Mansfield Years Ago by J.H. Reed

Richland Co., Ohio


Historical Information

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Mansfield Years Ago

by J.H. Reed


Unknown Newspaper


Submitted by Jean


Mansfield Years Ago

The First EngineóThe Primitive SchoolsóMain Streetís Cobble Stones.

The years slip away so quickly one needs to consult his calendar to be sure if its two or twenty since a given event occurred to which his attention is called.  Yet, after all, the years havnít [sic] much to do with these matters.  Events mark the intervals of time, not the almanac.  Prospects big with results step in, command our attention, revolutionize our business and social conditions and leave us to live more in a twelfth month than our fathers did in a decade.  I have just been reminded of an incident that illustrates.  I was a boy in your neighboring city, Massillon, thirty miles from my home.  Homesick boys donít allow the want of a railroad to prevent their spending the holidays with their mothers, and I was no exception.  Ah, my Christmas dinner at the old homestead!  The going back was quite another affair and I remember it well.  The winter roads were impassable for carriages, and my father and I undertook the trip on strong saddle horses.  But the half-frozen mud made even this means of conveyance intolerable, and the last fifteen miles I made on foot.  Well, that winter it was announced that on a given day the first locomotive on a new railroad (P. & Ft. W.) would reach Massillon.

But few in all that region had ever seen a locamotive [sic] and the people gathered from far and near, till a great rounded hill overlooking the track was alive with the expectant crowd.  After long waiting a whistle was heard and soon the homely little engine came slowly around the curve.  Such a scene as followed I never expect to witness again.  Dignified business men shouted and flung their hats in the air.  Timid women screamed and not a few fainted.  One man, after a wild look at the strange thing, turned and ran as though the very dól had landed and was giving him chase.  Thoughtful faces lighted up as though they were witnessing the consummation of the important event of the century.  The little mixed train, creeping from town to town once a day, attracted sightseers for a time; but the novelty soon wore off and it became simply a matter of convenience or business.  To-day those people will scarcely turn a glance at the magnificent vestibuled [sic] train, as it dashes through the city, bringing its burden of passengers from the Atlantic cities to the refreshing breezes of our beautiful Pacific coast.  And this all within a part of a single life time.  Iím not an old man yet.  You will have to look sharp to detect the few gray hairs on my temples.  The transition from that little wheezy locomotive, a fair representative of its kind at the time, laboriously making its few miles an hour with its tiresome day coaches to the superb Baldwin whisking its passengers across the continent as comfortably as if they dined and lounged in their own homes, is most wonderful.  This is but one of the wonderful things that have occurred and that mix us up so when we attempt to trace our way back a few years.

            I remember when last in your vigorous young city of laughing to myself as I noticed how complacently you all moved about.  Your acres of smoking factories, your spacious business houses, your beautiful homes, drives and parks.  Why, bless you, its only a few years ago I went to take the superintendency [sic] of your schools.  My old friend Col. Burns piloted me about.  We found the High School building on the border of E. Sturges cow pasture.  Making our way to the little south building we soon came to the end of the sidewalk, but we bravely turned up our trousers, waded into the clay mud and succeeded in finding the school house, quite in the country.  I didnít quite see how the more ample building at Frog Town was to be filled from the few scattered houses among the vacant town lots of that region, but Col. Burns promised that plenty of children would be forthcoming.  Every morning I would meet Joe Hott, than a boy, driving Dime Sturgesí sleek red cow to its ample pasture on what is now Park avenue, west.

Then the little patch of cobble pavement did duty for the whole city.  How the memories of those days come crowding back, and I must shut them off right here.  I will add, however, that there were then many noble-hearted men and women that knew how to befriend strangers; and such are safe foundations for a great city.           

J. H. Reed.

Riverside, Cal.

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