The Pre-New-Telephone

From the Clarksville Star, Clarksville, Iowa; April 25, 1878:
A good deal of whispering took place on the sidewalk Thursday afternoon. I twas through a telephone on exhibition by Mrs. Mulinex. The instrument was stretched from the postoffice to the STAR office. You stuck your mouth into a starch-box at one end, and someone at the other end, stuck their ear into another starch-box, the "connecting link" being a black thread. The sound was quite distinct.
I want to type up a transcription of the news article telling about selling George Washington's library, but it's rather long.

January 1, 1874; Clarksville Star, Clarksville, Iowa


Just in case some of you need ideas for your New Year's preparations: Coffee Socials

Coffee socials in Pleasant Valley are quite numerous with the German people. They are generally commenced about the middle of the afternoon and kept up until the coffee is all drank, which depends on the number of kegs on hand and the number of drinkers present. The time is spent in eating, drinking, smoking, playing and dancing. They ahve what they call coffee cake cut in long thin slices which follows the coffee pot at intervals around the room. Smoking is an accompaniment to all performances. The playing is generally solo and those that understand know how it's played. The dancing is "all around the room" with a whirl and step that is as regular as machinery in operation. The music is the accordian, aided by singing, and when some favorite tune is played they all join in their own language one almost imagines oneself in the Fadder Land.

"Human Beings are Not Amphibious"


This is an article I found on microfilm of the newspaper, The Clarksville Star, published in Clarksville, Butler County, Iowa. This comes from the April 5, 1872 edition.

Regular bathing, so far as the people of this country are concerned, is certainly a habit of quite modern adoption. The fathers and mothers, and grandfathers and grandmothers, of those who have reached middle life, seldom or never bathed, except in the warm months of summer. Their dwellings afforded no conveniences for the act, if they felt the need of performing it. As a general thing, the health was unaffected by this omission. Why was this? Because of their occupations and their methods of living. They were active workers, they wore but a small amount of clothing, they lived much in the open air, and their dwellings were without stove and furnace heat. If any one in these days will exercise in the open air, so that each day he will perspire moderately, and if he will wear thin under-garments, or none at all, and sleep in a cold room, the functions of the skin will suffer little of no impediment if water is withheld for months. Indeed, bathing is not the only way in which its healthful action can be maintained by those living under the conditions at present existing. Dry friction over the whole surface of the body, once a day, or once in two days, is often of more service than the application of water.
If invalids and persons of low vitality would use dry friction and Dr. Franklin's "air bath" every day for a considerable period, we are confident they would often be greatly benefited. Cleanliness is next to godliness, no doubt, and a proper and judicious use of water is to be commended; but human beings are not amphibious. Nature indicates that the functions of the skin should be kept in order mainly by muscular exercise, by exiting natural perspiration by labor; and delicious as is the bath, and healthful, under proper regulations, it is no substitute for that exercise of the body without which all the functions become abnormal.--Fireside Science

Family History and Memorial Day

This really would be a better post for Memorial Day, but since that's a long while away, I'm going to go ahead and post it. The following excerpt comes from a book called Years Ago by Rudolf Priepke. Mr. Priepke was an unofficial town historian of Clarksville, Butler County, Iowa, an area in which some of my ancestors were for about 50 years. Rudolph (spelled both ways in the book) Priepke was born in Butler County but went away to a private high school in Chicago for his last two years. He continued on to college and graduated with a Ph.D from Duke University. He eventually went back to teach chemistry at the college where he'd received his undergraduate degree in Chicago. When he retired he returned to Clarksville where he lived a life that was the epitome of one of service to others. He wrote a column based on his research of the area's history through its newspaper The Clarksville Star, and the book Years Ago is a compilation of those columns. Before I insert the quote, and as a heads-up to family and others who might be interested, Hugh F.L. (or Lucky) Burton was my ancestor. He's now buried in the mentioned Lynwood Cemetery, and his father Clement Nance Burton is buried in the mentioned Old Town Cemetery. This column was written May 26, 1977. When he refers to dates and the "STAR", he is talking about information he has gathered from old editions of the newspaper.
“These days, Memorial Day or Decoration Day, is regarded as a day off, a day to get away from it all, the opening day of the vacation season, a holidy to be celebrated rather than an observance of respect for fallen heroes. When the vacation aspect was made official, by making it a mobile holiday attached to a Sunday to make a long weekend, it was regarded by many sensitive people as an insult to our soldier dead. We can take pride in the fact that the day is still observed here in the traditional manner, but, when compared with the services of an earlier day, obviously something has been lost. In 1884, only 20 years after the close of the Civil War, not many veterans were buried in the cemeteries. Lynwood had only been in use about five years. The June 5 STAR reported on the day's activities. The Clarksville Cornet Band led the march of the James Butler Post (GAR) and young ladies with flowers and wreaths, followed by citizens on foot and in carriages. They marched first to the Old Cemetery, then to Lynwood, and then back to the school grounds. The cornet band opened ranks at the gate of each cemetery an[sic] the Post marched to each grave where they halted and two young ladies placed a wreath and bouquet while all stood with uncovered heads. Eight veterans were buried in the Old Cemetery: C.A. Bannon, William Poisal, Ed Sutcliffe, Hamilton Brown, Oliver Hanna, Leroy Baxton, Uriah Farlow, and John Spawr. The five in th Lynwood were: C.C. Lewis, Japhet Curtis, James Butler, John MacLain, and W.W. Dunham. 'Before leaving each cemetery, a squad of the Post fired a salute of three charges in honor of the dead soldiers' At the school grounds, after the prayer of invocation, 'Miss Ella Mullarky recited Will Carleton's poem, Cover Them Over With Flowers.' Rev. J.J. McIntyre, pastor of the Shell Rock Baptist Church, gave the memorial address, dully recorded in two and a half columns of fine print. The Memorial Day exercises were reported every year and seemed to be always the same. However, there were gradual changes as shown in the following report eight years later, written for the June 2, 1892, STAR by a Women's Relief Corps member. 'Decoration Day was observed by the best element of the people of Clarksville and the largest attendance we have ever had here on a like occasion. Early in the morning, loads of flowers began pouring into the WRC hall with an army of little boys and girls radiant with joy as well as importance of adding their mite to the principle of loyalty. The black and whit of the girls' apparel were sad reminders of a funeral day; while the red, white and blue scarfs of the boys magnified the dear old flag. 'At 10:00 a.m., the procession began to form on the public square where the band was waiting as the Post filed out of the GAR hall and formed in response to the bugle call, the Corps and children filling the decorated vehicles. The band marched in advance, followed by solders...Halting at the cemetery gate, they all formed in line, marched to the graves..decorated by the children. Band and Post returned in carriages through town to the Old Cemetery where comrades' graves were strewn with flowers...We thn returned to town and sibanded for dinner.' 'The Willing Workers of the Methodist Church served warm meals and were well patronized...At 1:30 p.m., the people reassembled on the school grounds. After a song by the Glee Club, H.F.L. Burton, president of the day, made the opening address...He spoke of the ground where he stood as the place where Clarksville's first company was drilled as soldiers, with other reminders of '61 to '65...Hon. D.W. Dow of Hampton delivered the annual address...Much credit is due Mr. R.R. Cook ...and to those who had charge of the children, for the successful carrying out of the program without a break or friction. 'We with all Christian people, deplore the ending of the national funeral day in dancing. We heard such universal condemnation of it that we appeal to that class to respect, for the future, the one day of the year at least, sacred to the memory of the dead.' Apparently the 'best elements' observed the day properly whereas the others had incurred the displeasure of the patriotic groups by treating it as a holiday. In July, 1905, the J.R. Jones Camp No. 5, Sons of Veterans was organized. Its stated purpose was to 'maintain a proper observance of Decoration Day when the fathers have been called to their reward.' They were active in the programs for a few years but I [Rudolf Priepke] do not remember them when I was in school and taking part. In 1907, the veterans groups attended a special church service in the Christian Church on the Sunday before Memorial Day. The march to Lynwood (services at the Old Cemetery were omitted and grave decoration by children in the morning followed the former pattern. In the afternoon a program with music and an address was carried out in the Auditorium. Today we put it all together in a morning program and the custom of placing flowers on all graves tends to reduce the special character of the day with respect to veterans.
I know quote marks were not necessary with the block quoting feature, but I'm writing it elsewhere and just copying and pasting it here.

Lazy weekend

Well, I've not had quite such an unproductive weekend in a very long time. I read a novel...I'd say the first in a very long time, but I did just finish Anna Karenina not very long ago. This was a modern novel though. I have trouble exercising discipline when reading fiction; so I just tend to stick to non-fiction which is easier to put down when duty calls. The book was The Emperor of Ocean Park by Stephen L. Carter (I think). It was very good. Only a handful of uses of bad language which were entirely appropriate for the contexts. The black pawn wins in the end, but not in the way one thinks it's supposed to. I also did some genealogy today. I have subscribed to a Swedish genealogy database of parish records. The church was mandated to maintain these records, and so at least theoretically one can go back quite a ways--into the 1600s-- in her ancestry. I was able to go back to my great-great-great-great grandparents (six out of the 8 who were my great grandfather's great-grandparents). One of those, I also have one more generation back. The daughter of those two (the couple representing the furthest back generation) from whom I am descended was born in 1757. Her husband was born in 1745. As I was going through birth records and "paged" through the year 1776, it was really weird to think of these people being in Sweden at the time of the Declaration of Independence. My great-great grandfather John Erick Olson was my most recent immigrant ancestor arriving in the US in 1871. My earliest that I know of came in 1628 to Massachusetts Bay Colony. John Erick Olson (Olaf's son) was born Jan Eric and his father's name was Olaf Persson (Peter's son). So my great-grandfather who was born in Pennsylvania and his older brother who was born in Sweden were the first of the family NOT to use the patronymic naming system. I had no idea that anyone was still using the patronymic system so late. Fascinating, isn't it? :-) My genealogy site