2014.02.12 Exciting times of '93

When Will Harsh offered to give me an old Observer a couple of weeks ago, I knew I had a real prize in my hands. The paper was published Saturday, Nov. 11, 1893. This was the Observer's 18th year. It looks like a rather momentous edition with so much big news and indications of changing times.

The new S.S. Beatty and Son cheese factory burned to the ground earlier in the week and "414 cheese belonging to the patrons" was destroyed, along with Oliver Clark's chest of tools. The cause of the fire remained unknown, but the paper's account mentioned the presence of a strange cup found in the engine room.

A new telegraph line would soon connect Morenci with the Wabash depot in North Morenci. It was expected that the line would be extended north to Canandaigua, "placing that quiet burgh in electric communication with the rest of the world for the first time in its history." Now, 120 years later, the people of that burgh are still seeking fast internet service to connect with the rest of the world.

The Women's Relief Corps made $16 through its chicken dinner to raise money for a soldiers monument. There were still many Civil War veterans alive who attended the dinner. According to the Observer, "some old vets, who in the 'sixties' subsisted on bullet hard beans, ate so much of the patriotic pie of '93 that the supplies were exhausted."

I'm always surprised by the gory details about tragic events published in old newspapers, such as the death of former resident Duwayne Downer in Fairmount, Ind. He was severely burned in an accidental gas explosion in his house, leaving him to wish that he had been killed at once. After a week of agonizing pain, during which doctors stripped seven or eight pounds of burned skin from his limbs, he finally "became delirious and gradually sank into the long and painless sleep." His $5,000 insurance policy expired five days before the accident.

Eight business owners banded together to announce they would close their stores at 7:30 p.m. until April in order to "get acquainted with their families." In an even bigger decision, the meat market and barbershops decided to close on Sundays.

Dr. Rorick in Fayette had a 12-year-old daughter who "is a red-hot Republican who did more to bring about a victory for her party than many men." She took a carriage and drove into the rural regions to bring people into town to vote. 

There's always plenty of news from around the world, but sometimes it's no more than interesting filler. "In the West Indies the fireflies are very large and are frequently confined in netting for personal ornaments. A lady will sometimes appear in a ball room with red, green, yellow and blue lights on her head and shoulders."

News from around the state includes a report that several seniors at Hillsdale's school thought they knew more than their superintendent. It resulted in "the biggest kind of row and all but four were expelled."

Newberry was to become the home of the state's newest insane asylum and in Ionia, a small house was to be built "for the express accommodation of tramps." Grand Traverse Bay has produced some tidal waves over the years, but never before could anyone remember the bottom dropping out. Where waves generally roll over a 67-foot black hole, the water stood only four feet deep last week in Bowers' harbor near Ne-ah-at-wan-ta.

Dr. Everest, a veterinarian, explained in an article that when a horn is cut off the head of young cattle, "if a light be held in one side of an animal's head, it will shine clear through." So buy his new chemical preparation.

A person could board the Lake Shore and Michigan Southern train in Fayette at 6 a.m. and reach Morenci at 6:15, after a brief stop at Ritters. The train made it to Weston at 6:30, Jasper at 6:38, Grosvenor at 7 and Lenawee Junction at 7:15. From there a passenger could travel east to Buffalo or Cleveland, west to Chicago and beyond. The entire country awaited, riding the rails out of Fayette and Morenci.