Saturday, 19 September 2015

1884-09-12 Runaway Horses - Danger and Damage

Runaway horses were not uncommon in Hamilton’s streets in 1884. While maybe not daily occurrences, they were frequent enough that they were reported in the newspapers only if something exceptional happened or if injuries resulted.
Such was the case with the runaway which happened on September 12, 1884.
Following is the Hamilton Times’ account of the incident:
“Between 11:30 and 12 o’clock this morning, a team belonging to Mr. Case, of Mount Hope, broke away from the Dominion Hotel stables and rushed out of the yard before those standing near realized what was wrong.
“They turned up Charles street, and when they arrived at Mr. Wm. Hendrie’s residence, they were obliged to make another turn. They veered to the west, and then at Park street turned again and continued their mad career down to King.
“After striking against a wagon belonging to Reid’s furniture store, and tearing the shafts therefrom, a man tried to stop them, but the effort only drove them into the Franklin House. The waggon attached to them struck against the two first tie posts and tore them down, but at the third, the vehicle stuck.
“The freed horses started again, and when opposite Grove’s blacksmith shop, knocked down an elderly lady named Mrs. Belford, of 15 Gore street. She was picked up by Mr. Groves and taken into Kavanaugh’s grocery where her injuries were attended to by Dr. Stark. The surgeon found that her arm was broken near the shoulder and that she was otherwise injured by her fall. She was taken to the hospital.
“During the time that the frightened team were going down Park street, many spectators held their breath at the imminent peril the crowds of school children were in, and it is miraculous that none of them were injured.
“Upon inquiry it was learned that no particular event triggered the team in their stall, but it is surmised that being annoyed by flies one of the horses got entangled in his harness and, in his efforts to relieve himself, knocked the sides of the stall down, and that they became frightened at the slattering of the fallen boards. “1
1     “A Runaway Team : Run Down an Old Lady and Break Her Arm.”
Hamilton Times.  September 12, 1884.

1884-09-12 Salvation Army Split and Reconciliation Part 2

September 12, 1884 was an anxious day for all involved in the difficulties in Hamilton’s Salvation Army corps. As the leader of the Salvation Army in Canada had been summoned to try to smooth over the difficulties and reunite the local corps:

“Expectation and excitement reigned amongst Captain Hallelujah Bertha’s supporters all day yesterday. There was anxious doubt among them as to whether at the last moment the major would be induced to accede to the wishes of the malcontents and remove the captain.

It was known that an envoy of the staff had been in the city for the past few days quietly investigating the trouble, but this officer would give no opinion as to the final result.”1

1 “The Salvationist Embroglio : Rousing Meeting at the Barracks Last night.”

Hamilton Times. September 9, 1884.

Hamilton Captain Bertha Smith who was at the center of the controversy may have been very nervous about what would happen when Major Coombs rendered his decision, but she did not show it:

“The captain herself professed to be in ignorance as to the course the major would take, but throughout the whole of the day, she continuously received the encouragements and sympathy of her soldiers. Many of the large number of people who are in the habit of regularly attending the Army services, also expressed their sympathy with her.”1

When the scheduled time arrived for the start of the evening meeting, the air of anticipation was palpable amongst all present:

“Long before the usual time of meeting, eighty of the supporters of Captain Miss Smith assembled in the barracks. They were anxiously awaiting the coming of Major Coombs, who was known to have arrived in the city.

“It appears that the major has had the trouble thoroughly investigated by members of his staff during the past few days, and upon his arrival yesterday he thoroughly enquired into the details of the case. In the evening he heard the complaints from the discontents themselves.

“About  9 o’clock he arrived at the barracks, where he was very anxiously awaited by Captain Bertha and her followers. He was enthusiastically received by the faithful ones.” 2

          2The Salvationist Split”

Hamilton Spectator. September 13, 1884.

The evening meeting had begun with Major Combs in attendance:

“At last, Major Coombs arrived, and he came not one moment too soon. Having received the reports, he proceeded to personally investigate the complaints of the seceders. So much time did he devote to them that he did not arrive at the barracks till about 9 o’clock in the evening.

Here Hallelujah Bertha, her two officers and eighty-one soldiers were awaiting him. He was received with the enthusiastic singing of “There’s a Welcome Home.” Combs had just left the other party, and appeared very sad.”1

Both reporters with the Times and the Spectator appeared to have shorthand skills as their recounting of Major Combs’ address was exactly the same:

“ With great slowness and emphasis, he said : ‘Dear Comrades, I am sorry that anything so serious as this trouble has occurred. No doubt many things have been said which we must all regret, and which causes pain in our hearts. Difficulties have occurred which perhaps can never be got over.

“ ‘I have tried to bring all the soldiers together tonight, but failed. They think that your captain is altogether wrong, and they want her to say farewell to this station. I wish to say that neither you nor they will ever decide what officers you are to have in the Salvation Army. If we are to be an army, we must be obedient. When the proper time arrives, I will remove the captain, but not before that time. (Cheers.) I may be trusted so far.

“ ‘I left our friends tonight feeling very, very sad that they are not with us now, and I know that some of them are sad too. I beg of you not to show any ill or evil spirit towards them; threat them with the utmost kindness, and I feel confident that many will return. My plan was that they should all return as soldiers, but not as sergeants. I will appoint the sergeants in this case.

“ ‘What they say is that the captain is altogether wrong – that they are still the Third Canadian Corps; but what I have to tell you is that this meeting here is part of the Salvation Army, and that you are the Third Canadian Corps, and you only.  (Loud cheers.)

“ ‘Again, I implore you never to allow any disparaging word toward them to escape from you, for the sake of Jesus Christ and them. If anyone speaks so of them, he may cease to reckon himself a Salvation Army soldier. Our religion, recollect, is love, and love only. Never refer to the matter.

“ ‘I charge your captain now to sing down any person who alludes to it. Think of God and God only.

“ ‘The Salvation Army is at Waterdown and will built it. Captain Hardy and a cadet are there; and if you want any help at any time, and I can give it, let me know and you shall have it.

“ ‘I am very sorry that I cannot remain longer with you tonight, as Mrs. Coombs is very ill, and I must immediately return to Toronto. Let us pray.”

“Prayer was then led by the major, and upon its termination, he left the room during the singing of ‘We Shall Conquer All.’ ”1

After the major had left the barracks, a regular holiness prayer meeting was held. During many of the prayer, thanksgiving and support for Captain Bertha Smith’s continued service as leader of the Third Canadian Corps in Hamilton were expressed.:

“She spoke in a calm, easy manner, thanking the soldiers for their strong support during the late trying times, and entreated them to regard their “absent friends” with love and kindness.” 1

While Major Coombs had tried his best to reconcile all parties to the split in the ranks of the Hamilton corps, he was not successful, although he did his best. He did decide to endorse Captain Smith’s continued placement as captain of the corps in no uncertain terms, a ruling that found favor with everyone, excepting the small number of dissidents who continued to disdain any reconciliation.

1884-09-11a Salvation Army Spilt and Resolution - Part One

“There is a fight between the dissentients and the faithful for the two outposts of this station. These outposts are Waterdown and Millgrove.”

Hamilton Spectator.  September 11, 1884.

The split in the ranks of the Hamilton corps of the Salvation Army had manifestations outside of the city proper, even to the rural area in the northern section of Wentowrth. The breakaway section of the Hamilton Army decided to assert themselves in both Waterdown and Millgrove, superseding the influence of the main corps:

“ Sergt. Barrett, the leader of the mutineers, has ‘seized, them, and says  he is determined to hold them until this dispute is settled. He held a meeting in Millgrove on Tuesday night and one in Waterdown last night. Soldiers were sent to both these places from the regular army, but when it was found that the enemy had secured a foothold in both, it was decided to let them remain in possession. Sergt. Barrett claims the honor of opening up these outposts, and he will not give them up without a struggle.”1

1 “The Salvation Army Trouble”

Hamilton Spectator. September 11, 1884.

Back in the city, the main corps, offically known as the Third Canadian Corps, carried on as usual, with the leader, Captain Bertha Smith, still in command:

“Last night the regular army – that is those who have remained faithful to Capt. Smith – held the usual meeting in the barracks. It was well-attended, and the spirit manifested was harmonious. Capt. Bertha, in her address, said that she was in the habit of opening her Bible at random and taking the first passage of scripture that caught her eye as a message or a promise from the Lord. Recently, she opened the Bible, and the first verse she saw was this : “Fret not yourself because of your enemies,” and it comforted her exceedingly. No matter what evil-minded persons might say of her, she was trying to do her duty, and would continue to do it.”1

The division in the ranks of the Hamilton Salvation Army was shown in the fact that while the main army was meeting, the breakaway troops also were meeting in a different location:

“The dissentients turned out last night in smaller numbers than on Tuesday night. They held a meeting in a small upper room in a building on James street, a few doors below Cannon, which has been used as the band’s practising room. Nobody but soldiers were admitted.”1

Meanwhile, the overall leader of the Salvation Army in Canada, who had been fully informed of the schism in the Hamilton Corps was on his way to arbitrate and ultimately decide which side of the dispute would get his support, hopefully leading to a reunification amongst the Hamilton soldiers.

(To Be Continued).

Friday, 18 September 2015

1884-09-11 Circus of 1884 and Circus Memories 50 Years Previously

The engagement of the Forepaugh show in Hamilton  on September 11, 1884 was described a little differently by the Spectator representative than the man from the Times. Each described the circus in great detail, but each had a different take on what they saw.

The street procession in the morning was described in the Spectator as follows :



“The city was outdoors and at windows this morning while the public procession of the great Forepaugh show was moving through the streets. The spectacle was well worth seeing.

"All the cages were beautifully decorated, and several were gorgeous in their gilt and paint, and imposing in their magnitude. There were no less than four bands in the procession – and all playing too.

"The long line of elephants, and the strangely-dressed, strange-looking Orientals, the people mounted on camels, the tame lions loose in their cages, the mounted ladies and knights in armor, the trick horses, the funny clown on his pony, and all the other attractions – passed through the streets before the admiring gaze of thousands of spectators.

"The rear of the procession was brought up by the steam calliope, shrieking out its tunes in the most fiendish manner.”1

1 “The Circus : Forepaugh’s Great and Only on the Street and In the Ring”

Hamilton Spectator. September 11, 1884.

Later the Spectator’s young man proceeded the area of Locke and Hannah (now Charlton) where the circus has set up:

“The first department visited was that of the menagerie. Many rare and costly animals were seen here. They evinced the best of care, and appeared to be well-fed, clean and consequently happy.

          "The central attraction, of course, was the much-talked of white elephant of Siam. Through the courtesy of Chas. Fullford, its keeper, a representative of the SPECTATOR was afforded a thorough  examination of his Oriental majesty.

          "The Light of Asia, as it is called, is smaller than the ordinary elephant, but promises to attain massive proportions, being but six years old. It is of a stone gray hue, or can be likened to the ashes of a Havana cigar. The color is of the same shade over the entire body, save between the forelegs, where the flesh is of a pinkish color, soft and velvety.

          "The Light of Asia possesses the talismanic white toe nails, and in addition to these evidences of its genuineness, it has what is termed a third nostril, “something’” Mr. Fullford said, “never before seen on any elephant, either in this country or in Europe, and pronounced by scientists and Eastern travelers to be peculiar to this species only.”

          "The Light of Asia is symmetrically formed, and is a perfect beauty in appearance. He appears very gentle, and Mr. Fullford states that he is very fond of playing with children.

"Several other animals divided the honors with the white elephant. These are the blue-faced mandrill ( a species of the gorilla), a beautiful giraffe, and hippopotamus.
    "The circus proper teemed with novelties. Acts were given simultaneously in two rings and on an elevated stage. The hippodrome track encircled the whole, these races terminating the performance. Where everything was of such a high order of excellence, it would be invidious to particularize, unless the entire bill was mentioned.

"Among the chief attractions, however, were the performing elephants; the clown elephant; the pretty Hindoo girl’s performance with huge python snakes; the Sallion family’s thrilling aerial act; the trained stallions; the fine acrobatic work of the three Elton brothers; Herr Pagendorfer’s marvelous feats of strength; the bareback riding of Madame Agazzi, and Mlle. Humel; Fred Cooke’s challenge jockey act; Desaro, a truly phenomenal contortionist; the Maziltous’ grotesque dancing, and the extraordinary acrobatic performance of a troop of Bedouin Arabs.

"The quartette of clowns, Messrs. Billy Burke, Willy Rollins, Charley McCarty and George Leopold, were intensely funny, being a wide departure from the conventional circus jester.

"The hippodrome races were the most daring and sensational of any ever seen in this city, and were additionally attractive for being fairly and honestly contested. The horses were English and Kentucky thoroughbreds, and the riders professional jockeys.”1

The Spectator’s man also attended the second performance of the day, but as a space was running very low, his comments were less detailed:

“The night performance was of a similar nature to that of the afternoon. The huge tent was crowded. The light was good, and the platform and rings visible to persons sitting in any part of the tent. The audience loudly applauded the several performers. After the close of the circus, a concert was given and the curiosities of the side shows exhibited. “1

The excitement of the circus coming to Hamilton in September 1884 prompted one man to share his memories of circuses of fifty years previous, a time when Hamilton was still a small town, barely larger than a village:

“Things have changed since I was a boy. In nothing is this more apparent than a circus.

“The procession of former times was a real necessity. The circus came a day’s journey from the last town where they exhibited, and about a mile from their next stopping place, a halt was called and thing furnished up a bit. The canvas sides were taken off the gilded band wagon and the musicians took their places.

“Four or five women in long riding habits got on their steeds, and the clown got into a little wagon drawn by the trick mule. The one lion was shown through the bars of the cage with a brave man in tights sitting beside it. The two elephants – no circus in those days aspired to more than two – had their top gear fastened on, and three camels, led by the downcast Yankee Arabs, got into their places. Then the procession was ready to come down to the expectant village.

“All the barns in the county had been rainbowed with the circus announcements for weeks before , and the whole countryside turned out in wagons, democrats and buggies to see the show.  Us boys used to go down the road to form a sort of reception committee to escort the distinguished visitors in.

“A circus thought it did its duty to the public in those days if it lavished all the splendor possible on the band wagon. That glittered with gold and mirrors, and was always the center of an admiring crowd until it was covered up with canvas again.”2

2 “At the Circus”

Hamilton Spectator.  September 11, 1884.

The old stager then recounted the excitement when the big circus tent was set up, and what young boys did to gain admission to the tent without actually purchasing a ticket :

“The putting up of the tent was a great sight, and happy was the boy who was commissioned with a rope, or to help carry something. We all hoped to become circus followers in those days, but, alas ! human ambitions are rarely realized. Many of us are now merely lawyers, doctors, editors and the like.

“It was a very desirable thing to get in under the canvas. The outer canvas walls were well-guarded, however, and to be caught was to be slugged. I knew a boy once who used to take a pail of water and walk brazenly past the doorkeeper with great success. There were always plenty of pails lying around and the doorkeeper apparently thought he belonged to the show.

"The stratagems to gain admittance were many, but unfortunately the ruffians who sauntered around the tent were up to them all.

"A trick that sometimes worked was this: the boy would go with the crowd till he came to the ticket collector and then he would apparently struggle to get out. The ticket taker generally said : ‘Where are you going? What’s the matter with you?’

“ ‘I want to get out.’

“ ‘Well, if you go out, you can’t come in again. Now don’t stand there. Move one way or the other mighty quick.’

“ ‘The boy was nothing loath to move in. If the ticket man did not notice him, he asked for a check and being refused – ‘We don’t give no checks here, young ‘un’ – the boy would growl and drift in with the crowd.

“A very fine scheme came to grief in our village once. A boy bought a ticket that was a much-used red affair that it was supposed could be easily counterfeited. It was thought that most of the boys could be run in with the evening crowd when light was imperfect, but the ticket fiend detected the fraud at once by the mere feel of the ticket, and the unlucky originator of the scheme was flung out and roughly handled.

“He was not so badly damaged but that he planned a more successful raid. The boy who held the good ticket made an attempt at crawling under, and when the man caught him and was about to annihilate him, he showed his ticket and offered the villain ten cents if he would take him to the correct entrance. The man walked part way round the tent with him, and under cover of the discussion, six boys got in by the private entrance.”2

The acts involving horses and mules stood out very clearly for the man recalling circuses of fifty years or more previously:

“The great feature of the show was the drunken man who staggered into the ring from the audience. ‘Take that man out,’ cried the gentlemanly ringmaster, who snapped his pistol whip.

“ ‘He wants to ride,’ said the clown. After protests and all that sort of thing, almost verging on a quarrel, the ragged drunken man was flung on a horse, and away went the brute with him. He hung on, and after many antics threw off his old duds and stood a resplendent circus man. We all knew what was coming, but the transformation was always hailed with keen delight.

“Then we all liked James Melville, the world-renowned bareback rider. In those days, every circus had Melville. All the other Melvilles were frauds, and it was a poor show that didn’t have a standing offer of $25,000 to anyone who could prove that their Melville was not the Melville.

“There was no chariot race in those days, although they did have a splendid conglomeration of stars, who had consented to sing at the concert, just after the performance, which, ladies and gentlemen, is not half over. ‘Courteous persons will now pass through the audience with tickets, which are fixed at the low price of ten cents each,’ so the gentleman standing in the ring informed us.

“Instead of a chariot race, we had a clown in a donkey carriage. The energetic donkey used to kick viciously against the clattering iron dashboard of the carriage – a most entertaining feat. The clown then trotted out the trick mule – that never-to-be-forgotten talented animal. He would lean his elbow on the patient quadruped, who stood sleepily with dejected head in the ring.

“ ‘Would any young gentleman from the audience like to ride the mule?’  

“ ‘Generally a very small boy went over and was placed on the docile brute, who walked around the ring most innocently. The clown would pat the very small boy on the head and say, ‘Well done, sonny; you’ll be a man before your mother yet.’ Then he would kindly ask : ‘Any other young gentleman? A little larger this time.’ The man was flung on the sawdust before he was fairly on the mule’s back.

“ I shall never forget the first time I rode a trick mule. I clinched my feet under him and clasped my arms round his neck. Ye powers, how that mule bumped itself! I stuck to it like a burr – like a brother, my enemies said. The vicious bucking of the brute nearly knocked the life out of me, but I gritted my teeth and hung on. The cheers of the audience encouraged me. At last it dawned on the clown and the mule that they had met their match.

“ ‘Well done, my man, said the clown, “you’ve beat him. Now you can get off.’

I relaxed my hold a second and next instant was pitched into the next county. I have always wondered since why I didn’t break my neck.  I had every opportunity.

“You needn’t have been in such a hurry,” said the clown as he helped me up.”2

As the Forepaugh show tents, animals and performers prepared to move away from Hamilton, the old man ended his article by claiming that although the circus of his youth may have been different, it was still very good:

“The railroad, three-ringed circuses of the present day are more gorgeous, but it seems to me we had more fun to the square inch in the olden time. “2