Wednesday, 23 May 2018

1885-06-25 Wall Shooting (Part 2)

James Wall was the most important prisoner to appear in Hamilton's Police Court on June 25, 1885, just two days after the shooting incident :

    “The preliminary trial of James Wall, for shooting at Rosa Zoeller with intent to kill, took place at the police court yesterday. Mr. Carscallen appeared for the prisoner, and entered a plea of not guilty. Mr. Crerar, county crown attorney, appeared for the prosecution.

“Rosa Zoeller testified : ‘Live at 109 James street north with my husband. Was out for a drive with my husband until 4 o’clock Monday last. I then went to Mrs. Mason’s on Peter street, and Mrs. Mason and Mr. Davis went for a drive with me. I returned shortly after 8 o’clock and was waiting for my mother-in-law. Wall came out of my house. He came over to me and said, ‘You have been out with Davis.’ I said no, and he pulled a revolver from his pocket and said, ‘You are gone.’ He raised the revolver and pointed at my head . I Stretched out my hand to take the revolver. My hand touched his arm and the revolver went off. He then drew the revolver back and held, but I managed to get it. Before I got the revolver, I saw him shake it. I threw it on the sidewalk and called out for someone to take care of it. Wall took hold of the horse after that, and said I had better clear out or he would have my life. There was a crowd around when he said thes. I said to a policeman present : ‘For God’s sake, take hold of him.’

“Cross-examined by Mr. Carscallen : I had been driving with my husband and had been out from 12:30 o’clock. It was about 8:30 when the shooting occurred. The horse was standing in front of my house. After leaving my husband at home, I drove up to Peter street. Mrs. Mason and Mr. Davis drove with me over to Bayview and then we returned to my house, by way of the Beach. I was sitting in the buggy in front of my own house when I first saw Wall. I was sitting alone in the buggy waiting for my mother-in-law to drive her home. Wall came up and said, ‘you have been driving with Davis.’ I said no, and he immediately raised a revolver and said, ‘you are a goner.’ The prisoner  raised the revolver and I touched his arm. The revolver immediately discharged. I touched him with my right hand. I was sitting squarely in the buggy and the lines were over the dashboard. Only one shot was fired. No one was nearby.

“James Dwyer sworn “ ‘I was at my door on James street on Monday night; saw my buggy at Zoeller’s door. I heard a report like that of a firecracker, then Mrs. Zoeller who was in the buggy screamed and the horse started to run away. I went over and caught the horse. A policeman had already seized it. Wall also had hold of the horse, by the bridle. Heard Wall say, ‘You had better leave town.’ Mrs. Zoeller called out for someone to take hold of him.

“Maud Evans sworn : Saw Wall come out of Mrs. Zoeller’s house, go up to the buggy and say something in a low voice. Mrs. Zoeller said no. I then saw Wall point a revolver. Mrs. Zoeller shouted and caught at Wall’s arm. The revolver went off. Mrs. Zoeller caught the revolver but Wall held it and tried to shake it from her. Mrs. Zoeller got the revolver and thew it on the sidewalk saying, ‘For God’s sake, take it.’

“Cross –examined by Mr. Carscallen : there was only one shot fired; I saw the flash under the buggy as it left the revolver. My sister was standing beside me from the time Mrs. Zoeller pushed Wall’s hand away till II saw the flash, about two seconds.

“Constable Walsh sworn : ‘I heard the shot and a scream immediately afterward; saw the horse running away and ran up and caught it; a man came up to the other side of the horse’s head as I caught it; Mrs. Zoeller was in the buggy; the prisoner came up to the buggy and said, ‘You had better leave the city before tomorrow.’ He shook his fist at her, cursing at her the same time. I went around to arrest Wall for making use of profane language. Mrs. Zoeller called out  to me to take him. He started to run away, and I followed and caught him. He turned around and struck at me, but I held him off. I asked him who fired the shot and he said it was none of my business. I asked him was it the woman in the buggy, and who she was. He said he did not know who she was nor who fired the shot. I took him into a store and looked for a revolver but he had none. He said his pocket was on fire and that a cigar had burned it. I examined his leg and found a flesh wound evidently caused by a revolver. I asked him what had caused it, and he said, ‘It’s none of your business, find out.’

Cross-examined – When he pulled out his posket, the bottom part was on fire. His leg was also bleeding. The wound on his leg was three or four inches long. There was a hole in his trousers below the bullet mark in his leg, apparently made by the bullet passing out. There was no other hole in his trousers.

“O. C. Evans testified that he found the revolver and gave it to Detective Campbell. He heard the woman shout but did not hear the report of the shot. Detective Campbell mentioned the revolver and said he got it from Evans.

“The prisoner was committed for trial at the next assize, bail not being applied for.”

“The Wall Shooting Affray : Jimmy Wall, the Prisoner, Committed for Trial at the Next Assize”
Hamilton Spectator     June 25, 1885.



1885-06-22aWall Shooting (Part 1)


Gunfire on James Street was rarely heard in the 1880s. However, on June 22, 1885, violence manifested by an obsessive rejected suitor caused pandemonium.

Jimmy Wall was widely known as a jig dancer, but also as an odd character. Rosa Voeller was the woman he was obsessed with.

Here is the story of the incident that was the culmination of months of trouble:

 “”A slenderly-built, waxen-faced young woman, of prepossessing appearance, was sitting in a buggy on James street north about half past eight last night, when a man rushed out from a laundry at No. 109, pointed a revolver at her, exclaiming, ‘Now, young lady,

                   You’re a Goner !’

and fired. Passersby were horrified at hearing a shot immediately followed by a woman’s piercing screams and cries of ‘For God’s sake, take it away,’ and soon a crowd obstructed the street.

          “The first shot having failed to effect any injury, the diminutive shooter stepped closer to the woman and attempted to fire another shot. The weapon would not work, and the determined fellow shook it to cause it to fire. The woman made a dash for the revolver, and

                   GRAPPLED WITH THE MAN

and an exciting struggle ensued, during which the weapon went off and the bullet entered the young fellow’s thigh. Grasping  the pistol, the almost fainting woman threw it from her with all her remaining strength, screaming, ‘Somebody

                   FOR GOD’S CATCH IT.’

and almost fell from her seat. The horse was at this time plunging violently and the shootist made a jump for the bridle and clung to the horse. Turning to the woman, he shouted ‘you’d better leave town or

                   I’LL HAVE YOUR LIFE

tomorrow. ‘ Mr. Dwyer, the owner of the rig, sprang to the aid of the woman and assisted her into the house, while constable Walsh took charge of her assailant, but not till after he had made strong resistance and tried to escape.

“The lady is Mrs. Rose Zoeller, whose husband is an invalid, and the man who caused her death was James Wall, better known as Jimmy Wall, the dancer. He is a hatter by trade.

                   THE WOMAN’S STORY

          Mrs. Zoeller says she was acquainted with Wall before her marriage five years ago. When he heard of her approaching nuptials he told her she would have no peace after she was married, and ever since, in various ways, he has done his best to make his prophesy materialize. He at one time boarded for a short period with the Zoellers  and took advantage of his position to annoy the lady of the house. The neighbors have received a number of badly-spelled and ill-constructed letters, filled with scurrilous language calculated to injure Mrs. Zoeller in their eyes, and insinuating that while Mr. Zoeller  was flat on his back, ill with consumption, his wife was altogether too pleasant to Mr. Wall, who was described as the ‘whited-haired boy’ of the family. These charming epistles, some of which have fallen into Mrs. Zoeller’s possession, are alleged to be the work of Mr. Wall himself. ‘I tried to keep what Wall was doing annoying me away from my husband,’ said Mrs. Zoeller, ‘but one day he threatened me in front of my sick husband, and I had to complain of him.’

“The lady says she had been driving during the afternoon with her husband, and after that with some friends. Returning home, before taking the big rig back to the stable, Wall, who was in the house,, visiting her husband, rushed out and attacked her as already stated. She was unhurt, but suffered a terrible shock to her nervous system. She seemed most troubled, however, by the probable effect of the affair upon her invalid husband. She seemed afraid that he would succumb under the excitement of the affair.

“The revolver was recovered where it was thrown from the rig by Mrs. Zoeller and handed to Constable Campbell.

“After arresting Wall, constable Walsh remarked that the shot might have been a bad one to which Wall replied ‘I wish I had shot myself through the gizzard.’ Wall was perfectly sober but very much excited when arrested.’ ”1

1 “Wicked Jimmy Wall : A Little Jig Dancer Tries the Shoot Act – Upon a Young Lady – He Fires Twice and Only Manages to Shoot Himself in the Leg”

Hamilton Spectator     June 23, 1885.








Sunday, 20 May 2018

1885-06-22Baseball in Hamilton


It was just another issue of the Spectator , June 22, 1885, but the sports section (1/3 of the one page devoted to local items) contained three interesting items, which would have caught the attention of local baseball fanatics.

First, the hotly-anticipated first visit of the season by the team from Toronto to play the Clippers at Dundurn park, turned out to be less than satisfying for the Hamilton supporters :

                   SAURDAY’S FRACTIONAL GAME

“Saturday, at Dundurn, for the first time since the revival of baseball in Hamilton, a game was interrupted by rain. The Torontos and Clippers had met for their first contest. The Clippers, weakened by the secession of three of their strongest players, and handicapped by the necessity of playing the remaining men out of position, could not have been expected to play a strong game. They had no catcher, and Chamberlin was compelled to pitch easy little ones that the Torontos batted freely. When the rain came on and the game was stopped, the score stood 5 to 1 in favor of the Torontos. The result gives much encouragement to the Toronto team and its backers, and will assist the baseball boom that has taken passion of that city. As the Clippers lost nothing – the game being no game – it is perhaps just as well that the play turned out as it did. As it was, the Torontos had the best of it. Had the game gone on to a finish ---------------“ 1

1 “The World of Sport : Items of Interest to the Noble Fraternity : A Game of Less Than Five Innings Between the Clippers and Torontos – No Game at London – Miscellaneous Notes”

Hamilton Spectator     June 22, 1885.

The first season of the newly-organized Canadian Baseball League had five franchises, each filled with professional or semi-pro players. Hamilton had two franchises in the league, the Clippers and the Primroses. Then there was the Maple Leaf tem from Guelph, the Torontos and the Londons. Each city had sports writers as competitive with each other in their columns as the teams were on the field. The sports writers in London and Hamilton were constantly bickering with each other :

          HOME RUNS

“ ‘Our esteemed local contemporary and the Hamilton Spectator have got into a jangle as to what constitutes a home run, but finally they have agreed that a home run is an earned run. We don’t like to interfere with such eminent authorities, but we take the liberty of remarking that a home run is not necessarily an earned run.’

London Advertiser.

“One of the eminent authorities is much amused. If the Advertiser be right, then a two base hit is not necessarily a hit upon which two bases are made. If a batter makes a hit that is good for three bases, and gets home on a fielding error, it is not a home run, although he has not stopped running. To make it a little plainer. If a batter gets his first on called balls and a fielder picks up the ball and throws it over the fence, and the base runner shoots right along and scores, it is not a home run. A home run can only be made by batting the ball to such a distance that it cannot be returned in time to put the runner out. These explanations are quite unnecessary in this part of the country, and the Spectator prints them simply with a view of elevating the standard of baseball knowledge in the Advertiser office.”1

The final baseball item in that June 22, 1885 Spectator concerned a contract dispute between the management of the Clipper and three of its players, all three of whom were brothers. Peter, Fred and Jeff Wood were Americans from the city of Buffalo, New York. All were excellent players, with Pete even having played some in the major leagues.



          THE CLIPPER QUARREL

“The rupture between the Wood brothers and the Clipper management seems to be complete. The Woods have a document, signed by the manager, which they claim, constitutes a release. The gist of the document is this : The manager agrees to play the Wood brothers as pitcher, catcher and first base during the season, and a clause is added to the effect that if this arrangement be broken by the management, the document shall immediately become a release.

“On Friday the manager decided that Jeff Wood would not play in the game with the Torontos. This, the Woods claim, is a violation of the agreement, and constitutes the document a release. Manager Stroud claims that an agreement to play a player in a certain position, ‘during the season,’ does not mean that that player shall play that position in every game; but only that he shall play that certain position when he does play. He holds that the document is no release. It is likely that the question will have to be decided by the executive committee of the league. It is unfortunate that this quarrel occurred just when it did. But it is not surprising. There has been a good deal of grumbling on both sides for some time, and an open rupture could not long be deferred. As usual in disputes of this nature, there is a great deal to be said on both sides. The Woods want what they consider to be written in the bond, and the manager very naturally is of opinion that he ought to have something to say about the management of his team.”






Saturday, 14 April 2018

1885-06-13Fearman Fire


“Saturday was a busy day for the Hamilton fire department – the busiest day it has had for a good many years. Fate, chance, fortune, luck, whatever you like to call it, made arrangements to celebrate the day that the boys had mapped out for a sort of holiday, by the fiercest fire that has raged here for a long while.”

Hamilton Spectator.  June 15, 1885.

Saturday June 13, 1885 had been a day much anticipated by members of the Hamilton Police force and members of the Thirteenth Battalion.

One year previously a picnic organized by both organizations had been planned, but adverse weather had kept the attendance very low, and money was lost.

The police and the bandsmen were determined to try again to organize a picnic which would pay off debts from the previous picnic, and hopefully raise substantial money to pay for new instruments for the band, and new acquisitions for the police library.

The day of the picnic was hot but dry and things looked good for attendance at Dundurn. A pro baseball game was scheduled, numerous band concerts throughout the day and a full schedule of athletic events was planned, including a tug-of-war between the police and fire departments.

However, the best laid plans were negated by something the firemen at Dundurn could not ignore:

“It was while the department was at Dundurn that an alarm came from box 27, corner of King and Wellington streets, at 2:40 o’clock. A telephone message was sent to Dundurn and the department started for the spot. The Bay street hose wagon was the first to arrive. It got there fifteen minutes after the alarm was rung. The other wagons, hose, reel, truck and steam fire engine arrived a few minutes afterwards. When the department got there the

                   FIRE WAS FIECRELY BURNING

in the rear of 172 and 174 King street east, premises owned by Ald. Doran and occupied by A. Swayzie as a flour and feed store, and by Thomas Stern as a butcher and green grocer’s shop. The rooms above Stern’s butcher shop were lived in by William Snaith. The fire started in the stables in the rear. How? Nobody knows. A spark from a passing engine, a match, a cigar, the work of an incendiary. All are possible. It started anyhow. The stables were of pine, dry as tinder and filled with inflammable material. The flames had gained good headway before they were discovered. The alarm was rung, and people in the immediately vicinity put in their spare time carting out household goods and stuff from the stables. The stables spread down either side of the yard. In one of them was the horse and some hay and straw. The horse was tied. It broke loose from the stall,

                             DASHED THROUGH THE FLAMES

and was saved A sleigh, a wagon, one set of single harness and a set of double harnesses were burned. The flames could not be controlled. They had spread up to the houses before the department arrived, and did a good deal of damage before they could be subdued. But after the firmen got there, it was not long before they got the best of it. Both stables are totally wrecked. The rear portion of the houses is badly burned, and the stock in both stores is in bad shape. Mr. Swayzie carried $1,700 on his furniture, stock and the contents of his stables, and he expects that his loss will reach this figure. Mr. Stern had no insurance on his stock. Mr. Snaith had none on his furniture. Both stock and furniture are almost

                             ENTIRELY BURNED

and Mr. Stern’s loss is all the harder to bear, because only a week or so since, he laid out $100 in fixing his little shop up.” 1

1 “Gone Up in Smoke”

Hamilton Spectator     June 15, 1885.



 It had been hard work for the Hamilton firemen to knock down the blaze, but when it was effectively out, they had to go work once again:

“The wind was blowing a gale from the sou’west and it carried sparks, smoke and cinders high in the air, where they fluttered and fell. About 3:30, the flames were got under control, the steam engine was being hauled back to the central station, and the boys were making ready to go when a breathless messenger came with the information that Fearman’s pork factory on Rebecca street was in flames. The steam engine was sent for and the department hustled around to the place as fast as they could. Mr. Fearman’s establishment was on Rebecca street, between Ferguson avenue and Wellington street.

                             IT COVERED EIGHT LOTS,

110 feet deep. It comprised three buildings, A, B, and C departments. A was the one of red brick nearest to Wellington street, and was used principally for rendering lard. In the southwest corner of it was the ‘cooler’ or ice house, beneath which an immense amount of meat was in pickle in large pickling vats. Department C, the building at the west, was the principal storehouse. There was another immense cooler in this place, in which thousands of tons of ice were packed, and meat and lard was packed and hanging on the ground and upper floor all around it. In the central building was the office and a small room used for retailing goods in the wintertime, and three large smoke houses. The rest of the place was utilized for cutting up meat and the wall and rafters were covered with meat in casings.

                             THE FIRE STARTED

at the southwest corner of the roof of this building. Mr. Frank Fearman, who runs the office at the factory, had been over at the fire on King street. He stayed there until it was nearly out, and came back to see if all was right at the factory, the direction of the wind making him fear that sparks might set the roof on fire. He walked around and got up through a window on the roof and made the discovery that his fears were correct. The roof was on fire. Men in Brennen’s lumber yard adjoining had seen the flames and were trying to put it out with buckets of water. But this was useless. A spark had evidently got in through a window in the garret, and had set fire to some paper bags lying immediately inside. The flames spread

                             ALONG THE DRY RAFTERS

and had burned a hole through the roof before the men in Brennen’s yard discovered them. Instead of giving the alarm in the office, they tried to douse it out by pouring on buckets of water. When Mr. Fearman discovered how things were, he rushed back to the office and telephoned to the house, the retail store on Macnab street and the telephone office.

“In the meantime, the flames had made immense headway. They swept down the roof, gathering volume with every foot, and, in a very few minutes, the whole upper part of the building was on fire.                                                                                         Young Mr. Fearman and all the men in the building got upstairs endeavoring to save the stock. They stuck to it until the smoke drove them out. An immense crowd gathered quickly, and a number of them

                             VOLUNTEERED THEIR AID

and helped to get the stuff away from the flames. A good deal was got out in pretty good condition. It consisted mainly of lard in tubs, and hams and bacon in casings. With every moment, the fire grew stronger. The heavy wind fanned the flames, and the most strenuous efforts of the firemen could not check the advance. The people across the road and for several blocks around, felt that the fire would not be particularly slow about stretching the street. They moved their household furniture out. Rebecca, King William, Wellington and Wilson streets were loaded with goods. Wilson street was so thickly covered that it was almost impassable, and a horse and buggy could not get down King William street from the railway track to Wellington. Several times the roofs of the houses on Rebecca street, across the road

                             FROM FEARMAN’S FACTORY

got on fire, and one stream of water was kept playing on them all the time, going from roof to roof. It was difficult work to keep the fire from spreading from the flying sparks and cinders. But the work was well-done and happily it was confined to the factory. The immediate locality is full of small houses, most of them old and dry, and if the fire had once got its grip in there, the result would have been decidedly disastrous. The roof of the Canada Clock company’s building on Kelly street ignited from a blazing brand, but a little water speedily discouraged the ambitious aspirant. Altogether the roofs of fifty houses in that locality must have started to burn, prompt doses of water making them take it out in starting

          “While the upper portion of the factory was in flames, and effort was made to save stuff on the ground floors. People turned in and worked hard. They succeeded in getting a good deal out of the way, but it was all more or less damaged by fire and water. The stuff was taken into a yard across the road, and piled there until teams could come and take it away. About an hour after the fire had started, the walls of department B fell in, floors and everything coming down with a mighty crash. The smoke houses alone were left. Some 5,000 pieces of meat were in these, but it is all damaged and of little or no use. The fire was blazing fiercely here and in department A. In both of these departments, there was a good deal of valuable plant, including four iron tanks

                                      FOR RENDERING LARD,

and machinery for cutting up the meat. The plant altogether values at about $20,000, and from present prospects, it will not be fit for much beyond old iron. Department A was used principally for rendering lard, though a good deal of meat was stowed there. There were, in all, about 800 tierces of meat, each holding about 300 pounds. A good deal of this was destroyed. There were also between 4,000 and 5,000 ham, some 500 of which were saved, though some of these are more or less damaged. Through the building were some 200 pickling tanks. A number of these were under the ‘cooler’ in the east section of the building. It was thought at first that these would be saved, but the flames got underneath, and, with the water, probably made the contents of the vats of little value. After the central part of the building had gone in and the east section was seen to be

                             A MASS OF FLAMES,

the attention of the firemen was directed principally to save the west section, used as a storehouse. As before stated, there is an immense ‘cooler’.  In this department. In the upper story there, between 1,500 and 2,000 tubs of lard were stored, and on the ground floor some 10,000 sides of bacon and other meats, the estimated value of which is $70,000. A great deal of the lard is melted and useless. The exact condition of the meat stored on the ground floor has not yet been ascertained, but it is probable that there is some damage to it. The walls of this building are left standing, but the roof is completely gone, as is also the roof of the east portion of the building. In these latter portions, parts of the walls still stand, but they are unsafe and liable to fall at any moment. The firemen worked with a will, and on towards evening had the flames pretty well under control, though it was

                                      AFTER MIDNIGHT

before any of them left, and nearly 2 o’clock before they all left. The chief put on a gang of relief men who kept the water playing on the smouldering ruins the rest of the night. Every inch of hose in the department was in use, and hose from several large factories was pressed into service. Several times, the line that stretched across the street caught on fire through bits of burning wood falling on it, and when the chief discovered this, he had the line soused with water every few minutes to keep it in shape. A couple of hydrants burst, and a hose burnt once. The water pressure was good. The stand pipe was put on at the reservoir, and

                             GOOD STRONG STREAMS

were obtainable all the time. The steam fire engine did splendid service. It was stationed on King William street, and two lines of hose stretched from it.”1

                The Fearman’s factory fire attracted a lot of attention:

“While the fire was at its height, the greatest confusion and excitement reigned for blocks around. The streets were thronged with people. Now and then a shout would come that someone’s house was on fire, and the vast crowd would surge down the street, only to come back after a moment’s absence. This was repeated a dozen times through the afternoon. In Brennen’s lumber yard, men were busily engaged piling lumber on Grand Trunk railway wagons and carting it out of the way. So great was the excitement that the men didn’t seem to care whether they were hit or not. A board was tossed down from the top of a pile.

                             IT CAUGHT A MAN

in the small of the back and felled him to the ground. At any other time, he would have imagined himself hurt, but he was too busy to consider a little thing like that just then. He picked himself up and went on with his work. A good deal of damage was done to household furniture in the streets. Men and wagons dashed over it, crockery was sashed and sections of chairs, beds and bedding lay everywhere.”1

Hamilton firemen, as usual, were fully up to the task they faced with the Fearman’s fire:

          “The firemen worked like heroes, and yesterday they were all more or less played out after their severe exertions. Faces and hands

                                      BLISTERED AND BLACKENED

with the heat, singed hair and eyebrows and bruises from falling timbers are a few of the things they carry around as mementoes of their work. Poor George Brewster, foreman of the central station, was badly hurt. He was standing on a lean-to at the back of the central section of the building directing a stream of water through a window, when the frail structure came down with a crash. Brewster sprained both his ankles severely, and was badly bruised around the body. He was unable to stand and had to be carried to his home.”1

The owner of the factory, one of the biggest of its type in Canada at the time, was approached :

“Mr. Fearman was seen by a Spectator reporter yesterday. He was unable to give exact figures, but estimated that his total loss at between $150,000 and $200,000, about $100,000 of which is covered by insurance.  The loss is principally on stock and machinery. Fortunately, the books are saved. Mr. Frank Fearman had presence of mind to lock them in the fire proof safe, which appears to be all right. Mr. Fearman said : ‘I have just finished making improvements in the building and additions to my plant which cost me $4,000. I had some new rendering tanks at the station. It was very lucky that I did not bring them up before and have them placed in position.’

“ ‘Will you rebuild your factory on the old site?’

“ ‘I cannot say. Inducements are being held out to be to go to other places, and whether we will remove to Toronto, go to the States or remain in Hamilton we have not yet decided. We will start again tomorrow morning as well as we can, and for the present have engaged Simpson, Stuart & Co.’s old warehouse. Necessarily we cannot begin to fill orders as we did before, and

                             A BIG PORTION OF THE LOSS

will be in the stoppage to business. People turned out bravely to help to get the stock out. To them my most heartfelt thanks are due. Men came to me Saturday and gave me their hands and their sympathy, and that was worth more to me than money.’ ”1

          The Spectator concluded its coverage of the fire with the following notes:

          “There were a number of nails of salt-peter in the building. It is strange that none of them exploded.

          “Thomas Chappell, Mr. Fearman’s foreman, was almost suffocated while helping to take stock out of the burning building.

          “A new mill for grinding bones had just been put in the factory, though it was not set up. It cost $230, and is now worth just what it will fetch as old iron.

          “It is but fair to Chief Aitchison to say that he would not allow the department to take part in the picnic Saturday, until the market, fire and police committee instructed him to do so.

          “Charles Peebles, a young lad residing at 113 Hunter street east, met with a rather serious accident at the fire. A roof in falling struck him, inflicting a deep scalp wound and bruising his head and body. Dr. Bingham attended him, and he is now recovering.

          “It is a wonder that the firemen managed to confine the flames as they did. The high wind blew burning brands blocks away, and cinders made the streets black. It was only the greatest care that prevented the sweep of the score of frame cottages north and northeast of the factory.

“C. J. Bird, 82 John street south, had a small fire in his house Saturday. The children were playing with matches in an upstairs bedroom, and the clothes on fire. Mr. William Hill, employed in his brother’s grocery next door, rushed in and put it out.

“C. H. Dempster, 13 Catharina street, called out the department at 4 o’clock yesterday morning. Some blazing soot had fallen down the chimney and the fire board had ignited. He got it out without any difficulty and before the department got there.

“A small frame house in the rear of coal oil Johnny’s house on King William street was set on fire three times Saturday while the big fire was in progress. Straw was piled up in a corner and ignited. P. C. Strongman discovered it each time and put it out. The people in the house had vacated.

“It is said that there was insufficient police protection through the night and that a great many hams and sides of bacon were stolen by people in the neighborhood. The police arrested several alleged offenders in this respect yesterday. Common stealing is bad enough, but stealing under these circumstances is the very quintessence of dishonesty.”1

As for the picnic at Dundurn, the fires not only drew the firemen away, they also drew a huge number of citizens to watch the excitement, keeping attendance low. The policemen and bandsmen lost money again.


Friday, 13 April 2018

1885-06-15 LondonVSHamilton Fans


In the Canadian Baseball League, during the 1885 season, the rivalry between the City of London and the City of Hamilton was not confined to how the game was played by the pro players of each of the teams.

There were accusations back and forth between the sports reporters in the London and Hamilton newspapers regarding how the home fans in each city behaved themselves.

Case in point was the following written in the London Free Press :

“ The correspondent of the Spectator with the Clippers should learn to tell the truth, which he doesn’t do when he says that :

‘The crowd (at the recent match) favored the Londons and hooted the Clippers’ good plays.’ The club is not responsible for the exclamations of the youthful hoodlums who sneak into the grounds. – London Free Press.”

Of course, the Spectator reporter would not let such an insult pass without a response. In the Spectator coverage of a recent London-Primrose game, the Spectator young man wrote:

“Now there was a tuneful delegation of Londoners here on Saturday. They were well-dressed and did not seem, on the surface of them, to be hoodlums. They cheered the good plays of the Londons in the orthodox style, and with more than usual lustiness. But when the Primroses made a good play, these London gentlemen, with much sonorousness and unction, remarked, ‘Boo-oo-oo! Boo-oo-oo !’ And this same thing, in London, probably misled the Spectator’s correspondent. In Hamilton, it is customary to applaud both sides in the same manner, by the clapping of hands, cheering, thumping of walking sticks, and things like that. In London, it seems, a distinction is made, just as a difference is found in the uniforms of the teams. The London players are applauded in the usual style, and the foreigners, by way of giving them extra encouragement, are treated to extraordinary applause that is found in London, ‘Boo-oo-oo’ An inexperienced person, not accustomed to that invigorating style of applause, might easily fall into the error that the Spectator’s correspondent was guilty of, and mistake the Boo business for lowdown, hoodlum hooting. In London, it was formerly the habit to encourage visiting players by pelting them with stones and things, but that style necessitated too much exertion on the part of the applauders, who have now adopted the more elegant and equally effective Boo.”1

1 “The World of Sport : Items of Interest to the Noble Fraternity”

Hamilton Spectator     June 15, 1885.

As part of the Spectator sporting correspondent’s detailed account as to how the game was played, how the scoring unfolded, he said:

““That the Londons are good players cannot be doubted, and that they are able to play good ball under surprising circumstances is a guarantee that they have lots of sand. For they played well, Saturday, and they must have been violently surprised at the conduct of the audience. Their good plays were applauded, there was no hooting, no gang of hoodlums threw sand or tried to trip them with bats as they ran bases, no crowd of boys gathered about their fielders to prevent them taking flies. These things must have astonished people accustomed to London audiences, and the additional astonishments of a first-class ground, and an elegant stand, must have tried their nerves sorely. But they stood it all and played a strong game. There was some excellent play on both sides, and the scoring of runs was managed in such a manner as to make the game quite enjoyable.”1






Thursday, 5 April 2018

1885-06-11 Ferris' Dog


Other than Police Chief A. D. Stewart, there was no man on the Hamilton police force who garnered more attention from the Hamilton press than Constable Peter Ferris.

By 1885, Peter Ferris, of Irish heritage, had been a Hamilton policeman for about thirty years, having the honor of wearing Badge Number 1. After being a part of the security team hired by the Great Western Railway company to control the navies hired to build the line through the Hamilton area during the early 1850s, Peter became a member of the Hamilton police force.

Renowned for never backing down from physically engaging with those he wanted to arrest, Peter Ferris was also a colorful presence on the streets of Hamilton and in the Hamilton police court.

On June 11, 1885, yet another article focusing on Peter Ferris appeared in the Spectator, this one not related to his police work:

 “Peter Ferris, philosopher and policeman, patriarch and majestic in mien and manner, has a dog. He keeps it chained in the back yard at his house. People who have seen the dog describe it as a bully sort of young fellow, and it is quite evident from the dog’s appearance that when he undertakes to do anything, he does it with a here-II-stick-or-die air about him that is very convincing. Albeit, when he has no particular business on hand, he is as quiet and serene and peaceful as the little lambs that gambol gleefully in the grassy meadows; and the murmur of his voice is seldom heard at dreary or any other midnight’s witching hour. But yesterday morning, Mr. Ferris received a postal card, inscribed as follows:

“ ‘HAMILTON, June 10. Peter Ferris – Dear Sir: You would confer a great benefit on your neighbors if you would keep your dog quiet in the sleeping hours of the night. Hoping you will take the hint,

                                                Yours,

                                                          A Lover of Quietness.’

“Mr. Ferris objects to receiving pseudonymous postal cards. And he shrewdly guesses the reason for this. The neighbors all say the dog is quiet. But Mr. Ferris keeps in his back yard, along with the dog and chain, and various other things, an apple tree. The fruit on it is of a particularly fine quality. The youngsters love to steal it. Putting two and two together, Mr. Ferris concludes that the card emanated from some young man whose ambition is to steal apples, and who will be suddenly choked off  in his attempt by the energetic bulldog. He has been on the police force too long to be fooled by any postal card.”1

1  ““Peter Ferris’ Dog”

Hamilton Spectator     June 11, 1885.

Wednesday, 4 April 2018

1885-06-09 Disgraceful Day at Dundurn


In 1885, Dundurn Castle was still a private residence, but the grounds, known only as Dundurn,  around it, were leased out annually for public events. The Lessee would in turn would hire out use of the property for events such as society picnics.

Usually the events were peaceful, and people would pay an entrance fee to watch a baseball game, hear a band concert, do some dancing on a big outdoor platform set up for that purpose or many other activities.

However, on June 8, 1885, Dundurn was leased for the day by members of the cigar-makers’ union. Hamilton at the time had several cigar factories, and the union had gone on strike against all of them at once. Some of the factories hired replacement workers in order to carry on operations.

As the Spectator coverage of the June 8, 1885 event began, the wisdom of hiring out the grounds to a labor union during a tense time proved to be unwise :

““The cigar-makers’ picnic held at Dundurn yesterday was the most disorderly and disgraceful affair of the kind that has been held in Hamilton for years. It was numerously attended by members of the various labor organizations who sympathize with the striking cigar-makers’ union, and too many of these allowed their enthusiasm to get the better of their discretion.”1

1 ““A Disorderly Picnic”

Hamilton Spectator     June 9, 1885.

There was a baseball game scheduled to be played that afternoon between the two Hamilton teams in the Canadian Baseball League, the Primroses and the Clippers.

          The situation was reasonably orderly at Dundurn until after the game was finished then degenerated :

          “Young men, who are ordinarily sober and respectable and well-behaved, were to be seen and heard toward evening, in every part of the ground, in various stages of intoxication and misbehaving themselves in a variety of ways. Several small fights occurred during the afternoon, and in the evening some serious encounters took place.”1

                There had been a new grandstand built for baseball fans to watch the games at Dundurn and under the stands, a bar had been set up. That was where an outbreak of violence took place :

 “From what can be learned of this lamentable affair, it would seem that John Dillon, a moulder, is chiefly to blame for it. He was sufficiently under the influence to be quarrelsome, and had had words with several persons during the afternoon. He and Robert Tindill, the well known baseball player, were standing together near the bar, in the rear of the grandstand, when, according to a bystander, Dillon wantonly and without provocation addressed Tindill in grossly insulting language. Tindill resnted the insult, and words were quickly followed by blows. Dillon was knocked down; but, springing to his feet, he drew his pock-knife and made a thrust at Tindill. The blade passed through Tindill’s cheek, inflicting a painful wound. A young man named Thomas Wood, in attempting to separate the combatants, was also stabbed by Dillon. His nose was pierced through and he got a gash in the right side of his face near the mouth. Another young man, named Penfold, who attempted to quell the row, was also stabbed by Dillon in the hand, and still a fourth party whose name could not be learned, had a taste of the knife. Before any further trouble was done, Detective Campbell and Constable Limin stopped the melee by arresting Dillon. He was quickly taken off the grounds and conveyed to the police cells, and the wounded men were taken home. None of the wounds inflicted by Dillon are dangerous, but those received by Tindill and Wood will probably prove troublesome.”1

The police then sent in reinforcements to try to main order  but situation had got out of hand :

“In the evening, fourteen police officers were on the grounds, but in spite of their presence, there was a good deal of fighting, the combatants being separated on the approach of an officer. Only two arrests were made for disorderly conduct – Charles O’Brien and John T. Sullivan.

“A few non-union cigar-makers foolishly attended the picnic, and inflamed the passions of the union by their presence. They were chased , and at least two of them – John Minkler, an employee of Reid and Goering, and Emile Smith – were badly beaten. Smith managed to escape from his assailants, but Minkler was less fortunate. He was found between 7 and 8 o’clock by Chief Stewart and a constable lying insensible alongside the road, near the toll-gate, literally bathed in blood, his face and head cut and swollen, and his body covered with bruises. The poor fellow was resuscitated and carried to his boarding house. He could give little information as to his assailants, but was certain that union cigar-makers were among them.”1

As usual, there the day’s entertainments including a concert and a place for dancing but:

“The Independent band gave an excellent concert in the pavilion in the evening and Nelligan’s string band furnished music for dancing; but the concert did not appear to be appreciated, and the dancing platform was not well-patronized.”1

In the aftermath, it was decided that Dundurn would not be automatically leased to whomever applied but that the manager would be expected to ensure that only respectable organizations would be allowed to lease the park.