Swallowing Snakes, Sick Burns and Unsolved Crimes: What Sedalians Were Talking About 146 Years Ago
Well guys, it's been pretty slow around here lately.I mean, in terms of bad news. I suppose that's always a good thing. But lately, since our crime reports have been a bit on the lighter side, I've had some more time to kill. And of course, being a solid, valuable employee, I don't shirk duties. I find something to do if there's nothing to be done. Sure. I totally wasn't just looking around the old issues of The Sedalia Bazoo for fun. Nope.
ANYWAY, it's always interesting to see what was happening in good old Sedville (and the whole of West Central Missouri) back in the olden days. So, let's take a look back at what was in the paper in October of 1877. You'd be surprised at how.... random it is. Honestly, it seems a little bit more like your average social media notification feed than an actual paper full of news. Think of it as the "For You" page of 1877, I guess.
Well, right on the front page, should interest the kids and parents of Sedalia. It's a "Report of City Schools for September". It lists off each school, each principal, each teacher, and notes how many are enrolled in males and females.....and also calls out the number of tardy students. Gee, thanks. I guess randos need to know that 19 kids were late to Mrs. Kidd's class in September. I mean, really - you knew your kid was late, so I guess you get to feel less bad about it by knowing that eighteen other kids were late too? Maybe.
But then, a lot of what filled the pages in those days doesn't really seem newsworthy to us now. For example, there are a ton of random lines that... seem to have no actual author attributed to them. Was this an early version of the infamous Sedalia Sedline?
The stove tick is the best home weapon.
Dead beats are generally small potatoes.
Train oil is not used to lubricate ladies' dresses.
The man who is scared can always outrun the man who is mad.
Missouri is not a sugar growing country, but we often raise Cain.
Okay, funny enough. Let's skip past that terribly racist article that features the N word... we can skim over a story about a man who demanded he see what his wife was hiding and ruined his own birthday gift (again, news?), and the advertisements of Dr. Bull - who really, really wants you to dope up your baby with his product.
And then, on the next page...there's probably one of the most ridiculous things I've ever read in the Bazoo.
"The Sensation of Having a Snake Crawl Down Your Throat".
"Mr. Benjamin Reanholm, living in the Culver township on the Saline, woke up one night last week feeling something in his mouth, and immediately that something commenced crawling down his throat. He tried to catch it in his teeth, but it was too far gone, and he says he was obliged to swallow it".
NOPE. NOPE. No. No. That did not happen. There's no way. But, the story continues, so let's read more of this nonsense. It's saying this guy went to his doctor, the doctor felt the reptile move in his belly, and gave him a drug to take every three days to kill it. Guys. That...did not happen.
Don't get it twisted, I believe the dude saw the doctor, and I believe the doctor gave him something, but that dude did not swallow a whole dang snake and then felt it, alive, in his belly days later. Nope. Absolutely not. His stomach acid would have killed anything small enough to actually go down there. And really, would it have even made it past his gag reflex? Probably not. I also think that our guy is not familiar with snakes, and thinks they are slimy, and would slither down his throat. Now, the story does note that some people think he dreamt the snake incident. But... THANK YOU, NEWSPAPER, FOR TELLING ME ALL ABOUT IT. I just had to know that a guy in another state dreamt about swallowing a snake. Oh, and about how his doctor placated him with a placebo.
There Were A LOT of Robberies Back Then.
The next page talks about a daring robbery attempt in Warrensburg. Apparently the thieves made it as far as Blackwater, and then weren't seen again, but the criminals were already well known thieves. Named, even.
Then, there's a story that, honestly, if it were me reporting on it, I'd insist it was on the front page. I doubt anybody would listen to me, but I would TRY. A guy named Abel Knight, who was a farmer in Sedalia, was "hunting his cattle" (I put it in quotes because that's how they described it, just in case there's another term for it now), when he was confronted by two strangers who told him to get off his horse. So he does, 'cos he's not here to start nothin. He asks them what they want. They give him the old line, "Ask us no questions and we'll tell you no lies"...which doesn't sound good for Abel. I almost expect Morgan Freeman to step in here with some ominous narration. And by this point, Abel notes he knew these guys were bad news, but... they were armed and he wasn't, so he was just trying to not stir up anything.
So they ask him how to get to Boonville, but...without going through a town. Not at all sus, right? I mean, that totally doesn't sound like something a criminal trying to hide from law enforcement would ask. He gives them a general idea, and even drew them a rough map. Then, he was all like, "Okay, I....think I'm gonna head out..." and the criminals just shut that down quick. They took all his money in his wallet (twelve dollars, more than I've got now), and then proceeded to tie him up to a dang tree and leave him there! THIS GUY WAS NICE ENOUGH TO DRAW YOU A MAP FOR YOUR ESCAPE ROUTE. And you couldn't even do him a solid and just let him walk? Harsh.
Well, by this point, Abel's wife is frantic, and she's sent out the neighbors to look for him, thinking he got thrown off his horse or something. He had "yelled himself hoarse" for ages, but they finally found him after dark. So then, he takes maybe a day to recover, and decides he's going to vigilante it up and follow these criminals to Boonville. 'Cos apparently he doesn't have enough to do. He heads off, but has no luck. Everyone tells him they were probably horse thieves or something minor, but Abel thinks they were "murderers or criminals who had broken jail and were scurrying out of the country".
Now... the reporter in me asks,... what if these were the same guys who robbed the guy in Warrensburg?! They were two guys, on their own, and known to be thieves Going from Warrensburg to Blackwater... did they go via Sedalia.... going to Boonville after?!
At this point, the world may never know. But thank jumpin jehosophat I know all about how many kids were tardy to Miss Kidd's class!
LOOK: Baby boomer baby names that have gone out of style
Gallery Credit: Elizabeth Jackson