“The favourable state of the roads and the beautiful weather brought in a goodly number of farmers into the market this morning.”
Hamilton Spectator. May 6, 1876
It was a lively, animated scene at the Hamilton Market during the morning of Saturday, May 6, 1876, but by the afternoon the market square was almost silent. But as pointed in the Spectator, underneath that calmness, there were still grievances and complaints among market stallholders about many matters:
“Everything sold pretty lively, and by one o’clock the market was comparatively deserted. This is the season of the year when market gardeners with surplus stock ask heavy prices for whatever they have to sell, farmers being kept home by a rush of spring work. The farmers and fishermen are constantly grumbling for want of room. The former complain, and with some reason, that valuable space in the market is taken by itinerant pedlars and dealers in fancy goods. The fishermen are constantly quarrelling among themselves about the stalls, and the proper space allotted to each. The three covered stalls belonging to the corporation have been bought up by two men. The little army of minor lights who sell fish out of wagons are now clamouring for a cover for their fish during the hot months. This cannot be done without doing an injustice to the three stalls already mentioned, and, on the other hand, if the sheds for the wagons are not granted, the outsiders will be driven off the market by the heat, and the fish trade monopolised by two individuals, which will as unjust as it will be unfortunate.”
The Hamilton police made a clever and important arrest just before midnight, capturing a much sought after thief:
“One of the most important arrests ever made in this city took place last evening at ten minutes to twelve o’clock. It will be remembered that some three weeks ago the press and the telegraph warned the country that George E. Schooley, an employee of the Adams Express Company, Cincinnati, had absconded with $10,000 of the company’s money. Mr. J.H. Rhodes, the Superintendent of the Company, sent the Chief of Police in this city a card containing the photograph and full description of the thief and other particulars which would assist an officer in detecting him. Detective McPherson took charge of the card, and has ever since been on the lookout for this man.
Geo. E. Schooley took the money from his employers at Nashville, Tenn. On Sunday the 16th of April last, and left for Detroit. He stayed there but a short time when he crossed to London, and remained in that city three days when he came on to Hamilton and put up at a private boarding house on Gore street, giving his name as George Edwards. He kept pretty steady, but frequented 104 John street north, a house of ill fame. He was very familiar with the women there, by whom he was called “Joe.’ McPherson studied his cards well so as to be sure to spot his man should he ever come across him. It appears that he detected Schooley on the street on one occasion, and instantly commenced to shadow him to see if he was the right man. Last evening about eleven o’clock, he dropped into 104 John street north. There were several men and women there, and among them the young man whom he suspected, slightly under the influence of liquor. After watching him for some time, McPherson walked up to him and holding the photograph before Schooley’s face said, ‘Is that your photograph?’
Schooley was completely taken aback, and after staring at the picture for a moment, gasped out, ‘Yes, it is.’
McPherson then asked him to come with him when Schooley resisted slightly and finally called McPherson a son of a b---h. McPherson then called upon the other men to assist him, and soon had the express robber at the police station. He had on his person $1,865 in American money; fifty-four $20 bills, four $100 bills, seven $50 bills (all Canadian money) and $25 in smaller money.
In justice to the prisoner be it said that he was completely broken down with the thoughts of his crime. He said he had no peace since he had taken it – that he had not spent any of the money he had stolen, and that he would return every cent of it, with interest, to the Adams Express Company. He did not claim protection of the British flag which he might have done, but asked to be brought to the headquarters of the company he had wronged at once. He was taken to Cincinnati this morning. Geo. E. Schooley is a young man, twenty-five years of age, of genteel appearance, and good address. He is unhealthy and slightly built, having a haemorrhage of the lung, which causes him to have a painful habit of hawking and spitting. He was married when nineteen to a beautiful young girl, respectably connected. He has only one child, and she and her mother are now somewhere in the States. Schooley has not the appearance of a thief, and excited the sympathy of every one who saw him after his arrest.”
One of Hamilton’s most prominent homes was listed for sale in the local press on Saturday, May 6, 1876, the house known as Bellevue, located at head of John street south:
“Mr. Alanson has been instructed to offer for sale by auction, on Thursday next, that attractive residence known as Bellevue at the head of John street. Originally, Bellevue was the residence of R. Hamilton, after whose father this city is named. It was subsequently the residence of Col. Beresford during his stay in this city, and was latterly the residence of Hugh McInnes. Nestling under the brow of the mountain, surrounded by beautiful foliage, and commanding a view which sweeps the whole valley of Burlington Bay, including the city, Bellevue is one of the most pleasantly situated residences in Hamilton or its vicinity. Four acres of ground are attached to it, which slope towards the city and give exceptional drainage, and the water supply is both pure and abundant.”
The holiday known as the Queen’s Birthday was still a few weeks away, but it was noted in the Spectator that particularly in the villages around Hamilton, there were great plans for the celebration:
Great preparations are being made for the celebration of the Queen’s Birthday in county villages. The store-keepers are laying in a good stock of fire crackers and squibs, and most of the churches have set it aside for a picnic day. In some of the large villages, horse racing will take place, and fire-works in the evening.
As was the normal practise when sittings of the Wentworth County Court were completed, the grand jury which had been in place for the cases was given the opportunity to tour the county jail, the cells of the Hamilton police and then report on what they saw, and on any others concerns they might have in a written report:
“To His Lordship the Judge Presiding:
We, the Grand Jurors appointed by His Lordship Judge Harrison, for our Lady the Queen, beg leave to make our presentment.
That having disposed of all the business given to us by the Crown attorney, we are happy to state that our duties have been light, as but few cases for the Crown have been submitted, and none of a very serious character. We regret, however, that some very trivial cases were brought forward which might have been very easily disposed by the Magistrate, thereby saving costs to the county and to the time of this body. One case in particular may be mentioned where the sum involved only amounted to one dollar and fifty cents.
We have to express our thanks to the County Attorney for his attention to us and advice so readily accorded when required, thus aiding us very much in the discharge of our duties.
We have visited the jail, and have much pleasure in reporting it a building of which the county may fell proud. Both as regards its outside appearance and internal management by Captain Henery, as governor, it is perfect in every detail. We find but few prisoners, all of them under sentence, most of them for short terms of imprisonment, from one to four months. Total No. 41, namely 20 males and 21 females, and above the age of 16 years. There also four males and three females, who are insane, confined therein. We also visited the City Hospital, and found it clean and neat. The patients are as comfortable as possible under the circumstances, and Dr. James White, although so youthful, fully discharges the responsible duties delivered upon him. The supplies provided are all of the very best description, and the superintendent and matron, in our judgement, are qualified for their duties and are attentive to all requiring their care and sympathy. There are in all sixty patients, of whom two-thirds are males. We have had very great pleasure in visiting the “Insane Asylum,” lately opened here for “Incurables” under the able management of Dr. Buell, Medical Superintendent, and Dr. Covington, Assistant Medical Superintendent, who showed us great kindness and gave every information as regards the internal management and accommodation. There are now 136 inmates, of whom 56 are males and 80 females. It is capable of accommodating 200. The staff is composed of six officers and twenty-one employees in various departments. The building seems in every respect well suited for the purpose, the only drawback being the very poor and dangerous lock on the door, which prevents speedy ingress to, and egress from the corridors, and in case of fire or other accident, might be attended with very disastrous results. The institution was opened on the first of March last, and in course of time will improve in many respects. We have visited the cells and police station on King William street, and have no hesitation in saying that both places are a disgrace not only to the city of Hamilton, but to the nineteenth century. From the police reports we find that at various times no fewer than 40 to 60 persons have been crowded into miserable badly-ventilated and noxious underground cellars 17 x 13 ft., two 10 x 10, and one 7 x 8 ft., from which not only is the light of day excluded, but the air, and whatever, there is of the latter, is of the most noxious and offensive description, and in the case of a prisoner being committed, or a tramp lodged for a night or two infected with some contagious disease, the consequences might e of the most serious kind; in fact, no human being can spent a night in such a place without running the risk of ill health and contamination from the vile and hardened criminals who are most frequently to be found in such quarters. Another matter calling from urgent attention is the procuring of a proper “City Dead House” or “Morgue” where inquests might be held, and the bodies of the dead properly cared for. We would most respectfully call the attention of the proper authorities to the positive pain and discomfiture endured by the Petit Jurors who are compelled to occupy seats quite unsuitable during long and tedious trials, and which ahs only to be experienced once to ensure a lasting remembrance. We hope that ere another court is held this grievance will be remedied, when the cost will be so trifling, and the comfort and convenience so great. Finally, former Grand Juries have so frequently called attention to the bad ventilation, or want of ventilation of the court room, that we feel we can only endorse all that they have presented in reference thereto.
Hamilton, May 6, 1876.”
The previous day, the Spectator had carried a long account of the arrest of a swindler who had been victimizing city hotel operators. A further explanation of the situation had been requested by one of the hotel owners:
“In our account of the horse stealing case yesterday, we stated that Eby had the proprietor of the Commercial Hotel arrested for keeping a gaming house and selling liquor contrary to law. In justice to Mr. Wheeler, we would say that the charges against him were both dismissed.”
Finally, just before he was to leave for a trip to England, one of Hamilton’s oldest and most respected members of the clergy was given a special testimonial.
Reverend Dean John Gamble Geddes had been the leading member of the Anglican clergy for over 40 years, since he had been involved with the establishment of Christ Church. The address written in his honour, and Dean Geddes’ response follows:
To the Very Reverend the Dean of Niagara, J. G. Geddes, D.C.L. :
Learning that it was your intention to visit England for the purpose of recruiting your health and visiting members of your family now resident there, we have availed ourselves of the opportunity thus afforded us of expressing our gratification that you are enabled after the lapse of so many years of arduous labour, to take your well-earned holiday. We may also afford our sincere congratulation on the completion of the rebuilding of our church, a work we well know has for many years engaged your most earnest attention, and doubtless at times given rise to many very anxious thoughts. It must be a source of great satisfaction to you to see it now happily completed and invested with the important character of the Cathedral Church of the ew Diocese of Niagara. We take this opportunity of expressing our gratification that you have been appointed Dean of the Diocese, and that Trinity College, ever mindful of the long and laborious services you have rendered in the Church in the old Diocese of Toronto, has recognised the value of those services in conferring upon you the honorary degree of Doctor of Civil Law. We feel that after a lifelong ministry amongst us, during which you have discharged your duties from the time when you were appointed the first Rector of Hamilton to the present day, a period of upwards of forty years, we may view with pardonable pride such recognitions of your labours, and we beg to assure you of our fervent prayers that it may please an all-wise Providence, during your journeyings, so to guide and protect you that you may return to the field of your labours with renewed health and strength and prosecute them with fresh vigour under the guidance of God’s holy spirit to His honour and glory and to our eternal good. We trust that Mrs. Geddes, who accompanies you, may also return to her sphere of usefulness amongst us with renewed health, and that you may both be spared for many years of active and zealous labour in the midst of an attached flock to which you have so long ministered. With this address, we have to ask your acceptance of the accompanying purse, as some slight recognition on our part of the value of the duties you have so faithfully discharged.
The Very Reverend the Dean replied and said :
MY DEAR FRIENDS AND PARISHIONERS – On the eve of my departure for England to visit my children and my children’s children, after the lapse of many years, it is more than gratifying to me to receive from my beloved flock the assurance of their continued attachment and affectionate regard, and I am pleased to hear that they do not consider me unreasonable in seeking a short interval of relaxation from incessant parochial work.
The completion of our church (now the cathedral of the diocese) of which you feelingly allude, was indeed the consummation of hopes long and dearly cherished and of years of anxiety and toil. The day which witnessed the auspicious opening of that beautiful edifice was one of the brightest and happiest of my life. I can never be too grateful to those who have contributed to its erection, and especially to the members of its Building Committee, who bore with me the burden and heat of the day. I thank you for your kindly reference to the honours conferred on me by the Bishop of the Diocese, and by the University of Trinity College. It was naturally gratifying to me that my humble services to the church were deemed worthy of such a recognition, and this feeling is greatly enhanced by the expression of your own appreciation of it. The promise of your prayers for our safety and protection during our journeyings by land and by sea is very precious to us. I need not assure you that I shall never cease to remember you all at the Throne of Grace. My wife, who has been a true help-mate for me during my life long ministry, fully appreciate your kindly remembrance of her. Her heart, as well as my own, is in the work and welfare of this parish. The people among whom we have dwelt so long are endeared to us by innumerable acts of kindness, and by friendly and affectionate intercourse of a long series of years. The substantial mark of your kind regard which accompanies this address, so thoughtful and considerate on your part, demands my grateful thanks, for it will contribute in no small degree to our personal comfort, and is an additional proof of the warm interest you have taken in our welfare. That God’s choice of (illegible) upon you all – that He may watch over you and protect you during our absence, and of His great mercy enable us to meet again in happiness and health, is the earnest parting prayer of your faithful and affectionate pastor.
The audience then dispersed.”