|Empire Corset Company employees board trolley cars at McGraw for excursion to Little York Pavilion|
Cortland Evening Standard, Monday, April 9, 1894.
ELECTRIC ROAD HEARING.
CORTLAND AND HOMER ELECTRIC COMPANY WITHDRAWS.
General Discussion of the Electric Road Franchise Before the Town and Village Boards.
The hearing of the application for an electric street railroad franchise before the town and village boards took place on Saturday afternoon last as previously announced. Village President Tisdale called the meeting to order at 2:20 o'clock, stated its object and read the printed notice calling the same. He then said the town and village boards would first hear those favoring the granting of the franchise. Mr. H. L. Bronson thereupon stated that the Cortland, and Homer Horse R. R. Co. appeared by attorney and a majority of stockholders. The company, however, it ought to be said, proposed soon to transfer its property to a new company headed by Messrs. Page and Hand who proposed to change to an electric road. This new company had also secured the consent of a majority of the property on every street, save Homer-ave., to the construction of an electric road.
The subject of this road had been foremost in the public mind for some time. It was therefore hardly necessary to argue with intelligent men as to the desirability of this road for the town and village. In the first place it would be a great convenience, it would increase the business of the place and increase the amount of assessable property. The people of Cortland want this road.
Mr. Bronson then presented a petition containing the names of representatives of almost all the manufacturing and business interests of Cortland favoring the granting of the electric franchise asked for.
CORTLAND AND HOMER ELECTRIC COMPANY WITHDRAWS.
Mr. Bronson also presented a communication from the Cortland and
Homer Electric Co., withdrawing their request for an electric railroad franchise which was as follows:
CORTLAND, N. Y., April 6, 1894.
To the Town Board of the town of Cortlandville and to the President and Board of Trustees of the Village of Cortland, N. Y.:
GENTLEMEN—We wish to withdraw our application for permission to construct an Electric Street Surface Railway in the town of Cortlandville and village of Cortland, N. Y. Thanking you for the consideration given us, we remain,
Cortland and Homer Electric Co. per HARRISON WELLS, President.
This was the surprise of the afternoon, and an inquiry by a STANDARD representative of Mr. Harrison Wells, the president of the Electric company, after the meeting had adjourned drew from him the following statement as to how the withdrawal came about. Mr. Wells said: "The Scranton people have held an option on the electric light plant since March 2, which has recently been extended to June 1, and which provides that in case they obtain a controlling interest by purchase or otherwise, in the stock, franchises and property of the Cortland and Homer Horse Railroad company, they will then purchase the electric light plant of the Cortland and Homer Electric Co., at a specified price and the Electric company agrees to sell at that price.'' This Mr. Wells said was the only statement he cared to make for publication.
NO ''FREEZE OUT" INTENDED.
Mr. Bronson then referred to the charge that it was the purpose of Messrs. Page, Hand and their associates to "freeze out" the smaller stockholders in the horse railroad, and said that after securing options on the amount of stock of the horse railroad necessary to give them the control they had announced openly their purpose to buy every share of the stock and pay par for it and they are to-day ready and willing to do so. Mr. Page had in fact already received options on most of the smaller blocks of stock of the horse railroad and to-day had paid 10 per cent on them.
Mr. Page had been in Cortland and looked over the streets and had a general idea of what streets he wanted for the tracks. But he had not had his engineer here and does not know accurately. Is it not wise, therefore, asked Mr. Bronson, to be very liberal in granting him the right to use such streets as he may want? The road will injure no streets. Ithaca has enjoyed a great boom as a result of its electric road, and there is no reason why Cortland should not enjoy the same. Mr. Bronson closed by saying that Mr. Page of Scranton, who was present, was a business man, and not a talker, and though he did not wish to address the two boards was ready to answer any questions which might be put to him.
MR. PAGE QUESTIONED.
In reply to questions from President Tisdale Mr. Page said that he expected to begin work on the electric road in a month or six weeks; that work on the McGrawville branch would be begun about the same time and probably be completed inside of a year; that the present street railroad would have to be built over, as heavier rails would be required, and that it was proposed to use a kind of "T" rail which could be paved up to as the railroad law required such a rail.
Dorr C. Smith said that there was a feeling that the use of too many streets was being asked, but he understood that if a franchise were granted on any street and the laying of rails on that street was not begun inside of a year the franchise became void. Mr. Page said he so understood it.
Mr. Smith then asked if forms of franchises had been drawn up to be presented to the two boards. Mr. Bronson said they had. Mr. John W. Suggett said that the act of 1886 provides that a village can impose as a condition of granting a franchise that a percentage of the gross income of the company to which franchise is granted be paid into the village treasury. He inquired if the Scranton people asked for a franchise free of such condition. Mr. Page replied that they did. Hon. R. T. Peck said he had been engaged in getting rights of way over a number of principal streets, and had met with few objections. The chief inquiry had been as to where the company would place its poles. The McGrawville franchise expressly required that they be placed on division lines between property as far as possible. Mr. Page had stated that the poles need not be placed at equal distances from each other. Mr. Page and his associates would place the poles at this end of the road on division lines. President Tisdale inquired as to the character of the poles to be used. Mr. Page said they would be good poles and painted.
Mr. Peck added that the company would also allow the use of their poles for police and fire alarm wires and boxes.
Dorr C. Smith then read the franchises proposed for granting by the town and village.
H. A. Dickinson suggested that the town franchise was not broad enough, as it did not give right to cross highway bridges, of which the town has control. There are three of these bridges on Homer-ave., one on Elm-st. in McGrawville and two small bridges between Cortland and McGrawville. It had also been suggested that the electric road might better run on the south side of highway to McGrawviile instead of in the middle.
R. T. Peck said that in getting the rights of way to McGrawville it had been with the idea of running on the south side of the highway. There was only one house on that side.
H. M. Kellogg asked about the Port Watson bridge and Mr. Bronson said that Mr. Page would not put a track on this or any other bridge unless a competent civil engineer declared it safe. If not safe he would have it strengthened for his own safety.
B. B. Morehouse thought the Port Watson bridge was strong enough, but ought not to be taken up by a private company.
Mr. Page said the width of car proposed to be run would be about 8 ft.
MORE ABOUT HORSE RAILROAD COMPANY STOCK.
J. W. Suggett inquired of Mr. Page about options on stock of small stockholders of the Horse Railroad company. Mr. Page said he was willing to take all the stock at par and pay all stockholders 10 per cent of the amount down and treat all alike.
Franklin Pierce said he was a stockholder and inquired if Mr. Page's offer held good all day. Mr. Bronson said it did.
Mr. Pierce then inquired if all the stockholders received the same price for their stock. Mr. Bronson said that all but C. H. Garrison received the same and about the price paid for Mr. Garrison's stock he knew nothing.
Mr. Pierce asked if some stockholders were not to receive a bonus for their stock. Mr. Bronson said no, and Hon. R. T. Peck endorsed this statement.
President Tisdale thought it did not matter to the town and village boards what price stockholders got for their stock.
Mr. J. W. Suggett thought that it did matter—that the boards ought not to be parties to doing an injustice to small stockholders. He inquired of Mr. Page if he would agree to pay the other 90 per cent on stock on which he had taken options and paid 10 per cent. Mr. Page said he would not, but that he didn't think he would throw away the 10 per cent he had already paid. They didn't do business this way where he lived.
L. S. Hayes spoke for himself as a citizen. He didn't think the boards were there to try the question of how much stockholders were to get for their stock, or whether Mr. Wells had made any deal with the Scranton people by which they were to buy the electric light plant. The franchises asked for are the most valuable ever given in this place. It is a good plan to go slow in this matter. He thought that frogs, junctions, spurs, live overhead wires, etc., were not desirable on Main-st. He charged that this drag-net application was meant to shut out other parties from coming into this village to build an electric road.
He objected to "T" rails. The statute authorizes the imposition of certain conditions on these roads. He did not believe it was wise to grant this Scranton company every street by which another company could enter the village. He thought they should be made to agree to build on every street where a franchise was given them.
J. W. Suggett wished to speak concerning Homer-ave. Bridges are by law entirely a matter with the town, There are three bridges on Homer-ave. close together and narrow. If the town or village board gives franchises the town should not be put to the expense of widening the bridges. The company should be compelled to do it. The road should not be put through Homer-ave. As to the "T" rail, boards are authorised by law to impose conditions as well as tax gross receipts. When "T" rails were put in the road to Homer it spoiled the road. It would seem wise for the board to appoint a committee consisting of a civil engineer, lawyer and business man to draw up a franchise and compel the company to give bonds to hold the village and the town harmless from all claims for damages from accidents resulting from the road. Before the boards act on this carte blanche franchise they should go over the matter carefully with the aid of a civil engineer and lawyer. Look at franchises in Syracuse and other places. He was in favor of a franchise under proper conditions. Suppose an accident occurs. Who is responsible for it? The village has given the company an unlimited franchise.
Mr. Bronson said the company would consent to no conditions, and protested against the delay which would result from the appointment of a committee.
President Tisdale asked if he was to understand that the company would not come here unless the franchise was granted as proposed. Mr. Bronson said he was not. Mr. Tisdale then asked if there would be any objection, if the board had not sufficient information to act upon, to their possessing themselves of it. Mr. Bronson said no, but he did not want the matter sent to a referee as Mr. Suggett had suggested. Mr. Tisdale said he did not so understand Mr. Suggett, and Mr. Suggett said he simply wanted the boards to inform themselves.
Mr. Hayes wanted the boards to take time and draw up a franchise and have it published in the Cortland STANDARD and give the people a chance to be heard on it.
Mr. Dickinson understood Mr. Hayes to favor the road. What conditions would he want?
Mr. Hayes would have this company agree to put their road on all the streets they asked for.
Mr. Dickinson asked what other company would want to come into Cortland with this company occupying streets it certainly would occupy.
Mr. Hayes thought iron was to be cheaper and motive power cheaper, and in ten years it might be very profitable for another company. He would favor authorizing the change from horse to electric power and giving the new company the use of streets they would agree to build on.
Mr. Suggett thought the town board should go over the roads and inspect the bridges, and the village trustees should go over the streets with an engineer and if necessary have Mr. Page and his attorney go over with them and see that the franchise is right and that the town and village are suitably protected.
Mr. J. H. Kelley thought the McGrawville people were nearly unanimous in favor of granting franchise over road to that place. Thought it would be a great advantage. He suggested to the town board that in granting a franchise it provide that the track go on the south side of highway to McGrawville. He believed that the railroad law provided for many of the objections which had been raised.
Mr. Hayes thought Tompkins-st. and Railway-ave. should be excepted from the franchise.
Mr. Suggett said that the railroad law referred to by Mr. Kelley had been repealed by a more recent law. Mr. Kelley was therefore wrong.
Enos E. Mellon said that in ten years, if Cortland continues to grow, Main-st. from the Cortland House to the Messenger House would probably be solid with business blocks, and there should be no switches or turnouts on that street between these points. Now was the time to guard against it. He was also opposed to a franchise except for a term of years. Under these conditions he favored the road.
President Tisdale then declared the hearing adjourned.
The town and village boards will reach a decision as soon as it can be done with justice to the interests of all concerned.
A WARNING TO COXEY.
PRIMROSE AND HIS BAND CHARGED WITH VAGRANCY.
Taken Into Custody Upon Their Arrival In a Freight Car and Thrown Into
Jail—The Commonweal May Share the Same Fate—Strict Laws of the District—Movements of the Coxey Cohorts.
WASHINGTON, April 9. — The unceremonious manner in which the freight car load of 40 unemployed from Cincinnati was taken in charge by the police is a foretaste of the reception which awaits Coxey's army. The men will be brought into police court and a charge of vagrancy entered against them. The local law against vagrancy applies to all men without visible means of support who are destitute or likely to become charges upon the city, who have no vocation or means of gaining a livelihood or who solicit alms. The penalty is 90 days in the workhouse at hard labor, but it rests within the discretion of the judge to accept their promises to leave the city at once, or to accept $200 bonds as surety that they will not beg or become public charges. There is no doubt of the application of this law to the band from Texas under Captain Primrose, for the search in the police station of the men showed that the total cash capital of the company amounts to about $2.
They have received two fairly good meals and have been passably comfortable, except for the ignominy of confinement in cells usually occupied by criminals. Captain Primrose, the leader of the band, may find himself in more serious trouble than his followers. There is an old law on the statute books, passed in 1830, and has never been repealed, which makes it an offense to bring into the District of Columbia any destitute people who are likely to become public charges, with a penalty from $25 to $50 for each offense. The police authorities are considering the advisability of lying in a charge of violating this law against the leader, in which case his fines, with the alternative workhouse imprisonment, would amount to a very heavy punishment.
The same charges may be brought against General Coxey if disaster does not overtake the army of the commonweal before it completes its itinerary.
Of course, the vagrancy act may be brought into application against his followers, and besides there are two other laws which it is the avowed purpose of the Coxeyites to break.
One is the act of congress regulating the use of the capitol grounds, which forbids any gathering, demonstration or parade, the making of any oration, or use of threatening language, the display of any banner or device to attract attention.
The other is a law which forbids men to congregate on the steps of any public or private building.
It rests with the discretion of the vice-president and speaker of the house to suspend the capitol regulations for any proper purpose, and perhaps Coxey's agents will apply to them for permission to carry out their program.
Major Moore, chief of police, said in speaking of the march of Coxey: "These laws are on the statute books and we have no discretion but to enforce them if Coxey's army does arrive, unless congress should give them permission to congregate on the Capitol steps."
The details of the police movement against Coxey are kept a secret. No doubt he will be met at the district lines, and if the numbers of his army are too great for the police to cope with the local militia will he called to their aid. What to do with the army when it arrives and is taken into custody, if it should be, is a difficult question, because the jails and station houses of Washington will not accommodate such a crowd. To simply repulse the men and forbid them to enter the district would be to turn them loose on the suburban residents of Virginia and Maryland, and this is an aspect of the matter which gives rise to much uneasiness here.
Major Moore has received a letter from the chief of police of Allegheny City, Pa., describing the Coxey men in most uncomplimentary terms. He declares there are several professional criminals in their ranks, that four or five burglaries were committed by them while they were in his town, and that there would have been more depredations but for the close police surveillance over the army during its stay.
Colonel Redstone, the Washington representative of Coxey, said concerning the men arrested: "This body of men is not at all connected with the Commonweal army, as no Coxey men will come on until word is previously sent to our headquarters, and none will come in disorder or without military discipline. There will be no resistance of the law, and none of the men will enter the city as a body until the main line arrives."
Many of the labor leaders in this city are incensed at the arrest of the 41 unemployed and declare that the proceeding was without legal authority.
They say also that Major Moore had no right to deal with these men in a manner intended as a horrible example for Coxey's army.
It is claimed that when the case comes into court there will be plenty of friends of the arrested men, including a constitutional lawyer and member of congress, and if authority has been overstepped in this arrest, the proper people will be made to suffer for it.
It is held that a constitutional question is thereby raised which will be tested to the utmost, and that the laboring men of the district seem to be aroused to a pitch of willingness to back such inquiries with their time and money.
Boston Will Contribute.
BOSTON, April 9.—In a blinding snow storm with a bitter cold wind accompaniment, Morris I. Swift and a group of devotees held a meeting on Boston common to make arrangements for a battalion of 1,000 of Boston's unemployed to join Coxey's Commonweal army. An appeal to the rich asking for funds to purchase food and transportation for the Boston contingent was unanimously adopted. Swift then made a speech in which he denounced the newspapers in general, charging them with sending out biased reports about the Coxey movement. He said the men following Coxey were like the men who followed John Brown. They were men with a purpose in view and were willing to tramp and suffer hunger and all other hardships in order to reach the place where our laws are made to seek amelioration from white slavery.