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Texas charted new legal territory by becoming the first state to make buying sex a felony, a move aling a crucial change in how the justice system has long approached prostitution. The state unanimously passed HBwhich was ed into law by Gov. The law goes into effect Sept. Senfronia Thompson who authored the bill. While some experts say the law reflects a new wave of systemic reform and could help trafficked sex workers by deterring demand, others say it misses the mark and instead will further tie the victims up in the legal system.
A frustrated but well-connected wife, Emilie Kampmann stood before a Bexar County, Texas court in July of demanding a divorce from her deviant spouse Gustav Kampmann who frequented houses of prostitution regularly. The humiliating revelations illuminate a period of tension in San Antonio history in which prostitution and proper society clashed and people disputed whether the trade was a necessary evil aspect of urban life or whether it debased urban life and society.
The documentation of prostitution existed in San Antonio de Bexar as early as . However, the first house of prostitution to appear in what was later deated as the red-light district was noted inand in twenty years, grew to well over one hundred brothels. Yet exactly how much autonomy bawdy houses possessed, and how rigorously the city of San Antonio tried to control and regulate them, remains unclear. scholarship on the history of prostitution in San Antonio tends to rely solely on the blue book as irrefutable evidence and ignores other municipal documentation, such as city council minutes, city ordinances and newspaper s.
The history and autonomy of bawdy houses in San Antonio from its legal status from to and quasi-legal status from to the beginning of World War II. Evidence shows that rather than a government-mandated red-light district a scholars have posited, the location of San Antonio's "Sporting District" resulted from economics and the national trends of prostitution. The study of prostitutes and sexuality is not uncharted ground for scholars.
Between the s and mids, a plethora of books and articles devoted their content specifically to this topic. Although Bowser does utilize Sanborn Fire Insurance maps and lists the San Antonio Light newspaper in his bibliography, his lack of citations make it hard to ascertain the accuracy of his s.
Selcer utilizes sources such as city council minutes, court documents and newspaper s. In the introduction of his monograph, Selcer voiced concern over the lack of verifiable historical information regarding prostitution in Fort Worth. He claimed:. The problem with getting into the historical roots is that the historical viewpoint languishes while mythology is self-perpetuating.
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Over the years, a succession of journalists and amateur historians and local characters have contributed to the mythology. Their contributions have smoothed over the gaps in historical record until it becomes impossible to tell where the historic record stops and the mythology begins.
No mention was made in the ordinance of any specific location required for the houses of prostitution within this ten-block radius. No mention in any city council minutes or in the actual ordinance regulated the precise location of the red-light district. The minutes indicated that the city council members were actually more interested in collecting licensing fees and controlling venereal disease than they were in where prostitutes were located. By the end of the nineteenth century, several Texas towns such as Fort Worth, Houston, Galveston, Austin, Waco and El Paso encountered the issue of how to deal with what many people believed during this time period, was a necessary evil.
In addition to licensing and inspecting prostitutes as the San Antonio, Fort Worth, Galveston and Austin ordinances did, Waco, El Paso and Houston additionally deated particular locations within the city to regulate the vice activity per city ordinance. Ironically, the San Antonio Ordinance of was overturned only a few months later when challenged by a local madam for its legitimacy.
Brothel owner, Emelia Garza, challenged the ordinance immediately after it was passed when she was jailed and fined by city officials for not paying the licensing fee. Convicted in a Bexar County court, Garza appealed her case. Garza won in the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals on February 26, which overturned the city ordinance.
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However, it did not have the right to control the prostitutes through either s or licensing fees. Ordinance passed on July 20, echoed nearly verbatim the overturned regulation. But again, the city officials only focused on enforcing the licensing and health of prostitutes rather than controlling the space they inhabited. No language existed in this new ordinance required prostitution only in the red-light district. The growth of San Antonio since the mid-nineteenth century helps to understand why the city felt it necessary to regulate prostitution. Byit reached over 20, and bytotaled over 50, residents.
This began with the construction of Government Hill inlater deated as Fort Sam Houston in Like many cities, one confined location allowed greater control over the vice activity. For brothel owners, having one distinct location made more economic sense. The location could not compete with commercial activities, but located close enough to the downtown area to be convenient to its customers.
The Sanborn Fire Insurance maps show the location of the Sporting District surrounded by an orphan asylum, Mexican tenements and other groups placed outside the circle of early twentieth century polite society. Between andprostitution in San Antonio enjoyed a legal status with a general understanding, but no legal mandate, that they operate within the confines of the district.
Inthe Progressive candidate, Marshall Hicks took office as mayor. Throughout the early s, prostitution flourished in San Antonio and in many Texas cities as populations grew.
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The state of Texas passed legislation in permitting all cities to deate areas within their municipalities to control vice activities such as prostitution and gambling. The law allowed cities to enact ordinances. Like many cities across the United States, San Antonio balanced a growing tension between the trade and reformers who embraced Victorian values.
The year proved a turning point for the reformers nationally when U. War Secretary Newton Baker waged war against the growing issue of venereal diseases among troops. To complete this task, the city appointed more police officers.
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In November, a t committee of military officers and city officials formed in order to pinpoint reasons for the failure to close the district. Minutes from the meeting on December 17,reflect an exasperated City Hall placing the blame tly on the police department for its failure to enforce, and on the hypocrisy of the federal government for granting liquor s in known houses of prostitution. Attempts to close the Sporting District continued through the Depression, with periodic raids of the district.
San Antonio police and military police formed t task forces to close brothels. The military gave the city an ultimatum stating that either they close the district, or downtown San Antonio would be placed off limits to military troops. Facing economic hardship without the support of its large military presence, San Antonio acquiesced. However, examination of the city council minutes, newspaper s, city ordinances and court records, reveals that no government-mandated district existed.
Rather, San Antonio followed the national trend and that of Fort Worth, Austin and El Paso in the creation of a de facto area, not dictated by ordinance. The district that brothel owners created over time was more of an economically sound plan for business than that of city requirement. Although their profession was legally outlawed by revised City Ordinance inSan Antonio prostitutes enjoyed a great amount of freedom to pursue their occupation in the early part of the twentieth century.
The growth of military installations and male customers bolstered the growth of prostitution, but a the War Department sought to stem venereal disease. After much cooperation and contention between the military and city officials, the district finally closed at the beginning of World War II. Many questions remain regarding the history of prostitution in San Antonio.
Although s for prostitutes and brothels existed in the city of San Antonio, they do not readily surface in the city or county archives. It is possible that much information related to San Antonio prostitution was destroyed. Yet, in the index of city council minutes, no listing of prostitution, disorderly houses, bawdy houses, or any of its pseudonyms was made even in the years prostitution ordinances were created.
Many archivists anxious to assist historians locate information about the history of prostitution remain frustrated by the lack of evidence that exists. Early record clerks most likely did not foresee the importance of recording stories of disorderly women in San Antonio.
San antonio sporting district
Yet even with this gap of information, many narratives remain to be spoken. A great untold story of brothel owner Emelia Garza who boldly challenged city officials as a woman and as a prostitute, remains to be told. One year after Ms. Garza beat the city in Appeals Court, she was suspiciously placed into an insane asylum. The top left image is the cover of the pamphlet, the on the top right is a sample of an advertisingwith an advertisement from the brothel house of madam Lillian Revere in the center.
Most advertisements from madams in the blue book appeared in the center of the other advertisements. This Sanborn Fire Insurance Map denotes a red circle which deates the first bawdy house to appear within the de facto Sporting District in San Antonio. This brothel was located inside the Sporting District. San Antonio September 10, Meeting of the Commissioners of San Antonio, December 16, ed on June 12, Modified on February 20, Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
Oswald, Diane L. College Station. Selcer, Richard F. Johns Lutheran Church with Rev. Johann A Wieder presiding. Kampmann was the fifth child of Johann H. Bexar Marriages Book G, David C. San Antonio,5. The less developed west side of San Antonio provided a location removed from the more socially accepted activities but still accessible.
Census Records from were cross-referenced to verify the race of the Class A brothels. August 7, In10 existed within the confines of the district. In20 exist and inare thought to exist.