Columns

2009.09.02 Here's looking at you, 1892

on . Posted in By The Way

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.

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