Saturday, 31 October 2009

Friday 30th October 2009 - "Dat's-a Som-a Catch-a, Dat-a Catch-a Tweny-Two"

          I bought some audio books.  Beaver Memorial Library was giving them away ($1-an-item).  They had some splendid American Classics - Poe, London, and Waller (who he - ed?  Well. he wrote The Bridges of You-Know_Where.  This one is called "A Thousand Country Roads" so you can see my interest.).  I like listening to Public Radio when I'm driving, but sometimes it's just too difficult to find stations, so when I saw these audio books being disposed of, I thought that an ideal solution.  (Actually, the ideal solution is sattelite radio, but I don't have that)
          When I got back to Rozzie, I immediately spotted a flaw in my plan: he's got no tape player.  And no line-input to add a device.  It occured to me that this may be why the library is getting rid of them.  I will have to find a way round this.  A visit to Best Buy (giant electrical equipment shop) might give me some ideas.
          It turns out that the big shopping malls are south of Monaca, the part of this conurbation south of the Ohio.  (That's not an incompetent spelling of "Monaco", by-the-way, it's short for Monacatootha, a great Iroquois chief.)  I thought I might get something which would read tapes into a USB slot, but no such luck.  The best they could come up with was a Sony Walkman.  Can you believe that they're still available?  That really has stood the test of time, hasn't it?   For those of you worried about me driving with earphones on, I should tell you I've added a fancy self-powered loudspeaker which, despite being tiny, works very well.
          I'm sure most of you are familiar with the workings of the Laws of Maximised Perversity, often referred to, colloquially, as "Murphy's", or "Sod's" Law.  One should always attempt to minimise the number of things of uncertain outcome in any plan.  So I viewed an offer from Cunard to book on the Queen Mary 2 in April next year as something that might need to wait the outcome of the Immigration Appeal.
         But a quick look at availability showed that the first straight transatlantic crossing was already full; it wouldn't be long before the travel agents found the well-hidden last leg of the world cruise.  So I booked my passage home.   I'm now booked out of New York on 15th April 2010.
          Have I resolved my Catch-22, or set it in stone?  Will Immigration punish my presumption, or finally accept that this proves I'm going home?
          Later that night, the motel was running a Halloween Dance.  It had a good country and western band (well, "country rock", they called it), and lots of adults dressed up in some really neat costumes.
          I adopted my by now familiar disguise of dedicated sobriety.  As far as I could see, nobody else was in that costume.

Friday, 30 October 2009

Thursday 29th October 2009 - My Day in the Courthouse.

          They've been having a lot of weather here recently.  There is some vast storm system sitting in the middle of the country, producing vast quantities of snow in the Rockies, and vast quantities of rain in Texas and northwards.  The CNN weather center has got my attention.
          As I came into Beaver this morning, the first thing I saw was a truck with a snowplough mounted on the front.  What do they know that I don't?
          The Recorder of Beaver County is highly computerised, so they can show me the early plat maps and deeds of transfer on-screeen.  And they can print me copies.  But they can't give me an electronic copy.  So I have to take a printout and photograph it:
If I tell you, you can just about make out the word "Glasgow" at the end of the top line.
          George Dawson, who platted the town, and therefore, of course, sold off the lots, got through two wives.  I expect a landowner with a number of children would have to have another wife if the first one died, but the slightly surprising thing is that as a landowner and churchgoer, he acquired two wives, neither of whom could write.
          The Glasgow Oil Company, much in evidence near Glasgow, Columbiana County, Ohio, seems to have had its origins here.  It owned lots and wells here, and its officers lived here.
          The Grown-up Lady deputed by the Recorder to look after me, turned out to have been born in Glasgow, and her parents still live there.  I arranged to meet them.  Her father has recently become the oldest inhabitant.  Her mother said the best time to come and meet people, including the Council Secretary, was "Church on Sunday", so "Church on Sunday" it is.  The Church has been there for well over a hundred years (it's the Methodist Church, the older Presbyterian one is gone) so I suppose it can cope with a visit from me.

Thursday, 29 October 2009

Wednesday 28th October 2009 - In Memory of a Lost Friend

          The Beaver County Historical Centre occupies most of the second floor of the fine Carnegie Library in Beaver Falls.  It had a whole falanx of Grown-up Ladies, poised waiting for me.  They have a file on Glasgow itself.  It is a mine of information about all sorts of things.
          When the canal failed, Glasgow went into building riverboats.  They probably had geared up in hope of a continuing trade in canal boats.  But the file tells me that the first boat to run the Vicksburg blockade was the "Silver Wave", built in 1859 in Glasgow.  I'm not actually very sure what  "running the blockade" means: Vicksburg is on the Mississippi, down in Mississippi, so any Union boat coming up the river would surely have been running a long way through enemy territory either side of Vicksburg.  But I'm sure it means that "Glasgow-built" meant something on the Mississippi as well as on the oceans of the world. 
          Near the end of the file, I turned up a real gem: someone has written a little book about all the Glasgows in the Unuited States!  There was a copy sitting in the file, hidden in an envelope, with a letter from the publisher.  And when I say a "little" book, I mean it quite literally: it is a miniature book, substantally hand-made.
It was published as a keepsake for the attenders of the Eighth Grand Conclave of the Miniature Book Society, held in Glasgow, Scotland in 1990. 
 I wonder how many copies still exist?  I wonder how I find out?  I wonder if there are any still in Scotland, any still in Glasgow, Scotland?
          It's a terrific thrill to find something like this, in the right place, but essentially lost because nobody is looking there.  I put it in the charge of a Grown-up Lady as quickly as I could.  It really is something special.
          It lists three "Glasgo"s, in Connecticut, Kansas, and New York, but only nine of the twenty "Glasgow"s I found, those in Delaware, Illinois, Kentucky, Missouri, Montana, two in Pensylvania (I think there's three), Virginia, and West Virginia.
          I also found a newspaper cutting about the Rev Ezekiel Glasgow, the first minister of Beaver Township Presbyterian Church in 1813.  I found another Grown-up Lady to refile that, since I thought that really shouldn't be where it was.
          Then my mind started to do some sums in the background, and before I knew where I was, I was realising that I had read that the father of George Dawson, who created Glasgow, was an elder of the Beaver Township Church ( I can't find that reference again) and George was the same age as the Rev. Glasgow. When I add to that the fact that Rev Glasgow died suddenly and unexpectedly in 1814 when he was only twenty-nine,
I find a large, soft, warm, inviting conclusion waiting to be jumped to.
          And jump to it I will.  It's the only 'Glasgow' connection which has appeared.  Could he have named it for a much-missed friend of his youth?
          Generalising from a sample of one has always been one of my talents, if "talent" is the right word.  I do it so much, it's surprising I'm not an inveterate gambler.  In fact, I hardly gamble at all.  Well, not with money, anyway.

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Tuesday 27th October 2009 - So How Did "Glasgow" Get into It?

          As I was having breakfast, a middle-aged man (just to be clear, that's a lot younger than me) put a pen on my table, with a card attached to it, and walked on.  The card declared him to be deaf, and asked me to buy the pen.  Then he came back and took it away again, and left.
          I looked round anxiously for the cameras.  Had I passed or failed?  If the transaction was the obvious one, why did he not attempt to complete it?  Are aliens at this very moment pouring over the tapes to try to learn something about me?  Have they learned something about me?
          I refused to let it spoil my breakfast.
          Beaver has a Memorial Library.  It doesn't say who or what it commemorates.  But it has a local history section, and a suitably grown-up lady attaches herself to me to explain it.
          The first bit is now getting quite straightforward.  Warner's 1888 "History of Beaver County" tells me Glasgow was laid-out on October 22nd 1836.  The surveyor was Sanford C Hill (I think I've come across him before), and he did it for George Dawson, on George's land.  The first people to build there were Job Harvey, John Bunton (who built a store), and the rather more promising-sounding John McFall (who was still there in 1888).  The village petitioned for incorporation in June of 1853, and was granted its charter on 12th October 1854.  What is not yet apparent is any connection whatsoever with the word "Glasgow", either as a city, or as someone's name.
          I haven't yet figured if it still has a corporate existence, but it did have a one--room school up till 1956.  The school board then amalgamated with the boroughs next door, and the school became the municipal building, whatever that means.
          I do, however, seem, as usual, to have fallen on my feet.  My grown-up lady librarian tells me that the local genealogical/historical centre is at the Carnegie Library in, would you believe, Beaver Falls.
          Octoberfast later-that-nights have revealed to me a TV series where the heroine is a grown-up lady.  The producers have not quite had the courage to cast a fully grown-up actress, but it is still good enough to wean me off NCIS.
          As the nights draw in, baseball is vanishing from the screen.  There is only the world series to go.  Philadelphia (the Phillies) is playing New York (the Yankees).  I discovered to my surprise that the Yankees proper name, originally, was the Highlanders  I think they got called "Yankees" because they're from New York.
          To my surprise, the big sport on TV now is College football.  It's as though Sky Sports had decided that the big thing Brits wanted to see was University rugby.  What is even more surprising is the stadiums they play in.  Without exception, they seem to be better and bigger than any you see in the English Premiership, if you take away the top four or so.

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Monday 26th October 2009 - Another Day, Another Glasgow

          It's time to move on.  I've decided I won't find out any more about this Glasgow till I get to my Postal Symposium next weekend, or perhaps even to the Post Office Archives in DC.  Since I haven't got far to go, I'm alright for a leisurely start.
          I can even afford the luxury of a detour through Glasgow, Columbiana County, Ohio, before I drive south to the Ohio river, then east to Pennsylvania.
          The trees have now definitely changed.  The only green is on those trees which are going to stay that way.  And the others are no longer a magnificent kaleidescope of reds and yellows, but varying shades of brown.
          I've barely crossed the border into Pennsylvania, on highway 68, when, right where I'd been told to expect it, up popped Glasgow:
A quick tour suggests that there's not much left, certainly no 'municipal' presence.
          But I am once again homelesss, so I have to place a premium on finding somewhere to stay.  There's no chance of staying in Glasgow, and an internet search told me that anything nearby was going to be expensive.  I will have a look round Beaver and Monaca, but I'm expecting to end up in Beaver Falls.
          Being homeless, not having a key in my pocket, always leaves me feeling a bit unsettled.  Which is surprising, since this is about the 15th time I've done it in the last six months. 
          Since this is such a short journey, I have plenty of time to cruise around asking for prices.  But I know what's going to happen, and so it turns out.  I settle for a reasonable price up in Beaver Falls.
          I arrive in Beaver Falls around school finishing time, and for the first time on this trip, I see a school bus showing off it's 'do-not-pass' finery.  Stop signs pop out of the sides, and orange and red lights flash everywhere on it.  As is required, everything stops.  The students are obviously quite used to this, since they spill all over the road as they cross. 

Monday, 26 October 2009

Sunday 25th October 2009 - Death in Another County

          I've resigned myself to quiet Sundays.  But I heard a rumour that something was going to happen in the next county.  So I rushed off west to see what was happening.  To Canton, the county seat of Stark County.
          Curiously, it resurrected a (mostly) vivid memory of another Sunday evening not all that far from here, but a very long time ago.  I was doing a job in one of those "research parks" they keep out in the country here.  It was in the depths of New Jersey, in a place called either (I said "mostly" vivid)) Piscataway, ot Hakkensack, or perhaps even something else entirely.  There was nothing there but the offices and the hotel which served them.  And there was nobody in the hotel but me.  I just had to break out.  So I went to Philadelphia for dinner.  To a splendid seafood restaurant called Bookbinders.
          Back in the present, I rushed west for about thirty-five miles to see, as it turned out, a movie.  Canton has the most splendid cinema, called the Palace.  It must be 800 to 1000 seats.  But it is extremely good condition
and has either been lovingly restored, or lovingly looked-after.
And, best of all, it has a mighty Wurlitzer,
which comes up out of the floor.
          The film was a Tarantino offering called "Inglourious Basterds" (one just has to say 'sic').  It is a very enjoyable evening.  In particular, taking historical adjustment to levels dizzying even for Holywood, it was truly inspiring for a fan of creative non-fiction.
          Perhaps inspired by Tarantino quantities of blood and violence, I managed to kill something myself on the way home.  It was a badger-like object, but not the colours I'm used to in a badger.  It chose just the wrong place to cross.  It was just beyond the crest of quite a sharp hill.  As my headlights came down off the brow, there it was, turning to look at me.  I didn't have a chance to do anything.  I was pretty sure, from the "Bang-thump-thump-thump" that it must have been instantaneous, and there was no point in stopping.
          Considering the number of miles I've driven, and the shear quantity of roadkill I see stuck to the road, I guess it was inevitable.  But it kind-of spoiled the evening.

Saturday, 24 October 2009

Friday 23rd October 2009 - A Bit of a Rest

          My OctoberFast is having its usual effect of trying to put me to sleep.  I also think I might have been the only guest in the motel last night.  Whatever the reason, it was the middle of the morning before I woke up.  The ladies at the breakfast bar expressed great concern.
          I think I need to do more exercise, get the old metabolism moving again.  But having stopped it for so long, it's quite a struggle to get it going again.  This is not a place where you just go out for a walk in the morning.  You really have to find a park and drive to it, so it's all much more planned.  If you go walking on the highway, the law can get concerned for your safety.  Did I tell you that in the police reports in the local paper in North Bend Oregon, someone got charged with walking on the wrong side of the road?  Admittedly there were other charges to suggest that the book was being thrown, but, nonetheless, it was a bit of a surprise to find that that was in the book.
          I made another half-hearted attempt to make a McBean family tree.  It reminded me of one of Bob Newhart's surreal jokes.  He used to have a TV series where he ran a hotel somewhere in Vermont.  Some locals came by to do repairs, and the leader introduced them: (you'll have to do the lower-class northern New England accent for yourself) "My name's Vernon.  And this is my brother Vernon.  And this is my other brother Vernon".  There is, as you can see, no confusion in these names: the confusion lies in figuring out what the names are.
          Anyway, I didn't manage any better than last time.  Even welding their wive's names to them doesn't help as much as it should: two of them even have wives with the same name!
          As I was rummaging about for something to do, I tried to get a better grip on the Lusk Lock from yesterday's ill-fated expedition.  I found a UTube video showing how to get there, and, blow-me-down, I was on exactly the right road.  But, judging from the speed of the cameraman, and the time it took him, I think I had another mile to go.
          And, no doubt, a mile there and a mile back would have done me a bit of good.  I shall have to get myself some autumn outdoor kit and do somemore sightseeing.

Friday, 23 October 2009

Thursday 22nd October 2009 - An Untrapped Tourist

          Breakfast is, to me, the big American meal.  But since I am now going regularly to the same breakfast counter, I have no chance to experiment.  By the time the door has closed behind me, the short-order cook has my "regular" breakfast under way.
          It's just as well, really.  In my carb-free Octoberfast, I should be avoiding what is appearing on the other groaning platters going across the counter.  The main ingredients of these vast repasts are pancakes and biscuits.  As far as I can see  (in all these months, I've never had the nerve to try them) pancakes are pretty much what I'd be used to, except they use buttermilk, but they are swamped in what they call "gravy", which looks kind of like porrage, but is, I'm told, a white meat sauce.  Biscuits, again with buttermilk, are what I would call "scones", and are also usually smothered in gravy.  I usually stick to hash browns (fried mashed potatoes) and toast, but, of course, they are foresworn for the month.
          I guess the diet must be taking effect if I'm beginning to obsess about food.
          There is, or rather was, a canal here, the Sandy and Beaver,  which ran to the next Glasgow, just across the Pennsylvania border.  It was a rather ill-fated venture, falling foul of the great financial panic of 1837 (nineteenth century America seems to have been punctuated by financial panics, all of them "great").  Anyway, development stopped for about 10 or 12 years, and when it restarted, it was really too late, just about to be overtaken by the railways.  Coupled with that, it had technical difficulties with water supply at the highest (and, unfortunately, middle) section when a reservoir dam burst.  It struggled along in two halves for a while, but eventually it was sold off, mile-by-mile, to pay off the creditors.  They even dismantled all the locks, to use as foundations for other things.
          One lock survives to this day, and is much publicised.  I find engineering feats of this scale interesting, so I thought  I would take some time out to look at it.  Except I couldn't find it.
          It never occured to me that something like this would be difficult.  I asked Dulcie, and she came up with the Lusk Lock Road, so I told her to take me there.  t turned out to be a gravel road, passing a few isolated houses with large numbers of rusting vehicles in the yards.  As luck would have it, Dulcie had chosen the wrong end.  I drove quite a long way, and the only sign of human life I saw was a man burning something in his yard.   In fact, I saw the plume of thick black smoke some time before I saw him.
          I say "human" life, because I came across a field of extremely truculent looking bullocks.  I remembered how we'd treated the bullocks in Montana in the early summer, and wondered if they remembered too, so I thought maybe it was time to turn back and ask at the fire.  When I got out, there was the usual cacophany of barking dogs.  The fire tender came rushing towards me, and I decided it was wise to stay close to Rozzie.
          But he was extremely affable, and reassured me I was on the right road.  A long way past the bullocks, I reached another main road, with a sign on the other side saying "Lusk Lock": I'd made it.  But this took me along an even narrower and more potholed road, till I was beginning to think I needed a four-wheel.
          Then I got to the end of the road.  
It was on foot from here on in.  And the sign was not encouraging:
it reads "Public Hunting Area", which, if you think about it, is, at least, ambiguous.  But I ploughted on for a bit, determined, since I'd come this far, to do the last bit.  When I'd scrambled over a couple of fallen trees, I thought maybe I needed to be better shod and dressed.  Then I decided this was not the sort of expedition one undertoook unprepared and unadvised.
          So I went back.  And I never saw the lock.  Oh, well!
          Later that afternoon, coming out of the library (my only source of WiFi), I saw the great plain tree outside being seen-to.  They were drilling small holes all the way round it at the base, and inserting syringes.  "To help it grow", they said.  This is possibly the biggest tree in town, but I think I know what they meant.  They were also filling in the knoles (is that the right word?).  I have to say I've never seen tree-surgery like this before.  I just have to share it with you.

Thursday, 22 October 2009

Wednesday 21st October 2009 - Down Beside Where the Waters Flow

          The local newspaper is lying on the counter at breakfast.  The "World Briefing" (on page three) has seven items.  They range from Hawaii to Altlantic City New Jersey.  There is actually one item about Cuba, but I don't think Americans have yet conceded that Cuba is not in America.  Perhaps the rest of the world has burned down and it never got reported here.
          Actually, I'm beginning to spot the pattern.  They have conceded international and even national news to the TV and Radio.  What they report on is intensely local.  Even in the sports section, the front page is the local school or college.  You have to dig into the middle pages to find out what the major league teams are doing.  And even then it's stats and gossip and comment that the TV wouldn't carry.
          The two major baseball leagues, the American League and the National League are now in their post-season play-offs, to see who wins the league pennant.  The two winners then play each other in what they call the World Series (they consider the winners to be the best baseball team in the world, which is almost certainly true).  If I watch part of the game in the bar, it's quite difficult to find the result in the local paper next day.
          I decided to go down to Wellsville and East Liverpool, the nearest "big" towns to see if their libraries offer any more interesting reading.  Both of them have Carnegie Libraries (like Eltham!).  But there's nothing new on offer.  Although East Liverpool has a fine nineteenth century building, it doesn't have any WiFi.  But Kent State University, which has a campus here, appears to flood the local area with WiFi, so I can use that.
          This is the nearest point of the Ohio River to the Great Lakes at Lake Erie, so they were busy places in the ninteenth century.  Wellsville Library can furnish some information about the traffic north through what was to become Glasgow.  Wellsville was the big river stop.  East Liverpool was the pottery capital of America, if not the World.
          Since there is not much to read, and it's a beautiful shirt-sleeves day, I decide to have a walk, just a walk, (I can't stop myself now)a little walk, down beside where the waters flow, down by the banks of the Ohio. 
I couldn't get the damned song out of my head for the rest of the day.
          Later that night, foreswearing the erudition of the English-Lit-Major barman, I get into intense conversation with the local Pollyanna.  She works in a local care home, and is actually an occupational therapist, but she insists, and I can see that it's true, that her job is to love the residents.  If the rather strange man next to us blows up his waistcoat, and we all end up in the queue for heaven, they're going to fast-track her through.  And so they should.  But she must be tough to work with.

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Tuesday 20th October 2009 - The Widow's Mite

         The courthouse in Lisbon has a splendid Victorian gentlemen's room in the basement.  It is made entirely out of white ceramic bricks.  The urinals have been modernised, but no doubt the originals had spendid glass splash panels, held in place by brass fittings.  It's the sort of thing that makes a chap feel pampered.  And it's somewhere to escape the nests of Grown-up ladies.  It only lacks an elderly man in a white jacket with a clothes brush, but I expect it used to have one of them too. 
          Next door is the Sheriff's department, equiped with its very own nest.   They are very keen to help me add Columbiana County to my collection of arm patches.  They have an extensive collection of their own, all over the office.  I didn't dare ask how they had acquired them.
          I have added another stop to my forays round town.  I'm now visiting the town museum, which is the old railroad depot (I'm not sure why they call it that, since the old maps say it was on the Pitsburg and Chicago Railway).  But that is where all the probate records are now stored.  When I went into the probate department, and told them what I was after, they  asked if I was the man who had been talking to the judge a few nights before.  My fame goes before me!
          Anyway, I get to see the papers for poor old John McBean's demise.  These original old papers (well, copies actually, but probably contemporaneous) have their own excitment to them.  He did not, of course, make a will, so they have to appoint administrators to organise it all.  He is clearly in debt.  He seems to have died in the winter.  I expect farmers paid their bills at harvest time.  They make an inventory of his possessions, which is fascinating, and they list everything the Widow takes.  Among a lot of other things, mostly utensils, but including a couple of sheep, she takes five cups, saucers, and plates.  I wonder whether that was because it started out as six, and one lot got broken, or if there were four children.  In any case, it definitely has "Hearts and Flowers" playing in the background.
          One of the files is completely empty.  These historians are a bad (or maybe just careless) lot.
          I'm trying to find out what subsequently became of her when I have a bit of luck. Looking at another transfer deed, back in the courthouse, I find her popping up with a new name.  Actually, she pops up as the wife of somebody else, with the new name given as "Alias".  I can't resist chasing after the marriage, to see how long it was after the death, and it turned out, round at the archives, to be a decent four years.
          But, back at the courthouse, she and the new husband immediately sold off the land for the exact same sum she paid for it to the administrators four years before.  And eighteen years after that, another McBean buys it.  One gets a sense of a community and family guiding some things along.
          Later that night, someeone at the bar asks if I'm the man visiting the Glasgows.  He shows me, on his iphone/blackberry, a web site where someone is talking of doing just that, and asks if it's me.  But this is some youngster talking about doing it more than three years ago.  I wonder if he did it.  I have found his email address and asked him.

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Monday 19th October 2009 - A Well-Worn Path

          I found this set of rules for teachers from back in 1870.  Men teachers (sic) could have one night off courting, two if they were regular church-goers.  I wonder how they balanced the economics of that.  The following were given as good reasons for suspecting his work, intention, integrity, and honesty: frequenting pool halls or public halls, or getting shaved in a barber's shop.  One can just imagine the local barber, brushing down the young teacher: "anything for your night off, sir?"
          These rules had probably been promulgated by the local minister, who was pictured with his "family".  The picture consisted of a stern-looking minister, a young girl, and, how can I put this delicately, two very-definitely big girls.  There was no explanation of this strange menage.  Perhaps it was quite normal for a regular church-goer..
          I am now toddling along a regular path from archive to courthouse to library.  Everyone is pleased to see me, and keen to help.  But they're really geared-up to help people looking for ancestors, not attaching people to particular places.  I manage to pick up an isolated fact here and there.  What I need is one of those big walls so popular in detective films, were I can stick my facts on post-its and move them about.  Instead of my tiny little pocket note book.
          All I really achieved today was eliminating several suspects.  But I also discovered that a stage line was established in 1833 running from Wellsville, just down the road on the Ohio River, north up to Lake Erie "carrying the mails and the occasional passenger".  It would have run along the road past were Glasgow Post Office appeared in 1839, so it would have generated a demand for a mail drop off.
          Speaking of mail, lots of the letters home to Scotland had addresses ending "N.B.".  I hadn't really registered it till I finally saw one which said "N. Britain", and I remembered that this was a period when there was an attempt to change Scotland to "North Britain" (There were "North British Hotels" at main railway stations) and Ireland to "West Britain".
          But since these people were so keen to put "Scotland" on their gravestones, it is strange they should replace it on letters home.  Perhaps they feared they wouldn't get delivered if they put "Scotland" on them.

Monday, 19 October 2009

Sunday 18th October 2009 - A Weekend Visit to Glasgow

          The leaves are now cascading down.  The Fall is in full swing.  It is still, however, unseasonably cold.  We are getting quite heavy morning frosts.  The New England Patriots game (football) near Boston last night was played in snow.  Not just a "dusting", or a "flurry", but heavy stay-on-the-ground snow.  It's not typical, they say; it's  going to get warmer next week, they say.  But it's still a sign of things to come.  Next time Rozzie sees a Florida plate, he'll be off after it.
          I took an extra coat, and headed down to Glasgow.  Basically, there was nobody there, except for the dogs.  When I parked and got out, I thought for a minute I'd walked into Battersea Dogs' Home.  But I didn't see any people.
          One of the elderly 'Nodding Donkeys' dotted about here is in Glasgow, and it was running.  When I left, it had stopped, so somebody must have appeared to switch it off.  Or perhaps it pumps up a collecting residue, and switches itself off.  It was about the only sign of life.
          I knocked on several doors around the Irish flag on the flagpole in the centre of the village.  I eventually got a dog to answer the door.  It was in the arms of a young man who fetched his mother: "What do you mean, 'Irish'?" she said, "It's Italian.  My husband: he's Italian".  She meant this, of course, in the American sense: he had an Italian name, which his ancestors brought here five or six generations ago.  She insisted it was green, white and red, but it wasn't: it was that funny rich yellow of the Irish flag.  Still, there are plenty of Italian immigrants in Glasgow Scotland, though possibly not from quite so far back, so it wasn't all that inappropriate.
          Just out-of-town to the south, was something which had the authentic Glasgow Scotland feel:
but they pronounce it quite differently.
          Glasgow is in Madison Township.  The next township south is Yellow Creek.  That seems to be where the church (I think it may actually be a 'kirk') is.  Some histories describe this church (or its predecessors) as being in Glasgow.  Certainly the minister, writing to Civil War soldiers, datelined his letters "Glasgow".  Almost every stone in the cemetery which looked old said on it "a native of Inverness, Scotland".  A fair number also said "McBane".  But there were only two 'McBeans',  and none of the dates or wife's names fitted. 
          The elections are now only a few weeks away, and in Glasgow there was a touch that is probably quite common in rural America.  One of the roads is called Crews Road.  And directly opposite the name sign, where it joined the main road, was a sign exhoring us to vote for George Crews for Township Trustee.
          It being Sunday, there was no later that night.  I'm not sure whether that is the state or the county, but it let me catch up on my reading.

Saturday 17th October 2009 - Another Bit of Luck, Maybe

          I need to make a phone call, so, as usual, I have to run up-and-down the main roads   in-and-out of town.  I suspect this would be true of whichever provider I was using.  As soon as I move off the interstates, there are problems.  I guess if you're moving to small-town America, you wait till you get there before you buy a phone.  Although if I'd done that I should think I'd now have a phone for every network.  But I don't really need a phone at all, so I never get round to sorting this out.
          I've been trying to find out a little about local politicians at the time Glasgow got its post office.  Governors only seemed to serve for two years, but the one who was in office at the time was the son of an Irish immigrant.  I wonder if that's significant.  Curiously, being governor seemed to be a kind of career: they sometimes went off and became governor somewhere else.
          Anyway, I caught a snippet in a Post Office history site that suggested it was really down to the local congressman.  There were movements afoot even then to try to make postmaster appointments non-political.  One commentator suggested that when you went to a party convention, almost everybody there worked for the Post Office.
          Somewhat surprisingly, the congessman of the time was a whig.  I didn't know they had survived the revolution.  Congessmen also served for only two years.
          The I found out something quite surprising: The American Postal History Society has its annual meeting at the end of the month.  And they're meeting at the American Philatelic Center in Bellefonte, PA, which is about twenty miles from the Glasgow after next.  It's a small world, isn't it?

Saturday, 17 October 2009

Friday 16th October 2009 - A Quiet Day

          I've now dropped into my usual October sleeping pattern, which means I can hardly stay up beyond eleven, and can sleep till well after eight.  I'm staying in quite an elderly motel, so it's very noisy.  People seem to leave on-the-hour: so I waken briefly at five (sometimes), six, seven, and eight.  Then I think about getting up.  By the time I'm washed and scrubbed and breakfasted, it's usually after eleven.
          Today, I discovered another nest of grown-up ladies, called the Columbiana County Archives and Research Center.  It was reasonably well-stocked, with both archive material, and grown-up ladies.  I discovered almost nothing new from the archives, since they had nothing about post offices.  But the grown-up ladies are always capable of surprising me.  Today there was a long (and, I have to say, specific and knowledgable) discussion about the sexual predilections of certain early immigrants.  I think they were so used to their own company they just forgot I was there.  And by the time they'd got up a head of steam, I was afraid to remind them of my presence.  But it was all, of course, in the best possible taste.
          When I got to my next nest, at the courthouse, they had almost given up on me.  But they had brought in a mass of material: a couple of really thick books, together with maps and arrticles culled from the internet.  I must have laid on the 'liitle boy lost' a bit thick yesterday.
          All I got, for a day of reading, was another McBean soup.  I think I have to wait for Washington, to find the post office records, although it might be worth trying to find if there are any papers from the Governor of the time about postmaster appointments. 
          There was one curious bit of information.  I had already found out that John McB had got the patent for the appropriate 'quarter' in 1816,, and immediately sold half to William, but it now turns out that John then popped his cloggs in 1817, and William, as his administrator, had to sell the land to John's wife to raise cash to pay his (John's) debts.  So, although the wife appeared to be a joint owner in th edeeds, it didn't seem to quite work as common owners.
          Then,  because of budget cutbacks, the library closed, and I lost my internet connection.

Friday, 16 October 2009

Thursday 15th October 2009 - The Only Unexpected Name is Glasgow

          We're settling into Autumn now.  Although there still are few leaves on the ground,  it's getting to be consistently cold and wet.  A couple of the places I visited further north have already had snow.  It's not a good time to be eating salad and losing weight.  I expect if I do more exercise I will keep warm.
          I've now settled into testing the theory that it's all about the post office.  The problem is that the entire landscape seems to be covered in McBeans, who turn ito McBanes and Mc Bains without even putting the pen back in the inkwell, let alone turning a page.  And, being as dour and unimaginative as Scots can be, they've all got the same first names.  Everybody's oldest son has to have his father's name.  The next sons have uncle's names.  And so on down the generations.  The only bright spots on the horizon are their big families and American property law.  Sometimes they have so many sons they have to come up with a new name, although that is usually picked from the bible, and when they buy and sell property, they have to do it in concert with their wife.
          Add to that the propensity of local historians (perhaps all historians of that period) for the narrative form, and it takes large charts to try and identify who's who, and when they were where.  Even then, pencil is a sensible choice.  I have to stop frequently and do a bit of chatting up of the you-know-whats till I can focus again.
           The only thing that seems accepted by all the sources is that they all came from around Inverness.  So how did "Glasgow" get into it?

Thursday, 15 October 2009

Wednesday 14th October 2009 - What's in a (Post Office) Name?

          My morning paper, in the diner, has a picture, covering most of the front page, of geese in formation, presumably flying south.  A reminder that I should be thinking of doing the same.  Well, not flying, actually, but you know what i mean.  I still see the occasional Florida licence plate on the road, so it's not quite time yet.  I'm told it's cheaper to tax a vehicle in Florida, so the "snowbirds", who spend the winter down there, usually have Florida plates.  I wonder if Florida-plated vehicles go through some "flocking" process when they meet on the highway?  Does one suddenly sweep off south, seeing if the others follow?  Do they find themselves in gradually-increasing numbers on the interstate, and somehow just know it's time?  When there are no more Florida plates, I will know it's time to go.
          John Mc Bane/Bean was appointed postmaster in Glasgow in 1839.  William McBean/Bane platted out the little village of Glasgow in 1852.  If the Post Office was already called Glasgow, then the village name would not be open to question.  So my theory is that the village was named after the Post Office.  Why the Post Office was called Glasgow will probably not have been written anywhere.
          Post Office records are kept in Washington DC.  I shall have to have a look as I pass.  There were no rules then about what a post office name could be, although, obviously, duplicates weren't allowed.  This Glasgow is considerably older than the other Ohio Glasgow, so that wouldn't have been a problem.
          Getting appointed Postmaster would probably have involved a lot of political lobbying, so I guess it would have taken some time.  So the name must have been decided on some time before.  West Point, about four miles north, got a post office in 1836.  I reckon the "Scotch Settlement" must have wanted one for a long time, and carried a lot of political weight.   And, if most of your mail came from Scotland, what would be easier that to tell your friends and relatives "just send it to 'Glasgow, Ohio'"?
          Later that night I found a nice local bar which serves a real zinger of a tomato juice.  Of course, I say "tomatto" and they say "tomato"', and since it's the dominant syllable that's different, and I never remember to say it right, it all starts off with a misunderstanding.  I think I could make it easier by ordering a "virgin mary" (or, as the Australians like to call it, a "bloody shame"), but I never remember that either.  They probably think of me as an 'ugly Brit'.
          I sat beside a keen amateur woodworker.  He likes to make clocks.   Well, the cases, actually.  It sounded like really absorbing fun.  He starts with a tree, and prepares the wood all the way.  He has several acres of trees in his back garden.  And, it turns out, he's a local judge.  Puts a new slant on "doing time", doesn't it?

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Tuesday 13th October 2009 - The Lepper Library

          The County seat of Columbiana County is Lisbon.  It has a rather splendid diner, called the Steel Trolley.  It seems an ideal place for breakfast, if I can persuade them to "hold" the carbs.
          They provide the morning newspaper.  Local papers here (actually, all papers here are local: you have to turn to inside pages for national news, and even further for international, which comes as snippets) usually carry a police reports page, and it's alway worth a read.  This morning's gem is about a man reporting, in the middle of the day, that his children are at home alone, and are telling him they can see men with rifles.  When officers attend, the paper says they found that the men "were involved with the youth day at the Baptist Church".  They seemed to think that was an adequate explanation.
          The County Library is in a splendid Victorian building, and is called the "Lepper Library" because it was endowed by one Victoria Lepper in 1892.  It has a nice little local history section and the usual set of solicitous grown-up ladies.  I will be happy here for a few days.
          The whole area around Glasgow was known as the "Scotch Settlement" since about 1800.  The census records show large numbers of people born in Scotland.  In particular, there are a large number of Mc Bane/Bain/Beans.  Somehow or other, in the middle of nowhere, one of the McBanes got to be postmaster, and it looks like, in 1839, the Post Office got called Glasgow.  Thirteen years later, in 1852, this same William McBane platted the village of Glasgow.  It would be reasonable to suppose he called the village after the post office.  Why he called the Post Office Glasgow is harder to guess.  The McBanes first arrived here in 1804, and it was them who encouraged all these Scots to migrate.  Perhaps they all came from Glasgow, or thereabouts.  They would probably have sailed from Greenock to Baltimore.
          By 1870, it is on the map
The publisher of the atlas is given as C O Titus.  That's got to be some classicist's rude joke, hasn't it?
          The map maker has used the abbreviation "Jno" for quite a lot of names.  I can't figure out what that's short for.  There are lots of people on internet discussion sites with the same problem.  The people who are sure of themselves say it's short for John (although not by very much).  Those not-so-sure think it might be Jonathan.  But the atlas shows all three.  The argument is finally settled for me when I see a portrait of a General whose name is known to be John, and he has signed his name Jno.
          I encounter a lady in the local history section who is an expert on covered bridges.  She can even tell what kind of trusses they are made with.  She tells me there is one nearby which has been rebuilt beside a fancy restaurant.  The township Glasgow is in is called Madison Township.  I think she might be angling for something.

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

Monday 12th October 2009 - Across Rural Ohio

          The United States is a pretty empty place, despite the huge population.  Once you're away from the cities and the interstates, there's not a lot there.  Glasgow Columbiana County Ohio is a long way from any interstate.  Even Dulcie will not be able to devise a way to get there without using country roads.  And it's only about fifty miles from Glasgow Tuscarawas County, so it's not going to be much of a trip.  (Surprisingly, it's only about twenty miles from Glasgow Beaver County Pennsylvania, so I'd better be careful I don't end up in the wrong place.)
          I like to think I'm very observant, but, actually, I'm not much interested in scenery.  And on the 'Blue Highways' (as William Heat-Moon called them), there's really not much time to take my eyes off the road.  But the hilltops are still tree covered, and, although not many of the leaves are falling yet, the trees are turning to red and gold (those that change, that is, not the evergreens).  And what the hills look like is a sort of foam, with each bubble a different shade of red, or yellow, or green.  I think there must be a wide variety of different species to have this effect.  But I'm not that interested: in my head, I design a range of toiletries called "Autumn Foam" all the packaging, clours, smells, TV advertising.
          It's election time here.  As we pass through the little towns, I am exhorted to vote for all sorts of things.  But not the things I'm used to.  Here I can get to vote for village trustees, school board commissioners, even judges.  There are no claims of party alliegence, not even with colours.  Many of the boards seem home-made.
          I'm also, disconcertingly, invited to vote for "Two".  That seems a bit late to me.  I'm not sure whether the vote is village, township, county, or state-wide, but I don't see how they can get by without it if the rest of us keep  using it. 
          I'm reminded of a Hypnotist I saw on TV many years ago.  He managed to persuade one of his subjects that there was no 'nine'.  She quite haappily counted up to ten without using it.  The he asked her to count her fingers.  When she got to ten, with one finger left, she was exquisitely non-plussed.  She knew she had ten fingers, but the evidence of her eyes was telling her something else.  I hope they vote for it.  Save them a lot of trouble.
          I've asked Dulcie to take me to the co-ordinates the US Geological Survey provided, and, as she tells me I'm getting close, up pops a sign I'm getting used to:
The last Glasgow had a Scottish flag at its centre.  This one, rather surprisingly, has an Irish one
I wonder what the explanation for that will turn out to be.

Monday, 12 October 2009

Sunday 11th October 2009 - Last Chance to Meet

I went down to Glasgow again to try to meet the Glasgow Hill farmer, but he wasn't there.  I've now arrived at Glasgow Columbiana County Ohio, abd the only motel I can afford doesn't run to WiFi.  I've come up to the Library, but I've forgotten my glasses, so this is very difficult.  I can type OK, but I can't read my notes.
          I think I had all sorts of clever things to say about The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, but I can't read them, and it probably doesn't matter anyway.  The only one I can remember is that they all seemed equally obsesed with living "in the present"/"for the experience", and recording it for posterity, which seems somewhat of a paradox.  I like paradoxes, they always point at the truth.
          I hope the spelling isn't too bad.  I shall stop now.

Sunday, 11 October 2009

Saturday 10th October 2009 - Something for the Weekend, Sir?

I got my hair cut. I was cutting through an alley at the back of the courthouse, and there it was: a proper barber's shop; walk-in only, no appointments; with a proper barber and a proper chair. There was a young man in the chair. He looked as though wouldn't need a haircut till next summer, but he was having one now. He was in the military, home on leave. He was in the Air Force, based in California. He was quite apologetic about not having been you-know-where.
Everyone in the shop had a Scottish relative. But I think it's a comment on the proclivities of the Scots that everyone in the USA does actually have a Scottish relative. And while we're on that subject, I'm thinking of reporting Castol Oil for racialist advertising. They are currently running an advert with a 'Dick vanDyke' Scotsman smacking people for "Thinking with yer dipstick". I regret to inform you that he does actually finish the sentence with the word "Jimmie" (or should I just say "the j-word").

After the cameraderie of the barber's chair, I went looking for a book. New Philly has a splendid secondhand bookshop. I was going to get a page-turner detective story, but it was too good a shop for that. I found the Oxford book of American Short Stories. I also found a paperback copy of Tom Wolfe's "Electric Cool-Aid Acid Test", a book I spared myself forty years ago, but thought might be of socialogical interest now. I've recently read Ginsberg's "On the Road", so I might as well do the next generation. This copy of the book is almost exactly forty years old. It has a name written down the page edge side. But it looks as though it has never been opened. You know the state paperbacks get into when you hold them open, especially those of forty years ago. So I seem to have inherited it from someone (whose name I know) who also spared himself, although he put it on his shelf, or carried it about with him, probably to impress. I'm trying to recall the books I carried about to impress forty years ago. I remember on was vonNeumann's "Theory of Games". I also had Plato's "Republic", "Das Capital", and "Mein Kampf" (probably in german!) at one time or another. There was also, in the context of "Cool-aid Acid", Aldous Huxley's mescalin thing: was it "Eyeless in Gaza"?
Anyway, concealed beneath these worthy tombs, was a book, older than me, of Ellery Queen adventures. You always get you money's worth from Ellery Queen. If you pay proper attention, they signal you with a big clue when it's time to stop and put your money on who-you-think-done-it.
And well into the adventures, I found a book mark:
Now there's a real puzzle. What do you make of that? It's clearly written by someone who was either an artist or a draftsman. I'm for draftsman, myself, although, back then, almost any engineering tradesman would have had draftsman training. And are the "bulbs" garden or flash? Given the 'f' numbers, I'm inclined to flash. But I can't make much more of it than that. It could be shutter speeds, distances, and apertures, although they're not the regular set of apertures we see now. Anybody do any better?
A pity the two cousins who wrote Ellery Queen are no longer with us.

Saturday, 10 October 2009

Friday 9th October 2009 - An Enumeration

          It wasn't a problem going down to the state capital, Columbus, for the day.  I didn't have to start early, and, if it hadn't been for particularly bad weather, I wouldn't have been late back.  Glasgow, seventeen or twenty miles down the road, I could go for the evening.  In modern American, no distance at all.
          But that can't have been true in 1880.  Twenty miles must have been a fair old trip then.  It might even have involved an overnight stay, if the trains didn't quite fit together, or the business took too long.
          It is interesting, then, that, on the fifteenth of June 1880, a mere five days after a man called Haskinson had gone from door-to-door in Glasgow writing down everyone's name, the powers-of-attorney letter given to Lawrence Hill Watson in Scotland four years before was finally received at the Tuscarawas courthouse in New Phillidelphia.  Did Hill Watson take it himself, or did he trust someone to do it for him?
          Haskinson was the local enumerator for the 1880 US census.  He collected a basic set of information for everybody, not, it has to be said, always in the best of hands.  Of course, he would have been labouring under a number of difficulties.  It would be another four years before Lewis Edson Waterman even patented a useable fountain pen.  And he was carrying quite a large book.
          But, as a result of his labours, we know where everyone was in Glasgow that day.  In partcular, we know where Lawrence Hill Watson was, what age he was, and who he was living with.  And we know he styled himself "Secretary of the Furnace".  He was recorded as being 29, so when he was charged with his momentous tasks, back in Scotland, he was only 24.
          The enumerator found him esconced in the lodging house of one Plino Price and his wife Loretta, next to the saloon.  What can only be described as his 'gang' are lodged there with him.  They are all about his age, and all from Scotland.  There is a "Foundryman", an "Engineer", (those two probably brothers), a "Cashier", a "Manager of Furnace", and, more down-to-earth, a "Filler at Furnace".  There is also an Irishman describing himself as a "Merchant" and an American housemaid.  One can just imagine the sort of conversation which is conducted round the dinner table.  Presumably Mr and Mrs Price, who are Americans, have the confidence of the gang.  One has to wonder, for a moment, about the furnace filler.  This is a heavy labouring job.  Perhaps he looked out for the others.  Perhaps it was him who rushed off to New Phillidelphia with the letter for copying.
          Living next door are the furnace keeper and his wife, also in their twenties, but they have a one-year-old son who was born in Scotland.  Is he in the gang, living in married quarters, or is he about to get some bad news?  Surely, if he knew what was planned, he would not have brought a wife and infant with him?
          They must surely be aware that, six doors down, another man is going to describe himself as "Furnace Manager".  This is William Rennie, who came here in 1871.  He now has five children, two born here. (The history book tells us he remained in Ohio, and was living in New Philidelphia in 1884.)
          There are 371 souls in the Glasgow that day.  There are farmers (which is surprising), an Irish saloon-keeper, and a storekeeper from Pennsylvania, but most are furnace workers, miners, and various kinds of tradesmen.  Many are from Scotland, but it is pretty polyglot, with Irish, English, Welsh, German, Swiss, and French. 
          The furnace had stopped and restarted twice in the last couple of years, so they must have been living on hope.  And they must have known the role of the gang in the lodging house.  Do they think of them as saviors or executioners? Or as both?
          Not many of you will be aware that among the statisticians waiting to process the 1880 census information was one Herman Hollerith, who as a result, worked out they would simply not be able to do it in 1890 (the 1880 census took seven years to tabulate).  To cut a long story short, Hollerith invented punched-card tabulating, automated the 1890 census, then set up a company to exploit his machines.  In 1918, Thomas Watson joined the company, and by 1924 it was called IBM.  IBM came to Greenock, just outside Glasgow, Scotland in the early 1950s, and appears still to be there.

Friday, 9 October 2009

Thursday 8th October 2009 - Off to the State Capital

I'm seccumbing to Americans' sense of distance. I've exhausted the seams of information in New Phillly, so I fancy a trip to the Ohio Historical Society in the Capital, Columbus. Dulcie tells me it's only 120 miles away, and if I let her take me on the interstate, it'll only take a couple of hours. Who knows what I'll find.
The trip reminds me how late in the year it is: there are lots of yellows and reds in the trees.
When we get there, I reveal the actual address we're after. The Ohio Historical Society hangs out at the intersection of Interstate 71 and !7th Avenue (or is that ..). When I tell Dulcie to take us there, she asks if I mean 'I 70 and 17th Ave N' or 'I 70 and 17th Ave S'. Knowing what I know about American street-naming conventions, I reckon these could be on opposite sides of Columbus. But all I can do is mentally toss a coin: and 'N' turns out to be the right choice.
The Ohio Historical Society has a very grand building, carved out of the State Fairground. It also has a trap carpark: it will let you in, but you have to pay to get out. And I find the library doesn't open for an hour, and the 'snackbar' is a set of machines selling concentrated calories. So lunch is a trip across an interstate junction on foot.
Since we're out in the suburbs, all that's available is McDonalds, also a rich source of calories. I am reduced to deconstructing the meal, and eating selectively. The young men at the next table are all dressed very casually, except that they all have an automatic pistols on their belts. I assume they are policemen, but, as usual, I can't quite get over my morbid fascination with naked guns.
The restaurant is also full of cowboys, in hats and boots, and wearing spurs: real jangly spurs, with pointy bits on them. Turns out the Fairground is hosting the All-American Quarter Horse Congress. It sounds simultaneously macabre and vulgar, an attempt to mate portions of horses. But actually, quarter horses are the most popular breed in America. The quarter horse is the quintessential cowboy horse. They get there name from their special gift, the speed at which they can run a quarter mile. The best of them can do it in little more than 20 seconds.

When I got back to the Historical Society, it did prove a worthwhile journey. They had the 1880 Census on microfilm, and when I finally found Glasgow, there were all the interesting names, as well as ages, who they were living with, how old their children were, and where the children were born. And the machines provided copies at a quarter a page.

When it was time to go, I discovered the weather had closed in: it was raining with a vengeance. The society does not allow bags into the archives (a sad comment on some historians). As I was about to drive off, I realised my bag was still in the locker on the third floor. When I got back to the third floor, I realised the locker key was in my coat in the car. By the time I was back in the car reunited with my bag, I was pretty wet.
The journey back took a long time, and a lot of effort. Not the best way to end an otherwise enjoyable day. [This is basically why there was no write-up yesterday, as well as there being not much to say to make it worth the effort]
As I got close to New Philly, the weather began to clear. And I noticed an odd sign. At the interstate junctions, there are clusters of what might be called 'mercat' adverts. The restaurants and gas stations vie with each other to put up the tallest sign. At the New Philly exit, close to where I am staying, there is a "Texas" saloon and steakhouse. But some of the lights had failed on its sign, probably because of the weather. It now read, simply "TE AS". I had visions of elderly British tourists, enticed off the freeway in hopes of clotted cream and strawberry jam, and instead finding themselves in a raucous world of large beers and even larger steaks.

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

Tuesday 6th October 2009 - Between the Lines of Fusty Old Books

I finally got round to visiting the Courthouse. I find it best to put that off as long as possible, so that I get the maximum number of names and dates. The records are kept in serial order, although there is a grantor and grantee index for (roughly) each volume. The seriallity is sometimes complicated by the fact that the deeds are not always recorded close to the date they were done. And sometimes a county will have more than one recording clerk, and they will have their own books. But if you've got the names and dates, it is usually pretty straightforweard to unravel the story.
In the case of Glasgow, Tuscarawas County, Ohio, it's quite a tale. Well, to be more exact, it's the tale of the Glasgow Port Washington Iron and Coal Company ('Limited' as it turns out) which is so interesting. Because the company is British, some of its instructions and minuted decisions have been recorded in the Tuscarawas County Courthouse. In fact, in the end, it had to get the Ohio State Legislature to act to help it out of the hole it had dug itself (no pun intended, ha, ha).

So let's put on our Merchant-Ivory spectacles, tune them to the colour 'Victorian', and try to see some of the events unfold. We'll start near the end, on the 18th September, 1876. We could think of this as the day the SS Glasgow hits the fan, and the day one Lawrence Hill Watson is empowered to hit everything else.
We're at 151, St Vincent Street. Although Glasgow, Virginia would, at that time, have run to a St Vincent Street, we're talking about the one in the Victorian centre of Glasgow in Scotland. We're in the boardroom of the eminent Glasgow writers, Burns, Aitken and Company. Writers are, or rather were, an especially fancy kind of Scottish lawyer. Mr Aitken, John Belch himself (and do remember how Scots pronounce 'ch') is the Master of Ceremonies. Two young apprentices-at-law, William Hislop and William Robinson, wait like acolytes behind Aitken, ready to witness the deeds about to take place. The ticking of a long-pendulum clock in a distant corner adds solemnity to the occasion.
The man of the moment, Lawrence Hill Watson, is standing by the fire with his elbow on the mantle shelf, feeling, and, it must be said, looking rather important. Apart from being clean-shaven, and, indeed, clean, he has the air of a pirate about him: his hair is dark and curly, and rather longer than it should be; his eyes are bright and intelligent; and his square jaw gives his face the look of a decisive man of action.
The three principal players, John Reid Stewart, the great Glasgow iron merchant and chairman of the company, Robert Fraser one of the directors, and Patrick Park Macindoo, the newly-appointer company secretary, are seated beside each other at the head of the great table. They are about to sign a document, a power-of-attorney, essentially sending Hill Watson to Ohio as Plenipotentiary.
Mr S S Glasgow is hovering in the shadows. He is the US Consul in Glasgow (you couldn't make that up, could you?). He is at his most diplomatic, staying out of the line-of-sight of the principal players. He knows, from weeks of angry exchanges at social functions, that the principals think his countrymen have taken them for a long and very expensive ride. His job is to ensure that the business being conducted here today will be considered valid when Hill Watson reaches Ohio.

A quarter of the planet away, the other main players, the three hapless company officers in Ohio, Willian Baird Rennie, James Coats, and plain William Rennie, must sense that the SS Glasgow is heading for the fan, but as is always true, even in the world of modern communications, they will have no sense of it's velocity, mass and pungency.
They have build a splendid Iron Works, built to last for fifty years. Everything is perfect, except they paid far too much for the land, the coal has turned out not to be good enough, and the iron ore is poor and in seams that are mostly too thin.

The Power-of-Attorney is finally recorded at Tuscarawas County Courthouse by the recorder, Daniel Wyss, in June of 1880. Easily a long-enough time for the dust to have settled on the unmarked graves.
I am reminded of tales of many projects from my computer days where people were lauded for only just managing the straightforward, while others were vilified for only just failing to do the impossible.

The final act takes place in the same grand boardroom of Baird Aitken in Glasgow Scotland in October of 1881, when the shareholders, with one minor shilly, vote the company into liquidation. Aitken paid a shilling tax to record the event, so at least the Queen, who you will remember was toasted at the opening ceremony in Ohio only seven years before, got her shilling at the death.
They appointed Hill Watson, now identified as a Chartered Accountant, as liquidator, but one can't help feeling that, given his powers of five years before, this is merely regularising what has already happened.
Eighteen months later, with Hill Watson back in Scotland, the General Assembly of the State of Ohio passes an "Act to Authorise the Liquidator of the Glasgow-Port Washington Iron and Coal Company to Convey Real Estate", and Hill Watson sells off the remainder of the land, for considerably less than was paid for it, presumably back to local farmers.

And Glasgow, Tuscarawas County Ohio, slips back into the bucolic obscurity from whence it came, keeping only its name as a memento of these momentous events.

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

Monday 5th October 2009 - Some Bits of Business

          I had to go to Sugarcreek, about 10 miles west, on a bit of money-laundering business.  Ideally named for the purpose, don't you think.  Dulcie decided, for once, to take me over the hills.  At one point, coming over a rise, the road took a sharp bend to the right, and out of the blue, not being near any road junctions, she suddenly shouts "Turn right!  Turn right!".  Don't you just hate people who order you to do something you're just about to do?  Especially if there's no alternative.  "Yes, dear", I said, quietly.
          Coming back, she got me to take a different route.  Aren't women fickle?
          As we came into Sugarcreek, we had to cross a level crossing (level crossings are extremely common here).  Now I'm sure you're like me, and even if there are lights and barriers, you sneak a look up-and-down the line, just to check.  And blow me down, about 100 yards up the line, there was an Ohio Central freight train rolling towards me.  It was going very slowly, but I swear it was moving.  Gave me quite a turn.
          I got a nice grown-up lady to notarise me: in public, at the bank.  And she only wanted two dollars.  Then it was time to send off some documents.  You don't 'post' documents here, you 'fedex' them.  Even when you're using UPS to do the fedexing.  I think UPS must feel like all those companies who manufacture hoovers and biros.
          Then, it being the Octoberfast, later that night we had the heady excitement of the laundromat.  A soccer match started on the TV.   It claimed to be the English Premiership, but I think it must have been scratch game: the captain of Man City seemed to be playing for Villa, one of Villa's stars seemed to be playing for City, and several Arsenal players were playing for City as well as Chelsea and Spurs players.
          A very large American asserted that "nobody wants to watch soccer" and started changing channels.  I had to assert my rights.  He wasn't annoyed, just surprised.  It being the laundromat, there were no grown-up anybodies to be impressed.

Monday, 5 October 2009

Sunday 4th October 2009 - Still Flying the Flag

The fly has left. As I opened the door to go out, it appeared and zoomed off. I'm obviously not enough of a challenge. It was probably reading my blog over my shoulder last night and liked the fencing idea. It's gone off to find the local fencing champion. Or perhaps, like that wonderful opening scene in "Once upon a Time in the West", it is seeking out bored gunmen and flying up their barrels. Perhaps it wasn't French, perhaps it was Italian.

It being Sunday, I thought it time to run back down to Glasgow and see if anyone was home; waiting till after church, of course. There really are very few people to find.
So I decide it might be a better idea to look round where those extremely expensive works were built. And that did turn out to be more profitable. A large black dog came racing out of the woods, barking vigorously, followed in short order by a young man on a quad bike. The dog had clearly been racing through a lot of vegetation: it looked (and felt) like it had been camouflaged by Dad's Army.
The young man was very helpful. He identified the one remaining building as "part of the train station". Just like Glasgow, Blackhawk County, Iowa.
"All that's left are piles of bricks in the woods", he said. The newspapers at the time said there were two million of them. I just had to find some
He told me the owner knew all about the history of the place. But he wasn't here. I left my card, and said I would come back to try and find him.
The best part of all was the name of the farm
(that's the dog, by the way).
And not only was the farm flying the ubiquitous Stars and Strips, underneath was the Scottish Saltire

Sunday, 4 October 2009

Saturday October 3rd 2009 - Swotting and Other Exercises

          The only way to get fizzy water here is to buy it in very expensive French or Italian bottles.  So I'm risking my health and drinking aspartamine-sweetened soda-pop: lots of it. 
          At the same time I'm watching much more TV.  Apart from sport in bars, this is almost my first foray into TV.  It's quite difficult to watch TV here, 'cos they don't seem to have an electronic program guide, and about half the time seems to be taken up with adverts.  So channel-hopping has a fifty-fifty chance of coming up with an advert.  I can see why 'genre' channels are popular here: at least you can wait for the adverts to stop and see which movie/game it is.
          The dance festival in Virginia made it quite clear to me that I was neglecting my exercise regime at my peril.  My grown-up lady dance instructor left me quite out-of-puff several times. 
          October is an obvious opportunity to get back on track.  After three days, the aching muscles are also telling me I neglected them at my peril.  I shall just have to remember what Alex Ferguson said to me, that rest is an integral part of exercise, and not injure myself trying to get fit.
          I am presently sharing my room with a superb cavalier fly, worthy of Hanna-Barbera at their best (at MGM).  I have given it a French accent.  It flies in front of everything: TV, book, computer, until I pick up the flyswot.  Then it's gone, hurling abuse.  As soon as I tire and put the flyswot down, it's at it again.  It even lands on my head, and my hand.  There is no point in sitting poised with the flyswot at the ready: nothing happens till I put it down. 
          I ought to integrate fly-swotting into my exercise program, a bit like fencing.  I shall do this when I'm fit enough.  How long do flies live?

Saturday, 3 October 2009

Friday October 2nd 2009 - Caught on the Rebound

          Attempting to live a sterling life in dollars (or do I mean a dollar life in sterling?) has some drawbacks.  One of them is that I have to sit down once a month and do sums.  I used to be good at sums.  I like to think I still am.  And in a competitive situation, like when I put a total on a restaurant check, 'cos I'm too lazy to work out the tip exactly, and the cashier looks dumb and I berate the youth of today and he gets his calculator out, even upside-down I can usually still beat it (come on, we're only talking addition or subtraction here).  But when I have to float money in different currencies between different accounts, the numbers do now seem to take on a life of their own.  Especially when some accounts are credit cards, striking balances on different dates.
          I am also again being reminded that the quickest, easiest and cheapest way of converting pounds into dollars is to use a cash machine (ATM here) to turn it into cash, then put it straight back in again.  It reminds me of the early days of computer networking, when people would commonly surmount access difficulties of one kind or another by downloading files onto floppy disks, then going to another machine and immediately uploading it again,  a technique commonly known as 'sneakernet'.
          Life is being further complicated by having to hang about the library to print out and check documents.  But it reminds me how pleasant libraries are: grown-up ladies, happy to drop everything and cater to my merest whims; old people looking up their ancestors whatsits; teenagers apparently enjoying sitting quietly and up-straight, and looking apologetic when their phones ring; and children laughing and sounding excited.  I think the pleasantest re-discovery is that nobody minds you hanging about.  They even provide quality WiFi.  I think I may start hanging around libraries again.
          While I was hanging round, I did a bit of recapping on the maps I'd found.  And noticed they had changed.  The 1875 Atlas had a 1908 map in it.  Of course, what I had failed to notice was that the library had done a bit of rebinding, and bound two old atlases into one cover.  So I've now got what amounts to a posh version of the additions to the plat map of Glasgow between 1873 and 1908. So I will know exactly what I'm looking for when I get to the Courthouse.
          Later that night, I follow a skinny lady to a perfumed-tea den, where I buy myself some extremely expensive grass.  And drink some rather unpleasant water.  I think my inability to remember to tell them not to use ice must be the culprit: it is probably the flavour of the ice machine I'm tasting.
          In among the old furniture, the local chess club is having a meeting. (I can tell it's a club, rather than just casual games, because they are using clocks.)  One of the members has an irritatingly loud voice, doubly surprising for being found in a chess club.  I expect that's why they're not meeting in the library.

Friday, 2 October 2009

Thursday October 1st 2009 - Another Octobertest

          Another day in the Library.  This time the Email is here, so I can print things off for checking and signing.  I suppose I'm really checking that, not only did I say what I meant, but they heard what I said.
          What is really irksome is the requirement to sign bits of paper.   There really ought to be something more foolproof than that.  I now mostly sign LCD screens when I use my credit card, and because I'm awkwardly left-handed, it usually comes out looking nothing like any other attempt to do the same thing.  And, I would think, unameanable to graphological analysis.  In other words, a waste of technology and time.
          The absence of some sensible way of acknowledging the contents of a document so as to allow electronic transmission must result in thousands of tons of paper being shipped around the world, at very considerable cost.
          If we managed to finds a virtual signature method, we could start a "ban the printer" movement.  Hardly anybody ever needs to print anything, ever.  Perhaps the great bureaucratic factories of governments could print it all out after it arrives, and pulp it all when they've finished with it.  We could provide them with pulping machines, and demand they become self-sufficient in paper. 
          All of which has been timed perfectly to coincide with the Octoberfast.  So there's no putting it to one side and going down the pub, leastways, not without it still being there when I get back.  In a world where they greet you with a glass of water, I'm about to find out what they think when they discover that's all I want.
          It's very difficult, when eating out, to find any dish that isn't stuffed with carbs.  I've decided a sensible strategy is to follow thin ladies about, and see wwhere they go.  They're bound to know some underworld of carbless food.  Old shops refurbished with old furniture, where they can drink perfumed tea and munch on grass.  Actually, it's not such a bad strategy: at least the scenery's nice.  And we can talk abstractly about the nations health problems, without seeing them all around us.

Thursday, 1 October 2009

30th September 2009 - Scottish Pigs

I'm hanging about the Library again. It's my only easy access to a printer, and I am expecting, momentarily (in the American usage) some documents I will need to print out and sign.
They have not arrived yet, however, so I decide I will take advantage of the Microfilm viewer to skim through the local papers of the time. The local history has provided quite precise dates, and also claims to have used the "Tuscarawas Chronicle" as a source. The Librarian shows me what she's got: no Tuscarawas Chronicle. She thinks it might be at another town further south.
I'm currently tied to my WiFi and printer, so I think I'll amuse myself with the "Ohio Democrat". And not only does it come up trumps, with a full report of the event, it reprints, a couple of weeks later, a report from the Tuscarawas Chronicle confessing that it missed the event altogether and printed the Democrat's version verbatim. The Democrat has a bit of a crow about this.
The opening ceremony not only featured the American flag and anthem, the factory was also bedecked with Union Jacks, and God was invoked to Save the Queen.
The report named the Scottish Chairman of the company. Given the rude judgement history has made of him, it might be fun to look him up when I get back. Since it was a group of investors in Glasgow, there is bound to be a Scottish incorporation of some kind.
It also gives a hint of why they went to Scotland. The story waxes eloquent for a bit about the history of iron making. If it was a modern report, we would sense a quick bit of internet research. But since it's 1874, we really have to conclude that the information came from a company source. And it mentions that the standard of the day was known as "Scottish Pig". So perhaps people looking for British investment in an iron-making operation would naturally have picked Scotland first.
And it looks like the Scots (consistently referred to as "Scotchmen" in the reports) fell for it, hook , line, and sinker, losing a fortune as a result. And leaving only the name "Glasgow" to mark the drain down which all that money poured.

Later that night, we had fun with the sort of stuff that newspapers carried as a matter of course in the 1870s. There was a long list of ladies divorcing husbands who had vanished without good cause (or so they asserted) more that three years before. There were the adverts for patent medicines which, if true, could solve this nation's health crisis. A snake-oil salesman trumpetting that another paper had no right to say that about him, and getting the signatures of local worthies to attest to his uprightness.
But the best story of all was about a local attorney, whom it named. He had (there was no "allegedly" anywhere) gone round to some young lady's house, when she was alone, locked himself in, and, not content with making "lewd and obscene suggestions", had proceeeded to make "improper advances". What made the story so startling was that it didn't end there. It reported further that when mother came back to town, she went round to the attorney's office, locked herself in, and proceeded to horsewhip him. Father went along to make sure the deed was done proper. Now, if a newspaper reported that today, who would get arrested?