By DAVID GREEN
He found what he was looking for back in the 1940s, but he also came across something older that could almost be considered a history book.
The imprint on the spine reads “Record Book” and “Morenci.” Inside are the city’s financial records from 1917 to early 1926, and it’s an interesting tale they tell.
In 1917, a man named Ed Miller was employed as the town marshal, earning $50 every three months. He had a couple additional sources of income. He was paid $1 for every stray dog killed (nine of them in one month that year) and he served as the town’s night watchman earning $1.50 a night.
Throughout the ledger, payments for street work took a lot of money from the village account. Shannon Turbett appears in the record book in April 1917 for street work with a team of horses ($25). Addie Rice earned $29 that month for street work and another $25 for hauling gravel.
In July, the Toledo & Western Railroad was charged $2.50 after 10 firefighters responded to a boxcar fire. George Wilson earned $10.50 for mowing the park and F.A. Keefer was paid $7.50 for three cords of wood.
Homer Wilson is listed for 63 loads of cinders—did he bring them in for street maintenance or haul them away from a furnace?
Two train car loads of stone came in via the New York Central ($46.15) and two more arrived on the Toledo & Western ($37.57).
Most expenses seem minor compared to the monthly cost of street lights and lighting at the village hall. The bill came in at more than $200 a month in 1917 and grew to more than $300 in 1921. When the record book closed up in 1926, the monthly charge exceeded $400.
G.W. Gust was paid $4 for half a ton of coal in January 1918 and another five dogs were killed. Sherman Greiss was paid $3 for shoveling cinders and Milton Morningstar earned $3.70 for “repairing fountain on corner.”
A train car of stone arrived from the France Stone Company and later a carload of slag came from the France Co. Slag was $12 cheaper.
F.W. Granger earned $1.75 for blacksmith work, coal for the village hall cost $4.64 and the council room was plastered and papered for $36.07.
The cost of water was nearly as expensive as street lighting. The Ohio Dairy Company pumped water for the city and the quarterly cost in 1919 ranged from $600 to $800. The company changed its name to the National Dairy Company that year.
For some reason, Vern Gleason was hired to clean Mary Deline’s toilet ($4) and a bronze whistle valve was purchased for the dairy ($14.96).
Printing needs were filled by the Morenci Observer and Bradley’s Printing, and occasionally items were bought from Porter Lumber Company.
In 1921, three $10 tax exemption refunds were paid to soldier’s widows. The Lee & Warner store sold turpentine and lead to the village ($8) and glass and glazing came from LaRowe hardware ($2.70).
Gasoline made an appearance in the ledger in 1921 (always spelled “gass”) and curbing forms were mentioned that year.
In past years, several entries listed the purchase of Tarvia—an asphalt-based road surfacing material—but it wasn’t until the summer of 1921 that a major paving project was mentioned. Dozens of entries are listed when East Street was paved and curbed. The next summer featured sewer work on Gorham Street and the paving of East Main.
Cement came in by the train car load via the NYC line for $358 and labor was paid to many local workers and to those with teams of horses.
Glen Wirick sold cinders for street work in the summer of 1922 ($4.50) and gasoline was purchased for just under 10 cents a gallon.
Firemen responded to a fire at the Blair Hotel ($37.50 paid to chief Roy Sebring) and later to a blaze at the Temple Theatre.
A traffic sign was purchased in 1923 ($2.55), the year that Summit Street was paved. A gravel screening plant was built for $700 to help with the massive project.
In January 1925, Cline & Awkerman sold a padlock and key for the town jail ($4) and J.B. Green furnished the chassis for the Dodge fire truck ($1,360).
Sheepskin coats were purchased for the fire department for $25, but no quantity is listed. A charge of $89 appears for fire department runs to the country.
William Duryea was paid $2 a night for traffic work and the marshal was now earning $75 a quarter.
More than a dozen people were involved in the construction of a new village restroom in the summer of 1925 and the total cost exceeded $4,400.
There are plenty of familiar names appearing among the records—Cottrell, Farquhar, Dwyer, Kutzley, Metcalf, Valentine, Sampson and more—and several old family names can still be seen in area road signs, such as Baker, Baldwin, Camburn, Fay, Mowry, Spencer, Whaley, Whitney and Wilson.
But the names that are no longer here—perhaps only as tombstones in the cemetery—tell a story of constant change in a growing town.
What happened to Ashley, Aldrich, Anders and Benedict? Where did Chislom, Chapman, Clapp and Crabbs go? Dailey, Delair and Donley; Hyslop, Haynes and Heckman; Poucher, Squires, Tuggle and Zahm—so many families were part of the community but their names have disappeared over the decades.
The old city Record Book only raises the questions, but offers no answers.