“There is one day that is ours. Thanksgiving Day is the one day that is purely American.”

– William Sidney Porter

Ladies and gentlemen, as we celebrate yet another season of Thanksgiving, let’s take an evanescent look back at Thanksgiving Day in Highland County in the year of our Lord 1910.

Why did I pick, 1910?

Glad you asked.

In the year 1910, Thanksgiving Day was observed on Thursday, Nov. 24. On that day 106 years ago, a young couple residing in a farmhouse near Russell in Highland County would welcome their second child into the world just two short days later.

The aforementioned couple in the farmhouse is Ted and Lavina Roush, and their soon-to-be born son would be named Wesley.

Wesley T. Roush is my grandfather. Ted and Lavina Roush are my great grandparents.

During that week in 1910 over in Hillsboro, Ted’s first cousin and good friend, Granville Barrere, was putting out a newspaper, the Thanksgiving Day edition. Granville, as many folks know, was editor and manager of The News-Herald. Granville’s father, Col. George Washington Barrere, had bought two local newspapers, the Highland Weekly News and the Saturday Herald, and merged them back in the 1880s.

Granville, who 32 when he took over operations from his dad in 1908, ran the publication that was long considered one of Ohio’s top ranking weekly newspapers for more than four decades. In 1910, you could get a year’s subscription of Barrere’s newspaper for just a dollar a year. In fact, on Page 4 of his 8-page Thanksgiving edition, he wrote on the editorial page that the paper has “the largest circulation in Highland County of any published in Hillsboro,” and that he makes “this statement without fear of contradiction” and that the Herald has “been trying all the time to give the people a live, up-to-date newspaper, one that gives the news and gives it in an interesting and readable way.”

So on that note, let’s turn to the front page.

During my career, I’ve often heard folks tell me, “Why do you all put bad news on the front page? By golly, it should all be good news instead!”

On Thanksgiving Day 1910, there was bad news on the doorstep – and on the front page as sorrow and suffering had visited area homes. To wit:

Adolphus Pegan, a 46-year-old Lynchburg-area man, was shredding corn at his mother’s home and was killed when the boiler of the corn shredder exploded. It was written that “the boiler blew out, a large piece striking him full in the upper part of the face,” and I’ll spare the rest of the graphic details, but it was noted that it was “miraculous” that no one else
in the vicinity was injured as “flying pieces of the machinery were thrown in every direction.”

In another corn shredder incident, on the farm of Sheriff McMullen, Charles Meredith, who had a home near the farm, lost a thumb in a shredder when he caught the thumb of his glove in the machine. Leslie Miller, who was managing the farm, “hitched a horse to a buggy and started to take Meredith to the doctor at Rainsboro to have the wound dressed. They stopped at the home of George Free and were telling him about the incident when the horse
they were driving dropped dead. There was apparently nothing wrong with the horse and he was a young animal in good condition.”

In a hunting accident near Cynthiana, Frank Horn had one hand torn off by the accidental discharge of his gun. “He had set the gun against a tree to pull on his gloves. (The gun) started to fall and he grabbed it by the muzzle when it was discharged and his hand was torn off.”

There was also the story of Ira Q. Masters, 65, of Marshall Pike, who dropped dead from heart failure while digging a cistern for Thompson Brown of East Walnut Street. And a butcher on North High Street was mourning the loss of a large hog after “one or more thieves entered his slaughter house yard” and killed and stole the hog. But there was good news, as well.

“Sheriff-elect Carley A. Long selected George Willis, a veteran of the Spanish-American War, for his deputy; there were notices of Thanksgiving services; and it was written that Grace Hallar, who had been the deputy clerk of courts in Hillsboro for five years, married Lucien Lawell of Milford, “a very pleasant gentleman, trusted by his employers and held in high esteem by his many friends and acquaintances.”

On the inside pages, there was news out of Leesburg, Russell, Berrysville, Fairview, Buford, Shackleton, Danville and Pricetown, among other places. Of note, the seats for the Fairview church had arrived and the committee hopes to have them placed by next Sunday, and it is desired that as many as possible be at Sunday School next Sunday.

Time and space is running short, but on Page 8 in the following week’s paper, under news out of the community of Russell, it was written, “Born to Mr. and Mrs. Ted Roush, Saturday, a son.”

On the editorial page of the Thanksgiving Day edition it was written, “Thanksgiving: Gratitude is one of our fairest graces. A ‘thank you’ does not render any compensation to the giver, but it enriches the gift and ennobles the receiver.

“Thanksgiving is an attitude of the soul. It is an attitude from which one gets a wide view and beholds how beautiful the world is. From the heights, the little unsightly spots that
may be here and there are lost in the beautiful prospect, and one looks out on a scene that is full of harmony and joy.

“Today, we celebrate another ‘Thanksgiving Day’ and all of us have many things to be thankful for. Let us today go up to the heights, leaving below the little pains, trials and troubles which come into our lives and there with an unclouded vision view the wonderful blessings and mercies which have come into our lives. Let us look over the past and compare our misfortunes and griefs with our happiness and good fortunes. We will find our troubles were largely our own making and then too how infinitely small they are when
compared to the blessings.

“We should today rise above the jungles and the swamps, to the fair summits, under the blue skies, and looking out over the broad earth, and up at the countless stars, to see the actual fact, the Eternal Goodness everywhere.”

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone … and birthday and thanksgiving wishes sent above.

Steve Roush is a vice president of an international media company and a columnist and contributing writer for The Highland County Press.