Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Iroquois Theatre Fire

    The Iroquois Theatre fire of December 30, 1903, in Chicago, Illinois, has been called the deadliest single-building fire in United States history. At least 605 people died in the fire. The matinee performance was a Drury Lane musical, Mr. Blackbeard, starring Dan McAvoy and Eddie Foy. Many of the theatre patrons were children. The Chicago Fire Department conducted an investigation and reported its findings to the press. The Cortland Standard ran the following story (minus images) on Thursday, January 7, 1904.


Iroquois Theatre

No Arrangements Made to Prevent Loss of Life.


No Person Had Been Named to Operate the Ventilators. Employes [sic] Never
Instructed What to Do In Case of Fire. 31 Per Cent of People In Theater Killed.

   Chicago, Jan. 7.—By their own evidence before Monroe Fulkerson, who is conducting the fire department investigation into the Iroquois theater horror, the proprietors of the theater showed that a worse condition of affairs existed than had heretofore been thought possible.  
   Will J. Davis, Harry J. Powers and Thomas J. Noonan, active managers of the Iroquois, pleaded ignorance of any precautions taken to prevent loss of life by fire at their theatre.       
   They admitted failure to instruct employes in fighting fire and failure even to provide suitable appliances for use against flames. Their statements were corroborated by the testimony of 20 employes of the theater, none of whom had ever been told his duty in case of fire.

Exits Bolted and Locked.

   Noonan admitted that 11 of the theater exits were locked and bolted. Two of these exits leading to the front of the theater on the ground floor were locked, three additional exits on the north side of the ground floor were bolted, three exits on the north side of the theater from the first balcony were bolted and three exits on the north side of the second balcony were bolted.
   The greatest loss of life from the fire was in the first and second balconies, where hundreds of people were suffocated through inability to get out or were trampled to death while trying to do so. Had the exits in each balcony been available, according to Inspector Fulkerson, the loss of life must have been greatly diminished.
   Noonan declared that no person had been named by the theater management to superintend the operation of the ventilators in case of fire and that in consequence the flames had been permitted to sweep the place instead of seeking a natural outlet through the stage roof.
   It was said by Noonan that George M. Dusenberry, the head usher; Archibald Bernard, who operated the lights; the chief electrician, and the theater engineer knew how to operate the ventilators.
   It was proved by the evidence of these men, however, that two of them never went upon the stage and that the other had never been told to assume charge of the ventilators in case of fire. Dusenberry declared that his duty as usher kept him In the front of the house. The engineer was always below the stage attending to his engine, and Bernard testified that he never bad been told to assume charge of them. He said his post of duty was on the side of the stage opposite the ventilator machinery.

31 Per Cent Lost Their Lives.

   From figures obtained by Noonan it became evident that almost one in three of the people who attended the matinee lost their lives, the percentage being a trifle over 31 per cent. The theater seated 1,606 people and in addition to these 286 had been admitted after all seats were sold, making a total of 1,842 people in the theater, of whom 591 were killed. Of these 588 were killed in the balconies.
   Will J. Davis testified that he had given no orders to place a fire alarm box in the theatre; that he had given no direction to place a pump upon the stage beyond the fact that any apparatus the firemen wanted should be provided. He declared that he could not say as to whether the building had been finally accepted from the Fuller Construction company or not. He admitted that he never gave instructions to anybody as to what should be done in case of fire. He had no knowledge as to whether the theater had received a final certificate of inspection from the building department before opening.
   Mr. Powers gave similar evidence.
   Fifteen other witnesses said there was never a fire drill in the theater and none of the stage hands was ever informed as to the location or use of fire appliances or the operation of the ventilators.
   Two ushers declared that they ran on the first alarm of fire and did not return to the theater until the next day. The stage hands said they all sought safety on hearing that the place was on fire.
   Four bodies still remain unidentified at the city morgue.

Theater Protection Required.

   Owego, Jan. 6.—The village trustees have refused to continue the license of the Wilson Opera House until fire escapes, a fire proof curtain and other protection is provided.

Cortland Standard, Thursday, January 7, 1904.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Trillium Time


     Large-flowered Trillium (Trillium grandiflorum), Nodding Trillium, Painted Trillium and Purple Trillium are found along the Lehigh Trail between Gracie Road and Lime Hollow Road at Lime Hollow Center for Environment and Culture. These flowering plants bloom during the first week and second week of May. Dutchman’s Breeches (Dicentra cucullaria), Spring Beauty (Claytonia virginica) and a great variety of other wildflowers are also found along the trail.
     Carry a camera and a small Audubon Society field guide to identify wildflowers. Don’t miss the show.

Saturday, April 27, 2013


     The staff at the Cortland Contrarian make mistakes. We misspell words and play havoc with layout, headers, captions and attributions. We are grateful for digital media and the absence of hard copy. Mistakes made in our blog will be corrected eventually.  
     There is a car bumper sticker that explains this situation in just two words.
     We thank our readers for their patience, understanding and continued interest in our posts.

Unfortunate Mr. Smith and Other Historical News Items

   Researching old newspapers is more than a proverbial “trip down memory lane.” Often the eye-tiring process goes beyond one’s lifetime to an unknown epoch of human history. Here one discovers both novel and familiar activities. There’s lots to learn. When did you last read or hear the words yclept, aweary or the phrase hung up, meaning offered for sale? When did you last hear or read of a person identified, not by a given name or physical description, but by locale of residence? This brief introduction complete, we offer for your reading curiosity and enjoyment Unfortunate Mr. Smith and other news items found in the DeRuyter Gleaner—ed.



   A Cazenovia gentleman, with the historic cognomen of Smith—yclept William M. —was in town last week peddling spectacles. In the course of two or three days he accumulated two or three dollars, and being unable to stand the responsibility of caring for so much wealth, proceeded to dissolve it in the cup that inebriates. New found friends helped him heartily, and when his funds ran low his new overcoat was "hung up" in a vain effort to stay the thirst of the crowd. Toward night of Saturday the peddler grew aweary and cast about him for a place to sleep it off. One of the party, hailing from classic Arab Hill in the adjoining town of Cuyler, invited Smith to tarry with him over Sunday. The two started out a foot, the younger man supporting the unsteady steps of the Cazenovian. As they neared the old McAdam factory, the Arabian steered his grizzled-haired victim inside, robbed him of his pile, about $1.40, and his half pint bottle; the peddler's head was cut open, one eye sadly blacked and his face bruised in the squabble, which left him unconscious. How long be remained there is not known; he was around the next day and Monday morning, seeking assistance to get home. As to the wicked Arab, justice sleeps.




The Curfew.

   How strange it sounds in these times to hear people talk in favor of a curfew. An old custom, abandoned years ago as detrimental to human freedom, is now being advocated by certain wiseacres of our country. Because some children are so bad that it is unsafe for them to be out evenings, these savants think that the well disposed young people should be kept in also. The fire bell is to strike its warning note and straightway the rising generation must hustle under cover. This is a fine way to develop character, indeed it will tend to create men and women of just about the caliber of those now in favor of the regulation. Teach your children to govern themselves at all times of the day and in all places; then you will not be afraid to let them go out even after eight o'clock.
—Truxton Enterprise.
Forest Preserve Expenses.
ALBANY, Feb. 6--During the past year the forest preserve board expended $247,081 in the purchase of 58,427 acres of forest land in the Adirondacks at an average of $3.97 an acre. It began the year 1899 with an unexpended balance of $356,056 and received from the last legislature in appropriations $300,000 for the purchase of Adirondack lands and $50,000 for Catskill lands. During the year $272,808 was expended for the purchase of lands and the adjustment of claims.
The Price of Milk.
BINGHAMTON, Jan. 29 —Milk producers in this vicinity attended a meeting in this city held on Saturday by the International Farmers' union and fixed the average wholesale price of milk on the Binghamton market at cents a quart. This is the first time that the new Farmers' unions have fixed the price of this commodity. The International union was formed with headquarters in Binghamton a short time ago, and inquiries have already been received from farmers in twenty-three States and in Canada, while unions have been formed in Kansas and Indiana. Promoters of the movement predict that it will eventually extend throughout the agricultural regions of the United States and. Canada. A union label has been adopted for use on produce. An official organ, Farm Factory, is published and literature bearing on the subject is being sent out.
--Truxton Enterprise
Cancers removed and cured, without pain or the use of the knife. 20 years successful experience in the treatment of cancers. Plenty of testimonials and references.
Homer, N. Y.
   The Gleaner is published every Thursday by W. W. Ames; office in the Gleaner block. Subscription price $1.00 a year, invariably in advance;  Single copies, 2 cents. All papers discontinued at the expiration of subscription.
   Cards of thanks, 25c.; resolutions, obituaries and lists of wedding presents, 50c. Marriage, death and birth notices free. The GLEANER job rooms are well equipped for executing all kinds of printing.
1) Read about Warren W. Ames and the history of DeRuyter, N.Y. newspapers at "Grip's" Historical Souvenir, DeRuyter.
2) Search Fulton History for 21,780,000 New York State historical newspapers.


Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Sig Sautelle--"True Motives For Removing To Homer"

Sig. Sautelle's Circus House on South Main Street/ Homer Avenue
Sig. Sautelle's Circus Wagon

Sig. Sautelle's hotel in Homer, N.Y.
(GLEANER published by W. W. Ames every Thursday. Price $1.00 a year.)


   Believing few residents of the town fully understand my true motives for removing to Homer, I pen this letter to clearly define my position.
   There were many reasons why I selected DeRuyter as a town in which to make my future residence, prominent among which was a desire to locate in a pretty country village and make a home, a home in which the reclining years of my life might be passed in the full enjoyment of the friendship and esteem of all good citizens and such comforts as I chose to provide. I came here, bought my property and during the brief time I had before beginning my last summer’s work I repaired some of the buildings and made not a few noticeable improvements about the premises.
   All this cost but a small sum of the money which would have been expended this and succeeding years in the betterment of my property and to the consequent increase in the beauty of the town, or rather, that portion in my immediate neighborhood. How I have operated my hotel and premises is a matter of record and it is needless for me to assure my friends I have ever done my utmost to conduct my business in an honorable, honest way and to remain a gentleman at all times.
   It is a historical fact, however, that every community has certain narrow-minded individuals who imagine in their egotistical, stubborn ignorance that their way of thinking is the only correct way, and that the reasoning of every other person is at fault. It is this class which would erect a high fence around the town, lock the gate and throw the key away. They know not the words "progress,"  "success" or "prosperity,” and DeRuyter has its full quota of these bigoted, self-conceited forms of humanity, each devoid of gray matter, a thin solution of sap filling their heads.
   Here, as elsewhere, this class, jealous of the success of others, work overtime to prevent the town in which they exist from becoming what it otherwise would, a thriving, hustling, prosperous place. Their modus operandi is regulated by the one thought expressed in their own words as follows: "We have always been failures, why allow another to succeed?" On these lines they work, their favorite theme being to decry the trade or profession of their successful neighbor.
   Like all fair-minded, thinking persons, I hold that it matters not what calling a man may follow as a business or profession, he has but to live within the letter of the law and conduct himself in an honest, upright, honorable, conscientious manner to become a worthy and useful citizen to this or any other community. Certainly a man who thus lives, be he doctor, lawyer, showman, merchant, mechanic or what, can not be classed as a vagabond, an outlaw. While it is true one finds black sheep in the show business, likewise is it true one finds the same black sheep (only in larger numbers) among the set known as the "goody good" folks. 
   One need not search, outside my profession, to find the true gentleman, as well as the real philanthropist. My wide acquaintance in the show world inclines me to the opinion that therein is to be found perfect models, whose good and charitable deeds would serve well the so-called better class to copy. My mother, God bless her, who now rests in heaven, taught me as a boy upon her knee, that if I could say nothing to benefit a person, to say nothing. This lesson, brief though it was, I have always remembered and practiced, and shall continue to do so through life.               
   Upon the dishonorable and malicious few I have specified above in a class by themselves, can be placed the blame of my removal in the near future. In leaving DeRuyter it is with enmity toward none, but with a kindly feeling for all. I go merely because, after long and careful consideration, I deem it a duty I owe both my wife and self. During our residence here we have both found many congenial friends, and it will be our adieu to them which will cause the one regret we have of leaving a town so tightly in the clutches of the bodies who flounder today in the same old ruts in which their forefathers were lost. Hoping none will be offended at my communications, believe me respectfully,


—Just before going to press we hear that Sig. Sautelle's hotel trade with J. C. Hullar of Homer has fallen through, Mrs. Hullar positively refusing to come to DeRuyter to live. Had she read of the place in the last GLEANER?
—In mentioning the hotel deal between Sig Sautelle and J. C. Hullar, last week's Homer Republican says: "DeRuyter people will find in Mr. Hullar a gentlemanly, honorable landlord, who can be trusted to keep a good and reputable house, and Homer people will wish him success in his venture in DeRuyter.

—The report that the DeRuyter-Homer hotel trade had fallen through was evidently but a street rumor.
—The deeds in the Sautelle and Hullar hotel deal have passed and Sig Sautelle will soon be proprietor of the leading hotel [David Harum Hotel Tavern] in Cortland's suburb. Mr. Sautelle retains considerable real estate in our village, having purchased the vacant corner of the Isaac Samson heirs, and also the Wm. Swind house and lot adjoining; for the latter he gave $500 Saturday.
Sig Sautelle started for Cincinnati Monday to attend the sale of W. L Main's great railroad show. He will doubtless secure many attractions for his noted circus.
DERUYTER GLEANER, Thursday, February 8, 1900.
Sig. Sautelle has concluded to move the winter quarters of his circus from DeRuyter to Homer. He gives as the reason the narrow-mindedness of some of the DeRuyter people. We are afraid he is leaping from the frying pan into the fire —Truxton Enterprise.
The Tully Times intimates that the wife of a Fabius farmer has applied for a divorce because he has not taken a bath in nine years.

1) See capsule bio on Sig Sautelle:
2) See (9) black and white photos/floor plans of Circus House dated 1964 at Library of Congress.
3) See Historic Structures -- Sig Sautelle's circus training house.
4) Photo of Hotel Windsor, DeRuyter, N.Y.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Campaign Finance Reform--Rootstrikers

Rootstrikers (Campaign Finance Reform) has an improved opening webpage:

Please take a few minutes to watch a short video featuring Lawrence Lessig, the author of Republic Lost and founder of Rootstrikers. The video presents a superb explanation of the corruption problem in D.C., how it works and how it has crushed our democracy. Your understanding will be greatly enhanced. Click on the link below:
We the People and the Republic We Must Reclaim.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Something Good Just Happened

     When they took that TV show My Name Is Earl off the air, I cried over the loss. I went into a deep funk. That show meant a lot to me--and to my dog. We watched it together in the living room of my house and sometimes in my bedroom. My dog and I bonded watching that TV show. I shared my pretzels and he shared his dog biscuits. We both drank beer.
     I got ticketed for DWI on Route 17 the other day. My dog was driving, and that's the honest truth and that's what I told the trooper. But he said I put the dog in the driver's seat when I was stopped. I argued with him and he got mad, and added three more infractions: unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle, unlicensed pet ownership and indecent exposure. You see, my dog wasn't wearing his collar and tag, and I wasn't wearing any clothes. We were both dog drunk. Life isn't fair. 
     My Name Is Earl is a great show. I don’t have to think when I’m watching it.
     Months after they pulled My Name Is Earl, something good happened for a change. A TV station started showing reruns. I swear the reruns saved my life. But when the TV station pulled the reruns, something like a heavy fog fell over me. My zest for life vanished. My humor evaporated. I lost all interest in simple things.
     The most disturbing aspect of my depression was that I began to think again. My friends noticed it and they were more disturbed than I was.
     For my part, the act of thinking took some getting used to, but it didn’t stop the deep gut feeling of misery and depression. In fact, I think thinking made it worse.
     I visited my doctor and got some Prozac. I shared it with my dog. We both looked so damn wasted.
     One day, after work and after supper, I was flipping TV channels and I came to a new TV show called Duck Dynasty. Watching it for the first time, I could swear that my body and mind were being lifted from the grave. My dog barked with joy and contentment, and my zest for life came roaring back. I smiled at first, and then I laughed like a damn fool. I also found, to my great delight and satisfaction, that I wasn’t burdened with thinking anymore.
     I phoned my doctor and told him I didn’t need Prozac. My dog and I stopped taking it.
     So here’s the lesson I learned. Don’t ever give up hope. When you least expect it, something good will happen. It has to--the odds favor it. When you’re buried in shit ninety-eight percent of the time, it’s that two percent called ‘something good just happened’ that keeps you undefeated, indefatigable and gratefully immune to all the negative influences on your life.

Averell Pitts
Binghamton, N.Y.

Jimmy Kimmel and Duck Dynasty carrot call on YouTube
Jase Robertson on YouTube: http://youtu.be/ieqDYg5cWL4

Also recommended:
Three Legged Mouse Story.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Senate Discusses Philippines and Chinese Exclusion Act Extension of 1902

transcribed from the Wednesday, April 16, 1902 Cortland Evening Standard.


Senate Likely to Send Committee
to Islands.


Movement Comes From the Minority.
Philippines Discussion Causes Much Ill Feeling.

Washington, April 16.—[Special]— Although there has been a general protest against what came to be known as "congressional junkets"—that is, visits of committees to various parts of the country during the recess of congress on investigating tours—yet there is a decided sentiment expressed that such a committee should visit the Philippines to secure personal information concerning the conditions there. The movement comes primarily from the minority members of the committee, though some of the majority believe that much good could be accomplished by conducting an inquiry in the islands. There is doubt expressed whether authorization for such a visit could be obtained for the coming summer, as senators will wish to take part in the campaign, but the effort for sending a committee during the long vacation will certainly be made. The minority members of the committee would like to go as soon as congress adjourns, but the majority members feel that they will have earned a rest by the time congress adjourns.

III Feeling Shown.

The bad blood which has been shown between the parties on the Philippine question in the debates in congress continues to crop out In the hearings before the senate committee. The Democratic members of the committee are young and vigorous. They have found that the prominence of the Philippine question has given the opportunities that seldom come to men new in the senate, and they are making the best of it. For that reason they have been driving home questions of an irritating character to those who have been in control in the islands, questions which the Republicans do not like and which they do not sustain; consequently there is considerable bitterness displayed at nearly every session of the committee. The army officers also come in for rather severe treatment, and they decline to answer some of the questions.

As to a Senator's Vote.

Previous to the vote on the Chinese exclusion bill a group of senators were discussing the embarrassing situation in which they found themselves. They were receiving telegrams from manufacturers and merchants, who urged them not to do anything which would cause a loss of trade in China. On the other hand, they were receiving telegrams and other communications from labor organizations demanding that they vote for a drastic Chinese exclusion bill. "I suppose," remarked one senator, "that there will be two or three senators who will vote on this bill as they have a mind to." This created a great laugh, because it is well known that many senators were not going to vote their sentiments. "This is a case," said one of the most distinguished senators of the body, replying to a man who was urging him to make some change in the pending bill, "where a senator cannot vote his convictions, but must give attention to his constituents."

A Warning From Lodge.

In the course of his speech on the Chinese bill Senator Lodge of Massachusetts took occasion to show the real strength behind this bill. He said that if senators wanted to see whether there was anything in the way of a sentiment for a rigid exclusion law they might postpone action and they would no doubt feel the result in the autumn. He said the members of the house understood this perfectly, as they had to come up for election this fall. He indicated that many senators would likewise vote for the drastic bill which the house of representatives passed. There is no doubt that the labor organizations of the country have had a great deal of influence in bringing such a large number of senators and representatives to the support of Chinese exclusion legislation.

Arthur W. Dunn
1) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arthur_William_Dunn
2) Chinese Exclusion Act

Water Cure and "Everything over 10"

transcribed from front page of the Wednesday, April 16, 1902 Cortland Evening Standard.


To Investigate Reports of the Waller Trial.


President Orders Investigation of Alleged "Water Cure" Treatment
of Presidente of Igbarras—Major E. F. Glenn to Be Ordered to San

Washington, April 16.—As a result of the cabinet consideration of the charges of cruel treatment of Filipinos by United States soldiers, Secretary Root has made public some important correspondence. It consists of a letter from him to Senator Lodge, chairman of the Senate Philippine committee, acknowledging a copy of the testimony of Sergeant Charles S. Riley and Private William Lewis Smith late of the 26th infantry, taken before the committee. With this letter the secretary encloses a copy of a dispatch which was sent to General Chaffee, and the information that the judge advocate general of the army has been directed to take proper steps in accordance with the dispatch. The cablegram to General Chaffee is as follows:

"On February 19 a letter was sent you, enclosing for investigation the copy of charges made by Governor Gardener of Tayabas province, which contained general allegations of cruelties practiced by troops on natives, and generally of an insolent and brutal attitude of the army towards natives.

"On April 2, a cable dispatch was sent you urging action with all speed consistent with thorough and searching investigation.

"On the 4th of March a cable dispatch was sent you directing disciplinary measures to produce obedience to the president’s instructions, subordinating military officers to civil government in pacified provinces, and instructing you to relieve Major Edwin F. Glenn and Captain James A. Ryan from duty and order them to Manila to await investigation into their conduct; in accordance with instructions to follow by mail.

“On the 24th of March instructions were mailed you containing statement of charges against these officers and General Jacob H. Smith as the basis of the investigation ordered by the cable of March 4th.

"Further instructions in both matters are required by the following facts:

General Smith's Orders.

"Press dispatches state that upon the trial of Major Waller of the marine corps, testimony was given by Waller, corroborated by other witnesses, that General Jacob H. Smith instructed him to kill and burn, that the more he killed and burned the better pleased General Smith would be; that it was no time to take prisoners, and that when Major Waller asked General Smith to define the age limit for killing he replied "everything over 10”.

"If such testimony was given and the facts can be established, you will place General Smith on trial by court martial.

"Yesterday before the senate committee on Philippine affairs, Sergeant Charles S. Riley and Private William Lewis Smith of the 26th volunteer Infantry, testified that the form of torture known as the 'water curewas administered to the presidente of the town of Igbarras, Iloilo province, Island of Panay, by a detachment of the 18th United States Infantry, commanded by Lieutenant Arthur L. Conger, under orders of Major Edwin F. Glenn, then captain 25th Infantry, and that captain and Assistant Surgeon Palmer Lyon, at that time a contract surgeon, was present to assist them. The officers or such of them as are found to be responsible for the act will be tried therefor by court martial. Conger and Lyon are in this country. Both the 26th volunteer infantry and 18th Infantry having returned to the United States and most of the witnesses being presumptively here, the secretary of war directs that Major E. F. Glenn, 26th infantry, be directed to proceed to San Francisco and report to the general commanding the department of California with a view to his trial by court martial under charges alleging the cruelties practiced by him upon a native of the Philippine Islands at Igbarras on the 27th of June, 1900.

Witnesses to Come to San Francisco.

"If you can discover any witnesses still in the service in the Philippines who can testify in support of the charges, or if Major Glenn desires the attendance of any persons now serving in the islands as witnesses for the defense, you will direct them to proceed to San Francisco for that purpose. As the two years allowed for the prosecution by the statute of limitations is nearly at an end no time is to be lost. Yon will take such course in advancing or postponing the investigations previously ordered into the conduct of General Smith and Major Glenn as shall be required to enable you to execute these instructions. It is believed that the violations of law and humanity of which these cases, if true, are examples will prove to be few and occasional and not to characterize the conduct of the army generally in the Philippines; but the fact that any such acts of cruelty and barbarity appear to have been done indicates the necessity of a most thorough, searching and exhaustive investigation under the general charges preferred by Governor Gardener and you will spare no effort, in the investigation already ordered under such charges, to uncover every such case which may have occurred, and bring the offenders to justice.

"The president [Theodore Roosevelt] desires to know in the fullest and most circumstantial manner all the facts, nothing being concealed, and no man being for any reason favored or shielded. For the very reason that the president intends to back up the army in the heartiest fashion in every lawful and legitimate method of doing its work, he also intends to see that the most rigorous care is exercised to detect and prevent any cruelty or brutality, and that men who are guilty thereof are punished. Great as the provocation has been in dealing with foes who habitually resort to treachery, murder and torture against our men, nothing can justify or will be held to justify the use of torture or inhuman conduct of any kind on the part of the American army.

"Elihu Root.

"Secretary of War.”

April 15, 1902.

1) New York Times, April 16, 1902
2) Waterboarding--Wikipedia
3) Philippine-American War--Wikipedia
4) Mark Twain comments on Moro War