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Not-so-good old days
We'll begin and end this week's column with the latest scientific observations presented to the readers of the Oxford Democrat in the 1860s. This item from the paper's edition of March 20, 1863, is a case in point:
A New York savant has recently presented a paper to a Geographical Society in N. Y. in which he shows that the climate of Maine and Canada will in time become as salubrious as that of Southern France.
It turns out that the "savant" was only a few years ahead of his time.
Meanwhile, there was a war going on, but the unpleasantness was not confined to the battlefields, as reported in the same issue:
Riot at Detroit. On Friday of last week, in Detroit, Mich., while attempting to take a negro-criminal from the hands of the officers, the crowd was fired upon and several wounded. A terrible riot followed. The negro quarter of the city was attacked and thirty-five houses burned. Several persons were wounded, but the great loss of life first reported was untrue. The military were called out, and the mob finally disappeared.
Perhaps as a result:
The President has issued an order requiring all soldiers absent from their commands got return. All deserters who report before April 1st, will suffer only loss of pay. Those who do not, will be punished as the law provides. He calls upon all patriotic and faithful citizens to aid in restoring to their regiments such soldiers, and to resist the treasonable crime of enticing and procuring soldiers to desert.
But at the other extreme, here in Maine:
A Patriotic Family. A father and six sons in the Army. Mr. James McKinney of Enfield, in this State, aged 54 years, and his six sons — seven in all — have enlisted in the service of the country. One son has died in the hospital, and one has returned home, sick. The father and two sons enlisted in the 6th Maine, two in the 7th, and one in the 14th. There was still one remaining son who was prevented from enlisting on consequence of having lost some of his fingers. He was so anxious to go that he wanted his father and brothers to get him a situation as a teamster, but they declined, urging that he ought to stay at home and take care of the old castle.
Of course, there were the common, garden variety of nogoodniks here on the home front:
The criminal docket was called in Saturday.
Joseph E. Gallagher plead guilty on two indictments for horse stealing, and was sentenced one year in State's Prison on each.
Charles Miller of Bridgton plead guilty on an indictment for horse stealing in Denmark, and was sentenced to one year in the State Prison.
In the session State vs. Charles T. Cotton, inhabitants of Rumford: Elbridge G. Osgood; Simeon E. Buck; Elisha T. Cotton; "nol pross" was entered.
But, as promised, we'll end with another scientific note, from the Democrat's issue of July 9, 1858:
Sad Result of Imprudent Bathing. John Pond, aged 15 years, son of Mr. Charles Pond, died on Thursday morning 1st ints. The immediate cause of young Pond's death was congestion of the lungs, but the primary cause was from bathing when heated, and remaining in the water too long. A week ago last Sabbath he was in the water, nearly an hour; that night a swelling commenced on his neck, but he paid little or no attention to it, and was, as usual, going into the water when he passed.
Last Saturday afternoon he, with another boy, John Hubert, was on the water one hour and a half. Hubert's neck also swelled that night and in a day or two both found themselves seriously sick. Hubert was soon relieved, but Pond's case grew worse until he died. Milford Journal
So let that serve as a lesson to all of us twenty-first century know-it-alls.
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.