Betz’s odd bits of history number 7

The old Lepper Road school house where my grandfather corralled those three pranksters back in 1907 still stands, but has obviously seen much better days. (Photo courtesy of Peter Betz)

Here we present yet another collection of accidently-rediscovered news bits, too short for a complete article, but still worth sharing, from the days of our old times.

The March 1, 1894 Gloversville Daily Republican informed readers, “Horatio Grant Sr. was found guilty of abusing his wife yesterday, notwithstanding the efforts of counselor Parker to make him out a ‘henpecked’ husband. The sentence was a $25 fine or 25 days in jail. Grant is now receiving his mail at the county jail.”

The same issue reported on the arrival of a dependable new fire horse for Gloversville’s fire department.

“Ever since the death of ‘Jim’, our first fire horse, people have anxiously awaited the arrival of his successor. Horse ‘Tom’ has been in use for several weeks now. He is willing enough but is far too light for the work. He has just begun to learn a fire horse’s routine when he is put aside, and a new animal takes his place. Wednesday the new horse was expected, and today he has arrived. He had no name, so we decided to call him “Jim” after his gallant predecessor.

He is a large horse, standing over 16 hands high, weighing about 1,365 pounds. The new Jim has never been trained as a fire horse, but we hope it will not be long before he becomes a full-fledged fire horse.”

The Sept. 3, 1908 Fulton County Republican reported, “People living in the vicinity of Main & Market streets in Johnstown have been startled by the clanging of a loud gong. Workmen employed by the Electric Bank Protection Co. have been hard at work installing an electric vault protection alarm at the People’s Bank. Not all of the ‘people’ living near their bank are pleased by the testing of the gong.”

Election campaigns cost considerably less in our old times. Take for example the Republican’s Nov. 27, 1907 note that, “Charles Blow, candidate for Johnstown Alderman in Ward 3, in accounting for his election expenses, spent $3 for printing and putting up posters.”

Vandalism isn’t new. The Nov. 13, 1907 Amsterdam Recorder gave my grandfather some good publicity when it announced, “Three Akin (Fort Johnson) youths, who for several Sundays have been finding enjoyment visiting the school house on Lepper Road in the town of Amsterdam and committing various depredations, such as pilfering the teacher’s desk, taking hands off the clock, and clogging the stove pipe, have been arrested through the efforts of Constable Adam Betz who has been working on the case.”

Believe it or not, people once had to reside inside a city’s limits to receive any fire protection, and the sad story below illustrates the main reason why rural district volunteer fire companies were formed.

The July 3, 1935 Morning Herald reported, “The two-story home of Roy Dence in Berkshire was destroyed by fire early yesterday while Mr. Dence and his family were visiting relatives in Edinburg. The fire was discovered by a neighbor, Mrs. Clayton Sweet, who was aroused by noises made by falling timbers. The entire house was on fire by that time the Gloversville Fire Department was called but didn’t respond because the house was outside city limits.”

The Jan. 20, 1876 Cazenovia Republican reported the use of a ‘traveling man’ that almost backfired.

“A tramp at Amsterdam was recently induced to convey a small pox patient from the city to the pest house for a small compensation. The Amsterdam people were extremely desirous that this tramp leave town afterward, which he refused doing, save for further compensation. A purse of fifty dollars was finally raised to induce him to depart.”

The same paper warned travelers, “Bears are very plentiful in the Adirondacks this season. On Sunday, a large black bear entered the North Creek church just as the minister was beginning his sermon and walked leisurely up the center aisle until reaching the middle of the church. The women jumped upon the tops of their seats and screamed. All was confusion and the service came to a temporary standstill. Bruin simply raised up upon his haunches, and notwithstanding the hysteria of the ladies, for a few moments calmly surveyed the scene. Seemingly satisfied, he turned around, casually sauntered out again, and was gone, leaving nothing on the collection plate.”

The March 18, 1885 Fulton County Republican reported, “When the tenants living above Mrs. Smith’s millinery store arose this morning, they were surprised at finding a man sprawled out on the store’s floor, fast asleep. They called Officer Dixon, who escorted the sleeper to jail to complete his nap. His name is William Casey and upon a charge of drunkenness, was sentenced to jail for five days. He is an old offender. The supposition is that when drunk, he fell through the millinery store window and lay there until discovered. He claims he thought it was another saloon — a pretty thin claim.”

The same issue reported, “The death of Mr. Foster of the Foster & Green Lumber Mill has made it necessary for the mill property to be sold, because the Foster heirs asked more for their interest than Mr. Green would pay. A public auction was resorted to, and the Foster heirs, being the highest bidders, the mill was struck off to them. Now Mr. Green has the lumber but no mill, and the Foster heirs have the mill, but no lumber.”

By Kerry Minor

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