The History of Taylor County Chapter Two Hundred-Nineteen

Petty Lawless Curbed

John W. Vogel for many years connected with the Al G. Field’s enterprises organized a company of colored artists for a tour of the country under the name of “Darkest America” which came to the Opera House September 16th.  The street parade and most excellent band carried by the company drew a fine house and gave a most pleasing entertainment.

  A highlight in entertainment was the visit of Taylor county’s own humorist, Bog Burdette, on September 27, 1897.  Nationally known as the editor of the Burlington Iowa Hawkeye, whose sparking wit and humor delighted thousands of readers of his and other publications.  His father, Frederick E. Burdette was the son of the pioneer Frederick Burdette of Pruntytown, and brother of James W. Burdette of Pruntytown and Mrs. L.S. Johnson.  Frederick E. Burdette eith his family moved to Burlington, Iowa, in the 70s where young Robert Burdette gained nationwide fame as the editor of the famous journal, the Burlington Hawkeye.  Later he entered the ministry and occupied the pulpit of the great Institutional church at Los Angekes, California.

  NF. Kendall of Grafton spending his vacation on the Western coast, while in Los Angeles attended the services in this great temple and said:

  “It has been my pleasure to hear many great ministers and lecturers in this country within the last 35 years.  Mr.Burdette is the greatest word painter I have ever listened to.  He could paint a picture as vivid and natural with words as an artist could with his brush and colors.  Learning we were from Grafton he discussed with us many incidents of his early days in Taylor County and he loved beautiful Pruntytown its charming setting fine old families rich in history and whose recollections were the most pleasant in his life.”

  Noah Fettro, who served on town police force a number of years, died October 19, 1897 and was interred in Bluemont cemetery. 

  Remenyed, the great Hungarian violinist, delighted a fine audience of the music lovers in concert in the Opera House October 11, 1897.  His accompanist on the piano, a Frenchman wand one of the most skilled artists on that instrument whose nimble fingers touched the great mastro fascinated the theatre property boy and caused him to lean over the piano absorbed in wonder in the fast moving fingers of the player who noticed the boy’s interest and made him ask: “You play?” to this question the replied “Hell no! De peanno aint got no crank.”

  People were horrified when they learned of the death of John H. Means, prominent dairyman and a descendant of one of the oldest families of the Knottsville district who was found dead in his dairy barn October 31, 1897, having met his death by his life squeezed out by an unruly animal among his dairy herd.

  The members of the Presbyterian church presented an amusing entertainment in the Opera House entitled “Ye Village School: November 22, 1897, that was well acted and enjoyed by a very good house who were generous in their applause at the efforts of the members.

  One of the most romantic dramas of ancient Naples entitled Fabio Romani came to the Opera House October 13, 1897.  This beautiful melodrama with its carload of magnificent scenery depicting the ancient city of Naples in the year 1690.  The picturesque setting of the Villa Romani with its terraces and fountains, castles and cathedrals, aqueducts and streets along the shore of the Bay of Naples and smoking Mount Vesuvilus in the background seeming ready at moment to erupt a deadly flow of burning lava down upon this beautiful scene.  And then in the last act, the audience sat spellbound when the sides of the volcano opened and poured its stream of deadly lava down upon the ill fated city in that year.

  Aiden Benedict, a finished actor of more than ordinary ability and supported by a fine cast, furnished one of the most spectacular dramas ever seen on the local stage.  All the effects were electrically produced by this wonderful element which was impossible in the days of illuminating gas used before electricity became known and with a minimum of danger in setting fire to the to the inflammable stage settings.

  Mayor Charles V. Gough had a busy year entering the names of 366 drunks, fighters, users of obscene language and other petty violations of the peace and dignity of the community who paraded before his honor and heard him assess a fine or jail sentences for their misbehavior.  This was 164 more than any former mayor ever entered upon the town police blotter and had its effects in curbing much of the petty lawlessness.

  Horace Ewing presented the stage version of the drama “The Widow Bedotte,” November 29, 1897, to perhaps the smallest audience of the theatrical season.

  Grant and Willard presented the farce comedy “A Hot Time In The Old Town To-Night” to a very good audience that seemed to find much amusement in this kind of entertainment on December 2, 1897.

  Hypnotism became a popular vehicle for those who practiced this science and the first to present this art in Grafton was Professor Boone came to the Opera House December 3, 1897, who during the afternoon of his engagement placed his lady assistant under the spell of his power and exhibited her in a comatose condition on a bed in a show window on Main street viewed by hundreds of passerby until nightfall.

  The members of the Sodality of St.Augustine Catholic church entertained in a splendid manner in the Opera House December 27, 1897 in a concert that pleased a large audience with a splendidly rendered program. 

  The clever showman Charles E. Blaney sent his melodrama “A Railroad Ticket” to the Opera House December 28, 1897 and this entertainment brought good business both to the company and to the house and pleased an audience that was made up of folks that to whom anything connected with the railroads had an appeal.


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