Wednesday, December 17, 2014

All I want for Christmas is ...

The first major snow of the season occurred in Lucas County early in the week before Christmas, 1880, which fell on a Saturday that year; and The Patriot reported in its edition of Wednesday, Dec. 22, that "Sleighs were taken from their resting places and put into active use yesterday, for the first time this season."

"This is the regular ideal winter day," the editor reported elsewhere, most likely forming his words directly into a composing stick. "Not too cold, the air full of fine snow and the trees and ground white with frost and snow. It is the winter day we see in pictures."

"The trade in skates has been larger this season than was ever known before," he continued.

Of course the new-fallen snow led to an occasional accident: "A little girl names Angie McDougall, belonging to a family living in the east part of the city, had her right leg broken yesterday at the west school house (on the site of Columbus) while engaged in sliding down hill on a sled. Drs. Stanton and Son were called and reduced the fracture."


There were holiday-related announcements to make. Christmas trees were planned on the evening of Friday, Dec. 24, at the Presbyterian, Methodist and Episcopal churches, The Patriot reported, and the public library, then located above Gibbon Drug Store on the northeast corner of the square, would close early Christmas Eve, at 5:30 p.m., and remain closed for the remainder of the evening.

Looking ahead to New Year's Day, so that women of the town could plan ahead, it was announced that "The following ladies of Chariton will keep open house and entertain callers on New Year's day, between the hours of 2 and 8 p.m.: Mrs. D.Q. Storie, Mrs. D.M. Thompson, Mrs. J.A. Penick, Misses Margaret, Emma and Nellie McCormick, Mrs. G.J. Stewart, Misses Kittie and Belle Waynick and Mrs. Kubitshek."

Each of the women had invited a several friends, all named --- in Mrs. Storie's case, 13 --- to assist with this annual, aspirational social extravaganza. It's not clear where men planned to find refuge as 1881 launched.

Notably absent from the social rosters were Chariton's social leaders: Annie Mallory and her daughter, Jessie. They were continuing a year-long grand tour of Europe commenced to coincide with construction of their grand new home, the Ilion. The women had settled in Germany for the winter so that Jessie could continue her musical studies while husband and father, Smith H., dashed around the United States tending to his railroad-building interests with trips home to Chariton to monitor progress on the house and his other business interests.


It was getting to be late in the Christmas shopping season, so the number of display advertisements in The Patriot was limited. The Joseph Braden & Co. ad here was among the largest. That fine store was located in the new Mallory Opera Block on the northwest corner of the square and a cut of this grand building was included. (Original copies of early Chariton newspapers are accessible only on microfilm, so the images that they contain are not clear.)

But there were plenty of brief reminders offering last-minute shopping ideas scattered in paragraph form on The Patriot's principal news page --- a promotional technique that today might be called "advertorial." Here are a few of them, leading off with the most inventive --- for the Jas. Whitney & Co. store on the southeast corner of the square, managed by Ed Lewis:

Jas. Whitney calls the attention of his numerous customers to his largely increased stock of staple and fancy groceries, including everything in the grocery line. Foreign and domestic coffees and spices from India, Ceylon, Sumatra, while the best markets in China and Japan supply the finest green and black teas. The ports of the Mediterranean and Adriatic have been ransacked for the choicest of fruits, nuts, etc. I have also purchased a large stock of holiday goods for the season, including a great variety of toys, china, glass, Majolica and Bohemian ware and fancy goods suitable for presents, which will be sold at bed rock prices. We cater to the tastes and pockets of the poor as well as the rich; the banker, the farmer, the clerk, the mechanic, the laborer. Send us your orders, we will execute them promptly and carefully and convince you that we shall add to our already well-earned reputation for selling the best goods for the least money. Ed Lewis, manager."

"Novelties for Christmas --- Everyone should examine the magnificent display of goods for Christmas gifts at Jas. Whitney's, on the east side of the square. The show could scarcely have been made more attractive. The arrangement is tasteful and the combination of new and beautiful designs in China, Majolica, Glass, Toys and Fancy Goods, does great credit to the artist taste of the manager, Ed. Lewis, who is prepared to sell every article at lower prices than ever before offered."

"Headquarters for Christmas turkeys, geese, ducks and chickens at Whitneys. They are slaughtered and dressed daily by order of Ed Lewis to fill orders from every part of the city. Leave your name for a fowl and glance around at the full and unsurpassed stock which Ed has layed in for the holidays."


At that early date, there were more than 50 businesses large and small scattered around the square --- shoe and saddle-makers, milliners, dealers in dry goods and hardware, druggists, grocers, confectioners, jewelers, just about anything that could be (legally, in most instances) sold was for sale that Christmas. Here's a sampling of other offerings.

"Presents for young and old abound at Lockwood's (Jewelry). The small children, the boys and girls, the young folks, as well as their elders, can and will enjoy a watch, a ring, or something from the large and beautiful assortment of jewelry, books, chromos, notions, &c. at Lockwood's. Call and seem him before you buy."

"Anxious minds lost in doubt as to where they shall go to get the most substantial and pleasing articles for presents, which custom prompts all to make their friends and beloved ones, in commemoration of that Holy Event of 18 centuries ago, are referred to the stock of L. F. Maple & Co."

"Vansickle's Annual Greeting: They invite the attention of their thousands of old customers and of the hundreds of new ones coming in for the holiday and other goods which they have in store. Their stock in toys and candies is large and in other things they have great variety. Maple Syrup, Buckwheat flour, and the best Kansas City fall wheat flour, 25 cents on the sack lower that sold elsewhere in Chariton. Vansickles' is the place."

"Delicious pickled pigs feet, choice selections of fruit, butter by the pound or can, 1,200 pounds of Christmas candies warranted strictly pure, mixed pickles by the gallon. Anything in the line of groceries from a cracker to a car load of flour or from a nutmeg to a hogshead at Deming & Hollinger."

"A fine line of novelties for the Holidays at Hatcher's. Must be seen to be appreciated. An elegant assortment of Cloaks and Dolmans (a fashionable outer garment for women with cloak-like sleeves) will be closed out cheap. An unsurpassed stock of Gents' Neckware, Underwear, Hosiery and Gloves. An elegant line of Ladies' Goods, best and Cheapest place to buy in the city is at Hatcher's."

"More violins and small music than you ever saw --- organs, organ stools, sheet music at Storie's."

"Try the best cook stove in the market. The incomparble 'Acorn' at Goodrich & Ensley's."

"Every little boy and girl should call attention of their papa's and mama's to the unsurpassed stock of candies, raisins, nuts and every other kind of goodies at Vandervert's."

"New arrivals of goods at the Chicago Clothing House, east side, next door to Van Sickle's. Great bargains during the holidays, and don't you forget it, or to call and examine goods and prices."

"On Waynick's nickel and dime counters may be found many things, not only useful but appropriate for the Holidays. Examine his stock of these things and glance around at his elegant stock of perfumery and other toilet articles. Waynick's drug store is the place."

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Hanukkah candles ...

Holocaust survivors Margit Meissner and Martin Weiss light the menorah during a 2013 Hanukkah reception at the White House.

I've never lighted a menorah, since that would seem a mite pretentious for someone who is culturally Christian. But have made latkes with varying degrees of success and continue to increase my intake of doughnuts during Hanukkah, since it is customary to eat food cooked in oil.

Here's your reminder that, this year, the eight-day Festival of Lights begins at sundown today, the 25th day of Kislev on the Hebrew calendar, and continues through the 24th day of December on the Gregorian calendar. One candle a night until eight are lighted --- plus the shamash.

There are those who argue that Hanukkah, a minor festival, has been elevated out of proportion to its consequence because of its usual proximity to Christmas. But that's just being grouchy. There can never be too many occasions upon which to light candles against the darkness --- or too many doughnuts.

Surely, you're familiar with the story --- after the Maccabees has successfully driven the forces of Antiochus IV from the Temple in Jerusalem during the 100s B.C.E. and wished to rededicate it, they found only a single container of ritual olive oil that had not been profaned --- just enough to keep the menorah in the temple alight for one day. Miraculously, according to the Talmud, the oil burned for eight days --- the time it took to press new oil and prepare it for ritual use.

The miracle story works metaphorically on several levels --- the survival against all odds of the Jewish people on one; the potential within all humanity when we light candles against the encroaching dark on another.

Here's a little meditation that I like, presented by Reform Rabbi Irwin Kula. It's worth listening to.

Monday, December 15, 2014

The first Swede?

Back in late November, 1899, a "scribe" for The Chariton Herald was out in the neighborhood northwest of Chariton --- between here and Oakley --- selling subscriptions, going from farm to farm via horse and buggy, visiting with anyone he met along the way and hoping for invitations to share meals and to stay overnight. That was the way it worked back in those days.

The scribe did not identify himself, but did write about some of the people he interacted with --- and the result was published in The Herald of Dec. 7.

Among them was Anders Gustaf "A.G." Anderson, who told the scribe that he had been the first Swede to settle at Chariton and quite a bit more. It's a good yarn and I'm hoping A.G. was not stretching the truth here because it's always good no know who was first and Lucas County has had a substantial population of people of Swedish descent since the 1870s. Here's how his story was reported, illustrating some of the problems faced by immigrants to the United States whose first language is not English:

"Passing along, we came across A.G. Anderson, who by the way was the first Swede to enter Chariton, some 31 years ago. He certainly possessed a considerable amount of grit to come out here among strangers. At this time the C.B.&Q. railroad (then, Burlington & Missouri River, later C.B.&Q.) was being built through to Omaha. Being unable to find any of his countrymen, a conductor took pity on him and obtained him a job among some three hundred Irishmen on the road. The boss had considerable trouble with him and discharged him several times, hiring him over again, as it was impossible to make him understand the situation. He did not know how much a day he was to get nor when he was to get it. After a while he began to pick up English as he thought, only to find afterwards that it was Irish he had been learning."

The first trains had arrived in Chariton during July of 1867 and although hundreds of workers continued to build the line farther west, Lucas County would for practical purposes have been the end of the line when Anders (also known sometimes as Andrew, the anglicized version of his given name) arrived --- probably stepping off one of those early trains.

Anders was born April 4, 1835, at Kyrefalla, Skaraborgs Lan, Sweden, so would have been about 33 when he arrived in Chariton. He had married Gustava Andersdotter during October of 1859 in Sweden, but she remained behind initially and did not join Anders in Lucas County until 1870. They had 14 children, eight of whom died young --- most if not all in Sweden. When Gustava joined Anders at Chariton, she brought with her their only surviving child, Anna Sofia.

Anders and Gustava lived, and prospered, in Lucas County for the remainder of their lives where Anders worked as a cabinet maker and farmed. 

They were among the earliest members of Chariton's Swedish Evangelical Lutheran Church, now First Lutheran, organized during November of 1869 and for quite a few years exclusively Swedish. Services were conducted exclusively that language until 1896, when English-language services on the last Sunday of every month were introduced (all Sunday evening services were conducted in English after 1915 and, by 1922 --- when the name was changed to First Evangelical Lutheran Church --- English had became the dominant language in the congregation).

Anders died at age 82 on Nov. 6, 1917; and Gustava, 10 years later at age 88 on June 19, 1927. They are buried with their son Fred G. Anderson and members of his family in the Chariton Cemetery.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Gaudete, gaudete!

Here's a reminder for those in charge of lighting the Advent candles today --- it's the rose-colored one. And it's called Gaudete Sunday, "Gaudete" nothing more (or less) than Latin for "Rejoice!" --- the first word of the introit for today's Mass: "Gaudete in Domino semper" or "Rejoice in the Lord always."

If you wish to be liturgically literate, it's useful to know that the early church set Advent aside as a penitential season, sometimes called "little Lent," intended for reflection and perhaps a bit of penance in anticipation of Christmastide joy. Hence, the usual violet hangings, vestments (and Advent candles). Or blue, if you're Anglican or Lutheran and have adapted that aspect of the Sarum rite.

The readings and the hymns designated for the season are kind of somber, too.

But Gaudete Sunday, midway through the season more or less, was set aside as a joyful break. A time to let loose and shout "Rejoice!" as Christmas neared.

Here's a carol appropriate for the day --- some say it was composed in the 16th century, others argue that its origins are late medieval. Whatever the case, if you listen to it, in addition to knowing why it's called Gaudete Sunday --- you'll know how to pronounce it.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Israel Hixson: A killing at Christmastide

Out in Cedar Township as Christmastide nears, Bethel Church is abandoned and nearer the tipping point into dereliction this year than last. At the far edge of its graveyard, near encroaching woodland, the grave of Israel Hixson lies forgotten.

But Israel's death 139 years ago at the hands of Paul Krile --- caused by a blow to the head from a gunstock inflicted on Christmas day --- was a cause for great sorrow and considerable consternation in this tightly-knit neighborhood during what was supposed to be a joyous season. By now, old sorrows, like old joys, have dissipated.

The Chariton Patriot of Dec. 29, 1875, reported the sad events this way under the headline, "A Murderous Affray."

"A quarrel occurred during last week between Israel Hixon (sic) and Paul Krile, both of Cedar Township, which resulted in the former receiving a serious and what is expected to prove a mortal injury at the hands of the latter. The facts in connection with the affray are, as we get them, as follows:

"On Friday (Christmas Eve) Krile's hogs got into Hixon's field and were distrained by Hixon for damages done by them. Krile claimed that Hixon owed him a few dollars, and wanted the account, or part of it, to settle the damages, but Hixon insisted on receiving the money before releasing the hogs. The money was sent by Krile on Saturday, and the hogs taken home, when K. at once went to Esq. (James) Roseman and sued for the amount of his (K's) claim. 

"On Krile's return home from the Squire's, (he was carrying a gun at the time, which he claims to have borrowed during the day to go turkey hunting the next day) and when near Hixon's house he shot the latter's dog. Whether Hixon was aware at this time that Krile had sued him, and before this in addition to the killing of his dog to exasperate him, how the conversation or inauguration of such an encounter occurred, we have not learned, but on Krile's arriving at Hixon's house, the latter went out for the purpose, as he expressed it to the family, of "settling the matter at once," and the two came into contact. 

"Just what was said or which one of the parties first attempted violence is not known, but the result was that Hixon received a blow over the head from the gun in Krile's hands, which fractured his skull badly. The gun was an old army musket, and the blow was inflicted by the butt of the weapon, the lock penetrating the skull. 

"Hixon was carried to the house in an insensible state and still remains in that condition. Dr. Fitch was called on Sunday and removed a portion of the skull from the top of the head about four inches long and two inches wide, to relieve the brain from pressure by the fractured bone, but the doctor has no hopes of his recovery. Krile had a preliminary hearing before Esq. Roseman, of Cedar Township, on Monday, and is now in the county jail. He formerly lived north of Chariton, and for some time hauled coal to town, and has heretofore, so far as we can learn, been considered reasonably peaceable and quiet as a citizen. 

Since writing the above we learn that Krile had paid the damages done by the hogs, but had not taken them away and stopped at Hixon's on his way home to take them from the pen, and while he was taking the hogs out, Hixon came out and began the altercation that led to the results recited. Krile had shot the dog in front of Hixon's father's house, about fifteen rods distant from Hixon's, and while Krile was taking his hogs from the pen, the father came down to Israel's house and told him of the killing of the dog. It is thought that the news coming to Hixon of the killing of his dog had principally to do with bringing on the encounter with its sad results.

Five days later, on Dec. 30, Israel died and The Chariton Leader, in its edition of Jan. 1, 1876, reported a few additional details.

Krile made no attempt to escape, according to The Leader, and had been arrested without incident. The Leader reported that he had been sent to jail in Ottumwa, transferred from Chariton. Perhaps Lucas County authorities remembered that just five years earlier, the  people of Chariton had lynched Hiram Wilson, tossing him unceremoniously out a courthouse window with a rope tied round his neck.

Krile was a big and strong man, the Leader reported, and Hixson, below medium size. That, according to The Leader, "makes the foul tragedy look dark and damning in every feature. Krail (sic) claims that he feared that Hixon was armed and would do him some injury as Hixon kept advancing upon him before he received the fatal blow.

"It is to be hoped," The Leader piously editorialized, "that justice will be administered to the savage brute as soon as he can be brought to trial."

In the meantime, Israel had been buried at the far north end of what was known then as the McDermott or Sargent cemetery, shoulder to shoulder with a man of similar age, James W. Drake, late corporal in the 8th Illinois Volunteer Infantry, who had died a few days earlier --- on Dec. 18. The lot appears to have been otherwise vacant, although Israel's sister-in-law, Lucinda (Etheredge) Hixson --- an aunt of mine some generations removed --- would be buried some distance to the south seven years later, in 1882.

Justice was indeed administered in the Lucas County courts during 1876, but a jury found Krile guilty of manslaughter rather than murder --- and he was sentenced to a three-year term in the state penitentiary at Fort Madison, which he duly served.


Nothing is known of the character of Israel Hixson. He was the eldest son of Matthew R. Hixson, a highly respected farmer and licensed Methodist preacher, and his wife, Rebecca Tedrick. They brought their family from Ohio to Iowa shortly after 1850 and had settled in Cedar Township, Lucas County, prior to 1856. 

Born Oct. 25, 1835, in Guernsey County, Ohio, Israel's age was given as 20 in the 1856 state census of Cedar Township. A year later, on 9 July 1857, he married Mary Ann White in Mahaska County, but the couple does not seem to have had children.

Despite the Leader's characterization of his killer as a "savage brute," there seems to have been sympathy in the neighborhood for Paul Krile's plea of self-defense during the fatal encounter --- as suggested by this notice dated April 2, 1877, that Israel's younger brother, Ezra Hixson, had printed in The Chariton Patriot of April 4:

"Mr. Editor: Having learned that a petition is in circulation for the pardon of Paul Krile for the killing of Israel Hixon, and that a great many persons have been induced to sign said petition by the representation that the widow and relatives of said Israel Hixon, deceased, were willing to, and would sign such petition. I desire through your paper to say that such representations are not true. Neither the widow nor any of the relatives of deceased have or will sign such petition. While we do not seek to influence others in this matter, we can not ask for the release of a man whom we believe to be guilty of the crime of murder."


Because Paul Krile lived a long and full life after his release from prison, we know more about him that we do of Israel Hixson.

He was born Paul Greul --- perhaps pronounced "Krile" by English-speaking neighbors, which could explain why he used this surname during much of his life --- in Germany and came to the United States at age 9 with his family during 1852. After the outbreak of the Civil War, he enlisted and served as Paul Greul in Company A, 44th Illinois Volunteer Infantry.

On the 27th of January, 1868, Paul married Rosend Bauer at Pekin in Tazewell County, Illinois --- a very German city indeed.

Rosend had a son, August, from a previous relationship, and not long after the marriage, the family settled north of Chariton in Lucas County, where they lived until moving into the Bethel --- then known as McDermott or Ireland --- neighborhood. Paul farmed and dug coal on a small scale for a living. He and Rosend seem not to have had children of their own.

After Paul's manslaughter conviction, Rosend divorced him and on July 22, 1878, married in Chariton a man named John Kramer.

That marriage did not last, however, and upon Paul's release from prison and return to Lucas County, they reconciled. Paul, Rosend and August were living together near Chariton when the 1880 federal census was taken and, on June 11, 1881, Paul and Rosend remarried. Paul continued his earlier occupations, farming and digging coal, selling the latter to neighbors and, now and then, to the county supervisors to heat the courthouse.

Five years after their remarriage, Rosend died at age 46 on Aug. 11, 1886, and Paul buried her in the Chariton Cemetery, erecting a small zinc tombstone decorated with a molded rose above an inscription that reads, "Rosend, wife of Paul and mother of August F. Krile, died Aug. 11, 1886, age 46 years, 2 months, Safe at Home."

Paul left Lucas County in 1893 and homesteaded in Hall County, Nebraska, not far from Grand Island. There, he met and married the widowed Alfaretta (Hollingshead) Smith, more than 20 years his junior.

As old age encroached on Paul, they entered the Nebraska Soldiers and Sailors Home at Grand Island, where Paul died on June 2, 1924. He is buried in the Grand Island Cemetery. Alfaretta lived on until March 14, 1943, and was buried beside her first husband, Clarence Claudius B.S. Smith, also in the Grand Island cemetery.

Note: Spelling is an issue with both the Hixson and Krile surnames. Although the Hixsons spell the name with an "s," newspaper editors and others preferred to spell it without. Krile also was spelled in many ways by everyone other than members of the Krile family.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Windows on the square ...

It's beginning to look a lot like --- well, you know what. And several of those who tend to display windows around the square have made a special effort to create Christmas card material this year.

The greatest variety is at Lindy's Closet, with four windows to work with. Two of these have transportation themes, the bicycle at the top and the vintage baby carriage here.

Down the street, at II Pillars Cothing & Gifts, an old-fashioned dress form is dressed seasonally.

Piper's always looks like a post card --- and the Christmas season is no exception.

This frosty display is down the street a ways at Blong Chiropractic.

That was as far as I got last evening before turning around for a look at the courthouse. Maybe I'll make it farther around the square before the season's over.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

O Christmas tree ... (1869-74)

This polychrome Christmas card dating from ca. 1900 is one of my favorites. But I broke the glass in its frame last year and need to do something about that before hauling it out again.

Just for the heck of it, I set out this week to find the earliest reference I could to a Christmas tree in early Chariton newspapers. Since surviving consecutive issues don't commence until 1867, some 21 years after settlement began, nothing in particular can be concluded from the exercise, but it was interesting.

The earliest I found was in The Democrat of Dec. 21, 1869, which announced that there would be a "Christmas Tree at the Presbyterian Church on Christmas Eve.

"A general invitation is given to all who may wish to hang presents on the tree for their friends or the children," the report continues. "They will please leave them with the committee at the Church before noon on the 24th inst. All the children, their parents, and friends of children are invited to the Church in the evening."

The Presbyterian church was located then, as now, at the intersection of Braden Avenue and North 8th Street, just a block east of the square.

Churches (or rural school houses that doubled as community centers) would have been the most likely places to find Christmas trees in those days. While the holiday certainly was observed, Christmas trees in homes were rare.

Advertising in that issue of The Democrat suggests that store shelves were well stocked with gifts, however --- especially Christmas candy. C.H. Younkin & Co., located three doors south of the southwest corner of the square, had the largest advertisement and, if it were to be believed, "the largest and finest variety of holiday goods ever brought to Chariton." Included were "Bohemian glassware, vases, china ware, chrome pictures, books, toys and fancy goods of every description."

The arrival of the Burlington & Missouri River Railroad two years earlier had expanded considerably the selection of goods available to shoppers in Chariton during the holidays and at other times. Goods no longer had to be hauled into town by ox-drawn wagon.

J.B. Pickel & Co., dealers in groceries, Queensware, glassware and notions and located one door north of Wilcox's grain elevators, offered the choicest of cranberries for Christmas dinner as well as wild turkeys, prairie chickens, quail and "all kinds of game" purchased from enterprising Lucas County hunters.

The Burlington & Missouri River was advertising an innovation in speedy travel that would commence on Jan. 1, 1870. For the first time ever, fast trains --- one in each direction --- would speed through Chariton to connect Council Bluffs and Chicago in 22 hours, providing all went well. This dizzying speed would be accomplished by stopping only in county seat towns along the route. The west-bound train would arrive in Chariton daily at midnight; the east-bound train, at 2 a.m.


Four years later, during December of 1873, the Methodist Sunday School celebrated on Christmas Eve with a Christmas tree. "The exercises were brief, the intention only being to make a suitable occasion of interest to the children. And when the distribution of presents began, how the bright eyes of the little folks sparkled as present after present passed into the hands anxiously waiting. Every member of the school received a present."

Services were held at 10:30 a.m. Christmas day at St. Andrews Episcopal Church and all were invited to attend..

But, if newspaper reports are to be believed, Swedish Lutherans --- who did not yet have a church building --- held the longest service on Christmas morning, commencing at 4 a.m. in the courtroom of the Courthouse and continuing for three hours.

Christmas night, a masquerade ball was held at the recently completed Mallory Opera House on the northwest corner of the square and The Patriot of Dec. 31 reported that it "was quite a fine affair, some thirty or forty couples appearing in costume. Many of the ladies were attired in very handsome and appropriate costumes, and the gentlemen had outfits in every style that imagination could suggest, from the most hideoulsy grotesque to the simple domino. The Leader man (editor of the Patriot's rival, The Chariton Leader) says he was disguised as a gentleman. All went merry as a marriage bell, and music chased the hours with flying feet, or words to that effect, until about 3 a.m."

Elsewhere in Chariton, however, there was trouble on Christmas night. Under the headline, "Dastardly," the Patriot reported that "S.L. Milner was waylaid by someone and struck a blow in the face, cutting and bruising it considerable. Mr. M. had been serving as deputy marshal, and entered upon his duties that day. His first prisoner bit him severly on the hand, and before making his second arrest he was treated as mentioned above. If he had only kept on he might have been as unfortunate as the Burlington policeman who within one week shot himself in the hand, struck at a dog and fractured his right kneepan, fell and sprained his ankle and was run over by a butcher's cart. Milner had Zora Harris arrested for the assault, but in the trial before Squire Brown he proved an alibi and was discharged."

Traffic control had become an issue on the square during the holiday season, and the Patriot editor felt obliged to advise that, "People coming into town should be particular to tie their teams securely. It is an exceeding dangerous practice to leave horses standing around the square insecurely fastened, besides there is a low forbidding such carelessness. The marshal has power to take such teams in charge and hold them until the penalty is collected. So be careful."


By December of 1874, the new town of Derby was beginning to flourish, and its correspondent reported in the Patriot that, "The Methodist Sunday School had a Christmas tree in the church on Christmas eve, which was a decided success. The tree, that was laden to its utmost capacity, was eagerly watched by the little folks and I am happy to say that few if any of the little hearts that beat with bright expectations were disappointed, and to complete the liberal contribution to the young folks' pleasure, Santa Claus in his old and well worn robe, and well-filled basket, passed around and gave all a supply of candy."

Down at Melrose, "the M.E. Church gave a neck-tie festival on Christmas Eve. The attendance was large, notwithstanding a Christmas tree at Lagrange took away a number of our citizens. The net proceeds were $75, which go to liquidate a claim against the parsonage."

But there had been trouble at the Philip Hicks home in Washington township. "The young folks were having a sociable dance on Christmas night," The Patriot of Dec. 30, 1874, reported, "when five or six young bloods, who had been too sociable with Mr. Demi John that day, went there and thought they would have it all their own way. Quite a good deal of knocking down was indulged in for a short time; one of the bloods struck four or five men, brandished a revolver, kicked two windows out of the house and broke things up generally. No arrests made yet."

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Tortured logic

The only shocking thing about the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence report, released yesterday, most likely is that no one is shocked by its conclusions. 

I mean, who didn't conclude on his or her own --- if he or she bothered to think about it --- that "enhanced interrogation" translates as torture?

And how many do you suppose really care that, as the executive summary of the report puts it, "CIA personnel, aided by two outside contractors, decided to initiate a program of indefinite secret detention and the use of brutal interrogation techniques in violation of U.S. law, treaty obligations, and our values."

That lack of concern on the part of many is shocking, too.

No one accused of torture really denies it, disputing only the report's conclusion it was ineffective. The CIA, for example, has issued a counter report claiming that torture did indeed result in useful intelligence data.

I came across two things this morning in a comment by Kim Fabricius at Richard Beck's Experimental Theology blog that I'm going to borrow because there's little point in reinventing the wheel of outrage.

“Is it morally permissible to torture another human being? Even to raise the question is to be lost.”

And 5 reasons from Christian ethicist David Gushee outlining why torture always is wrong:

 1. Torture violates the dignity of the human being; 2. Torture mistreats the vulnerable and violates the demands of justice; 3. Authorizing torture trusts government too much; 4. Torture dehumanizes the torturer; 5. Torture erodes the character of the nation that tortures.

Some have protested that the report should not have been released because it will cause others to think badly of us. 

The "others" already do.

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

For the genealogical (society) record ...

When it comes to group photographs, I've got four goals: (1) Avoid being in them (having the only camera in the room helps); (2) make sure everyone's face is showing; (3) make sure everyone's eyes are open; and (4) try to convince everyone to smile. Three out of four on this shot of Lucas County Genealogical Society members last evening.

These are the folks who have built, organize, maintain and staff the genealogical library on the ground floor of the Chariton Free Public Library; assist all comers (writers and callers) with their research; gather for monthly meetings at 6 p.m. on the second Monday of every month at the Lucas County Historical Society Museum; and, once a year, pig out during a pre-Christmas potluck in the meeting room at the library. Not everyone does all of these things, but each is an important part of the society. And of course there are other members who could not be present.

The potluck was last night. I had the broccoli soup with carrots (chili also was available), plus salad --- and sampled as many of the desserts as possible. It was wonderful.

Then, I forced everyone to line up for this photograph. Seated in the first row are (from left) Darlene Arnold, Wanda Horn, Bonnie Cox and Betty Cross. In the second row (also from left) Evalene Paxton, Sue Terrell, Char Asell, Virginia Cox, Marilyn Johnson, Dorothy Allen, Karen Patterson, Mary Ruth Pierschbacher and Ilene Church.

Monday, December 08, 2014

A bridge just far enough ...

Frankly, I was a little miffed. Mary Stierwalt, while on flag patrol, beat me to the punch and drove over the new Blue Grass Road bridge first some weeks ago (and took photos to prove it). 

But I've licked my wounds and pouted long enough, so took a left onto Grace Avenue Saturday,drove east, then over the bridge --- twice, once headed out of town, then headed back in. It was a gratifying experience. I have no idea how many years it's been since we were able to do that.

And it's a wonderful bridge --- complete with pedestrian walkway along one side. Only one complaint --- there should have been a ribbon-cutting or something, if for no other reason than to celebrate the fact that so many of us have survived the death-defying act of driving onto Highway 34 just east of the overpass during the years the bridge was out with invisible vehicles zooming toward us from the west.

This is the second level up of a transportation sandwich. The Blue Grass Road came first, taking Mormon pioneers through what became Chariton first during the summer of 1846. Chariton came along in 1849, then in 1867, the new Burlington & Missouri River Railroad (now Burlington Northern & Santa Fe) tracks were built parallel to the Blue Grass.

In 1912-13, the new Union Pacific (then Rock Island) tracks tunneled under both the earlier railroad and the Blue Grass. Finally, the Highway 34 bypass bridge was built to soar above them all.

Eventually, however, the timber bridge built by the Rock Island in 1912-13 became so dangerous it was condemned and closed. Bridges this size are expensive and the railroad was uncooperative, so it took years to round up financing. But now we're back in business.