Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Days of Adversity, Fifth Letter to the Censor

Fredonia Censor
Fredonia, New York
Wednesday, May 6, 1925
Page thirteen

Adversities of Life
Langford’s Reminiscences
No. 5

    Early in 1862 I visited sister Harriet McGinnis in Dayton, Ohio. whom I became acquainted with at Lyons, Iowa, several years before. I had now come across six sisters and four brothers of the scattered Langford family., James of Fredonia, being the first brother, and Jeanette, of the same village, the first sister. Jeanette, as I have stated, married Peter Wise, a cabinet maker of Laona. Peter was quite a favorite with my Laona schoolmates, and they used to call at his shop frequently, especially the Boynton boys.

    When  I arrived there (Dayton) in 1862 there were few of our large family living, and Harriet was one of them. I found plenty of work at my trade in Dayton, but received very low wages and long hours on the Dayton Journal. The war excitement was at fever heat there, as it was the home of C. L. Vallendigham, leader of the “Copperheads” who were southern sympathizers. In May 1863, Gen. Burnside, whose headquarters were in Cincinnati, sent a company of Union soldiers to Dayton and arrested Vallendigham for treason. A mob of several hundred congregated in front of the Journal building the following day and drove the publisher, named Marat, and his assistants from the building. Six or seven compositors, including the writer, stole to the composition room early in the evening, with an assistant editor named Steep, and went to work getting the paper out. Then came bricks and stones thrown by the mob breaking the front windows, and the mob broke down the front door and set fire to the building. The printers jumped from the building through a second story window with little injury except bruises, and escaped through a hotel in the rear. The plant and all its type and presses was totally destroyed together with five adjoining buildings containing stores and merchandise.

    General Burnside’s soldiers arrived the next day and arrested about a hundred of the mob, including the editor of the Empire, a Democratic sheet edited by a Virginian named Logan. They were imprisoned in Cincinnati for about a week, took the oath of allegiance and were liberated. The Journal was tendered the use of the type and presses of the U. B. publishing house and continued for a while as an evening paper, when it passed into the hands of Major Wm. D. Bickham of Gen. Rosencrans staff, who edited the paper until well after the war was over.

    Vallendigham was sent south to his rebel friends but afterward got back to Ohio through Canada, and became a candidate for Governor against John Brough, union candidate, but was beaten by over 100,000 votes. But Vallendigham returned to Dayton and continued to make speeches against the prosecution of the war to preserve the Union, but finally shot himself with a pistol while defending an accused murderer in court after the war was over.

Oscar Langford
Colorado Springs, Colorado


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