History of Taylor County - Chapter Two Hundred-Forty


Smallpox Hit City

That horrible and filthy scourge “smallpox” made its appearance in several parts of the town in January, 1900. Dr. A.R. Warden, the town health offer, came before the council and stated he would not be able to minister to the afflicted because his attention to several families in critical condition and suggested the council engage the professional services of Dr. Thomas F. Lanham to attend the afflicted and take drastic measures to prevent the of the scourge and employ nurses and guards to see that the afflicted wanted nothing in the way of proper care and allow no people to leave the premises in which disease existed.

Council engage William Burke, an immune, as nurse to a family on Luzadder Street. Dr,. Lanham discovered Burke mingling with friends in a saloon on Latrobe Street and went before the mayor  complained of Burke leaving his patients and visiting several places in town without being properly disinfected and liable to spread the disease generally in the town. Council ordered Burke arrested and Guard Herman Ashby carried him to an isolated dwelling out in the countryside and confined him until he was properly cleaned, disinfected and provided with new clothing and ordered to leave town.

Frank Adams, an actor of merit in interpreting rural roles, came to the Opera House presenting a very good comedy drama entitled Uncle Hez, but owing to the smallpox scare his business suffered. This was a pleasing drama whose action took place in a country store where the folks gathered to gossip and watch the checker game between two ancients, and hear the village postmistress read the post cars to the inmates of the store. The wonder of the telephone installed in the store was one of the most amusing features of the action this play. The deep, dark plot of the villain who arroused the suspicions of Uncle Hez who summed “He’d better keep an eye on that feller.” The scene in Sterry’s gambling house in New York City and Uncle Hez’s first experience with Champagne which he allowed t’weren’t notih’ but hard cider that the dumb city fellers paid five dollars a bottle fur. The fight in the gambling house in which Uncle Hez loss his spectacles and finds he can fight just as well without them, but threatens to choke the tongue often a dratted city sharper unless his specs are returned to him. Amusing situations occur throughout the four act comedy and was enjoyed by an audience that was few in numbers who stayed away on account of the fear of smallpox, on the night of January 31,1900.

William H. Morgan, prominent contractor and builder and active in industrial progress of the town, a leader in political events. A veteran of the Civil War who was active in the affairs of Reno Post No.7 G.A.R, and avowed enemy of the saloon died. Mr. Morgan contracted for and erected some of the best business house and dwellings during his lifetime in the town and no Memorial Day passed without his crippled veteran’s presence in the line of march to give honor to his comrades buried in the  United States National Cemetery from the time of the establishment of this hallowed city of the dead until his passing on February, 1900/ But instead of his remains sleeping among those of his comrades, he was carried to Bluemont and interred among the members of his family atop the hill.

M.E. Handley’ sensational melodrama “A Night In Chinatown,” came to the Opera House February 6,1900, and please and thrilled a large audience with the sinister scenes in the opium dens and hideous snake pit in Chinatown. Madame Neuville and her son, Augustine, who were no strangers to the theatrical going public were featured in this three act thrilling drama. Madam Neuville in the role of crazy Jane reminded the audience of her great part in the play the Boy Tramp or the Maniac Mother in her first appearance on the local theatrical stage 1882 in which she and her son, Augustine, won a place in the affections of the Grafton folks. The real Chinese actors, Ching Chang Foo and Sing Que, in whose opium dens much of the action of the place took place and men and women are induced by the wily proprietors to hit the pipe was cleverly acted and gave the audience an insight of the effect produced by this horrible drug.The third act climax in which Crazy Jane learns that Clara Martin,, a flower girl, stolen from her as an infant by Duke Desta and leads the insane mother to seek the kidnapper in his apartment and kill him with her naked hands climaxed a scene that brought the gallery gods to their feet in uproarious acclaim of triumph of right over vice.

E.M. Wilkins of Pittsburgh came before the town council and asked for a franchise to erect, maintain and operate a street railway in Grafton. He proposed to use electricity for power to operate cars within the corporate of the town and said this would add greatly in giving a number of men occupations in conveying people and maintaining the operating facilities of the street railway.Council granted Mr. Wilkins the franchise asked for but inserted a clause in the franchise that the street railway must not charge more than five cent fare in transporting the people within the corporate limits.

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