2009.09.02 Here's looking at you, 1892

Written by David Green.


There’s a small box on top of the old roll of wrapping paper at the Observer office. It gets opened every year or two when I forget just what’s inside.

I took a peek three weeks ago and rediscovered some old Observers that someone once gave me. I have the April 9, 1892 edition spread out beside me. The paper was published on Saturdays 117 years ago—its 17th year of existence.

This was several years after the State Line Observer name and was now back to the original Morenci Observer. It’s back in the days of no photographs and ads taking up a third of the front page.

The lead story on the front is called “In This Vicinity: The Events of Seven Days Newsily Chronicled.” Here’s a sampling:

• Winfield Baker is now employed in an Adrian cigar factory.

• The North Morenci factory will commence cheese-making Monday.

• Mrs. V. Whitney, who has been with her mother, of circus fame, for some weeks past, returned here last Tuesday.

• Fred Richards, boot and shoe dealer of Hudson, with his wife, was here last Tuesday; and Fred wore a No. 11 smile, all because of that Democratic victory in Hudson.

Seneca resident Than Burch was described by Observer editor Vern Allen as one of the expert sportsmen of the Shooting Club. Than made the front page after he nearly made a “sudden transition to the hunting ground of the hereafter.”

He accidentally swallowed carbolic acid and his life was saved by promptly introducing to his stomach such readily obtained articles as eggs, milk and lard, and not in small quantities. This helped him rid himself of the poison.

So much of life revolved around horses. Orin Stair was looking for a team: ”good roadsters, stylish lookers and well mated.”

Charles Acker was offering the services of his stallion, Banker Rothschild, Jr., for $8. Banker had quite a heavy schedule: Mondays and Tuesday at the owner’s residence; Wednesdays and Thursdays at Rorick’s livery barn in Fayette; Fridays and Saturdays at Clark Bros. feed stable in Morenci. He got Sundays off.

Page 2 offers news from around the state, such as the report of the felonious assault of a woman by three lumbermen, and the resulting threats of a lynching; the destruction of a basket factory in Holland due to a wind storm; the report of a peppermint refinery under construction in Kalamazoo; and the discovery of a gang of chicken thieves (six to 14 years old) in Menominee.

Accounts of accidental death go into great detail, such as the man who was crushed by a box containing four large plate glass windows. “His skull was broken and his face jammed out of all semblance to humanity.”

This issue is loaded with election results. In Fayette, “some of our extremists” made a fight for mayor and clerk and could not be credited with any motive other than “personal spite.”

In South Medina, the United Brethren (liberal) Sunday school had its election, along with the United Brethren (radical).

One page is devoted almost entirely to medical matters. From Carter’s Little Liver Pills to Dr. Harter’s Wild Cherry Bitters to Dr. Kilmer’s Swamp Root—there’s something here for every ailment, including lameback, rheumatism, scrofula, billious-headache, lumbago, La Grippe, catarrh, dropsy, costiveness, consumption, torpid and disordered liver, dyspepsia and all female diseases.

One of those female diseases is a hysterical nervousness that causes rich, pretty and educated girls to elope with tramps and coachmen. “Nervous women seldom receive the sympathy they deserve.”

The Morenci School of Telegraphy claimed to have tuition lower than any similar school in the country. Fifteen minutes away via the Lake Shore & Southern train, Fayette Normal University offered 10-week classes in shorthand and typewriting in addition to regular college courses for just $27, room and board included. “Beautiful Location; No Saloons.”

It’s always a fascinating trip to look back on life a few generations ago. I’ll leave you with a few words of wisdom: A little lard and sulphur, well mixed, and rubbed along the back and around the tail, is one of the best remedies for lice.

  • Front.cowboy
    A PERFORMER named Biligbaatar, a member of the AnDa Union troupe from Inner Mongolia, dances at Stair District Library last week during a visit to the Midwest. The nine-member group blends a variety of traditions from Inner and Outer Mongolia. The music is described as drawing from “all the Mongol tribes that Genghis Khan unified.” The group considers itself music gatherers whose goal is to preserve traditional sounds of Mongolia. Biligbaatar grew up among traditional herders who live in yurts. Additional photos are on the back page of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.base Ball
    UMPIRE Thomas Henthorn tosses the bat between team captains Mikayla Price and Chuck Piskoti of Flint’s Lumber City Base Ball Club. Following the 1860 rules, after the bat was grabbed by the captains, captains’ hands advanced to the top of the bat—one hand on top of the other. The captain whose hand ended up on top decided who would bat first. Additional photos of Sunday’s game appear on page 12 of this week’s Observer. The contest was organized in conjunction with Stair District Library’s Hometown Teams exhibit that runs through Nov. 20.
  • Front.chat
    VALUE OF ATHLETICS—Morenci graduate John Bancroft (center) takes a turn at the microphone during a chat session at the opening of the Hometown Teams exhibit at Stair District Library. Clockwise to his left is John Dillon, Jed Hall, Jim Bauer, Joe Farquhar, George Hollstein, George Vereecke and Mike McDowell. Thomas Henthorn (at the podium) kicked off the conversation. Henthorn, a University of Michigan–Flint professor, will return to Morenci this Sunday to lead a game of vintage base ball at the school softball field.
  • Front.cross
    HUDSON RUNNER Jacob Morgan looks toward the top of the hill with dismay during the tough finish at Harrison Lake State Park. Fayette runner Jacob Garrow focuses on the summit, also, during the Eagle Invitational cross country run Saturday morning. Continuing rain and drizzle made the course even more challenging. Results of the race are in this week’s Observer.
  • Front.bear
    HOLDEN HUTCHISON gives a hug to a black bear cub—the product of a taxidermist’s skills—at the Michigan DNR’s Great Youth Jamboree. The event on Sunday marked the fourth year of the Jamboree. Additional photos are on page 12.
  • Front.hose Testing
    HOSE safety—The FireCatt hose testing company from Troy put Morenci Fire Department hose to the test Monday morning when Mill Street was closed to traffic. The company also checks nozzles and ladders for wear in an effort to keep fire fighters safe while on calls.

Weekly newspaper serving SE Michigan and NW Ohio - State Line Observer ©2006-2016