Did You Ever Commit Any of These Crimes?

HoochieKoochie DReynolds 400
Debbie Reynolds does Hochie Kochee in Singing In The Rain

Have you ever danced the "Hoochie Kochee," "Grizzly Bear", "Turkey Trot", "Snake Wrestle" or "Bunny Hug"?

In 1919, these suggestive dances were illegal in South Dakota. My Grandson Jake found a 1919 South Dakota Code at a rummage sale and gave it to me for Christmas. That led to a fun read of crimes no longer in existence.

With the State Legislature working on a major revision of criminal law, I thought we should be vigilant to see if some of these 1919 crimes might reappear:

• Failing to cure disease or ailment if contracted or guaranteeing to do so;

• Threatening to publish libel;

• Dueling ... combat with deadly weapon by a previous agreement;

• Force or violence is not unlawful by a parent ... or a teacher to restrain or correct his children or scholar;

• Every person guilty of adultery shall be punished by imprisonment not exceeding five years in the State Penitentiary;

• Willfully poisoning food or drink is punishable by imprisonment;

• Wearing a badge of the Grand Army of the Republic when not entitled to do so is subject to a $25.00 fine per incident;

• Selling glandered (carrying Pseudomonas disease) horses is a misdemeanor;

• Delaying departure of any passenger vessel for more than two days is subject to a fine;

• Opening a sealed letter not addressed reader is a misdemeanor;

• Divulging telegraph or telephone messages is a misdemeanor;

• Illegal to take saw logs or purchasing saw logs knowingly belonging to others;

• Unlawful to enter horse in a speed race under assumed name;

• Unlawful to be a vagrant defined as:

– persons without visible occupations or means of support, loitering around the houses of ill fame, gambling houses or places where intoxicating liquors are drank;

– Able bodied males who refuse to provide for their families;

_ Persons begging in public or house to house;

– Camping on public highway for purposes of trading horses;

– Operating as a fortune teller;

– All common gamblers;


– Males who solicit females.

And if you are thinking of getting a divorce in 1919, it had to be for:

• Adultery

• Extreme cruelty (grievous bodily injury or mental suffering)

• Willful desertion (the voluntary separation of one married person from another for more than one year)

• Willful neglect (neglect of husband to provide for wife and family)

• Habitual intemperance (use of intoxicating beverages which disqualifies a person a greater portion of time from attending to business)

• Conviction of a felony