Poof Tardiff: 1903 XI

Hello, fellow Berlinites. Father Kyle Stanton told me that the bells in St. Anne’s Church are the original bells of 1903 that I talked about in my last story. Thanks for the information, Father.
During the latter part of the fall of 1903, the newspaper reported that seven new brick blocks had been built in the booming city of Berlin during this year. Yes, this season in 1903 proved to be a record breaker for new brick buildings erected in downtown. The businesses were turning to brick instead of wood and felt much safer with these blocks in case of fire.
The new structures of brick that were completed during 1903 were as follows and named in the order in which they were begun: The Demers Block on School Street; the City National Bank (Holiday Center) on Post Office Square (Green Square); the parochial school on Emery Street; the Croteau Block (Albert Hotel) on Main Street opposite the Clement Opera House; and the Carnegie Library on Main Street, the Cote Block on Main Street and the Tucker Block next to the Cote Block.
Do any of these buildings still stand? I can be corrected if need be, but the St. Patrick’s School (parochial school), the Cote Block, the library, the Demers Block, corner of Willard and School Street and the City National Bank are the only buildings that still stand. Wouldn't we like to see this growth come to our fine city again?
A trolley accident on the evening of Nov. 7, 1903, came near to taking the life of Miss Flora Quivey. This middle-aged lady was walking down Glen Avenue, and, when she was near the last of the Glen cottages, she met a team coming up. In stepping out of the way of the team, she turned toward the trolley tracks. The 5 p.m. car for Gorham was coming down at the same time, and it was thought that Miss Quivey became bewildered in the uncertain dark. She ventured to hear the track and was struck by the car, which hurled her some distance. This badly lacerated her face and head and generally bruised her.
Flora was picked up and brought back to Post Office Square on the car and treated by Dr. Pulsifer, who dressed her wounds. One of her ears was badly torn and needed several stitches.
Had Miss Quivey been one step nearer the track, she would in all likelihood have met with a horrible death, but the injured lady did recover. One must remember that in 1903, the trolley system was brand new and older residents seemed to forget about these huge cars coming down the street. I am sure it was the same situation when the automobile came along.
A Dec. 10, 1903 issue of the local paper announced that the school system of Berlin was going to have its first superintendent. The article said that the city of Berlin was to be congratulated on the fact that it had taken a decided advance in regards to her public schools, by voting to inaugurate the system of expert superintendency.
It was further believed that Berlin was to be complimented on having secured so strong and able a man to assume the duties of this position as George H. Whitcher of the Alton, Durham and Newmarket supervisory district.
Mr. Whitcher was considered a hard worker, a conservative thinker and a practical executive. Much of his work had been under the conditions similar to those which he was to encounter here in the Paper City.
It was not expected that there would be any radical upheaval in the Berlin school system, as the best and most thorough improvements came only months and even years after patient work, with results in many cases scarcely observable except by those most closely connected with the school system.
The mobility of our population in 1903 and the rapid growth of our city involved problems that called for careful study and still more execution. These problems were the duty of a superintendent to contend with, and he would reach a higher plane of work than could be expected by the school board.
The school board was necessarily composed of men with business and professional cares of their own to attend to. They could, at the most, carry the matter of the schools only as a side issue, thus a superintendent was hired.
It was said that Berlin was taking a progressive step and indicated for the new regime the cooperation of teacher, parents and pupils in bringing our schools to the highest possible standards. Mr. Whitcher, who did a lot for the school system in Berlin, left us in 1914 for another assignment.
The saga of mill accidents continued to be put in the newspapers, and the Dec. 3, 1903, headlines read: “Chapter of Accidents."Joseph Collier, a workman employed at the Berlin Mills Company, met with an accident on Thanksgiving Day which not only cost him the use of an arm, but resulted in the loss of his eyesight as well.
As the construction was going on building the Cascade Mill, Mr. Collier had drilled a hole and put in a dynamite cartridge to prepare for a blast. He was then told that the blast was not necessary and attempted to remove the cartridge. The cap came off and he tried to pry it out with a drill. There was a sudden explosion and Collier received the full force of the discharge in his face, also shattering his right hand.
This poor man ended up with only one arm and lost his eyesight. What did he do after this horrible accident upon recovering from his wounds?
Another accident at the Burgess Sulphite Fibre Company almost cost Willie Halle a loss of one eye. While they were rolling logs, his companion’s iron hook slipped and the point caught young Hallie in the face. He was put on a train for Quebec for further medical treatment.
Another injury occurred during a fight between two men at the Berlin Mills Company woods camp at Bowman. John Henry proceeded to settle a dispute by hitting his companion over the eye with a heavy iron poker, which was laying close by. The hard blow resulted in serious trauma, and the injured man was in the serious condition. Henry was arrested for assault with a deadly weapon, and a court date was set.
I am sure that there must have been some serious fights among woodsmen in the early days, especially if there was liquor involved. Remember that these were very capable men.
I will continue with the year 1903 in my next writing.
Poof Tardiff writes a weekly column for The Berlin Sun. Questions or comments can be sent to email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Also, join the many fans of “Once upon a Berlin Time” on Facebook and guess at the posted weekly mystery pictures.
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