100 Years Ago

The following news items are reprinted from the Manistee Daily News for the week ending February 24, 1917 and are compiled by Teena Kracht from the newspaper archives of the Manistee County Muesum picHistorical Museum. Read more of her 100 Years Ago column at www.manisteenews.com:

“CHICAGO, Feb. 16.—Chicago businessmen whose industries are menaced by the freight blockade are facing the most serious situation since the threatened railway strike last summer.

“Prediction is made that unless immediate relief is afforded thousands will be thrown out of work.

“Grain shipments to the east are at a standstill and domestic stagnation is becoming pronounced. The great part of 37,000,000 bushels of wheat held here is for domestic consumption in the east—not for export.

“Potatoes have gone away out of sight.

“Two dollars and fifty cents a bushel is the price quoted by J. E. Mailhot today.

“Mrs. Amelia Nunguesser, wife of William Nunguesser and a resident of Manistee for the past 48 years, died last night at her home. 413 First Street, after years of illness. Mrs. Nunguesser was stricken with apoplexy eight years ago, and had ever since been a confirmed invalid, though she endured her sufferings with a rare degree of Christian fortitude. She was 69 years of age.

“Summer is coming. With it will come all our summer boarders and a few new ones. Some people are getting ready for them now. I am speaking of the birds. God bless them! Some good thoughtful people have had feeding houses made for them and have had them out all winter. There is a society or organization for their benefit established in Manistee and a number of people belong—lots has been said about protecting them, etc. One pair of wrens will do more good than a gallon of insecticide and cost nothing, to say nothing about the pleasure you may get from their little song.

“Come now neighbors, let’s get together and stand by the birds.

“With the stowing away of 7.9 tons of frozen water in the various ice houses of Manistee completed Monday, the local ice harvest for 1917 may be spoken of in the past tense.

“Not in many years, if ever before, has so fine a crop ic ice been garnered so early in the season. The ice this year is also of exceptional quality, owing to the early and continued hard freeze-up of Manistee Lake. It is said to be quite free of cinders, the only foreign matter local ice men have heretofore had to contend with. And it might be added that cinders in the ice are harmless, except to the clear appearance.

“Manistee salt manufacturers are seriously affected by the recent embargo placed on eastern and southern freight. At the present time it is impossible to secure cars to make shipments from the local blocks.

“The Buckley & Douglas Company say they are absolutely unable to get the produce out of the city on account of the scarcity of cars. Full crews are being kept at work in the blocks and salt will be stored until such time as cars are available.

“AMERICAN WOMEN are said to spend $50,000,000 a year for cosmetics. And at that tall figure they don’t fool anybody.

“Under the combined pressure of the thaw and the high wind, the west wall of the ruined Briny Inn collapsed at 9:30 this morning. The home of Mrs. J. B. Hall, adjoining on Filer street, to the west, narrowly escaped destruction. A large mass of detached bricks found lodgment on the kitchen wing of the house, crushing the roof to some extent and cracking the plaster off the ceiling underneath, and part of the iron fire escape curled up on the roof of the neighboring house, affording at the same time a measure of protection and of menace.

“WASHINGTON, Feb. 16.—[By Charles E. Russell] The present military policy of the United States—if we can be said to have one—is to hire some few of us to go out and fight for the rest of us, who sit in fat ease at home.

“It is rotten, it is undemocratic, it is selfish, it is cowardly, and for modern warfare it is utterly foolish.

“In this age any nation that depends for its defense upon a volunteer service and a band of hired mercenaries, is sleeping on the verge of destruction.

“Official announcement of a cut in service on the Pere Marquette railroad, necessitated by the fuel shortage, is made by the local offices of the road today.

“Beginning Monday the P. M. will reduce its schedule of three trains into and three train out of Manistee daily except Sunday to two each way.

“It is stated that this is a temporary schedule, made necessary by the scarcity of coal, but no hint is given as to when it will be possible to resume the old schedule. Passengers will be seriously inconvenienced, but railroads all over this section of the country are feeling the pinch of the fuel famine and are forced to do the best they can in the crisis.

“Should war be declared on the United States by Germany or any other nation, members of the U. S. Coast Guard crew stationed in Manistee would be subject to call under the regulations governing their employment. The new regulations under which the U. S. Coast Guard is organized makes that organization subject to the orders of the secretary of the navy.

“At the present time the U. S. Coast Guard is under the direct orders of the treasury department, but should war be declared the coast guard immediately becomes a part of the navy department, and every man in the service becomes subject to the orders of the navy.

“AFTER ALL, blustery old February can put on a pleasant enough smile when he wants to.

“FIRST BREATH of spring was felt today. That was a balmy breeze that blew from the southwest.

“GEORGE NEWLAND, 20, living north of the city, returned home from Muskegon with the scarlet fever, not knowing he had it. The young man said he was not feeling well and decided to come home. On examination by a physician he was found to be suffering from the fever. He had been sick several days without knowing what the ailment was.

“Alfred Jensen, 34, who was arrested Tuesday afternoon on complaint of his wife, Marie, was arraigned in Justice Erb’s court yesterday afternoon. He pleaded guilty to a charge of being drunk and on the recommendation of Prosecuting Attorney Howard Campbell, was paroled pending his good behavior.

“Jensen was accused of going to his home and abusing his family and destroying the furniture in the house. It is said he took an ax and chopped most of the windows from their frames and otherwise disported himself. He had only been out of jail a week after serving a 90-day sentence for assault and battery.

“Valiant work of Eastlake’s small fire company prevented a devastating conflagration in the across-the-lake village this morning. Sparks and fire brands carried by the high wind soon were communicated to a row of closely-packed dwellings as two small buildings were leveled, and for a time there was scant hope that the limited department could avert a conflagration.

“The fire started shortly before 10 o’clock this morning from a stove in the residence of Mrs. Rose Tomaszewski. The Jahnski residence, adjoining, had taken fire before the arrival of thee fire department and hope of saving either of the houses was abandoned immediately. Firemen directed their efforts to saving other residences that were threatened.

“Cottages on both sides of the burning residences were soon fired. Frequently as many as four houses, besides the two that were in flames, had small fires.

“Chemicals were most effective in combating the fires. A bucket brigade also did valuable work. Nearly everybody in the village was a volunteer, and as a result a fire which might have leveled block after block was restricted to a loss of no more than $700 or $800.

“Charged with disorderly conduct and violating a city ordinance passed and approved May 20, 1914, which provides against gathering, congregating, standing or loitering in stairways and doorways within the city limits, Thomas Moran and Ray Dieliest of Ludington and ‘Buck’ Friend of Manistee, were arrested Friday night in front of the Lloyd & Smith store on River Street and held until today for investigation.

“It is said that the practice of standing in stairways and doorways along River street has become so extensive that unaccompanied women hesitate to pass down the street during the evening for fear of sarcastic remarks being made by these men.

“Business men of upper River Street are pointing with pride that for the first time in a number of years every building on the north side of the long block from Greenbush Street to Smith Street is tenanted. They accept it as an augury of improved conditions for not only their part of town, but for the entire city.

“The three locations along this stretch which were recently vacant are: The east half of the Jarka building, formerly occupied by the J. M. Ramsdell music house, into which Frank Jarka has moved his shoe stock, making a double store for his clothing and shoe business; the store at 342 River Street, formerly occupied by Staffeld and Thompson clothing store, where Mrs. Emma S. Peterson, who was long associated with the Boston Store has opened a millinery establishment; and the old Newcombe Planning Mill property, now occupied by the Lehmann-Overland company, automobile sales garage.

“LYRIC PLAYED TO CAPACITY houses, the fine weather bringing many of the hibernated beings out for a sniff of air.

“GOOD HEARTED PEOPLE were seen all day Sunday on the Maple street bridge, feeding the sea gulls with everything from home-made cookies to scraps of beef steak.

“RAW WIND today is very penetrating and discomforting. Cross currents this morning caused many furnaces to backfire and send more smoke than heat through the registers.

“THERE’S NOTHING FRIENDLY in the weather forecast. ‘Snow, colder and wind of gale force’ is the unpleasant outlook.

“BRINY INN FLAGPOLE, which had stood bravely atop the ruins ever since the fire, this morning toppled over into the interior of the structure, another incident for the chapter of woes.

“IF FEBRUARY continues giving performances of how to crawl into the bottom of the thermometer, a movement to eliminate it from the calendar will have the support of everyone but the coal men and valentine dealers.

“300 Starving Women Storm City Hall Clamoring For Food [in New York City]

“NEW YORK, Feb. 20—Crying ‘We want bread; we want bread!’ 300 women, bareheaded and scantily clad, started up the stairs of city hall today demanding relief of mayor Mitchel from the high cost of food.

“The recent Briny Inn fire became the subject of official investigation toady, when Deputy State Fire Marshall E. E. Winship of Lansing instituted an inquiry into the basic causes of the fire, and to determine to the satisfaction of his department whether the Manistee fire department failed to put forth effective efforts to prevent its spread.

“After a comprehensive survey of the ruins, and close questioning of the janitor and other hotel attaches who were on duty at the time, Mr. Winship expressed conviction that the fire department did the best it could under the circumstances.

“The deputy fire marshal is of the opinion that the fire originated right around the stack line leading from the heating boiler, and that through technically faulty building construction gained such headway before the second blaze was discovered that it was beyond any fire department’s control.

“One factor toward this line of deduction, he states, is the fact that he found the main floor of the building to be a double floor, with at least two inches of air space between. So, Mr. Winship believes that while everyone was convinced the fire was extinguished, a single spark, blown between the layers of board and possibly finding lodgment against a few grains of sawdust, fanned by the draft between the floors, might have gained such a start and attained such headway before being rediscovered that no fire department could have mastered it.

“Mr. Winship noted the further fact, he believes, that the fire wall did not reach quite to the roof in the attic, thereby causing an over-draft, or double-draft. He thinks the second fire was getting a good start while everybody interested was lulled into feeling of security that the blaze was extinguished.

“’I understand, said Mr. Winship, ‘that your fire department was handicapped by lack of men, and that it was a bitterly cold day. One thing I do say unqualifiedly: Your fire department covers an awful lot of ground with the equipment and men at its disposal. Anyone can tell after a fire how it could have been fought better. It is the easiest thing in the world to criticize. But those criticisms get outside your city and react on Manistee. They harm the town. I am not yet convinced by what I have seen that your firemen did not do good and efficient work, and until I am, I shall take into consideration the fact that they fought under great disadvantages.’

“Manistee, located in a potato-growing district, practically faces a famine in this staple commodity,

“Prices have steadily advanced until today’s quotations have reached a hitherto unknown altitude. Indications point to a still higher price.

“Many grocers throughout the city are completely out of potatoes. They say they cannot get them.

“A few retailers here have discontinued the sale of potatoes altogether, making no effort to handle them at the present high prices.

“Others have them but are selling them at prices too high for consumers to pay.

“The situation has reached a climax and a complete famine would not be considered as surprising.

“The Lenten season began today and those who are required to observe its fasting rules are especially hit as potatoes, cooked in their various forms, are a mainstay of the fasting diet.

“Reports from Onekama state that warehouses there and in the surrounding district are filled with potatoes. Farmers have plenty in their cellars but are either holding off for a still higher advance or are unable to make shipments on ;account of the weather.

“It is a certainty that only a few have come to Manistee with their stock within the last month or so.

“BANKS WILL BE CLOSED all day tomorrow, Washington’s birthday—legal holiday.

“EIGHT FREEZE-UPS of water services were reported to the city water department during the recent cold snap.

“DANCES WERE THE VOGUE last evening. Quite a number of people who observe the Lenten season took advantage of this opportunity to do the merry glide for the last time until after Easter.

“IT WAS COLD enough this morning for the most hardy. Several thermometer readings showed that the temperature was all the way from zero down to 14 below. Pretty snappy weather for Feb. 21.

“NOT MANY PEOPLE can tell you on Feb. 22 the battles in which Washington licked the English army, but everyone knows what he did to the cherry tree.

“PHILADELPHIA, Feb. 22.—Food rioting broke out in Philadelphia this afternoon.

“’It’s robbery, robbery,’ shouted several hundred women who attacked dealers after the prices were advanced.

“Intermittent fighting continued between women and dealers until the arrival of the police reserves.

“NEW YORK, Feb. 22.—Five hundred cars of foodstuffs—mostly meat, poultry and potatoes—are expected to reach New York today.

“Railroad officials declared congestion in the yards is gradually being relieved and that the food shortage will soon be dispelled.

“Meantime, Mayor Mitchel started the city machinery working in the investigation of food prices on the east side.

“WASHINGTON, Feb. 22.—Ten representatives in a letter to members of the house today demanded investigation immediately by the federal trade commission into the food situation.

“Determined to force congressional action to relieve the food shortage that caused bread riots in New York, Representative Fess of Ohio today informed Representative London, Socialist, of New York, that he will introduce a resolution providing temporary federal food control.

“Discussing the situation, London bitterly assailed food speculators.

“’Food prices are so high necessities are inaccessible to the masses,’ he said.

“Raging blizzard and swirling snow again descended on Manistee last night, causing considerable stoking of furnaces to maintain comfort. Outside, those who were forced to be abroad found the going difficult.

“The storm, which began in the afternoon with a desultory fall of snow, turned into a blizzard in the early evening that tied up railroad traffic entering the city. The M & N. E. passenger train due here shortly after 6 o’clock, was stalled to the north, being delayed until a snowplow could be called, arriving here at 2:30 this morning.

“Manistee suffers, as does many other cities in Michigan, from a somewhat serious spread of scarlet fever. More fortunate than other cities, however, Manistee possesses only the milder form of the disease.

“There has been no death.

“Mayor H. W. Nordhouse is contemplating a ‘clean up‘ campaign for Manistee. Enforcement of city ordinances concerning street loitering has been neglected, he says.

“It has become the habit of young men to congregate in the darkened doorways along River street after the supper hour each evening and hold what they choose to term ‘mashing parties.’ Young women passing along the street are either rudely addressed or are followed down the street, being annoyed by these rowdies. There has apparently been no effort made from any source to stop this ungentlemanly practice. Quite a number of complaints have come to me about this.”

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Posted by Ken Grabowski

Ken is News Advocate’s education reporter. He coordinates coverage for all Manistee County schools and West Shore Community College. He can be reached by phone at (231) 398-3125 or by email at kgrabowski@pioneergroup.com.

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