Twenty two men vying for four positions on the Fort Wayne Police force in 1896 may not seem extreme to those of us recalling dire headlines of the economic stress of only a few years ago. I’m sure the Stevens household—with a sweet sixteen daughter and a son just entering adolescence—rejoiced at John Kelly Stevens’ good fortune at being one of the three selected in the final decision.
The copy of the announcement in the Fort Wayne News on May 22, 1896, may have seemed rather perfunctory—well, other than the odd mention that “they are all democrats”—but that is only because yesterday, we were looking at the situation through the lens of just one newspaper.
Let’s take a stroll on over to the other side, and get a look at how the Fort Wayne Gazette saw the proceedings. Mind you, it will be an entirely different picture. And since it is rather long-winded, I’ll save any further commentary on the subject for tomorrow’s post.
For now, just savor the contrasts and ponder how different life might have been, back in the 1800s, for our ancestors.
From the front page of this other newspaper on that very same day:
Ax is SwingingOfficers Being Decapitated to Give Place to Hungry Followers.The board of public safety is getting the ax in good working order and members of the police force are being decapitated in right royal style. There are no particular charges that can be brought against these men, save that they voted for Oakely and attended to their official duties in good style. That coupled with the fact that the "hungry and thirsty" are relentless in their demands for places, is sufficient offense in the opinion of the board to "fire" them. Last night the board accepted the "resignations" of Officers Bower and Lamb. Buechnor and Tanner did not respond to the board's request to "resign" and they were incontinently fired, and their places will be filled with some one who "can be of some assistance in campaigns."John Pageler, Patrick Murphy and John K. Stevens were appointed to the force. The former is a resident of the Eighth ward, the second is an ex-member of the force, and Stevens was a railroad man.A score or more of the 200 applicants for position on the force were before the board. They were investigated as to whether they would fill the requirements, because under the present administration it is necessary that the applicant have in him the making of a good ward heeler, and they will be given positions as rapidly as the Republican members on the force can be decapitated upon trumped-up charges. Another batch of applications, in addition to the 200, were received and filed for future reference.