Hal Roth - September 2010


Old News from Delmarva:
September 1910
Hal Roth

1910 was an election year, and partisan editors on Delmarva were expressing considerable discontent with what they saw as extravagant spending by the ruling political party in Washington. Sounds like 2010, doesn’t it, but a century ago the Republicans were in power and it was the Democrats who were loudly shouting for change.
“Spending $3,567,605.66 every business day, the United States under the reign of standpat Republicans has become the most extravagant government in the world.
“Here are some of the ways the standpatters spend the people’s money in a republic! Marble baths for senators. Autos to carry them 100 rods between their offices and the Capital. Touring cars for the president, vice president and ‘Uncle Joe.’ More than $2,500 for apollinaris water for the senators. [A brand of effervescent table water from a spring in Bad Neuenahr, Germany] Thousands of dollars to keep them in Vaseline, castor oil, olive oil, bromo quinine, hair tonic, costly perfumes, glycerin, bergamot, nail brushes, traveling expenses in attending funerals, etc.
“When things go awry in the affairs of the nation, when the opportunists and political soldiers of fortune get the upper hand of the patriotic citizens of the land and run things to suit their own interests – however strongly they may have entrenched themselves to continue their plunder, however firmly and completely banded together – the country, too patient, at last turns for relief to the great party which formed the government, made its foundations of material imperishable, and builded [sic] the lasting structure of the Republic – the Democratic party. To this it turns again this year. From the deluge of extravagance, the riot of spoils parceled out to the privileged ones, whose headquarters are at the Capitol building in Washington, from which place radiate the tentacles of the monopoly monster that gathers greedy tribute in all directions, even down to the humble cottager’s table, there is but one source of deliverance. But the people will again come into their own. A giant they typify, and he is arousing himself in this year of 1910. He is only partially awake, but a few monopoly and trust machines have come within his vision, and with one sweep he has reduced them to junk. Some months will yet elapse before he has on his real accoutrement of battle, fully ready for the fray, and then there will be no hiding from his wrath, no escaping from the retribution that will be meted out! The people, after all, are very jealous of their rights, and when fully aware that they are encroached upon, they visit upon the transgressors a ruthless judgment.”
Wouldn’t it be grand if we could exchange the waste of 2010 for that of 1910?
“If the waste in Washington is $300,000,000 a year, every American family suffers to the extent of $16.66 every year. This is enough to buy a suit of clothes. It will buy an overcoat or a cloak. It will buy nearly three tons of anthracite coal. It will buy four or five pairs of shoes or many other necessaries.”
There is also concern today that America has become too extravagant and that we are too consumed by the quest for pleasure. Is it just another example of “everything old is new again?” Consider these excerpts from a Delmarva newspaper in 1910.
“‘I think we are very closely approaching the age of extravagance and inordinate pleasure enjoyed by Rome just before the fall,’ said Cardinal Gibbons. ‘The cry today is for more and more riches. The rich man is greedy for more. He seems never to have enough to satisfy his desire. It is the same with the well-to-do. The cry is the same everywhere. Then there is the desire for inordinate pleasure. We have many more channels of pleasure than there were in the days of Augustus Caesar, yet there is the desire for new pleasures and for greater enjoyment. I have been told that many people mortgage their homes to buy automobiles, and so each new pleasure brings its demand and its toll.’
“When the cardinal was asked what he thought would be the result of this condition of extravagance, he replied: ‘I believe the Gospel of Christ will save the situation.’”
Along with concerns about extravagance there were protests against recklessness in September 1910.
“During the past few weeks there have been many complaints heard concerning the reckless manner in which a number of the drivers of automobiles are speeding their machines. Not a few persons have told of the narrow escapes they have had as the result of cars being driven around corners at a high rate of speed. Not only are small children and ladies frequently compelled to scramble hurriedly out of the way of these machines, but even men, who are better able to take care of themselves, are compelled to jump back and forth to avoid being run down by these persons who seem to have no regard for the rights of people walking upon the streets.
“No one has any desire to interfere with the legitimate pleasures of persons owning or driving cars, but it should be borne in mind that the law regulates the speed at which these machines shall be run within the town limits, and that this regulation is done for the purpose of protecting the lives of men, women and children from reckless persons who take no precautions to avoid doing damage, and then expect an apology and regret expressed to cure the wrong done, and possibly bring back to life some person whose untimely end may be caused by such reckless disregard for the law. It is the careless and foolhardy driver who brings about all the trouble, not the person who uses judgment and discretion. As the result of the lack of thought of those persons, restrictions that may seem harsh are often enforced against all drivers of machines.
“There is also considerable complaint of the fact that the officers of the law are not enforcing the regulations for driving machines. It is not believed that they are intentionally permitting autoists to violate the law, but they are not watching, apparently, to see that they do obey it.”
And then there was the concern about road signs.
“There should be a uniform system of marking the county roads. The absence of directions causes much trouble and loss of time to many travelers. As journeys are much longer now than in former years, the necessity is all the greater. The automobile carries many people to parts never before visited by them, where they are strangers. Signs and directions at the various corners would be a great satisfaction. Concerted action should be taken in all the counties of the State.”
What a difference the past century has made in population growth.
“The census of 1910 will show that the population of the United States and the dependencies which Uncle Sam has acquired from Spain has reached the hundred million mark. The United States alone has a population of 90,000,000. The net gain from immigration in the last ten years is about 4,292,000. With a population of 90,000,000, the United States will be at the head of all the white nations of the world with the exception of Russia.
“Statisticians estimate that the United States can provide for the needs of a population of 300,000,000. There are enormous areas of public lands that have not been opened to settlement. There are extensive tracts that have not been developed agriculturally. In the South are untilled lands that will produce good harvests when they are brought under systematic and scientific cultivation. That this country will ever have a population of 300,000,000 is, of course, a matter of speculation.”
Dashes from Here and There
“The rolling ocean with its boundless prospect is ever interesting, but at no time is it more enticing than during the month of September. The bathing is at its best. The sailing is ideal. The salt sea air is charged with increased invigoration, and there is a geniality about it unknown during the torrid days of summer.”
“Good news for lovers of buckwheat and sausage. Three thousand acres of buckwheat are growing in Caroline County. Now it’s up to Talbot to furnish the sausage crop and everybody will be happy.”
In spite of the rigorous training of our military today, the modern soldier may wince when he reads the next clipping.
“Lieutenant Enoch B. Garey, of the army, after a stay of more than two years in the West, with headquarters at Fort Douglas, Utah, is home for a few weeks. His command recently took part in a test march of five hundred miles into Wyoming, and the last sixteen miles over a piece of rough country was made in four hours. The young officer was greatly pleased with the wonderful enterprise of the people out there, the rapid development seen in many sections and the amazing destiny evidently awaiting that section of Uncle Sam’s domain, but Maryland has for him a charm all its own. He will go with his regiment to the Philippines next spring.”
“For the farmer with brains, every bolt should be replaced at once. Manufacturers don’t put useless bolts in machines just for the fun of it.”
“One is not apt to imagine that he carries around with him a piece of an old fence rail, but such is the fact in hundreds of thousands of cases, as it is authoritatively stated that the old-fashioned red cedar rail fences of Tennessee now furnish the world’s supply of pencil wood.”
“Easton held a horse show on September 15th.”
“It has been lawful to shoot railbirds since September 15th, but the tides have been insufficient and the birds on the Choptank marshes have been safe.”
J. F. Werner sent the following letter to the editor of the Easton Star-Democrat.
“Hearing that the squirrel season was open, I got a gun, went out in the woods and shot two squirrels. One of them showed plainly that it had a suckling brood somewhere in the woods. I say shame on Maryland and the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals to let such a law stand that causes many young squirrels to starve in their nests because their mothers are shot in a season when they should live.”
“Mrs. W. W. Murphy was severely bitten by a spider last Tuesday but is recovering.”
“Wrap your canned fruit in newspapers and put in a cool, dry place to prevent molding.”
“Veterans of the Civil War are making plans to meet on the 29th inst. A very large majority of the members of the First Eastern Shore Regiment have passed away. The regiment did patrol duty on the Eastern Shores of Maryland and Virginia during the war and was in Lockwood’s Brigade at Gettysburg in the second day’s fighting, where it lost a number of men. It was recruited chiefly in Caroline, Dorchester and Talbot Counties. Of its field and staff officers, only Col. James C. Mullikin, of Easton, Captain John E. Rastall, of Chicago, and the chaplain, Rev. Thos. Poulson, survive.”
“One of the worst electrical storms in recent years passed over the town of Federalsburg last week. Rain and hail fell in torrents, and it is feared that much damage has been done to growing crops. In some of the canning houses women and children were frightened so badly that numbers fainted. Lightning flashed through the canning house of Burdett Messenger, shocking Superintendents Herman Noble and William Kent. Women and children became panic stricken and ran hither and thither about the factory. Seven girls fainted and a doctor had to be called to attend Annie Legar, Bertha Skelhusy, Mary Mack and Minnie Andrews. Reports from outlying districts state that considerable corn was blown down. A barn on the farm of Charles M. Walker was set on fire by a bolt of lightning and destroyed, together with three heifers, one cow and $500 worth of feed and farming implements. Several cows were rescued with difficulty, their hair being nearly burned off before they could be led from the building.”
A bachelor offered this idea of how children should be trained.
“The people who don’t have to do things can always do them better than people who are obliged to do them. If you want to know how to invest money, ask a fellow who has never had any to invest. It’s the same with raising children. I am fond of children, and never having had the opportunity to raise any of my own, I am critical about the way people more fortunate than I raise theirs.
“My brother has a boy about six years old, and everything that kid wants he cries for. The minute he begins to cry, he gets it, which is wrong according to my reasoning. Why not make him laugh for it? It’s just as easy for a child to laugh as to cry, and it’s far more healthful, besides being much more cheerful for the surrounding populace.
“I’ve tried the experiment with him, and it works like a charm. If I happen to have anything he wants, and he cries for it, I make fun of him. ‘That isn’t the way to get it,’ I say. ‘Don’t cry for it. Laugh for it.’
“It took only about two lessons for him to understand this, and you have no idea what a wonderful difference it has made in the disposition of that kid. Still, I’m only an old bachelor, and I’m not supposed to know anything about such things.”
“Dr. W. W. Goldsborough, of Greensboro, has two cases of infantile paralysis among his patients. The disease is widespread in some sections of the country and of deep investigation and discussion among medical men, who so far have been unable to meet the trouble satisfactorily. Many theories are advanced as to the origin of the affliction, heretofore generally found almost exclusively among old persons. Some medical men are quoted as saying that infantile paralysis is contagious, and one writer believes the germ may be spread by fowls.
“A dispatch on Wednesday said an epidemic of infantile paralysis has broken out in Centreville, a number of children ranging in age from 2 to 4 years being affected. The physicians have taken the matter up and a number of children are reported to be dangerously ill with the disease.”
“Fall has come. Business is stirring.”
“Straw hats are disappearing rapidly.”
On the crime front: “Mr. Enoch Cannon, of Cecil, heard his eighteen-year-old daughter scream last Saturday night, ran to her room and found Joseph Price, colored, trying to gain entrance through a porch window. As the negro fled, Mr. Cannon shot. Price ran fifty yards and dropped dead. It was learned that the bullet had passed through his heart.”
“A jail delivery [escape] occurred at Dover on Wednesday morning, when Sheriff William E. Maloney was struck, knocked down and rendered unconscious by one of the prisoners. Six men managed to escape from the jail but five of them were only out a short time when they were captured and again locked up.”
“Absorbed with the desire for revenge for past ill treatment and jealous of her husband’s attentions to other women, Mrs. Annie Elizabeth Hudson, the deserted wife of Tobias Hudson, a locksmith of Salisbury, shot and almost instantly killed him Saturday. The shooting took place in the rear room of the offices of State’s Attorney Joseph L. Bailey, where they had met for the purpose of a reconciliation.”
“A Federalsburg letter says that Daniel J. Stevens, an aged farmer, was attacked by his nephew, Daniel A. Stevens, at Hurley’s Mill near Finchville, and died last night. Stevens became involved in a quarrel with his nephew over a dog, which is claimed the elder Stevens killed about four years ago. The dog belonged to young Stevens, who prized it very highly. Yesterday’s dispute led to a fight, and it is alleged the uncle picked up an oak stick about three feet long and struck at his nephew. The nephew backed away, drew a razor and made a dive for his uncle, cutting him in the arm to the bone. The razor then slid down the old man’s side, cutting a gash eight inches long and penetrating through to the lung. Dr. Jefferson, of Federalsburg, was summoned, but he did not arrive in time to save the man, Stevens dying four hours afterward from loss of blood. Sheriff Brinsfield lodged Stevens in the Cambridge Jail.
“Since the murder, many reports have been heard connecting the uncle and nephew and what caused the deed. While the dog was the starting of the quarrel, it is said a woman was also concerned. It is also said that young Stevens was sent to the House of Correction years ago. He is the son of Allison Stevens, a respected farmer.”
Newspaper advertisements a century ago were often presented quite simply and even humbly to readers.
“To the Public:
“The undersigned respectfully ask that the reader pay a visit to their large new store, recently opened in Greensboro, and inspect the fresh and full stock of
“Our efforts will be to establish here a mercantile trade centre, based solely on fair dealing, which will be useful and helpful to all.
–Rairigh & Brumbaugh”
And a few dashes of century-old humor to end our reminiscing:
“‘Look here,’ said one of the jurymen after they had retired, ‘If I understand aright, the plaintiff doesn’t ask damages for blighted affections but only wants to get back what he’s spend on presents, pleasure trips, etc.’
“‘That is true,’ agreed the foreman.
“‘Then I vote we don’t give him a penny,’ said the other hastily. ‘If all the fun he had with that girl didn’t cover the amount he expended, it must be his own fault. I courted her once myself.’”
“‘Johnny, said the teacher, ‘this is the third time I have had to punish you this week. Why are you so naughty?’
“‘Because,’ answered the incorrigible youngster, ‘grandpa says the good die young, and I ain’t takin’ no chances.’”
“Miss Bikley: ‘So you have given up advocating woman’s rights?’
“Miss Passee: ‘Yes, I now go in for women’s lefts.’
“‘Women’s lefts? What is that?’

You can reach Hal Roth at nanbk@dmv.com.