A Raid At The Pond Houses

by Laurel | September 9th, 2014

21 August 1893


Note: I conducted a simple five minute search for “Prudie” Williams and only found her referenced in the 1908 and 1909 Holyoke City Directories. In 1908 she is listed as living on Tannery Brook Road, Ingleside. In 1909 Prudie has “removed to West Springfield.” Now at 15 years later than the date of the raid described below, this is significantly later, so there is no real way of knowing if this is the same “Prudie” Williams or the same house, or even if it is her real name. However, in 1908 her house is located in the area described in the article below. I’ll conduct some more research on this when I have more time in the upcoming off-season.

The houses of ill fame near Ashley Pond were raided by the Holyoke police Sunday morning, and a crowd of about 40 men and women were given a free ride into the city under police escort. The raid was well planned and carried out, for seldom have as many people been captured at the places. The officers started at midnight under Assistant Marshal Haley, Captain Fenton, and Lieut. Davis. There were 13 officers in the party, and Mr. Haley took charge of the squad at the Rice house, while the Captain and his men surrounded the Highland place. No one had a chance to escape, and all were rounded up. “Prudie” Williams, the keeper of the Rice house, was secreted under a bed occupied by the negro cook, but was hauled out and driven away with the rest of her crowd. The officers and their booty arrived in the city about 4 o’clock, and then there was a lively scurrying for men of property who could bail out the inmates. Most of them were released before breakfast, although several still remain in the cells because they have no friends in the city. The entire crowd will be led before Judge Pearsons this morning and fined for “vagrancy.” This is the second raid on the houses in a few months, and the occupants and their patrons probably felt secure from attack. The women captured at the Rice House were “Prudie” Williams, Sadie Webber, Martha Griffin, Eva Bronson, Alice Sterling, Edith Duval, and Evelyn Hare. At the Highland House were Helen Lee, Rubie Harris, Tillie Clagin, Annie Anderson and Eva Marshall. The men who were caught included several from Holyoke, while some belong to Chicopee and Westfield, and one or two are from Greenfield. Among the names given are the following: James Estes, Thomas Ball, William Baxter, J. A. Kelly, Walter James, William Murphy, Charles Lewis, Ed Connell, Frank Fisher, John Ward, Thomas Spear, Fred Baker, George Graham, Frank Davy, John Bennett, Fred Williams, Ed Brown, and Patrick O’Brien. The aggregate fine likely to be imposed is about $1000. The places have been the scene of several disorderly and disgraceful affairs in the past few months, and the frequent raids may have the effect of bringing about a reform.

Adapted from The Springfield Union.

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