconsin and he alleges that said word were true, that he did believe that the said plaintiff was guilty of the crime of adultery committed at the time and place before mentioned; that said communication was made solely to the his father’s attorneys, P. J. Somers and P. F. Somers being attorneys at law duly licensed to practice as such in this State of Wisconsin; and that at the time aforesaid they were retained by the said James Cody to bring an action of divorce against the said Theresa Cody upon the grounds of adultery. That said words were not spoken maliciously, or with intent to injure the plaintiff herein, but were imparted to the said attorneys as a matter of information pertinent to instructions at his father’s request; and defendant alleges that said communication was true, and privileged.


This defendant and denies each and every allegation of the plaintiff’ complaint not herein specifically admitted.


Therefore this defendant demands judgment that the plaintiff’ complaint to be dismissed with costs.


Somers and Somers and Charles H. Gardner

Defendant’s attorneys


Now son Wm. G. Cody raises the ire of his step-mother.


New complications and developments have arisen in the Cody divorce case. Mrs. Cody having commenced an action against her husband for a divorce on the ground, alleged, of cruel and inhuman treatment, the necessary papers being served last Friday on Somers & Somers, of Milwaukee, attorneys for Dr. Cody in his suit for divorce now pending. Thursday evening William G. Cody was arrested by Sheriff Illing upon an order from Judge Bennett to answer to an action of alleged slander commenced by this step-mother, Mrs. Theresa Cody. Damages to the amount of $50,000 are claimed by Mrs. Cody. William Cody was placed under bail of &10,000, Matthew and Christy Smith going security for his appearance in court. Still another suit was commenced Friday morning by Mrs. Cody against Dr. Cody and William G. Cody for separate support, and an order adjoining Dr. Cody from disposing of any property conveyed to William G. Cody.


WR OCTOBER 21, 1885


In September Dr. Cody had made over to his son about $13,000 of personal property, consisting mostly of mortgages on Dodge County property. Now he loses some of it.


In the Circuit Court last Thursday before Judge Bennett, G. W. Bird, and H Pease argued the injunction case of Mrs. Theresa Cody against Wm. G. Cody and moved for the appointment of a receiver for the entire property of Dr. James Cody pending the result of Mrs. Cody’s action for Divorce. Judge Bennett refused to enjoin the whole of the property but ordered $8,000 of the personal property in the hands of W. G. Cody placed in the custody of Daniel Hall, who was appointed receiver for the same.




Now begins, for Wm. G. Cody, over half a century of skirmishes with the law in one form or another which eventually earned him the dubitable title of "the best damn lawyer in Watertown".




Under the above caption the Milwaukee Sentinel of yesterday publishes the following:


A scene which attracted a large crowd and caused a lively sensation occurred in the office of the Kirby house about 7 o’clock last evening, when a young man attired in a beaver overcoat was seized by an old man with a gray beard. There was no struggle, but the telephone call for police excited the suspicion that the young man was a criminal. A few minutes later Detective Baldwick and Burns escorted the young man to the central station, accompanied by the old gentleman. The prisoner was William G. Cody, son of Dr. James C. Cody, of Watertown, whose domestic troubles and mysterious disappearance from the Republican house, and his subsequent discovery in a deranged condition in the woods west of the city, created a sensation in this city some weeks ago. The old man who caused the junior Cody’s detention was Chris Smith, of Watertown, one of his bondsmen for &10,000 in a civil action. Some hours later he surrendered the young man to the sheriff of Jefferson county, with the bail bond.


The arrest grows out of the domestic troubles of Dr. James Cody and his young wife, the latter being the stepmother of William. Some months ago Dr. Cody commenced action for divorce on the ground of infidelity, and to keep the old man away from his wife, the son caused his father to travel through the state, finally bringing him to this city, at which time he escaped from the Republican house. After his recovery and a meeting between himself and his wife, he returned to Watertown, where he is a present residing with his daughter. His wife filed a cross-bill for divorce and also began suit for alleged slander against the son. She also had a receiver appointed for the property of her husband, who had transferred most of it to his son, and the latter required to give it up to the receiver. He turned over about $8,000 worth of personal property.


At the time of his arrest for alleged slander, he was required to give bail in the sum of $10,000. His bond was signed by Mat and Chris Smith, of Watertown, with the understanding, as they claim, that they should be given security for the amount. It was not given however, and the bond men refused to justify for the amount of the bond until they had security. The young man had disappeared from Watertown, and, being legally responsible for the $10,000, even without justifying, they became anxious to secure him. Consequently Mr. Smith came to this city, and finding Cody at the Kirby house, caused his arrest. Sheriff Illing, of Jefferson county, reached the city at a late hour last night, and Mr. Smith delivered over the prisoner and bail bond to the official at the central station. The young man was taken to Jefferson at an early hour this morning and will remain in custody until bail is furnished.


Mr. Smith expressed his willingness to remain on the bond if the security was forthcoming. It is probable that the young man will deliver over to the $10,000, now in the possession of his attorney, Major Gardner, at Watertown.


William G. Cody is about 24 years of age, and his friends regard him as somewhat eccentric. He had been deeded about all of his father’s property, amounting to about $50,000, of which about one-half was personal. Of the latter he has turned over $8,000 to the receiver, about $10,000 is the possession of his attorney, and when arrested last night he had $6,000 in mortgages on his person. He is known as a patron of sports, and owns two fast horses at Watertown. He has several hundred dollars in bank (sic) here. Of late he has spent money lavishly. He purchased two beaver coats here yesterday for $300 one of which he said he gave to a friend.


WR NOVEMBER 11, 1885


Saturday last Wm. G. Cody was brought here from Jefferson to answer before Justice Halliger to the charge of threatening to shoot Moritz Blumenfeld, of the Weltburger, on account of a difficulty that had arisen between them. William, being held under a warrant from the Circuit Court Justice Halliger could neither compel him to give bonds for the alleged offense, nor commit him for want of jurisdiction and consequently the case was dismissed. In the company of Sheriff Illing he went back to Jefferson where he still remains not having yet procured bail in the action for which he was arrested in Milwaukee on the 9th inst.



The counsel on both sides of the Cody divorce case pressed several matters of importance in the Rock County Circuit Court at Janesville, before Judge Bennett, on Saturday. The counsel for Mrs. Cody, H. Pease and G. W. Bird, argued that the motion for an allowance of $800 from her alimony, $500 to be allowed her lawyers to prosecute her suit, and $300 for the payment of witness fees and other court expenses. The motion was granted and the sum allowed. The counsel for Dr. Cody and his son, C. H. Gardner and P. J. Somers, next moved that the bail for Wm. G. Cody, in the suit of slander, be reduced from $10,000 to $5,000 on the ground of excessiveness. This motion was also granted, and thus each party scored a point.




Pursuant to an order of the circuit Court of Jefferson County in the Cody case, for the purpose of raising the sum it directed to be paid Mrs. Dr. Cody’s attorney’s, Daniel Hall the receiver, on the 12th inst. Sold to Wm. F. Boss, the $1,000 or capital stock of the Wisconsin National Bank, of this city, held by Dr. Cody, for $1475. So large a premium as $475 on $1,000 of its stock, indicated the imminent standing, successive safety of the well-managed bank.


WR DECEMBER 16, 1885


The reluctance of the citizens of Watertown to become securities for his bail and the ensuing sale of his father's valuable stock to pay his step-mother's lawyers must have rankled young Cody. Could that have been the underlying cause of his escapade about a month later?


William C. Cody, of Watertown created considerable excitement last Saturday evening in the city of Jefferson. He asserted his pocketbook had been stolen, run (sic) his team up and down the streets, made himself generally, the hero of the average boy’s mind.


WR JANUARY 28, 1886


But now things really begin to fall apart for Wm. G. Cody. After a period of what must have been some serious soul-searching and reflecting on the part of both litigants, a reconciliation takes place which must have given satisfaction to those who saw the entire divorce proceedings as the manipulations of a greedy child.




A complete reconciliation took place yesterday afternoon, between Dr. James Cody and his wife. The doctor in company with Mrs. Cody rode in a hack from the residence of his daughter, Mrs. J. Salick, on West Washington street, (sic) where he had been since the previous day with his wife, and he repaired to his old home from which he had been estranged for nearly a year. Thus ends a case that had become celebrated throughout the state. Its adjustment in view of all the circumstances will no doubt occasion general surprise. Of course all the suits pending, growing out of difficulties between Dr. Cody and his wife, will now be withdrawn.


WR APRIL 21, 1886


All that remains now is the satisfying of legal requirements.




A settlement of the Dr. James Cody divorce suit and all the litigation and controversy growing out of it, has at last been reached by the mutual consent of all parties concerned. W. G. Cody, to whom most of his father’s property had been assigned, pending the divorce suit, relinquishes all claims, and transfers property back to his father a certain portion of it, however, being settled upon the said Wm. G. Cody. The community will be glad to learn that the suits connected with this unfortunate family quarrel are now withdrawn from the courts and all the disputed points amicably arranged.


WR JUNE 2, 1886


But sometimes family disputes are not easily reconciled. Within four months trouble erupted again.


Last Sunday morning while Mrs. Dr. Cody was attending church, her husband left home and was found by parties on the North Road about on mile northwest of this city, all covered with mud, and apparently not knowing where he was going. He was conveyed to the residence of Mrs. Masterson, in the town of Emmet, where he is now stopping and refuses to return home. His son, William, is with him there.


WG OCTOBER 1, 1886


The Watertown Republican, with a flair for the dramatic, headlines their version of the item:




A new chapter has opened in the Dr. James Cody case, and it has again become the chief topic of conversation. While his wife was absent at church Sunday morning the doctor left his home, and search being made for him he was discovered Monday morning by Deputy Sheriff Brook at the residence of Mrs. Masterson, in the town of Emmet, in the company of his son William, who was thought, until then to be living in Dakota. To all entreaties to return again to his home, the doctor, it is reported, turned a deaf ear. He still remains at the Masterson residence, and, of course, there are all sorts of rumors afloat in regard to his escapade. It is reported, how true, we know not, that the settlement made some months ago between all parties connected with this unfortunate family quarrel is now going to be nullified and the reconciliation broken. It is also rumored that Dr. Cody has yet made a will, and this enters in as an additional bone of contention. Further developments in this case will be watched with interest and curiosity by the community.




An order from the Court has been served upon Mrs. Theresa Cody, E. Hall and H. Pease, demanding that all the property in their hands belonging to the Cody estate be transferred to Dr. James Cody.


WR OCTOBER 13, 1886


Street talk led THE REPUBLICAN of last week into a provoking error in the Cody case, by publishing that the court had served an order upon Mrs. Cody, Daniel Hall and Harlow Pease, demanding a transfer of all property in their hands belonging to the Cody estate to Dr. Cody. No such order was made or issued by the court, and the on foundation for a report of this kind was based on the simple fact that E. O. Smith, of Beaver Dam, having received power of attorney for Dr. Cody, was here looking over Dr. Cody’s matters. We are informed by Mr. Hall that the only relation he had to the suits between Fr. J. Cody, his wife and Wm. G. Cody, his son, was that in his absence and without any action on his part, the court appointed him receiver to safely keep securities specially described in its order, to be assigned to him by Dr. and Wm. G. Cody, the same being then in the hands of Wm. G. Cody. Pursuant to this order, they were assigned by them to Mr. Hall and then brought and delivered to him by their attorney. Mr. Hall obeyed all; the court’s orders in relation to the same, and when the suits were withdrawn in June last the court, by its order, directed that he should reassign the property, amounting to about $8,000 to Dr. Cody, less what had been paid out pursuant to the court’s orders, and its fees of $100, which were allowed. Every transaction in the matter was duly reported to the court, and Mr. Hall’s account was not only duly allowed by the court, but receipted in full by Dr. Cody; all of which is on file and of record in the circuit court of Jefferson county.


WR OCTOBER 20, 1886


The Madison correspondent of the Milwaukee Sentinel sends the following to that paper relative to the Cody matter:


The papers in the case of James Cody vs. Theresa Cody were filed here on change of venue from Jefferson County. In his affidavit Dr. Cody alleges that the defendant illegally obtained from him and wrongfully retains certain monies, securities, mortgages, accounts, books of accounts and choses (sic) inaction belonging to him, and that she had wrongfully transferred a mortgage and note for $2,000; another for $1,075; another for $700, and another for $1,600. The affiant says he had no recollection of ever having affixed his signature to any of the assignments of the property, and that if he ever did so affix his signature it was at a time when he was so broken in health that he could not have any knowledge of the matter and was wholly unconscious of performing such an act. He asks that Mrs. Cody be enjoined from collecting interest on the property, and that all the pretended assignments, by which his property was diverted from him be vacated, and that not only Mrs. Cody, but others holding property, mortgages and securities to him.


The case will be tried in April term of the circuit court of Dane county.


WR FEBRUARY 16, 1887




The divorce suit of Mrs. Theresa Cody against Dr. James Cody and William G. Cody was commenced by service April 6th inst. in the Jefferson county circuit court. Judge Bennett granted the plaintiff an order to show cause why a receiver should not be appointed over the property of Dr. Cody during the pendency of the action, and also why temporary alimony and suit money should not be granted to her.


The defendant made application of venue on the ground of prejudice of the judge, and the case goes to the Dane County Circuit Court.


WR APRIL 26, 1887


But Dr. Cody's attorney fails to show up at the appointed time; therefore the case is put off to the July term of the county court. In the meantime, the MADISON JOURNAL provides some interesting details concerning the case:


The celebrated Cody case has not yet reached a focus, though it came up in the circuit court for this county yesterday; but owing to the non-appearance of E. P. Smith, of Milwaukee, attorney for the plaintiff, Dr. James Cody, the case was continued till the July term of the court. This case is an interesting one and full of allusions to the infelicities of the marital relations of the plaintiff and defendant. Dr. James Cody was wedded to Theresa Kelly January 28, 1880. Two children were born of the union – a union which was temporarily dissolved during a portion of the years 1885-1886, when the doctor declined to live longer with his wife. A reconciliation ensued, and two suits then pending between the couple were discontinued.


The couple parted for the second time September 26, 1886; when Dr. Cody went to live with a relative named Masterson, in Dodge county, claiming that the inhuman treatment he received at home would not permit him to remain there any longer. At this time he was 66 years of age. He then brought suit for the recovery of all the property which had been assigned to Mrs. Cody. In his complaint he declares that he was astonished when he learned that his wife really had possession of his property. It appears that Mrs. Cody also possessed a deed to the Cody homestead. Dr. Cody claims to have no knowledge whatever of signing such a deed; and it is hinted in some of the affidavits which form a part of the huge bundle of papers in the case, that the doctor was under the influence of an opiate at time, and that he may have done acts then of which he is not now cognizant. Dr. Cody not only ask that the property in dispute may be restored to him, but that Mrs. Cody be enjoined from obtaining and enjoying any revenues there from.


Mrs. Cody put in a demurrer to the complaint for the following reasons; 1st., That the plaintiff has no legal capacity to sue, because he is the lawful husband of the defendant. 2n., That the complaint does not state facts sufficient to constitute a cause of action; and 3rd, That the plaintiff has an adequate remedy at law.


It was the demurrer on which argument was to have been made yesterday. This case originated in Dodge county.


It was then transferred to the Jefferson count court, then to the Rock county, and finally it swung around to Dane county. A divorce case is also pending between the parties in the Rock or Jefferson county court.


Mrs. Cody claims that Dr. Cody possesses as much as $15,000 worth of property in addition to that which figures in the case now in the court.


WR MAY 4, 1887


Things do not come to a stand-still awaiting the out come of divorce proceedings.  A dispatch from Madison to The Sentinel dated the 23rd says:


On the application of Mrs. Theresa Cody, wife of Dr. Cody, in the celebrated divorce case of Watertown, Judge Sterwart of the circuit court today appointed P. N. Waterbury of Jefferson, as receiver of Dr. Cody’s property. The court granted $75 per month to both Dr. and Mrs. Cody during the pendancey of the action and directed the receiver to pay the taxes on the homestead now deeded to Mrs. Cody and also on a dozen count farms retained by Dr. Cody, and enjoined Dr. Cody as well as his son William G. and all parties to the suit from transferring any of the property.


WR MAY 25, 1887


One can easily imagine Wm. Cody bristling at the rejoinder. Apparently he did so and also took some action.


Wm. G. Cody was arrested yesterday by Sheriff Bullock on an order from Judge Bennett, charged with committing an assault on Mrs. Cody June 16, using abusive language to her and removing property from the homestead in the Fourth ward. Damages are claimed for $20,000. He secured $3,000 bail for his appearance, Dr. Solliday and C. H. Hahn becoming his sureties.


WR JUNE 22, 1887


For the next two months little of any importance is accomplished.


On behalf of the defendant, C. R. Feld, court commissioner, took testimony of witnesses yesterday in the case of Theresa Cody, plaintiff, against James Cody and Wm. G. Cody, defendants to be used in the Dane county circuit court, July term. Miss Ella Peters was the only witness examined. This morning Judge Stewart ordered a stay of the proceedings.


WR JULY 13, 1887




In the Dr. James Cody case before the Dane county circuit court in Madison last Wednesday, the question was upon the summons of Judge Steward to show cause why a guardian should be appointed. By the consent of all parties and without prejudice to the right of the counsel of Dr. Cody, A. L. Sanborn, of Madison, was appointed guardian “ad litem”. In the case of Dr. Cody against Theresa Cody and Daniel Jones, to recover certain mortgages etc., a demurrer of the defendant Theresa Cody was argued and submitted. The judge took the matter under advisement. In the action of Theresa Cody against Dr. James Cody for the divorce the case was continued until the fall term.


WR JULY 20, 1887


Madison, Wis. August 19-- . Some time ago Dr. Jas. Cody of Watertown instituted a suit against his wife, Theresa Cody, et al., to recover a large amount of property in their possession, which he claimed was fraudulently obtained from him while he was in such a disordered mental condition as to be incapable of transacting business. His complaint was demurred to, and it was denied that his condition was such as he represented it to be. Today Judge Stewart, the Circuit Court, overruled the demurrer.


WG AUGUST 26, 1887


The fall term of Circuit Court begins ten weeks later. The Cody case is one of the first to be taken up.


A final settlement has at length been reached in the celebrated Cody case. All the suits, and from the beginning there were about twelve of them, between Dr. James Cody, Theresa Cody his wife, and Wm. G. Cody, Dr. Cody’s son by his first wife, are dismissed and settled, stipulations to this effect have been duly signed by the parties within the past days. Mrs. Cody accepts $4,000 in lieu of all dower or other interest on Dr. Cody’s estate and she reassigns all personal property which she had obtained from her husband, including mortgages and notes. According to the stipulation Mrs. Cody takes the two minor sons to support during their minority and she deeds back the homestead valued at about $7,000. A judicial separation takes place between Dr. Cody and his wife by a divorce granted by Judge Stewart, of the Dane county circuit court, on the ground of desertion, Dr. Cody having lived apart from his wife for two years past.


Mrs. Cody removes from the homestead within fifteen days. Thus the curtain is drawn on one of the most celebrated cases that ever appeared in the court calendars of the state. It has been a long, bitter legal contest. The litigation between the parties at least $12,000 has been expended in taking legal proceedings. Dr. Cody’s large practice is ruined and out of his once valuable property about all that is left is the homestead, the Fifth ward farm and some $5,000.




Essentially the same story is told in the Watertown Gazette two days later.


The Cody divorce suit, which has been in the courts of this state for over two years, has been amicably adjusted, all the parties interested having signed articles of stipulation this week. According to the agreement Mrs. Cody gives up possession of the homestead, which Dr. Cody deeded to her several months ago, and agrees to vacate it 15 days after the decree of divorce is granted by the court. Mrs. Cody is allowed to retain her children, and receives $4,000 in cash and part of the household furniture, in lieu of all dower or other interest in Dr. Cody’s estate. The case will be finally closed about the 14th inst., when Judge Stewart of the Dane County Circuit Court will issue a decree of divorce on the ground of desertion, the doctor having lived separate from his wife for over a year, which is sufficient ground for granting divorce. All the other suits pending have been dropped. The litigation in these cases at the various channels through which the doctor’s money has been expended, cost nearly $20,000 and his extensive practice has been ruined. The balance of Dr. Cody’s property will be placed under the control of a trustee in the doctor’s interest. The overtures for a settlement were made to Mrs. Cody by parties interested in the doctor’s side of the litigation. When the settlement is finally completed Mrs. Cody contemplates removing to Washington Territory.


WG NOVEMBER 11, 1887


Surprisingly, there was no hitch in the proceeding, during the next week, of this convoluted case.


A dispatch from Madison dated November 15 says:




Mrs. Theresa Cody was granted a divorce from Dr. James Cody and given $4,000 in cash. It is generally understood that the settlement was found to be necessary if any considerable portion of the property should be saved. The lawyers, on each side, by the stipulation of the settlement, were allowed about $735. Dr. Cody was reputed to be worth about $40,000 before the trial began.


WR NOVEMBER 16, 1887


The Watertown Gazette closes the case succinctly.


The Cody troubles came to a close last Tuesday by Mrs. Cody being paid $4,000 in cash according to the agreement of the settlement. She will remove from the city in a few days to Spokane Falls, Washington Territory.


WG NOVEMBER 25, 1887



Part II







What do the Codys do now? Dr. Cody is in very poor health having suffered greatly both mentally and physically during the divorce proceedings. His practice is ruined. And his property has been placed under the control of trustees. Bill Cody’s drugstore, situated on the south side of West Ave. (now West Main St.) just 3 doors east of Water Street, has been neglected what with all the days spent in court and the time spent spiriting his father away for reasons known only to him. His escapades during his father’s troubles give every indication that here is a young man interested in gaining wealth any way possible if hard work is not involved. He turns quite naturally to the popular sport of the day, horse racing. Fourteen months after his father’s divorce becomes final, the following appears in the Watertown Republican:


Wm. G. Cody has purchased the celebrated trotting stallion, La Clare. This horse trotted and won the double team race in Minneapolis in 2:26 and got a record of the same. The next day he won the stallion race at Minneapolis in 2:35. The horse will service to only a limited number of mares, and parties desiring his service would do well to make arrangements immediately. La Clare will stand at my stables in Watertown, Oconomowoc, and Waukesha. Mr. Cody has several affidavits as to the breeding of this horse and the records where he won every race in the circuit when entered. Dr. Smith, a secretary of State Veterinary Society, has certified to some of these affidavits. This horse is to trot in the circuit of 1889, and will be driven by Edward Lull, of Lake Mills, the well-known driver. Parties who admire fast colts will do to make arrangements with the owner, as 25 mares will be the number of his service.


W.G.CODY Owner, La Clare,

Address, Watertown, Wis




La Clare must have been every bit as good as his owner said he was for he was well known in the racing horse circles. The previous week Geo. Cody had received a letter he caused to be published in the Watertown Republican.


MANKATO, MINNESOTA, JANUARY 25, 1889 - W. G. Cody,---SIR: I hear that you have the celebrated stallion, La Clare. I have two well bred mares that I would like to breed from your horse. Now if you are to use your horse this season, you will oblige me by letting me have his service. I would like to hear from you by return mail and let me know if I wm to get your horse and what your charges will be.


Yours truly,


Mankato, Minnesota

WR JANUARY 30, 1889


Horse-racing, which, in the 1870's took place in Watertown's Driving Park, located at the intersection of what is now Milford Road (Co “A”) and Commerce Drive, was very popular at this time. The weekly paper frequently carried the results of the races the previous week. But horse racing was not just a warm weather sport. During the winter the races were run on ice with the horses wearing special shoes to assure them firm footing.


But winter or summer, it is not exactly surprising to find Wm. Cody the center of a controversy at one time or another.


OCONOMOWOC, Feb 16 - Wm. G. Cody, of Watertown, owner of the trotting horse “Farmer Boy,” has begun an action at law to recover money put up on yesterday’s races, and garnished the stakeholder. The papers were served this morning. The suit is the sequel of yesterday’s trotting embroglio (sic) here, referred to in the telegraphic dispatch in this morning’ Sentinel. Cody has also made his affidavit that his horse is not the trotting horse “Silverton” that its true name is “Farmer Boy,” and that it has no record which barred it from either of the races. If the horse had in fact a record and was now trotted under an alias as alleged, he would be barred from all winnings. “Silvertown” is the name of a well known horse owned or formerly owned, by Mr. Bemis, of Chicago, and has a record of 2:201/4.Mr. Chas. Houghton, who was interviewed by a Sentinel reporter this morning stated unhesitantly that he knew “Silverton” and that he believed that “Farmer Boy” was the same horse. The statement in the tele-graphic dispatch referred to, that “Dick Lee” alleges that when the horse did in fact run it was occasioned by the noisy demonstrations made by the driver of the “Farmer Boy”. Before yesterday’s races began Mr. J. G. Boyd’s Milwaukee mare “Bertha” was the favorite among Oconomowoc betters.


Although the decision of the judges of the free-for-all race of yesterday was pecuniarily advantageous to the majority of Oconomowoc betters, local horsemen seem to be very nearly unanimous in the opinion that the decision was so erroneous as to be disgraceful to the place, and this feeling is intensified by the fact that some of the judges had bets on the race, and won them by that decision.


Mr. Cody arrived home Sunday in the highest of glee. He was victorious in his lawsuit, and the defendants had to fork over the money that the judges wrongfully awarded to the other participant in the race.


WG MARCH 1, 1889


Despite his successes in the horse racing field (assuming he did win the March 3 races) Cody was not able to give his horse his full attention. The affairs of his father's divorce case still were not entirely clear until March 15, 1889, when Justice Stacy brought the replevin cases of Jas. Cody vs. C. F. Zaunter and Wm. G. Cody vs. C. F. Zaunter to a close agreeable to both sides.


Except for a few notices of races won, we hear nothing of Wm. Cody or his father for over a year. It would be quite natural for the community to assume that all was well with the Codys; Dr. Cody is recuperating well and young Bill is content to find his excitement in horse races. But then comes these two announcements:


I hereby announce to all my old customers that I will shortly open a first-class drugstore, and will leave next week for New York City to purchase a fine full stock of drugs, chemical and toilet articles. I have had 12 years experience in the business, and am a graduate of the best College of Pharmacy in the United States.




I hereby announce that I will again practice medicine, having regained my health sufficiently to do an office practice, and will have an experienced doctor from Chicago to attend to country practice.


Yours Truly,



WG JULY 17, 1891


How nice to see that life has regained a sense of normalcy for the Codys. Wm. is again taking up his position as a druggist as he had been before the divorce affairs, and Dr. Cody has regained his health and is about to resume his position as a highly respected doctor in Watertown. But some citizens must have had reason to believe things were not quite as tranquil as they seemed.




Application was made on Tuesday last to Judge Colonius at Jefferson to have a guardian appointed over Dr. James Cody of this city, who, it is alleged, has not been receiving the treatment becoming a human being for several months past. The doctor and his son William have been occupying the Cody homestead in the 4th ward for some time without a housekeeper, and as rumors had been circulated from time to time that everything was not as it should be for the doctor’s comfort in his old age , steps were taken to bring about a change, hence an application, signed by several of the doctor’s best friends, was presented on Tuesday to Judge Colonius, who after hearing some testimony had the case postponed for one week, at the request of Wm. Cody, ordering that in the meantime the doctor be placed in charge of Supt. Graesel of the county insane asylum. Those having the case in charge at Jefferson boarded the afternoon train and came back in to Watertown to see that the judge’s order was carried out, Wm. Cody being among the number. As soon as the train stopped at the Junction, young Cody jumped there from and skipped lots for home, being there on the arrival of Marshal Kerr and his assistants, and endeavored to frustrate the order of the court being carried out by claiming that his father was not at home, but eight miles away in the country. Shortly after he made the statement, however, the doctor swung open the blinds on the second story window, and presented a most pitiful appearance. Entrance was at once obtained to the house, and the doctor’s quarters entered, which presented, it is said, a most sickening sight. The doctor, it is claimed, was robed in apparel filthy and ragged, and unfit for a human being to wear. Other evidences in the room told only too truly that rumor had not half told the story of the unbearable. The doctor was taken by Marshal Kerr to Jefferson and placed in charge of Supt. Graesel of the county insane asylum. Next day Wm. Cody secured his release on habeas corpus proceedings issued by Justice Porter at Jefferson. Young Cody the procured a double rig, decorated it with United States flags and with his father and his attorney, N.B. Moran, started in great triumph for this city. Just as they reached the city limits on the Jefferson road Deputy Sheriff Graewe served a warrant on Wm. Cody and took him before Justice Halligher on the charge of attempting to murder his father without assault by cruel and inhuman treatment and starvation. His hearing we postponed until Saturday, September 5th, and bail placed at $1,000.


There is no question about it but that the doctor should receive better care than what he has been getting of late, and if his son would only take the advice of his friends, he would join with those who are now moving in the matter to have the doctor placed where skilled nurses can look after him. All concerned are to be pitied, for the doctor is a wreck, mentally and physically, and we believe his son is not responsible for all the hard things charged up against him, for he certainly acts very strangely and as though he has not good sense, hence while this business is going on, it might be well to have a guardian appointed over him also. Let us hope that his unfortunate affair can be settled without further scandal and without litigation, that will certainly squander and eat up that remains of the Cody estate. Should Judge Colonius or order, Dr. Cody will be placed in the St. Alexian Hospital, at Oshkosh, which is conducted by the Alexian Brothers. In response to a telegram from young Cody, Jas. E. Malone, of Juneau, came here on Thursday and is at present arranging for a satisfactory settlement of the affair.


WG AUGUST 28, 1891


The Watertown Republican had carried a shorter, but more graphic article about the same.


The Doctor Cody case, which has been dormant for some time turns up again in a new and disgusting phase. It has been hinted at for some time that the doctor has not been properly cared for and that he was really suffering from neglect, if not want. As a remedy for his case a guardian was applied for and the matter came before Judge Colonius at Jefferson yesterday. The hearing was adjourned one week and during the interim Dr. Cody was place under the personal care of the superintendent of the County Insane Asylum, where he was taken yesterday in charge of Marshal Kerr. When the officers arrived at the house to carry out the order of the court, William Cody placed every obstacle in the way to prevent the house from being entered, all the doors being locked and the windows fastened. Further than this he said his father was not in the house, but at Sullivan’s eight miles distance. By breaking open a door the officers and others found a way to enter the house.


The sight that met their eyes is almost beyond belief and its impress will ever remain on their memory. Doctor Cody was found in a perfectly nude condition, save a few strips of cotton cloth which were around his neck the general surroundings were of the most disgusting character. He pleaded with his callers to give him something to eat. The rooms of this once elegant house were reeking in filth of all kinds and emitted abominable smells, bearing more of the evidence of a pig sty than a human habitation. Among those who witnessed the scene were Drs. Whyte and Werner, F. B. Tuttle, Dr. Cody’s life-long friend, Dr. E. Johnson and others. There were few dry eyes among them at the sight of such utter neglect, misery and destitution. It is a great wonder that this thing has been allowed to run so long without applying the proper remedy. Dr. Cody has ample means to secure him a comfortable living for the remainder of his days and our community should see to it that his rights are maintained.


WR AUGUST 26, 1891


The people of Watertown were indignant, and rightly so. They immediately set about trying to make things right for their esteemed doctor.


In the matter of the application of some of the citizens of Watertown for the appointment of a guardian for the estate and person of Dr. James Cody, which came up to be heard yesterday in the County court, will again be taken up September 29. The matter went over for the purpose of making service of the notice of application on the Supt. Of the Northern hospital, necessary for the reason that the matter had been adjourn over from August 25, and in the meantime Dr. Cody was adjudged insane upon examination before the courts by Drs. Reed and Munich. F.B. Tuttle appeared in behalf of the petitioners.




In another column the Watertown Republican detailed the happenings more fully.




The Cody case has continued to be a fruitful source of excitement and the different phases and intricacies are almost bewildering to keep run of. While our community was resting quietly under the supposition that Doctor Cody was assured of kind treatment for at least a few days at the hands of Supt. Graezel, William Cody applied for the release of his father, whom it was known he had treated in a cruel and inhumane manner; and strange to say the release was granted by Justice Porter of Jefferson, through a writ of habeas corpus, N.B. Moran appearing as William Cody’s attorney. If there was anything wrong, cruel or inhuman in the disposition made of Dr. Cody by Judge Colonius, the writ of habeas corpus would have legal redress, but under the circumstance then existing it was clearly a misuse of view, or basing an opinion of the subject upon common sense.


Procuring a conveyance, William Cody started back here with his father and accompanied by his attorney. Young Cody was in high glee and proceeded towards the city in a triumphal manner, small American flags being basely used to decorate the vehicle in order to give éclat to the victory gained. But the little game of triumph was nipped in the bud by Deputy Sheriff Graewe appearing at the city limits and serving a warrant on William Cody, who was brought before Justice Halliger, charged with attempting to murder his father, without assault, by cruel and inhuman treatment. His bail was placed at $1,000 and the hearing postponed until next Saturday in Justice Halliger’s court. The excitement was intense, run higher than on any other occasion before in this community. Meanwhile young Cody was in custody of the deputy sheriff, precautions being taken to handcuff him. By this time C. H. Gardner had been secured by Cody as additional counsel, and efforts were now directed toward procuring bail, several parties being approached, but all refusing. Matters continued in this way until Thursday morning when a new surprised was sprung into the case. While Cody was on his way to the county jail he was intercepted with a garnishee summons, sworn out by his attorneys, Messrs. Moran and Gardner, and brought back to the lockup. Wednesday evening Cody was given a check on the Wisconsin National Bank for $265 to his counsel for retainer’s fee, but notified the bank the next morning not to pay the check, so that when the attorney went for the money it was not forthcoming. Hence the garnishee, which added another complication to a case already badly twisted. The hearing on the garnishee takes place Saturday before Justice Stacy. Meanwhile Dr. Cody was conveyed to Jefferson Thursday morning and Judge Colonius adjudged him insane upon the medical testimony of Drs. Reed and Muenich, committing him to the Northern Hospital for the Insane, whither he was taken in the afternoon in charge of Sheriff Henze. Arriving at the hospital, the sheriff says, the doctor showed some unwillingness to leave the depot for the asylum, but appeared contented when he got inside of the building. Young Cody changed his counsel, procuring the services of J. E. Malone, of Juneau, who was now in charge of the cases, and Thursday afternoon obtained bail, John Vokes, of the Fifth ward, going his surety in the sum of $1,000 for his appearance before Justice Halliger, Saturday next. Cody was at once re-arrested on a warrant issued, charging him with threatening bodily harm to one of our citizens. By mutual consent, however, bail was not demanded for this charge and Cody was released on his own recognizance. Thus the Cody matters end at the present. One good result that ninety-nine one-hundredths of our citizens rejoice in what has been attained, and that is that Dr. Cody is now being tenderly and considerately cared for and is suffering no privations of life.




The examination of Wm. G. Cody on the charge of attempting murder without assault by cruel and inhuman treatment, came up in Justice Halliger’s court Saturday. After the application for a change of venue had been made District Attorney Rogers deemed it expedient to dismiss the pending case and issure a new warrant returnable before Justice Krebs at Jefferson upon the charge of an assault upon the body of James Cody. William Cody went to Jefferson and obtained bail, J. W. Moore, Thomas Brooks being the sureties.


The garnishee case of N. B. Moran against Wm. G. Cody, Wisconsin National Bank garnishee, was heard before Justice Stacy Saturday and by consent of parties was adjourned to the 14th inst. C. H. Gardner’s case against the same parties was dropped. Mr. Gardner did not appear, but immediately commenced proceedings in the same case by serving papers on Cody and the bank, the case to be heard also on the 14th.




There is no indication in either Watertown paper of just what the basis was for the garnishee cases revealed September 11. Knowing the past escapades of William Cody, one can easily imagine what could be behind them. But not everyone saw Wm. G. Cody as a person deserving of contempt; at least not the Milwaukee Journal.


The MILWAUKEE JOURNAL in its Saturday issue characterizes the proceedings against Wm. G. Cody as “ malicious persecution”. This is an insult to such citizens as Dr. Ed Johnson, Dr. F.C. Werner, Dr. W.F. Whyte, Dr. C.R. Feld, F.B. Tuttle and hundreds of others, whose only motive in the course they pursued was in a humane effort to provide Doctor Cody with the comforts of life and make his latter days pleasant and worth living out. And for taking part in a cause like this these gentlemen are slandered as “malicious persecutors.”




Dr. Cody's welfare must have been the topic of conversation in every saloon, every place of business, and on the street. Even as now, statements made were misunderstood and/or misinterpreted with resulting hard feelings. Mr. Moore, the editor of the GAZETTE, was once such victim.


To James W. Moore, Editor Gazette, Watertown Wis.


DEAR SIR: - I was somewhat pained on learning that you, whom I had always respected, and naturally persuaded myself that you entertained the same kind feeling for me, did charge me on the street, in a public manner, with a malicious persecution of Wm. G. Cody and that my purpose was to deprive him of his property, or rather Dr. Cody’s property. So far from that being the case, I will only call your attention to the fact that Dr. Cody and myself were life-long friends, and that my great desire was to help place him with the Alexian Brothers, where I know the few remaining years, if any, that in God’s providence may be his, would be smoothed to the grave. I don’t propose in this letter to deal with a case that has so much shocked the moral sentiments of our city—it has had all the publicity if needs; but instead, will come to the point for which this letter is addressed to you. I am informed that the Alexian Brothers offer to take care of the doctor for $30 per month. Now is the doctor and his son have friends that have any value as such, let them accept the following proposal: I will deposit $500 in the Wisconsin National bank, or with the county court, to be paid out in sums of $10 per month on the order of the doctor’s guardian, if one be appointed, and should he outlive me, I will continue the same payment either by special deposit, or by will, to the end of his life, with the additional deposit to be made now of $200 to be held by the bank or the court to meet the expenses of a decent interment. If this offer should be accepted by you, and with you, any number of such people who are willing to join a club sufficient to make up $20 per month on their part, I will be pleased to meet you and all others who thought it a pious deed to calumniate me, to perfect an arrangement that will leave the heirs of Dr. Cody free from all responsibility in regard to his care while living, or the disposition of his body after his death. I trust you will receive this kindly and credit me with the desire of my heart, unalloyed with passion, malice or avarice against anyone. The rescue of my old friend from the cold ingratitude of this world, where his manhood years has passed away doing good, healing wounds and soothing sorrows, to release him from the bonds of a hell, more terrible than the abode of the damned, and place him in a paradise of men with hearts to feel, and God’s work to do. Think what you may, Mr. Moore, I have not lost my respect for you, nor has my kindly feeling for you lessened. You have been on the side of the public and private virtue, your profession has assigned to you a place of honor and dignity that us poor laymen can’t claim. As a journalist we look to you to point out foul weeds in the public garden that they may be thrown out and burned, to do what justice commands, that virtue may crown with a happy memory the work you may have done, and charity lead you hand in hand with the helpless ones you may have befriended up to the seat of justice in whose strong arm the weak will feel protection and the defender receive his reward. May I hope that your old-time courtesy will ensure the insertion of this in THE GAZETTE of the present week.


Respectfully Yours,



What Dr. Johnson says has been told him in the above letter, so far as it relates to us, is absolutely false. In matters of the nature of that which has called forth this letter from the doctor, we have always tried to be fair to all parties concerned, and have always chose the side of moderation and charity, rather than the opposite. We would not willfully charge an enemy with sinister motive, much less Dr. Johnson, who has on various occasions shown his friendship for us. Charitably - inclined people’s motives are sometimes brought into ridicule (as we have experienced) by people of less moderate sentiments when laboring under and excitement, and remarks are made and circulated at random that the originators thereof in their coolest senses are ashamed of. Their mouthing are harmless, and generally his wide of the mark aimed at. So long as we observe the laws of God and man, we have no apologies to make, or explanations to offer, for our actions in connection with the Cody or any other case. With moderation and charity on our side, we view in the distance our calumniators scarified on the shrine of their own erection. The story of the three black crows is quite significant in this case.




While the above was going on, other things, to which Bill Cody seemed to pay little, if any attention, were also going on. On August 27, 1891, Judge Henry Colonius issue a statement saying that Edward Johnson, of Watertown, Dr. W. Reed and Dr. Joseph Muenich had examined Dr. James Cody and concluded that he was insane and ought be and, in fact was by this statement actually ordered that he be committed to the Northern Hospital for the insane for treatment which commitment had been effected August 21, 1891.


Closure to the Dr. Cody case was brought about by the following being published about two weeks later.


Patrick Kennedy, plaintiff, vs. James Cody, a person judicially declared to be of unsound mind defendant;


TO THE HONORABLE JOHN R. BENNET, Circuit Judge of the 12th judicial Circuit of Wisconsin: ------ Your petitioner, George Grime, respectfully shows to the court that upon petition herein before duly made and notice duly given, as required by law, this Court did on the 2nd day of September, 1893 duly appoint you petitioner Guardian ad litem for the above named plaintiff, Patrick Kennedy for the reason that said Kennedy has been judicially declared to be of unsound mind.


Petitioner further says that since said appointment, to wit: on the 12th day of October, 1893 said plaintiff, Patrick Kennedy, was duly discharged from the Northern Hospital for the Insane in the state of Wisconsin as cured and that ever since said 12th day of October, said plaintiff has and does now reside in the city of Watertown and is mentally fully able to prosecute the above entitled action on his own behalf.


WHEREFORE petitioner prays that he be discharged as guardian ad litem for said plaintiff, Patrick Kennedy, and from any and all further duties of liability as such guardian ad litem in said matter.


(Signed) George Grimm, Judge


As an act of finality, Patrick Kennedy submitted a bill for $116.00 at the end of the hearing - no mention is made of how the costs were incurred or whether it was or was not paid.


The wheels of justice grind slowly. In the matter of the garnishee cases brought by N. B. Moran and Chas. H. Gardner, action is first postponed from September 5 to September 12 and then to September 21. The case of the state vs. William G. Cody was put over from September 14 to February, 1892. (Attempting murder without assault) The matter of guardianship for Dr. Cody was to be brought before Judge Colonius of Jefferson, on September 29th. And so it was, to the satisfaction of many.


There is a general endorsement of John Colonius’ action in the appointment of C.B. Skinner as the guardian for Dr. James Cody. Mr. Skinner will see to it that Dr. Cody’s interests and welfare are well guarded.


WR NOVEMBER 11, 1891


Christmas of 1891 comes and goes. How did Wm. Cody spend the holidays? His father was in the Northern Hospital for the insane. Judging from his past behavior, one would not expect to hear that Wm. Cody visited his father there at any time. Did he spend Christmas Day with his sister, Mrs. J. Salick on West Washington Street? Or did he spend the day alone in the Cody house on North Church Street? In any event, by Saturday evening, January 23, he had seen part of his father's real estate holding taken from him, for the settlement of a debt - and a very small debt at that.


The 160 acre farm of Wm. G. Cody, situated in the 5th ward of the city of Watertown, was sold at execution sale by Sheriff C. A. Hart on Saturday last. The real estate was sold by virtue of an execution, to satisfy a certain judgment rendered in the Circuit court, on the 10th day of February, 1891, in the action entitled, “Wm. G. Cody vs. Clarence Brown,” dismissing the action and rendering judgment against the plaintiff for the defendant, cost of and in the action, which were subsequently taxed and adjusted at the sum of $29.98 and entered. A few days prior to the sale, Cody procured an injunctional order enjoining the sheriff from proceeding with the sale on the ground that the judgment of dismissal was not obtained by due process of law, and that the accrued costs were not taxed in the manner prescribed by statute. Upon examination the said order was found to be as advertised. James Hall, of Watertown, purchased the land for the sum of $50.00 that being the amount of judgment and the subsequent costs incurred.   -- “Juneau Telephone”


WR JANUARY 27, 1892


Could that actually have been fifty dollars for one hundred sixty acres of land?  -- 31 1/4 cents per acre? This at a time when Jefferson County bonds were yielding 6%, red winter wheat was selling for 84 cents per bushel.


Wm. Cody's attempt to stop the above action were by no means his last legal maneuver to protect his interests. Within eighteen months he was again in court.


Dr. Edward Johnson, Dr. Wm. F. Whyte and Dr. F. C. Werner have been served by Wm. G. Cody with notice of a suit in which said Cody claims damages in the sum of $75,000 for an alleged false imprisonment, and charging the defendants with forcibly entering into his residence. Whatever action these men took in the case cited was done in response to the urgent demands of the community, and out of what was believed at the time to be the most humane motives and considerations. This community owes it to itself to sustain these men with all the moral and influence that their case demands.


WR JULY 25, 1893


Now comes a puzzling bit. The above article appeared in the Watertown Republican, Wednesday, July 25, 1893. One month later the following appears in the same paper:


Wm. G. Cody has through his attorney served notice of a suit, claiming $10,000 damages, against Justice Halliger, Herman Graewe, and Drs. S. C. Werner, Wm. F. Whyte and Edward Johnson, for had cuffing and assaulting him, and having him place in jail over night to the great detriment of his body and mind.


WR AUGUST 23, 1893


Has the July suit been thrown out? Why does he now include Justice Halliger and Deputy Sheriff Graewe? And if he has realized that they, too, contributed to his discomfort, why has he reduced the amount of his claim so drastically? But as we have seen by now, there is no second-guessing Wm. G. Cody.


But somewhere along the way Mr. Cody made a mistake; what it was we have no way of knowing, but just four weeks later the Watertown Republican carries this notice:


The Cody case against Drs. Whyte, Johnson and Werner was dismissed Monday by Judge Bennett, for being improperly drawn.




Cody doesn't settle for a dismissal. He files the suit again and the case is scheduled to appear in the circuit court at Jefferson the first week in February, 1894. At which time it is continued to the September term with the understanding that the plaintiff must stand the costs of the postponement. Surely this is not to Cody's liking. In September the case was put off until October 29, 1894.


The people of Watertown are becoming weary of the case. Their indignation is succinctly expressed by the editor of the Watertown Republican:


….It is contrary to general expectation that this case has ever come to trail, and our community will be greatly disappointed, as well as general distrust shown that anything can ever be done here in the cause of humanity, if the acts of these men (Drs. Whyte, Werner, Johnson et al.) shall be interpreted as a crime.


WR FEBRUARY 21, 1894


Eventually the case was concluded. Wm. Cody is not awarded the sum of $75,000 he had originally asked, nor the $10,000 he sought later, but then, he was not required to pay any of the costs, either.


On last Saturday the case of William G. Cody against Drs. F. C. Werner, W. F. Whyte and Edward Johnson, John C. Halliger, et. al., brought for false imprisonment, was mutually settled and the suit withdrawn without costs to either party. Judge Siebecker was to have heard the case Monday at Jefferson, it having been postponed from the regular calendar of the September term in circuit court.


WR OCTOBER 31, 1894


Was it to avoid the costs of a court case that Wm. Cody agreed to the dismissal of the case? It would seem characteristic of him, but then we learn that just three weeks earlier his father died. Perhaps that influenced him somewhat. We will never know.




The Pioneer Physician Expires at the Northern Insane Asylum


Dr. James Cody died Monday at Northern Hospital for the Insane at Winnebago, where he had been a patient since September, 1891. His death was not unexpected, as it was known he had been failing for some time past. He was a little over 74 years of age, having been born August 22, 1820, at St Johns’ Newfoundland. Dr. Cody was very well known in this section and was one of the pioneer practitioners of Watertown, coming here in 1846, two years after having received his diploma from Harvard University Medical department. He was surgeon of the Wisconsin State artillery during Governor Barstow’s term, and about 1863 held the position of examiner of pensions for the general government. For two terms he was superintendent of our public schools. Dr. Cody was married to Miss Adeline Rogan, daughter of out late townsman, James Rogan, in New York, November 12, 1848, and two children were born to this union, Mrs. J. A. Salick and William G., both living here. Mrs. Cody died in 1872. The doctor’s second wife, whom he married some fifteen years ago, was Miss Theresa Kelly, of this city. By this union there are two sons, living in Minneapolis. Dr. Cody abandoned the practice of medicine in 1885. The remains have been brought here and the funeral will be held Thursday morning from St. Bernard’s church.


WR OCTOBER 10, 1894



Part III






It is interesting that no mention is made of Dr. Cody's two sons who had died in 1865 and 1869. It is also of some interest to note that the cost of Dr. Cody's stay in the Northern Hospital for the Insane was borne by Dodge Count which should have been receiving reimbursements from the state but, due to the neglect of the district attorney were never collected.


It is not surprising that the death of Dr. Cody brought about more court business. The two sons by Dr. Cody's second marriage, Edward G. and James A. of Minneapolis, now seek to have Dr. Cody's deeding of all his property to William set aside. And Adeline, William's sister, asks that the life insurance policy of $2,000 by Dr. Cody be set aside for reconsideration. In both cases William loses nothing.


On the same day, March 3, 1898, that Wm. Cody receives the telegram announcing he had won the suit concerning the life insurance, he announces he is going to take part in a Klondike expedition leaving Milwaukee May 10. The expedition is under the direction of Dr. Frank J. Toussaint, a veterinarian who treated Cody's horses, and a former resident of Watertown. The large party which included several from Watertown finally left Milwaukee late at night on May 15 in a special railroad car passing Watertown at 2 AM on the 16th. In the list of the 31 members of the group, no mention is made of W. G. Cody.


We can only speculate as to why William Cody's name was not on the list of those who departed for the Klondike. We have no indication that he was an outdoorsman or a man familiar with hard work. Nothing in his past indicated he would thrive on the hardships which were sure to be encountered in any gold-seeking expedition. Certainly the letter written by Ernet (Ernest) Kusel to his cousin in Watertown offered no incentive to join such an expedition.


A letter was recently received in this city from Ernet Kusel, who is now in the Klondike regions. In it he advises people to keep away from there as the whole country has been exaggerated. He says it took a steamboat on which he was as passenger eight days to cover a distance of 100 miles. The country is such that it is difficult to travel in and the prospects to be derived are small in comparison to the hardships which must be endured.


WDT JUNE 14, 1898



07 20       "Wild West and Congress of Rough Riders of the World"

TO THE PUBLIC: Once for all, and all rumors and reports to the contrary notwithstanding, I beg to most positively assure my comrades, friends, patrons and the press, that wherever and whenever my "Wild West and Congress of Rough Riders of the World" is billed to appear, there will I be also.  That I not only personally direct it as a whole at every production connected therewith, but invariably appear at each and every afternoon and evening performance, conscientiously fulfilling every advertised promise made in my name.  My place has always been at the front; I have not been accustomed to loiter at the rear.


Yours very truly,

W. F. CODY ("Buffalo Bill")



It seems hardly likely that things in Watertown were so exciting he couldn't bear to leave. True, the debate as to which material was to be used for the up-coming paving of Main Street was beginning to heat up. The Second Regiment of the Wisconsin National Guard was about to leave the US for Cuba to support Dewey. Edward Boyne, after 10 days vacation, had returned to his duties as a mail carrier; fresh dairy butter was selling for 16 cents a pound; and Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show was scheduled to arrive in Watertown on August 1.


But none of this seemed to concern William G. Cody. Could it be he had developed other interests? 


As far as the newspapers are concerned, Wm. G. Cody now vanishes from the public eye for some time. His obituary says that in 1902 he married Mary Poch an Irish girl. One elderly gentleman of Watertown insists his mother often described to him the Cody wedding which took place at St. Bernard’s church. According to him, a red carpet was put down from the church to the Cody home a block north. But there is no record in the files of St. Bernard's of any Cody wedding. Nor do the Jefferson or Dodge County records reveal any information about the wedding.


Apparently during the early years of 1900 Wm. Cody pursued his race horse enterprise, and that quite successfully if his letter to Mr. Moore, the editor of the Watertown Gazette, is factual.


Hartland, Wis. September 8, 1902


Friend Moore:  -- I notice an article published in your last week’s paper which is a mistake, indeed, namely, stating Hugh Kerr sold the fastest horse ever owned in Watertown. Why that’s ridiculous, for I owned the fastest horses ever owned in Watertown, or in the county ,namely Dictate 2:12, a pacer, and Silverthorn, record 2:20 ¼, a trotter. Silverthorn sold to Commodore Kittson, of St Paul, for $17,000 being at the time one of the fastest trotters in the world. He paid $27,000 for Silverthorn and Little Brown Jug. Mr. Kerr’s mare never entered in a mile race for money or a purse in her life. She simply raced a few matinee races at Juneau and Beaver Dam, half-mile heats. I might here add that next to my two horses that Painter Jones, of Watertown, owned the next fastest horse, being Bay Charley, which he bought of Mr. Jennings, of Oconomowoc, for $600. He trotted along in 2:35. Also, add to that George Evans’ father owned the next fastest horse, being Bugler -- could trot in about 2:40. Please publish this article, with my name signed, and give Mr. Jones, Mr. Evans, and myself the credit that rightfully belongs to us , and not make the public believe that Watertown had no better horses that a mare that pace a few matinee races of half-mile heats along in from 1:17 or 1:13 or 1:14.


Yours Very Truly,

William G. Cody.



If Mr. Cody's words are true, and there is no reason to believe they are not, he did indeed own some fine horses and must have gained financially thereby. He was probably not much upset when he learned that his father's ex-wife had died. 


Mrs. Theresa Kelly Cody, died at Lakeside, Montana, last Sunday, age 55 years. Her death was quite sudden, she having been ill but a short time. She was the widow of the late Dr. Cody. Two sons, Edward and Arthur Cody survive her. The remains of Mrs. Cody were taken to Spokane, Washington, for burial.

WG JUNE 24, 1910


Would that Wm. G. Cody had kept a diary! We can only speculated about what happened to his horse-racing business. Did he abandon it? Did he begin to lose money?  Or did he continue with it as he entered the next stage of his life during which he seemed to take perverse pleasure in irritating the people of Watertown and the surrounding communities. And irritate them he did: especially when he committed the unpardonable by coming between the people and their beer.


When the Central Labor Union calls on the mayor to open, on Sundays, the saloons which had been closed, Mr. Cody concludes it is time to give credit where credit is due.


I have noticed the article of the Watertown Secretary Central Labor Union to the Hon. Mayor of Watertown to do his duty and I suppose assist in the opening of the saloons on Sunday. Now I wish to state right here that “I am the man,” and not your Hon. Mayor that caused the saloons to be closed on Sunday. And I further desire to state that the coroner Manning of Dodge Co. served the proper notice on Sheriff Hinkes of Dodge Co. and Sheriff Vaughan to enforce the law and close all saloons in the city of Watertown on Sunday. I later had M. E. Farrington serve notice on Deputy Sheriffs Tanck and Krueger to keep all saloons in the city of Watertown closed on Sunday’s hereafter. (Here he quoted Sec. 1564, Sec 1553, and Sec 1563 pertaining to sale of intoxicating liquors on Sunday, officers to make complaint, and what a nuisance)


Now if these Hon. Unions think they can induce the saloon keepers to violate the state laws and open their saloon on Sunday after a proper legal notice has been duly served and thereby cause the saloon men to lose their license then these unions are mistaken and they will find to their sorrow “that no one fears them,” and that as a man I will see this law is enforced as it should be, and I will guarantee that this is no joke and that the saloonkeeper who violates the law will lose his license, and will any of you unions give him another license. Janesville, Madison, Stoughton, Portage, Columbus, Lake Mills, and many other towns are closed and willing to abide by the law and not be a joke like Watertown. Now if these people did not like the law then probably they would like to see Jefferson, Milford, Hubbleton, Richwood, Clyman, Lebanon, New Lebanon and Juneau also be closed Sunday. Several of our best citizens have consulted me as to the advisability of getting out the proper petition to have Watertown go dry every day and they claim sufficient names can be procured to a petition to have a dry town. Not if the unions and people do not wish to abide by the state law and close saloons on Sundays then I would advise these good citizens to go ahead and secure all possible names to a petition and see if Watertown will go dry. And don’t be blaming your honorable mayor for he did not put this law on the state statue (sic) book, and he did not enforce said law, and I think our mayor is the best Watertown ever had and some people are certainly trying to heap burdens on his shoulders, and with “slurs at that.”


W. G. Cody




Saloons Closed in Watertown on Sundays.


Ken Riedl addition:


Last week the following notice was served on Mayor Charles A. Kading and Chief of Police H. C. Block by M. E. Farrington, coroner:


Watertown, Wis.


To Hon. C. A. Kading, Mayor of City of Watertown; Mr. Herman Block, Chief of Police; and to C. A. Vaughn, Sheriff of Jefferson County, and Joseph Hinkes, Sheriff of Dodge County:


Sirs:  I hereby notify you and each or you, that Section 1564 of the Wisconsin statutes is being violated in the city of Watertown, Wisconsin, by the selling of intoxicating liquors on the first day of the week, commonly called Sunday.  I, the undersigned citizen and taxpayer of said Watertown, Wisconsin, hereby demand that you and each of you enforce the provision of said Section 1564 and that you close up all saloons in the city of Watertown, Wisconsin, on Sunday.


William G. Cody.


Sometime previous to the serving of the above notice, William G. Cody was a candidate for the office of Justice of the Peace to fill out the unexpired term of Justice W. D. Stacy, deceased.  Mayor Kading appointed him to the office but it required the confirmation of the city council.  The meeting at which Cody was appointed was adjourned without confirming him and between that meeting and the next meeting he made a canvass of the members of the council and he claims he was promised the support of 12 out of the 14 of the members, but at the next meeting when the matter of his confirmation came up, he received only one vote, that of Alderman Kerr of the Third ward.  Mr. Cody felt aggrieved over his treatment in this matter, and the above action followed.  Following are the state laws governing Sunday closing:


Section 1564.

If any tavern keeper or other person shall sell, give away or barter any intoxicating liquors on the first day of the week, commonly called Sunday, or on the day of the annual town meeting, or the biennial fall election, or primary election, such tavern keeper or other person so offending shall be punished by a fine of not less than five or more than twenty-five dollars, or by imprisonment in the county jail not to exceed thirty days, or by both such fine and imprisonment.


Section 4595.

Any person who shall keep open his shop, warehouse, or workshop, or shall do any manner of labor, business, or work, excepting only works of necessity and charity, or be present at any dancing or public diversion, show or entertainment, or take part in any sport, game or play on the first day of the week shall be punished by a fine not exceeding ten dollars; and such day shall be understood to include the time between the midnight preceding and the midnight following the same day, and no civil process shall be served or executed on said day.  Provided however, that keeping open a barber shop on Sunday for the purpose of cutting hair and shaving beards shall not be deemed a work of necessity or charity.


Section 4595d.

The keeping open of a store or shop for the sale of dry goods, wearing apparel, hats, caps, boots, shoes, hardware, furniture, crockery, glassware, jewelry, coffees, teas or spices, on the first day of the week, shall not be deemed a work of necessity or charity.


Section 4595c

The running of any railroad train, street railway car or interurban railway car for the transportation of freight or mail or of passengers and their baggage shall be deemed a work of necessity or charity.




The Cigarmakers Union ignored Cody's tirade. Their pronouncement in the very next issue, Monday, left no question about the status of William in their eyes.


To the public of Watertown and Vicinity: The article appearing in Saturday’s issue of the Daily Times, headed and signed by W. G. Cody, in which it seems he takes a great pleasure in slurring the union labor of Watertown, is hereby ignored.


The unions of Watertown have never had any dealings with W.G. Cody in the past, and do not expect in the future to deal with any man who tries to gain publicity in on other people’s business.


Hereafter any and all articles that may appear concerning union labor signed by the honorable W.G.Cody will be given the same consideration as already above stated.


Cigarmakers Union No.381, Watertown




So that's how the Cigarmakers Union sees it. But what about the man on the street; the man in the saloon?


Dear Editor: Perhaps I am not fully informed as to all the facts which led to closing of the saloons on Sunday. But as I see it now, I think it was an act next to a hardship, showing the smallness of a man, trying to take revenge on a few at the expense of a whole lot of innocent people. Now, supposing the saloon keepers would close their stable on Sunday, then let Mr. Cody imagine himself coming to church six or seven miles on a cold winter’s morning, and then find no place to shelter you steaming horses, and no waiting room where the women and children can warm themselves. Also no place where you can put your blankets, in case of rain or a snow storm. I saw in one of the local papers where a woman said it was better her neighbor’s children had bread than the farmers a place to put their wraps. Closing the saloons on Sunday will not buy those children much bread. If there are such men, put them on the blacklist, so they can not get liquor at any time and then those children will have more bread. I believe in restricting the saloons, but not in closing them up. It would seem almost as if the Sunday closing law was on the books only for some soreheads to make use of, because it was made use of by such at Beaver Dam, Jefferson, and now Watertown. I think that the law ought to be stricken out, or at least changed so that it would take a good percentage of the voters to enforce it, and not by one man. All the farmers I have talked to about the Sunday closing are against it. Jefferson tried it one Sunday and gave it up. What’s the matter with Watertown?  Is it getting worse?


Just a Farmer

Theodore Lehmann




Wm. Cody has not been idle while others railed against him. A few day later an article appears in the Watertown Daily Times headlined: CLOSING ACTION AIDS LAW

REPEAL Home Rulers Believe That Sunday Closing Law May Be Amended.


Papers for the closing of the saloons at New Lebanon and Lebanon were issued today and signed by W. G. Cody and Martin M. Manning of Watertown. At least that was the statement volunteered by Mr. Cody this morning. He said the papers would be served today by the coroner. So far Mr. Cody has been instrumental in the closing of saloon on Sunday at Watertown, Pipersville and Ixonia. With the addition of New Lebanon and Lebanon, five places will be closed Sunday. Some people who desire to see the state law regarding Sunday closing of saloons and other places amended, point out at the action of closing these places by, in some cases, disinterested parties, will be a strong argument for the repeal of amendment of the Sunday closing act, and already a movement has been started to have the law so amended that each community can determine for itself by ballot whether the saloons will be closed on Sunday or not. This is said to be one of the first moves that will be made when the legislature convenes at Madison in January.




Mr. Cody wasn't always on the attack. Sometimes he was the defendant and in all fairness to him, it must be said he was wise enough to acquiesce when reality was against him.


The corn planter suit, in which W. G. Cody was the defendant and Fred Woelffer was the plaintiff in a replevin proceeding was settled this morning before it was called in Justice Rohr’s court. Mr. Woelffer withdrew the complaint when the defendant settled with him and paid the court cost, which amounted to $4. Mr. Cody relinquished all claim to the planter and it was turned over to Mr. Woelffer, who claims that he loaned it to Mr. Cody last spring. The planter was found Monday morning frozen to the ground in an open field when the officers searched for it.




With the restoring of the corn planter to its rightful owner and the closing of saloons on Sunday in at least five communities, Wm. Cody can end the year 1914 on a peaceful note little suspecting what is in store for him in a few weeks.




W. G. Cody will be examined by a sanity commission. A petition asking for the appointment of a commission was filed in the county court at Jefferson Friday. The signers were three in number as required by law. They are:


Dr. A. H. Hartwig

Ex-Sheriff C. A. Vaughn

County Treasurer Frank Petro


Judge Kirkland stated this morning that the petition had just been referred to him, and that he would name the physicians at an early date. He stated that under the circumstances, no Watertown physicians would be named on the commission.


Under the provisions of the law, Mr. Cody may demand a trial before a jury if he desires.


The implication made in some quarters that the men who signed the petition represent the “liquor interests” and that the petition was filed in a spirit of revenge for Mr. Cody’s activity in the Sunday closing matter, is hotly denied by the signers.




Liquor interests or not , almost surely many of the townspeople felt that now it would

become officially what they had suspected for a long time. They were almost certainly a

little pleased to read, two days later:




Jefferson Doctors Question Him In Private Room In Court House


W. G. Cody is being examined privately be Jefferson physicians this afternoon at the court house at Jefferson at the order of County Judge R. B. Kirkland, with whom a petition for a sanity inquest was filed last Friday.


Mr. Cody was arrested by Deputy Sheriff Emil Tanck at Watertown Junction shortly before the Madison train left. He was bound for Madison where he stated that he wished to consult an attorney. He was taken to Jefferson by Deputy Tanck, leaving on the 11:05 o’clock train.


The physicians appointed by Judge Kirkland to serve on the examining commission are Dr. Jay B. Brewer and Dr. George L. Smith, both of Jefferson. Dr. Brewer is mayor of Jefferson. As the Times go to press, the examination is still in progress.




Before the week was over, Cody was vindicated. Many in Watertown were, no doubt, surprised at the Friday headlines:




Alleged Attempt to settle Sanity Inquest

By Withdrawing Complaint Said to be Failure


A number of representatives of Watertown saloonist were at Jefferson today, and it is said that an earnest attempt was made to settle the sanity inquest by having the complaint withdrawn. These alleged negotiations were a failure.




Were the saloonists among those who tried to get the complaint withdrawn? If so, were they fearful of reprisals? Or maybe the move came from some witnesses Cody had lined up to testify in his support; witnesses among whom were Mayor Charles A. Kading, William F. Voss, W. H. Woodard, and L. H. Nowack. Among those who supported the petitioners were August Wiggenhorn of the cigar-making family, H. T. Eberle of druggist family, and Dr. F. C. Werner.


It is interesting to note that Mr. Cody, far from trying to have the sanity case forgotten and assigned to oblivion, apparently used it to his advantage whenever the occasion presented itself. More than half a century later, Clarence Wetter's writing in his column in the Watertown Daily Time, had this to say:


”Mr. Cody was also the only man in Watertown who could “prove” that he was sane and he took delight in reminding people of the fact. This came about as the result of a sanity hearing a judge once ordered for him and he was found to be “sane.” Then there was the morning when the late James W. Moore, editor and publisher of the Watertown Gazette located at the northeast corner of West Main and North Water Streets, second floor, was standing on the corner, talking with the late Charles Straw, the late Thomas Brooks and several other men. They were busily engaged in conversation when Cody came along and joined them. He listened for a while, then broke in with the remark, “On this subject I think you’re all crazy -- and please remember I have papers to prove I am sane. None of you can say that.” And either Mr. Moore or Mr. Straw retort, “That’s all right, Bill, but you had to prove you were not crazy and we don’t!”


WDT MAY 5, 1969


Returning to February 18, 1915, Judge Kirkland, upon dismissing the petition to declare Mr. Cody insane ordered Mr. Cody to appear in court for further proceedings.  Perhaps that order had something to do with the Fred M. Creuz case which appeared in Justice Stoppenbach's court at Jefferson Thursday, February 18, 1919.


Fred M. Creuz the west side saloonist entered a plea of nolle contendere in Justice Stoppenbach’s court at Jefferson this morning in the case of the State vs. Fred M. Creuz and Justice Stoppenbach assessed the defendant $10 and costs. Mr. Creuz was arrested some time ago with seven other saloonkeepers for alleged violation of the Sunday Liquor selling law. Of the eight cases filed at that time, only two were tried. Ole Olson was found not guilty by a jury in Justice Charles Buss’ court in Jefferson. Last Friday Mr. Creuz was found guilty by a jury in the same court, and his fine was placed at $20 and costs. The case was appealed. Before the first case came to trial, Mr. Creuz was arrested a second time, and it is the trial of this second case, which was venued from Lake Mills Stoppenbach’s court, which was set for trial this morning. W. G. Cody was the complaining witness as well as in the other six cases in which warrants have been issued by Justice of the Peace Charles A. Buss of Jefferson for Watertown saloonkeepers, and which have not been served or set for trial.




A few days later Wm. Cody has a conversation with a Milwaukee gentleman who, Cody says, used abusive language. The natural course of action, it seems, is for Cody to bring charges against the man.


That he used abusive and obscene language directed at William G. Cody during the course of a heated verbal clash on February 23 is the charge against R. M. McKey, president of the Northwest Sales Company, which has offices in the Caswell block, Milwaukee. Mr. McKey appeared in court this morning, as per the promise made by one of his partners to Chief of Police Block when the latter visited Milwaukee a few days ago only to find that Mr. McKey was in Chicago.


Not so Mr. Cody. When the case was called, he was not present. He had informed Justice Schmutzler Thursday that it would be impossible for him to attend court on Friday morning, as it would be necessary for him to go to Jefferson the explain to court officials of that city how to tax certain witness fees. Chief of Police Block was sent to Mr. Cody’s home with a subpoena, and brought Mr. Cody to court.


Mr. McKey plead not guilty to the charge as stated in the affidavit, and asked for an adjournment to Tuesday, March 16, which he explained was the earliest date at which his attorney would be free to come here to try the case. It is said that Mr. McKey will demand a jury trial when the case is called. On the day of the alleged offense, Mr. Cody swore out a John Doe warrant. Service was not secured at that time though Mr. McKey did not leave the city until the following day. Since that day Mr. Cody has made several attempts to have the complaint withdrawn, which the officials would not allow unless the cost were paid.


Mr. Cody’s interests were looked after this morning by Mayor C.A. Kading, who appeared in court for him.


WDT MARCH 5, 1915


One wonders at the audacity of Wm. Cody, a graduate pharmacist, not a lawyer, to presume to explain to court officials how to tax certain witness fees. But he apparently was no dullard. Ten days later Cody is successful in withdrawing his complaints and pays the costs of $5.54. Does he then relax and cease getting involved in legal matter?  By no means!


Theodore H. Grabow, who conducts a saloon at 308 Main street, was served with a warrant on Tuesday charging him with selling liquor on Sunday. The complaint was made by W. G. Cody before a justice of the peace at Lake Mills. Mr. Grabow went to Lake Mills Tuesday and the case was set for trial on Thursday, April 22, at 1 p.m.


WDT APRIL 14, 1915


What happened to the case we do not know. But we do know that two days after the case was to have been heard, Cody is again in trouble.


W. G. Cody was placed under arrest this afternoon on complaint of Richard Pouchert, the complaint alleging false and defamatory language against the plaintiff while at Lake Mills on April 22. Three witnesses are named in the complaint as having heard the language used, one of the witnesses being the justice of the peace before whom a saloon case is to be tried. The alleged occurrence is said to have happened in the courtroom at the time the case against Theodore Grabow was called. Cody was taken before Justice of Peace Fer. Schmutzler and was held for hearing as the justice has no jurisdiction. He was allowed his freedom on his own recognizance until next Wednesday, April 29 at 10 a.m. when the district attorney will be present.


WDT APRIL 24, 1915


It appears Cody is about to get his comeuppance. First he is required to pay $5.54 costs in a lawsuit he regretted filing, and now he has the same accusation brought against him with a justice of the peace as one of the witnesses. But luck is with him. He comes up smelling like a rose!


Because the action against W. G. Cody was brought under a wrong section of the statute, District Attorney Steagel today advised the withdrawal of the complaint and the dismissal of the action. He held that the words alleged to have been used by Cody were not within the meaning of the slander section, but came under a different section that named in the complaint. Cody was arrested on complaint of Richard Pouchert, and the hearing was to have been held before Justice Schmutzler this morning, but a change of venue was taken to Justice Rohr. The costs will be charged up to Jefferson County.


WDT APRIL 28, 1915


In June, Cody again files a complaint against Ole Olson for keeping his saloon open on a Sunday. This time Olson was arrested and taken to Lake Mills. Cody had also filed a complaint against G. M. Gahlman, operator of the Deutsches Dorf (North Third and Main Street) but Gahlman quickly paid the fine thereby avoiding arrest. Not satisfied with the outcome of this latest complaint, Cody petitions the Common Council at their meeting held June 29,1915, to refrain from granting a liquor license to F. M. Creuz, C. M. Gahlman and Ole Olson, or to the premises occupied by them, for the reason that "said persons have been convicted of offenses against the excise law". Mr. Cody, it seems, assumed Ole Olson would be found guilty and wanted to waste no time.


What happens next says much about the system of justice in Jefferson county, maybe in other counties in Wisconsin as well. The Daily Times' use of multiple headlines tell nearly the whole story.




Some Watertown Cases as Seen From Docket




Olson Assed $3 and Costs For Opening Saloon on Sunday

Complaint in Conrad Case Not Signed


Can a person secure justice in the poor man’s court, or in other words, in a justice of the peace court. It has always been contended that in such a court the poor man could air his grievance and be assured of a respectful hearing and a decision along the lines of justice and commonsense. But does he?


The people of Jefferson county, and especially the city of Watertown, know that through the activities of a person named William G. Cody, there have been several saloon cases taken to Lake Mills for trial. Under the law complaint can be made in any part of the county, but in these cases the complaining witness did not enter complaint in the city where he is known, but hired himself to Lake Mills and swore out his complaints before a justice of the peace there.


On June 21, Ole Olson of Watertown was arrested on complaint of W. G. Cody, charged with keeping his saloon open on Sunday. Olson appeared before the justice and plead not guilty, later changing his plea to guilty, and was fined the sum of $3 and costs, as appears on the docket. When asked Friday by a Times reporter why he assessed such a fine, he answered that he thought it was the law, when in fact the penalty is from $5 to $25. Shades of Blackstone! He THOUGHT it was the law. This man thought it was the law and setting aside the statutes of the state of Wisconsin, he assessed the fine according to his thought. That’s justice, is it not? Now, dear reader, how would you like to entrust your rights, either property or personal, to a man styling himself justice of the peace who did not take the time to look up the law before making his decision, but made it on his own personal thoughts. Here is another:


A case growing out of the arrest of G. M. Gahlman on a charge of selling beer to a minor, Alvin Conrad, was also before Justice Brown. In this case W. G. Cody was the complainant and Alvin Conrad, the minor in question, was the defendant. In fact Cody had his star witness arrested on a charge of getting drinks and entering a saloon, and the justice on his plea of guilty, assessed a fine of $5 and costs. The justice remitted the fine and the total costs were small.


But the justice of the peace failed to acknowledge the complaint or sign his name to the paper, and how he could issue a warrant on the strength of that scrap of paper is beyond the ken of the writer.


Now is it not about time that the authorities in power took a hand in the matter and cause an investigation. The Times does not wish to reflect upon the honesty of the justice, but that his conduct of the office has been of a loose nature will be apparent to any one who takes a look at his docket.


WDT JULY 3, 1915


Maybe the people of Watertown are getting a little tired of the shenanigans of Mr. Cody, but he wasn't finished yet by any means. He not only wanted to come between the people and their beer, but now he threatened to shut down baseball!!!


W. G. Cody attempted to stop the ball game at Washington Park on Sunday. He stated today that such was his intention in retaliation for being arrested on a charge of keeping a dog without securing a license. Mr. Cody also stated that the ball park was not the only place to be closed, but that the garages would come under the ban as well. Whether he will carry out the threat remains to be seen. He felt chagrined that he had been arrested and thought he should have been notified.


Mr. Cody was taken before Justice Schmutzler this morning on a charge of keeping a dog and not securing a license. The case was adjourned until August 27, at 9 a.m. Complaint in the case was made by the police . . .


Now Wm. Cody carries on his crusade for strict adherence to the law with a vengeance. The case against G. M. Gahlman, the case which probably was the deciding factor in Mr. Gahlman's decision to retire from the saloon business some weeks before, has been dismissed. Mr. Cody the changes the charges to allowing a minor to loiter on the premises. Due to technicalities that case was also dismissed.


But it wasn't only in Watertown that efforts were being made to enforce the Sunday closing law. The owner of several barber shops in Milwaukee has been told to close on Sundays and he retaliated by threatening to force the authorities to close every saloon, store, candy kitchen, theatre, and livery stable in the city each Sunday.  The Watertown Daily Times suggests that maybe he could use some help from W. G. Cody. But Cody is busy with his own problems.


For alleged violation of the Sunday closing law, Fred Bittner, who conducts a grocery store and saloon in North Fourth street, was arrested today on complaint of W. G. Cody. The complaint was made out and the warrant issued by Justice C.A. Buss of Jefferson, and was returnable today. Mr. Bittner and his attorney, Otto Kuenzli, of the firm of Lueck and Kuenzli, appeared before the Jefferson justice and filed a certificate of prejudice, and a change of venue was given, the case coming to Justice Rohr at Watertown this afternoon. The defendant and his attorney appeared before Justice Rohr this afternoon and the case was set for trial on Friday, October 15, at 9 a.m. Mr. Bittner was given his liberty on his own recognizance. A number of witnesses are named by the state, including patrons of the Bittner store. The complaining witness in the case told several persons in Watertown this morning that on Sunday he had a detective x-ray operator here and an interior view of Bittner’s saloon was taken from the outside through the brick walls. Some people think that this is a rare opportunity for the Czar of Russia to secure the services of both men and thus be enabled to locate the German forces which are now invading that country. Such talent should not be wasted on the desert air.




Could it be that Judge Kirkland was wrong back in February?  Maybe Wm. Cody is a man far ahead of his time. Maybe this time he has gone too far.




Justice Dismisses the Action


These are hard sledding days for the strenuous Watertown saloon closer. In fact, he has been in hot water ever since the shop in Lake Mills went out of existence voluntarily. His Sunday closing cases have not much smooth sailing, but got into rough seas when some of the least timid defendants had the pluck to fight for their rights.


The case of the State of Wisconsin vs. Fred Bittner for alleged violation of the Sunday closing law came before Justice Rohr this morning on a change of venue from Justice Buss’ court at Jefferson. On motion of the defendant’s attorneys, Lueck & Kuenzli, the justice asked the complaining witness for security for casts, and he left the court room for the west side in a hurry. He returned within a few minutes and stated to the court that while he could give security to the amount of $20,000, he would not put up five cents, as it was a state case, and added, sotto voice, as he hurried from the halls of justice, that the court had no right to try the case anyhow. His exit was not dramatic, but impressed the auditors as being in rather bad form.


Justice Rohr dismissed the action and put the costs upon the county, stating that as the case had not come to trial owing to the fact that Mr. Cody failed to give security for the costs, he could not do otherwise.


The attorneys for the defendant stated to the court after District Attorney Stengel held that the costs should go on the county, that they would be only too glad to have the case go on as they could put Mr. Cody on the stand and compel his to show his information.


Local Sentiment


At the conclusion of the action, District Attorney Stengel was interviewed by some of the large taxpayer of this city, who, knowing the circumstances and the attitude of the complaining witness, impressed upon the mind of the prosecuting attorney the spirit of fairness which should prevail in bringing such actions, and that the place to try them, if he must do so, at the behest of one man, was in the city where the alleged offense was committed. The district attorney said he recognized the sentiment prevailing in Watertown in regard to the cases brought by Mr. Cody, but stated that under his oath of office he was compelled to prosecute in whatsoever court the cases were brought.


WDT OCTOBER 15, 1915


But this is not the end of Mr. Bittner's troubles. It is unclear just how much Mr. Cody had to do with his being brought into court again.




Fred Bittner, who conducts a grocery store and saloon in North Fourth street, was arrested this morning on a charge of having kept his place open on Sunday, October 3.


The complainant is W. G. Cody, who swore to the complaint on information and belief. Bittner was arrested once before on the same charge on the same date but the case was dismissed in Justice Rohr’s court where it went on a change of venue from Jefferson. Mr. Bittner was taken before Justice Fargo at Lake Mills this morning and a change of venue was taken to Justice Stoppenbach at Jefferson, Where it comes up for trial on Monday, November 1, at 1 p.m.


WDT OCTOBER 22, 1915


The case did come up as scheduled and Wm. Cody made a spectacle of himself.




Curtain Rung Down On Farce Comedy

At Jefferson Monday Afternoon




Complaining Witness Makes Boisterous Demonstration and

Uses Language Not Allowed Even a “Closer”


The curtain has been rung down on another farce comedy act in which the “heavy” was taken by W. G. Cody, complaining witness in the case of the State vs. Fred Bittner for alleged violation of the Sunday law. The star of the comedy in this case was easily Lueck and Kuenzli, attorneys for the defendant. The play was dismissed by Justice Stoppenbach after considerable red fire.


Dismissal was taken on the grounds of failure of proof, and at the request of District Attorney A. L. Sengel, Justice Stoppenbach made it a matter of record that the district attorney joined the defendant’s attorneys in the motion for dismissal. This action was taken after the state case had been presented by five witnesses.


When the case was called the attorneys for the defendant made a motion that the complaining witness be required to furnish security for costs. This motion was overruled, though the plaintiff introduced the affidavits of five well know citizens of Watertown who were present at the previous trial of the same complaint in Justice Rohr’s court in this city, and who made known in their affidavits the conduct of the complaining witness at that time, when he is alleged to have declared that he could furnish security up to $20,000 but would not furnish five cents.


The case going to trial a jury was selected and the state introduced the testimony of five witnesses as follows. Emil Stange, employee of the Wolfram Shoe company, Alderman George Schmechel, Alderman Charles Glatzel, R. F. Block, Sixth ward butcher, and C. J. Wenck, veteran insurance agent. It is understood that the four last named were subpoenaed upon information being given to the district attorney’s office that they had been in the Bittner place on the Sunday in Question, and from the questioning of Stange by the district attorney, it was assumed that he was supposed to the “star“ witness.


William G. Cody, who was subpoenaed by both the state and the defendant, was not called to the stand, and thereby hangs a tale, for the self-styled “saloon closer“ felt considerably slighted as a result, and while the motion for dismissal was being disposed of, he stood forth in all his maudlin splendor and insisted that he be allowed to testify. Though severely reprimanded by both the justice and the district attorney, he refused to be quiet, declaring that he did not have to sit down or keep still.


The court room disturbance reached a climax when after the district attorney had publicly charged Mr. Cody with being in a disgraceful state of intoxication, the latter threatened the district attorney, accused him of being a “ double crosser “ and assured him that he would “ make him toe the mark.”


After court had been dismissed charges and threats were bandied about freely by the “saloon closer,“ who punctuated his remarks with profanity and obscenity. He took up a vantage point in the hallway, threatened the district attorney as he was leaving the court room, and afterward leveled his remarks at Attorney Kuenzli, one of the attorneys for the defendant. He not only abused Attorney Kuenzli verbally but threatened to attack him with his fists and had to be restrained by bystanders.


The costs of the case will be borne by the county, and it is not one of the celebrated bargain day cases with 98 cent costs, as Justice Stoppenbach’s docket shows the total costs in the case to be $45.17, which of course does not include the costs of the former trial of the same case which came to an end in Justice Rohr’s court after Cody’s “dramatic“ refusal to give security for the costs.




Angry as he was, Cody brings no charges against the District Attorney or Attorney Kuenzli; instead he brings suit against a whole new cast of offenders against Wm. G. Cody.




Times Publishers And Others Asked To Appear In Court




Summons Does Not State Cause of Action But We Have

Twenty Days In Which To Answer


Circuit Court Summons-State of Wisconsin, Civil Branch, County Court, Jefferson County W. G. Cody, plaintiff, vs. G. Gahlman, A. H. Hartwig, Charles A. Vaughn, Frank Petro, J. P. Holland, E. J. Schoolcraft, J. W. Cruger, defendants.


The State of Wisconsin to the said Defendant:


You are hereby summoned to appear within twenty days after service of this summons, exclusive of the day of service, and defend the above entitled action in the aforesaid: and in case of your failure so to do, judgment will be rendered against you according to the demand of the complaint. David Bogue, Plaintiff’s Attorney. Postoffice Address Portage, Columbia County, Wis.


The above summons was served on several of those named in the paper on Tuesday afternoon, and some of them today. It was rumored on the streets for several days that an action in law was to be brought against local people by Mr. Cody, but nothing definite could be determined, and the basis of the action will probably not be known until the complaint is filed in the county court.


The Daily Times has no regrets to express nor apologies to offer in this matter. A notice for publication was given the editor of the Watertown Gazette by Mr. Cody on Thursday, January 13, in effect stating that papers in a $25,000 damage suit growing out of the insanity case almost a year ago, in which W. G. Cody was the principal, were then in the hands of an officer of the county court of Jefferson county. The Gazette did not print the intelligence, but it turns out that Mr. Cody approached two deputy sheriffs in Watertown asking what they would charge to serve the papers. Their rated appeared too high for him, so he went the M. E. Farrington, who served them.


So far as the Daily Times is concerned we never knowingly or with malice, slandered the plaintiff in this action. When he instituted suits and brought people into court on alleged violations of the excise laws he became at once a figure in public affairs, and the cases became a matter for publicity.


WDT JANUARY 19, 1916


The Watertown Daily Times, on January 20, 1916, prints, as the law requires, the summons.




Wm. G. Cody has served the following summons on residents of Watertown:


Circuit Court Summons --


State of Wisconsin, Civil Branch, County Court, Jefferson County. W. G. Cody, plaintiff, vs. G. Gahlman, A. H. Hartwig, Charles A. Vaughan, Frank Petro, J. P. Holland, E. J. Schoolcraft, J. W. Cruger, defendants.


The State of Wisconsin to the said Defendant:


You are hereby summoned to appear within twenty days after service of this summons, exclusive of the day of service, and defend the above entitled action in the court aforesaid, and in case of you failure so to do, judgment will be rendered against you according to the demand of the complaint.


David Bogue

Plaintiff’s Attorney

Post office Address Portage, Columbia County, Wis.


In Mr. Cody’s complaint, we understand he asks damages to the amount of $25,000 on account of the insanity proceedings brought against him last summer.


WG JANUARY 27, 1916


Mayor Kading is running for re-election in 1916. In a statement, printed in the January 25, 1916, issue of the Watertown Daily Times, he recounts his accomplishments and assures the citizens everything is under control. The saloonkeepers, he says, have been educated not to sell intoxicating liquors to minors, to the satisfaction of the people as a whole and the saloonkeepers who will continue to receive a "square deal" if Kading is re-elected. He further claims that back rooms in connection with saloons have been eliminated and a closing ordinance has been passed and is being strictly enforced. He makes it clear that he had nothing to do either directly or indirectly with the instigation of the crusade against the saloons as to Sunday closing, and that actual hostilities have ceased, and may not be renewed unless further mistakes are made by certain would-be friends of the saloons. He reiterated his policy of "reasonable regulations of saloons" as opposed to his opponent's belief that "saloons would regulate themselves ". Mr. Cody, it seems, agreed with neither of the candidates but felt there was a need for someone to ride herd on the saloons.



Part IV





Incredible as it may seem, except for a few minor skirmishes, William G. Cody disappears from the local scene for the next eleven years. According to the recollections of some of Watertown's old-timers, the Cody's were occupied mainly with maintaining their small herd of cows which the pastured "somewhere near where Buffalo Inn". They tell of seeing both Bill and Mary, each morning and evening, pulling a small wagon loaded with milk cans and milk buckets to and from the pasture.  According to the legend which seems to have originated about this time, the Cody's kept the cows in the basement of their house during the winter. Nothing in any of the legal proceedings concerning the Codys and their cows gives credence to the legend. Always the concern is for a small barn at the rear of their property.


But whether the cows were kept in the basement or not, it was cows which got Wm. Cody into trouble the winter of 1926 - 27, and it was trouble with cows which amused much of the state for some years to come.




A decision made by Judge C. M. Davison in circuit court at Juneau this morning is expected shortly to bring to a conclusion the celebrated Cody – Tesch cow case which has been pending for some time. Evidence in the case alleges that the Cody cows had been coming on to the alfalfa field of Albert Tesch, who lives at 704 La Belle street, and had been doing some damage there. The law provides that in such a case the property owner may keep the cattle and apply to justice of the peace for the appointment of three appraisers to appraise the damages done by the cows, together with the expense of keeping them, and that the cattle may then be sold to pay the expenses and the costs of the proceedings, if the owner does not pay the same within six days. Mr. Tesch made application to Justice of the Peace Ferd Schmutzler for the appointment of appraisers, and G. M. Gahlman, August Ladwig, and James Dowd, were appointed. They appraised the damages at $5, the expensed of keeping the cow at $21, on October 8. The cost of proceedings amounted to $3.50, making a total of $29.50. Mr. Tesch was holding the cows for payment of this sum, when a replevin action was started in the circuit court of Dodge county by Mrs. Mary Cody, claiming ownership of the cows, and upon giving a bond to the sheriff, he seized the cows and they were returned to Mrs. Cody pending the decision of the replevin case. Mr. Tesch put in a counter claim setting up the facts that he was lawfully holding the cows for payment of such damages, expenses, and costs, together with the expenses of feeding and keeping the cows up to the time they were taken by the sheriff of Dodge county. A motion for judgment on this counter claim was made by attornerys for Mr. Tesch, and was decided this morning by Judge Davison.


He ordered that Mrs. Cody pay $35 in full payment of the case to Mr. Tesch within one week from today, and if not paid, judgment is to be rendered for Mr. Tesch on his counterclaim against Mrs. Cody in the sum of $40, which will be a lien on the cows. Skinner & Thauer appeared as attorneys for Mr. Tesch.




As it stands now, Mr. Cody has the five Holstein cows in his possession and he has until January 5, 1927 to pay damages amounting to $29.50. Failure to do so will result in an additional judgment of $40.


The deadline came and passed and no payment was made by Mr. Cody so the case is brought to court once more and on January 20 Mr. Tesch was awarded judgment for $64.70 against Mrs. Cody, the alleged owner of the animals. And now Mr. Tesch is to have possession of the cows until the judgment has been paid but since Mr. Cody promises an early settlement, he is allowed to keep the cows despite the ruling of the court.


Six weeks passes but Mr. Cody does not settle the judgment. Mr. Tesch is losing patience and has his attorneys, Skinner and Thauer, instruct Deputy Sheriff Tank to seize five of the cows in Mr. Cody's barn at North Church street. He does so, which, of course arouses the ire of William Cody who tries to obtain a warrant for Deputy Sheriff Tank for alleged larceny of the cows, but Justice of the Peace Ferd . Schmutzler refused to issue the warrant. Now, it seems the only possible course to follow is to sell the cows to satisfy the judgment and due costs of the case. But Mr. Cody isn't about to let that happen.


Events in the Cody-Tesch cow case moved thick and fast during the past 24 hours.  Late yesterday Max Voight, a deputy sheriff of Dodge county, seized four of the five cows being held by Albert Tesch under an order from Circuit Court Commissioner William H. Woodard. This order has been made by the court commissioner without a full knowledge of the facts and after the same was served by Mr. Voight, Tesch’s attorneys, Skinner & Thauer, took the matter up with Mr. Woodward and obtained an order setting aside his previous order.


In the meantime, however, the cows had been seized by Mr. Voight and turned over to Mr. and Mrs. Cody, two of them being claimed by Mr. Cody as his property and two of them being claimed by Mrs. Cody as exempt.


This morning an order was secured by Skinner & Thauer, attorneys for Mr. Tesch, from Court Commissioner Woodard, ordering Mr. and Mrs. Cody to return the four cows to Mr. Tesch. It is stated by Tesch’s attorneys that they expect to institute contempt of court proceedings if this order is not obeyed by the Codys.


Mr. Cody has also been arrested on a criminal charge sworn out by Albert Tesch before Justice of the peace Ferd Schmutzler on the charge that last October he obtained possession by false pretenses of the cows which were then held by Mr. Tesch. Another criminal complaint has been sworn out by Attorney Wallace Thauer before Justice Schmutzler for the arrest of Mr. Cody on the charge that he obtained signature to a bond given out at that time by false pretenses. The charge made is that at the time the cows were replevined, Mr. Cody stated to Attorney Eugene Clifford of Juneau that the insurance company agent at Juneau would sign the surety bond whereupon Mr. Clifford signed the copy in good faith and that this copy was then given by Cody to the sheriff where no original bond had been signed as required by law.


Mr. Cody appeared before Justice Schmutzler this morning and the case was continued until Saturday March 19, at 10 a.m. when the preliminary hearing will be held. Mr. Cody was released on $100 bail the bond being signed by his wife.


Up to the time of this writing Under Sheriff Tanck had not been able to serve the second warrant.


The whereabouts of the cows is also unknown to Mr. Tanck. According to reports the last seen of them they were being driven west of town on the Plank road.


WDT MARCH 12, 1927


The Case of the Missing Cows is quickly solved with the help of persons at Sacred Heart College, (now Maranatha Baptist Bible College and Academy).


Under Sheriff Emil Tanck said today he would soon be in the market for a cow pony, spurs, and a ten-gallon hat if this cow case does not be settled quickly (sic).


It will be recalled that in the last episode of the Cody-Tesch cow case the four missing cows had last been seen going west on the Plank road.


Authorities at Sacred Heart College, noticing the story in the Daily Times telling of the missing animals, notified Mr. Tanck that an individual had driven the cows into the college ground and said that they must take care of them as he had been called out of the city. According to the story the individual would not take “No” for an answer.


Investigation proved that these were the missing cows and they were returned to the custody of Mr. Tesch. Mr. Tanck states that the sheriff’s sale of the animals will be held as specified in the public notice. Also that the contempt charge against Mr. Cody for alleged failure to obey the court order of returning the cows, will be pressed.


WDT MARCH 14, 1927


The attention of the people of Watertown is not centered completely on the Cody-Tesch cow case. Much more is going on locally and nationally. Charles Lindbergh is preparing for his daring solo-flight across the Atlantic; Dempsey and Sharkey are preparing for the July bout (which Dempsey will win in a knock-out in the 7th round); there is talk of requiring a driver's license to operate automobiles after the first of the year; and the legal speed limit on highways outside cities to be set at 40 miles per hour. Locally there is talk of adding a $100,000 (later changed to $120,000) addition to the high school now only ten years old. The new telephone building at Fourth and Market Streets has just opened. And, to the consternation of some but the satisfaction of many, the street car tracks are about to be torn up.  Many voice their objection but it remains for William G. Cody to take some action.


It was reported today that William G. Cody has made an effort to secure an injunction against removal of the street-car tracks and the carrying out of the company’s plans as voted upon by the city council at its meeting Tuesday night. Court Commissioner Charles A. Skinner, who was approached by Mr. Cody, told him that if he purchased a bond of $5,000 he would issue it.


WDT MARCH 24, 1927


Apparently Mr. Cody dropped proceedings at that point. Maybe he had a premonition that the next few weeks would be rather busy for him.


William G. Cody late yesterday was arrested again on a criminal charge in connection with the now famous Tesch-Cody cow case. The charge alleges that defendant by false pretense secured a signature to a written instrument with intent to defraud. This is the second charge along the same line the first alleging that Cody secured the cows from Tesch through false pretense.


Mr. Cody appeared before Justice Ferd Schmutzler and the preliminary hearing was set for Wednesday, March 30, at 2p.m., the defendant being released on $100 bonds.


Mr. Cody is today attempting to have the judgment awarded Mr. Tesch reopened, the petition being heard before Circuit Judge Davison at Juneau this afternoon. Atty. Ray Twining is appearing for the petitioner and Atty. Wallace Thauer for Mr. Tesch.


WDT MARCH 29, 1927


Wednesday, March 30, proves to be a good day for Cody.


Justice of Peace Ferd Schmutzler yesterday afternoon dismissed one of the false pretense charges against William G. Cody, holding that there was insufficient evidence submitted to warrant binding him over to the circuit court for trial. Hearing of the second charge was postponed until next Wednesday afternoon, April 6, at 2 p.m. It was reported that a material state witness did not show up at the hearing yesterday.


The charges grew out of the Cody-Tesch cow case, it being alleged that Mr. Cody had the cows replevined from Mr. Tesch, claiming that he had the required bond. The hearing brought out that the bond had been duly applied for but the surety company had refused to issue the bond.


District Attorney John A. Thiele of Dodge county appeared for the prosecution and Atty. Ray Twining of Milwaukee defended Mr. Cody.


The next episode in the original case is set for next Monday at Jefferson when Judge Grimm will rule on the petition to have the judgment reopened. Judgment was rendered in Dodge county on a change of venue.


WDT MARCH 31, 1927


Here is a victory, of sorts, for Mr. Cody. But that doesn't surprise him.




Regarding the dismissal of the case of the state of Wisconsin vs. William G. Cody, he says he was not at all surprised at same for he said he well knew he made no misrepresentation to the bonding company agent when he made application for a bond, and he said that according to the complaint made against him that no person would be safe to make an application to a bonding company for a bond. Mr. Cody left for Milwaukee early this morning to consult his attorneys and to obtain the necessary papers in some causes of action in damage suits.


Mr. Cody further says he is not through with this case and everyone connected with this case may be sued damage and all these people desiring law can have all they want as he is well prepared to protest his wife’s and his own interests.


WDT APRIL 1, 1927


Early in April Judge George Grimm denied a motion for reopening of the judgment award to Albert Tesch against Wm. Cody and he set aside the injunction restraining Sheriff Mrs. John Gruel from selling the cows to satisfy the judgment. The sheriff's office was instructed to set a new date for the sale. Cody, claiming that Judge Grimm really had no jurisdiction in the case, consults with his Milwaukee attorney and the next day it is learned that action has been started for $5,000 damages against Albert Tesch on charges in connection with taking custody of the cows "and the false pretense case".


Four days later another injunction is served, this time by the Court Commissioner of Palmyra, Wis., restraining the sheriff of Jefferson county from selling the five Holestein cows in possession of Alber Tesch, until April 25, ten days later, that delay being necessary, the affidavit specifies, because Mary E. Cody is preparing an appeal to the Wisconsin supreme court against the decision of the lower court awarding judgment to Albert Tesch. Mary and William Cody want only enough time to prepare the necessary papers, and secure and file the bond. The next day, April 16, Cody returns from Jefferson claiming he has secured an order from Judge Grimm, (who, Cody had said, has no jurisdiction in the case) ordering the return of the cows upon Cody's completing the appeal to the supreme court.


With all these appeals, accusations, injunctions, and restraining orders, the people of Watertown must have been thoroughly confused. We certainly would not be far wrong in assuming that they eagerly awaited the next issue of the Watertown Daily Times or the Watertown Gazette.


The Cody-Tesch cow case will be reviewed by the Wisconsin supreme court.


Skinner and Thauer, attorneys for Mr. Tesch, were today served with notice of appeal from the judgment awarded to their client against Mrs. Mary Cody in the Dodge county court and also the judgment on a change of venue.


This appeal has been hanging fire for the past two weeks while the Codys endeavored to secure bond and such bond in the sum of $500 with William G. Cody and Kate Dolan as sureties accompanied the appeal. The bond is to cover the costs in the supreme court and also to cover the judgment in case the supreme court decides against the Codys.


This means that the cows, which until this time have been in the custody of Tesch, are now returned to their owners.


Another angle to the cow case—the $5,000 damage suit brought by Cody against Tesch charging malicious prosecution was up before Judge Davison at Juneau this morning. The court ordered that William G. Cody, the plaintiff, secure a bond in the sum of $250 as security of costs in this action and that $10 costs be given defendant, the proceeding to be stayed until the bond is filed twenty days being allowed to secure such bond.


WDT APRIL 30, 1927


Now the cows are back in Mr. Cody's possession and he has brought a $5,000 damage suit against Mr. Tesch for malicious prosecution. Mr. Cody has 20 days to secure a bond of $500 and he loses no time.


The latest episode in the Cody-Tesch cow case transpired Saturday afternoon. The last development was the securing by Mr. Cody, of a bond in the sum of $500 as security for costs to carry the case to the supreme court and also for the payment of the judgment rendered in favor of Albert Tesch by Judge Davison of the Dodge county circuit court. Said bond was signed by William G. Cody and Kate Dolan.


Skinner & Thauer, attorneys for Mr. Tesch called for a hearing to examine the bond and approve the same. This hearing was held before Court Commissioner O. C. Hahn of this city. Mr. Cody appeared at the hearing and was examined by Attorney Wallace Thauer but the other surety failed to appear and the bond was not approved. Pending examination of Kate Dolan and approval of the bond the case cannot be carried up and the cows remain in the possession of Mr. Tesch.


WDT MAY 9, 1927


What's this? The cows are in Mr. Tesch's possession? Just a few days ago they are with Mr. Cody. The poor cows must be weary of traveling the distance between the two properties. This is not a case, we should remember, of merely walking them through a gate to an adjacent property. Mr. Cody is keeping them in his barn behind his house on North Church Street between West Main and O'Connell Streets, and Mr. Tesch's barn must be outside the city limits for he is never ordered to cease keeping cows on his property as Mr. Cody is.


But that is about to stop. On May 21, the day after Charles Lindbergh lands in Paris, this puzzling item appears in The Voice of the People:


William G. Cody and Mary E. Cody were today served with a notice regarding keeping of cows in a certain residential district. Mr. Cody claims he has consulted an able firm of attorneys who claim said ordinance is unconstitutional, and Mr. Cody said he will go to Milwaukee and obtain an injunctional restraining order and expects to sue the city for $100 damages. Mr. Cody is now trying to close a deal to purchase 50 goats for he says he can sell such goat’s milk to hospitals for good money and that if he cannot keep cows he can keep goats.

W.G. Cody


WDT MAY 21, 1927


The above item is puzzling for a number of reasons. It is printed in The Voice of the People column which carries letters from the readers. It is signed as letters are, but it is written in the third person rather than the first person as letters normally are. Did Mr. Cody compose the item and submit it to the Watertown Daily Times for publication only to have the Times print it as a letter to avoid giving it undue credence?


The item is further puzzling in that no mention is made in future issues of any restraining order being obtained, no suit for $100 damages being brought against the city, and no further mention of Mr. Cody buying any goats or even, for that matter, that he ceased to keep cows in his barn although we do know that the barn was torn down by the city four years later.


The Cody-Tesch cow case has been going on for the better part of a year. Surely by now the people of Watertown are beginning to tire of it.


A new tangle in the celebrated Cody-Tesch cow case has arisen and is to be settled by Circuit Judge George Grimm next Tuesday morning. It is the petition of Kate Doan (sic Dolan) to be released from the bond which she signed with William G. Cody and by which Mr. Tesch turned back the cows to their original owner. The bond is in the sum of $500 to guarantee the payment of the judgment awarded to Mr. Tesch if the supreme court decided as did the circuit court and also to guarantee the expenses of carrying the case to the supreme court.


Attorney R. W. Lueck is attorney for the petitioner and Skinner & Thauer for Mr. Tesch.


WDT JUNE 4, 1927


Could it be that Kate Dolan is beginning to tire of the case? Could she be wondering about the driving force behind Mr. Cody? Could they have had a falling out?


Hearing on the petition of Attorney R. W. Lueck on behalf of his client, Mrs. Kate Dolan, to have a bond which the latter signed, set aside, which was to have come before Circuit Judge George Grimm today, has been postponed for one week. Mr. (sic Mrs.) Dolan signed a surety on a bond for $500 with William G. Cody guaranteeing that payment of the judgment awarded by the Dodge county circuit court to Albert Tesch, if the judgment id upheld by the state supreme court and the bond also cover the cost of appeal. Skinner and Thauer, attorneys for Mr. Tesch, accepted the bond and had their client return the cows held to satisfy the judgment, to the original order. Having accepted the bond Mr. Tesch’s attorneys are attempting to having it kept so, but in case it is, the cows will be seized again.


WDT JUNE 7, 1927


Mr. Cody was finally allowed to retain ownership of the cows but he seemed to be a bit lax in caring for them. But the caring for the cows seems secondary to him. Who can worry about cows when keno games are being operated in town?


Wm. G. Cody Takes Hand In Suppressing Keno Games Here


The second warrant for operation a keno game was made late yesterday when a warrant was served upon William Beisner, 121 West Main street, while the poultry was being raffled.


The complainant this time was William G. Cody. Mr. Beisner appeared before Justice of the Peace Ferd. Schmutzler last evening and was assessed a fine of $5 and costs, the total being $9.36.


Mr. Cody was interviewed this morning and asked his reasons for making the complaint. He stated that he saw the law being violated and felt it his duty to swear out a warrant. He denied that he acted on request or through understanding with Charles Kerr, who made the complaint against the local Knight of Columbus. Mr. Cody was then asked whether he intended to complain of other keno games and he answered: “No, I am all through. I have troubles enough of my own.”


Mr. Cody was then asked to explain why, if he wished to restrict law enforcement, he allowed his cows to roam through parts of the city and right now had them in a barn back of his residence on North Church street, in direct violation of two different city ordinances. He replied that the ordinances were unconstitutional.


Mr. Cody has been arrested on a charge of having allowed his cows to roam and the case was postponed until November 16. As yet no charge has been made against him for keeping his cows within the prescribed area of the city.


Mr. Cody also has a case before the supreme court in which these same cows are involved, this action being his attempt to have set aside the judgment which had been awarded Charles Tesch, for damage done by the cows over a year ago.



Cross Reference, regarding Keno:

12 12 1894, WR:  To the Editor: Our city authorities, about a year ago, announced with quite a flourish of trumpets that they would suppress public gambling in the shape of "keno," a game which is very popular in some of our saloons.  These spasms of official virtue seem to have passed away, as the game is being played nightly, and openly advertised.  Perhaps in the present overworked condition of our police force it will be impossible to completely suppress the game, but our city fathers can easily remedy this by creating a few more officials.  The new charter and their own inclinations will, no doubt, make such a task a joyful one.  So long as the public crib is not quite empty, a few tax-eaters, more or less, will not make much different. In the words of a time honored maxim here, "De city can pay for it."      SPECTATOR


Although the report clearly states Cody's transgression was letting his cows roam at large and keeping them in a barn back of his residence, somehow this became translated to keeping the cows in the basement of his house. Seventy years after the reported incident, there still are those who insist the cows were in his basement.



The second Cody cow case in which Wm. G. Cody was charged with permitting his cows to roam in the city in violation of the city ordinance was heard before Justice Ferd Schmutzler this morning, City Attorney R. W. Lueck conducted the prosecution and Attorney Ray Twining of Milwaukee appeared for Mr. Cody. The case was decided against Cody who was assessed a fine of $10 and cost or twenty days in the count jail. Mr. Twining took an appeal to the circuit court and bonds were set at $100.


The first cow case is now over a year old and is not settled yet, being before the state supreme court. In this case Charles Tesch sued Mr. and Mrs. Cody for damages done by their cows.




Winter and spring come and go and summer is nearly over when the case finally comes to court again. For some reason the fine has been reduced to $5.00 which should please Mr. Cody, but it doesn't?


Justice E. G. Buroff this afternoon fined William G. Cody $5 and costs for an infraction of a city ordinance prohibiting the keeping of cattle within a certain zone in the city.


Mr. Cody asked for the postponement and filed an affidavit that he was not ready for trial because his attorney could not be present. This was refused. The court heard two witnesses for the prosecution and then asked the defendant whether he wished to offer any evidence. Mr. Cody refused to offer any evidence as he had no attorney.


Justice Buroff found the defendant guilty and fined him $5 and costs. Mr. Cody said that he would appeal to the circuit court. He also said that he had a good point in his favor as one of the witnesses for the city said that the cows were in charge of Mrs. Mary Cody, wife of the defendant. He also said that he is not the owner of the cattle and that the assessment roles will verify this statement, they knowing that Mary Cody is the owner.


WDT AUGUST 16, 1928


Mr. Cody’s maneuver succeeded in delaying justice less than a week. William G. Cody of this city is today an inmate of the Jefferson county jail having been taken down there this morning by Officer Zimmerman by order of Justice of the peace A. G. Buroff for failure to pay a fine of $5 and costs to which he was sentenced on August 16, after having been found guilty of a violation of the city ordinance which prohibits the keeping of cattle within a certain proscribed zone of the city.


Cody was taken unawares this morning when he appeared before the justice with one Mike Brown who was to have signed his bond on an appeal to the circuit court. It was found that Brown was not a free-owner and he was unwilling to sign a cash bail bond therefore Justice Buroff signed a commitment which turned him over to Sheriff Mrs. John C. Gruel.


Cody vowed to have the law on all his so-called persecutors for the indignity which he has suffered. Yesterday he had served three summons, one of Dr. E. J. Hoermann, a neighbor and two on Chief of Police Chas. Pieritz, one signed by himself and one by his wife, Mary Cody, ordering them to appear within twenty days and answering a complaint filed in the Dane county circuit court. What the complaint alleges was not known here today.


WDT AUGUST 22, 1928


We are inclined to wonder why Wm. Cody doesn't just pay the fine and comply with the law. But he marches to a different drummer and is not about to take the simple way out. He could be a free man, but two days later he is in even more trouble.


William G. Cody is again the guest of Sheriff Gruel at Jefferson county jail and his fare for the next ten days will be bread and water.


Under sheriff John Gruel came to Watertown today after having been notified by numerous local residents that the prisoner he had paroled two days before was engaged in his usual activities and not in accordance with the contract entered into with Leonard Oestreich.


The sheriff pointed out that under the Huber laws he was supposed to parole prisoners who are serving time for minor offenses and he treated Mr. Cody exactly as he has others. But this same law, the sheriff said, tells him to put the prisoner on bread and water if he violates his parole.


Cody was farmed out to Mr. Oestreich for twenty days at $1 per day. When the sheriff called at the Oestreich farm he found a prisoner was not there. He located him at his home in North Church street and took him to the local police station where he was locked up until the sheriff went back to Jefferson later this afternoon at which time Cody went with him. Under Sheriff Gruel said that before leaving: “Any of Cody’s friends who wish to interview him for the next seventeen days will find him in the Jefferson county jail and that for the next ten days Cody will have to subsist on a bread and water diet.” Which endeth another one of the Cow Case serials.


WDT AUGUST 25, 1928


A diet of bread and water not being the most pleasant imaginable fare, Mary Cody comes to William's rescue, but as a matter of principle, the prisoner stays on the diet two days longer than necessary.


William G. Cody is again a free man having been discharged by Sheriff Gruel at Jefferson this noon after his wife had paid his fine to Police Justice E. Buroff. Mr. Cody could have gone home Tuesday had he so desired as his wife had paid the fine on that day but he at first refused to accept his liberty, demanding that the fine money be returned to Mrs. Cody. Arrangements were underway to do this when Mr. Cody decided to return home.


The fine of $5 assessed against Mr. Cody for violation of the city ordinance which prohibits the keeping of cattle within certain zones, was increased by costs of $16, 17 (sic) totaling $21.17. The case was in justice court August 16 and when the fine was not paid by August 22 Cody was taken to the county jail.


WDT AUGUST 30, 1928


Things have finally quieted down. The cows are back where they belong, some saloons have been closed on Sundays, and Mr. Cody has paid his fines. Watertown is again peaceful. Until --


William G. Cody again puts on his War Paint


Claiming malicious persecution, discrimination; etc., William G. Cody today Threatened a damage suit for $50,000 against those who were responsible for Having the ordinance passed in the city council Tuesday night prohibiting the Building of a dance hall within 1,500 feet of a residence.


Mr. Cody states that the ban was aimed solely at him on account of him having started to build a dance hall and filling station on his farm on the north road. He says that he asked an alderman why this ordinance would not prohibit dances in the Turner, Davy’s hall and the Masonic temple, and was told that they were in existence before the ordinance was passed, thus elimination them from the new rule. Cody states that he got out the timber for his hall several months ago and that the dance hall will soon be completed and he brands this move as a shameful case of malicious persecution which he will fight to the last ditch. He says he will go to Milwaukee Thursday to retain Attorneys Mcovern (sic) Lines, Curtis, Daves & Reese and expects to get an injunction and restraining order to commence the damage suit.


WDT JUNE 19, 1929


Newspaper accounts do not tell what eventually happened to the dance hall/filling station. Its fate was probably eclipsed by the news that in February, 1928, Elisabeth S. Wolfram as administratrix of the estate of Edward C. Wolfram, deceased, and Henry J. Schaub, Plaintiffs, had file foreclosure sale proceedings against William G. and Mary E. Cody. The real estate involved was described as: lots eight (8) and nine (9) in block twenty-six (26), original plat of Watertown on the west side of Rock river . . . The sale was originally scheduled to take place at the west door of the court house in the city of Jefferson on Tuesday the 25th day of June, A.D. 1929 at the hour of 2:00 o'clock in the afternoon.


But things did not come off quite as planned. On September 21, 1929, the following three- part item appeared in the Watertown Daily Times:


Juneau -- Foreclosure sale of the Wm. G. Cody farm property, located within the city limits of Watertown on highway 26, was scheduled to take place in the courthouse here at 2 o’clock this afternoon.


The sale was originally advertised for June 25, 1929 but four postponements delayed it until today.


Jefferson -- Foreclosure sale of the Wm. G. Cody residence located in North Church street, Watertown, is scheduled to be held by Sheriff John C. Gruel in the courthouse here Saturday afternoon. The sale was postponed four times being originally advertised to be held in June. Sheriff Gruel stated today that as far as he knew he would make the sale tomorrow.


Farm Is Sold


The Cody farm was sold this afternoon by the sheriff at Juneau for $11,025. The bidders were the holder of the mortgage, H.J. Schaub, Mrs. E.C. Wolfram, Herbert Wolfram, Violet Wolfram Goessling.




This was a bad weekend for William and Mary Cody. The last of Dr. Cody's farms was sold on Saturday and the home on Monday.


Jefferson---Sale of Wm. G. Cody property located in North Church street, Watertown, was reported today following the foreclosure proceedings conducted Saturday afternoon by Sheriff John C. Gruel at the courthouse here. Four times before a delay had been obtained in the sale. The bidders were the mortgage holders on the property, the estate of Edward C. Wolfram. Among the representatives here were H. J. Schaub of Watertown and members of the Wolfram family. The price was $4,500. The same bidders took over the Cody farm located in Dodge county portion of Watertown which was sold in foreclosure proceedings at Juneau last week. The price bid for the farm was $11,025.




The selling of the farm and the North Church street house should now put an end to any more trouble with the Cody cows, one would think. Not so! The cows still roam rather freely and annoy the citizens of the west side.


The city council has declared war on Wm. G. Cody’s cows, which have on numerous other occasions been the subject of battles, both in and out of the courts.


The cows are again accused of roaming about the city doing damage and causing much annoyance and the council has decided once more that it must be stopped.


At Tuesday night’s meeting of the council Alderman Carey introduced a resolution ordering Chief of Police Pieritz, City Attorney R. W. Lueck and City Clerk A. H. Stallman to take the necessary steps to see that the cows stop roaming.


Alderman Carey said the resolution was prompted by numerous complaints that have been lodged against the cows in the city.




Weary though the city officials and the citizenry may have been; weary of the cow cases, weary of the disposing of the Cody property, this was not the end for either.  Bill Cody did not rest after selling the last farm. In fact, he had not sold it legally in November of 1929 as was generally believed.


Juneau County records here in the case of the Wolfram estate and Henry Schaub against William G. Cody and his wife, in which the Cody property was bid in at sheriff’s sale by the plaintiffs indicated that the sale has been set aside. The matter had been held up for several weeks to give Mr. Cody time to file a bond and when said bond was filed Tuesday the sale was set a side.


Reasons for setting aside the sale were given by Cody that he had been told that the sale was postponed and hence did not have a chance to bid in. This contention was supported by affidavits of Atty. George Hartman of this city and by Hiram Hitchcock of Milwaukee. The Hartman affidavit alleges that Under sheriff Nitschke came to the attorney’ office just before the hour of the sheriff’s sale and stated that the sale had been postponed but later on the same day the sale was made.


The Hitchcock affidavit alleges that the affiant was desirous of bidding on the property to protect Mr. Cody, but that he did not attend the sale as he had supposed that it had been postponed to a later date.


Mr. Cody states that he will have the mortgage taken up and the property platted and sold off in lots and acreage and thus settle the matter satisfactorily to all parties concerned.


The property involved is the Cody farm located on highway 26.


WDT JAN. 8, 1930


That was not just one of Bill's idle boasts. Within 14 weeks Watertown learns that the whole affair is moving forward and just might find its way into the supreme court.


Wm. G. Cody is in Milwaukee today to consult his attorney concerning the foreclosure sale of his property which has been postponed several times. Mr. Cody says that unless he is granted a further extension of sixty days, needed to complete a new loan, he will appeal the case in the supreme court. He further states that the reason the new loan has not been consummated was due to the fact that the attorney in charge of his case, Walter Corrigan, is busy as counsel in the Kohler ouster case. Atty. Corrigan, he said, will handle his appeal in the supreme court. Asked whether there was any doubt of him securing the new loan, Mr. Cody stated that there was not any information that the bonding company already had agreed to further postponement.


WDT May 15, 1930


Part V






Neither Watertown paper carries a word about any further action being taken regarding the infamous cows. But life went on! Nationally, Thomas Edison died, and Al Capone received a sentence of 11 years in a federal prison. Locally the Cole Memorial Bridge was dedicated, the beer cellars under Memorial Park were caving in, and the city was having trouble coming up with an acceptable garbage collection plan. And Bill and Mary Cody were well aware that not all was peaceful in their lives.


Dodge county court records show a notice of appeal to the state supreme court by Wm. G. Cody and Mary E. Cody in the foreclosure proceedings brought by Wolfram and Schaub. As the case now stands the Cody residence in North Church street, Watertown, and the farm property in the outskirts of Watertown, have been bid in by the mortgages and Sheriff John C. Gruel has a court order to dispose them of the property, which the sheriff intends to execute this week.


WG MAY 7, 1931


Has William G. Cody finally met his match? Will he be able to deflect the action with another lawsuit? It seems highly unlikely.


Yesterday afternoon William G. Cody was dispossessed of his home in North Church street. Foreclosure of the property had taken place several months ago, and recently notice was served on him to vacate and not doing so, by order of the court Sheriff John C. Gruel of Jefferson, with a number of assistants, removed the Cody household furniture to the curb in the north side of the residence, where it remained all night, and is still there at this writing. Mr. and Mrs. Cody spent the night in the homes of neighbors. This property has been in possession of Mr. Cody and his father, the late Dr. Cody, for over 75 years. It is one of the best resident sites in our city, and though sorely in need of repairs, one of the finest in Watertown. It is a pitiable ending of a once opulent Watertown family. Dr. James Cody, one of Watertown’s most noted physicians and surgeons, esteemed and respected by the older residents of this city and state, built the present residence on this site, and it was his home up to the time of his tragic ending. Knowing the Cody family history as we do, it short-comings, and its good deeds, and our acquaintance with the family, the late Dr. Cody having been our parents’ and our family physician for years, the present case of which we write, strikes a sympathetic chord in our system, as we know it does with other older residents here. The law had to take its course, the officers do their duty, and the new owner of the property in their long-drawn out patience had eventually come into which rightfully belonged to them.


Those dispossessed have our sympathy, and in our own estimation they no doubt feel an injustice has been done them. The law says differently, hence its mandate must be respected.


The Codys also lose their fine farm on the North road, which was originally owned by Captain James Rogan, one of Watertown’s first settlers, and the father of Dr. Cody’ first wife.


WG MAY 14, 1931


A lesser man would probably have admitted defeat at this point. Not so Mr. Wm. G. Cody! Somehow he manages to be moved back into the old homestead where he resides for some months. We would probably be very right in assuming that at least some of his time was spent hatching a scheme which would work to his advantage.  We do know that he filed an appeal with the Wisconsin supreme court concerning the decision of the circuit court on his foreclosure of mortgage sale. The Wisconsin supreme court denied his appeal. Then, on September 17 an incident occurred which, by conjecture, indicated what he was up to at this time


Mr. Cody witnessed an automobile accident which took the lives of one person and required W. G. Cody to serve as a witness at the resulting hearing. The interesting part of it is that the accident took place at the intersection of Highway 106 and Capitol Drive, on the outskirts of Milwaukee where Mr. Cody was "walking on the highway bound for Watertown...." Why was he walking back to Watertown? Could he not afford the train fare home? And why was he in Milwaukee? Was he there to consult a lawyer about the pending foreclosure? Or was he there to prepare a new lawsuit against someone? The latter seems more likely for a few days later the following item appears in the local paper:


Mortgagees Take Over William G. Cody Residence. The long expected eviction of Mr. & Mrs. William G. Cody from their residence in N. Church Street was done Wednesday afternoon, 5/13/31 by Sheriff John C. Gruel and his deputies, Roy Schmidt, Bob Haredy and William Spear. Sheriff Gruel and the two deputies first named, started on the job about 3 o'clock and found such a quantity of goods in the large residence that Mr. Spear was called in to help and 3 extra men were hired, and even with that crew it took until nearly 7 o'clock to complete the job. The household goods were placed on the sidewalk on O'Connell Street where they still were this afternoon. Mr. Cody was in the house at the time but left, stating he was going to Milwaukee to start a damage suit against the sheriff. Sheriff Gruel states that he had no alternative than to put the couple out of their home inasmuch as he was acting under a court order made after due process of law under foreclosure proceedings which had been fought at every step thereby taking a much longer time than is usual. The doors of the home were locked and nailed up and the key turned over to H. J. Schaub, one of the mortgagees. It is reported that a similar action will be taken by Dodge County authorities to gain possession of the farm located at the city limits at the end of N. Church Street.


WG MAY 14, 1931



Cody Sues Two Sheriffs for $50,000

Gets Injunction


William G. Cody of this city, whose numerous law suits have won him considerable notoriety, is launching a new series of actions, some growing out of his recent eviction from his home and farm. Mr. Cody has had an injunctional order subscribed to by Paul H. Tratt of Fort Atkinson, circuit court commissioner, which enjoins the defendants names in his complaint “from in any way interfering with the quiet enjoyment of the premises described in the plaintiff’s affidavit”.


Sheriff John C. Gruel of Jefferson county, Sheriff Henry E. Lehmann of Dodge county and the law firm of Skinner & Thauer of Watertown are named as joint defendants with Elizabeth S. Wolfram, deceased, Henry J. Schaub, Elizabeth S. Henning and Violet Goessling, the parties interested in the foreclosure sale.


Mr. Cody contends that the foreclosure sale and the eviction of himself and wife from possession of their home in Jefferson county and their farm in Dodge county, was not done in accordance with the law and he has had summonses issued in a suit for $50,000 damages against the two sheriffs and the other defendants named in the injunction.


There is a personal injury angle to the complaint, according to Mr. Cody, who alleges that his wife was just beginning to recover from a major surgical operation when the eviction took place and in consequence her health has been seriously impaired.


Another angle to the case is disposition of the cows of the Codys when they were dispossessed of the farm. Mr. Cody states that Sheriff took the cows and illegally turned them over to a farmer in Jefferson county to take care of them, that said cows have been pledged as security for a bond and that he intends to sue for the value of the animals.


WDT OCTOBER 31, 1931


The newspapers carry no clue to what had been transpiring from May 14 to the end of October, 1931. According to some Watertown citizens who were teen-agers at the time, the Cody possessions remained on the sidewalk during the summer and early fall. They tell of visiting with Mary Cody as she sat guarding the furniture with a shotgun across her lap. Some of the furniture had been moved back into the house and Mary and Bill had taken up housekeeping after a fashion. But winter was approaching and there were those who were concerned with the welfare of the Codys.


Cody Evicted From Home

For the Second Time


Another episode in the Cody cases was enacted this morning when Sheriff John C. Gruel and two deputies ousted William G. Cody and his wife from their residence in North Church street, removed their household goods and started two men tearing down the barn on the premises.


This was the second time that the sheriff removed the former owners from their home, following its sale under mortgage contract last spring, the Cody’s having moved back after the case was carried to the supreme court. The higher court refused to set aside the sale, but last week Mr. Cody secured a restraining order from Paul H. Tratt, a circuit court commissioner of Fort Atkinson ordering the mortgages not to interfere with his peaceful possession of the premises, and he also served summons on the sheriffs, the mortgages and their attorneys, for a $50,000 damage suit.


Skinner & Thauer, attorneys for the mortgages thereupon filed an affidavit with Court Commissioner Tratt, acquainting him with the true account of the proceedings thus far and the court official vacated his order. The attorneys also had a new injunction issued by O. C. Hahn, court commissioner from Watertown, restraining Mr. Cody and wife from interfering with the mortgages, which was served on the Codys by Sheriff Gruel this morning.


It was stated that the mortgages have agreed to pay two months rent for storage of the Cody’s personal property and goods which have so long been lying on the sidewalk alongside of the residence have been put under shelter (sic).




Extensive research does not reveal when or how the Cody's left Watertown. We do know that in 1932 the father of Donald Kuntz. Mequon, Wis., rented his "River House" on the bank of the Bark River Mill Pond, south side Merton, Wisconsin to Bill and Mary



Mr. Kuntz remembers Bill Cody as "semi-senile, thin, scrawny" man, not much given to conversation.


Mary, he remembers, was "large, powerful, Irish, broad in the beam, no shrinking violet, a true Irish washer-woman type with a good mind." She was, he remembers, "an exceptional woman, a delightful person" and quite protective of her husband. Bill Cody, he recalls, spent much of his time fishing and frequently dug for worms on the Kuntz farm.


One day, while bending over as he dug for worms, Bill was spotted by a ram which, seeing an inviting target, evidently made the most of it. The next day the elder Kuntz was called into the Cody home where Mary took down Bill's pants, dropped his underwear flap, and showed Mr. Kuntz "What your ram did to my husband".


One can only speculate as to how the Cody's managed to exist now that they lost all their property. Did the proceeds from the foreclosure sales generate enough funds to support them the rest of their days? Had Wm. G. Cody managed to accumulate bank accounts? Or did they exist entirely on the money Mary earned running "the River-House" as a boarding house for railroad men? Can we assume they managed to bring with them some or all of the furniture which spent much time on the sidewalk near their North Church Street house? And how did they come to possess two cast-iron chairs which, according to Donald Kuntz, the Cody's claimed came from a cemetery in Watertown? Was appropriating those chairs Bill Cody's final act of defiance toward the city of Watertown?


Although his friends and/or relatives may have been in touch with him during the final fifteen years of his life, we are unaware of any more lawsuits or allegations being brought by Wm. G. Cody. The general public seems to have heard no more about him until his death in 1947.


Funeral services were held this week for William G. Cody, 85, for many years a resident of Watertown who died at his home in Merton, Waukesha county. Services were held at St. John’s church at Monches, with the Rev. Adrian Trost officiating. Burial was in the parish cemetery.


Mr. Cody was born in Watertown, a son of the late Dr. and Mrs. James Cody. In 1902 he married Mary Poch, the wedding taking place in Watertown.


Mr. Cody was a graduate of Sacred Heart college and the University of Chicago School of Pharmacy. His wife is his only survivor.


WDT OCTOBER 17, 1947


The death of William G. Cody at Merton this week his turbulent days during his residence in Watertown when he was the central figure in the celebrated “cow cases” which made the newspapers of the state over many months. He was involved in many court tangles with both the city and Jefferson count and at one time was active in trying to dry up Watertown and enforcing the Sunday blue laws. Cody was a graduated pharmacist, but during his many brushes with the laws a leading resident of Watertown once said of him: “Bill Cody is the best damn lawyer in Watertown.”


WDT OCTOBER 17, 1947


Appendix A

Circuit Court

Thersa Cody Plaintiff


William Cody Defendant

Jefferson County


Theresa Cody being fully sworn says that she is the plaintiff and this action was joined on the fourth day of November, 1885, that she has a valid course of action in the whole that the case in said action has been fully and fairly stated to her council Harlow Pease who resides in the city of Watertown in said county and that she has a valid and substantial cause of action in whole -- That she is advised by her said council and truly believes that she cannot safely go to trial in said action without her own personal attendance testimony . . . Despondent further says that she is very far advanced in pregnancy and expects to be confined therewith within a few weeks from the present time. Deponent further says that her general health is not good and that for and during the four months last passed she has been confined to the house with neuralgia in her face and head and has been obliged to procure medical advice and treatment -- therefore Dr. W. F. Whyte who resides in the city of Watertown in said county is her medical adviser and attendant of and that she is advised by him and wisely believes that it would be injurious and unsafe for her to attend or to attempt to attend the times of this case to be held in the month of February, 1886 by reason of said physical condition.


Subscribed and sworn before me -- signature of Theresa Cody

this 30th day on January, 1886

Harlow Pease

Notary Public



Appendix B

WDT May 5, 1969

Clarence Wetter column


Watertown has had a great many unique characters over the years. In their ranks one would certainly have to include the name of the late William G. Cody who lived at 114 North Church Street.


For years he was the center of controversy here -- he seemed to enjoy it and kept the legal fires burning. It was he who almost more than any other man brought about the Sunday closing of Watertown saloons for a number of years. He would sign complaints against saloonkeepers who were caught violating the Sunday closing laws, at the time, along about 1912.


Mr. Cody's North Church Street home contained some of the finest woodwork in any of the stately old residences here. But when we visited it on a special assignment in the 1930's we found an old planing mill in that was the parlor and any number of cats in the house, each with a name. The Codys kept cows within the city limits a block off West Main Street and the city had "a devil of a time" getting rid of them for the Cody's fought back in the courts and delayed, postponed and circumvented the city ordinance for years.


At one point in the long dispute with the city Mrs. Cody sat on the lawn of the home with a gun in her lap to halt a deputy sheriff and his force sent to get rid of the cow.


Newspaper files, both here and in Milwaukee and other state cities, are full of accounts of the battles between the Codys, the city and Jefferson County.


We once wrote a report of one of the incidents for Milwaukee Sentinel and the staff cartoonist of that paper, the late Cad Brand, illustrated it with one of his cartoons for Sunday edition of the Sentinel.


Mr. Cody got to be quite an authority on law and fought many of his own battles in the courts.


We were once in the office of the late Charles A. Kading, then an attorney here and a congressman, when Mr. Cody stepped in, walked through the waiting room which was filled with people; into the office of Mr. Kading. He went up to the book shelves, took down a volume of the state statutes, looked up what he wanted to find, found it, put the book back and walked out without saying a word.


The Kading offices then were in the old Masonic Temple.


Mr. Cody fought so many legal battles and knew so much law that the late Rev. William Mahoney, the pastor of St. Bernard's Catholic Church, later Msgr. Mahoney at St. Raphael' Cathedral in Madison, told us: "If I ever got into trouble and needed legal advice I think I would engage the services of Bill Cody".


Mr. Cody was also the only man in Watertown who could "prove" that he was sane and he took delight in reminding people of the fact. This came about as the result of sanity hearing a judge once ordered for him and he was found to be "sane".


Then there was the morning when the late James W. Moore, editor and publisher of the Watertown Gazette located at the northeast corner of West Main and North Water Streets, second floor, was standing on the corner, talking with the late Charles Straw, the late Thomas Brooks and several other men.


They were busily engaged in conversation when Cody came along and joined them. He listened for a while, then broke in with the remark, "On this subject I think you're all crazy - and please remember I have papers to prove I am sane. None of you can say that."


And either Mr. Moore or Mr. Straw retorted, "That's all right, Bill, but you had to prove you were not crazy and we don't".





07 13       Will Cody is putting in an elegant cement sidewalk in front of his residence.   WG



08 27       The question of the paving of North Church Street had resolved itself to this practical solution:  If the residents of South Church Street want brick for the convenience of their "benzine wagons," they should have it.  But the people on North Church Street who voiced their opposition to the paving by brick should have been considered in the matter.  I will wager today that if Mr. Ryan or any other member of the city council will make a canvass of North Church Street they will find a large majority opposed to brick paving.


Just one thing more in closing.  I wish to refer to The Times article calling attention to the opportunity which was offered the tax payers to be heard.  True, but the majority of the property owners on North Church street did not fully understand, I therefore asked that the final action of the council be deferred for a couple of weeks familiarize all with the situation and appear in person.  The council could have extended this courtesy and left a better feeling prevailing among the North Church Street property owners.  Dr. O'Malley was the only resident on North Church to appear in favor of brick paving and if I am not greatly mistaken, the doctor is not a tax payer.


Yours for fair play,

Wm. G. Cody



12 31       The following letter has been sent to the city clerk and will be read at the next meeting of the city council:


Dec. 29, 1914

To the Mayor and City Council, Watertown, Wisconsin.


I, William G. Cody, taxpayer and citizen, have consulted Madison attorneys as to the bond given to the city of Watertown by the interurban line, as to running a line on North Montgomery Street and so forth, as to the collection of said bond.  The said Interurban line has failed to run said line and I am advised by counsel at Madison to ask this honorable city council to inform me as to what has been done in the matter as to collection of said bond, and as to what your intentions are in the future as to collection of said bond, so as to enable me to take the proper legal steps to compel the collection of said bond if necessary.  Kindly answer and oblige.


Yours very truly,

William G. Cody.     WG



SUNDAY CLOSING LAW  /  W. G. Cody closed saloons on Sundays



The question of closing the saloons on Sunday has resulted in much talk and considerable activity.


W. G. Cody was a candidate for justice of the peace, to fill the vacancy caused by the death of the late Judge W. D. Stacy.  Cody secured a big petition signed by many of the leading business men asking for his appointment as Justice of the Peace.  Mayor Kading sent his nomination to the council, where it was turned down.  Soon after that Cody got after the saloons and closed all of them up on Sunday.  He made complaints against saloons in several neighboring villages, such as Pipersville, Ixonia, Lebanon etc., and closed those places, also on Sundays.


But when matters blew over a bit some of the saloons began to open up Sundays, and Cody got busy again.  He had several saloon keepers arrested and taken to Jefferson for trial.  Some trials were had and other cases are now pending.  Some defendants were found not guilty and others paid fines and costs, according to reports.


A few days ago a petition signed by three citizens of Jefferson County was presented to Judge Kirkland asking that Cody be examined to determine whether he was sane or insane.  Such examination was held but no result was reached.  Another hearing was held yesterday.


Now it develops that an organization of business men has sprung up to take revenge on “Cody’s Persecutors.”


A peculiar feature of the situation is that Cody denies that he got after the saloons because he was not appointed justice of the peace, and the saloon keepers deny that they have had anything whatever to do with the petition to examine Cody for insanity.


The law of “cause and effect” seems to be out of commission in Watertown if all statements are to be fully credited.



On complaint of William J. Cody warrants were issued on Monday by Justice of the Peace Charles Buss of Jefferson for the arrest of eight Watertown saloonkeepers, alleging that the saloon men violated the Sunday closing law last Sunday.  Those for whom warrants were issued being Ole Olson, Arthur Hilgendorf, S. Molzahn, G. M. Gahlmann, Fred Creuz, John Guetzlaff, Charles Tiews and George Goetzelmann.  On Wednesday Messrs. Hilgendorf and Olson were served with warrants by Sheriff Touton and taken to Jefferson before Justice Buss.  They were represented by Gustav Buchheit and District Attorney Stengel represented the state.  The case was adjourned to Feb. 5th.   WG



The jury selected in the court of Justice Buss at Jefferson last Friday to hear the case against Ole Olson, the Watertown saloonkeeper charged with selling liquor on Sunday, January 24, in a complaint filed by W. G. Cody of Watertown, returned a verdict of “not guilty” after a deliberation of but fifteen minutes.


The case against Arthur Hilgendorf, West Main Street saloonist, charged with the same offense, was the next in order, but adjournment was taken until Wednesday afternoon at 2 o’clock at which time the case was indefinitely postponed by agreement of the attorneys.


The case against Fred Creuz was set for next Friday morning at 10 o’clock.  District Attorney Stengel of Fort Atkinson conducted the case for the state and Gustav Buchheit of Watertown for the defendants.  Several witnesses testified that intoxicants were sold in Olson’s place on the above date, but the jury evidently did not believe them.   WG



New Complications in the Sunday Closing Question.

Can a Man be Declared Insane and “Railroaded” to a Lunatic Asylum

       Because He Advocates Sunday Closing of Saloons?

Watertown Manufacturers Take Matter in Hand.


The question of Sunday closing in Watertown, which has been agitating our people for over two months past, has terminated in alarming conditions, when an effort is made to deprive a man of that which is dear to every good American citizen — his liberty – by placing him in a lunatic asylum, and for what?  Is it because he happens to disagree with his neighbor in the enforcement of law?  No other reasonable construction, it appears to us, can be put on this question, because the man under consideration has committed no overt act, has not broken a divine or human law and has not threatened even his worst enemies, or been the cause of any of them being harmed bodily by him.


The Gazette has been neutral in all the terms implied in the matter of Sunday closing, because it did not believe the move was inspired by the proper motives, because it did not believe the time was opportune for such a movement and, lastly, because it is our experience that in places of this size it produces lasting enmities between lifelong friends and neighbors that never can be healed.


The Gazette has always favored law and order.  It does so now, but the Sunday closing question has resolved itself into a greater issue.  Who is safe from the lunatic asylum if men can be found under the insanity law to swear your liberty away?


Eight saloon keepers have been arrested on complaint of Wm. G. Cody,  charged with violating the saloon law, the cases being made returnable at Jefferson and Lake Mills – in one of the cases a jury acquitted one of the accused, notwithstanding several witnesses swore they had been served with intoxicating liquors from behind said saloonkeeper’s bar.  Is this not a subject for unbelief, were it not a fact, as much as that Cody would be asked a question as to whether he would “let up” on the saloons if a doctor would declare him perfectly sane.  Another jury at Jefferson on the same class of evidence has declared one of the other saloon men guilty.  At Jefferson today one of the saloon men is slated for another trial.


Many people in this city who favored the Sunday closing of saloons refrained from talking sides, but now they have become thoroughly incensed at the latest phase of the case.  A petition asking for the appointment of a commission was filed in the county court at Jefferson last Friday signed by Dr. A. H. Hartwig, Ex-Sheriff C. A. Vaughan and County Treasurer Frank Petro, all of Watertown, requesting that Wm. G. Cody be examined by a sanity commission.


Judge Kirkland appointed as said commission Dr. G. L. Smith and Dr. J. B. Brewer, both of Jefferson, and set last Monday afternoon for the date of examination.  Mr. Cody and the commission appeared and continued the examination until Thursday afternoon at 1 o’clock.


On learning of this our citizens became thoroughly aroused and on Tuesday morning the following named reputable citizens, among them the largest employers of labor in this city, had an audience with the mayor and made it plain to him that the law must be enforced and the saloons closed on Sunday, not in the spirit of revenge, but in the spirit of a remonstrance against what they considered a most alarming and audacious undertaking.


Those who visited the mayor were:


George C. Lewis, L. W. Parks and Gordon E. Bacon, president, superintendent and sales manager of the G. B. Lewis company.


E. C. Wolfram and Henry J. Schaub, president and vice president of the Wolfram Shoe company.


Fred W. Pfeiffer, superintendent of the Beals & Torrey Shoe company.


G. H. Lehrkind, president of the Washington Cutlery Co.


Thomas Brooks, west side merchant and undertaker.


Fred Hollenbeck, traveling salesman.


Winfield S. Williams.


Isn’t it almost unbelievable, that, as has been charged, these men make this move for revenge on Cody’s persecutors?  Every one of these worthy men and thousands of others in this city, among them many saloonkeepers, were astounded and horrified to think that anyone would so far forget himself as to resort to any such measure.


This is a time for calm judgment in the matters at present agitating Watertown.  The Gazette is friendly to all parties to this lamentable affairs, and it counts among its best friends the three gentlemen who signed the petition to have Cody’s sanity tested, and also many of the saloonkeepers in Watertown has The Gazette’s highest regard, and it sympathizes with them in their present troubles so far as it effects their material interests, but as a choice between right and wrong, law and order, this paper has always sided with the lawful side of a question in preference to the material side, knowing full well that where respect for law prevails the material side of life will necessarily prosper.  We believe the petition to test Cody’s sanity should be withdrawn.  It may lead to better results than if continued to take its course.  About 20 of Watertown’s leading citizens have been cited to appear as witnesses in the Cody sanity case before Judge Kirkland in Jefferson today.   WG



The following named Watertown witnesses were summoned to Jefferson to appear at the adjourned sanity inquest on Thursday of last week of W. G. Cody: George C. Lewis, L. W. Parks, Thomas Brooks, E. M. Farrington, E. C. Wolfram, H. J. Schaub, Joseph Wenker, John Powers, Martin Manning, Fremont Lounsbury, Fred Hollenbeck, P. H. Swift, Dan Ryan, John Buckley, Mayor Charles A. Kading, City Clerk F. S. Weber, William F. Voss, W. H. Woodard, James W. Moore, H. Wertheimer, the Rev. Thos. Hennessey, the Rev. Lorenz Knutzen, Drs. J. S. Kings, C. J. Habhegger, Ralph Kayson, Joseph O’Connell. L. H. Nowack.


For the petitioners: Dr. E. J. Hoermann, H. C. Block, Fred Hinze, August Wiggenhorn, O. A. Schimmel, H. J. Donner, O. R. Krueger, H. T. Eberle, Dr. F. C. Werner.


The inquiry was before Judge R. B. Kirkland.  Mr. Cody was represented by Attorney Timothy Hannon of Milwaukee, with Lyman H. Smith, guardian ad litem, and A. L. Stengel, district attorney for complainants.  Attorney Carl N. Hill of Madison, was also present, but did not take part in the proceedings.  There were but four witnesses placed on the stand — Dr. A. H. Hartwig, Chas. A. Vaughan, Chas. A. Kading and Dr. F. C. Werner. 


The witnesses were questioned mostly by Attorney Hannon, and in all our experience in attendance in court rooms, we have never met with an attorney that was more gentlemanly or fairer in his method than was Mr. Hannon, reports to the contrary notwithstanding.  In his questioning, Judge Kirkland was also very considerate and fair, but in his usual fatherly manner administered a rebuke to “sworn officer of the court,” for interference in matters that it is the province of a court only to settle.


At the conclusion of the four above-named gentlemen’s testimony, the attorneys for Mr. Cody said they did not wish to place on the stand any witnesses, for they believed the testimony elicited from Messrs. Hartwig, Vaughan, Kading and Werner was sufficient to acquit their client.


The court then asked if the complainants had any further witnesses to offer, they answered no.  Frank Petro, the third complaining witness, failed to put in his appearance, and Judge Kirkland asked the sheriff to ascertain if he was in the court room or city.   The sheriff reported he was unable to find him, and the Judge remarked it was rather strange for he had certainly notified him to be present.  Was Petro’s action a case of contempt of court and disrespect for law, or was he unavoidably absent, we have been unable to learn.


Previous to the opening of court Judge Kirkland notified all present that under the statutes it was necessary for him to notify all present that no one could remain in the court room other than witnesses, officers of the court, attorneys and those directly interested in the case, and the sheriff was directed to clear the court room.


Judge Kirkland then awaited a report of the findings of the examining physicians, Dr. C. H. Caswell and E. Gibson of Ft. Atkinson.


After hearing their testimony and receiving their report declaring Mr. Cody to be sane, the Court said:


“I have received the report of the examining physicians; I have heard the testimony; the complainants say they have no further testimony to offer.  It therefore devolves upon me now to pass upon the case, and I shall do my duty in that regard as I understand it, and that without fear or favor.  An officer who lives up to his oath of office has nothing to fear.  No one has a right to criticize an officer for doing his sworn duty.  An officer who fails to do his sworn duty is subject to severe criticisms.  It matters not whether it be in cases arising from violation of the Excise Laws, or any other case, an officer of the law must do his duty.  Personally I have no fight with the liquor interests – I never was a believer in prohibition; I never expect to be.


“Let me say this, however, that it would be far better if the people who are engaged in the sale of intoxicating liquors — it would be far better, I say, for them and it would be to the credit of the community in which they live, if they would live up to the law as it is written.  This hue and cry about Blue Laws and personal liberty does not appeal to the law-abiding citizen. 


“The legislature of this state has seen fit, in its wisdom, to place these laws upon the statute book.  The legislature, then, is the place to go if you want relief from the law.  The courts are bound by their oath of office to see that the law is enforced.  Relief from existent law cannot be obtained by open defiance of it. 


“It has seemed peculiar to me that the agitation to close saloons in the city of Watertown on the Sabbath day and this proceeding to inquire into the mental condition of Mr. Cody should both spring into activity at the same time. 


“I criticize no one, but to the mind of the court it is a peculiar state of affairs, very peculiar.  My friend, Dr. Hartwig, testifies that as far back as last November he had in his possession a petition to this court, which never was presented, to inquire into the mental condition of Mr. Cody; it is remarkable that at the very same time, the citizens of Watertown very generally had put their names to a petition asking for the appointment of Mr. Cody to a judicial position, thereby testifying to the mental capacity of the man that Dr. Hartwig claims has been insane for nearly forty years.  Upon that petition I find the names of professional men, doctors and lawyers and even priests of the church.  I find upon that petition the name of your present worthy postmaster.  In looking it over I find the name of my old friend, Senator Voss.  I also find the name of Hugo Jacobi and many others with whom I have an intimate acquaintance.


“Can it be possible that these gentlemen signed a petition asking for the elevation of Mr. Cody to a judicial office and at the same time knew, or had reasons to believe, that he was insane?  I cannot believe such to be the case.  The Mayor appointed Mr. Cody to the position, and I do not blame the Mayor.  He was justified in so doing.  He could not, in justice to himself, refuse to grant the prayer of such a petition as is now before me. 


“The application for the inquiry into the mental condition of Mr. Cody, then in the possession of Dr. Hartwig last November, he says was destroyed and nothing further was done in that regard until the breaking out of the agitation in relation to the closing of the saloons in the city of Watertown, an agitation much to be regretted.  I would have much preferred if the patient, Mr. Cody, had exercised his rights guaranteed to him by the statute, and called for a jury trial; that of course was a privilege solely vested in him.


“He has not asked for a jury trial, therefore, the matter is left to me, and I must decide it in accordance with the testimony before me, given here in open court, together with the report of the examining physicians and all other facts known to me. 


“I will say that I have known Mr. Cody for upwards of thirty years.  I knew his father.  Dr. James Cody was a man for whom I had the greatest admiration.  He was one of Watertown’s greatest citizens.  He was highly respected in this county and all over the state of Wisconsin.  He was a practicing physician and surgeon of great ability and state-wide reputation.  I had occasion to come in contact with Dr. Cody many times, and I knew him well and intimately. 


“William Cody, his son, I have known for upwards of thirty years.  Since this agitation commenced I have seen him often and have kept my eye upon him.  I have always known William Cody to be a man of peculiar ideas; he is of an eccentric disposition, but to say that I ever saw anything about him that indicated insanity would be to say that which is untrue.  I have watched Mr. Cody closely and carefully and I have not seen the first thing about him that has been different, to my view, then when I first knew him, over thirty years ago, only that he is somewhat older. 


“Only yesterday in the city of Watertown I saw him and closely watched him, unbeknown to him; I saw him going down the street, walking as straight as an arrow.  Not the slightest look or action to indicate insanity.


“I am called upon to decide this matter according to the rules of law.  Mr. Cody, under the rules of law, is presumed to be sane, and that presumption follows him until such time as it is proven to the court beyond a reasonable doubt that he is insane.  The examining physicians have declared him sane.  That being the case, this court cannot say that he is insane beyond a reasonable doubt, the presumption of law being that he is sane 


“It is true that Dr. Hartwig has testified to threats made, but that testimony was simply based upon hearsay, and not upon his own knowledge.  The persons threatened were not produced and sworn in court, although opportunity offered.  Were he to be declared by the judgment of this court insane I would be doing a wrong, not only to Mr. Cody but to the entire community.  I cannot deprive the gentlemen of his liberty upon the testimony introduced.  No court or jury would be justified in finding Mr. Cody insane upon the testimony offered.  There is not one scintilla of evidence that would justify it.


“The report of the examining physicians declares him to be a sane man.  The report of one of the examining physicians heretofore appointed declared him sane, the other one of the examining physicians has so far failed to file a report.  The finding of the court is that William G. Cody is sane and entitled to have the application to inquire into his mental capacity dismissed and for his discharge from custody.  The judgment of the court is that William G. Cody is sane.  The application for a judicial inquiry into his mental capacity is dismissed and the patient is discharged from custody. “


At the conclusion of the charge of the Judge there was hearty hand clapping in the court room.   WG



Juneau, WI.—The saloon closing war at Watertown goes merrily on.  As yet no air machines nor submarines have been pressed into service, but various skirmishing expeditions to justice courts in Jefferson and Lake Mills have been reported.  Mr. Nolle Contenderie is in commission frequently.



The Beaver Dam Citizen wants Wm. G. Cody for mayor.  Listen:


“Evidently” says The Citizen, “the saloon keepers of Watertown were sincere in thinking that Mr. Cody was insane.  No doubt they thought that if a man had the courage to try and enforce the laws of our state, to close the saloons, he must be of unsound mind.  Mr. Cody is right and should be the next mayor of that city, and be pensioned besides, for his bravery in making that class of men obey the laws of the state.  There are lots of other towns, not far away, where the saloon keepers have similar influence over the city fathers and any man who dares to interfere to enforce the laws, would be called crazy at once.  It seems, however, that all traffickers in booze think they have a right to conduct their business as they please regardless of state laws.  Never mind, the time is not far away when they will have to obey.”   WG




A 5-gallon still made out of a galvanized oil can and a half barrel of corn mash and a small quantity of moonshine was found on the premises of the old John Zoelle property in Breckenridge Street, now occupied by Paul Martin and Paul Growles.  Others found: Herman Driebus in N. 4th Street 40 gallons of prune mash; William J. Schumann Saloon in W. Main Street small quantity of moonshine in a bottle in the backyard; the proprietor said it was "planted."  Home of Otto Winkelmann, Madison & N. 4th streets jug of liquor which appears to be a mixture of wine and moonshine was found in the woodshed; Fred Krueger Saloon, W. Main Street a bottle with a small quantity of liquor found in a room on the second floor.  The rest it appears had been dumped into a sink by a bartender while the raid was being conducted.  Other places raided but nothing found were Robert Woelffer's, August Bergmann's, John Gessert's and Theodore E. Guse's.


Among the names of those conducting the raids was William Cody.






Cross References:

Chapter on Dr. James Cody



05 11       William J. Cody, son of Dr. James Cody took his departure from here last Monday night for Nashvill, Minnesota, where he will follow the same business he has been engaged in here for a few years past. Mr. Cody has all the requirements necessary to conduct a first class drug business, and the citizens of Nashvill can place the utmost confidence in him.    WG



03 31       A good law, the salutary provisions of which it will be well for those whom it concerns to observe, is the following:  If any tavern keeper or other person shall sell, give away, or barter any intoxicating liquors on the first day of the week, commonly called Sunday, or on the day and at the place of the annual town meeting, or the annual fall election, such tavern keeper or other person so offending shall be fined for each of such offenses in a sum not exceeding five dollars, to be collected before any Justice of the Peace in the proper county.   WD



Table of Contents 

History of Watertown, Wisconsin