The Democratic managers obtained permission from the town council to erect the “Democratic Wigwam” on the south side of West Main street opposite the First Baptist church for use in case of inclement weather. The ladies who favored that party displayed their talent in decorating the wigwam with the national colors and portraits of the national ad state candidates. Judge Clampitt of Illinois was the first speaker to expound the Democratic part principles in the new wigwam Thursday September 26, 1884. An eloquent speaker, he advocated the free trade method would bring greater prosperity to the American nation than any measure yet enacted and it remained for the voters to say at the polls on Tuesday November 3 next if they want to share in this prosperity that can be brought about by casting their votes for the national and state Democratic candidates.
Down the street at Compton Corner, Chairman John. W. Mason introduced the famous Irish coal miner, Jim Wood of Indiana, who undoubtedly was the wittiest speaker ever to appear on the stump in Grafton. He was the professor of a rich brogue, combined with his native wit for which his race is noted hard common sense, natural powers of expression that held his audience. He paid particular attention to he Democratic free trade principles and brought the question home to the laboring men, of England and Ireland under free trade and compared conditions in those countries with this in the United States, and if the laboring men were willing to accept the conditions that prevailed aboard saying a vote for free trade that forms, one of the planks in the Democratic platform is a sure way to accomplish this. He inquired of the men of his race who were in the audience “what has the Democratic party ever done for the Irish citizens?” and answered nothing. He said the Democratic party had always regarded the Irish vote as its property, and yet never did a single thing in return for their vote. He said the laboring class in the United States was mainly composed of the Irish and German class whom he did not believe were ready to exchange protection that afforded them a better living than any country under the sun, for free-trade with its hand to mouth living that prevailed in England and Ireland. About to conclude his speech cries of “go on! go on!” was heard among he audience. When he did conclude, scores of his fellow countrymen and other workingmen rushed toward him to take him by the hand.
Saturday, September 25, 1884, witnessed the greatest turnout of the Democratic hosts from Barbour, Marion and Preston counties to gather at Grafton to hear Hon. John C. Carlisle, speaker of the Untied States House of Representatives, the most distinguished member of the Democratic party of his day. An unusually handsome and distinguished man with a grace of manner that carries a charm to his audience. On a temporary stand erected in front of the present city administration building, tastefully draped with the national colors Hon. B. F. Martin stepped forward and introduced the distinguished speaker to the vast assemblage who greeted him with great applause.
He began his speech by paying a compliment to the people of West Virginia much alike the people of his own state of Kentucky, whose interests were much the same. He reviewed the record of the Republican administration for the past twenty yeas and deplored the degeneracy of that party and if returned to power for four more years next November, four more years of Republican administration would plunge the nation into the bottomless pit of ruin. He painted a beautiful word picture of the great and lasting good a change from Republican to Democratic management would bring to the nation. The factories and mills would hum as never before, our foreign trade, unhampered by Republican protection would increase enormously, our exports would far exceed imports leaving a great trade balance in favor of the government. He vehemently denied the charge of the Republicans he was a free traders, or that he represented a party of free-trade/ On the other hand, he stressed he and the Democratic party were great friends of the working men. He charged the Republican party was the friend of the great millionaire corporations and monopolies, and the Democratic party was the enemy of those corporations and monopolies that fattened at the expense of the toilers. He blamed these monopolies fostered by the Republican administrations of importing foreign pauper labor to replace high priced American labor that resulted in the unrest and strikes that occurred in the past. He spoke of the great land grants that made to the railroads which made their stockholders rich men and intimated Mr. Blaine’s wealth that came from participation in speculation in these land grants was not honest gain. He charged Mr. Blaine whit being the candidate of the millionaire corporations and monopolies and would favor them instead of struggling new industries trying to gain a foothold in industry. He began an earnest pleas to his audience to support the candidates on the national and state Democratic ticket to conclude his speech.
Hon. William L. Wilson Democratic candidate for congress was introduced, and had hardly began talking when a heavy downpour of rain drove the audience to shelter in the court house and the wigwam. Mr. Wilson finished his speech in the court house and the audience disbursed to resume the political parade that was halted at the speakers stand to hear Mr. Carlisle.
At nightfall a torchlight procession was formed on Main street that was a colorful affair and a most enjoyable feature of the great Democratic rally. The procession came to rest at the wigwam to hear Judge Haymond of Fairmont, Hon. John E. Kenna of Charleston and P. J. Crogan of Kingwood address the audience on the issues involved in the campaign.
The flags on the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad shops were flown at half mast out of respect to the passing of President John W. Garrett. The old Grafton Hotel was appropriately draped in deep mourning on Saturday, September 25, 1884, to announce the passing of a great man and president of a great corporation, under whose management of 36 years the Baltimore and Ohio forged to the front as one of the leading carriers in the United States. In all the years as head of the corporation he would never accept more than the original salary of $4,000 first paid him on accepting the office of president.
A game of baseball scheduled between the Boothsville club and the Our Boys club of Grafton for Saturday September 27, 1884 was called in the third inning by a heavy rain with the score standing at 7 to 4 in favor the Grafton boys, Harvey Scranage, late member of the Taylor County court and resident of the Booths Creek section, and Joseph Mason of Grafton, are probably the only living members of the Boothsville Club of 55 years ago. The Morgan brothers, Jacob, James and Ellsworth Frank Batton, Benjamin Cisney, Edmund Blaney, John Gallier, Chester Williams and Matt Thompson have been declared out by The Great Umpire for a long time. Dr. William H. Kunst is a practicing physician at Fairmont and Edward Ford if still living, is a resident of Covington, Kentucky.
The Republican managers for the first time brought a colored orator, Professor J. R. Clifford, to address the members of his race in Grafton at the court house, Monday September 29, 1884. An eloquent speaker whose pleasing manner in presenting the issues of the Republican party in the colorful campaign not only pleased the colored folks but made a most favorable impression on practically all the white voters who came out to hear him. He refrained from the abuse of any candidate of the opposite party and confined himself to reasons why the colored race should support the Republican national and state candidates to this important campaign.