Saturday, November 9, 2019

Zanesville's Meredith Business College

Postcard of Meredith Business College
postmarked June 1906

Zanesville’s much-respected Meredith Business College graduated its last class on May 13, 1971. The thirty graduates were among nearly 20,000 men and women who had received a business education over a 104-year history.

Meredith Business College was named by Reuben Leslie Meredith, the son of Thomas Meredith and Jane Knight, who was born in Sandusky, Ohio on November 14, 1862. A brief resume of R. I. [sic] Meredith  appeared in the January 1913 issue of The Phonographic World and Commercial School Review—“the magazine for stenographers”. Meredith’s educational career began in 1881 at the Western Reserve Normal School* where, at the age of 19, Meredith became a teacher of penmanship and drawing. However, teaching must not have satisfied him, as he spent the next six years trying out non-education careers. He worked three years for the Lake Shore and Michigan Southern Railroad, two years as a traveling salesman (selling we don’t know what), and then studied law for one year. Apparently none of these jobs appealed to Meredith as much as teaching: He became the “proprietor” of the Sandusky Business College, a job he held for six years before moving to Zanesville in 1896 to take a position with the Zanesville Commercial School.

Zanesville Business College advertisement, 1886

The Zanesville Commercial School evolved from Small’s Business College, a private school which was established in Zanesville in April 1866 by two business teachers J. C. Small of Chicago and J. S. Dinsmore of Cincinnati. The new school, located in the Black’s Music Hall building at 3rd and Main,  offered courses in penmanship, bookkeeping, commercial law, and a short-hand system called “phonetics”. Within two years of opening, the popular school had expanded its course offerings to include arithmetic, grammar, phonography [taking dictation from a recording], and mechanical drawing. This was about the time that Small and Dinsmore quit the college; the new owners, J. W. Roll and F. M. Choquill, changed the name to Zanesville Business College.

This Zanesville Business College advertisement appeared
in the Times Recorder  on June 9, 1900, a few months
before the merger with Reuben Meredith's new school
Between 1876 and 1896, when R. L. Meredith came to town, the Zanesville Business College changed owners several more times, all the while expanding its course offerings to include instruction in new and improved shorthand methods, and in new contraptions such as the “type writer”. Under C. C. Kennison’s leadership, the business college touted itself as a “complete institution for thorough and practical instruction in all pertaining to that business education which qualifies young men and women for self support and the practical duties of life.”

In 1894, Emilie Boyd Saumenig, a court stenographer and graduate of Ohio Wesleyan College in Delaware, Ohio, assumed ownership (along with Milo B. Dunn) of the Zanesville Business College. When Reuben Meredith joined the Zanesville Business College two years later, he quickly joined Suamenig as a partner in the school’s operation.
Meredith Business College advertisement, 1906


Meredith's death was front
page news in Zanesville

Reuben Meredith established the business school named for himself on April 20, 1900, and four months later bought out Emilie Saumenig’s rights to the Zanesville Business School. Merging his new school with the older one, Meredith could claim for his college the respected reputation and long history dating back to 1866. By 1903, the Meredith Business College was granted permission by the State of Ohio to confer degrees on its graduates and to issue them diplomas.

The Meredith Business College moved several times over its remaining years. When Meredith established his new school, he located its offices and classrooms on the top two floors of the Schultz Building at 5th and Main. Four years later, the school relocated to the fourth and fifth floors of the Times Recorder Building on S. 5th St. After Meredith’s death (February 1, 1926), his successor, D. P. McDonald, moved the college to two floors of the Fritz Building  on N. 6th St., and then finally to a building of its own at 55½  N. 5th St. Sadly, that historic building was razed; a tile in the sidewalk is all that is left to commemorate the location of one of the oldest and most highly respected business schools in the United States.





________________________
*A normal school was a two-year teacher-training institution. Many normal schools evolved into four-year colleges; Western Reserve Teachers Seminary (or normal school) became Case Western Reserve University.

Resources
Chuck Martin, “Meredith Business College Trained Many Local Residents”; The Times Recorder, May 13, 1995, p. 13.

The Phonographic World and Commerical School Review, vol. XLI, no. 1, The Phonographic World Company, Publishers, New York City

“R. L. Meredith: Prominent Citizen Passes From Life”, Times Recorder, February 2, 1926, page 1.

“Meredith College to Close Doors”, Times Recorder, January 7, 1971, page 22.

A list of June, 1905 graduates and where they were employed after graduation can be found at http://www.usgenwebsites.org/OHMuskingum/muskfootprints/meredith.html


Thursday, October 10, 2019

"The Lucky Thirteen"


The list of names entitled "The Lucky Thirteen" was written
in the front of book found among Henry Melick's possessions
On August 1, 1861, thirteen young men between the ages of 17 and 23, twelve of whom were from Roseville, Ohio and surrounding areas in Muskingum and Perry Counties, enlisted at Zanesville for three years military service. They were mustered into the 32nd Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry at Camp Bartley in Mansfield, Ohio, and assigned to Co. G. Eleven of them were mustered out at Louisville, Kentucky on July 20, 1865. All had re-enlisted when their first term of service expired. Twelve of them saw action in two of the most significant Union campaigns of the Civil War--the siege and battles at Vicksburg, Mississippi, and Sherman's March to the Sea which included the siege and battles in and around Atlanta, Georgia. All except one, returned home in decent health; all except one returned with all limbs in tact, although one suffered from foot injuries that would plague him the rest of his life.

The men styled themselves "The Lucky Thirteen", reflecting their awareness of how very unlikely it was that thirteen young men from in and around the same small village, who enlisted in the same military company, and who endured the same hardships and dangers of war would all return home safely. The men and their families probably saw this as nothing short of miraculous, and proof that the number thirteen might not deserve its bad reputation. 

"The Lucky Thirteen" were:
  • Francis Marion (Frank) Rider, born October 6, 1840 in Clay Township, Muskingum County. He was the second of seven children born to Richard and Elizabeth (Wonn) Rider. Frank was mustered out of service as a commissary sergeant. He returned to his parents' home, and in 1870 married Permelia Maddox. Like his father, Frank was a prosperous farmer. He eventually entered local politics and served as a Muskingum County commissioner from 1889-1895. His active involvement with Axline Post No. 290 of the Grand Army of the Republic (G.A.R.) probably helped his political career; he was a much respected local citizen and leader. He died at his home in Roseville on February 14, 1907, and is buried with his wife and parents in Roseville Cemetery. He and Permelia had no children.
  • Richard F. (Dick) Sowers was born on October 3, 1843 in Clay Township. He was the second youngest of twelve children born to George and Catharine (Wonn) Sowers. Richard's father was a farmer. His mother was related to Francis Rider's mother, and in the 1850 U.S. census of Clay Township, the Sowers family is enumerated between the Rider family and the Wonn family. Richard was captured on July 17, 1864 during the Atlanta campaign, and was imprisoned in the notorious Andersonville Prison for two months, when he became part of a prisoner exchange. He was mustered out on July 25, 1865 with Co. D 2nd Veteran Reserve Corps (V.R.C.). The V.R.C. was originally known as the Invalid Corps, and was composed of soldiers too infirm to return to their units, but who could perform light duties such as hospital orderlies.  Dick Sowers had either suffered a serious wound or had developed a debilitating disease, and his condition probably accounted for his premature death. He lived just two and half years after his discharge, dying January 4, 1868, the only one of the thirteen who didn't live to see a new century. Richard is buried with his parents in Ebenezer Cemetery in Roseville.
    Henry H. Melick
  • Henry Harrison Melick was born August 8, 1840 in Roseville. His parents were William and Ann (Rhodes) Melick. Henry was the middle child of five. Like Sowers, Henry (who in later years sometimes went by "David") was captured during the Atlanta campaign and spent two months in Andersonville Prison. When he returned to Roseville, he married Susan Lenhart with whom he had five children. Henry had been a potter as a younger man, and after the war became a stoneware salesman, but he and his family also farmed. Henry spent nearly 50 years pursuing pension increases from the Pension Bureau for his military service. (See Henry H. Melick: The Pensioner's Tale for a summary of Henry's 3 lb. pension file.) Henry died at his home in Roseville on March 24, 1928. He and Susan are buried in Roseville Cemetery.

Soldiers and Sailors Home
  • Edward Milton Coe was the only "Lucky Thirteen" member not born in Ohio. He was born in western Virginia in July 1838 to William and Mary Jane (Reed/Read) Coe, the oldest of their six children. By the time Edward was 12 years old, the family settled in Newton Township, Muskingum County. Edward (known as "Dink") followed in his father's footsteps and became a teacher, which probably explains why he was enlisted as a corporal. His pension record shows that during the Vicksburg Campaign, Edward committed some infraction which got his rank reduced to private. When his mother died in 1905, her son "Col. E. M. Coe" was listed as one of her surviving children. (This, of course, was a real case of fake news.) Edward died at the Soldiers and Sailors' Home in Sandusky, Ohio on April 20, 1910, although he had lived in Fultonham with his sister until the previous month. Letters between his sister and the Pension Bureau suggest that Edward's body was returned to Fultonham for burial, but there is no cemetery record. Edward never married.
  • William Henry Wilson was born on June 14, 1842 in Harrison Township, Perry County. He was the eldest of William D. and Rebecca (Brumage) Wilson's four children. After he was mustered out of service, William returned to Perry County where he married Olivia C. Crooks in 1873. The couple had six children, and lived for a time in Zanesville where William owned and operated an ice cream parlor. William and Olivia were living in Roseville at the time of his death on July 26, 1907. William, his wife and his parents are buried in Roseville Cemetery.
Walter Lowry
  • Walter Lowry was born in Roseville on October 15, 1841, the sixth of the eleven children of Jeremiah and Susannah (Richardson) Lowry. Walter was mustered out of service as a sergeant,and returned to Roseville where he worked as a potter. He married Aurilla Weaver in 1868; the couple had eleven children. Shortly after Walter's and Aurilla's marriage, the couple moved to Keyser, Mineral County, West Virginia where they owned and operated a successful grocery and market garden. Walter died in Keyser on April 29, 1921. He and his wife are buried in Queen's Meadow Point Cemetery in Keyser.
    David French
  • David G. French was born may 21, 1844 in Harrison Township, Perry County. His parents were James French and Elizabeth McCoubrey, an Irish immigrant. Davis was the second youngest of their six children. After being mustered out of service, David returned to Harrison Township where he married Rebecca E. Wilson in 1866. The couple had two children. David was a potter, and eventually established his own business, the D. G. French Pottery. Rebecca died in 1917, and David never recovered from the loss; two and half years later, on January 30, 1920, he committed suicide. He and Rebecca are buried in Roseville Cemetery.
  • William Tell Dollison, M.D. was born in Harrison Township, Perry County on September 11,
    William T. Dollison
    1840,the eldest of John Moore and Jane (Wylie) Dollison's six children. William was appointed 1st sergeant of Co. G on his enlistment, and then made a 2nd lieutenant. When he re-enlisted, he joined Co. K of the 32nd Regiment, and was mustered out as a 1st lieutenant. Following his war service, William went to Columbus, Ohio to attend the Starling Medical College. After earning a medical degree, he moved to Indiana where he met and married Jennie Elizabeth Smith. The couple had four children. Eventually, the family moved to Maryland so that William  could work in the medical office of Veterans' Affairs. William married Lydia A. Siegfried after Jennie's death, and lived in Chevy Chase, Maryland, where he died on May 16, 1915. He is buried in Arlington National Cemetery with both of his wives.
  • Robert Aulder G. Larzelere was born October 17, 1840 in Harrison Township, Perry County. He was the eldest of the seven children of Benjamin Larzelere and Mary Damon, an English immigrant. Within six weeks of Robert's enlistment, he was taken prisoner at the Battle of Cheat Mountain (September 12-15, 1861) in western Virginia. However, he was paroled shortly afterward and returned to his unit. After his mustering out, about 1868, Robert married Jennie ____. The couple had one child (who would become the Rev. Aulder Larzelere), and lived in Zanesville where Robert plied his trade as a carpenter. He married Mary E. Cowan after Jennie's death. Robert died in Zanesville on January 8, 1920, and is buried in Roseville Cemetery along with his first wife and only child.
Alonzo L. Vickers
  • Alonzo Lorenzo Vickers was born in Washington, Fayette County, Ohio on October 26, 1837. His father was Lorenzo Dow Vickers, a physician, and Harriet (Moon) Vickers, who died when Alonzo was just six weeks old. He was brought up by his paternal grandmother who lived in Roseville. Alonzo's pension file shows he suffered a considerable number of illnesses and injuries during his service, most notably a serious foot injury that led to permanent deformity and limited mobility. Alonzo was mustered out as a corporal of Co. G. Returning to Roseville after the war, Alonzo married Sarah M. Llewellyn in 1867. The couple had ten children. The family moved to Dickenson County, Kansas around 1877. After Sarah's death, Alonzo married Annie E. Smart and had two more children. He died in Abilene, Kansas on November 9, 1917 and is buried with Sarah in Prairedale Cemetery near Talmadge, Kansas.
  • Reuben Henry Morgan was born June 25, 1844 in Zanesville. He was the seventh of Peter P. and Rebecca (Flowers) Morgan’s ten children. Reuben returned to his parents’ home after the war and studied law. He married Phoebe Angeline Harris in Holmes County, Ohio in 1871, and the couple moved to Martinsburg, Knox County, Ohio where Reuben established a law practice. Angela and Reuben had five children. In Knox County, Reuben became involved in politics, serving as a justice of the peace, a township clerk, and mayor of Martinsburg. Reuben moved his family to Washington, D.C., where he worked as an attorney in the Family Pensions Office of Veterans AffairsHe died in Washington, D.C. on November 1, 1903, and is buried in Arlington National Cemetery.
  • George W. Kildow was born in Newton Township, Muskingum County on May 19, 1840, the eldest child of Daniel and Mary (Frisbey) Kildow’s seven children. George was discharged from the military about 6 months before Co. G was mustered out, went immediately to Wisconsin and married Mary A. DeWitt. The couple had two children before they divorced in 1871. George moved to Iowa and married Anna D. Jennings in 1872.  The couple had four children. Between 1884-1890, George moved his family to Brush Creek Township, Muskingum County where George was enumerated in the 1890 special census. The family remained in Muskingum County for at least another ten years, before moving to Chicago, and then, in 1912, moving to the state of Washington. He died at the Veterans’ Home in Retsil, Kitsap County, Washington, on February 20 1930, and is buried in the Veterans’ Home Cemetery along with Anna.
Monument to Union soldiers in the Roseville Cemetery


Sunday, September 8, 2019

Those Back-to-School Sales

Back-to-school shoes (left) and
material to make clothing (above)


Digitized newspapers are a wonderful genealogical resource, and not just for the birth, marriage, and death information they provide. Of course, they carry the local, national, and international news of the day that can contextualize our ancestors' lives, giving us a taste for what they might have talked about it, or what they might have personally experienced. But there's a bonus.

The place to buy your student's books, papers,
pens, pencils, protractor, ruler, etc.
What to pack for lunch? Some potted meat...
Whenever I am researching in online newspapers, my attention is often diverted by the ads. Newspaper advertisements might not provide the life facts or the news that engaged my ancestors, but they enable me to imagine something of their everyday lives--where they shopped, what they ate, the latest clothing styles, the newest "stuff". Ads provide us (literally) with illustrations of ordinary people going about ordinary, daily doings. The Armour's food ad is an example: There's Grandma or Great Aunt Delilah looking for ways to feed her family within a budget. In the absence of actual photographs, or solid facts about how our ancestors negotiated the ups and downs of daily life, illustrated ads can help us imagine their lives. Also, using advertisements as illustrations is a charming way to enliven a family history.
Since it's back-to-school time, I looked for ads that might have interested a mother of school-age children one hundred years ago. These ads appeared in August and September editions of the 1919 Zanesville Times Recorder.
...On fresh bread...
...And a nice "vacuum flask" of milk.

A labor-saving device for Mom so the kids have clean school clothes every week









Monday, July 22, 2019

The Life Expectancy Myth

How long should we expect to live? All things being equal, human life expectancy is, on average, about 76 years. What might surprise you is that this has been true for at least a couple of thousand years. Yet most people believe that the generations before us couldn't expect to life past 45 or even 35 years. I once heard someone claim that ancient Egyptians had a life-expectancy of 25 years.

Medical treatment book, 1885
It's true that your chances of dying before 76 were higher some generations ago. We take for granted what medical doctors can do for us nowadays, whether we face our own unique afflictions or a wide-spread epidemic. Our ancestors, though, didn't have access to the level of medical expertise and treatments available today, and except in the direst of circumstances, they expected to doctor themselves. This was especially true in rural areas, where most families relied on a book of "physic" to guide their treatment of family members' illness or injury. Many, if not most of the recommended treatments, were useless, and in the case of a fatal illness or injury, often made the victim's last days and hours even more terrible. My g-g-g grandfather William Burdett died in 1841 of stomach cancer; in addition to leeches, one of the treatments used was tincture of creasote.

Bessie G. Rambo, 1867-1870
Elda Rambo, 1869-1870 (above)
Georgie Rambo, 1871-1872 (below) 
Except for smallpox, there were no vaccines available to ward off diseases that can be deadly, especially to children: measles and whooping cough being two examples. Neither was there a vaccine for tetanus, the agonizing "grinning death", that might develop from a cut, puncture wound, burn, or animal bite. If surgery were necessary, there was no anesthesia to block the pain, and no antibiotics to stop infection. Worse, there was little to no understanding of the role sanitation played in the prevention of infection or in stopping the spread of killer diseases like cholera, typhus, and yellow fever. An ancestor who lived to see her 76th year and beyond (my g-g-g grandmother, Jane Turner Holloway, lived to be 95) was unusual only because, in a long life, she avoided serious injury and/or a fatal disease at a time when medical knowledge was fairly primitive, and medical treatment often ineffective if not barbarous.

Injury and disease aside, the primary contributor to the mistaken idea that our ancestors had a short life-expectancy is childhood. Tragically, childhood has been a perilous life stage in all societies from earliest times until into the mid-20th Century. For most of human existence, 25% of infants (0-1 year old) died; 46% of those surviving infancy died before they were 15. The belief that our ancestors had much lower life-expectancy than we do is chiefly the result of skewed statistics: Too many adults died before their allotted time due to injury, disease, and poor to no medical treatment to statistically counterbalance the high percentage of infant and child deaths.

A 19th century surgeon prepares to amputate
So the next time you share your family tree with someone, and they are amazed to see people who lived into their 80's and 90's more than 150 years ago (because people "then" only lived to be about 40, didn't they?), please share this blog with them. Statistics don't lie; but statistics can be misunderstood. The life-expectancy thing is a case in point.


Sources:
Childs, D. & Kansagra, S. "Ten Health Advances That Changed the World", retrieved 20 Jul 2019 at https://abcnews.go.com/Health/TenWays/story?id=3605442&page=1

Radford, B. "Human Lifespans Nearly Constant for 2000 Years", retrieved 21 Jul 2019 at https://www.livescience.com/10569-human-lifespans-constant-2-000-years.html

Roser, M. "Mortality in the Past-Around Half Died as Children, retrieved 21 Jul 2019 at https://ourworldindata.org/child-mortality-in-the-past

Bee, E. J., M.D. "Case of Scirrhous Pylorus" in American Medical Intelligencer, retrieved 3 Mar 2017 at https://books.google.com/books?id=vvwAAAAAYAAJ&pg=PA248&lpg=PA248&dq=american+medical+intelligencer+william+burdett+1841&source=bl&ots=XyzyxOpfSe&sig=ACfU3U0zLAwFYzHUJWIs0MEgGMdfu2eF1Q&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwjd26mwxMjjAhVH2qwKHZpkCxsQ6AEwAnoECAcQAQ#v=onepage&q=american%20medical%20intelligencer%20william%20burdett%201841&f=false



Sunday, June 9, 2019

The Right to Vote

Florence Kling Harding-01.jpg
First Lady Florence Mabel (Kling) Harding
On June 4, 1919, seventy-one years after the drive for women's suffrage had been initiated at Seneca Falls, New York, the U.S. Senate approved a House bill that would amend the Constitution to give women the right to vote. The amendment was then sent to the states for ratification; three-fourths of them had to approve the amendment for it to become law. The bill to amend did not put a time limit on the ratification process, and it took until August 18, 1920 for the ratification requirement to be met. The election of 1920 was the first presidential election in which women voted, and women have been credited (blamed?) for electing Warren G. Harding of Ohio, the affable but highly inept politician whose administration was one of the most corrupt in our nation's history. If women were responsible for putting Harding in the White House, it might have been because his wife, Florence (Kling) Harding, was a supporter of women's suffrage, and more importantly, of equal rights for women. Women might have voted for the power behind the throne, rather than for the throne's occupant.

The National Women's Party, the organization most instrumental in securing passage of the 19th Amendment and its ratification, did not stop its work once the amendment became part of the United States Constitution. Realizing they had an ally in the White House in the person of the First Lady, suffragists advocated for equitable treatment, seeking the repeal of laws that made women second-class citizens, and the passage of laws that guaranteed equal treatment.

Suffragists' demonstration, New York City, 1917
Jobs Ohio women were prohibited from doing
Thirteen discriminatory Ohio laws as of 1921. In the margin Dr. Gillette Hayden
noted the numbers of the House and Senate bills introduced to overturn these laws.
I recently worked on a manuscript collection for the Ohio History Connection that chronicles the suffragist work of Kenyon and Gillette Hayden, Columbus sisters who were prominent in the National Women's Party. Among the papers are lists of restrictions placed on women by Ohio, as well as copies of Ohio House and Senate bills meant to correct  the inequity in Ohio's laws. Even for someone who has studied history and knows something about the history of American women's struggle for equality, the ways in which men had legislated against women since Ohio's statehood was sometimes startling, and not a little angering. Despite its history of discriminatory laws, Ohio was one of the first states to ratify the 19th Amendment, doing so on June 16, 1919. The Times Recorder relegated the news of this important legislative action to page three of its June 17 issue.
As noted above, it was more than an year later before 3/4 of the states ratified the amendment into law. After August 1920, the remaining states took their own sweet time about formally accepting what had become the law of the land: Connecticut, Vermont and Delaware ratified the amendment in 1923; Maryland, 1941, Virginia, 1952; Alabama, 1953; Florida and South Carolina,1969; Georgia, Louisiana and North Carolina, 1971; and Mississippi horsed around until 1984!

The Times Recorder, June 17, 1919, page 3

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Giants in the Earth?

The bogus Brush Creek township stone tablet,
watched over by J. F. Everhart, historian and huckster
J. F. Everhart began his over-sized tome, History of Muskingum County, Ohio (1882), with a section on the earliest native people, incorrectly referred to by Everhart as the "Mound Builders". In the first sixteen pages, Everhart rambled around, haphazardly citing this historian's and that scientist's dogmatic statements about ancient peoples on all continents. It's obvious Everhart wanted to convince the reader that he was a learned and esteemed member of the scientific community, and that his story of the excavation of a burial mound and inscribed stone tablet in Brush Creek township in 1879 was absolutely the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. 
So, what sensational story about Brush Creek Township did Everhart report? Everhart didn't tell the story himself, but instead relied on the text of two documents, the first probably written by him, to do his dirty work. The first document was a letter Everhart claimed was sent to him on March 3, 1880. (Note how close this date is to the publication date of his book; Everhart undoubtedly was in the throes of writing his book at this point, so the Brush Creek discovery was conveniently timed.) The letter--signed by Thomas D. Showers, John Worstall, Marshall Cooper, J. M Baughman, S. S. Baughman, and John E. McCoy--described the excavation of "an ancient mound, located on the farm of Mr. J. M. Baughman....rising 152 feet above...the stream called Brush creek. It is about 64 feet in width by about 90 feet in length...nearly flat on top" on December 1, 1879. The letter is replete with exacting measurements and careful descriptions of all the wonderful discoveries unearthed, giving the appearance that good archeaological methods were employed by the local farmers and laborers who undertook the excavation. The letter claimed that eleven skeletons, all measuring between eight and nine feet four inches in height, were found, proof that giants really did once walk the earth, even in Muskingum County. Not only were all the skeletons complete (despite their great age), the amateur archaeologists were able, in a glance, to distinguish male from female bones. In addition, so the letter claimed, there was, among the artifacts, a "sand-rock,...twelve by fourteen inches...upon which were engraved the following described hieroglyphics." (Everhart was careful to mention here that the actual letter contained an exact representation of the picture-writing; he would let the reader "see" the hieroglyphics himself from the drawing included in the chapter.) 

The book's illustration (above) was made from a photograph of the stone taken by a Zanesville photographer, William T. Lewis. The second document Everhart included in the story, was the text of Lewis' sworn statement of March 16, 1880. Lewis stated he worked at the Smith Gallery, and had "between December 20, 1879, and January 10, 1880,...photographed for Dr. J. F. Everhart an engraved stone, said to have been exhumed from a mound in Brush Creek Township...." From this point on, Everhart painstakingly and pompously explained how he, and he alone, brilliantly translated the message of the Brush Creek hieroglyph (which appears to have a message akin to passages found in the Old Testament), to the cheers of the scientific community world-wide. 

It should come as no surprise that if you go the archaeological exhibit in the Ohio History Connection museum, you won't see a single bone or artifact, and certainly not the inscribed stone, from the "mound" on the Baughman property in Brush Creek Township. A museum interpreter will confirm that the Adena people, who lived around 2500 years ago in what would become Muskingum County, were famous for building both burial and ceremonial mounds. But--you will be told--no Adena mound has ever been located in Muskingum County, although neighboring Licking County has a nice set.

Cardiff Giant being "exhumed", Cardiff, New York, 1869
The Brush Creek "ancient giants" story reported by Everhart was one of a series of giant hoaxes (read that both ways) perpetrated on the public in the second half of the nineteenth century. America's "golden age of hoaxes" began in 1869 with the elaborate ruse known as the Cardiff Giant, a 10-foot petrified man (a complete body, not just a bunch of bones) dug up in Cardiff, New York. A gullible public flocked (and paid) to see this amazing find, later revealed to be a sculpture of clay, ground bones, rock dust, and plaster created and planted by a local resident to excite biblical literalists. The premier huckster, P. T. Barnum, unable to buy the Cardiff Giant, made his own version of it, and then claimed the one his museum was
real, while the one in Cardiff, N.Y. was a fake. The phrase, "there's a sucker born every minute", came into being in response to news stories about the number of people willing to pay to see such obvious fabrications. (The sucker phrase has been wrongly attributed to P. T. Barum. In fact, David Hannum, who purchased the original fake Cardiff Giant from its creator, coined the phrase.)

Who was responsible for the Brush Creek hoax? A recent article in the Columbus Dispatch by Ohio History Connection archeaology curator Bradley Lepper says "Dr." J. F. Everhart himself was the culprit, concocting the story to boost the sale of an otherwise boring book. This fact came out because Everhart was not only a huckster, he was a bit of deadbeat. It seems, according to the article, Everhart didn't pay the excavators, and one of them sued him. During the court hearing, another workman "testified that he'd never been paid the $15 he'd been promised to carve the inscription on the slab and give it 'the appearance of ancient work'", giving added meaning to the word "chiseler".

Resources

Everhart, J. F. History of Muskingum County, Ohio with Illustrations and Biographical Sketches of Prominent Men and Pioneers. [No place of publication given] J. F. Everhart & Co. 1882 [Note: Google J. F. Everhart, and you'll find no information. Goodreads lists the author as "Albert Adams Graham, J. F. Everhart". A google search for Albert Adams Graham revealed only that he was a Columbus publisher who spear-headed the formation of the Ohio State Archaeological and Historical Society which is today known as the Ohio History Connection. Adams name, as author or publisher, appears nowhere in the front-matter of Everhart's book.]

Eschner, Kat. "The Cardiff Giant Was Just a Big Hoax"; article; Smithsonian.com/SmartNews;
 https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/cardiff-giant-was-just-big-hoax-180965274/. Retrieved April 30, 2019.

"Cardiff Giant"; article; Wikipediahttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cardiff_Giant. Retrieved April 30, 2019

Lepper, Bradley. "Archaeology: Were Ancient Writings, Giants Pulled from Ohio Burial Mounds? Ummm, No"; article; The Columbus Dispatchhttps://www.dispatch.com/news/20190127/archaeology-were-ancient-writings-giants-pulled-from-ohio-burial-mounds-ummm-no. Retrieved April 30, 2019.

Monday, March 4, 2019

The Spanish Flu: A Footnote to WWI

Soldiers suffering from Spanish Flu, Fort Riley, 1918
I've been reading Laura Spinney's Pale Rider:The Spanish Flu of 1918 and How It Changed the World. In the introduction, the author notes that the influenza outbreak is often treated as "a footnote to World War I", meaning that while the centenary of the war held our attention from 2014-2018, there has been little to no centenary recognition of the chaos, disruption, and death caused by the Spanish Flu, the deadliest pandemic in human history.

The infection known as the Spanish Influenza of 1918 actually occurred in four distinct waves between spring, 1918 and the early months of 1920, with its most virulent occurrence being from late summer through the fall of 1918. After its initial, somewhat benign appearance in the spring, the disease mutated into something highly contagious and lethal. It was this strain that soldiers of all nations carried home in the last months of 1918. All together, the flu affected about 500,000,000 people, one-third of the world's population. Estimates of deaths range from 50-100 million people. (The wide variance is due to inaccurate diagnoses and poor recording keeping.) In contrast, World War I took about 20,000,000 lives: 9.7 million military personnel and about 10,000,000 civilians.

The Spanish Flu did not begin in Spain (where it was called the French Flu). The name apparently relates to Spain's ability to remain a neutral country during the war. Because of that, Spanish newspapers weren't censored as in combatant countries, where governments feared that news of an epidemic would undermine both military and civilian moral, and so they suppressed reports of the growing contagion and deaths. Spain's newspapers, however, reported on spread of the disease (one of the survivors being the king), making it seem to be a singularly Spanish catastrophe.

Health Superintendent G. W. McCormick reported 876 cases
of influenza in Zanesville, and Wayne, Washington, Falls, 
and Springfield Townships between October 21-26, the height 
of the epidemic. During that time there were 74 deaths, 35 in 
Zanesville. (October 29, 1918, p. 7)
Front page Times Recorder, October 12, 1918




The Spanish flu attacked a victim's respiratory system. The tell-tale sign that death was almost certain was the blue-black discoloration of the victim's face and extremities due to slow suffocation as the lungs filled with fluid. Those in the 15-44 age range succumbed in greater proportion than did the elderly, infants or children.

We now know the Spanish Flu was an air-borne virus, spread primarily through coughs, sneezes, and spittle. In 1918 there was no such thing as a flu vaccine, and no known cure. The only fairly reliable preventative was to bring fresh air into homes and offices, and stay out of crowded places. The only help for the victim was to try to keep her hydrated, comfortable, and isolated.

The highly contagious nature of the Spanish Flu led government authorities around the world to restrict public gatherings, such as theatre performances and even church attendance. Most schools, however, remained in session, authorities recognizing that children seemed less likely to contract the disease, and were probably safer in school than at home.

J. H. McDonald used the flu as a marketing tool
(December 13, 1918, p. 7)
If you search "Spanish Flu" in the Zanesville Times Recorder between 1918-1920, you will find an abundance of news items. There are official notices forbidding public gatherings, and updates on the epidemic's toll (above). There are reports of individuals or whole communities taken ill: Mrs. Iola Squires of White Cottage "who has been spending the winter at Detroit, Mich. with her son Allen, has been ill with pneumonia* and Spanish influenza." (January 30, 1919, p. 4); "Twenty-five cases of Spanish influenza which developed within the past three days were reported at Road Forks, near Harrietsville, late Friday afternoon....The patients are under care of Dr. Hill" (January 31, 1920, p. 7). There are dozens of advertisements for so-called preventatives and cures
                                                                                                           (below), and even for insurance policies (left).





In addition to the book that got me started on the topic of the Spanish Flu of 1918, there are a number of others. Of course the internet is loaded with information and photographs. I read once that if you had people in your family who died in 1918 (especially in the autumn of that year), there's a good possibility they were one of the millions of victims of the world's deadliest pandemic. Even if you didn't have any victims in your family, you can be sure your ancestors were touched in some way by the influenza.

Recommended:
Laura Spinney, Pale Rider:The Spanish Flu of 1918 and How It Changed the World , Public Affairs, 2017.
John M. Barry, The Great Influenza: The Story of the Deadliest Pandemic in History, Penquin Books, 2005.
Gina Kolata, Flu: The Story of the Great Influenza Pandemic of 1918 and the Search for the Virus That Caused It, Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2011.
History Today: The Spanish Flu Pandemic
History: The Spanish Flu
National Geographic: Mystery of 1918 Flu...Solved?
The Atlantic: The 1918 Flu Pandemic--Photos From a Century Ago

*Pneumonia frequently accompanied the flu--as it does today--and some survived the flu only to die of pneumonia.