2009.09.02 Here's looking at you, 1892

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.web
    NICE WORK—A spider remains at the center of a web, awaiting visitors, during a moist morning last month. The was built in front of Eagle Funeral Home in Morenci.
  • Front.bridge Cross
    STEP BY STEP—Wyatt Stevens of Morenci makes his way across a rope bridge Sunday during the Michigan DNR’s Great Outdoors Jamboree at Lake Hudson Recreation Area. The Tecumseh Boy Scout Troop constructed the bridge again this year after taking a break in 2016. The Jamboree offered a variety of activities for a wide range of age groups. Morenci’s Stair District Library set up activities again this year and had visits with dozens of kids. See the back page for additional photos.
  • Front.bridge.17
    LEADING THE WAY—The Morenci Area High School marching band led the way across the pedestrian bridge on Morenci’s south side for the annual Labor Day Bridge Walk. The Band Boosters shared profits from the sale of T-shirts with the walk’s sponsor, the Morenci Area Chamber of Commerce. Additional photos are on the back page.
  • Front.eclipse
    LOOKING UP—More than 200 people showed up at Stair District Library Monday afternoon to view the big celestial event with free glasses provided by a grant from the Space Science Institute. The library offered craft activities from noon to 1 p.m., refreshments including Cosmic Cake from Zingerman’s Bakehouse and a live viewing of the eclipse from NASA on a large screen. As the sky darkened slightly, more and more people moved outside to the sidewalk to take a look at the shrinking sun. If you missed it, hang on for the next total eclipse in 2024 as the path comes even closer to this area.
  • Cecil
    THE MAYOR—Cecil Schoonover poses with a collection of garden gnomes that mysteriously arrive and disappear from his property. Along with the gnomes, someone created the sign stating that he is the Mayor of Gnomesville. He hasn’t yet tracked down the people involved in the prank, but he’s having a good time with the mystery.
  • Front.rest
    TAKE A BREAK—Last Wednesday’s session of Stair District Library’s Summer Reading Program ended with a quiet period in a class presented by yoga instructor Melany Gladieux of Toledo. Children learned a variety of yoga poses in the main room at the library, then finished off the session relaxing. Additional photos are on page 7. Area children are invited to visit the library today when the Michigan Science Center presents a flight program at 11 a.m. and roller coasters at 1 p.m.
  • Front.batter
    THE DERBY—Tyler “Smallpox” Flakne of Minnesota’s Home Run League All-Stars goes for the fence Friday night during the National Wiffle League Association’s home run derby in Morenci. This year the wiffleball national tournament moved from Dublin, Ohio, to Morenci’s Wakefield Park. During the derby, competitors had two minutes to hit as many home runs as possible. The winner this year finished with 21. See page 6 and 7 for additional photos.
  • Front.green Screen
    OUT OF THIS WORLD—Elizabeth McFadden and Elise Christle pose in front of the green screen as VolunTeen Noah Gilson makes them appear as though they are standing on the Moon. More photos from the Stair District Library’s NASA @ My Library program are on page 12.
  • Front.fireworks
    FIREWORKS erupt Saturday night over Morenci’s Wakefield Park during the waning hours of the Town and Country Festival. Additional festival photos are inside.