Thursday, May 10, 2012

“Geauga in Print: Part Eight”


c. 2012 Rod Ice
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(4-12)




Looking for stories about Geauga County in old newspaper archives available online has become an interesting pursuit. Originally, I reckoned the yield of such literary expeditions would be wordsmithing tidbits that offer insight into the world of yesterday. And indeed, those kinds of articles have been plentiful.

Yet reading these reports also evoked the anachronistic spirit of written language used in this bygone era. The way our forebears translated thoughts into print was often very different from today:


RESPECT FOR THE LAW
The Champaign Democrat, Nov. 28, 1911


“Columbus, O – Crime statistics gathered by Secretary H. H. Shirer of the state board of charities, and which will be made a part of the board’s annual report, show that Geauga county is more nearly lawabiding than any other county in the state. In one year there were only three persons in the jail. One was a woman. The county is also one of the few which sent no persons to state penal institutions. Others are Fayette, Henry, Holmes, Mercer, Monroe, Morgan, Pike, Preble and Union. Mercer and Henry are the two wet counties (allowing beverage alcohol) in the honor list. Those who had no convicts to send to the penitentiary are Adams, Carroll, Crawford, Highland, Logan, Miami, Putnam, Wayne and Wyandot. Cuyahoga leads all others in number sent to penal institutions.”

AIR ENGINES TO REVIVE THE COUNTRY DISTRICTS
Painesville Telegraph, August 27, 1903


“The Geauga Lake Pioneer Association celebrated its twenty-fifth anniversary, Thursday, with one of the largest picnic reunions ever held by the organization. The reunion was held in the Kent House grove on the banks of Geauga Lake. Hon. Homer N. Kimball, of Madison, was orator of the day and in his speech took up briefly the early settlement of Geauga county by the New England pioneers, noting the advancement made down to the present time. He called the attention of his hearers to the fact that the country population was constantly flocking to the cities, but cities did not become great centers of business through mere chance. The speaker thought all great cities would remain what they are, and increase in size and importance so long as the reasons for their growth exist, and he also declared that he believed someday a greater master of natural law than any yet created would come to the country districts and visit the home of our ancestors, to there plant living flowers, and being inspired by the same causes, invent air engines to take the place of steam and electricity, and in anchoring to these hills establish headquarters of its transportation company, greatly improving the country districts and causing a great change in conditions. He closed by advocating better government, better schools, better roads, better mail facilities, and centralized schools. Mr. Kimball’s address was enthusiastically received.”

Another realization from reading through these yellowed pages has been that quite often, reports from yonder times are very much like the ones filed today:

TAXATION AND SOCIALISM
The Champaign Democrat, October 29, 1903


“Colonel Myron T. Herrick declares that the Democrats are trying to tax the railroads so heavily that they will be obliged to sell out to the state. This is his comment on the effort of the Democrats to get equal taxation and to show the people that it is unfair for the railroads to pay on only 6 percent valuation, while the farmers and small home owners are paying on 60 percent… In his speech at Chardon, Herrick was very particular to insist that single tax is socialism and that socialism will overturn the nation. He presumed upon the ignorance of his hearers. He assumed that none of them knew any more about either single tax or socialism than he does. The assumption may have been correct. The argument of Herrick and (U.S. Senator Mark) Hanna now runs as follows: What about home rule? That is socialism. It is wicked. It will overturn Christianity. What is equal taxation? Socialism, pure and simple. That is what (Cleveland Mayor) Tom Johnson wants. He is trying to have the monopolies pay the same taxes in proportion as you pay on your farms. That would never do. It would be wicked. It would overturn Christianity. God help us escape anything like that. What is two-cent fare? Is there any objection to people in Ohio riding for the same rate per mile as in New York and Michigan? Certainly there is. It is Socialism to ask for it. It is a Johnsonism or a fad. It is wicked… To want two-cent fare on the railroads is a ‘fad.’ To desire to have the public service corporations pay their taxes is an ‘ism.’ God help us to escape all fads and isms. If they are not frowned upon they will overturn Christianity and wound the feelings of Brethren John D. Rockefeller and J. Pierpont Morgan. They are ‘business men,’ like Hanna, and do not desire to pay their taxes. If we insist upon ‘fads’ and ‘isms,’ Rockefeller might take away all the oil, Morgan all the hard coal and Hanna has already threatened that he will make half the workingmen walk the streets in idleness… Hanna uses his power as a political boss and United States senator to save his street railroad from paying its share of taxes.”

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