Archive for September 23rd, 2009

National Punctuation Day!

September 23, 2009

classroom blackboard

National Punctuation Day

First the lesson, then the humor:


A Batch of Rules That Are in Accord With Modern Methods.

“Whose punctuation do you follow?”

The answer is, our own. Unlike D’Israeli’s alleged “sensible men” — who, when asked what their religion is, “never tell” — we are willing and glad to tell what our rule of punctuation is. Here you have it in a few words.

1. Never use a comma if “the wayfaring man, though a fool,” can grasp the meaning of the text without it.

2. Never use a semicolon when a comma will serve the author and the reader as well.

3. Never use a colon when a semi-colon will serve as well.

4. Wherever there is no climacteric effect to be preserved, cut up your semicoloned and coloned sentence into short sentences.

5. Use commas and periods as your standbys.

6. Use the semicolon chiefly to better express antithetis, and to group phrases and clauses.

7. Use the colon chiefly in formal enumeration, after “viz.,” “as follows” and the like.

8. Use the dash to indicate an abrupt break in the sentence, an afterthought, and, in many instances where in olden times the parenthesis was used, to indicate that the words included are parenthetically employed.

9. Use the parenthesis only when you find dashes are not sufficiently exclusive.
10. Never use brackets except where you insert some word of your own in a quotation from some other author.

11. Never use an interrogation point except when your question is direct; e.g., it would be improper to use it after “girl” in this sentence: “He asked what ailed the girl.”

These are our rules to-day. Tomorrow, if we see any new light, we shall follow it. But we are not likely to stray away from the course above marked out. Punctuation, like sentence-making, becomes second nature after awhile. In punctuation, as in sentence-making, we do well or ill as we succeed or fail in presenting our thought in fewest words. The words should be chosen and arranged as to develop our meaning, our whole meaning, and nothing but our meaning. — Midland Magazine.

Lima News (Lima, Ohio) Jan 17, 1899


Mistook the Punctuation.

The Young Woman (surprised and indignant) — How dared you kiss me, sir!

Penitent Young Man — Why, you said you’d like to see me do it.

The Young Woman — But you know as well as I do that I said it with an exclamation point at the end!

— Chicago Tribune

The Gettysburg Times (Gettysburg, Pennsylvania) Oct 17, 1910


The importance of punctuation is often not thoroughly appreciated. A reporter at a Chicago paper has involved it in a libel suit because he wrote:

“The prisoner said the witness was a convicted thief.”

What he should have written was:

“The prisoner,” said the witness, “was a convicted thief.”

The words are the same. It is the punctuation that makes the difference.

San Antonio Light (San Antonio, Texas) Feb 19, 1899


NEWSPAPER men in Germany have to be very careful about punctuation. The Hofer Tageblatt a short time ago said a decoration had been conferred upon Count von Holstein. By an oversight an exclamation point, instead of a period, appeared at the end of the sentence, and for this the authorities seized the whole issue and instituted a sit against the editor for atrocious libel.

Reno Evening Gazette (Reno, Nevada) Feb 15, 1888

Image from kockneykapers on photobucket

Image from kockneykapers on photobucket

Punctuation Puzzle.

The following punctuation puzzle is going the rounds of the press.When properly punctuated it makes good sense:

“If Moses was the son of Pharaoh’s daughter then he was the daughter of Pharaoh’s son.”

Reno Evening Gazette (Reno, Nevada) Mar 9, 1888

Can anyone properly punctuate the above puzzle?


How a Reporter Evened Up Matters With a Captious Editor.

“In one of our western cities some years ago,” said a Kansas City man, “a friend of mine was employed as a reporter on one of the local papers. The next man above him was constantly taking him to task for alleged derelictions in duty and especially for mistakes in grammar, punctuation and similar things. The editor who was forever quarreling with my friend, while a man of force and able to write in a virile manner, was nevertheless deficient in education, and his grammar was occasionally as bad as some of that of Charles Dickens. One day he had been particularly vicious in his criticisms of my friend.

“The following morning there appeared an editorial from his pen, in which the following sentence occurred:

“‘To be a true American one should visit the Rocky mountains and contemplate its beauty and grandeur.’

“Here was the chance my friend had been waiting for, and so he cut the quotation out and sent it to the owner of the paper, to whom both men were responsible, with the following comments:

“‘The first thought suggested by this strange statement is that its author should visit a school of grammar and contemplate its beauty and grandeur. This originality in the use of a singular pronoun standing for a plural antecedent might be used to advantage in a reversion of the style, like the following, for example:

“‘To be a true American one should visit the editor of The Blank and contemplate their beauty and granduer.’ Aside from the offense to English in this admonition to the American people, will the sentiment itself stand analysis?

“If the dictum be true to be a true American one should visit the Rocky mountains and contemplate its beauty and granduer, what is to become of the following:

“‘The man who cannot afford to indulge in this visit and contemplation?

“‘The busy man who cannot find time to go on a mountain gazing tour?

“‘The many good citizens who are blind?’

“The attention of the owner was arrested, and he made inquiries which resulted in his straightening out matter between the two men. While this drastic criticism perhaps did not improve the editor’s grammar, it certainly did improve my friend’s position while on the paper.”

— New York Tribune.

Portsmouth Herald (Portsmouth, New Hampshire) Mar 21, 1901

A stranger in a printing office asked the youngest apprentice what his rule of punctuation was. “I set up as long as I can hold my breath, then I put in a comma; when I gape I insert a semicolon; and when I want a chew of tobacco I make a paragraph.

Galveston Daily News (Galveston, Texas) May 26, 1870


“Punctuation” does not mean merely the little dots, dashes and fangs with which the lines of the printer are hacked, gashed and riddled. There should be some punctuations in everything. Keep your pockets full of periods, and carry one as a wholesome lozenge on your tongue. Your daily walk should be a great dash – straight and to the point. Commas are small change, not to be spent too freely. The exclamation point is a dagger and is not needed by civilized people.

Galveston Daily News (Galveston, Texas) Feb 15, 1892


What Came of Trying a New Method of Learning the Rules.
Washington Star.

“Brown, my, boy, there’s nothing like it. Its better than ‘French in six weeks,’ because you can work yourself into it in a month, so that you can hardly say or think anything without following the rule. Take this beautiful selection, which recalls our schoolboy days:

‘The boy stood on the burning deck, comma, whence all but he had fled, semi-colon; the flames that lit the battle’s wreck, comma, shone around him o’er the dead. period.

‘ That’s grand; that’s inspiring. You have all the beauty and all the sentiment, and besides you punctuate as you go along, and so mingle the artistic and the useful.”

Brown was quite taken with this new plan for learning how to punctuate properly. He had often felt like a brother to the fellow who wrote a book without any punctuation whatever, simply adding in an appendix a complete list of punctuation marks, from which the reader could select and punctuate as much or as little as he pleased.

The first lesson went off swimmingly. Brown so fell into the spirit of it that as he walked up the street afterward he found himself soliloquizing:

“I wonder, comma, if I had better get that paregoric, comma, for the baby, comma, before I go home. period. Perhaps, comma” — Then he slipped up on a piece of banana skin and went down flat with two exclamation points and enough stars to equip several issues of a “blanket sheet.”

For the first time in his life he felt like using the “dash” and also making a dash for the miscreant who threw that murderous peel there. He lay on the pavement long enough to denote several paragraphs, then got up with difficulty and limped down the street. But the magic power of that first lesson was still upon him and meeting a newsboy, he began:

“Well, comma, my boy, comma, have you the Star? interrogation point.”

The sharp-eyes little rascal gazed at him curiously and then replied:

“Com-ah? Come off  When did yer ‘scape from the ‘sylum?”

After punctuating the town generally during the next two hours and getting a crowd of small boys at his heels, whom he escaped by seeking refuge in an empty school building — a place the average boy never enters if he can help it — he took home to his dear family a somewhat battered but still large supply of punctuation.

At 2 a.m. his wife nudged him. “John, John, there are burglars in the house!”

“What — ah? Burglars — burglars!”

Now wide awake, he sprang to the floor, exclaiming:

“Dearest, comma, I will defend you, comma, even with my heart’s blood, comma, if necessary, exclamation point.” He then threw open the chamber door right in the face of two masked burglars, who held pistols to his breast and demanded: “Your money or your life!”

With one whirl of his strong right arm he dashed the pistols aside, two bullets perforating the hall window, instead of his head, as was intended. With tow more whirls of that trusty arm he sent the burglars as surely and swiftly as one sentence follows another in the mouth of a 200-a-minute speaker out through the window after the bullets, remarking:

“There, comma, now, comma, you can hunt your bullets at your leisure, period. Call again, comma, and I’ll show you how to punctuate better, comma, but you can’t put a period to my existence just yet, period.”

Then rushing back to his wife he exclaimed:

“Joy of my life, exclamation point, light of my eyes, more exclamation points, come to my arms, period.”

They fell weeping on each others’ necks. Stars and dashes come in here, denoting a domestic scene too sacred for the eyes and ears of the vulgar public.

Galveston Daily News (Galveston, Texas) Jan 30, 1893

An Alaskan Expedition – 1890-1891

September 23, 2009
Yukon River (Image from

Yukon River (Image from

MR. W.J. ARKELL, of Frank Leslie’s illustrated newspaper and the Judge, is organizing an expedition of special correspondents and artists to explore Alaska this coming summer. It is believed that a thorough exploration of this comparatively unknown region will reveal more wonders than were discovered by Stanley in Africa.

The Atlanta Constitution (Atlanta, Georgia) Mar 20, 1890


The frontpiece of Frank Leslie’s Illustrated newspaper for the week ending June 28th consists of three pictures showing the start of the Alaska expedition on its long journey. An article accompanies the pictures giving the experiences of the party up to the present stage of their travels. It tells of the difficulties encountered to obtain natives to carry the necessary provisions and equipment into an unknown land. This expedition promises to be one which will rival Stanley’s in interest, especially in the minds of the American people.

Bismarck Daily Tribune (Bismarck, North Dakota) Jun 29, 1890

Headwaters of the Copper River, Alaska - 1902

Headwaters of the Copper River, Alaska - 1902

Image from the “Alfred Bennett” files on rootsweb. Lots of good old pictures!


Anxiety Regarding the Fate of Two Members of an Alaskan Exploring Party.

SAN FRANCISCO, Jan. 6. — Much anxiety is felt here over the fate of Wells and Price, two members of Frank Leslie’s Alaskan party, who started last fall with a small stock of provisions into the unknown Copper river country in Alaska. The last seen of them was on Forty Mile creek, where they bade good-bye to Schanz, when they declared their intention of pushing south down Forty Mile Creek, thence across Dividing Mountains and down Copper river canyon to the coast, a distance of about 800 miles.

They took a guide, who, after conducting them down that creek to the mountains that form the waters’ head between Yukon and Copper rivers, returned to Yukon. He reported they had set out boldly to pass through the almost unknown Copper river country, which is infested with hostile Indians, with few provisions and no winter clothing. Nothing has been heard of them since, and their relatives in Oakland and Kentucky are anxious regarding their safety.

New Castle News (New Castle, Pennsylvania) Jan 7, 1891

Chilkoot Pass - 1898

Chilkoot Pass - 1898

Above image also from Univ. of WA Digital Collection


The Frank Leslie Arctic Explorers in All Probability Lost.

SAN FRANCISCO, Cal. Jan. 11. — [Special] — News received by Professor George Davidson of the United States coast and geostation survey, stationed in this city, settles beyond doubt the fate of the two explorers, Wells and Price of the Frank Leslie Alaskan expedition.

Professor Davidson declares that there is only a ghost of a chance of their safety. The two men left Forty Mile creek for the unknown Copper river country last August at the same time that Schanz started for the coast with Greenfield, the Alaska census agent.

Schanz and Greenfield got through all right, though they made a thousand miles’ journey in the native canoes. Price and Wells were dissuaded from attempting to cross the divide and explore the Copper river country, as the season was far gone and the chances were that they would be caught by early snows. When they left the last outpost at Forty Mile creek they had only twenty pounds of rice and twenty pounds of flour and no fur clothes for winter. Price, however, who had spent two years in the arctic regions, said that they could easily buy supplies from the natives.

Since then absolutely nothing has been heard from them. The chief of the Copper river Indians, who left his home in October, reached the Alaskan Commercial company’s station at Alganic in November. He reported that nothing had been heard by his people of any white men up to October 20. The supposition from this is that Wells and Price have either perished or wandered from the regular trail and taken refuge in one of the widely separated Indian villages. If they were lucky enough to find an Indian village nothing will be heard from them till next month, when the natives come down to Alganic or Port Etches with skins to trade.

The chances, however, are greatly against their safety, as any news of white men is carried from one village to another over great distance in Alaska in a wonderfully short space of time.

Galveston Daily News (Galveston, Texas) Jan 12, 1891


Frank Leslie’s Alaskan expedition, sent out last year, has arrived at Port Townsend, after suffering great hardships. Claim they discovered the source of the Yukon river.

Daily Huronite (Huron, South Dakota) May 4, 1891

Men Bartering With Eskimos

Men Bartering With Eskimos

Image from Univ. of WA digital collection (C. Hart Merriam’s Expedition Description)

A Member of the Alaska Exploring Party Returns.

Special to the Journal.
SAN FRANCISCO, May 6. — A.B. Schanz [Alfred B. Schanz], a member of the Wells-Price Alaska Exploring Expedition arrived here to-day. He was taken sick at Camp Davidson and left behind. He descended the Yukon river in a boat. He made his Winter quarters at an Esquimaux village and in company with John Clark, a trader, made a forty days’ trip north on sleds. On this trip Clark lake and Nogbelin river were discovered.

Daily Nevada State Journal (Reno, Nevada) May 7, 1891


FRANK LESLIE’S Alaskan expedition is back, claiming to have discovered the source of the Yukon river in the Chilcot mountains a lake they were pleased to call Arkell. As nearly all the recent maps show this lake to be the source of the Yukon, it is not quite clear where the value of Arkell & Harrison’s discovery comes in.

Bismarck Daily Tribune (Bismarck, North Dakota) May 8, 1891


SEVERAL members of the Alaskan exploring expedition sent out a year ago from New York under the guidance of Hazard Wells have arrived at Port Townsend, Wash. thus contradicting the report that the party had perished.

Stevens Point Journal, The (Stevens Point, Wisconsin) May 9, 1891

Alaska Packers and Miners 1901

Alaska Packers and Miners - Yukon River - 1901

Above image also from the U of WA Digital Collection

Those of our people who knew E. Hazard Wells, at one time with E.T. Cressey on the Daily Leader, and at the same time a special correspondent for the Cincinnati Gazette, will be glad to know that he and his party have returned safely from their exploring expedition into the wilds of Alaska. About a year and a half since Mr. Wells and party were sent to Alaska by the Frank Leslie publishing company.

For 13 months they were lost in the wilds of the northern portion of that country, and suffered privations and hardships almost innumerable. Their escape from starvation was really miraculous. Mr. Wells says the swamps in Alaska are worse than the glaciers, and the mosquitos are more ferocious than the bears. He also says the geography of the country as represented by publishers, is very inaccurate. The experience of the explorers, together with a complete write-up of Alaska, will soon be published.

Daily Huronite (Huron, South Dakota) May 20, 1891

Forty Miles Creek book cover

From: Gold at Fortymile Creek: early days in the Yukon
By Michael Gates, 1994 (pages 58-59) Preview only on Google Books:

In 1890, three hundred miners were located in the Yukon basin. The Arctic was refloated and began to make more regular trips into the interior. Being newer and larger than the previous river vessels, it represented the gradual change which was taking place in the country as the population and gold production increased.

Eighteen ninety was also the first year in which a new route to the interior was opened up. The Chilkat Pass was jealously guarded by the coastal Tlingit, who denied White people access; but in the spring, a party of White men changed all that. Working for an American newspaper, Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Magazine, E.J. Glave, E. Hazard Wells, and A.B. Schanz crossed the Chilkat Pass under the guidance of Jack Dalton, a seasoned northern veteran. The party arrived at Lake Arkell (which is now called Kusawa Lake) and divided into two groups. The first, consisting of Glave and Dalton, struck out overland to the west; the latter, including Wells and Schanz, continued to the mouth of Lake Arkell and into the Takhini River, from which they entered the Yukon just above Lake Laberge.

Glave and Dalton had an exciting journey overland along the Alsek River (now known as the Tatshenshini River), down which they travelled, stopping at Native encampments and chronicling the countryside as they went. They eventually arrived at the mouth of the Alsek River.

Wells and Schanz travelled down the Yukon River, arriving at Harper’s new post at Fort Selkirk on 18 June 1890, and encountering Al Mayo on the New Racket (which was carrying a few prospectors to the Pelly River) two days later. They arrived at Forty Mile on 22 June, where, due to Schanz’s ill health, Wells continued on alone. Departing Forty Mile on 3 July, Wells started upriver and arrived, a week later, at Franklin Gulch, near the upper limit of the gold-bearing creeks on the Fortymile River. Here he found forty miners, each working placer claims of 150 feet. The miners, usually working in partnerships of two or more men, were mining a zigzag paystreak some six feet below the surface and were making from six to seventeen dollars per day each. Those who were being paid a wage were receiving eight dollars per day; everyone was making money, but few were doing much better than that.

Wells continued his trek overland from the upper reaches of the Fortymile River until he reached the Tanana River, down which he travelled, arriving at St. Michael in September. He spent the winter travelling overland through Alaska and eventually arrived back in Washington state in early spring. This expedition was the first of a succession of journeys, made by gentleman travellers’ through the Yukon over the next few years. These observers left their mark on the history of the region in the written accounts of their travels. Glave and Dalton returned the following year to further explore the southwest Yukon. As a result of their discoveries, a new route into the interior was established. The famed Dalton Trail was used by Jack Dalton to transport horses and cattle north to the Yukon River and then downstream to Forty Mile. The trail became one of the minor routes of access to the Klondike River during the gold rush.


The Deseret Weekly: Stories of the Klondike Aug 21, 1897

A Chat with W.J. Arkell in which he talks about the Alaskan expedition.

The Tobacco Argument

September 23, 2009

“Down in Indian Territory something happened that gave the moralists grounds for a tirade against the use of tobacco and the other side grounds for argument in favor. A squaw who had began the use of tobacco at the age of 13, died at the age of 114. How long would she have lived had she began using tobacco at 10 or even 11?

Nevada State Journal (Reno, Nevada) Jan 9,  1931