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Looking back at Farmington's short-lived brothel
Jan 22, 2014 | 2169 views | 0 0 comments | 10 10 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Marlene O'Day, Virginia Lamson and Betty Baker - Photo courtesy of Kelli Garside McFarland
Marlene O'Day, Virginia Lamson and Betty Baker - Photo courtesy of Kelli Garside McFarland
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BY TOM BUSSELBERG

Managing Editor

FARMINGTON - Believe it or not, Farmington was once home to a brothel.

The “Benevolent Hand Club” was apparently housed in a barn briefly in west Farmington, said Val Holley. author of “25th Street Confidential: Drama, Decadence, and Dissipation along Ogden’s Rowdiest Road.”

The Farmington brothel was open for only 48 hours after a business license was recorded with the county clerk before Sheriff LeGrand Hess conducted a raid and shut it down, the author said.

According to the June 16, 1950 Davis County Clipper, “Sheriff Hess said officers had been maintaining a close watch for the last two weeks on the place.”

The brothel was on Burke Lane in a barn that no longer exists. The barn had apparently housed dairy operations for the Paramount Ice Cream & Dairy Company during World War II, Holley said.

The brothel was operated by Bill and Rosetta Davies.

Rosetta was described by Holley as “the most famous, most high profile madame on Ogden’s 25th Street in the 20th Century.”

That street had a reputation for prostitution across the nation. Ogden then was a major railroad crossroads.

“I don’t know how they chose Farmington,” said Holley, who is most famous for writing a biography of Hollywood icon James Dean.

The Clipper provided some details of the brothel. It said there was a lounge area, bar, and six bedrooms - each with a private bathroom. It even had its own generating plant.

This house of prostitution apparently tried to operate under the radar of a then-new phenomenon.

“The state chartered club had become all the rage. There were all sorts of saloons, taverns incorporated as state chartered clubs,” Holley said.

It was believed that such charters made it easier for them to sell illegal alcohol and conduct gaming operations.

“They were less likely to be to be looked at by the police,” it was thought, Holley said.

The articles of incorporation were quite lofty in the purported purpose behind the operation: “To encourage and foster high ideals of members toward justice and patriotism,” and to “promote the principals and objectives of the democratic form of government.”

“I heard what was going on, heard it went only a few days,” recalled Joe Wilcox, a Farmington resident.

“The barn itself was not large. It was a little shed. It seemed like it was all a frame building,” he said.

The Davies were put out of business in Ogden, where they operated a brothel on 25th Street.

They may have assumed Farmington and Davis County would be an easy place to operate without worry of interference from the law, Holley speculated.

He briefly described the raid.

“The deputy sheriffs who disguised themselves as ranchers ambled into the luxurious barn, where hard liquor was being sold,” he said referring to various newspaper accounts.

Three cowboy-looking deputies were inside and five others lurked outside, Holley said.

The five outside deputies reportedly went in, arrested a bartender and three prostitutes along with Bill and Rosetta Davies.

In Rosetta’s purse they found $483 in cash, a “bulging” address book and a .22 caliber pistol.

All of them were arrested, the Davies were eventually convicted, and a related Ogden gambling hall raided a month later, Holley said.

“As a result they were in jail for the next seven years,” their careers ended, he said.

tbusselberg@davisclipper.com

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