EARLY NEWS REPORTER
By W. H. Lynn
Once upon a time when I was not on the sunset side of life I had been a regular correspondent to the York Republican under the nom de plume of "Corn Stalk Fiddler." In those days W. E. Dayton, editor of said paper, and I did considerable visiting. Many times did the editor mount his bicycle and wend his way to my home on Sundays and to eat spring chicken. We would lie on our stomachs out in the yard under the trees and exchange stories of our boyhood days, and well do I remember him telling me about leaving home when he was 13 years old, barefooted, and going to the office of The York Republican to see if he could get a job of some sort, which was the beginning of his newspaper experience.
Those were the days that farmers sought out Judge Post for good advice and by the way a little money on the side, and, before leaving town drop around to Charlie McCloud's office to make arrangements for a farm mortgage at seven or eight per cent more or less, which helped out considerably in those days. For there were loan sharks at that time, that came from the East who were pulling the farmer's leg for two or three per cent per month, interest paid in advance. I guess the notes they took were gilt edge for they took a mortgage on everything even down to the "boar black pig."
Then there were the Harrison boys starting their nursery which proved a most valuable asset to thousands of farmers not only of York county, but of the state, and adjoining states.
Then don't you remember George Chilcote the grocery-man, who built up a big trade by his courtesy and first class goods. Yes! and Meehan, the Shoeman, who always kept the latest, and Boyer, who kept a full stocked drug store; also Cowell & Felton. We have not forgotten Hannis, the jeweler, for his wares were irresistible. He had them so classily arranged. And for a score of others around that court house square that had a first class stock of goods in those pioneer days. I don't want to omit Bloomer, the lumberman, who sold lumber that was hauled to the uttermost parts of the county and did his main advertising by a picture on his fence around the lumber yard of a monkey holding the cat's tail so it could not quite reach a rat that was about to enter it's hole which illustrated his motto, "Live and Let Live."
Time and absence from the country have clouded my memory so that I now will hop over to Arborville. The farmers of Arborville township during pioneer days hauled their wheat by oxen across the Platte river to Central City, then called Lone Tree. There were no bridges and the river had to be forded. This incident was told me by some people I once lived near, that several neighbors would go together to make the trip with their ox teams each hauling about twenty or twenty-five bushels of wheat so that in case one got stuck they could double up and pull the unfortunate one out of the quick sand of the Platte. Each morning a pilot would mark the way across the treacherous river by sticking poles down in the sand of the most shallow places to aid the teamsters in selecting a road that would not endanger the wheat getting wet. The men in the caravan have now passed away but I cannot refrain from mentioning one name well known in York county, viz., P. Church, who was at one time commissioner. It seems that he drove the rear team and those ahead had barely gotten through without drowning their poles down in the sand of the most shallow places to aid the oxen. They immediately ran back to direct Mr. Church around a deep hole, but were too late as only the heads of the oxen could be seen and his wagon was rapidly sinking. They shouted to him to hurry up or he would lose his oxen, but there he sat perfectly calm on the spring seat filling his pipe and reaching for a match which he deliberately scratched to light his pipe before applying the prod pole to the oxen. Those that were intimately acquainted with Mr. Church will recall that nothing ever excited him.
Another incident I recall was a picnic that the old soldiers from along the Blue held on an island of the Platte. Their baskets was filled with good things to eat and evidently their decanters had not been overlooked, judging from what transpired. A farmer who lived on the island had set out a number of young trees in his yard for future shade which were nice selected poles and were all making good growth. Now these old soldiers were out for a good time and had come well provided with fish hooks, lines and bait, but no fish poles, so they cut down their fish poles in that man's yard which were straighter and better than those over in the thicket. I can vouch for this being authentic for the man showed me the stumps. As for what had been in the decanters the farmer could not say other than they were plum empty.
Regarding the pioneering of the early settlers there is so much to be told that I will not attempt it, but leave that to others that are capable of giving it in a more graphic style.