It occured to me to wonder how our pioneer forefathers celebrated Thanksgiving, so I took advantage of the digital newspaper database to look up the Nov. 26 edition of the Ogden Junction, one of this fine paper’s predecessors.
Not a peep did I find. Thanksgiving wasn’t that big a deal in pre-Norman Rockwell days.
There was one story, however, a pickup from the Carthage (NY) Republican, which by coincidence is the newspaper of the town in which Joseph Smith was killed. It is entitled “A remarkable story of cannibalism” and I reproduce it herewith for your dining pleasure:
In 1869 Charles L. Smith left Carthage, having received the appointment of American Consul to Russia, with his residence ina coty on the Amoor River in Siberia. He left in the summer, accompanied by his wife, whom he left with relatives in Chicago.
Arriving in San Francisco he learned that the last of the trading boats had left for the season. Being anxious to reach his destination, as he intende dengaging in the fur business, he took passage on a ship bound for Hong Kong, China, where he hoped to engage passage and reach his destination quicker than by waiting for the return of the traders.
Arriving at Hong Kong he became acquainted with a member of a New York firm, who offered him a chance to engage in business. He would not engage then, but pushed on as fast as possible to his destination, where he arrived in the spring of 1870. He remained several mothsn, and not being suited with the business or the country, returned to Hong Kong and accepted the offer before made to him.
Five men, including Smith, went on a trading expedition into the interior of the southern part of China, where they were successful, amassing large fortunes.
They returned to the coast on th eir homeward journey and engaged a Chinese junk to take them back to Hong Kong. When far out from the mainland the crew of the junk mutinied, robbed their passengers, and placed them on a desert island, with neither food nor drink. It was not long before starvation stared them in the face. For several days they had subsisted on a few berries they found on the island. Those were gone and no ship had come to the rescue.
When at last they could stand hunger and thirst no longer, they cast lots to see who should die. The lot fell on Smith, who before being put to death, requested that his companions should not let his wife know of the manner of his death if they were fortunate enough to return to America.
He was then put to death and eaten by his companions. A short time thereafter the men were rescued by a passing ship and came to America, to New York, where they reported Smith dead, none at the time but the members of the firm knowing the manner of his death. Two years ago a gentleman, who had been in correspondence with Smith during his lifetime, called on the New York firm and demanded the particulars. At first they refused, but afterwards decided to tell hi, provided he would keep it from Mrs. Smith. The promise has been kept. Mrs. Smith died in Chicago about two weeks ago, ignorant of the manner of her husband’s death. The story comes to us direct, and from such good authority that we are forced to believe it.
It is interesting that this story comes from the town in which Joseph Smith was killed, and the main character is also named Smith and also killed. Coincidence? Oh, absolutely!
But, seriosly, tell me, if newspapers still ran stuff like this, do you think they’d be having the circulation troubles we have today?