Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Alpena's Red Light District?

In searching for information about someone else I was posting on, I stumbled across Alpena's own little red light 1910! I was always under the impression that such things would have been outlawed by those times in our small moral community, but apparently I was wrong.

On the 1910 census, two neighboring houses can be found in which the occupation of all the ladies is listed as "prostitute." The first home was located at 410 River St, very near the Civic Theatre. The madam was Belle A.(Salt? Sath?) She was born in about 1880 in Michigan and had previously been married for 6 years with no children born. Her "soiled doves" were Marie E Driscoll, 22, and Stella Tower, 22.

The next home on the census was 115 N 5th Ave, owned by madam Edna M Arman, 26. Her girls were Anna G Lemire, 22, Grace E Morrison, 27, Anna M (Heins?), 25, and Florence L Dawson, 21. Anna and Florence had both been previously married with no children born. This home is still lived in today.

Another place of business for the "ladies of the night" was at 202 Minor Street, which is also currently occupied. (I am so curious to see if the current owners of these homes know anything about their home's interesting past!) The madam at this house was Francis Moran, 35, of Canada. Her girls were Mildred Springs, 24, and Mabel Howard, 29.

If there were this many cathouses still in operation in Alpena in 1910, I'm very curious to know how many were around back in the town's boom-iest, in the 1880s and 90s. I'll definitely be checking that out next.

UPDATE: In scouring the 1880 and 1900 censuses for all Alpena females between the ages of 20-30 who were single, I could find no record of any soiled doves residing within city limits...or perhaps they were just better at hiding it in those days. It's also a possibility they all remained out at the lumber camps, and the practice hadn't made its way into town yet. I know they were around - any place filled with young single men who spend all day working hard in the woods and their nights getting liquored up is bound to have a few questionable ladies about.