Monday 5 March 2012

March 6, 1876

“Messrs. Bradley and Flatt brought into the city last week several enormous masts. One of them was so large that it took sixteen horses to draw it from the mountain to the bay. They are all intended for the port of Boston.”
                             Hamilton Spectator  March 6, 1876
In the days when there were still large, first growth forests in parts of Wentworth County, the passage through the city of Hamilton of large tree trunks intended for the use as masts was not unusual, especially in the latter part of the winter.
The following original paragraph was clipped from the St. Catharines Journal :
An “innocent-looking” chap, who would very well pass for a granger, visited their office a day or two since with a singular request. He said he was a tombstone agent from Hamilton, and wanted to look over the obituary notices in the Journal for a couple of months back, in order to see who had died during that time, so that he might visit surviving friends and drive a bargain for headstones and monuments, with weeping willows, recumbent lambs, and machine poetry to match. We looked at the man to see whether innocence or cheek had impelled such a fool’s errand. But he looked as meek and simple as a yearling calf, and we told him to go to – the undertaker, or the Town Clerk, or to grass, whichever was most convenient to him. We wonder the people of Hamilton haven’t got more sense than to send their missionary agents around here for such a purpose as to sell tombstones. If they wanted to sell toothpicks or votes, or small matters of that kind, we might be open to consideration, but tombstones, with suggestions of worm, damp soil, and grave diggers – bah. The saints are too healthy a people for outside tombstone agents to thrive here anyhow, besides when we do want them, we have first class artists on the ground who can supply our wants. We do too much for Hamilton even now. We feed their tramps – good fresh air; we provide their poor -  with a ticket of leave; we send their hard cases away rejoicing – to jail; and yet they are not satisfied, but want us to buy their tombstones. But that is generally the way with people whom you do too much for. The moment they discover that you are not a poor relation, they swarm down upon you like western locusts to devour your substance. The people of our western suburbs are not satisfied with helping to fill our jails, soup kitchens, hospitals and other places of popular entertainment, but, they must even attach themselves to our political meetings which is the worst sign of all. Our city fathers ought to take this matter in hand firmly and engage Jimmy Hostetter to make an example of all people coming east with sinister motives. He could talk them to death if he only once got well underway.
          An unusual marriage was reported in the Spectator of March 6, 1876:
A remarkable marriage took place in this city on Saturday evening. A young man well known in this city was waited upon by a cabman who said that he had been engaged to drive him to a certain house where a young lady was waiting to marry him. The young gentleman evidently knew what was the matter for he went along and was in a few minutes a married man.

Finally, a human interest vignette – pranksters were about Hamilton even in 1876 :
“Silhouette was sitting in a chair in a back room of one our hotels yesterday afternoon. He was well dressed and weary, so weary that he fell into a slumber, his face a little more rosy than usual and his general appearance indicative of profound repose. A graceless scamp of a fellow attached a cork to the end of his nose and to the end of the cork attached pieces of paper which were lighted. But he did not awaken even then. The tormentor then dipped a cork in grease and burned it to a cinder at the end, and with this proceeded to decorate his victim. An artistic cross, black as the ace of spades was imprinted on his forehead and yet he slept on. The artist surveyed his work with a malicious pleasure, and finding it so well done, proceeded to further embellish the face. A stripe of black down the centre of the nose, one on each side, and two black marks on the cheeks completed the picture and he was left alone. Presently the victim awoke entirely unconscious of the picture he was making of himself and proceeded to a celebrated restaurant for his tea, which he ate amid the suppressed laughter of those around the table. He left the restaurant and returned to the hotel, where he was met by laughing faces, but he was all unconscious of the cause that made the guests so apparently happy. Finally, a gentleman noted for his kindness of heart, walked him up to a looking glass, and then the mystery was explained; and he was mad, very mad. He swore, too, and threatened to “knock blazes” out of the man who committed the outrage. But he did not find him out. The last seen of him he was applying soap and water to his face and muttering to himself in a desperate state of anger. If the perpetrator of the outrage is ever discovered, he will make good material for a funeral.”

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