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Not-so-good old days
Our catalog of yesteryear's misfortunes continues this week with two deaths, as reported in the Oxford Democrat of May 21, 1850:
"A Disturbing Account" Occurred by Rev. Mr. Tenney, a Universalist minister, last week in Bartlett, N. H. He was on his way with his family from St. Johnsbury, Vermont, to Denmark, Me.
On reaching the Saco river in Bartlett, the bridge was gone, and in attempting to ford the river, the water being very high, the body of the wagon was lifted off the fore wheels, (there being no pin in the bolt), and the whole family, his wife and three little children, were pitched into the river; and a fine boy, four years old, was drowned, having been carried off by the swiftness of the current; the body was recovered, but too late!
And this distressed family took their little son with them, dead, to bury him in Denmark. This is truly a great trial and cause of grief, had the father, however, examined the bolt holding the body of the wagon to the fore-wheels, the probability is, this accident would not have occurred. Let all other travelers about to pass a river, be careful in this particular, if they would avoid such accidents.
Still More Distressing. A young man named Hazeltine, of Conway, H. H. was drowned in small brook, last week, in that part of Conway called Goshen. He had been out hunting partridges, and is supposed to have been faint and went to the brook for water, and fell in, or, on reaching the water was seized with a fit, as the brook was not two feet deep where he was found, and supposed to have fallen in.
He was about 17 years of age, remarkably healthy and robust, and never known to have a fit of any kind.
This should learn lads and youngsters to stay at home; but if they most go out a gunning, to go in company with some one. Had this young man had a companion, his life would have been spared beyond a doubt. The late freshet has done great damage along the Saco.
Any quantity of logs are scattered near the intervale lands, and such a breaking up of fences, is a caution to make them stronger and better. H. B. B. Nor were the deaths the only manifestation of bad luck.
There was the school fire in Fryeburg, for instance, which probably initially answered the fervent wishes, hopes, dreams and prayers of many youngsters. But then, as readers will see, every silver cloud has a pitch-black lining — the town's youth would have to attend the academy, which was just a little bit stricter than the public faintly had been.
Fire, Accidents, &c. Fryeburg, May 10, 1850 Editors of The Oxford Democrat:
— The cry of Fire! Fire! aroused the good people of this village from their supper or their beds, last Thursday night, at about half past eight o'clock, which proved to be in the District School House, near the Academy, which was entirely consumed. this was a handsome stone building, and most have been set on fire, from the position the fire was in when first discovered.
I do not know whether it was insured or not. Less some $500. I have heard it said, by some thoughtless ones, they thought it a pity the old Academy had not burnt with the school-house. for, there is not the best and most cordial feeling existing in some people's minds, about the schools in this district.
And the Academy is under management which may suit some particular sectarians — who think everybody wicked but themselves ‚ such, for instance as think it is a terrible affair for little girls to beat a hoop, or play ball for exercise.
And for such as are so incorrigible as to presume to use their legs in cotillion or quadrille, oh, mercy on us: what are we coming to, when young men and maidens are expelled from an Academy for attending a dancing school, under the eyes and guardianship of their own friends.
But this has been done in Fryeburg, so godly given as some people profess to be, they can expel a student for presuming to learn to dance! But it is no sin at all to go to bed and sleep all day on Sunday. Or go visiting, or wandering about the fields on Sunday, this is all right!
But to dance! to be accomplished in this branch of education, so necessary to health, is considered an offense worthy of punishment by expulsion from this Academy Hence the ill-feeling of some of the young folks toward it.
We'll end on that note; from there the writer/reporter went on to other issues regarding different Fryeburg topics. As is our custom, we try to exactly reproduce the grammar, spelling, punctuation and style of the original. Commas might appear where least expected and remain absent where we’d expect them if the item was written nowadays.
On the other hand, consistency was not considered of utmost importance, so variations of a spelling might appear within one story. In addition, some words were abbreviated differently than today.
Where brief explanations of terms are considered necessary, they are presented in brackets  within the quote. Otherwise, explanations appear at the beginning or at the conclusion, without quotes. Parenthesis () used in a quoted passage appeared in the original.