Columns

2013.06.19 In the shadow of 1893

on . Posted in By The Way

By DAVID GREEN

I've mentioned before that the really old Observers were given away or somehow disposed of decades ago. The first 50 years of newspapers are gone, and along with them so much local history. 

That's why it's such a treat when someone brings in an old one, such as the crumbling June 10, 1893, paper I have before me now. The Observer was just over 20 years old at this point. It had already passed through its years as the New Era and State Line Observer and became established as the Morenci Observer.

The paper was published every Saturday and obviously provided plenty of good weekend amusement for life without radio, television, the Internet, a quick drive to Adrian or Toledo, etc. This was the main news source and it went from local to international.

I read that the Queen had appointed the Earl of Aberdeen as the new Governor-General of Canada. There's a column of News Miscellany that tells of the collision in Lake Huron between a lake steamer and a schooner. There's a report called An Illinois Lynching with the sub-heading "Negro Ravisher of White Women Hanged by a Determined Mob."

Around the State offers a couple of dozen short reports such as the opening of a bicycle factory in Bay City and the injury of a man in the Sault when carbolic acid was thrown in his face.

Next the news gets closer to home with a column called County of Lenawee. "Some 20 cheese manufacturers of Lenawee, Fulton, Hillsdale and Monroe counties met at the Hotel Emery in Adrian last Saturday to discuss their mutual interests and 'get together' on prices."

Observer editor Vern Allen was kind not to use the phrase "price collusion." He mentions that S.S. Beatty of the Morenci factory attended, along with B.C. Roberts of the Fountain Valley factory. Sounds like a good history quiz question: Where was the Fountain Valley cheese factory located?

Next come the Weekly Reports. Seneca: M.A. Packard lost a fine dairy cow Monday with milk fever. Lyons: Brad Bundy has bought out H.R. Meyers in the Delta stage route. Fayette: Congressman Ritchie has recommended Frank Verrier for postmaster at Fayette.

Speaking of Fayette, president J.E. Dodds of Fayette Normal University was seeking for new students: tuition, room and board cost $27 for a 10-week session.

1893 was the year of the Chicago World's Fair: Columbian Exposition, celebrating Columbus's 400th anniversary. The Wabash Railroad, passing through North Morenci, describes itself as the Banner Route to the fair. N.W. Green of Morenci opened his home to World's Fair visitors: $10 a week including two meals a day.

Half of the front page is filled with the report of the recent Tuesday night high school commencement at the Methodist Church. Under the headline "Seven Maidens - Three Males," the story explains that this was the 10th annual commencement for Morenci High School and, with 10 students, it was the largest class yet. The story certainly isn't lacking in details.

"The floral offerings and substantial presents received by the graduates were, unquestionably, superior in point of number and elegance of design to those of previous years."

The ceremony began with a performance by the Mandolin and Guitar Club, then each senior read an essay, including an enormous poem by Florence Williams. "Push, pluck and perseverance are the three peas in our shell, and if you'll accept our motto, then 'tis certain you'll do well."

Elwood Saulsbury wrote the class song which was performed by the 10. "Our fond hopes are gained, we realize at last; the dreams of our youth are now of the past."

The superintendent's speech was next, in which "he deplored the fact that so few boys are seeking to complete a high school course."

It's obvious the Observer was greatly appreciated by those who had moved away, such as Rev. Van Antwerp who wrote, "I trust its shadow will not grow less and that it will ever maintain the high character it has so long borne."

That's really putting the pressure on, but I'll see what I can do.

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