Bluestocking Journal

Real history, through the eyes of a fictional person

Tag: tragedy

Saturday, December 28, 1912

Local antiquities are now on display in the rotunda of the Champaign postoffice, including an old envelope bearing the postmark of West Urbana, the original name of Champaign. It is dated April 8, 1856.

A silver dollar was found in the brain of the father who was killed, along with his family, in the horrible Christmas train accident. The portion of the skull in which resided the dollar was overlooked at first, having been flung to a different location. “The coin will be kept by relatives as a sad, as well as curious, memento of the fatality.” The little girl who survived has regained consciousness and is improving; her first words upon awakening were, “Hurrah for Santa Claus!” The family was buried today in a single grave at Mount Hope cemetery.

A sixteen-year-old girl has confessed to having set fire to the same Brooklyn building seven times. “I don’t know why I did it, only I just love to watch the flames. The blaze is so pretty,” she said. “But I do not mean any harm by it.”

Thursday, December 26, 1912

FAMILY IS WIPED OUT IN HORRIBLE CHRISTMAS TRAGEDY” is set in the largest type I have ever seen on a Courier-Herald front page. “A family of four was wiped out of existence at 11 o’clock Wednesday night in the most complete tragedy ever occurring in this vicinity.” The family’s carriage was struck by a train at Savoy. A little girl, a friend of the family, was the only one to survive, but she was badly injured and may die. They had just been to a wedding near Staley. It is supposed that the carriage was closed and that the driver was unable to hear or see the train. The carriage was reduced to splinters, the bodies of the dead were scattered over a wide area, and the horses returned home, unharmed.

A Chinaman was buncoed by a stranger at his laundry on South Market street. The bunco man showed him a display ad clipped from a newspaper and “informed the washee-washee man that he could have a similar ad in the paper (not mentioning which one) for $2.” The laundryman paid and got a receipt. and later “became suspicious when a diligent search of the local papers failed to reveal his advertisement.”

An explorer named Guy de Villepion planned an expedition into the hidden countries of South America, but nine days after the start in Brazil, his guide stole his boat and supplies, leaving him lost in the jungle. He wandered for three days, subsisting on wild herbs and small turtles, eaten raw. A group of savages made him their prisoner, feeding him their best food for nine days to fatten him before roasting him for their dinner. He managed to escape, and after several days he stumbled into a camp of Portugese rubber planters, who helped him to return to the coast.

Tuesday, September 3, 1912

Finally I can write about what is in the Urbana Courier-Herald!

“Progressive headquarters have been established at 214 Main street, in the rooms formerly occupied by Claude E. Binyon.” This appeared in the personals column, amid all of the usual snippets about who visited whom, who is ill, and why one ought to shop for wall-paper at Leslie’s Drug Store. Later, on page 4, there is a notice about their campaign opening and a first meeting scheduled for tomorrow night. Among the speakers present will be a Rev. Otho Bartholow of Mt. Vernon, New York, whose “reputation as a speaker is well known.” I have heard Papa mention the new Progressive party—Mr. Roosevelt is their candidate. Mr. Roosevelt was our president before Mr. Taft—whom he selected to succeed him, but evidently now they are no longer friendly toward one another, as they are battling it out for the presidency, along with Mr. Wilson, the Democratic candidate. I would like to go to this meeting to hear what Rev. Bartholow has to say, but Papa says I am too young, and Mother says that ladies should leave politics to the men.

In the section with Illinois news by telegraph, there is a sad story from a town called Elizabeth about a woman who held her dead baby in her arms for six hours on a train, “fearful that she would be obliged to leave the train if she revealed the fact that her baby had died.”

There is also a report of a clever but unscrupulous Chicago fellow who was arrested by postal inspectors for fraud—he would read obituary columns in the public library to obtain names and then send cheap fountain pens to their addresses along with a bill for a far greater amount than their worth. “Many relatives paid the bills,” according to the report.

I am going to copy the full text of this item from Rockford that caught my eye, only because it is too sad for words. “The body of Miss Ludvicka Reder of Aurora, a nurse in a sanitarium here, who disappeared, was taken from Rock river. It is believed she committed suicide while temporarily deranged.” Yet in an article about a rich drowned man, investigators seem slower to jump to conclusions. I think I will just cut out the whole thing and paste it here.

In classified advertisements, I read how a man’s pocketbook was stolen at the fairgrounds by “a sneak thief in the jam at the flying machine.” Professor Wick continues to offer his services as a clairvoyant in his parlors on Church street in Champaign. And there is a weird advertisement of sorts under the heading CEMETERY—at least I think it may be an advertisement: “A piano, an auto, an outing and mother’s grave not endowed. Wonder if my children will be so ungrateful. Improvements and beauty being added to Mt. Hope daily.”

Finally, in St. Paul, Minnesota, a municipal court judge has ordered policemen, “Get the mashers parading St. Paul streets and insulting women. If caught red-handed give them a good clubbing, besides arresting them.”

My hand is cramping from all this writing. I suppose I had better go outside and air it out, lest it become twisted and ugly.