25 March 2015

Bound Brook's Goat Problem

At their November 6, 1898 meeting, the borough council of Bound Brook, NJ passed a solemn resolution ordering their policemen to "attack and kill all goats." Yes, you read that correctly.  Bound Brook was being overrun with goats, and something had to be done.


The New York Times, November 7, 1898

"Overrun" may not be a strong enough term to describe what was happening to the good citizens of Somerset County's commercial and transportation hub.  Wayward goats, "homeless but ill-tempered", were charging through the streets ramming and throwing pedestrians with no regard to age or social class!  As The New York Times reported:

"Parents fear to allow their children on the streets, not knowing at what moment one of them may be mashed up against a fence or wall or hurled through a plateglass window."
And:
"It has been no unusual spectacle of late to see a dignified and representative taxpayer being shot across the street as if thrown from a catapult."

Talk about Harassment, Intimidation, and Bullying!

East Main Street, Bound Brook, circa 1898
After weeks of citizen complaints, and threat of lawsuits, the borough council was determined to act. They turned first to the Street Superintendent, reasoning that street menaces of this type were within his purview, but the Superintendent was having none of it. Not only did he refuse to do the council's dirty work - arguing that there was nothing in his contract about killing goats - but also came out on the side of the goats, touting their fondness for street refuse and stray grass.


East Main Street circa 1910 ,at the intersection of South Main, Bound Brook
Noting that one of the borough's finest, Policeman Anderson, had also registered a complaint - it seems a party of goats had eaten his entire family's laundry off of the washing line, including his rubber coat! - the council turned at last to the police.  Somewhat out of practice with their revolvers, it was suggested that the officers be issued Krag-Jorgensen bolt-action rifles while on duty!

I was unable to find a follow-up story, but there can be no doubt that, somehow, the Bound Brook bleaters were beaten.

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