100 Years Ago

Picture of several newspapers stacked on top of one another

Image by congerdesign from Pixabay

I love old newspapers.  I love peeking into people’s ordinary, everyday existence from long ago.  I enjoy the juicy tidbits, the sensationalist stories, the crazy advertisements, the puzzling political cartoons – you name it, I like it.  Of course, the news is not always good, pleasant, and fun.  There is a lot of tragedy and sad news reported, especially on the front pages of the papers.

What would life have been like for our ancestors 100 years ago?  What news would they have either been waking up to on that Tuesday morning of April 3, 1923, or perusing in the evening after work?  To find out, I delved into some newspapers from the states in which my family or my husband’s family lived.

The headline on the Urbana Daily Courier (Urbana, IL) was obscure to someone from 2023.  It read simply “Small Issues Hot Reply”.[1] This may be about the article and political cartoon discussing the League of Nations. Lord Robert Cecil, the foremost British exponent of the League of Nations, was calling upon Woodrow Wilson, the former president, in Washington.

The rest of the news on the front page was not encouraging. Vicar General Budkevich, a Roman Catholic Prelate in Russia was executed by the Soviets because he had been in communication with Poland while Russia was at war with them and also because he disagreed with the Soviet system of requisitioning church property. There is an ironic story about a man committing suicide on the steps of an undertaker’s parlor in St. Paul, Minnesota, and a paragraph about a protest against Charlie Chaplin’s movie “The Pilgrim” because the evangelical ministers association of Atlanta felt it ridiculed the Christian religion. An obituary for Daisy Smith, an African American woman who appears to be relatively young, relates how she passed away following an operation and gives details about the upcoming funeral.

After perusing other tragic and upsetting news on that front page, I moved to another state and city.

The Evening Reporter-Star from Orlando, FL did not have one central headline.[2]  One of the many smaller headlines read “Senator-Dentist on the Job” with a picture of US Senator Henrik Shipstead practicing dentistry on a patient in Minneapolis. This paper also has an article about the League of Nations and that America cannot afford to remain out of the League. (If Wikipedia is to be believed, Senator Shipstead opposed US entry into the League of Nations and was a strong antisemite.[3])

In other news, Henry Ford spent the night in Orlando, President Harding was preparing to go on a Western tour, and George Hearst (son of William Randolph Hearst) eloped with his girlfriend (that would be Blanche Wilbur, a fascinating woman). There was a confusing article about parallel parking vs. angled parking on the streets that said that a new law was coming into effect. (I could not determine exactly WHAT new law regarding parking was going to be enforced as the article was mainly concerned that the new law was going into effect on “jinx day”.)

Drawing of a 1920s man carrying a woman by the side of a road with a car in the background

Image by Oberholster Venita from Pixabay

The Lexington Herald (Lexington, KY) had several headlines on their front page.[4]  “US Gambling with Nation’s Future” was an interesting article that discussed the League of Nations with this very prescient quote: “Warning that the next war, if one came, would be far more terrible, because of new scientific discoveries, than the World War, and that it was not inconceivable that American cities might be laid waste and their populations destroyed by airmen flying from over the seas, Lord Robert declared that a crisis in world history had been reached — that nations must learn or perish.”

On a more cheerful note, “Man Who Inherited Fortune Forced to Deny that He’s Dead”.  Colonel H. R. Green was vacationing in Florida and had an operation. He happened to read his obituary in the paper and phoned the newspaper to inform them that he was very much alive. In Washington D. C., only 2000 children came to the White House lawn to indulge in the annual Easter egg rolling frolic due to the absence of the Hardings. One story that looks interesting enough to research is the hunt for the killer of artist model Dorothy King Keenan. The most valuable clue the cops have is an empty bottle of chloroform.

Photograph of Dot King with furs and jewelry

The Washington Times (Washington [D.C.]), 8 April 1923, 4; digital images, Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers (https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn84026749/1923-04-08/ed-1/seq-62/: 2 April 2023)

Finally, Colorado. The Fort Collins Express splashed “District Attorney Asks Temple to Resign” across the top of their paper.[5] This was local news. L. R. Temple from Fort Collins was dismissed and Mr. McCarg from Boulder took his place. Apparently, since Larimer County had the appointment for two years, it was decided that they needed someone from Boulder County for the next two.

We find out that Dorothy King Keenan was not only a model, she was also a stock broker. The plot thickens.  I see a future blog post coming! Another headline says that Governor Sweet signed the Colorado River Treaty, a flawed document that the West is dealing with in 2023.  Tribal nations were left out of this Treaty and the assumption was that the bountiful rainfall and water source would never dry up. How wrong they were.[6]

What I discovered during this quick look through the newspapers was a world uneasy with the aftermath of World War I. The United States and Europe were trying to decide how to work together to avoid a second world war or if working together was even something they should be doing.

Perhaps the next time I do this, I will look at the advertisements.  It’s always interesting to see what people are spending their money on or what people are told to spend their money on. Till next time!!

[1] The Urbana Daily Courier (Urbana, Illinois), 3 April 1923, 1; digital images, Newspapers.com (https://www.newspapers.com/image/668653762/: 2 April 2023).

[2] The Evening Reporter-Star (Orlando, Florida), 3 April 1923, 1; digital images, Newspapers.com (https://www.newspapers.com/image/340895456/: 2 April 2023).

[3] Wikipedia, Henrik Shipstead, (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henrik_Shipstead : 2 April 2023).

[4] The Lexington Herald (Lexington, Kentucky), 3 April 1923, 1; digital images, Newspapers.com (https://www.newspapers.com/image/681320550/: 2 April 2023).

[5] The Fort Collins Express (Fort Collins, Larimer County, Colorado), 3 April 1923, 1; digital images, Newspapers.com (https://www.newspapers.com/image/588343918/: 2 April 2023).

[6] High Country News, On its 100th birthday, the Colorado River Compact shows its age, (https://www.hcn.org/articles/colorado-river-on-its-100th-birthday-the-colorado-river-compact-shows-its-age : 2 April 2023).

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