ELKTON — Each week, we take a look back in time to examine what was on the minds of Cecil County readers. Rotating through the Whig’s 177-year history, we hope to not only provide direct text from our archives, but also context as to why the issue was important at the time.
Join us as we thumb through the pages of our history.
August 11, 1894 (125 years ago)
We’re always intrigued by the stories concerning labor during this early period of the county as labor unions had only begun to be organized in America about a decade prior. This blurb notes that workers walked out of the mill are being denied a pay increase. It shows the rising collective power of organized labor, which peaked in the post-World War II era but has since waned locally.
Seventy five men, including the whole force of the “loose” mill at the McCullough Iron Company’s rolling mill, at Seventh Street and Railroad avenue, quit work on Tuesday night on being refused an advance of 10 percent in their wages. E. A. Harvey of the McCullough Company was spoken to about the trouble and said that he did not consider it a strike. He said: The men asked for more money and we did not think hat the business would allow it and the men refused to go to work; that is all there is to it. “The best men in the mill, he says, were earning $2.50 to $2.75 a day. Some of the men had left town and were working at Newport for the same wages as the company paid in this city. The trouble was that there was some spite work at the bottom of the whole thing and the men who had been agitating the matter were the best paid men in the mill.” The officers of the company state that the mills will be run and the places of the men easily supplied. The mills are able to fill all their contracts, and will do so.
The following short story displays the difficult that law enforcement had in containing mob justice in the late 19th century, which often resulted in the lynching of African Americans. We cannot tell if race played a part in this story — our reporter doesn’t make mention of race, which leads us to believe it probably didn’t as the Whig argued for civil rights and often noted race in its stories of the period — but it shows the brutality our neighbors can mete out when left to their own devices.
William Cornish, aged 60 years, a farm hand living in the neighborhood of Fair Hill, received a well merited thrashing at the hands of the residents of that town on Friday night of last week. Some days ago Cornish made insulting remarks to a young j daughter of Mr. John Anderson, a well known farmer, and who with the other residents, upon learning that no legal redress was obtainable, rightly determined to meet out Justice themselves upon the offender. The citizens organized and marched to Cornish’s house. The man was secured and soundly thrashed, the lash being applied liberally. His cries were heard a considerable distance. Cornish is reported to have left the neighborhood.