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By Staff | Dec 31, 2013

Pictured is horse racing at the old fair grounds racetrack in New Martinsville, photo take in about 1900.

Looking back 100 years to the beginning of 1914, the citizens of New Martinsville were wondering about income tax and how it would affect them. With the passage of the 16th amendment in 1913, the new income tax became a permanent part of their lives. The Wetzel Republican newspaper’s headlines tell of some relief to most citizens. The new law is difficult to understand, but for the moderate income of the average citizens in New Martinsville, they would not be affected. Only those making over $3,000 a year would be subject to the new tax. The married man could deduct $1,000 for his wife. So if he made $4,000 he still could be exempt for the tax. The rate of tax was one percent.

The paper also announced some bad news to the community. Last Saturday’s heavy snow downed telephones lines throughout the town. Only one telephone line was left to communicate with Parkersburg. The notice of the loss of telephones was a small footnote on the page. Today, with phones seemly attached to our ears, we would be devastated by such news. Many would go into communication withdraw.

In another story, it tells of the Sistersville Elks delivering food baskets to the poor of the community. Before food stamps and other programs to help those in need, many organizations stepped up and helped. As I study the past history of the area in the old newspapers I noticed many organizations helped out when there was a need. They did not do it because the government asked, they did those things because they believed in their community and it was important to help those who may be in need of help.

In the paper, there was always an advertisement asking, Are You a Moose? It went on to say, Join a Strong, Clean, Wide Awake Social Beneficial Organization, Charter now open. Benefit $8 week for sick or accident and $100 death. Initiation fee $5, $1 Medical Examination. Dues 75 cents a month.

In another story, it told of the Moose Lodge negotiating with John McEldowney for lease of the fair grounds. The old fair grounds sat on the north side of town and were destroyed in the flood of 1907. The lodge hoped to bring back the fairgrounds and the race track. The story explained if the lease could be had, it would still require a great deal of money to bring back the fairground to pre-flood conditions. It is said the fair grounds was one of the very best in the area.

Bicycles were also raced at the old fair grounds racetrack in New Martinsville.

The papers of the day often promoted home remedies for ailments of the citizens. One story told of the quick relief and cure of appendicitis. Relief could be had by mixing Buckhorn Bark and Glycerin in Adler-i-ka, an old German remedy. It would draw out large amounts of old foul matter from the body, relieving sour stomach and constipation.

Take medicinal, CARDUI, The Woman’s Tonic. The advertisement stated that for over 50 years Cardui had been helping women to relieve unnecessary pains and building weak women up to health and strengthen persons.

Another notice told of how to prevent, Bilious Attacks. “Coming events cast their shadows before.” This is especially true of bilious attacks. Your appetite will fail and you will feel dull and languid. But by taking just three Chamberlain’s Tablets you will ward off symptoms.

Do you want to have a better life in your home, you will need a cow. “Where there is a cow there is a home.” The story went on to tell of how cows could improve the income for the household. But just not any cow. There are good cows and inferior cows. A good cow will provide profit for the home and pay expenses for boys and girls to go to school.

One story I enjoyed reading may be of some benefit today to any lady looking to marry. “Husbands, like peaches, will not keep year round unless they are well preserved. First select one carefully. Be sure he is not to green: neither should he be over ripe. He might look very tempting and mellow in the market, but if he is too old he will not stand the test of the preserving process, but will expose his hard stony heart. The home grown are the very best. Select your husband if possible from a family tree grown on the sunny side of the church. You will be sure then that he is sound of heart.

If you were planning to travel by train in 1914, you were well advised to be careful. Several stories of train robberies were on the pages of the papers. One story told that railroad bandits were making a general campaign of robbery; it might be well for New Martinsville travelers to take day coaches instead of Pullman cars.

Looking back 100 years gives us a sense of what affected people in their everyday lives. Paying the new income tax and finding ways to communicate with others. Local civic organizations found ways to help feed those in the community as winter and its harshness set in. Local members of the Moose worked hard to try and bring back something important to the community. The newspaper stories told of remedies for people’s health. A bit of boiled tree bark or a teaspoon of Castoria could hopefully improve one’s health.

The story of the cow was good advice to any home owner to help with expenses. But remember, not just any cow, he has to be of good quality. And for you ladies looking for a husband, remember the peach test when looking for just the right one. The story never said anything about a gentle squeeze to see if he was ripe, I would recommend just a little one to see if he is the right one.

We have come a long way in 100 years since 1914 arrived. Looking back it almost seems comical at some of the things they told of in the papers of the day. But then again I guess if someone were to read the Wetzel Chronicle in 100 years from now, they too may wonder of the stories and the people who lived in New Martinsville in the year 2014. Well, I may ask Mary if I can get a cow to improve our home as I look toward the New Year, Thru the Lens.