SIOUX CITY | The relic that serves as a memorial for murdered prohibitionist preacher George Haddock has found a permanent home.

"The Haddock marker is currently on display here," said Steve Hansen, director of the Sioux City Public Museum. "And our plan is to continue displaying it."

The marker was excavated from its concrete home last year during the construction of the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, which is set to open Friday.

The relic was relocated to the museum at 607 Fourth St., and placed in the "Whatever Happened To?" temporary display. It then was placed in the Haddock display area.

"It fits in well with everything else on exhibit," said Hansen. "It's a great opportunity for the museum to display an iconic part of Sioux City history."

The circular, metal artifact was set in 1936 by Woodbury County Pioneers near the corner of Fourth and Water streets. It is a remembrance of the slain preacher and reads "Haddock Died Here" along with the date, Aug. 3, 1886.

Last June, Cornerstone World Outreach officials offered to foot the bill to pay for a new monument.

The Rev. Cary Gordon, executive pastor, said $20,000 has been raised by his congregation to fund a new Haddock monument, which he hoped would be placed on the edge of The Backyard, the outdoor event lawn at the new Hard Rock Hotel & Casino.

Hard Rock officials could not be reached for comment on the monument.

"This is an import part of our heritage in Sioux City," Gordon said of the new Haddock memorial. "I respect his tenacity to stand up for what he believed in."

The design for the monument, a black granite obelisk about 6 feet tall, bears an image of Haddock engraved on it with an excerpt from a book by his son about his family's view of their father's murder.

"I studied (Haddock's) story several years ago," Gordon said. "We want more people to learn about the story."

The monument has not yet been constructed and no agreement has been reached for its location, he said.

How Haddock came to Sioux City

In 1882, Iowa amended its constitution to ban alcohol. But the law had no impact on Sioux City, which at the time had 75 saloons, two breweries and numerous gambling houses.

Tom Munson, archival clerk at the Sioux City Public Museum, said there were a few “upstanding citizens” who wanted Sioux City to follow the law.

“The members of the First Methodist Episcopal Church got a new minister — a prohibitionist minister named George Haddock,” said Munson. “They brought him here intentionally to kick Sioux City’s alcohol habits."

Haddock had made a name for himself as the “fighting preacher” who tackled the drinking problem in Iowa’s neighboring state of Wisconsin.

Haddock and a couple of other pastors in Sioux City began to collect evidence from saloons that were selling alcohol illegally and presented the evidence to the courts.

On Aug. 3, 1886, Haddock rented a carriage with another pastor to collect evidence for a prohibition violation case in Greenville, about 2 miles away from Sioux City. On their return, Haddock was confronted by a group of men at the muddy intersection of Fourth and Water streets.

The preacher, armed with a small metal pulley wheel attached to the end of a rope, approached the men. A gunshot rang out and the fighting preacher fell. Haddock died of his wounds hours later.

“Needless to say, the assassination of a prohibitionist minister on the western frontier in the United States was a real bad deal for Sioux City,” said Munson. “It gave Sioux City a black eye both regionally and nationally.”

Haddock’s murder and the following court trials made headlines across the country. Witnesses of the murder named John Arensdorf, a foreman of a local brewing company, as the culprit.

Arensdorf was charged twice. The first trial resulted in a hung jury. One juror claimed he was bribed but declined to say who made him the offer. The second trial declared Arensdorf not guilty. A photo was taken of Arensdorf not long after the trial with members of the jury out drinking in the town the same day he was acquitted of murder.

However, all was not lost for Haddock. Shortly after Arensdorf’s exoneration, Sioux City had rid itself of its brothels, gambling houses, bars and breweries.

“[Haddock] cleaned up Sioux City for a while,” said Munson. “It was a really wild era but Sioux City grew up a lot afterwards.” 

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