Archive for September, 2009

Dreadful Loss of Life and Limb

September 15, 2009
Sandy Hook Lighthouse (Image from

Sandy Hook Lighthouse (Image from


Dreadful loss of Life and Limb.

It is a long time since our city (New York) has been visited with so horrible a disaster, as the one which we, as public journalists, find it our painful duty now to chronicle. The accident occurred at the black and white smith shop of Edward Duvall, No. 102 Charlton street.

Link to map with Sandy Hook Lighthouse (bottom left of map)

It appears that Mr. Duvall, a young man in the prime of his life, being about 33 years old, has been doing a considerable work for the light house at Sandy Hook; and while engaged in the performance of it, he employed the fishermen resident in the neighborhood, to collect the cannon balls and bomb shells which are frequently found buried in the sand, or rolled up in the surf, which he agreed to purchase as old iron. During yesterday, a load of the above articles were brought to Mr. Duvall’s shop, and on examination, the latter found that some of the shells were yet loaded, and before taking them into the house, he proceeded to empty them of the composition. This was about five o’clock in the afternoon. Mr. Duvall, proceeding to empty the shells, took one, said to be of the shape of an egg, about 24 inches long, upon his lap, sitting on a seat which he procured on the side walk, and with a stick loosened the composition, which he shook upon the walk between his feet. While thus engaged, the shell which was made of cast iron, exploded with a tremendous force killing Mr. Duvall and two others instantly, and severely wounding several others.

— Mr. Duvall’s arms were both entirely blown off, his right leg was taken off at the knee, a horrible hole was blown through his abdomen, and his whole body was more or less injured. He never breathed after the explosion. He lived in the upper part of the house wherein was his shop, and has left a wife and one child to mourn his loss, as also a large circle of beloved friends.

Image from

Rockaway Wagon (Image from

Mr. A.O.Price, builder, of No. 79 Thompson street, aged about 39 years, and who is now engaged in building the Grace Church’s new house of worship in Broadway, was passing shortly before the accident, in a one horse Rockaway wagon, on his way to the North river, where he was expecting a cargo of stone from Sing-Sing, and loosing a linchpin from his wagon, stopped at Mr. Duvall’s; and while the wagon was being repaired, he was engaged in conversation with the unfortunate proprietor when the explosion took place.

— He received a blow on the back of his head from a piece of the shell, breaking in the entire back of his skull, causing instant death. When found, he laid on the sidewalk, with his hands in his pockets, entirely lifeless. His horse, a valuable one, was standing in the front of the door, and a piece of the shell struck him on the side of his head, taking it entirely off; the same fraction of the shell passed across the street, took a large piece out of the eave gutter of the house, and glancing off the shingled peak, fell at some distance beyond. Mr. Price has left a wife and two children to mourn the untimely end of the husband and father.

Richard Broderick, a lad of 17 years of age, residing at the corner of King and Hudson streets, was passing at the same time, with a young associate by the name of Bennett, and stopped a moment, picked up some of the composition, and as he started from the scene, was arrested by death; being instantly killed by a piece of the shell, which struck him on the right side of the neck, just on the edge of the cheek, making a wound of about two inches in diameter, severing the jugular vein, killing him almost instantly. His clothes were much burned, and his body dreadfully mangled.

Robert Bennett, step son of Abraham Moses, No. 280 Hudson street, was in company with Broderick, and was thrown into the air several feet, falling in such a manner as to severely cut his lip. Both his legs are broken above the knee, and dreadfully mangled, so that one must be amputated; the other may be saved. If mortification does not set in, his life may be saved. He is perfectly conscious, and has been so all the time since the disaster. These are all that we can hear of with any degree of certainty. It is said that a cartman, who was passing at the time, had an arm blown off, and another young man was much injured. The report of the explosion was heard at the distance of eight squares. The glass in the windows on both sides of the street, is more or less broken from Hudson street to the river. A piece of the iron weighing about 2 pounds, is said to have fallen at the corner of Varick and Carmine streets; another piece weighing about ten pounds, flew towards the river, and entering the office of George Leland, pork and provission packer, corner of Washington and Charlton Streets, knocked a decanter out of the hands of a cartman named Travis, who was standing in the office with several others, without injury to any individual. — Journal of Commerce.

Google Map of the area

The Victims of the Explosion. — The remains of three of the ill-fated victims of the accident of Monday, Aaron O. Price, Edward Duvall and Robert H. Bennet, were interred yesterday afternoon with appropriate ceremonies. Richard J. Broderick, the other person who was killed, was buried the previous day.

The body of Mr. Price was temporarily deposited in the marble cemetery at the corner of Second street and Second avenue, until it can be removed to the family burying ground in Eastchester. His remains were attended to the grave by the New York Tent of Rechabites, New York Lodge No. 10, Washington Lodge No. 12, Mount Sinai Encampment No. 3, and the R.W. Grand Lodge of the I.O. of O.F., a large number of friends and the workmen in the employ of the deceased, the whole forming a very imposing procession. The ceremonies at the burial place were conducted by P.G.M. Wilson Small, who officiated as chaplain for the occasion.

The Lady of Duvall was attended to the grave by Tompkins Lodge No. 9, and Meridian Lodge No. 42, I.O. of O.F., and a large concourse of his neighbors and friends.

N.Y. Com. Adv. March 27th.

Wisconsin Argus (Madison, Wisconsin) Apr 22, 1845

Hitch Your Wagon, But Stay Out of The Clouds

September 13, 2009
Image from /

Image from /

Living on the Wagon Pole.

When Emerson said “Hitch your wagon to a star,” he meant, of course, that the wheels of the wagon should roll on earth, but that the force which pulled it along should be higher and nobler than mere worldliness. It was a good thought excellently expressed, and when carried out it leads to success.

There are some people, however, who in their efforts to hitch their wagon to stars, elevate themselves on the wagon poles until they reach convenient clouds, upon which they crawl, and spend the remainder of their lives midway between heaven and earth.

A man who passes away his life in this suspended condition is a very curious character. He is just high enough up to look down with a cold, aristocratic condesension on the rest of mankind, and he is just low enough down for mankind to see that he is only an ordinary member of the human race.

It is not a very graceful position, and the people generally are disposed to criticise the man occupying it; but the suspended genius, propped up by his inordinate vanity, and blinded by the haziness of his surroundings, sees only himself, and imagines that, like Alexander Selkirk, he is monarch of all he surveys. All the time the people below laugh at his antics, and the angels above, doubtless, weep.

Baltimore American.

Wisconsin Labor Advocate, (La Crosse, WI) Vol.1, no.51, p.2 (August 6, 1887)

John Hill: Served Under George I

September 11, 2009



DIED. on the 23d ult., at the residence of his son near St. Thomas, in this county, Mr. JOHN HILL, aged somewhere about 123 or 127, the former being his own calculation & the latter that of some of his neighbors who had seen his discharge from the army, &c. &c. —

He was born in Herefordshire, England, in the reign of Queen Ann — served an apprenticeship in a dairy — enlisted under George I. for 7 years — when that time expired he again enlisted and served 21 years in England, Ireland, Spain, and in America on the Illinois river. —

When on sea, off Gibraltar, he was wounded in the head, and when at Illinois in the leg. At one time the surgeon came prepared for amputation, which he would not permit. The latter wounds was a running sore at the time of his death.

On return of the troops to Philadelphia for embarkation to England, the choice of a passage home or remaining, was given him — he chose the latter. He then settled in Lancaster county, where he married when about sixty — his wife being about half his age. He has left two children, 15 grand-children, and 2 great-grand children.

At the commencement of our revolution he was considered too old for service. He was a very laborious man, and could do a day’s work when turned of a hundred.

His appearance for years past was that of a living skeleton. His bodily powers experienced a considerable change about 2 years since; his heart failed, coming and returning at short intervals — the sight of one eye entirely failed, and that of the other was greatly impaired, and some of his limbs lost all sensation.

Notwithstanding his feeble state, he would frequently during the summer and fall, walk to St. Thomas, (2 miles) resting an hour or two and taking a little refreshment. His last visit was performed in November.
Franklin Repository.

Republican Compiler (Gettysburg, Pennsylvania) Apr 12, 1831

Laboring Poetry

September 7, 2009

Poetry for Labor Day:

Image from Life Magazine

Song of the Factory Girl.


Oh sing me the song of the Factory Girl!
So merry and glad and free!
The bloom on her cheeks, of health how it speaks,
Oh a happy creature is she!
She tends the loom, she watches the spindle,
And cheerfully toileth away —
Mid the din of wheels, how her bright eyes kindle,
And her bosom is ever gay!

Oh sing me the song of the Factory Girl!
Who hath breathed our mountain air,
She toils for her home and the joys to come
To the loved ones gathered there!
She tends the loom, she watches the spindle,
And she fancies her mother near —
How glows her heart, and her bright eyes kindle
As she thinks of her sister dear.

Oh sing me the song of the Factory Girl!
Who no titled lord doth own,
Who with treasures more rare, is more free from care,
Than a Queen upon her throne!
She tends the loom, she watches the spindle,
And she parts her glossy hair,
I know by her smile, as her bright eyes kindle,
That a cheerful spirit is there!

Oh sing me the song of the Factory Girl!
Whose task is easy and light —
She toileth away till the evening gray,
And her sleep is sweet and light —
She tends the loom, she watches the spindle,
And, oh, she is honest and free —
I know by her laugh, as her bright eyes kindle,
That few are more happy than she!

Oh sing me the song of the Factory Girl!
As she walks her spacious hall,
And trims the rose and the orange that blows,
In the window, scenting all.
She tends the loom and watches the spindle,
And she skips in the bracing air —
I know by her eyes, as their bright lights kindle,
That a queenly heart is there!

Oh sing me the song of the Factory Girl!
Link not her name with the SLAVE’S;
She is brave and free, as the old elm tree
Which over her  homestead waves.
She tends the loom, she watches the spindle,
And scorns the laugh and the sneer,
I know by her lip, as her bright eyes kindle,
That a FREE-BORN spirit is here!

Oh sing me the song of the Factory Girl!
Whose fabric doth clothe the world,
From the king and his peers to the jolly tars
With our flag o’er all seas unfurl’d,
From China’s gold seas, to the tainted breeze
Which sweeps the smokened rooms
Where “God save the Queen,” to cry are seen,
The slaves of the British looms.

Oh sing me the song of the Factory Girl!
The honest and fair and true —
Whose name has rung, whose deeds been sung,
O’er the land and waters blue.
She tends the loom, and watches the spindle,
And her words are cheerful and gay —
Oh, give me her smile, as her bright eyes kindle,
And she toils and sings away!

God bless our Yankee Factory Girls!
The girls of our mountain wild!
Like a merry hind, shall their song be heard,
Where’er sweet Labor has smiled.
From our forests green, where the axe hath been,
And the waters dance in the sun —
Through New England’s clime, to the thunder chime
Of the surging Oregon! —

[Asylum Gazette.]

Huron Reflector (Norwalk, Ohio) Jun 2, 1846

Image from



Under a spreading chesnut tree
The village smithy stands;
The smith, a mighty man is he,
With large and sinewy hands;
And the muscles of his brawny arms
Are strong as iron bands.

His hair is crisp, and black and long;
His face is like the tan;
His brow is wet with honest sweat;
He earns whate’er he can,
And looks the whole world in the face,
For he owes not any man.

Week in, week out, from morn till night
You can hear his bellows blow;
You can hear him swing his heavy sledge
With measured beat and slow,
Like a sexton ringing the village bell,
When the evening sun is low.

And children coming home from school
Look in at the open door;
They love to see the flaming forge,
And hear the bellows roar,
And catch the burning sparks that fly
Like chaff from a threshing floor.

He goes on Sunday to the church,
And sets among his boys;
He hears the parson pray and preach,
He hears his daughter’s voice,
Singing in the village choir,
And it makes his heart rejoice.

It sounds to him like his Mother’s voice,
Singing in Paradise!
He needs must thinks of her once more,
How in the grave she lies;
And with his hard rough hand he wipes
A tear from out his eyes.

Toiling — rejoicing — sorrowing —
Onward through life he goes;
Each morning sees some task begin,
Each evening sees it close;
Something attempted — something done —
Has earned a night’s repose.

Thanks, thanks to thee, my worthy friend,
For the lesson thou hast taught;
Thus at the flaming forge of Life
Our fortunes must be wrought;
Thus on its sounding anvil shaped
Each burning Deed and Thought.

Republican Compiler (Gettysburg, Pennsylvania) Jun 21, 1847

A "Begrimed" Engineer

Image and Cobeen family history can be found HERE.


Ah! who ever thinks of the bold engineer,
As he stands by his throttle of steel,
And spurs on his steed to its maddened career,
In its thundering and ponderous reel,
Like a soldier begrimed in battle’s dark strife,
And brave to the cannon’s hot breath.
He, too, plunges on with his long train of life,
Unmindful of danger or death!
Through the daylight,
Into the night,
Dark, dark.
He knows no affright,
O’er ridges
And bridges,
Decayed or strong,
Like a mystic God he rushed along!
Who thinks of the bold engineer?

So true to his post like a statue he stands,
With his eyes fixed fast on afar;
Our own precious lives he holds in his hands,
Our wealth we give to his care;
For good must he be, the bold engineer,
As he dashes from village to town,
And brings us all safe, ‘midst a smile or a tear,
To the forms so dearly our own!
Onward he goes,
His whistle he blows —
Deep, deep,
Through hight-drifted snows;
With crossings
And tossings,
In heat and in rain,
O’er the glitterings track he pulls the long train!
All hail to the bold engineer.

I love the brave man, though accidents come,
With their heart-rending anguish and woe;
Still foremost he rides, to whatever doom,
Like the form on a vessel’s bold prow.
And as he sweeps on like the wind through the land,
Away from “sweet home” and its charm,
For the sake of the “loved ones” and wife, may Thy hand,
Oh God, protect him from harm!
On doth he ride,
No dangers betide,
Swift, swift!
With bridesgroom and bride —
The tallest,
The smallest,
The rich and the poor,
All follow his path, o’er river and moor —
Long life to the bold engineer!

The Fitchburg Sentinel (Fitchburg, Mass.) Aug 13, 1870Image from /sitehistory.html

From the American Farmer


Of all pursuits by men invented,
The ploughman is the best contented,
His calling’s good, his profits high,
And on his labors all rely –Mechanics all by him are fed,
Of him the merchants seek their bread;
His hands give meat to every thing,
Up from the beggar to the king.The milk and honey, corn and wheat,
Are by his labors made complete.
Our clothes from him must first arise,
To deck the fop or dress the wise –We then by vote may justly state,
The ploughman ranks among the great;
More independent than them all,
That dwell upon this earthly ball.

All hail, ye farmers, young and old!
Push on your plough with courage bold;
Your wealth arises from your clod,
Your independence from your God.If then the plough supports the nation,
And men of rank in every station,
Let kings to farmers make a bow,
And every man procure a plough.

Republican Compiler (Gettysburg, Pennsylvania) Aug 17, 1825Image from


Amid the flames he stood,
And the white smoke formed his wreath,
And the swelling waves of the fiery flood
Came surging from beneath.

The crackling timbers reeled,
And the brands came gleaming down,
Like the scattered wealth that the forest yields
When their autumn leaves are brown.

The tempest howled in wrath,
And the fire wheeled madly on, —
And the embers far on the wind’s wild path,
Through the murky night, had gone.

Yet there, in his pride, he stood,
With a steady hand and strong;
And his axe came down on the burning wood,
Till the heart of the old oak rung.

There was many an earnest eye
Through the rolling smoke that gazed,
While he stood with his dauntless soul & high,
Where the hottest fire-brands blazed.

And prayers were faltered forth
From the aged and the young,
For the safety of many a household hearth
On the strokes of his strong arm hung.

There was many a proud knight there,
With his mantle round him rolled,
That aloof, in the light of that sweeping fire,
Stood shivering in the cold.

And oft, from the fireman’s bands,
A summons for aid was heard;
But never the tips of their well-gloved hands
From their ermined cloaks were stirred.

And no white and fervent lip
For their welfare or safety prayed;
For no children’s weal and mother’s hope
In the strength of their arms was stayed.

Were I searching earth’s mingled throng
For shelter, my claim would be
A hand, like that FIREMAN’s, nerved & strong,
And a fearless heart for me.

Ohio Repository, The (Canton, Ohio) May 8, 1845Image from


From the Knickerbocker.

Song of Labor: The Miner.


The eastern sky is blushing red,
The distant hill-top glowing;
The brook is murmuring in its bed,
In idle frolics flowing;
‘Tis time the pickaxe and the spade
And iron “tom” were ringing;
And with ourselves, the mountain stream
A song of labor singing.

The mountain air is cool and fresh;
Unclouded skies been o’er us;
Broad placers, rich in hidden gold,
Lie temptingly before us
Then lightly ply the pick and spade
With sinews strong and lusty;
A golden “pile” is quickly made,
Wherever claims are “dusty.

“We ask no magic Midas’ wand,
Nor wizard-rod divining;
The pickaxe, spade and brawny hand
Are sorcerers in mining;
We toil for hard and yellow gold,
No bogus bank notes taking;
The bank, we trust, though growing old,
Will better pay by breaking.

There is no manlier life than ours,
A life amid the mountains,
Where from the hillsides, rich in gold,
Are willing sparkling fountains:
A mighty army of the hills,
Like some strong giant labors
To gather spoil by earnest toil,
And not by robbing neighbors!

When labor closes with the day,
To simple fare returning,
We gather in a merry group
Around the camp-fires burning;
The mountains sod our couch at night,
The stars shine bright above us;
We think of home, and fall asleep
To dream of those who love us.

Mountain Democrat, The (Placerville, California) May 13, 1854

Labor Day: The Work of the Labor Unions

September 6, 2009
Warren Tribune, PA 1927
Warren Tribune, PA 1927

National Labor Day.

In 1883 Mr. P.J. McGuire of New York, originated the idea of an annual celebration in all the Union by members of the various trades and labor organizations. Further, the time to be fixed for this should be the first Monday in September. Mrssrs. P.J. McGuire, Samuel Gompers and Robert Blissert were the principal framers of the plan adopted, and these gentlemen, prominent workers in the labor cause, first gave it publicity.

The day was to be a grand holiday, like the Fourth of July or Christmas. It was to be celebrated by music, festivals, speaking and great processions of the labor organizations. The parades were to be a leading feature. Members of all the industrial trades, formed in battalions and divisions, were to march through the streets, with music playing and banners flying. Upon the banners were to be inscribed terse words, showing the mottoes and aims of the great labor unions. Among such were the following:

“Compulsory Education,” “No Child Labor,” “Sanitary Inspection of Factories,” “Eight Hours a Day.”

The idea caught the public favor at once. That first year and every year since Labor day has been celebrated. It grows in favor, and its observance becomes annually more imposing. No more instructive or interesting sight is witnessed than these long battalions of faithful workers. Some of the bands are white faced and stooped from long hours of bending over indoor tasks. Others are ruddy and strong and erect. Far too many, as they march, show the cramping, stiffening effect of years of toil on their muscles.

Labor day is now a legal holiday in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Wisconsin, Illinois, Ohio, Michigan, Colorado, California and sever other states. It should be set apart in all the states as the day belonging to those who make the nation’s wealth.

The News (Frederick, Maryland) Aug 27, 1889

Image from

One of the mottos borne in the Labor Day parade in Chicago read:

“eight hours’ work, eight hours’ pay, eight hours’ sleep and eight dollars a day.”

When these conditions come to pass the millenium will not be far off.

Edwardsville Intelligencer (Edwardsville, Illinois) Sep 14, 1892

LABOR Day pic 1941


The first of September is a very fitting time for the “Labor Day” observance. It is the beginning of the harvest season when the fruits of the earth are gathered into barns, and the reward of the year’s husbandry is paid to agricultural toil, from of old and ever to be the only essential provider for human want.

And it is well to observe “Labor Day” with gratitude and jubilation, as it was well for this nation to observe Fourth of July. But, as Fourth of July was devoted to a consideration of the causes and the obligations of American independence, so it were well for “Labor Day” to consider how it was and by what means its present advantageous estate has come to be.

It has taken much time to bring round this festivity of labor. Reckoning from the birth of Christ at Bethlehem in Judea, nearly nineteen hundred years have labored to bring it forth. And but for the transforming power of those years of ministry, but for that birth in the manger and that death on the cross, not nineteen centuries, but much more extended and weary travail would have awaited human labor, before, in this land and in this time, it could have had any such anniversary as it now observes. Outside of all theology and creeds, as the most certain fact in history, the beginning of the amelioration of labor starts from the person and the message of the Son of Man. Of all mankind, those who have been bowed down and heavy laden should most revere and cherish that benignant goodness and wisdom.

But it has not been wholly the institutions directly connected with christianity, from which the amelioration of labor had come. That liberation and development of the human mind which christianity has caused has contributed in these later centuries more visibly than the church. For, left to its own resources, there is nothing in the mere numbers of human labor that would have brought it to what of advantage it now enjoys. It is because the constantly increasing intelligence of mankind in the end benefits labor, that its past has been progressive and its future is bright with hope.

Despite christianity, it was not until the use of gunpowder in warfare that the toiling masses of Europe had any fair chance of freedom. The warrior aristocracies in their suits of ma??, and trained to arms as a jealously exclusive profession, could never have been thrust from their place of power by the multitudes whose labor they exacted and whose gains they lavished. Gunpowder was the first great equalizer of persons, and modern democracy begins with its use in war.

*emphasis mine

But gunpowder could not undo all the past. It had been in use several hundred years before the Reign of Terror in France, and labor had its heaviest burdens still to bear. For that outburst of tumult and revenge was but the recoil of outraged and overburned human toil, forced upon one-third of the soil of France, and under most oppressive restrictions, to support in idleness and waste the Nobles and the Clergy, who monopolized all privileges and occupied two-thirds of the land.

Clearly invention and intelligence alone could not deliver labor from the pit into which it had fallen, or rather had been forced. Besides aid, it needed opportunity, and this it could not find in Europe where aristocracy and privilege were organized and intrenched. This opportunity the United States has furnished to a greater degree than the world has thus far known.

But here also the conflict of rival principles had to be fought out. In the Mayflower came republican institutions based upon free and respected labor, and at Jamestown, in Virginia, was begun the toil of slaves. Our civil war grew out of these two facts, and was fought for the cause of labor. In that war the Mayflower and the Pilgrims triumphed, and labor has the benefit of the blood and the treasure that were spent.

If anywhere in this world among human institutions and the places connected with their birth, the reverence and gratitude of laboring men should go out toward Plymouth Rock, and the principles of government and social order which the founders of Massachusetts first planted on this soil. If any state should have the loyalty of its laboring men, Massachusetts should. If any citizenship should feed constantly from the fount of early purpose and aspiration, her citizenship should. And, of all her citizens, those who celebrate “Labor Day” should most reverently do this, for under her leadership and influence has come to them most of what that anniversary stands for.

North Adams Transcript (North Adams, Massachusetts) Sep 2, 1895

P.J. McGuire - 1896
P.J. McGuire – 1896




WASHINGTON, D.C., Sept. 4. — Samuel Gompers, founder and president of the American Federation of Labor, gave out for publication today some interesting historical matter on the observation of Labor Day.

“Undoubtedly the first suggestion of setting apart a day in each year to be observed as Labor Day,” said Mr. Gompers, “was conceived by the late P.J. McGuire, who was at that time secretary of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters. The suggestion occurred during the period when the Knights of Labor was in existence, P.J. McGuire being a member of that organization.

“Writing for the American Federationist in 1902 P.J. McGuire had this to say:

“‘Pagan feast and Christian observance have come down to us through the long ages. But it was reserved for this country, and for the American people, to give birth to Labor Day. In this they honor the toilers of the earth, and pay homage to those who from rude nature have delved and carved all the comfort and grandeur we behold.

“‘More than all, the thought, the conception, yes, the very inspiration of this holiday came from men in the ranks of the working people, men active in uplifting their fellows and leading them to better conditions. It came from a little group in New York City, the Central Labor Union, which had just been formed, and which in later years attained widespread influence.

“‘On May 8, 1882, the writer made the proposition. He urged the propriety of setting aside one day in the year to be designated as ‘Labor Day,’ and to be established as a general holiday for the laboring classes. He advised the day should first be celebrated by a street parade, which would publicly show the strength and esprit du corps of the trade and labor organizations. Next the parade should be followed by a picnic of a festival in some grove the proceeds of the same to be divided on this semi-co-operative plan.”

“It was further argued Labor Day should be observed as one festal day in the year for public tribute to the genius of the American industry. There were other worthy holidays representative of the religions, civil and military spirit. But non representative of the industrial spirit, the great vital force of every nation.

He suggested the first Monday in September of every year for such a holiday, as it would come at the most pleasant season of the year nearly midway between the fourth of July and Thanksgiving and would fill a wide gap in the chronology of legal holidays. Many were the cogent reasons he advanced and at once the idea was enthusiastically embraced.

The first Labor Day parade and festival of the Central Labor Union of New York City on September 5, 1882, was simply an imposing success. From that day on, it became a fixed institution in the United States observed today in every city of the land. The plan was next endorsed by the annual convention of the American Federation of Labor and the general assembly of the Knights of Labor. IT spread rapidly from city to city and from town to town. City councils and state legislatures took it up and made it a legal holiday, until finally, June 28, 1894, it became a national holiday by act of congress.

“The initial action taken setting apart one day in the year on which to review the activities and beneficial influence of Organized Labor occurred at the afternoon meeting of the third day of the fourth annual session of the Federation, October 9, 1884, the convention being held in Schloesser’s Hall, Chicago, Ill. The resolution creating Labor Day was introduced in the convention by A.C. Cameron, a delegate from the Chicago Trades and Labor Assembly, and was as follows:

“‘Resolved, that the first Monday in September of each year be set apart as a laborers’ national holiday, and that we recommend its observance by all wage-workers, irrespective of sex, calling, or nationality.’***”

Eau Claire Leader (Eau Claire, Wisconsin) Sep 5, 1915

Decatur Weekly Republican  29 Oct 1896
Decatur Weekly Republican 29 Oct 1896


The first Labor Day was instituted in 1887, when the New York legislature passed an act recognizing that occasion as a holiday. But the movement for this occasion may fairly celebrate its semi-centennial this year, since it was in 1882 that Matthew Maguire, secretary of the Central Labor union of New York, began correspondence with various labor unions, in the effort to secure such a public occasion.

The original idea of the movement was to establish a public occasion which should dignify labor, call attention to the needs and rights of wage-earners, strengthen their organizations, and encourage them in their struggle for better conditions.

Since that time enormous progress has been made by the workers. Hours of labor, which were inordinately long, have been greatly reduced. Working conditions have been made healthier and pleasanter. Women and children are protected from the more severe demands of toil. Wages average three to four times as much as was ordinarily paid 50 years ago. The wage-earners of the country enjoy many benefits that the workers of 50 years ago never dreamed of.

The Frederick Post (Frederick, Maryland) Sep 3, 1932



First Labor Day Parade Was Held Sept. 5, 1882

The first celebration of Labor day in America was on Sept 5, 1882, when a parade was held in New York under the auspices of the newly organized Central Labor union of the metropolis. P.J. McGuire first made the suggestion of a parade of organized labor. William McCabe, who was chosen to lead the procession as grand marshal, had only a small company of men behind him when the parade started from City Hall; and they came in for much jeering from the crowd. At Astor Place a number of organizations joined the marchers, and when the parade passed in review at Union Square there were 2,500 men in line. William McCabe, the leader of this pioneer parade of organized toilers, was a printer by trade, and a native of New Zealand. Coming to America in 1840, when two years old, his parents settled in California. At the age of fifteen he enlisted in a cavalry troop which served in the civil war. Later he fought the Indians in the northwest, and then received a commission in the patriot army of Mexico, which was engaged in driving out the European invaders. He then became a printer, first in San Francisco and later in New York. P.J. McGuire, the father of Labor day, was for some time secretary of the American federation of labor, and worked unremittingly to secure the general adoption of the labor holiday.

During recent years also, the labor movement has become less disposed to seek its ends by fighting employers, more disposed to get results by co-operating with them. With that plan, it will go on to still greater successes, as little is usually gained when the industries are tied up by strikes.

It is a delightful thing to see our people enjoying the Labor holiday, though this year, unfortunately, many idle ones have had more holidays than they desire. However, that is probably only a temporary misfortune. Labor day, 1933, with the prospects for improvement now in sight, should see the annual September holiday welcome as a pleasant relief from toil.

Tyrone Daily Herald (Tyrone, Pennsylvania) Sep 4, 1916

Burning Rubbish – Burned to Death

September 1, 2009

burning rubbishl

Image from Neville Anthony Watts – Local Norfolk Artist

I ran across this article when I was searching for news clips about the William Smearman murder:


Clothing of Mrs. Smearman of Near Addison Ignited in Yard.


Husband Was Working In the Field But Before He Arrived Clothing Was Burned Off and Body in a Crisp.

Special to The Courier.
CONFLUENCE, April 9. — Burned to death at her home in the presence of her children while disposing of some rubbish in the yard, was the fate of Mrs. Louis Smearman, aged about 25 years, who lived east of Petersburg, Addison township. Mrs. Smearman set fire to some rubbish in the yard and was placing some more on the pile when a sudden gust of wind blew the fire in her direction and set fire to her dress. The flames made great headway and soon enveloped her body and her horrified outcries were heard by the two children in the house and by her husband, who was working in the field some distance away.

The husband reached the scene as soon as possible, but was too late. The wife was lying on the ground with all the clothing burned off her body and with part of her hair burned off. He caught hold of the remaining hair to raise her head and give her air for her dying breaths, but the pressure of his hand on the hair loosened the top and the whole scalp came off, and after a few faint breaths the woman was dead.

The entire body was burned to a crisp and every stitch of clothing was consumed, the only remnants left being a buckle and part of her shoes. The Smearman home is on an elevated location and the wind blew hard at the time of the fire.

Several days before this tragedy the eight-year-old son broke his leg and was lying in the house when he saw his mother’s dress catch fire. Suffering and disabled as he was with a broken leg the boy made a brave effort to lend assistance and attempted to get out the window to help her and broke several pains of glass, but his efforts at relief were fruitless. The six-year-old daughter was in the house, but was too small to do anything.

The Daily Courier (Connellsville, Pennsylvania) Apr 9, 1909

When Hiram Shaved His Whiskers

September 1, 2009

When Hiram Shaved His Whiskers.

I’ve lived with Hiram thirty years
Upon this varied earth,
And walked with him the vales of tears,
And climbed the hills of mirth;
Some storms have broken on our calm,
And gusts blown wild and drear.
But I have clung to Hiram’s arm
And never felt a fear;
And never gave a frown or scoff,
Till Hiram shaved his whiskers off —
Till Hiram shaved his whiskers.

Those gorgeous whiskers were my pride —
What wondrous power to please!
As they did wave from side to side,
And floated on the breeze;
“You have not loved me since the day
Old Whiskers left,” said Hi —
“For when Old Whiskers moved away
My husband left,” said I.
“My good, old husband disappeared
That day that Hiram shaved his beard —
When Hiram shaved his whiskers.”

“You loved Old Whiskers, Mary Ann,
Far more than you loved me.”
“Old Whiskers was a handsome man
As you will often see.
He had a shaggy, manly air,
But you are small and thin,
Your mouth is large, your cheeks are spare
You have a peak-ed chin —
And I will always rue the day
That good Old Whiskers moved away —
When Hiram shabed his whiskers.”

“You fell so bad, my Mary Ann,
And mourn Old Whiskers so,
I’ll bring you back that grizzly man,
I’ll let my whiskers grow!”
“Ah, those words sound like Hiram’s words,”
Said I, “no more I’ll mourn,
I’ll sing as gay as singing birds,
Till Whiskers shall return;
Meantime I’ll bear with sluggard fate,
In joyful patience sit and wait,
Till Hiram grows his whiskers.”

— S.W. Foss.

The News (Frederick, Maryland) Aug 18, 1891