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Thompson, Oscar T. / Home town : some chapters in reminiscence
(May 1942)

Chapter 5,   pp. 9-11 PDF (920.7 KB)

Page 9

and so badly injured he died in
two or three weeks. Pat Ford was
chased all over town, but finally
managed to get across the line in-
to Illinois. He was later arrested.
I will also relate another circus
occurrence which happened some
seven or eight years prior to the
Burr Robins circus riot.
In the sixties there were  no
houses on the high ground south
of what is now Highland ave. (at
that time called Farm st.). It was
all open prairie, and circus shows
used to pitch their tents out on
this open space. One night when
the performance was going on, a
violent storm blew up, thunder,
lightning, and wind. The tent
collapsed and blew down.    The
lights went out, the animals roar-
ed, and pandemonium followed.
The crowd was panic stricken. I
don't recall that anyone was kill-
ed, but we can imagine what a
mess it was to get out of. Every-
body was drenched to the skin. It
was fortunate   that it  was no
In 1885 or 86 we had the mem-
orable Salvation Army riot.
When the Salvationists first en-
tered Beloit to rescue the city from
the devil, they took up their quar-
ters in the old skating rink oppo-
site the C. & N.W. depot, and
commenced to march through the
streets with banners and drums,
and sing any pray on the street
corners. They were not at all
popular. People did not like it.
One night at the corner of State
and East Grand ave., somebody
started a disturbance upon the
Salvationists, who ran for their
In the midst of the tumult, May-
or Charlie Parker appeared and in
the name of the law commanded
the crowd to disperse. Someone
threw a pebble or stone which
struck the mayor, but no harm
done. The big drum was smashed
and other knocks inflicted. For
weeks after the fracas, the current
question was "Who hit the may-
or?" or "Who kicked the drum?"
The general verdict was that Phil
Gleason kicked the drum and no
one ever knew who hit the mayor.
Several arrests followed. Some
pleaded guilty and paid a fine for
disturbing the peace.
On October 9, 1871, we received
the news of the great Chicago fire.
I was then in the grammar room
and had the honor post of ringing
the school bell in the belfry, for
opening school and at recess. I
remember when we heard of the
big fire, I asked our teacher, Miss
Amos, if I might climb the ladder
up to the belfry to see the fire. She
laughed and said, "No, the fire is
too far away for you to see it from
here." I wish to pay a passing
tribute to our two splendid teach-
ers-Miss Amos and Miss Hinman,
who for many years, taught the
grammar room of old No. 2. They
were thorough teachers and strict
disciplinarians a n d maintained
good order at all times with a mot-
ley crowd of youngsters.
In 1869 the first high school was
built on its present site. I remem-
ber one day Mr. Brittan, secretary
of the school board, came uo to
No. 2 to show us the plans of the
new building and how fine it was
going to be. Professor Kerr was
then the principal. He wore glass-
es and was an awe inspiring fig-
ure in our young eyes. It was a
terrible thing to happen if an ob-
streperous boy was sent down to
the high school with a note from
his teacher.
Chapter 5
In 1873 our family movec from
Third street up to our present lo-
cation at 643 Bluff street. The
William Aidrich family owned the
house on the corner where the
Second   Congregational  church
now stands, and the Durkee fam-
ily owned the fine old stone house
next to us on the south. Mr. Hig-
ley, the Congregational pastor,
owned the one story red brick
house at the corner of Bluff and
E street, which building still stands
and is a lovely house to this day.
The old Episcopal rectory was at
thL corner of Bridge street and
Bluff street where the present rec-
tory now stands. Dr. Royce lived
there for 27 years.
All these families were fine

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