Snow in Fenton 162 years ago was the worst.
By: Jan Rynearson
In: The Tri County Times (Winter of 2005)
The snow and Severe cold of this past week was nothing compared
to the frigid weather of 1842-1843.
Fenton had been founded only eight years before and the homes of the
settlers were primitive, to say the least.There were no modern conveniences and life was relatively simple.
According to Woods History of Genesee
County Vol. I, that was the winter to surpass all winters.
From Nov. 18 until April 1, the snow level was 3 1/2 feet deep. There were 150 days
Cattle, hogs, horses, sheep and poultry were plentiful, but the hay of the swales
and scanty grain was the only fodder as the snow and cold spell continued.
In the fall of 1842, hay was $6 a ton and by April of 1843, it had risen to $20 per
ton. Cattle were dying. The markets were in Pontiac, which was a four-day drive, if people had the money to purchase fodder
Freezing frost was in the wells 24 inches and potatoes stored in cellars were lost
by the cold.
This cold spell and deep snow probably were contributing factors for firewood to
This was the winter that the wooden grave markers disappeared from the Prospect Hill
area (original section) at Fenton's Oakwood Cemetery.
Who removed them, no one knows, but this cold winter, 162 years ago, has long been
attributed to the loss of the markers.
The Weekly Observer 1853
State of the Cause in this Vicinity
For a short time after the 'Maine Law' took effect, the persons engaged in liquor selling here suspended the traffic, and
declared their intention to submit to the law. But lately some of them have been trying the experiment to see how far they
could go with impunity in violating the provisions of the law, until liquor selling and drunkeness have again advanced to
nearly the former standard. The floodgates of intemperance and ruin have again been thrown open. - This state of things has
been considerably forwarded by the opening of a new grogery among us, under the double bogus of 'Drugstore' and 'Oyster Saloon.'
(For this advertisement we charge nothing.) For the credit of our place abroad, we will not say how many drunken fellows we
saw here in a single day - but those things must all come out in their proper time.
The friends of Temperance here have become aroused, and are now determined to wage war against the traffic, till every
vestige of it is rooted out from this village and vicinity. They have resolved that IT MUST BE STOPPED !
Now, we have a few words to say personally, to the liquor sellers here. Whenever the community are afflicted with any great
evil, we hold it to be the duty of every good citizen to do all in his power, in whatever position he may be placed, to relieve
the community from its effects. That the liquor traffic is an evil, no person of common sense will pretend to deny.
We have all seen its deplorable results. In every community throughout the land may be found more or less of its victims;
men debased, ruined, their lives rendered worthless, and their families reduced to poverty, suffering and sorrow - in these,
and numerous other facts, may be seen the results of this miserable and wicked traffic. Therefore, as citizens, having the
best interests of community at heart, it becomes our duty to do everything in our power for the suppression of this widespread
and blasting evil.
But in our present position, as conductors of a public journal, we have an especial duty to perform.There is a responsibility
resting upon us, which cannot be discharged by silence. We feel it an imperative, though painful duty, to hold up to the scorn
and contempt of an injured community, the dark, hideous, and disgusting features of the business in which you are engaged.
We must freely call the attention of society to the injury you are doing it. Yes, more - we must tell the public, and particularly
the injured families, who it is that is thus making war against their dearest interests, by leading on their husbands,
fathers, brothers, and sons, in the path of ruin. We must give the names and the facts - the public must know
the names of these who are ready to trample under foot all law and all moral right for the sake of making a few pennies. There
are several individuals here with whom we have no personal ill feeling, except on account of their connection with the liquor
traffic. We shall be sorry to offend them; but we have a duty to do, and we shall do it - regardless of personal ?ouse ? (illegible).
We are now collecting, as fast as we can, the materials for a series of articles, under the head of 'FACTS OF THE LIQUOR
TRAFFIC' in which we shall show up the persons engaged in it, and describe the doings at their several places of business.
We shall also give a brief history of a number of the unfortunate victims of the traffic. We shall commence with one
of the worst among the dealers. By this we shall probably lose some of our patronage - but what of that ! We should not feel
that we were true friends to the cause, if not ready to risk something in its defence. Certainly such a consideration ought
not to prevent us from the performance of duty.
We will remark, however, that if there are any among those engaged in the traffic, who will immediately, fully and honestly
discontinue it, we shall not deem it necessary to mention their names. Our object is not to injure any one, but only to aid
in putting a stop to a pernicious and death-dealing business.
The Weekly Observer 1853
Certain individuals in this vicinity have commenced a most violent personal persecution against the Editors of this paper;
apparently on account of some articles we have published, which did not happen to suit everybody - a thing an independent
press can never do. We should care little for the raving abuse and low, slanderous faslehoods of certain well known persons,
were they not encouraged in their work of enmity and mischief, by one or two others, who profess better things. We have nothing
further to say, in this connection, in reference to our enemies, open or secret, only that we hope to 'live through
it;' we wish not to make the slightest unkind reflection in regard to those whose friendship and support were expected, but
who have never given a word for our defence or encouragement in this emergency. A very few words more will express all we
have to say at present: We know our friends - and we shall try to remember them.
The Weekly Observer 1853
THE LIQUOR TRAFFIC
, - Since the issue of our last paper, we have not seen or heard of any cases of drunkeness in the
streets, and we presume our liquor dealers have thought proper to ba a little careful in their operations. There are some
facts of a little more private nature, which will probably come out if circumstances require it, such as sketches of Oyster
and card tables set out with liquor among the ornaments; and various other circumstances of that character.
We do not yet think it quite time to give names and particulars in full. We shall not hesitate to do so when we think the
state of the cause requires it.
|Click on image to enlarge
The Flint Journal Monday, August 10, 1936
Over Thousand Animals
to be Unloaded Today
at Linden and Holly.
Fenton - Almost a trainload of drouth stricken livestock from the Northeast will be unloaded at Linden and Holly today
and Tuesday for Charles Crane and Thomas McKinley of this village who have spent the last three weeks in the Dakotas and Montana.
Returning here Saturday morning by auto, Mr. Crane immediately began preparations for unloading 2,000 sheep, 100 horses,
and 92 head of Black Angus cattle.
The sheep and cattle will be unloaded at Linden while the horses will be unloaded at Holly.
"Dead livestock in piles was seen in a few places," reported Mr. Crane. "The bulk of the animals have already been shipped
and the balance will leave the area rapidly now."
"Trucks are operating day and night hauling the animals from the farms to shipping points. The bulk of the trucking is
being done by the farmers themselves and every available vehicle is being pressed into service."
Sell With Tears
"The most distressing features of the deplorable situation is the human angle. Three years of successive drouths have crushed
these once proud farmers and their families. They part with their horses with tears in their eyes and invariably request good
care for them. With the departure of these animals seems to go all their hopes, inspirations, ambitions and dreams.
Still ringing in Mr. Cranes ears is the gloomy prediction of the farmers with whom he delt; that another generation will
have to rebuild the vast area, not them.
Denuded of Trees
To understand the situation there one must keep in mind that the area has long been denuded of tress, reminds Mr. Crane.
There are a few diminutive shade trees about the houses and along the creeks where they are not dried up, but nothing comparable
to the most denuded areas in Michigan. Everywhere there is parched ground. The farmers exhausted their stocks of feed during
the past severe winter. When this year's crop failed all hope of saving their herds were abandoned.
Clouds of Grasshoppers
"There's no shortage of water; their wells are still functioning but there's nothing to feed the stock," he added, "and
for grasshoppers; well, you'd think you were in a hailstorm when you drive through clouds of them along the country roads.
They're eating everything that's left. Fields of corn have seen eaten to the ground."
This article is from a newspaper of an unknown name and date.
Page of history: Fenton forgives coal thieves
The article on Fenton's water system mentions that there have been many
disputes in our town. It doesn't point out that given time most of the spats are forgotten. In the same vein it is a forgiving
town over the antics of wayward citizens and after a raised eyebrow and a tsk-tsk, usually lets the offenders back into the
In the early 1930's the town was gripped by years of terrible times. Wide-spread
unemployment was compounded by record cold of the winters. In addition to these travails there was a constant energy shortage
- no money for coal.
At a time when security was measured by the amount of fuel in the coal
bin people resorted to picking up half-burned cinders off the railroad tracks and burning anything flammable.
One night S.R. O'Brien, a coal dealer, had a full car of coal on the Caroline
Street siding between Lemen and Pine Streets. The next morning the entire carload was gone! Thus came into existence Fenton's
"Moonlight Coal Company."
Now, its possible to swipe a bushel of apples and hide the trace, but eighty
tons of coal disappearing on a snowy night is a little difficult to conceal. Whether the railroad detectives tracked down
the miscreants, or just drove around watching for smoking chimneys I dont remember but the six or seven proprietors of the
"Moonlight Coal Company" were quickly apprehended. They were hauled into court, where a sympathetic judge meted out a light
The town folks were a bit shocked at first, and then saw the grim humor
of it and treated it all as a sort of joke. None of the "partners" ever had any additional trouble, and another page of our
town's ever-changing history was written into the book.
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