In the late 1800s the eleventh line of Beckwith, according to the local and national media, was “infested” with Gypsies and ragmen. This, however, was no new occurrence, as every summer for a great many years this had been their regular camping ground.
Every year the road in front of the S.S. #9 school was almost impassible on account of these camps, so that it was almost unsafe for children or woman to travel the road alone. The school had always been said to be situated in one of the richest sections of the county, so it was no surprise the gypsies hung around the area.
Considerable dissatisfaction was expressed at the Beckwlth council for allowing such a nuisance year after year on one of the most travelled roads in the township. Locals were angry that council was not taking any steps whatever to put a stop to it, or to prevent its reoccurrence notwithstanding that it had been brought to their notice.
This was the only road by which the townspeople were able to get to the park with the consequence of these rough and dangerous people continually haunting the place. It was impossible for people to go unprotected to spend the afternoons at their park. In July of 1897 while a carpenter was at work repairing the school, some of the Gypsies entered the school yard and became very abusive, and even threatened to end his life. As he happened to have a sledge at hand, he picked this up and only in this way he escaped.
The next day a gentleman was set upon by these highway men and received very rough treatment at their hands. During the summer of 1897 the ragmen held the fort, and had load upon load of old filthy rags gathered up from every quarter and piled on the road. The neighbours near this plight complained that the health officers never seem to take into consideration that these rags were in all probability reeking with disease of every description and may as readily as not spread infection all through the place. Also the same year it was reported that Maggie Garland was assaulted by a tramp in the vicinity of the 10th and 11th line.