Thursday 12 January 2012

January 13, 1876

“Very morose and silent. Last evening he refused to say a word and ate but very little. He is only now commencing to feel his position and to comprehend his dreadful situation.”
1876-01-13 Spectator
      With the above quote, Hamiltonians learned that Michael McConnell seemed to be finally starting to realize what he had done and the fix he was now in.
          Other than that, there was no other news on the Nelson Mills murder.

Ever read a newspaper and there was not a lot of substance in it, but there were a lot of really weird stories ?

Thursday January 13th, 1876, both the Hamilton Spectator and the edition of the True Banner and Wentworth Chronicle had a few odd stories among the usual material.
The first one is quoted as is from the Spectator of that date (writer’s note – I am quoting the article as it appeared and the racist comments are those of an 1876 reporter, not mine!)
“The Dog Eater of Dundas: An Old Darkey Charged With Shooting His Neighbours Dogs and Eating Them.”
When Brutus said unto Cassius “I’d rather be a dog and bay at the moon than such a Roman,” and Cassius replied, “ Bay not at me,” these festive coons had less appreciation of the canine species than old Samuel Knox, a remarkable Negro resident in the outskirts of our suburb of Dundas. Knox is a Negro of enormous height and large feet, who lives alone on the mountainside in a miserable hut, depending on public charity for support. He is in the habit of whistling to children on the street, and who as a reward, give him coppers, much the same as to an organ grinder. He is also in the habit of calling at the slaughter houses of several butchers in the town, who give him donations of liver and tripe. In spite of this, however, the good citizens of Dundas have on several occasions been obliged to remonstrate with Old Knox as to the propriety of eating his own chickens and impressing on him the necessity of obeying the sixth commandment. Knox said that he didn’t know how dose liddle chickens got roun heah any how and promised faithfully that the hen houses of the town in future were in perfect safety as far as he was concerned. The festive Knox left the chickens alone certainly, but turned his talents into a new channel. The public commenced to miss their cats and dogs and it was feared at one time that the town would be decimated of these useful animals. Dogs were missed throughout the surrounding country also and the result was that an indignation meeting was held to discover where the animals went to, and after comparing notes the loss of the dogs was left at Knox’s door. A party of young gentlemen therefore called upon old Knox and found that worthy dining on “Dandy” stuffed with sage and onions. “Dandy” in days gone by was a very handsome black and tan terrier which was one of the many attractions of Charley Morse’s saloon, Dundas. Knox was requested to light out, which he did, and was seen mournfully wending his way through the city last evening. The mystery was now cleared up. Knox shot or trapped, sold the skins in this city and fed on the carcasses of the deceased “purps.” The Banner man rests easier now, as, for the last few months, he could not go out at night without being shot at, and he now understands the reason and is happy.

The second story recounts an incident at the Great Western Railway passenger station on Stuart street:
“Had a wild Texas steer broken out of one of the cattle cars at the Great Western Railway station last evening and amused himself by tossing the passengers into the air and catching them on the fly, he would not have caused half the commotion produced by the appearance of the veritable Samuel Wilson, the brick eater of the west, whose progress across the continent has been marked by sensational articles in the several papers along his line of march. At one place, Samuel broke up a camp meeting by a very clever impersonation of his Satanic Majesty. At another place, Samuel endeavoured to enter a ball room without the formality of a ticket, and on being remonstrated with, he quickly “cleaned” the room out, and threw the band out of the window. Last evening Sam struck the Great Western Railway Station. He was about three sheets in the wind and was as full of life as a cheese in a corner grocery. He entered the waiting room and wanted to know what the people were looking at him for. Then, by way of creating a little amusement, he commenced heaving cordwood sticks around, and concluded by smashing the top of a $40 stove. Constable Begley arrested Samuel and had him placed in durance vile. This morning he was fined $26 or ninety days in jail for his little spree. Ninety days hence, Samuel will leave this city for Dundas, Guelph, or some other town where his little eccentricities will give him an opportunity of inspecting the interior of the County Jail.”

Next up, a squirrely story :
“Mr. Frank Harrison, the genial proprietor of the popular saloon on Market street, went out yesterday to shoot squirrels, and came home as the shades of night were falling with five red and four black squirrels. He said he shot them himself, but he didn’t shoot them. A party who watched his movements says that the festive Frank assisted at a chopping bee during the day and bought the game from an Indian after supper for ten cents each. These are the painful facts”

Out in Dundas, a heated disagreement between two newspapers editors was getting heated. The editor of the Dundas Standard had accused the editor of the True Banner with illegally getting printing contracts with the County of Wentworth without any other printing firms getting a chance to bid for the work.
This dispute would go on for weeks. Here is the January 13, 1876 diatribe from the editor of the True Banner to his competitor with the Dundas Standard :
       “We do not propose to follow the labyrinth of words which the Standard editor summoned courage to indulge in yesterday in an attempt to patch up his veracity on this question. The facts are too clear to require any very elaborate elucidation. The Standard man was fairly caught in the publication of a deliberate untruth, and all the sophistry he can manufacture will not clear his skirts. The County printing was tendered for in 1874 by all the newspaper offices in the County and the Banner was awarded the contract. In 1875, the Clerk of the Peace, unsolicited by the proprietor of this journal, handed in the lists for publication – and on this point the Standard editor is again guilty of manufacturing another lie to cover up the others he has deliberately told. The “screw” was not put upon the County Attorney as our contemporary states. The lists have been published at the same rates as when we tendered for the work, and have occupied the space which the Council decided they should occupy. Yet the Standard man, knowing these statements to be true, has tried, and still tries, to make his readers believe that we “spread’ the lists out to such an extent that “judging from the space they occupy” the cost to the County will be “more than double” what it was when the work was tendered for. How our contemporary has the “cheek” to try to cover up the falsehoods he has told with regard to this matter we know not. But he must have “cheek” in abundance or he would be utterly ashamed to hold his head up in public before his fellow men, who must be thoroughly satisfied that he is not only guilty of what he was charged with in the first place, but that he lacks the manliness to acknowledge his fault, and keeps on uttering more falsehoods to cover up his first transgression. When our account is presented to the County Council for payment and it is shown in figures that our statements are true in every particular perhaps the Standard man will apologize. If he fails to assert his manliness then, we will give him up as incorrigible. Meanwhile we direct his attention to the 8th verse of the 21st chapter of Revelations.

Dundas seemed  to be the locale around which several amazing stories took place in early January, 1876
A ‘Romance in Real Life“ follows :
       “Last evening, a wayfaring man arrived in this city and put up at a James street hostelers. He was in the same financial condition as the famous Madiver of London, only that instead of having “lots of money” to “put down bribery and corruption,” he had lots of money to set them up for the denizens of the barroom. His wealth was all in greenbacks, and as the evening wore away, he waxed sympathetic and confidential. Amongst the visitors during the evening was a young man having some remote connection with the theatrical profession. Between this individual and the wayfarer – who was accompanied by a grown up son – a mutual feeling of affection seemed at once to spring up, and after a few libations to the rosy they feel to conversing about their private affairs. The wayfarer had returned, after a lengthy absence, to see the “wife of his buzzum,” whom he had left in Dundas, and whose first husband had burned to death in a hotel. As the young man from the theatre drank in the wayfarers’ story, his expression of maudlin interest gradually changed to one of dismay, and at the mention of the name o the woman’s former husband he gasped, in husky tones, “Landlord, give me a glass of water, for God’s sake ! That is my wife.” Hearing not and heeding not, the old man babbled away of the wife he had not seen in years, to whom he was now returning, while the young man consorted aside with a couple of confidants , with whom he concerted plans for anticipating the returning husband’s visit to Dundas, and removing the woman to a place where husband No. 1 would not find her.  Their plans were carried out accordingly, and before the wayfarer reached the “valley city’” where he had every reason to expect that he would meet his wife, that much-married person had been spirited away to the rural districts by husband No. 2. This is but a hasty and imperfect, but truthful, sketch of what reads like a chapter from a novel, and the upshot of which remains to be developed. We have suppressed names for very obvious reasons, but can verify the facts to the satisfaction of skeptics. “

A crime involving a merchant from, where else? Dundas! He comes to Hamilton and then comes to grief returning home to the Valley Town :
“On Friday afternoon last, Mr. Sturgess, who keeps a Pork Store, just west of the Drill Shed on King St., went into Hamilton, and while in a saloon, he called up a number of “the boys” who were lounging around to take a drink, which they graciously consented to do. In paying for the drinks, Sturgess unthinkingly exhibited a well-filled pocket book, after which he had a couple mor drinks and started to walk to Dundas, he having missed the stage. When near the brick yards, he was overtaken by three of “the boys” who had participated in his hospitality at the saloon, who remarked that they were going to Dundas and would bear him company, but when they got into Beasley’s Hollow, they pounced on Sturgess, chocked and downed him, no doubt with the intention of robbing him; but just at this critical moment, a gentleman drove up on his way to Hamilton with a horse and buggy, when the scoundrels decamped. Sturgess took in the situation at once, and believing he would be followed again, he handed his pocket book to the man in the buggy, telling him who he was and asking him to keep it for him. This the gentleman did and Sturgess started for Dundas, reaching home without further molestation. His confidence in the occupant of the buggy was not misplaced as his pocket book, which contained $145 was returned to him on Saturday morning. When asked how he came to trust an entire stranger in this way, Sturgess remarked that he looked honest, and as he thought he would be robbed anyway before he got home, he might as well trust him as let the scamps who had overtaken him get it. The next time Mr. Sturgess goes to Hamilton he will probably refrain from asking “the boys” to drink”

Finally, the cold of winter finally made its late arrival to the head of Lake Ontario by January 13, 1876.
A few brief items show the effects of that change of weather:
          “On Tuesday night, a youth, named David Garrick, died from inflammation and ulcerastion of the bowels, caused by his being thrown violently against a bank while coasting in the gully on Caroline street, known as “Break Neck.” This ought to be a serious warning to other lads to beware of the dangerous amusement of coasting.
        “As soon as the ice becomes perfectly safe, the fishermen on the bay will commence spearing operations. Several new boxes arrived from Suspension Bridge today to replace those swept away during the sudden thaw before Christmas.”

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