I recently had the privilege of reading 13 issues of the newspaper, Albany Echo, printed during the year of 1881. Interestingly enough, that corresponds with the year during which James Garfield was president of the United States, and probably was the reason for these newspapers being saved in this private collection.

The Echo, an independent local journal, devoted to the interests of Athens and adjoining counties, was published (1876-1890) weekly in Albany, Ohio.

D.A.R McKinstry was the owner, and primary local reporter, and seemed to have traveled the whole area and knew, or was told, just about everything about everybody.

Dare I say, it was great fun reading the entries because many about events then, were similar to news articles today. That was a free-wheeling time for publishing, though, and there were no restraints on privacy, nor worries about being sued for repeating hearsay.

Dec. 15. The oyster supper planned proved a failure, because MD, who was to furnish the oysters, didn’t get there until the morning after, having two bottles in his packet when he did come, which accounted for his being behind time.

June 18. Mrs. Caroline Keck, of Wilkesville, wife of Frank Keck, who recently ran away with a woman named Eva Bale, has instituted a suit in the Court of Common Pleas, for a divorce and alimony.

March 10: As we go to press a rumor is going around, and we have no particulars and do not vouch for the correctness of the report, but for the Garfield inaugural ball 4,400 counterfeit tickets were printed and sold for $5 a piece. There was little room left when invited guests arrived. The inauguration (March 4) was elaborate and brilliant.

The March 24 issue reported that a portrait of Mrs. Rutherford B. Hayes was presented to the White House to honor her for getting rid of serving wine there, but President Garfield gave a no-answer when asked to continue abstinence.

Of course, there were many items about Garfield during those nine months of 1881 before his death, as well as after Vice President Chester A. Arthur took office. The Sept. 29 copy reported what I considered follow-up news about President Garfield’s Sept. 19 death and funeral, and new President Arthur’s Proclamation and speech. The entire inside of the Oct. 6 issue was devoted to the funeral, and the publisher suggests it be “clipped and saved.”

The news articles, editorials, and advertisements provided interesting and sometimes unexpected information about the businesses in the area. Two barges left Pomeroy last night carrying 11,000 barrels of salt. Farrell’s Ice House, at Athens, contains 1,200 tons of ice. Mt. Blanco Wool Growers Assoc. organized and will have first shearing on Oct. 22; and the Vorhes Brothers have already taken in near 100,000 pounds of wool. A man in Hibbardsville is handling an immense amount of fur and pelts, and his friend in Marshfield is a “prince among tanners.” D.T. Moore, the tinner, is off to Amesville to roof the academy. The Akron Iron Company will erect another furnace (iron) at Bessemer (Buchtel) this spring.

Of course, the many advertisements for mercantile and hardware businesses showed fashions and needs of the day.

Jan. 6. The happiest man in town last Wednesday was George McQuigg. He had been to Cincinnati and came home on the first passenger train ever to arrive in Pomeroy.

June 23. The Marietta & Cincinnati Railroad will, on July 2, 3, and 4, sell roundtrip tickets between all stations on the Main Line and branches for half-price.

The Ohio Central Railroad still looking to come to Albany.

Joseph Miller, colored, has secured the contract for excavating and laying the sewer from the courthouse to the Hocking River.

Sept. 29. Free holders of Alexander and Athens townships are slowly, grudgingly and under protest, paying up back college rents. Coal is legal tender on subscription at this office.

Mr. Leggett has a bill in the Ohio Legislature requiring the makers of oleomargarine to stamp the article as such and give the components.

Oct. 6. The beautiful and life-like portrait, presented by Mrs. G.G. Greene, placed in the Wells Library, will freshen the memory of the charitable founder (Henry Wells), and the directors thanked A. J. Warner for donation of valuable public documents, including copy of Report of Solar Eclipse of 1878.

Dec. 15. Atwood Institute will open winter term on Tuesday, Dec. 6.

And I was reminded that “new news is old news.”

Sept. 29. Three men, who had been drinking, went to a saloon at Bessemer, imbibed more, and starting “raising hell.” Saloon owner summoned enough force to put them out of saloon. The rogues battered down the door and beat the saloon owner to death. They are now in jail cells awaiting the action of the grand jury.

Jan. 13. Holiday recess of Congress has come without any action on two pressing questions — the refunding bill and the electoral count resolution. It would have been more becoming in Senators and Representatives to have dispensed with the celebration of Christmas festivities at home and to have attended to their legislative duties at the capitol. There is a disposition among the Republican members to let the business go on.

April 21. The deadlock in the U. S. Senate continues. If any difference, the brakes are set tighter on both sides every day by party influences.

Aug. 24. A “cock-fight” by Representatives. Two took off coats, others came to separate or help, and “one or two member drew their pistols.”

June 18. Many reports over the years of persons being shot by accidental discharge. Revolvers have become too common property.

Dec. 29. A sad accident from the careless use of firearms occurred at the Enterprise Academy on Tuesday evening, when the young colored folks had met to practice for the exhibition. One, with a revolver, was on stage when it discharged, the ball striking a boy in the lower part of the abdomen. Thus we have another example of the terrible results of fooling with firearms.

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Marjorie Stone is a member of The Messenger’s Board of Contributors and co-author of Getting to Know Athens County and author of As Time Goes By: A Pictorial Journal of Athens, Ohio.

jhiggins@athensmessenger.com; Twitter @joehmessenger

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