Writer provided unvarnished view of life in 1870s Newcomerstown

By Jon Baker GateHouse Ohio Media

A man who wrote under the pen name "Quintim" provided an unvarnished look at life in Newcomerstown and vicinity in the late 1870s for readers of the Tuscarawas Advocate newspaper.

He did not hesitate to express opinions about the people he was writing about -- opinions that were often close to being libelous.

On July 12, 1877, he wrote, "The Board of Education has put up signs on the Union School grounds of this place, prohibiting trespassing upon the premises, but nearly every evening one of the committee turns his old horse in the yard to crop the shrubbery and grass. Well, such is life; saves paying rent for pasture, you know."

On March 8, 1877, he reported, "That damnable set of prostitutes who have been keeping the house commonly called Fort Jackson evacuated the "Fort" one day last week, amid the cheers and jeers of the community in general."

Quintim was also a theater critic. "A company of boys from New Philadelphia, styling themselves "The Alabama Minstrels," gave an entertainment to a small audience -- composed principally of deadbeats -- at Crater's Hall on Saturday night, April 5th," he reported on April 24, 1879. He noted that the expenditures exceeded the receipts for the show.

SMITH JONES

AND HIS WHITE SWAN

In the spring of 1877, Smith Jones, a farmer living near Isleta, about two miles west of Newcomerstown in Coshocton County, crippled a large white swan. Jones nursed the swan back to health and kept it as a pet.

But their relationship was short-lived. In May, some duck hunters from the nearby community of Orange killed the swan.

"We understand that Lew Huff, a notorious rough and whisky bloat, was the principal actor in the affair," Quintim reported. "Make an example of him, Smith."

Huff did not appreciate Quintim's reporting.

"Huff says that he is going to 'shoot us,' 'burn us,' or mow us down in some other way just as horrible," Quintim wrote a short time later. "Think of it! Your worthy correspondent to be wiped clear out of existence by a dirty, mean rapscallion, so mean that he would do most anything for the sake of a swig of whisky. ...It goes against our principles to spend too much time commenting on roughs, so we will suffice this article with, 'mend your ways young man or eternal damnation will be yours.'"

He never discussed the subject again.

THE PORT WASHINGTON

WHANG-DOODLE

Quintim was not above printing unverified rumors.

On April 9, 1877, he repeated a rumor that the Argus, a weekly newspaper in Newcomerstown, was printing the Whang-Doodle, a scandal sheet that printed vicious personal attacks on residents of the Port Washington area.

"Is it a fact or a vague rumor calculated to injure you?" Quintim asked the paper's editor. "We do not think that you would be guilty of becoming a tool or pimp of a set of fellows -- that have no principle whatever -- to aid them in circulating a paper that contains nothing but slurs and obnoxious writing composed by roughs and off-scourings of humanity who think themselves very sharp, when they are simply making themselves disgusting in the eyes of the Christian community in which they live."

The next week, Quintim had to backtrack and point out that he was not accusing the editor of the Argus of printing the Whang-Doodle -- just repeating a rumor.

GUNFIRE IN THE STREETS

In March 1877, Dennison residents Al Outcalt and Brad Voshel came to Newcomerstown looking for trouble. They succeeded in picking a fight with George Riggle and Harvey Channell, in which Riggle and Channell got the worst of it.

During the fight, Riggle took a shot at Outcalt, but his gun misfired.

The next day, Riggle told several young men who had witnessed the fight that he was going to kill them. That night, he went to the home of A.B. Thompson and called for Thompson's son to come out and fight him.

"Finding that he could not get him to come he commenced throwing stones at the door, whereupon Thompson came out and greeted him with a shot from his revolver," Quintim reported. "Riggle sent a shot back."

By this time, a crowd had gathered. Riggle headed toward the Marietta, Pittsburgh & Cleveland Railroad depot, followed by several men and boys. He turned and told them he would shoot them if they came closer.

"A few shots were fired from both sides and the crowd left him, but he was arrested by Constable Shurtz on Saturday morning, on the charge of shooting with intent to kill, and was brought before his Honor, the Mayor, and in default of $300 bail, was taken to Sheriff Price's boarding house at New Philadelphia to await the next term of court," Quintim wrote.

Quintim ceased writing for the Tuscarawas Advocate around 1880.