DAILY NEBRASKA STATE JOURNAL, LINCOLN, SUNDAY 5 JUNE 1887 p21
Her Rapid Development One of the Wonders of the Age.
Destined to Be the Chief Agricultural and Stock Raising State of the Union - Her Inexhaustible Resources Furnish a Sure Return for Enterpirse and Industry - Opportunities Never More Encouraging Than at Present - Wonderful Growth in Population and Wealth.
Not many years ago Nebraska was an unclaimed wilderness. A few adventurers, lured by the stories that came from the fancy breeding Pacific, hurried across her borders, shuddering at the vastness of the desolation that surrounded them. Few realized that they were leaving behind in disgust the surest ??? that ever rewarded honest industry. The changes that have taken place since that time rival the transformations of the magicians. So rapid have they been, in fact, as to outstrip the comprehension, and only the evidence of sight serves to dispel ideas the fruit of the events of a few years past. Modern means of rapid communication have brought the conveniences and luxuries of life into the midst of what was once supposed to be a hopeless desert, towns and cities, the centers of wealth, culture and refinement, have sprung into existence, while the people of the east are still contemplating the tales of the "wild and wooly west" - the echo of a racket that has gone into history.
It is not necessary to review the past at length, for it needs but to be remembered that Nebraska's history as a state dates only from 1867, that her population in 1860 was 28, 481; in 1870 it was 122,993; in 1880 452,342, and that today, considerable over a million of people dwell within her borders. One-half of this vast number have made this state their home within the past six years. To know that they dwell in contentment and plenty, that the per cent of illitracy (sic) is less than any other state in the union, that the average wealth is proportionately high, and that all this has been developed from the varied and inexhaustible resources of the state is sufficient to realize that her growth is one of the wonders of the age.
Nebraska is in extent double the size of Ohio, and larger than all New England. She has no waste territory, for where the lands are not adapted to agriculture, they furnish as fine pastures as ever drank the dews of heaven. Although strictly a prairie state, Nebraska is relieved by a variety of scenery and soil not shared by any of her sister states. The soil is alluvium or lacustrine, black and rich with organic matter, and from five to 100 feet in depth. Its ability to hold the moisture and withstand drouth is phenomenal. Analysis shows it to contain over 80 per cent of silicia, which absorbs the moisture like a sponge. If the season be warm and dry this moisture is drawn to the surface by capillary attraction, and a good crop is matured in what would, in less favored localities, be a hopeless drouth. Its fertility is almost inexhaustible. Crops of corn have been grown on one field for twenty years in succession without any failure in quantity or quality. The one hundredth meridian as the limit of agriculture has disappeared. A material evidence of this fact was to be found in the products of the soil collected at the last state fair, where some of the finest specimens of vegetables and cereals came from beyond that line. It is not necessary here to discuss at length the increase of rain fall, which has been the chief influence in producing this result. That there has been an increase, and that it has the assurance of a scientific basis is notorious.
It is said that among the crops of this western country, "corn is king," and it may be so well distinguished, considering the ??? this cereal cuts in the agricultural reports. The crop of 1885 is put at 153,506,370. It may convey more idea to the mind if it is said that it grew on a corn patch equal in area to the state of Connecticut and that to move it by teams and wagons, each carry ing forty bushels and occupying thirty feet of space would form a line procession reaching one and one-quarter times around the globe. To convey this crop to market by rail, calculating five hundred bushels in capacity and forty feet in length to every car, would take a train reaching from Lincoln to New York and three hundred and eighty miles to spare.
For the same year, the wheat crop was 19,630,802 bushels; Oats, 24,973,293 bushels; also heavy crops of barley, rye, flax, broom corn and potatoes.
The interest which is universally being taken by the people of the state in the planting of forest trees is gratifying to note. There has always been considerable timber along the water courses but the deficiency, which, as a prairie state, has been experienced, is being rapidly supplied. It is estimated that there is growing and prosperous in the state over 250,000 acres of forest trees many of which have reached considerable size. As a fruit growing state also, Nebraska offers peculiar and exceptional advantages. Soil, climate and rain fall combined to produce the most abundant results. Nearly every variety flourishes satisfactorily.
Although classed among the agricultural states, every indication shows the possession of rich mineral resources which are to be developed in the future. Several coal mines are now being profitably operated, while the salt deposits near Lincoln are destined to prove among the richest and most productive in the country.
The first settlers who came to this land found the prairies covered with vast herds of buffalo, elk, deer and antelope, attracted here from all the great northwest by the abundant and nutritious grasses, and the ??? sweet water of the streams. Nature made Nebraska a stock raising state and as such she will always take an important place. Her herd law is universally commended. Little ?? is required to bring all classes of stock to the highest state of perfection, and so more profitable method can be devised for disposing of the surplus corn crop. There is in the state, as shown by the last report of the board of agriculture, 499,871 cattle, 94,549 horses, 3,155,797 swine; 466,822 sheep. Mines and manufactories, forests and, of late, climate have been quoted ??? in the prosperity of states. But it is the commonwealth that supplies bread ???, those staff commodities, sources of the ??? new of commerce as well as the individual that is bound to lead in the long run. From our broad fields the granaries and ??? of the world are to be filled. The increase of grain and stock growing, the combining of farming and dairying, support this prediction that in ten years no western state can compare with Nebraska in agricultural wealth.
A realization of the incalculable advantages of general education has been a characteristic of the settlers and inhabitants of the state, and finds it expression in a well patronized and admirably conducted common school system to which state and private enterprise has added every advantage of a higher and broader culture. It is an interesting fact, showing that the ??? is one of the first things to which the pioneer turns his attention, that ?? of the "temples of learning" in the state today are built of the prairie and it should also be stated in this connection that the state has more public institutions and well constructed buildings for its age than any other state in the union.
The administration of the affairs of the state is marked with prudence and public spirit, and not a little of the prosperity which dwells within her border is ??? thereto. The present state debt amounts to $449,977.55 consisting of twenty years bonds, maturing April 1 1897 and drawing 8 per cent interest. The assessed valuation of the taxable property of the state in 1885 was $122,418,209.83; an increase of $9,862.98 as compared with the assessment of 1884. The property of the state for the purposes of taxation is $143,932,570.51, giving a total in??? for two years of $20,315,858.56.
Nebraska's situation gives her every advantage in point of a pleasant and healthful climate. She lies in the last portion of the temperate zone, where the season are adjusted to fit the highest development of the race. Upon the parallel that cuts her in twain sat the city that ruled the Golden world. Far enough north to escape the parching heat of summer; far enough south to escape the ??? of extreme cold; at an elevation which, without robbing the atmosphere of its moisture, gives it all the invigorating qualities of a mountain region.
It was evidently not designed that all should be wealthy, but everyone who aspires to a position of influence in the community realizes the importance of that indispensable requite - a competency. What energy and industry has done, can be repeated, and it is upon this proposition that the assertion is based, that not a place on the globe furnishes more ample opportunities for securing that great desideratum of independence than Nebraska.
That all these vast resources have been for ages lying untouched, and come a birthright to the present century, should be an inspiring thought to the young men of the nation. A multitude of streams are waiting to turn the machinery of manufacture. Acres of splendid fruitful soil await but to be stirred by the husbandman to give forth an abundant harvest. Railroads are penetrating every quarter of the state;l new towns are springing into existence and rapidly taking their place among business centers of the commonwealth. Every year increases the aggregate of improvements, brings nearer the settler's door the modern conveniences and enhances the value of his property. This constant and rapid change of values furnishes a most fascinating field for speculation, and score of ample fortunes, are the reward of a grasp of the spirit of the times, and a realization of the possibilities at hand. To give some idea of the progress that marks the present and what it indicates for the future has been the effort of THE JOURNAL in this edition. Leading features have received the attention of some of the ablest specialists of the state. The testimony given by the large number of towns should also challenge attention. To those who contemplate making a home in the west, or who would be thoroughly informed regarding the opportunities, and advantages offered by the great state, their careful perusal is heartily commended.
Office Potvin Block, 116 So. 13th Street
Lincoln Stone and Marble Company
Artificial Stone, Marble and Tile.
House Trimmings, Sidewalks, Tilewalks, Pavements of all kinds. Carriage Drives, etc. Contractor of all kinds of Cement Work.
Office Corner 12th and P Streets.
DAILY NEBRASKA STATE JOURNAL, LINCOLN, SUNDAY 5 JUNE 1887 p22
Nebraska's Facilities as a Stock State Unexcelled.
A Grand Opening for Enterprise and Capital - Statistics of Crops and Prices - What to do With the Surplus Product - The Remarkable Success Attending Stock Feeding - A Summary of the Fine Stock of the State.
[Written for THE JOURNAL by L. L. Selles, Editor Nebraska Farmer]
The state of Nebraska is 210 miles wide, 430 miles long and has an area of 76,855 square miles or 49,187,200 acres. There are probably upwards of 65,000 farms in the state which in 1885 produced as follows:
From the above it may safely be assumed that there are today not less than 40,000,000 acres of land in this state that have never been plowed. All of these lands plowed and unplowed, load themselves season after season with crops of grass and grain sufficiently for the support of our present live stock many times multiplied, and year after year over 75 per cent of these magnificent crops go to waste from lack of capital to put on them cattle, horses, sheep and swine to consume them in their season as bountiful nature holds them forth. These are facts of vast interest and the reported prices obtained for the grain crops but enlarge this interest. Below are given the average prices for Nebraska, the lowest average by any other state and the average for the United states as reported by the department of agriculture for December 1886.
Low at oth'r states
This table shows that in every instance the Nebraska crops sold for less than the crops of any other state. Stock raising and stock feeding has always been profitable in all parts of the country. No country in the world surpasses Pennsylvania in the quality of its beef, and feeding there is profitable and steadily carried on with corn at 47 cents, rye 58, oats 34, barley 60, and hay $12; as against ours at 20 cents, 19, 32, 31, and $3.75 respectively. All classes of stock are raised and fed off in Vermont on corn at 36 cents, rye 73, oats 37, barley 63, and hay $10.40. If the Pennsylvania and Vermont farmers can make any profit at all on stock fed on so costly food certainly the Nebraska farmer ought to make very large profits on his as the ultimate and regulating market is the same for both. In January last the live stock of Nebraska in number and value stood as follows:
So far as the consumption of crops is concerned these animals are about equivalent to 2,500,000 adult cattle. The crop report shows 3,752,013 acres of corn. Prof. Sanborn, of the Missouri agricultural college, after a thorough test of the matter, asserts that a careful saving of the corn fodder will enable the farmer to add to his stock one steer for each acre of corn raised. In the absence of waste, therefore, our cornfields alone are more than sufficient to subsist all of our livestock and leave the corn - amounting to over fifty bushels for each animal - as a surplus, except in the case of fat and dairy animals. We have over 150,000,000 bushels of grain, besides the corn and all the hay. What ought we to do with them! We ought to feed every grain and every straw. In the absence of money how can this be brought about? Proclaim the facts to the world. let the matchless advantages for investments be known to every owner of a dollar. Let the farmer by his stability and honesty of purpose inspire the faith of the capitalist so that the clinking current of hard dollars will be turned this way, and the work is a matter of little time and the prosperity of the state such as no other state ever enjoyed. In fact these advantages have already been discovered and are being used by a few of our keenest farmers. The Standard Cattle company at Fremont, and the Union cattle company at Gillmore - the largest feeding establishments in the world - are the outgrowth of these conditions. Each has a capacity of about 10,000 steers at a time. One hundred more such establishments could be set up in the state without increasing the crops.
In the improved stock lines we may mention the Fairmount Cattle company, who have 290 Herefords, 275 Angus, 500 grades and 125 draft & grade horses; George Borland, Stanton, 125 Herefords; Turlington stock farm, 100 Angus and 500 to 600 steers annually; A. S. Harrington, Odell, forty-five Herefords; C.M. Searls, Aurora, thirty-five Herefords; J. M. Severy and Son, Aurora, fifty Holstein-Friesland; R. M. Day, Weeping Water, thirty-five Herefords; Richard Daniels, Gilmore, 130 Shorthorns; Hon. J. Fitzgerald, Lincoln, 125 Shorthorns and over 1,000 steers annually; I. Johnson, Lincoln, fifty Shorthorns; C. M. Leighton, Lincoln, thirty Herefords, and forty Shorthorns; Lownes, Martin, and others, Lincoln, 100 Shorthorns.Claudius Jones and Son, Seward, 75 Holstein-Friesians, 40 Shorthorns.
Wm. Gill, Seward, 80 Shorthorns.
J. O. Chase and Bro. Fairmont, 50 Holstein, 40 Herefords, 45 Shorthorns, 125 Galloways.
J. B. Stout, Beatrice, 80 Shorthorns.
Dinsmore and Hamilton, Sutton, 50 shorthorns.
C. M. Branson, Lincoln, 60 Shorthorns.
Importing Draft Horses company, Lincoln, 50 draft horses, Shires and French draft.
Mark Coad, Fremont, 50 French draft mares, 250 grade and native horses bred to French stallions.
Joseph Watson & Co., Beatrice, 35 Shires and Clydes.
O. O. Heffner & Son, Nebraska City, 25 drafts.
Frey & Fahrbaugh, York, 25 drafts. Doubledee and Black, Raymond, 30 Clydes, Shires and Harabletonians.
I. N. D. Solomon, Omaha, 20 Shetland ponies.
Graham P. Browne, Omaha, 40 to 50 Jarseys.
Jas. Schulz, Yutan, 20 French drafts.
M. Kenyon, Raymond, 30 Shorthorns.
James W. Eaton, Syracuse, 35 Shorthorns.
C. Wood, Berlin, 50 Shorthorns.
R. T. Scott, Pawnee City, 80 shorthorns, standard bred horses and Merino sheep.
William Ernst, Tecumsah, 30 Shorthorns, 10 French draft horses.
Rev. O. Compton, Bennett, 35 Jersays.
William Clark, Lincoln, Jersays.
H. D. Leonard, Lincoln, 30 Holstein-Friesens.
H. C. Stoll, Beatrice, 100 thoroughbred swine.
Holdrege fine stock establishment, Holdrege, French drafts, and Poland China hogs.
Odgers & Morton, Unadilla, Poland China hogs.
This must be considered a very incomplete list of the improved stock in the state. Still the showing is quite creditable. A very hopeful feature is the discrimination now exercised is the selection of stock. The best is being called for and the lower grades are neglected. The best stock state in the union will not long stand before Nebraska.
Will make the Season 1887 at
JOHN FEDAWA's BARN, 715 Q Street.
Rys Duke has some of the best colts ever foaled in Nebraska.
For tems and particulars call at 715 Q st., or address
Pete Johnson, Supt., P. O. 708, Lincoln.
DAILY NEBRASKA STATE JOURNAL, LINCOLN, SUNDAY 5 JUNE 1887 p24
Address of Isham Reavis in Honor of the Late Hon. A. J. Weaver,
Delivered at Falls City, Nebraska. Before the District Court and Members of the Richardson County Bar, May 27, 1887.
May it Please Your Honor. At the last term of the court it became the duty of the members of this bar to announce to the court the death of two of its members, the Hon. August Schoenheit and the Hon. T. C. Hoyt, and to ask your honor that certain ceremonies of respect to their memory be held in the usual way. Again it becomes our melancholy duty to pay a similar tribute of respect to the memory of another fallen brother, who has passed away since we last met, a little more than two months ago. Judge Archibald J. Weaver, a member of this bar and for seven years a judge of this court, departed this life at his home in this city, at 8:35 o'clock p.m. on the 13th day of April last, at the age of a little more than fort-three years. I shall not attempt any extended biographical sketch of our honored professional brother who has gone down to death so prematurely, as the greater part of those who hear me, as indeed all the people of the state of Nebraska, know the fact of his history quite as well, if not a great deal better, than I do, and I shall confine my remarks to what I know of him as a citizen of this state.
Judge Weaver was born in the state of Pennsylvania and in the morning of his early manhood removed with his family and settled permanently in this city. I first met him in the early spring of 1869, and was introduced to him by his brother in law, Mr. Chas. Steele, who was laid to his rest, preceeding Judge Weaver to the shadowy world just fourteen months to the day, and almost to the very hour. At about the time of Judge Weaver's advent into Nebraska, duty called me to a distant territory, and for the next four years I knew very little of him, only seeing him occasionally and at long intervals, when I happened to be at home, and therefore could have but the most general idea of him in a professional capacity, as most of his active practice at the bar took place during my absence.
This, however, must have been entirely satisfactory, both to the bar and the people, for he had been here scarcely two years before he was elected to the constitutional convention of 1871, and to the office of district attorney in 1872, both of which offices he filled with signal ability. At the state convention of the republican party in 1874 he was readily nominated for the office of state treasurer but by some trick of politics, best known to crafty and unscrupulous political wire pullers, he was defrauded of his rights and the place given to a person in no way fit to receive it, or deserving of so high an honor and trust.
The constitution framed and submitted by the convention of 1871, having failed of adoption by the people, another convention was called by the legislature of 1875, and Judge Weaver was again chosen by the people of this county as one of the delegates thereto. In this latter convention he stood among the very first of the many eminent gentlemen who composed that body, as your honor can very well attest, having been a member of the same convention yourself, representing Richardson and Nemaha counties therein. The constitution framed and submitted by this convention was adopted by the people and has ever since been, and now is, the fundamental and supreme law of the state. At the election in November, 1875, and the one at which the constitution was adopted, Judge Weaver was almost unanimously elected judge of the First judicial district, a circumstance that rarely occurs in the life of any public man. He held and executed the duties of that highly important office for the constitutional term of four years, so ably and satisfactorily that in 1879 he was again unanimously nominated and triumphantly elected to the same office for another term of four years. Of this latter term he served only a little less than three years, being prevented from further service in that capacity by the people themselves. They desired his service in a more enlarged field of usefulness, and in 1882 he was nominated and elected to the office of representative in congress, and again re-elected to the same place in 1884, his term of service in that great office ending only a little more than a month previous to his death.
I have thus rapidly enumerated the many public trusts committed to his hands by his fellow citizens since he came among us a stranger and unknown, eighteen years ago, but I have not paused to give in detail the history of his official life, nor do I consider it entirely appropriate on an occasion like this. It is perhaps enough to say and I say it in the full confidence of its truth, that in all public stations he proved himself an able, honest and conscientious servant of the people that he has never been weighed by the balance of public opinion and been found wanting in any of the essentials that go to make up the full rounded character of a purely representative man. But while I must omit details in his history in other capacities, I do not feel disposed to allow this occasion to pass without giving expression to my appreciation of him as a legislator and a statesman. It is as such that he is best known to fame and it is as such that the people and the history of this nation will remember him longest.
I hold in my hand a copy of the interstate commerce act, which was passed into a law by the last congress of which Judge Weaver was a member. This act, while it is largely experimental, stands alone in point of importance, on the statute book of the American government., This copy I purchased at a book store in St. Louis the other day, and for no other reason than because I found appended to it the names of the gentlemen who conjointly framed and formulated this chef d'oeuere of modern legislation, and the name of Judge Weaver is among the illustrious number. No one can thoroughly understand the momentous character of this law without some knowledge of the vast enterprises it is intended to regulate and control. It is a practical solution of the long agitated question of transportation both by land and water, on the railways and waterways of this country and the oceans of the earth.
There are now in the United States nearly 150,000 miles of railway, costing $1,500,000,000, and including a capital stock of a much larger sum, the legitimate accumulations from the operation of the roads, and it has long been apparent that some legislation on the part of congress was necessary, limiting the powers and defining the duties of the giant corporations touching their relations to the people and business of the country. Many of the states have attempted to regulate the operations of railways by local laws, but experience has demonstrated that this was impracticable, owing to restricted jurisdiction and the want of power; and it needed little sagacity to know that the source of power for the purpose was the national legislature. This power is derived from the constitution of the United States by positive grant in terms; and while it is true that nearly a century has elapsed since the adoption of that instrument by the people of the states then composing the union, and the provision empowering congress to regulate commerce among the several states has all the while been in it, it is a significant fact that no act has ever been passed by congress giving operative force to that provision until the passage of the act in question last winter. It therefore marks an epoch in the history of this country in cooperation with which the Emancipation proclamation and all other acts are dwarfed into utter insignificance. Judge Weaver's competition with the bill was this: There were two bills looking to the same end before congress, one in the house and one in the senate. The Reagan bill passed the house and the Culloon bill passed the senate. Neither bill satisfied a majority of both houses and a conference committee composed of members from each branch became necessary -- two from the senate and three from the house. This committee when appointed consisted of Culloon of Illinois and Harris of Tennessee, on the part of the senate; and Reagan of Texas, Crisp of Georgia and Weaver of Nebraska on the part of the house. These gentlemen met in conference last November a few days before the meeting of congress and matured the bill that finally passed. This was done by selecting the least objectionable parts of both bills referred to, and by adding such other provisions as in the judgment of the committee were necessary and proper for the accomplishment of the common object. The bill this matured, having received the assent of both branches of congress and the approval of the president has become the law of the land not to be repealed until commerce, and civilization shall have ceased to exist.
This act, far-reaching and comprehensive as the trade and commerce of this mighty nation, whose iron roads span the continent in all directions, and the sails of whose ships whiten all the seas on the globe, belongs to that class of laws that have the stamp of immortal life upon them from the very beginning. Human history has furnished many such laws and they are alive today among which is Magna Charta of England; the Descendents Law of 21st of Henry VIII; the Declaration of Independence; the Constitution of the United States, and the Emancipation Proclamation of President Lincoln. These can never die until all human liberty dies with them.
I have dwelt thus long on this fact in history with which our honored and lost fellow citizen had intimate connection, only for the purpose of showing how invaluable his services have been, not only to us, but to his state and nation. He was a young man, scarcely in the prime of his vigorous manhood, with the horizon of his future rose-tinted with the promise of greater things.
"He should have died hereafter;
There would have been a time for such a word."
Judge Weaver, like most public men, has come in for a large share of adverse and unfriendly criticism. This is the ordinary experience of men who by the impelling force of genius urge themselves to the front in any calling in life. To make way for the coming man somebody must be pushed to the wall, and hence the infelicity of things as a necessary resultant. But I am prepared to say, and I believe my judgment in this particular is of some value, that at the close of his life, he stood as unsmirched and as clean in the public estimate as any man who has ever held an office of trust or profit in all the state of Nebraska. It has fallen to my lot to know much of him as a jurist and a member of congress, and while not always agreeing with him in certain particulars, I have ever admired his rugged honesty and his bluff, forcible manner of carrying his point when success seemed almost an utter impossibility. He was a natural leader of men, and would have attained marked distinction in any of the multitudinous walks of life. In fact, I believed him to have been a much older man than the most ardent of his friends claimed him to be. I had peculiar opportunities of judging him in this respect, and I do not think that I can justly be accused of partiality in the premises, or of adding undue coloring to my words in giving expression to my estimate of the man. However much his opponents, in or out of his own political party, may have differed from him in matters of policy or principle, all have been compelled to acknowledge his native intellectual strength, and the purity and honesty of his acts in the public service. The same may be said of him in his private relations. In business and in his professional career. He was bold in his conceptions, aggressive in his methods, and perfectly fearless in the maintainance of his convictions in matters of duty. In these respects he certainly was exceptional. As a party leader he had no equal in this state and hardly any in all the great northwest. At the time of his death, he was at the head of the party machinery of his own party, and the leading spirit in the direction and control of all its affairs, down to the most minute detail. Always equal to any emergency that fate thrust upon him, he had drawn to him the universal confidence of the people and his party, and all felt that interests confided to him were in absolutely safe hands. But he has passed from the busy scenes of this life, and we shall scarcely look upon his like again. There was something so startling in his sudden demise -- it was so unexpected and unlooked for -- that it is difficult to realize that he is, indeed, gone forever. We may not murmur against the decrees of Providence, but somehow, poor human nature, like Jeremiah of ancient days, cannot help exclaiming in the agony of its sorrow: "How is the strong staff broken and the beautiful rod!" It is some satisfaction, however, to know that he has been with us, and of us; that his community took delight in honoring him in his life, and that it honors him in death.
After all, the grandest and the most enduring product of any nation, is men. When all else of national life has faded out into absolute nothingness the names of the most illustrious of its people, are the last to succumb to the effacing hand of time. History whispers vaguely of nations long dead and buried, whose claim on the universal remembrance is asserted only in a name -- sometimes that of a man, or a ruined city; while the manners and customs of their people, their institutions, religion, language and laws, have all gone to mingle with the things forgotten. Cities in the long past were frequently nations in themselves. It was so with Baalbec, which today is little less than a mass of carved rocks in the desert. The very origin of this ancient city is lost in the remoteness of antiquity, and the hands that fashioned those stupendous temples of Jupiter and Apollo, mighty in their ruins, have been dust for forty centuries.
His untimely taking off is inexpressibly sad in many particulars. With a young family that needed his fatherly care more perhaps than at any other time; his loss at this juncture is a calamity immeasurable in its desolating effects to them. In this, however, there is nothing exceptional. It is the common fate of all families to be disintegrated and broken up; but where this is brought about prematurely, the consequences are often disastrous and hurtful, and sorrowful beyond description. This family was already divided. The two eldest and the youngest of the children had gone before and the father was the next to follow; while the mother with the remaining four of the broken circle, yet linger on this side of the Stygian pool. Was there some hidden purpose in the divine economy in thus taking away the head of this already afflicted community of home? We may not know, for we are told that "clouds and darkness are round about him; righteousness and judgment are the habitations of his throne." But may not those little ones in heaven have yearned for the companionship and tender sympathy of some one who had loved them on earth; and may not the merciful father of all have called from hence their earthly parent, to bear them company in that limitless house of the many mansions. Who shall tell! We see now as through a glass darkly, but then, after the river of death has been passed, we shall see face to face and possibly may come to know the mysteries of God and nature. The death of Judge Weaver has orphaned his children, widowed his wife, desolated his home, and scattered widespread regret throughout the whole state. Orphanage, however, is the possible lot of all the children of men, and the actual lot of untold thousands. It was so in the beginning of the race; it has been so all through the ages, and it is so today.
But in every case it is simply human experience, like human history, repeating itself. Judge Weaver, himself, had known all that is meant by that synonym of desolation -- orphanage. At the early age of two years he lost his father, and the battle of life was thus opened for him on the very threshold of his existence. He probably never had any distinct recollection of his father, and certainly, as I am informed, never received any material assistance for him. He was therefore, thrown entirely on his own resources; and from his infancy up to the day of his death, was the architect of whatever of fortune and fame he attained as a man, and a citizen. The career of this exceptional man is highly interesting, and I only regret that I cannot give the minutes of his history on this occasion, for the emulation and stimulus of the youth of this country. Turn the kaleidoscope of time, from the neglected boy of eight or nine, earning a bare subsistence by herding cattle on a diminutive pony, to the capital of a great state, and we see a tall vigorous man in the early flush of his intellectual maturity, standing among the most imminent constitutional lawyers of the commonwealth, assisting with his counsel and his learning in framing its fundamental law; from the pale, this youth, whose winters were devoted to teaching that he might gain the means of following his academical studies during the summer, to the bench of a distant state, and to find sitting thereon, by the almost unanimous voice of the people, this same struggling youth, now metamorphosed into the stern judge, holding the scales of justice with an impartial hand, and wearing the robes of office, which for seven years never received a stain of corruption, not a spot of dishonor -- from the toiling student of law and the science of government the office of Gov. Hoyt of Pennsylvania to that magnificent pile of marble and iron at Washington city, the capital of the nation, and again we find our acquaintance of the play of small things, standing proudly among the mighty men of the American nation, the equal of any and the peer of all, representing with eminent ability and marked distinction, the wealthiest and most popular district in all this great republic.
The Institutions of this country find their best illustration in the lives of such men as Judge Weaver. No man under the aegis of the American constitution is born into any special privileges. True, some men inherit greater estates than others, but the inestimable inheritance of brain and heart, energy and pluck never reach a man through the medium of a will or the operative force of the descendents law. These are the gifts of God, and their utilization the special work of their recipient. The mightiest men of earth, have been those who urged their way from obscurity to fame by their own unaided exertions. England is 2,000 years old but she never had but one Cromwell, and he, born of the people, came to be greater than any king.
Europe is older still, but her continental destiny had been shaped by three colossal men -- Charles Martel, Charlemagne, and the First napoleon. Whatever follies these men may have been guilty of afterwards, two of them at least came up from the ranks of the people, and attained greatness and immortal fame by their own exertions. Lincoln went from a camp and a cabin in the wilds of the forest, to a seat of power unequalled in the palaces of the Caesars. Garfield trod the bow path of the canal in his youth, and the marble halls of the capital of his country as its chief magistrate before the bullet of the assassin put an end to his life. And so, with scores of others who have likewise written their names high up above the decay line of men and things. Words of eulogy fail in their office on an occasion like this, and I refrain from attempting anything of the kind. The flowers I bring to the grave of our professional associate and fellow citizen, have been gathered by the wayside and are sad, but I scatter them in kindly remembrance of the man who has added a new luster to the manhood of the state of his adoption.
The frequency of these visitations of the arch destroyer serves to remind us, as nothing else will, that in the midst of life we are in death. In the busy affairs of active life, we are apt to lose sight of the fact that we, too, must one day die, as all the dead of ages past have done before. There is something inexpressibly lonely in the thought that absolute forgetfulness among men follows our departure from this life. In the long future, the mass of those who have lived will have no more remembrance among men than if they had never had an existence at all. Of the 60,000,000, who now live in this nation, there are not 100 whom the world will care to remember a century hence. Some grand poet -- I think it was George D. Prentice of Louisville, Ky. -- has told the whole story, so beautifully and so truly that I cannot refrain from reproducing it here:
Alone I walk the ocean strand;
A pearly shell was in my hand.
I stooped and wrote upon the sand,
My name, the year, the day.
And onward from the spot I passed,
One lingering look behind I cast --
A wave came rolling high and fast
And washed my lines away.
And so, me thought, it soon will be
With everything on earth of me;
A wave of dark, oblivious sea
Will roll across the place,
Where I have trod the sandy shore
Of Time, and been to be no more.
Nor leave no track nor trace,
But with Him who counts the sands
And holds the waters in His hands,
I know a lasting record stands
Inscribed against my name.
In this, there is a suggestion of forgetfulness here, but an eternal remembrance in the hereafter. All the way from the old patriarch of Uz, to this very moment, men have been asking, and are now asking: "If a man die, shall he live again?" The question implies a possible doubt; but possible doubts are entertained in connection with all things of the earth earthly. Outside of revelation, there is no solution of the question. No process of reasoning, scientific or philosophical, has satisfied the longing of the human soul, which "Uneasy and confined, lives and expatiates in a life to come." The metaphysicians, the transcendentalists and the materialists have proceeded upon hypothesis peculiar to their respective schools of philosophy, to find out the inscrutable thing of nature, and have succeeded only in arriving at a point in their researches, beyond which they are pleased to say lies the unknowable. In this weary march of ratiocinatious each school contradicts the other, and in the long procession of the ages, from Socrates, Plato and Aristotle, to Descartes, Kant, Mill and Spencer, antagonistic theories have been the result of all their labors, with nothing absolutely settled as an affirmative fact. None of them, Socrates excepted, has ever been bold enough to assert the immortality of the soul. But the assertion has been made, and uncounted millions have believed it to be true, during the slow flight of nearly nineteen centuries. It was the word of One; it came to be the belief of twelve, then of seventy-two, and thence forward, of the millions and the ages.
The simple Gallilecan peasant spoke strange words in the wilderness of Time, from which has sprung that irresistible influence that has lifted empires off their hinges; transformed the face of the world, and altered the data of time; has sown the earth anew with the fragrance of the garden of man's original innocence, and preaches the resurrection and the life. Whoever has looked upon the dead, has somehow tried to look beyond, and has wondered whether consciously or unconsciously, as I did when I looked upon the cold, dead face of the man whose memory we honor tonight, what has become of the vital element, the once living man. Is death what the dissolute but eloquent Mirabeau said it was, La mort est ensomil eternel or is it only the gateway to a better life? If it is not the latter, and the so-called revelation shall prove as fallacious and unreliable as the theories of the philosophers, who shall wonder that toiling humanity, which in this world is given away to misery, tortured in life, and in the end is swallowed up in death, should cry out in the hopelessness of despair: "Watchman, what of the night?"
© 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001 for NEGenWeb Project by Ted & Carole Miller