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During the winter of 1836-37 Mr. Upson, of Tallmadge, sent to the city for trial a wagon load of bituminous coal, a seam of which had cropped out of a hillside on his farm and he was anxious to see if it could be made of use as a fuel. A gentleman then living where the Weddell House now standsit may have been Mr. T. M. Weddell himself-ventured to make a trial of the coal; his neighbors got an idea of what was going on and they looked in apparent dread at the house when the black smoke curled out of the chimney, and when the sulphurous fumes came down to the ground they held their nostrils and made up their minds at once that such stuff would breed a pestilence and they would have none of it in theirs. This people had not been educated up to a coal standard in those days; it is quite different now.
There is a sturdy member of your association who has been here over three score years, but is not the man he was in opinion forty years ago. When coal began to be used as fuel that man declared he never would consent to abandon the use of wood and resort to filthy coal as long as he was able to purchase a supply of wood. To-day that “old settler" is able to purchase the native forests on either side of him, but every grate, range, stove and furnace in his stately mansion is supplied with coal.
We could not consent that the advances made in our time should be obliterated and we too be placed back to the condition of forty-five years ago, when we had no street lights, no water works, no sewers, no paved streets, no police, no steam fire department, no public library, no fountains, no city hall, no telegraph nor telephones, no railroads, no steam tugs, no anthracite coal, no propellers, no bridge across the river, no breakwater, no manufactories, no refineries, no viaduct, and no taxes to speak of.
Many people have wished to renew their lives by wandering among the scenes of their early youth; we are certain to get quite enough in a few days. How would you like to see our main avenue again afloat with its proverbial unfathomable mud of olden times? How would you like to see those scanty wood wagons that used to adorn the lower end of the avenue again in place, then those stately “Wooster schooners” that plied on the pike between Wayne and Cuyahoga counties bringing flour and whisky and returning with ballast of nails, cod fish and cotton cloth, and finally as you passed down of a morning and see three stage coaches waiting for Captain Sartwell's orilers at the old Franklin House to go and gather passengers with the inevitable chunky “ Henry” perched high atop of one with four in hand. All this would do you as a passing dream, but you would say give us the advance and not the retrograde.
Our city stands upon a plane ranging from seventy-five to one hundred feet above the Lake; this gives us an eminence above our neighboring cities of the Lakes that they would be glad to attain. You will remember that at one time in your early residence there was a steady, rapid encroachment of the Lake upon the heart of the city by the sliding away of the bluff bank above the beach. The quick sands which underlie the city were fast carrying away the surface, and at the rate the land was leaving us it was easy to calculate when the little city we found as we settled here would be entirely swept away. I have seen the time when many acres had taken their depar ture in one night, but the railroads saved our city in more ways than one, they put a stop to the further incroachments of the Lake. city in our land and point to hundreds of blocks and churches, hospitals, asylums, schools, manufactories and dwellings that will rank with any in the wide world.
The elegant in architecture had not developed itself to any extent up to 1840. Men who built had so little regard for comeliness that it appears as if they told the builders the height, length and breadth they wanted their house or block or shop and the number of windows and doors needed, then allowed them to be placed at random as was most convenient to the mechanics. Men of taste who have visited us have made a note of these things to our disadvantage. We took courage and thanked God that after a time a better order of things was institated, and after the second and third series of buildings went up we had something more comely to look upon, and to-day old settler or not, a citizen need not be ashamed to wander about these streets with the best men of the proudest
There may be a wide diversity in the hopes and realizations of all you “old settlers.” Some may have accomplished all they aimed for, and some may have come far short even if their aim had been ever so unpretending. Whatever that fate chances to be, it is rather too late to try and mend it now. We had better philosophically accept the situation and continue striving to the end.
You who have hung on so long through thick and thin never flinched in the hour of panic or epidemic, never grunted too much over the cold Lake winds, nor stuck up your nose when the black smokes and crude oil smells hung round your nostrils. You who have brought up a family in knowledge and virtue and have maintained among your fellows as upright a character as the times would warrant, can rest assured that you have done far more for the honor, glory and majesty of Cleveland than Cleveland could possibly do for you.
There are two important domestic pictures. I would have you carefully contemplate and view in every light you can see the best. One is Cleveland as you saw her forty years ago, and Cleveland as you can see her to-day.