Posts Tagged ‘1890’

Fallen Heros – Old Soldiers Day

May 28, 2012

The Daily Northwester (Oshkosh, Wisconsin) May 30, 1890


The speaker closed with the following poem of his own composition:

Brave, Generous Boys
Who shouldered quick their guns
And to the front they pressed,
Giving a life to save a life,
Dying that we might bless.

And the mother with heart un-speakable
Thinks of the blessful past,
And the image of her loving boy
Her noblest and her last.

But death came sternly with a touch
No mother’s love could shield;
Soon mouldering were those laughing eyes
On a southern battle field.

And the lonely mother left
Of sorrow has her share,
Deeming her country’s sacrifice
Is greater than she can bear.

But she thinks of Spartan mothers
In those cruel days gone by,
While firmer grows her trembling lip
And drier grows her eye.

And peace comes stealing o’er her soul
And mixing with tints her tears,
Paints immortal her boy
To shine undimmed by coming years.

There he is safe, serene and blessed,
The mother needs our care.
Her sorrows be divided up —
Let’s each one take a share.

To scared trust we’ll all prove true and guard it well with care,
And on the thirtieth of May,
With songs and blossoms rare,
We’ll gather round the brave boys’ tombs
In gratitude and prayer.

W.W. Kimball, orator of the day.

The Daily Northwester (Oshkosh, Wisconsin) May 30, 1891

Under the sod and the dew,

Waiting the judgment day,

Love and tears for the Blue,

Tears and Love for the Gray.

The Daily Northwester (Oshkosh, Wisconsin) May 30, 1893

Death at a Crossing

October 25, 2011

Image from the Oakland, IL Genealogy website


Levi Alsbury, an Old Veteran, Instantly Killed.

An old invalid soldier, Levi Alsbury, more familiarly known as “Button,” was instantly killed at 11:35 a.m. to-day at the Priest street crossing of the Illinois Central road, just east of the tray factory. He had been up town after some nails, and was returning to a new house in the fourth ward he was building, when he sat down on a log near the factory to rest. The Terre Haute and Peoria passenger train going toward the depot came along, and just before the train reached the crossing, Alsbury arose to cross over. The old man was subject to fainting spells and may have been suddenly attacked with a feeling of weakness as he arose from the log. The cow-catcher struck him and hurled him upward against the steam chest with great force, when the lifeless body dropped into the ditch. Nearly every bone in his body was broken. The body was removed by Coroner Perl to his office, where the inquest will be held this evening at 8 o’clock.

Mr. Alsbury was 48 years of age, and resided at 900 West Macon street. He leaves a wife and two children. Brice Alsbury, a son of his wife by a former marriage, was murdered at Kinney, Ill., a few years ago. Mr. A. served through the war as a member of Co. H, 63d Ill. Regiment and received a pension of $30 a month. His back pay received not long since was $1900.

It was T.H. & P. train 1, engine 4, that struck the man; Buchanan, conductor; George Winn, engineer; Jerry Ryan, fireman.

Decatur Daily Republican (Decatur, Illinois) May 14, 1887


Levi Alsbury Struck Down By a T-H.& P. Train.

From Sunday’s Daily.

Levi Alsbury, a union ex-soldier, was killed at the Priest street crossing of the Illinois Central railroad a few minutes before 12 o’clock noon yesterday, by a Terre Haute & Peoria passenger train. He was struck by the pilot of the engine and his body was hurled a distance of nearly twenty feet. Alsbury had been up town to get a bundle of nails and was on his way to work on a dwelling which he was erecting in the Fourth ward, when he met his death. An inquest was held last night by Coroner Perl at his undertaking establishment on South Main street. The witnesses were John Sheeney, a bricklayer, George Winn, engineer, and Eugene Ryan, fireman on the engine of the train, and Mrs. S.J. Alsbury, wife of the deceased. Sheeney testified that Alsbury walked toward the crossing without looking down the track and was seemingly unmindful that the train was coming, although the engineer was sounding the whistle and the fireman was ringing the engine bell. The engineer testified that he sounded the station whistle at the usual place and subsequently sounded the whistle again to attract Alsbury’s attention. The fireman testified to the same fact. Alsbury did not discover his danger until he was on the track. Then he made a leap to get out of the way but was too late. He was struck by the top of the right side of the pilot and instantly killed. His neck, both arms and both legs, and his ribs were broken. The train at the time of the accident was running, according to the testimony of the engineer, fireman and Sheeney, not faster than six miles an hour.

The deceased was aged 48 years, and resides at 900 West Macon street. He leaves surviving him a wife and two children. He was the father of Brice Alsbury who was murdered at Kenney two years ago. Mr. Alsbury served in the union army during the late war as a member of Co. H, 63d Ill. Inf. He was wounded and lost a portion of the bones of his left arm. For this disability he was allowed a pension of $30 per month, and received back pay amounting to $1900.

Saturday Herald (Decatur, Illinois) May 21, 1887

EDWIN PHILBROOK, pension attorney, has received notice of a pension of $12 per month for Sarah J. Alsbury, Decatur, Ill., widow of Levi Alsbury, Company H, 63d Illinois Infantry.

Decatur Daily Republican ( Jan 15, 1890

Brice Alsbury’s Murder:

From Tuesday’s Daily.

Held for Trial.

Henry Teal, of Waynesville, was arrested on Friday for the murder of Brice Alsbury, upon a warrant sworn out by State’s Attorney Booth, of DeWitt county. He was taken to Clinton, and was given a preliminary hearing before Judge McHenry. The judge was of the opinion that Teal’s provocation for shooting Alsbury had a tendency to somewhat mitigate the enormity of the crime, and, on the plea of manslaughter, admitted him to bail in the sum of ten thousand dollars, for his appearance at the next term of the circuit court. Teal was released upon his furnishing the required bond. Wiley Marvel, John Teal and George B. Graham are his securities.

Saturday Herald (Decatur, Illinois) Mar 15, 1884

Murder Trial.

Henry Teal is on trial at Clinton before Judge Herdman for the murder of Brice Alsbury, at Waynesville, a year ago. Alsbury is well known about Mt. Zion, in this county, where his relatives reside. Attorneys Booth and Warner represent the People, and Dan Voorhees, of Indiana, and Lawyer Graham the defendant. A jury was secured last evening.

Decatur Daily Republican (Decatur, Illinois) Dec 11, 1884

SATURDAY last, at the second trial at Clinton, Henry Teal was found guilty and sentenced to one year at Joliet, for the murder of Brice Alsbury. Teal has applied for another new trial.

Decatur Daily Republican (Decatur, Illinois) Sep 7, 1885


Henry Teal, for the murder of Brice Alsbury at Waynesville, Ill., more than a year ago, has been sentenced to one year’s imprisonment in the penitentiary of Illinois.

Oshkosh Daily Northwestern (Oshkosh, Wisconsin) Sep 8, 1885

HENRY TEAL, who was found guilty of the murder of Brice Alsbury, was granted a new trial at Clinton, Thursday, by Judge Epler, on the grounds that two of the jurymen had previously expressed themselves as to Teal’s guilt.

Decatur Daily Republican (Decatur, Illinois) Sep 12, 1885

Teal Discharged.

Brice Alsbury, whose parents reside at Mt. Zion, this county, was injured at Waynesville, in DeWitt county, some years ago, and died. Henry M. Teal was indicted for the murder, and found guilty by a jury. He was granted a new trial and a change of venue to Havana. Yesterday State’s attorney Booth, of Clinton, entered a nolle in the case and Teal was discharged. Important witnesses have disappeared.

Decatur Daily Republican (Decatur, Illinois) Aug 7, 1886

Before the murder of Brice Alsbury:

YESTERDAY Brice Alsbury was arrested in Decatur on a state warrant charging him with having made an assault upon one James Houchens, at Waynesville, Ill., with intent to kill. The assault is alleged to have been made on October 17, since which time Alsbury has been skirmishing around for the benefit of his health. The prisoner was lodged in the county jail and the DeWitt county sheriff notified of the arrest.

Decatur Daily Republican (Decatur, Illinois) Dec 28, 1882


September 9, 2011

From Maps of San Francisco and California on Steve Haughey’s website

{Written for the Oakland Daily Evening TRIBUNE.}


Oh, California! On thy rock-bound, misty shore,
I watch, and hear the surging breakers roar,
And wonder if their restless, seeming endless flow
Was just the same one hundred years ago!

As through the Golden Gate the briny, ebbing tide,
Recedes to mingle with the Ocean, fair and wide,
I watch the vessels passing to and fro,
And wonder if ‘t were thus one hundred years ago!

I see upon the shore fair beings, walking light,
With manly brow, complexion fair and white,
And from their lips sweet words of wisdom flow.
I ask, could this be seen one hundred years ago?

I see, where Ocean piled its golden sands,
A noble city in rich grandeur stands,
Where fireside joys are lit with genial glow,
Oh, was it thus one hundred years ago?

On spiral domes that seem to reach the sky,
Our Nation’s Flag is streaming bold and high.
It seems to say, while waving to and fro,
“I waved not here one hundred years ago!”

I hear the cannons’ boom as thunders loud,
And from their mouths I see the smoky cloud
Rise up to mingle with the winds that blow —
Blow now as then, one hundred years ago.

Yes, here amid the fog which has enshrined
Thy shore, these visions flit across my mind,
And to my queries come the answer, “No!
These things were not, one hundred years ago.”

The Golden City, as it stands to-day,
Bears witness of a rich, progressive sway;
The cannons’ boom that falls upon our ears
Speaks of the change in one short hundred years,

And thus it is our State, with prospect bright,
Becomes a nation’s glory and her proud delight;
The comforts gained through labors fraught with tears,
Oh, may our nation share them many hundred years!

–[Charlie F****

Oakland Daily Evening Tribune (Oakland, California) Jul 12, 1876

The subjoined poem which recently appeared in the Washington, D.C., Capital was written by Mary M. Clemons, fourteen years old, and a daughter of Dr. Clemons, formerly of Sandusky. It would do credit to a much older head. Dr. Clemons is in the pension service at Washington, having been transferred from the southwest, and his family have been in Southern California for the past winter. Here is the poem:


Bright blue skies above us,
Grass so green and sweet,
Around are friends that love us,
And flowers at our feet.

Oh! this is California,
The land of sunshine blest,
Where every one, tho’ rich or poor
Can have a chance to rest.

Oh! this is California,
Where hearts are light and gay,
Where every one you chance to meet;
Have pleasant words to say.

Oh! this is California,
Where everybody sees
The glorious sunshine all the year,
And all the flowers and trees.

Oh! this is California,
Where every one doth sing
No matter if ’tis summer,
Or winter, fall or spring.

Oh! this is California,
Where all my friends should be,
And if you don’t believe me,
Why, just come out and see.

Fullerton, Los Angeles, Co., Cal., April, 30, 1889.

Sandusky Daily Register (Sandusky, Ohio) Jan 11, 1890

Image from the Aztec Club of 1847 website

From the New York Sun

The brown man’s foot is on thy shore, California!
His hand is at thy people’s door, California!
Say, bang him one and draw his gore
And with his face mop up the floor,
So he won’t trouble you no more,
California, oh, California!

Thou wilt not cower in the dust, California!
Thy yellow boycott shall not rust, California!
Remember Kearney’s sacred trust
To do the mongols up or bust.
And let them have the knock-out thrust
California, oh, California!

Rise ’tis the red dawn of the day, California!
When low-browed leaders point the way, California!
With Grove L. Johnson in the fray,
And friends of Schmitz in bold array,
The Japs must go, but they must stay,
California, oh, California!

We see the blush upon thy cheek, California!
For thou wert every bravely meek, California!
But lo’ there surges forth a shriek —
From vale to vale, from peak to peak —
Pacific calls to Bitter Creek,
California, oh, California!

We hear the old-time Sand Lots hum, California!
We hear the hoodlum and the bum, California!
They call the Golden State to come
And join the rabble and the scum.
But will she do it? Say, by gum?
California, oh, California!

Washington Post — Feb 5, 1909

Nonagenarian Writes Poetically Of Woodland as State’s Fairest

S.H. Hancock, 90 years of age, with Mrs. Hancock has been visiting Mr. and Mrs. W.H. Eakle in this city. Although a nonagenarian, Mr. Hancock’s mind is as clear as a bell and his muse still retains all the fire and beauty of youth, as will be realized after a perusal of the following appraisement of Woodland, which was composed on the front porch of the Eakle home before the honorable couple departed for their home in Oakland:


A beautiful picture drawn with a free hand,
One of the fairest in our broad land;
Hedged in by trees forming a lovely frame,
Nothing seems amiss — not even the name.
Nature has put forth her wonderful power,
Calling her maidens from the leafy bower;
Planting a carpet in colors bright
From the deepest blue to the snowy white;
Weaving in flowers with a prodigal hand,
None were too lovely to beautify the land.
Her noble trees so lofty and fair
Waving to and fro in the summer air,
Casting a shade deep and profound,
Tracing their shadow on the grass grown ground.
A ride through her streets fills one with amaze.
We break forth in melody to sing their praise.
Men accomplished much but Nature was at the fore,
At each angle you turn, new beauties galore.
Oh, California, you should be proud of this spot,
One of the fairest that fell to your lot.
Fairy-land! Flower-land! Woodland!
Names will only fail.
I shall not forget you, even at the end of the trail.


Woodland Daily Democrat (Woodland, California) Dec 4, 1922

The Last Leaf

July 1, 2011

Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr. image from the HubPages website

Background: Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr., wrote a poem entitled, “The Last Leaf,”  about the American patriot, Major Thomas Melvill(e). In turn, this poem, a parody of Holmes’ version, is about Holmes, himself:

The Last Leaf

We see the patriarch still
Briskly treading Beacon Hill
Full of joy.
For his heart is pure and glad
As the good Sir Galahad,
Or a boy.

By the tea cups when he sat —
The unrivaled Autocrat —
Did he know
He would some day cling, ah me! —
Last leaf on the lonely tree
Bent with snow!

Had he felt and had he known
He would wear the bays alone.
Still I hold
Never would have blanched that cheek.
Still his harp had blessed the weak,
Charmed the old.

His the gospel of good cheer,
Doctor’s art and poet’s ear
Joined to bless,
Heart with human kind atouch,
Like the Master healing such
In the press.

Writing no impassioned screeds
To uphold a party’s creeds
Or its wrongs.
Broader than his Brahmin caste,
He has won the world at last
With his songs.

Still he walks the Boston streets,
And he smiles at those he meets
As he roams;
Ah! we love that gray haired man,
Grasp his hand, dear, if you can;
That’s our Holmes!


The News (Frederick, Maryland) Mar 20, 1890

Image and poem from The Melville Family website, where you can read an interesting history of this poem:

“The Last Leaf”

By Oliver Wendell Holmes (1831)
A poem on Major Thomas Melvill(e), grandfather of Herman Melville, last of the Boston Tea Party Indians

I saw him once before,
As he passed by the door,
And again
The pavement stones resound,
As he totters o’er the ground
With his cane.

They say that in his prime,
Ere the pruning-knife of Time
Cut him down,
Not a better man was found
By the Crier on his round
Through the town.

But now he walks the streets,
And he looks at all he meets
Sad and wan,
And he shakes his feeble head,
That it seems as if he said,
“They are gone!”

The mossy marbles rest
On the lips that he has prest
In their bloom,
And the names he loved to hear
Have been carved for many a year
On the tomb.

My grandmamma has said–
Poor old lady, she is dead
Long ago–
That he had a Roman nose,
And his cheek was like a rose
In the snow;

But now his nose is thin,
And it rests upon his chin
Like a staff,
And a crook is in his back,
And a melancholy crack
In his laugh.

I know it is a sin
For me to sit and grin
At him here;
But the old three-cornered hat,
And the breeches, and all that,
Are so queer!

And if I should live to be
The last leaf upon the tree
In the spring,
Let them smile, as I do now,
At the old forsaken bough
Where I cling.

Barbara’s Ransom

June 30, 2011

Image from the Project Gutenberg website.


The distinguished gentleman who hands these verses to us desires us to preface them with the remark that Senator Gorman has asked from the Government in behalf of the citizens of Frederick, Md., reimbursement to the extent of $200,00 for money paid by them as a ransom to Gen. Jubal A. Early, C.S.A.

Up from the meadows, rich with hay,
Clear and cool in that Early day,
The clustered spires of Frederick stand,
Green-walled by the hills of Maryland.
Round about them orchards sweep,
Cider and apples ten feet deep;
Fair as a garden of the Lord
To the eyes of the famished rebel horde,
On that pleasant morn of the Early fall
When Jubal came over the garden wall —
Over the mud-roads winding down,
Horse and foot, into Frederick town.

  *      *      *      *      *      *

Up rose old Barbara Fritchie then,
Bowed with her four score years and ten;
Bravest of all in Frederick town,
She took up the flag the men hauled down.
In the attic window, the staff she set
And smiled as she said, “that’s me you bet.”
Up the street came the rebel tread,
Jubal A. Early a neck ahead.
Under his slouched hat left and right
He glanced — the old flag met his sight.
“Halt!” The dust-brown ranks stood fast.
“Fire!” Out blazed the rifle blast,
It shivered the window pane and sash,
It rent the banner in seam and gash
Quick as it fell from the shattered staff,
Dame Barbara laughed a large-sized laugh:
“Shoot, if you must, this old gray head,
But spare your country’s flag,” she said.
A shade of sadness, a blush of shame,
Over the face of the leader came:
“Who touches a hair of yon gray head
Dies like a dog! March on,” he said.

*      *      *      *      *      *

Barbara Fritchie’s work is o’er,
The rebel rides on his raid no more.
And Frederick wants for that window sash
$200,000 cash.

Washington Post.

The News (Frederick, Maryland) Jan 15, 1890

Charge of the Black Brigade.

June 30, 2011

Charge of the Black Brigade.
MAY 27, 1863.
Dark as the clouds of even,
Ranked in the western heaven,
Waiting the breath that lifts
All the dead mass, and drifts
Tempest and falling brand
Over a ruined land;—
So still and orderly,
Arm to arm, knee to knee,
Waiting the great event,
Stands the black regiment.

Down the long dusky line
Teeth gleam and eyeballs shine;
And the bright bayonet,
Bristling and firmly set,
Flashed with a purpose grand,
Long ere the sharp command
Of the fierce rolling drum
Told them their time had come,
Told them what work was sent
For the black regiment.

“Now,” the flag-sergeant cried,
“Though death and hell betide,
Let the whole nation see
If we are fit to be
Free in this land; or bound
Down, like the whining hound —
Bound with red stripes of pain
In our old chains again!”
Oh! what a shout there went
From the black regiment.
” Charge!” Trump and drum awoke;
Onward the bondmen broke;
Bayonet and saber-stroke
Vainly opposed their rush.
Through the wild battle’s crush,
With but one thought aflush,
Driving their lords like chaff,
In the guns’ mouths they laugh;
Or at the slippery brands,
Leaping with open hands,
Down they tear man and horse,
Down in their awful course;
Trampling with bloody heel
Over the crashing steel,
All their eyes forward bent,
Rushed the black regiment.

“Freedom!” their battle-cry —
“Freedom! or leave to die!”
Ah! and they meant the word,
Not as with us ’tis heard,
Not a mere party shout:
They gave their spirits out;
Trusted the end to God,
And on the gory sod
Rolled in triumphant blood.
Glad to strike one free blow,
Whether for weal or woe;
Glad to breathe one free breath,
Though on the lips of death.
Praying,—alas! in vain!—
That they might fall again,
So they could once more see
That burst to liberty!
This was what “freedom” lent
To the black regiment.

Hundreds on hundreds fell;
But they are resting well;
Scourges and shackles strong
Never shall do them wrong.
Oh, to the living few,
Soldiers, be just and true!
Hail them as comrades tried;
Fight with them side by side;
Never, in field or tent,
Scorn the black regiment!


Janesville Daily Gazette (Janesville, Wisconsin) Jun 17, 1863

Read more about the Black Brigade:

Written in Glory
Letters from the Soldiers and Officers of the 54th Massachusetts

the ROOT
Revising the Civil War Record
The 54th Massachusetts Regiment, featured in the film Glory, was not the first black unit to fight.


Death in Philadelphia of a Man Famous in Many Ways.

Mr. George H. Boker, whose death took place recently at Philadelphia, combined two rare gifts seldom found in one person. He was both poet and diplomat. His verses were of sufficient merit to attract the attention of no less a literary light than Leigh Hunt, and as a diplomat he once succeeded in averting a war between the United States and Spain.

George Henry Boker was born at Philadelphia in 1823. His family, originally French, removed to Holland, and thence to England. There becoming identified with the “Quakers,” they emigrated to America and settled in the City of Brotherly Love. Mr. Boker was educated at Princeton college, where he was graduated at 19, and soon after married and went abroad. He had written verses at college, and while abroad wrote more, publishing a volume in 1847, on his return. In 1848 he published “Calayno,” a tragedy. It was the first marked success he attained, and was played to admiring audiences in England and the United States. Then came “The Betrothal,” “Francesca da Rimini” and “Anne Boleyn.” He also wrote many short pieces. Leigh Hunt regarded him as the best sonnet writer of his time.

In 1852 Boker dined one day with Daniel Webster at a dinner party given by the later in Washington. Webster had been speaking to his guests on the relations then existing between the United States and England. Suddenly turning to young Boker he said: “I think you have expressed the true sentiment concerning this subject in that admirable sonnet of yours.” He then recited the lines referred to to the party much to Boker’s surprise, who sat listening to the splendid performance in elocution doubtless with great delight:

Lear and Cordelia!  ‘Twas an ancient tale
Before thy Shakespeare gave it deathless fame;
The times have changed, the moral is the same,
So like an outcast, dowerless and pale,
Thy daughter went; and in a foreign gale
Spread her young banner, till its sway became
A wonder to the nations. Days of shame
Are close upon thee; prophets raise their wail,
When the rude Cossack, with an outstretched hand,
Points his long spear across the narrow sea —
“Lo, there is England!” when thy destiny
Storms on thy straw crowned head, and thou dost stand
Weak, helpless, mad, a byword in the land —
God grant thy daughter a Cordelia be!

Mr. Boker wrote very prettily in the way of light love verses. Here is a dainty bit which reminds one of some of Leigh Hunt‘s work:


This slip of paper touched thy gentle hand,
Doubtless was sunned beneath thy radiant eye;
Perhaps had clearer honor, and did lie
Upon thy bosom, or was proudly fanned
Within thy fragrant breath. At my command
A thousand fancies, growing as they fly,
To maddening sweetness, flit my vision by,
And mingle golden vapors with the sand,
That times my idle being. Senseless things
Start into dignity beneath thy touch,
Mount from the earth on love’s ecstatic wings,
And to my eyes seem scared, If from such
I draw such rapture, who may say how much,
Wert thou the theme of my imaginings?

But Mr. Boker’s main work was in diplomacy. During the civil war he was an indefatigable worker in the Union cause being one of the organizers of the Union League club, of Philadelphia, for the purpose of standing by the government. Besides this he devoted his pen to the service of the Union. When Grant became president he made Mr. Boker minister to Turkey. He soon showed great talent for the work before him, and left Turkey with the approval of the United States government and the good will of the sultan. From this mission he was promoted to St. Petersberg.

While minister to Russia, the Virginius affair occurred. A wanton outrage on a United States ship had been perpetrated by the officers of a Spanish vessel. President Grant was very much opposed to going to war with Spain, but the case demanded either war or an apology from the Spanish government.

From Washington instructions were sent to United States ministers abroad to endeavor to gain the influence of foreign governments to the cause of the United States. All the efforts of those who followed these instructions failed, except in Mr. Boker’s case. The work required great delicacy, and the Spanish minister at St. Petersberg sought to thwart the Americans efforts. However, he succeeded in inducing Prince Gortschakoff to send instructions to the Russian minister at Madrid taking ground in favor of the United States. This settled the question; Spain apologized for the Virginius affair and was was averted.

Mr. Boker was doubtless aided by the friendly relations between Russia and America, which sprang from Russia’s pronounced declaration in favor of the Union in sending a fleet of war vessels to New York during the civil war. But he unquestionably gained a great ascendency over the Czar Alexander and his minister of state. Both requested that his term as minister to Russia might be prolonged. When his successor arrived at St. Petersberg it is related that Gortschakoff said to him:

“I cannot say that I am glad to see you. In fact, I’m not sure that I see you at all, for the tears that are in my eyes on account of the departure of our friend Boker.”

For many years Mr. Boker was a conspicuous light in Philadelphia, and it is due to his efforts that Egypt, Turkey and Russia were led to take an interest in the Centennial exhibition of 1876. He had a fine library, to which he devoted himself during his later days. His house was decorated with many articles of vertu, obtained during his residence abroad.

Newark Daily Advocate (Newark, Ohio) Jan 15, 1890

Image from the Old Pictures website.

Poets Are Not Like Birds.

The late George H. Boker wrote to his friend, R.H. Stoddard: “Read used to tell a story of some Yankee poet who resolved to wait for an impulse from the Muse. He waited thirty years, and at the end of that time concluded himself no poet, although his youthful poems gave promise of great things. That man perhaps wanted but industry to make him immortal. I hold that there is a labor connected with all great literary achievements sufficient to drive any but a man of genius stark mad. This the world will never believe. It has an idea that poets write as birds sing, and it is this very false idea which robs us of half our honors. Were poetry forged upon the anvil, cut out with the ax or spun in the mill, my heaven! how men would wonder at the process! What power, what toil, what ingenuity!”

Woodland Daily Democrat (Woodland, California) Aug 8, 1890

The Gang’s Skidoo Day

June 27, 2011

In the Pennsylvania’s Governor’s race in 1906,  Edwin Sydney Stuart ended up besting Lewis Emery, Jr. to win the election, graft or no graft, skidoo or no.

The Gang’s Skidoo Day.

This is the day the ring will get
Its dues, without a doubt;
The people have arisen and
Are bound to knock it out.
The bosses who have ruled the
State so long with iron hand,
Will get a solar plexus blow
That they cannot withstand.

Our gallant leader, Emery
A fighter without fear —
Will whip the gang and bring them
To their very knees in fear.
And Acheson, who’s striving hard
To save his bit of bacon,
Will be forced to give up his seat
In congress to “Bob” Aiken.

The grafters who have fattened off
The taxpayers, ’tis plain,
In battle of the ballots will
Be numbered with the slain.
And ’tis a fate they well deserve,
All know that this is true —
Hark! Do you hear that funny noise?
‘Tis “23” Skidoo!

New Castle News (New Castle, Pennsylvania) Nov 6, 1906

Pittsburg baseball team images and excerpt from the Baseball Legends Revealed website. (Scroll down passed Bill Richardson.)

In 1890, a new baseball league opened up, and they had a Pittsburgh team, as well, the Pittsburgh Burghers. This new team essentially pirated away all of McKnight’s best players. After the worst season in Pittsburgh history in 1890 (finishing 23-113), McKnight was forced to abandon his team back to the National League.

How are these two topics related? 23 SKIDOO, of course! I can’t vouch for the accuracy of this 1906 newspaper article. I didn’t see this theory listed in Wikipedia’s article on the origins of 23 Skidoo, but since I ran across it, might as well put it out there as an option:


Pittsburg Holds Record for the Smallest Attendance at a Championship Contest.

One often hears of the skidoo number “23” and how it really came to be the hoodoo number, etc., but all the guesses regarding its relations to baseball are wrong. The number really started in Pittsburg and proved conclusively that it was really the skidoo number, but of course it was not thought of at that time.

It was back in 1890 when Pittsburg had two baseball teams, one in the Players’ league and the other in the National league. It was the National league club that failed to make good and started “23” on the way. In a game of ball there September 26 of that year, but 23 persons paid to see the Pittsburg and Boston teams struggle for the nine long innings. That year Pittsburg was hopelessly in last place with no chances of ever getting out. That was the smallest crowd that ever paid to see two National league teams play.

Pittsburg struggled along for some time with the two teams, but both could not be supported, and the National soon won out. During the season when the 23 people paid to see the game there  Pittsburg made every effort-in-its-power to get up the ladder without success. That year over 100 players were tried out and yet the club finished last. Never before nor since have as many players ever been given a trial by one team in a season. Thus it will be seen that Pittsburg beside finishing in last place held two records — one for the smallest attendance and the other for trying out the greatest number of players.

New Castle News (New Castle, Pennsylvania) Aug 29, 1906

Dolls in the Attic

June 26, 2011

Image from The Doll Show on the Nebraska State Historical Society website.


I found my old dolls in the attic to-day,
In a box where I long ago laid them away.
It was silly, I know, but ’twas such a surprise,
The sight of their faces brought tears to my eyes.

There was poor Flossie, with azure eyes closed,
For many a month she had quietly dozed
In the little silk gown in which I last dressed her.
That time was brought back so, I stooped and caressed her.

And then, as I raised her, she opened her eyes,
And stared at her mother in such sad surprise,
That I kissed her and laid her again in her place
To keep her reproachful blue eyes off my face.

And next I uncovered my little bisque Mable,
To meet whose brown eyes I was still unable.
Their gaze was surprise, but exceedingly milk
My poor little, dear little laid-away child!

And I kissed her, her face looked so childish and sweet,
And I held for a moment her little kid feet,
For her stockings were scattered and so were her shoes,
And then, when I found them, they gave me the blues.

I kissed her and laid her back in the box, but
She looked at me still (for her eyes would not shut).
And hastily covering her face from my sight,
I searched till wax Elsie I brought to the light.

Now, that poor, little doll was only my niece.
Her eyes were dark-blue and her curls white as fleece,
But her nose was so flat ’twas no longer a nose,
And her wax cheeks had faded and lost all their rose;

From losing her sawdust her body was slender,
Yet for these very reasons my kiss was more tender,
And I laid the poor thing away with a sigh,
And feeling, I must say, like having a cry.

One big doll was missing — my dear Rosabel —
How much I did love her, I really can’t tell.
It is painful, indeed, to be talking about,
But I loved her so much that I quite wore her out.

Well, well, I am older, but I’m sure I’m not glad,
The thought of those old times, in fact, makes me sad.
And, although the feeling is silly, I know,
I can not help sighing: “Oh! why did I grow?”

— Bertha G. Davis, in N.Y. Tribune.

The Salem Daily News (Salem, Ohio) Oct 22, 1890

Whittling Chips

June 25, 2011

Image from Elementary Sloyd And Whittling, by Gustaf Larsson – Publisher: Silver, Burdett And Company 1906. (

Whittling Chips.

Chubby hands, so brown and small,
Wield the blade and scantling,
Chips, like driftlets, fly and fall,
Wasteful litter one and all,
In flakes about the bantling.

Seventy springs their seed have sown,
Still with knife and shingle
The child, a white-haired grandsire grown,
His life a dream, his memory flown,
Sits whittling by the ingle,

Yet the past held busy years,
Works of wondrous glitter,
But many a loss brought burning tears,
And many a gain regretful fears,
As best a useless litter.

And so methought the hopes and schemes
Of many a worldly witling,
When all is told, are idle dreams,
Mere chips of mortal whittling.


The News (Frederick, Maryland) Mar 26, 1890

The Front Gate

June 23, 2011

The Front Gate.

An old and crippled gate am I,
And twenty years have passed
Since I was hung up high and dry
Betwixt these posts so fast.
But now I have grown so powerful week
Despised by man and beast —
I’m scarcely strong enough to squeak,
Although I’m never greased.

‘Twas twenty years ago, I say,
When Mr. Enos White
Came kind of hanging round my way
‘Most every other night.
He hung upon my starboard side,
And she upon the other,
Till Susan Smith became his bride
And in due time a mother.

I groaned intensely when I heard —
Despite I am no churl —
My doom breathed in a single word;
The baby was a girl!
And as she grew, and grew and grew,
I louder moaned my fate;
For she was very fair to view,
And I — I was the gate!

Then, in due time a lover came,
Betokening my ruin.
A dapper fellow, Brown by name,
The grown up baby wooin’.
They sprang upon me in the gloam
And talked of moon and star.
They’re married now and live at home
Along with ma and pa.

My lot was happy for a year,
No courtin’ night or day —
I had no thought, I had no fear
Bad luck would come my way.
But oh! this morning, save the mark,
There came a wild surprise.
A shadow flitted, grim and dark,
Across my sunny skies.

A doctor, with a knowing smile,
A nurse, with face serene.
A bustle in he house, the while,
Great Scott! What can it mean?
My hinges ache, my back is weak,
My pickets in a whirl;
I hear that awful doctor speak:
It is another girl.

— Denver Tribune

The News (Frederick, Maryland) Feb 8, 1890

Image from the Gardens of a Golden Afternoon blog