Page images
PDF
EPUB

Herald as well as the Plain Dealer and other rival daily papers at the time, and as they tried to work their editions off at the same hour they never appeared to be any great amount of ill feeling among the proprietors whether they got their forms on the press for the matter of a halt of three quarters of an hour was all either would be compelled to wait on the other; the press did not throw off the sheets at lightning speed, perhaps two or three hundred, all told, would comprise the largest editions. One or two stout men were employed at first to manipulate the press but steam soon took their place. The Cuyahoga Steam Furnace Company which was not in the present corporate limits of Cleveland in 1840 was the first substantial enterprise in that line in our county, and up to that time there was not probably a half dozen establishments that had machinery propelled by steam within the corporation.

There was a manifest struggle among the cities of the Lakes in our day for commercial precedence, and when the doctrine of internal improvements was an article of faith that we held to out of local interest or universal principle, we could not help but look with a degree of jealousy if Congress gave Ashtabula, Erie, Conneaut, Fairport, Vermillion, Black River or Huron any kind of a show in her appropriation bill and omitted Cleveland, but when Rocky River or Chagrin or even Euclid Creek was spoken of as asking for a pier we were all likely to go into spasms and give up all hope for the future success of the Cuyahoga as a port of entry. Congress scattered her favors so munificently and carelessly that it became hard to tell where the work would do the most good.

Your progress toward improvement was a proverb. When you old settlers of forty-five years standing located in Cleve land you could boast of the most miserable thoroughfares in the spring and autumn time that the wide west ever beheld. The ladies were necessarily restricted in appearing on the avenues arrayed in the latest style of dress for obvious reasons, dress was forced to conform to circumstances. . Among the people of my native state there appeared to be an indistinct idea of the condition of things in this far west portion of the unsettled territory, and when it got abroad that I was about to emigrate to these wilds I was regarded as wild myself. What! are you going to that unbroken wilderness where there are no schools nor churches and hardly any houses but log huts, and the ague so thick you can cut it?

My first visit to the home of my youth was bruited about the town among the boys, and they came to see me and hear me tell the wonderful tales of the perils among the wild animals that everyone is said to encounter "out west.” One notable citizen had been to see me ever so many times but failed to find me for a while, after patience and perseverence had crowned his efforts with success he appeared to be happy. He said a friend of his had gone out “to the Ohio” some years ago and he had heard nothing from him since he left and he was anxious to learn something of his whereabouts.

I asked him what part of the state he located in, but that he did not know, and upon careful inquiry, with a full determination to give the gentleman all the information he sought if in my power, I learned that his friend had settled some where in the Ohio state,” the county, town or village he did not know and moreover his name was Smith, the given name he could not remember. If any of you know a man by that name in Ohio please report.

If one of the Cherubims or Seraphims had fallen in Superior street about thirty-five years ago, it would not have created much more wonder than the first liveried coachman, who drove down the avenue in regulation costume. It took us by surprise, we were not fully prepared for so much all at once, and few of our people had a knowledge of what they were gazing upon, only through the medium of books, of fiction, or memories of European times. We had all the elements of style-in fact there was a good deal of it put up in the human breast, and all it wanted was a little burst of æsthetic independence to bring it out. We had plenty of people who longed to do this thing, but it was dangerous to set sail in so open a sea without a guide.

We never knew the comforts and elegances of life until we had them. When we waded through the mud of an evening with our pants rolled up, and a young lady on our arm headed towards a party or a prayer meeting, we knew nothing of the convenience of gas light and paved streets, or street cars, and were just as happy in our ignorance as to-day, provided the young lady was good looking by day light or candle light. Transportation was no difficult if the company was attractive while we never contemplated whether the old man was possessed of numerous shekels or none.

When James S. Clark imported a grand and elegant carriage to our young city, and had it propelled about our streets by a span of lively mules, it became an epoch in our history worth recording for we were not familiar with such turnouts. It was a master stroke of Republican independence to send out the ladies of his household in an elegant landaulet, drawn by a pair of mules, driven by a man as black as Erebus. We had to stop and look as the establishment passed us in the muddy streets. To say that we had no cultivated style in those early days, would not be true. About all of us had studied up what was elegant and how bad we wanted such just as much as any other young and thriving city There were men who sent their measures for coats to New York, while they would consent to let Shelley make their pants and vests, and so it was in other things, a growing disposition to outdo some one else; that was the era when æsthetics began to boom. One man squandered ten shilling, six pence, two pence half penny, to get his coat of arms from England and had a crest painted on the pannel of his wagon. We all hankered to appear well in society, at church or on the streets.

Men who had heretofore done their own chores about their home, as soon as trade would warrant, hired a man and many a hired man as he lay down on his pillow at night repeated to himself the hard days work he had to perform all for twelve dollars a month and board. There is so much to do that a fellow has no time to say his own prayers in comfort. In the morning there are three fires to make, cow to milk and in summer to take to pasture, two horses to take care of, the walks to sweep, the wood to saw, the coal to carry in, errands to do, the garden to weed, to be blowed up ten times a day by the old woman, black the old man's boots and clean the children's shoes, and of a Sunday there is more hard work to do than any day in the week. Have to take the family to church and hang round outside for the last amen of the minister, when we poor hostlers chant in chorus the “Gloria in Excelsis," bring the team around to the curbstone and when we get home as hungry as a hyena after a three days fast are compelled to wait to see if there is anything left from the dining room that is suffered to come to the kitchen for Bridget and me to make a dinner from. Then hitch up again to take the children to Sunday School, and in the evening, storm or

« PreviousContinue »