Over the next few weeks, The Daily Advertiser will be taking a look back at some of Wagga's most notorious criminals from days gone by.
Today, we bring you the story of Alice Clarke, who was charged on April 8, 1912, with two peculiar offences; drunkenness, and “having insufficient lawful means of support”.
Jill Kohlhagen, the collection management archivist for the CSU Regional Archives, said the latter of those two charges was not entirely as it appeared.
“This was a charge used by police to ‘clean up the streets’,” Ms Kohlhagen said.
“I suspect she was quite simply a prostitute, although that was not something she was charged with.
“Alice was known to keep the company of many different men, drinking in pubs with them, then spending the night on the river bank with them.”
Clarke came into trouble when Senior Constable Field reported seeing her on Fitzmaurice Street of a Saturday evening with three or four different men, with the whole group under the influence of alcohol.
When the Senior Constable reprimanded her, Clarke promised to return home to her North Wagga residence.
However, the next morning, a witness complained that Clarke had spent the night in a tent with multiple men instead, and the police promptly arrested her.
In building their case against Clarke, police said she had been known to them for some 12 months, as she was constantly wandering the streets in the evening with different men.
In court, Clarke pleaded guilty to drunkenness, but said she was not guilty of "having insufficient lawful means of support”.
However, she was unable to convince the court of her innocence, and was sentenced to six months’ hard labour at Goulburn Gaol.
Clarke was labelled an “undesirable character”, with a 1912 issue of The Daily Advertiser reporting that she was labelled “a disgrace to her sex” in court.
Ms Kohlhagen of the CSU Regional Archives said Clarke was most likely arrested on these seemingly bogus charges because she had started to become a public nuisance.
“The police said in court that Alice had been in and around Wagga for about a year by the time they arrested her, and she was obviously well known to them, but it’s only at this point that they charge her,” Ms Kohlhagen said.
“The police wouldn’t have really cared whether she had a lawful job, unlawful job, or no job at all, as long as it wasn’t affecting the general public.”
Ms Kohlhagen suspected Clarke was sent to Goulburn to serve her time as a convenient way of making her another town’s problem.