Thursday, 30 July 2015

1884-02-07 Chronic Diseases Cured

It was, for the time, a very large advertisement in the Hamilton press.
       In the Hamilton Weekly Times, the ad appeared on Thursday, February 7, 1884.
  The advertisement notified Hamiltonians that beginning the following Monday morning, February 11 through to Saturday February 16, surgeons employed by the Drs. K. and K. U.S. Medical and Surgical Association would be present at the St. Nicholas.
          In the center of the ad was a large box containing, on the right, an engraving of  John D. Keegan, M. D., President and Medical Superintendent of the association, and , on the left a depiction of the association headquarters, located at the corner of Michigan avenue and Griswald street in Detroit, Michigan.
          Above the illustrations, it was noted that the association had been organized in 1878, and incorporated in 1883, that “Chronic Diseases Cured , Deformities Successfully Treated by 18 Experienced Specialists."
          Hamiltonians were urged to call in at the St. Nicholas Hotel at any time during the scheduled times when the surgeons were available. The following was the description of those in particular who were urged to get advice:
          “WOMEN suffering from ailments peculiar to their sex, MEN suffering from the effects of exposure, OLD and YOUNG MEN suffering from the results of excess and indiscretion,  PARENTS whose children inherit a scrofulous predisposition, those of ALL AGES and BOTH SEXES who suffer from any chronic disease, from deformity of any description or from any Cancerous, Consumptive, Nervous or Rheumatic Complaint should consult them.”
The bulk of the advertisement included testimonials of cures which were made by the surgeons of the association.
One testimonial was placed at the beginning of the series, one from a Hamiltonian:
“Mrs. Geo. M. Franklin, 65 Hunter street, Hamilton, Ont. Suffered from torpid liver, congested kidneys, ulceration and falling of the womb, weakness and palpitation of the heart, dyspepsia and catarrh. She complained of pains in the left side, and biliousness; pain over kidneys, headache and cold feet; inability to sleep on the left side; back very weak, feeling ‘as if there was a load against it’ in the morning; ached from small of back to knees; often felt as if her heart would stop and as if she would smother. Had also every symptom of female weakness.
“After her case had been abandoned as hopeless by several physicians, she took treatment of Drs. K. & K., who speedily CURED her. She says: ‘ Benefit my suffering sisters by publishing the facts of my case.’ ”
In case any skeptics, the proprietors of the association committed to provide other references on request, including those from those who had suffered from “Female Weakness, Bronchial and Lung Disease, Dyspepsia, Amaurosis and General Nervous Debility.”


Tuesday, 28 July 2015

1884-01-21 Trotting on the Refrozen Surface of the Bay

“Pursuant to postponement from Wednesday, the winter meeting under the auspices of the Hamilton Trotting Association was continued on Burlington Bay Friday afternoon. The weather was all that could be desired, and the new track which had been laid out by the committee was one of the finest that has been seen on ice in Canada.”
Hamilton Weekly Times. January 21, 1884.
Despite valiant efforts to hold the scheduled Hamilton Trotting Association’s event on Wednesday January 1884, the slushy, watery surface above the thick ice below precluded a safe, fair contest.
Two days later, the weather had co-operated in that the temperature, particularly during the overnight hours, had dropped substantially:
“The contrast between the appearance of things on the opening day and yesterday was most striking. On Wednesday, biped and quadruped alike was almost knee-deep in water and slush, yesterday solid ice predominated over the entire surface of the bay, and no matter where they drove, horsemen had a feeling of perfect security.”
“Hamilton Trotting Association : Opening of the Winter Meeting on Burlington Bay Wednesday : A Slushy, Watery Track"
Hamilton Weekly Times.    January 21, 1884.
The conditions on the Wednesday had alarmed many of those present who might not have been familiar with the Hamilton bay during the wintertime:
“On Wednesday, biped and quadruped alike was almost knee-deep in water and slush yesterday solid ice predominated over the entire surface of the bay, and no matter where they drove, horsemen had a feeling of perfect security. Of course, at this season of the year, the ice on Burlington Bay generally reaches a thickness of 18 or 20 inches, but when this fact is not generally known, and when a considerable quantity of water is everywhere visible, it is little wonder, as was the case on Wednesday, that people felt nervous in localities where the crowds do most congregate on such occasions.1
Two days later, it was a much different, less unsettling, track on the bay which was seen by thousands of spectators who attended the event:
“There were, as already been intimated, no grounds for such fears yesterday, and from the first ringing of the bell at 2 o’clock sharp until the gathering shades of evening compelled cessation of proceedings, the sport was carried on uninterruptedly.
“If there were 2,000 spectators present on the opening day, fully twice that number witnessed the races yesterday. All kinds of vehicles were pressed into service by all kinds of people, from the roughly constructed country “jumper” to the most fashionable equipages belonging to leading citizens.
“A great many ladies graced the gathering with their presence, and seemed to enjoy the proceedings as much as their companions of the sterner sex.”1
It was an event that involved trotting horses, not racing horses but as there was considerable gambling going on, drivers and their backers tried for every advantage that could be attained:
“Considerable interest was taken in all the events, and the anxious looks of the hundreds who surrounded the judges’ stand prior to the hanging out of the blackboard at the conclusion of each heat betokened that a great deal of money had been invested in pools.”1
With so much money being changed hands, there were accusations occasionally that some corrupt goings-on had taken place.
One horse, Butcher Boy, was the focus of many suspicions :
“A scene of excitement occurred opposite the stand. It was declared by the backers of Butcher Boy that his driver was making no effort to win. One gentleman asserted that the man had received $100 to ‘pull’ the horse, and the driver of one of the other horses stated that Butcher Boy had been kept on a gentle jog along the far side of the track.
“The judges were requested to change the driver, and Johnny Gillespy was put up behind the Boy for the remainder of the trot.”
In the next heat, with a new driver, Butcher Boy, was the winner:
          “Butcher Boy was the only one that kept his feet throughout the heat, and he, too, did a little running down the home stretch. Frank F. passed the judges’ stand first, but after consultation the judges decided to credit the heat to Butcher Boy, making him winner of the trot. Frank F. was marked second, Pirate third, George B. fourth and Keenan fifth.
“The result, of course, gave unbounded satisfaction to the owner and backers of Butcher Boy, but the very reverse to those who had put their up their money on Frank F. These latter surrounded the stand, and in language which was far from parliamentary, pointed out to the judges the lack of fairness which had characterized their decisions.”1
The Times reporter was near the judge’s stand when the dispute over the judge’s decision was at its most intense. Writing his report back at the office, the following is how he recounted the angry words as remembered:
“ ‘In the first place, judges, you had no business to recognize the horse (Frank F.) at all, if you had determined to treat him in that way. I and scores of others put up our money under the impression that it was a fair deal, but I have it on excellent authority that a friend of one of the judges has money up on Butcher Boy and that this judge promised to see him win. It is downright robbery, and you know it.’ ”
“The irate sport was asked to mention the name of the guilty judge and pointed out Mr. Whitely, of Seaforth. That gentleman positively declared that he had not a cent at stake on any of the events, and there is little doubt that he was speaking the truth. The backers of Frank F. then asked that all pools should be declared off, but the judges refused to take this course. “1
While the early competitions involved horses, drivers and wagons from many parts of the province, the final trot involved only local participants.
The “Local Trot” as it was called was not without controversy as well, particularly the matter of trotting versus running :
“The horses for this event were then rung up, and eleven instead of thirteen who were in the trot at the beginning put in an appearance.
Second Heat – With so many horses and a track narrowed down to the smallest limit by a wall of stubborn humanity, it is little wonder that the drivers had difficulty in getting away in any kind of decent shape. From the shape of the track, it was also difficult for the one on the stand to follow the several competitors closely with the naked eye, and determine just what horses were behaving rightly at the father end.
Third Heat – After three attempts the horses were allowed to go, and in the annals of the turf such a trotting match was never before seen, and for the credit of trotting in Canada, it is hoped that there will never be a repetition of it.
“ ‘Why,’ said Mr. Hinds, ‘that is a running race!’ ‘That’s just what it is,’ sighed Mr. Dickenson, while Mr. Whitely said nothing, but was a-thinking deeply all the while.
“Meanwhile every horse galloped round the course for all he was worth, amidst the hurrahs of the multitude. The drivers called up in front of the stand and Mr. Hinds reminded them that it was trotting – not running – the people had come to see, and warned them not to repeat the exhibition, or every mother’s son of them would be ‘sent to the barn.’ The blackboard when it was next shown bore the legend ‘No heat.’
“Fourth Heat – The drivers acted better this time, leaving very little room for complaint on the score of running.
“Fifth Heat – “Several false starts made the judges assert themselves, and certain of the drivers were warned if they did not quit their ‘monkeying’ fines would be imposed under association rules. The warning seemed to have the desired effect, and at the next attempt, they were sent away.”1
Considerable money changed hands and unlike the incident involving Butcher Boy, there was no questioning of the judging.
The Times reporter ended his account of the Hamilton Trotting Association’s 1884 meeting with several miscellaneous observations he made while out on the ice:

Notes and Incidents

Mr. Thomas Armstrong performed the duties of starter, and Mr. Abraham Swayze, those of patrol judge, very efficiently.

“The judges say there never before was such a large turnout at a race meeting on Hamilton.

“Scores of skaters, amongst them some females, enjoyed themselves on the bay during the afternoon. Some of them, time and again, boldly crossed the track almost beneath the horses’ feet.

“A man named Bridgwood showed his lack of sense and humanity by galloping his span of small horses, with a large crowd in a band sleigh, up and down the ice throughout the afternoon. As he was varying the diversion  by driving the poor jaded beasts up the hill near the G.T.R., the double-tree broke and the sleigh slid back. More than one who witnessed the mishap said they would have had no sympathy with Bridgwood had his neck been cracked.

“At about 3:30 a horse belonging to Mr. Cooper, grocer, took fright, threw out his driver, and galloped on the ice easterly along the Great Western wharves. Ayoung man caught hold of the sleigh and was about to secure the reins and attempt to stop the animal, when he thought of the sewer and abandoned his efforts. In another instant, the horse had plunged into the opening on the ice. An immense crowd rushed to the scene, and it is very well that the ice in the vicinity of the sewer did not give way to the pressure. If it had, a thousand people would have been drowned.

“An old man, named Stephen Sealey, who lives on Picton street, was standing on the course with his back to the horses as they were scoring in the 2:30 trot. He was struck by one of the runners on the leg and thrown violently on the ice. The shaft also hit him in the back. In the fall, his head was very severely hurt. Drs. Stark and Anderson attended to him, and when he returned to consciousness, Constable McMahon conveyed him home. Sealey is pretty badly but not seriously hurt. He is well up in years and in poor circumstances.”




Saturday, 25 July 2015

1884-01-31wo Stuck in the Mud on James Street

“It is really wonderful what interest the most trifling incident on the streets will sometimes cause, no matter it is a man being chased by his mother-in-law with a broom-stick, or an overloaded vehicle stuck in the mud and snow.”

          Hamilton Weekly Times.   January 31, 1884.

          January 1884’s weather in the Hamilton area had been characterized by substantial snow storms. Towards the end of the month, a mild spell had melted quite a bit of the accumulated snow.

          In downtown Hamilton where the street traffic was always heavy, the melted snow make for terrible driving conditions as the thoroughfares were basically churned up mud.

          Hamilton’s James Street was one of the routes used by the Hamilton Street Railway whose horse-drawn cars followed along a track in the middle of the street.

          One morning in January 1884, a wagon was proceeding on James street, near the Main street intersection, when the driver noticed a Hamilton Street Railway car approaching :

          “A span of ordinary-looking nags, attached to a load of manure, in being turned out to permit a north-bound car to pass, stuck fast in the ditch opposite Messrs. Brown, Balfour & Co..

“They were coaxed and beaten in turn, but refused to budge an inch. Finally the driver gave up in despair.”1

1 “A Teamster’s Troubles : County Councillors Baffled By a Baulky Horse : Laughable Incident on James Street”

Weekly Times.    January 31, 1884.

The Hamilton Street Railway driver decided to lend assistance by having his horses pull the wagon out of the ditch. His horses were unhitched and the car moved:

“The result was that the car was moved to Main street, fronting the Hamilton Club. While this was going on the passengers in the car were meekly waiting for the return of the equines to draw them northward. But they did deem the time misspent as they gazed out of the windows at the fun.”1

The situation not only attracted the interest of the HSR passengers but it also “tickled the risibles of a great many passersby”1

Even though additional horses were attached to help pull the wagon and its horses out of the ditch, one of the first set of horses refused to assist:

“He turned his head around and said, as near as one can get at animal language, ‘I’ll be hanged if I’ll pull a pound.’ And he kept his resolution.” 1

From the ever-growing crowd of onlookers, a few suggestions were forwarded:

“One little fellow proposed that a leathern impetus should be given him from behind. Mr. Lovett, of Ancaster, considered that twisting the bit in his mouth and pulling his head around would make him start. But it didn’t.

“Other members of the county council then arrived on the scene and went into committee of the whole on the situation. One suggested the twisting of his ear. It was done, but the animal merely smiled. The member from Beverly proposed putting mud in the horse’s nose.”1

At this point, a couple of unsuspecting young fellows came riding along on their horses:

“They were made to dismount, and by a long, strong pull, the load was at length dislodged. A great deal of amusement was caused by the efforts of the boys to get back their fiery charges.”1

The well-heeled members of the Hamilton Club at Main and James heard of the matter :

“The episode was watched with interest and much amusement by the gentlemen of the club from the windows of that institution.”1

The Times reporter ended his report on the laughable incident as follows :

“While the affair caused no small amount of amusement to scores of bystanders, it will serve as a warning, doubtless, to the owner of the load never to put on more in future than his horses are able to draw.”1



Friday, 24 July 2015

1884-01-29oo Tenement Roof Collapse

“There was a terrible crash on Napier street on Tuesday between 9 and 10 o’clock, caused by the accumulation of snow on the roofs of the frame tenement houses, Nos. 33, 35, 37 and 39, which broke the rafters and let the mass down upon the inmates.”

          Hamilton Weekly Times.   January 31, 1884.

          There had been a lot snowfall throughout the month of January, 1884. Finally on January 29, the load of snow which had piled on the roof of four adjoining tenement houses on the north side of Napier street, just west of Bay street, proved too much.

          A reporter for the Hamilton Times provided a full account of the effects of the incident on the residents, starting with no. 133 :

“It seems that the first crash took place at No. 133, occupied by Mr. Richard Bulton, laborer. Mrs. Boulton told the reporter that she and her husband were at the stove in the kitchen, preparing to go to bed, when the ceilings of the front rooms came down with a crash

“Two of the younger children were in bed (in the room off the kitchen); the eldest girl was sitting up. None of them were hurt, although the shock was terrible. They ran screaming from the house.

“It is certainly fortunate that the Boltons were in the kitchen at the time of the disaster; ten minutes later, they would have been in the bedrooms, and if the roof had fallen in then, they could not have escaped instant death.”1

                 1    “Four Tenement Houses : Have Their Roofs Smashed in By the Snow Narrow Escape of the Inmates.”

Hamilton Weekly Times.   January 31, 1884.

At the address next door to the Boltons, there were seven members of the Burns family at home:

“Mr. Jospeh Burns is an invalid through rheumatism. He with his wife and five children were in bed when the cave-in occurred. It happened almost immediately after that at the adjoining house.

“The eldest girl was in the front room, reading at the time, and her escape was a most miraculous one. One of the heavy beams fell across the bed where Mr. and Mrs. Burns were lying. He escaped, but she received an awful blow on the shoulder. Their little daughter, Margaret, received a nasty cut on the left eye from one of the falling timbers.

“The Burns are in destitute circumstances. Mrs. Burns said to the reporter : ‘Oh, sir, we have no home, no shelter, no victuals, and, as you see, we are out in the snow.’

“This is certainly a case which is deserving of attention on the part of the charitably disposed.”1

The stories of the families at # 137 and # 139 were similar to those of their neighbors. No one was hurt in either home although Mrs. John Abbey of Toronto, who was visiting her father was somewhat shook up :

“She went into convulsions, through fear, and her life for a time was despaired  of. She is, however, much better today.”1

The next morning, following the roof collapse, there were many who came to look at the damage.

The Times reporter noted that, while quite a number of people were present, there was little practical assistance provided :

“Throughout the forenoon scores of citizens gathered at the shattered tenements, and offered consolations but very little substantial aid was tendered to the sufferers who had been so suddenly deprived of a place to lay their heads on.

“All these people are in very poor circumstances; let those who doubt go and see.

“The Times reporter saw in No. 129 a kind-hearted poor person cooking her last two links of sausage and a couple of potatoes to satisfy the cravings of the homeless children.”!




Saturday, 18 July 2015

1884-01-13oo Trotting on a (sort of) Frozen Bay

Wednesday January 13, 1884 was the date chosen for the opening of the Hamilton Trotting Association’s Winter Meeting to be held on the frozen surface of the bay.

          Unfortunately, the weather had not co-operated as a succession of mild days had turned the track into a slushy, watery mess:

“An excellent track – a full mile in length- had been laid out on the bay, a few hundred years distant from the Great Western wharf.

“This was thoroughly cleared of snow, and Tuesday afternoon foreboded that, insofar as the course was concerned there would be no cause for complaint. But, falling sleet turned to rain, and the effect was an accumulation of slush and water on the surface of the bay, the like of which has not been seen for a good many seasons.”1

1 “Hamilton Trotting Association : Opening the Winter Meeting on Burlington Bay”

1 Weekly Times. February 21, 1884.

Even though conditions for racing were less than ideal, the promoters did not want to disappoint the spectators, judges and horse owners who had turned up fo the event.

All the horses and drivers took their positions at exactly 2 p.m., while a large wooden grandstand which had been built on the ice of the bay was filled to capacity:

“At this time between 2,000 and 2,500 people had assembled on the ice, on the wharves near the emigrant sheds, and on top of the railway cars shunted on the sidings.

“Those on shore – although they might not be able to boast of having as near a view as the others – had decided advantages in many other ways. The water on the track was from one inch and a half to three inches deep, and the operations of an immense snow plow drawn by four horses seemed to aggravate rather than diminish the difficulty. Few of those without long rubber boots escaped wet feet.”1

A man came from Toronto for the races with the intention of winning some races by hiring the best horse locally, but he was dismissive of Hamilton's way of holding such an event :
"Of course the facetious gentleman from Toronto was on hand driving the best horse he could find for hire in the city.
"He reined up opposite Mr. Dunn's hack, and said : 'Well, this is a delicious track anyway. Can't you do better than this in Hamilton when your friends come to see you?'
" 'It's as good as that we saw in Toronto the other day!' replied a testy fellow who never wants to see Hamilton institutions abused.
" ' Well, if I'd a known,' continued the Torontonian, ' I would have brought Ned Hanlan up with me.' "
While many walked through the slush to get near the race course, others were able to be driven to their destination :

“There were scores of conveyances on the ice, and ‘hanging on’ room was cheerfully accorded by their owners to those who had been obliged to ‘foot it’ to the scene.

“Some somewhat ludicrous incidents occurred during the meeting. An east end gardener had his old nag to the fore; of course, a gang of youngsters took the liberty to stand in behind. The old man, on his part, took the liberty to start suddenly, and sent the invading hobbledehoys sprawling in the slush”1


Even the conditions for the spectators were horrid, the crowd seemed to take it all in stride:

“Twenty yards or so from the judge’s stand, a number of planks had been left on the ice; these were taken advantage of and used as a perch by a bevy of interested onlookers.

“When the triangular scraper came swizzing past, it sent the water in torrents  over the poor fellows – but the incident was merely food for laughter.

“The crowd was one of the best-natured, to be suffering from cold, wet feet, that ever collected.”1

Conditions for the horses and drivers were just as bad as those faced by the spectators:

“To one on the grandstand, the noise of the horses splashing through the water resembled that produced by a propeller backing out from a wharf.

“The drivers were almost blinded, and at times could scarcely see where they were driving.”1

After some discussion, the committee members in charge of event decided that it would be better for all if the races were cancelled on condition of the track.




1884-02-14aa Benefit Performance at the Grand

On Thursday evening , February 14, 1884, there was a benefit held at Hamilton’s Grand Opera House in aid of the Thirteenth Battalion Band and the Hamilton Police Department library and reading room fund.

Long before the programme was to begin, a ‘standing room only sign’ was posted at the entrance of the large theater.

The evening performance began with the playing of various selections by the Thirteenth Battalion Band which were well-received. Police Chief A. D. Stewart then made a few introductory remarks, explaining that the purpose of the benefit was to raise funds to help the Thirteenth Band cover its expenses and to purchase books and magazines for the library and reading room at the King William street police station.

The first exhibition on stage was a horizontal bar exercise by Luke Harrison, followed by an encounter with Bowie knives between two combatants who wore steel breast plates and masks.

Next up was three round boxing match, the bout featuring two local amateur boxers, A. E. Jarvis and T. H. Stinson.

Then the schedule called for a fencing contest between Professor McGregor and Police Chief A. D. Stewart:

“Alex. D. proved by his knowledge of fencing that ‘he was no slouch’ as Josh Chapman expressed it, and was adjudged the winner by the referee who was nowhere to be seen.”1

1 “The Assault-At-Arms : Local Dudes on Their Muscle”

Palladium of Labor.  February 15, 1884.

A musical performance was next on the bill.  The number chosen was from the opera bouffe of Guenevive de Brabant, and was sung by a ‘police’ choir which included a few pseudo-members of the force:

“Chief Stewart and three ‘alums’ arrayed in great coats and helmets next appeared to sing the Policeman’s Chorus. The singing was O.K., but the helmets and coats ill-fit three of the songsters. The Chief, and a bank clerk filled the positions of end men. Between these end men stood two little fellows whose craniums were entirely buried by the helmets. They no doubt felt proud when they were encored.”1

After a fine exhibition of fine swordsmanship by Sergeant Morgan of the Kingston Military School, Chief Stewart gave a demonstration of dumb bell exercises:

“Part of the time the Chief used a pair of fifty pound bells, which he handled without the least difficulty. This part of the performance was a great time for the noble chief, and it cannot be disputed. This strong-strong specimen gave exhibitions of his wonderful strength by lifting a man (a small one) with one hand clean off the stage. His fame as a modern Samson is certain to be heralded far and wide.”1

A boxing match followed, featuring R. Martin Jr. and W. Hendrie, two young members of well-known ‘elite’ families. The Palladium of Labor found the match interesting but derisively called the combatants, “light-weight dudes” and “ society sluggers.”

The evening ended with the ever-present Hamilton Police Chief A. D. Stewart in a boxing match against Joe Papp of Toronto.

In the end, the evening was a success as those in attendance enjoyed the show, and substantial moneys were raised for the band and the police library.