CHAPTER XIIIYELLOW-FEVER SCARE. ST. LOUIS AND MILWAUKEE
IN the fall of '97, Selma experienced her memorable yellow-fever
scare. Quite a number of people in town were sick, and as that
much-dreaded disease was raging in New Orleans and Mobile, some
feared the epidemic might have reached us. Consequently, the "City
Fathers" sent for a yellow-fever expert from Montgomery,
who upon his arrival immediately declared that he could detect
the germs in the atmosphere. He proceeded to examine a few of
the patients, and pronounced the cases a genuine type of yellow
fever. This verdict was rendered on Saturday. The following day,
the first Sunday in October, was my regular run to Rome. Upon
reaching Broad Street depot that morning, I found the train made
up of a baggage car and nine coaches filled with people, while
others thronged about the ticket office. Immediately the Superintendent
came and asked me if my engine could pull another coach. I replied,
"Yes, two, if necessary." "One will be sufficient,"
he said, and sent for it. So I left that morning carrying seven
hundred refugees. The whole town was running away. They left in
every direction; in carriages, wagons, and even afootjust
anyway to get out of the infected district. My family remained
quietly at home, though Frances admitted they used disinfectants
and ate onions in case there should be danger of contagion.
Otherwise they went around as usual, only being careful to be
within doors after sundown. A number of other families remained,
either from choice or necessity, but Selma was practically deserted
for two or three weeks. I was quarantined from the State of Alabama
for ten days, but upon returning home, found that the "stay-at-homes"
had undoubtedly had the best of it. The yellow fever here was
only a myth, while many who fled from the imagined evil contracted
severe illness from exposure, or other causes resulting from such
an exodus, and a vast number suffered at least serious inconvenience.
The panic cost Selma fully $150,000, and will long be remembered
by her older citizens.
In 1898, the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers' Convention
was held in St. Louis. We left home May 9th, made a short stop
on the way, and arrived there the 11th, putting up at the Laclide
Hotel. The grand opening came off at the usual time, the body
being addressed by the mayor and other big magnates. The singing
upon these occasions is always very good, and the entire program
Before leaving home, I had been under the treatment of a doctor
for some time on account of trouble with my right arm, supposed
to have been caused by poisoning from colored waste used on the
engine. I suffered a great deal in St. Louis, and was finally
compelled to go to a physician. He kept me at his sanatorium every
night for a week, and every morning I went to the Hall, but can't
say that I enjoyed myself. So, the three weeks' session of this
convention meant for me mostly work and pain, with very little
in the way of sightseeing. However, we had a pleasant ride out
to the Barracks, took a trip over The Terminals, and on our way
back, visited the Anheuser-Busch Brewery. After being shown over
the place, we were given souvenirs in exchange for our cards.
I was amused at Frances who, though exceedingly forgetful, somehow
manages to remember to tie on a bit of white ribbon. She said
she was sorry that she had gone for the souvenir, as they might
use her name in favor of their beer.
We also went out to Granite City, and saw the granite ware
taken through the entire process and made ready for use. There
are a large number of girls employed in the works to put the coating
of enamel on the vessels.
While I was at St. Louis, I was present at a meeting of the
Shriners, where there were the greatest number of initiations
I ever knew of at one time.
On Sunday the 22d, our entire delegation met at Headquarters,
and took the street cars for the Congregational Church, where
we attended morning service. Our Grand Chief occupied the central
chair upon the pulpit rostrum.
We left the city of muddy water June 1st, and two days later
were home again.
In 1900, the convention was held in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. We
started May 6th, and began meeting with old friends by the time
we reached Cincinnati, and upon arriving in Milwaukee, found ourselves
amid a host of them, all of whom we were glad to greet. Among
them were Mr. and Mrs. J. E. Minor, of New Haven, Conn., whom
we have known for years, and for whom we have the highest regard.
The Plankinton Hotel was Headquarters, but we secured a pleasant
room from a Mrs. Thomas, so near Lake Michigan that we could see
it plainly from the house. We frequently walked down to the shore
and up on the high terrace near by, where there was much to interest
us. One monument bore this inscription: "Lief, son of Eric,
who discovered this part of the country in the year 1000."
Another stated that it was erected in memory of Solomon Juneau,
Milwaukee's first mayor, in 1846. On two sides of the monument
were pictures in relief of Juneau treating with the Indians.
On one of our trips about town, we visited the House of Correction.
The chief industry there is chair making, four hundred chairs
being turned out daily. Being in the building at five o'clock,
we saw the prisoners at their supper. Promptly upon the blowing
of the whistle, they appeared one behind another, each man having
his hands on the shoulders of the one in front of him. This is
called the lock-step. They went into a room where they were supplied
with food, and then marched back to their cells to eat it. Each
man had a deep tin pan with a partition in the middle containing
tea in one side, and three slices of bread in the other. These
pans were slid through an aperture in the wall from the kitchen.
They were allowed a more strengthening diet for breakfast and
dinner, and in larger quantity. An amusing bit of information
was furnished us by one of the officers, who said that some years
ago a young fellow named Harry frequently "put up" with
them. He persisted in wearing woman's attire and in calling himself
Harriet. Consequently he was always getting into scrapes, which
ended in his being sent back there; and his father, who was fortunately
a wealthy man, was kept busy paying him out.
While the Insurance was in session, I decided to go to Waukesha.
It is a distance of twenty-one miles by the electric cars, and
we made the trip in fifty minutes. The ride was pleasant, but
there was little to see at the end of it, as the season had not
opened. Frances was disappointed, as she had been there during
the Chicago Convention, when everything was flourishing and lively.
We spent the time walking around asking questions, and learned
that there were eighteen different springs there. Going into the
bottling works, we sampled some of the water and found it excellent.
The place then claimed a population of 9000 and was very picturesque,
with the Fox River winding in and out among the trees. We were
much amused, however, at seeing so many "doctors' shingles"
hanging out at a health resort.
On the 19th the Chicago and Northwestern Railroad tendered
us an excursion to White Fish Bay. The weather was cold and the
air became still more biting as we neared the bay. The pavilions
were nearly all open, but we had fine music, and laughed and talked
our discomfort away. At 5:30 supper was served. Several long tables
were already supplied with snowy linen, plates, knives, and forks,
butter, beets, and Irish potatoes. Three kinds of meat and an
enormous quantity of bread were brought in, and then the call
came. Those tables were filled as if by magic, or to quote an
old saying "quicker than you could say scat."
A week later came a boat ride on the lake. The boat was so
large that it would carry thirty loaded cars at once, so the grim
spectre seasickness could gain no foothold there. After we were
all seated on camp-chairs on the upper deck, we were treated to
a fire drill, showing how quickly a burning vessel could be extinguished.
First one stream of water and then another was opened up, until
the little tug appeared an immense fountain of shooting sprays.
It was a pretty sight and the people cheered lustily. While out
on the lake, overcoats and wraps were in demand, but just as soon
as we stepped on land, we were glad to doff them.
The Executive Committee ordered by the St. Louis Convention
to visit Cleveland, Ohio, for the purpose of buying a building,
or selecting a site for the location of the Grand Office, gave
its report at this Convention. I was a member of the committee,
and Brother Edward Kent, our chairman, had convened the same in
Cleveland the previous December, when we spent a week looking
over available property in the city. The place where the Brotherhood
now stands was among the number we considered, but what we especially
recommended to the Convention was a sixteen-story building, first
class in every respect, which was all occupied except an immense
auditorium, such as would be an ideal place for holding our bi-annual
G. I. D. This building was offered to us for $700,000.00 on easy
payments, and the committee considered it a good investment. The
Convention saw fit to turn down the proposition in a very cool
manner. I suppose there are a number of those who were delegates
then who well remember the statement Brother Kent made, and how
earnestly he urged them to purchase that property. When he saw
that his advice was unheeded, he closed his remarks by saying
that he and his committee had done their best, with the result
that their efforts were unappreciated, and that he never expected
to attend another convention. He spoke out of his sore disappointment
but his words came true, for, refusing to go to the next one,
he shortly afterwards took his journey to the Great Beyond.
Four years later this very building sold for over twelve hundred
thousand dollars, while the one now occupied by the Grand Office
has already cost that amount, and is not yet completed.
Shortly after our return home, our two daughters started on
a trip to Europe in one of Clark's Tourist Parties. Returning
in August, they had much to tell of sights seen in countries beyond
the Atlantic. For myself, I never cared to cross the "big
ditch," knowing that if I attempted it, the boat would sink.
My native country is good enough for me, and for travelling purposes
I am content to stick to the rail.
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