Oscar Odd McIntyre
Cass Cooper was the son of Professor Irving Cooper
of the High School. He never mingled with other boys. He used to build shacks
out of tin cans down by the ice piers. He chewed tobacco. On Sunday evenings
he would go to church with Mrs. Cooper and always fall asleep.
In the late summer evenings folks out riding used
to see him on the Coopers’ roan
mare, driving the cows in from Shaw’s pasture. That was about the
only work he ever did, except a little hoeing in the garden now and then.
Professor Cooper was called to a better position
at Bowling Green, and Cass Cooper loafed around town, living mostly with
Baz Cunderliff down on the coal float.
People would see him rowing across the river and they said he had a cave
over in Alum Rock where he would stay for three or four days at a time.
Mrs. Cooper came back to see him once or twice, and they went to the
opera house together, and Cass would have a new suit after she left.
Cass was never in any trouble. He never took a
drink, and his only bad habit was chewing tobacco. There were only about
a half-dozen people in town to whom he would talk. Nobody ever saw him with
a girl. Professor Cooper went up into Alaska with his wife, during the Klondike
excitement. Some of the people back home heard he struck it rich. But Cass
never said anything about it.
Cass died of a lingering disease and was buried
by the county.
Editor Sim Giles
Editor Simeon Giles settled back home the year Henry
Clay was seeking the Whig nomination for President. He bought The Leader
for $300 and moved it from over the feed store to the northeast side
of the public square.
Undertaker Enoch Boggs
Sim Giles was a stern man. He wore a wide-brimmed
hat and a long drooping mustache and bo8iled shirts and white cuffs. He
had an anchor stickpin that fastened in his shirt and was attached to
a gold chain around his neck. Rain or shine he had old black Alexander
come to his room up over the Leader office and polish his shoes every
day in the week.
On Sunday mornings Sim Giles, General George
House, Henry Cruezet, Captain Jack Sheppard and Banker Henshawk used to
occupy the bench near the pump in the public square. One Sunday they were
debating the question “Is
British Tyranny more tolerable than American slavery?” There were
hot words, and someone saw Henry Cruezet rush over Court Street after
Sim Giles was stretched out on a bench with a
long gash across his cheek and looking very white. People were going home
from church. They carried him over into General House’s Old Reliable
Insurance Agency office across the street. The affair was hushed up, but
Sim Giles never would print advertisements from Banker Henshawk or allow
his name to be published in the Leader. He carried a deep scar to his
Sim Giles made the great trip from Louisville
to Pittsburgh on the fast steamboat, Belle of the West, and the article
he wrote about it was reprinted by The New York Weekly Tribune. Sim Giles
ran for county treasurer and was defeated. He sold The Leader to Colonel
Sam Harper and left town, and no one back home heard of him after that.
Undertaker Enoch Boggs was a very silent man. He
had a wry neck and chewed fine-cut. At funerals he used to sit up on
the hearse seat with black Charlie Robison, the driver, and nod all the
way to Cemetery Hill.
Mrs. Boggs was a great hand to call on the sick.
She was a Lewis and came from Purdy. They had one son, Archie Boggs, who
was the town dude. He came back from Marietta College the first year with
a spotted bulldog.
He had his hair parted in the middle, and wore
a tiny little cap, with a long visor, far back on his head, and had peg
top trousers. Dunk Devac told around town that, when Archie passed the
hitching rack in front of Wye’s harness shop, two horses broke away.
Undertaker Boggs had the finest horses in town.
He had seven beautiful white mares and every year he got the first prize
at the equine exhibit at the county fair. He also belonged to all the
lodges and was a great man to march in parades.
He was a delegate to the Pythian convention in
Denver, and made the round trip with Mrs. Boggs. He also went to Chicago
during the World’s
Fair. He had an uncle who had been to Europe.
Every time Undertaker Boggs went away to lodge
conventions there used to be stories circulated around town. Folks said
he went on sprees and that Mrs. Boggs went along to take care of him.
Miss Tish Young was in Cincinnati once and said she saw Undertaker Boggs
staggering along the street. Nobody every saw him take a drink back home,
and he signed the pledge under Evangelist Sam Jones back in ’81.
Ormsby McTavish came from Scotland. He ran the Sample
Store on Court Street back home. He had light sandy side-whiskers, but
his mustache was stained a dark brown from nicotine.
His son, Treat McTavish, waited on the trade,
while old Mr. McTavish spent all his time keeping books under a coal-oil
lamp in the back of the store. Sometimes the lamp would be burning as
late as ten o’clock.
Mr. McTavish sent out all his bills weekly and
to those who came to his store and paid up, e gave a five-cent poke of
gum drops. After closing the store, he would step into the Blue Goose
with Conrad Schreck, the butcher. They would sit for hours over a glass
of beer and a scotch whisky, not saying a word—only smoking.
Mrs. McTavish was an Englishwoman, and people
used to laugh behind her back at her strange accent. The day Heptonstall’s
lumberyard caught fire, Ab Atkins and a crowd of men were running past
the McTavish home. Mrs. McTavish came to the gate and asked what the trouble
“Big fire,” someone shouted.
“Fiah! Fiah! Wheah?” cried Mrs. McTavish.
And those three words became by-words around town. Mr. and Mrs. McTavish
always went to the brick Presbyterian Church and he always walked behind
her. Nobody knew why. Mr. McTavish was a very learned man. He predicted
the coming of Halley’s
comet, and he knew all about old coins.
During the Cleveland administration McTavish
failed in business, and became watchman at the flour mill. Every night
Conrad Schreck would go down and sit with him, out in front, near the
“Peeney” Brown used to run the
barber shop on Court Street. In front he had a jewelry shop. He won a
Shetland pony for being the champion horseshoe thrower at Gallia County
Fair. “Peeney” could
play tunes on peach leaves and knew a lot of tricks with strings. He
was the first man to introduce celluloid collars back home, and never
He went in for novelties. Back in the room where
old-timers played checkers he had the walls decorated with cigarette pictures—more
that 1500. No one ever saw “Penney’s” wife except in
the early morning, when she came out to scrub the front steps. She was
a Hibbard and came from back in Beulaville.
“Peeney” had one stock story. It was
about the time he cut Senator Foraker’s hair when the senator was
running for governor, and he got a dollar for it, which was in a frame
over the mirror, facing the chair.
It was “Peeney” who took the knife
away from “Jud” Harkner
the first night of the centennial celebration at the Court House Square. “Jue” was
out to kill Orley Henshawk, ne’er-do-well son of Banker Henshawk.
“Peeney” was the King of Boyville.
He died the other day from nursing a strange traveling man at the Merchant’s
Hotel who had the plague. The story of the interurban president’s
housewarming crowded the news of his death off the first page. “Peeney” got
only three lines inside.
“Chut” Bashaw spent the most of his
life around saloons. He was the son of Madam Sarah Bashaw, who lived
in the green-shuttered house across the railroad tracks. Madam Bashaw
never came to town except in a closed cab.
“Chut” was a professional gambler and wore
a white vest and a white hat. He was mild-mannered except when he took
to drink, which was once a year. Then everybody avoided him. When in his
cups, the only person who could do anything with him was the Rev, Alva
Gee, the Baptist preacher.
One night “Chut” got in a row over
a seven-up game in Andy Archman’s with a crowd of miners from Pomeroy
Bend, who came down on a Saturday night spree. He wielded a poker over
the heads of two and was standing the rest at bay. They sent Doc Parker’s
black boy, Dan Hogan, after the parson, and he came with his nightshirt
tucked into his trousers.
The crowd fell back and the parson stuck his
head through the swinging doors and called, “Chut!”
“Chut” looked up and walked meekly
out and up to the post-office corner with the preacher, and neither said
a word. When Evangelist Moody visited back home “Chut” was
the first man in town to sign the pledge, and then he hired out on Squire
farm, up near Addison. When the Carlton mine caved in, “Chut” ran
all the way from Gallipolis, five miles, after rescuers.
Back home they are waiting for “Chut” to
break the pledge. “It
can’t last,” they say.
The Bijou Pool Room was upstairs over Link
drug store back home. The cushions were dead and the cues warped. The
charge was two and a half cents a cue.
Besides the two pool tables, there was a little
glass case for chewing tobacco and cigarets, a big oil lamp, two long
benches, and a chair for Grandpa LeCler1, who always loafed there. On
one wall was a poster of Al Field’s minstrel troupe, and on another
the escape of the hero in “Human Hearts.”
The Roush brothers—Joe and Ed—owned
the place. Joe Roush was the first man in town to whittle a steamboat
and put it inside a glass bottle. Ed was more of a business man, but had
“Sug” Walters was the champion pool
shot of the town. He clerked at the Merchants’ Hotel in the winter
and was second mate on the packet, Neva, in the summer. He had a story
about himself in The Cincinnati Enquirer during the ’88 flood, when
he dived under the coal float and brought up Colonel Bud Miller’s
“Sug” was well liked by the older
men from Lawyer’s
Row, who came over in the afternoon to watch him and Editor Sibley play
bottle pool. Some of the politicians got him a job as superintendent of
Home. It paid $480 a year and his board and privilege of farming. It looked
for a while as if “Sug” was going to amount to something. But
he kept coming to town and playing pool all day and he got put out of office.
He still hangs around the pool room. When strange
drummers come up “Sug” always
starts every conversation with “When I was superintendent of the
Children’s Home.” It is his only cherished memory.
André LeClerq came from France the year of
the yellow fever epidemic. He settled back home in the Rance property
overlooking the levee on Front Street. He was a great student and had
the finest library in town. He always wore a shawl and a plug hat and
had spells of gout. He never spoke to his son, Ollie LeClerq, after Ollie
married the Marsh’s
André LeClerq’s wife died before
he came to America. For forty-five years he called regularly on Tuesday
and Saturday on Miss Liza Rance. Miss Liza was a blue-blood, a branch
of the Kentucky Rances. She lived in a fine old Colonial house on Court
She wore a big cameo breastpin that had been
in the Washington family, it was said, and a net over her hair. Miss Liza
had a carriage, and in the summer evenings her black man, Hannibal, would
drive her around the public square while the band played.
The only time André LeClerq and Liza Rance
were ever seen together in public was at the dedication of Gallia Academy,
when Governor Bushnell spoke. A good many people wondered why they were
never married. Some thought it was on account of Ollie LeClerq’s
marriage. Others said it was because Miss Liza was a year older.
During the blizzard of ’86 when the Ohio
froze over, André LeClerq
was on his way to the Rance home on Christmas Day with a copy of Longfellow’s “Poems.” He
fell in front of the tannery and broke his hip. He was carried into Miss
Liza’s home, where he died ten days later. Miss Liza never went
to the funeral, nor was she ever seen except by old Hannibal and Dr.
Cromlish, the family doctor, after that.
“It was a strange love affair,” they
say back home.
Pedro Joe was sometimes called Whitewash Joe.
He did all the odd calcimining jobs around town and put in the glass
windows. Some said he was a Spaniard, and others said he came from Austria.
He talked with an accent and was a steady drinker. He lived in the stable
in the alley back of Schreck’s
meat shop and loafed about Kerr’s drug store.
He used to be up every morning at 4:30 o’clock,
and was the first customer at the Blue Goose. There had been stories that
he killed a man once, but he seemed harmless and very fond of children.
He used to cut baskets out of buckeyes for them, and he could make a noise
like a sheep and imitate a saw-mill buzz-saw.
In the spring Pedro Joe used to go back of Reservoir
Hill, on the lower river road, and gather herbs, and he hung them to dry
outside his shack. There was talk that Dr. Cromlish got his famous recipe
great blood restorer from Pedro Joe. Pedro Joe always had a cough and
people would see him on the street gasping for breath and sometimes spitting
blood. They never thought he would last through the winter. But he lived
to be eighty-eight and died with the smallpox at the county poorhouse.
Dr. Cromlish paid all his funeral expenses. Not
a soul went to his funeral except the undertaker and the Rev. Alva Gee.
Sam Duncan Devac was the town drunkard. Every night,
winter and summer, Aunt Mary Huntsinpiller sat at her parlor window and
knitted. She would pat her foot as she knitted. She knew more about people
than Eliza Whitleby, who worked at the post office.
Aunty Mary used to say that she could never remember a night that Dunk
Devac did not go past her window, on this way home for supper, drunk.
He lived in Strawberry Row, south of the spoke factory.
Dunk Devac was small and wiry and smiled, drunk
He could name all the Presidents in their order and quote Scripture.
He had two fingers off his right hand. He lost them the year he went
to work in the Mullineaux planning mill. He never worked after that.
His wife, Sallie Devac, clerked in Mose Straus’s
Bon Ton store. She was a dignified woman, one of the Yates sisters from
Rio Grande, neat in dress and active in church work.
Nobody could understand why she kept on living
with Dunk Devac.
Everybody felt so sorry for her the day she was walking home with the
wife of the new Methodist preacher.
It was the week of the trotting meet and on the
opposite side of the street some young men from the fair grounds were
carrying Dunk Devac home on a shutter.
Another time Dunk Devac fell off the wharf boat while the crowd was waiting
for the new Iron Queen from Louisville.
They had to roll him on a barrel on the levee
before he came to. General George House, who ran the Old Reliable Insurance
Agency, once offered Dunk Devac a pair of double-seated, corduroy trousers
if he would stay sober on election day. Dunk wouldn’t promise.
But he took his wife to see the Swiss Bell Ringers
at Odd Fellows Hall and wore his cut-away coat.
Afterward they went to Mr. Jenny’s ice-cream
parlor and straight home.
“A good soul when he’s himself,” is
what they say back home.