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Way Back When

May 20, 2012

(The Spirit is pleased to share with our readers vignettes of life in the 19th century as originally reported in past issues of the newspapers. These reproduced stories include their original headlines and spelling.)

Local Intelligence
(July 8, 1896)

A Hen Swallows a Fire Cracker Which Explodes and Kills Her.

Last Saturday being the 4th of July, Mrs. J. A. Weber was lighting small fire crackers to amuse the children. In order to frighten the chickens, she lighted one and threw it into the chicken park. Before it had time to explode the chickens made a rush for it, thinking it was something good to eat, and a large Plymouth Rock hen greedily gulped it down.

She walked off proudly and disdainfully, as if to say to the other members of the flock, "You got left that time." But her triumph was short lived. She had not taken half a dozen steps until the cracker exploded, and the hen lay prostrate on the ground, dead. Her craw was burst and her neck broken. She died instantly. And the other chickens, which but a moment before had looked crestfallen and dejected, in failing to secure what they believed to be a choice morsel of food, congratulated themselves upon their good fortune.

This contains a moral lesson for mankind. It teaches us that we should not be too eager and quick to grasp every new thing, without careful inquiry as to its merits. From it we may also learn that what we regard as misfortunes are often our salvation.

The Army Worm
He is Here in Great Numbers and Means Business

The army worm is here. You can see him in squads, regiments and battallions on the public square. The grass is covered with them, and they are using the sidewalks like ordinary pedestrians on the 4th of July. This worm is the larva of a moth that flies about at night. These on the public square were evidently bred right there.

They are apparently of all sizes and ages, and could not have journeyed far. They are great climbers, however. In starting westward from the public square the first obstacle they meet is the Hotel Pantall. They do not attempt to go around it, but proceed to climb over it. These worms are very destructive to vegetation, and seem to be especially fond of grass.

The usual way to kill them, when they begin their march across a field, is to plow a double furrow around the field, and then set fire to straw and burn them as they cross the furrow. Pigs and fowls, if let loose on the army worm will make great devastation on its ranks.

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