This week from our pages in history
— 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.
ELKTON 125 years ago (Jan. 13, 1894) A cruel sport
Chesapeake City, Jan. 8, 1894. Dear Whig: Ou Saturday last a number of the sporting fraternity of this and adjoining towns assembled here to engage in the sport (?) of shooting pigeons. Nearly one hundred birds were slaughtered, and a crowd of not less than two hundred men and boys witnessed the cruel exhibition. The few poor birds which were fortunate enough to escape the aim of the sportsmen (?) were finally killed by men and boys occupying all parts of the field.
This “match” as is usually the case was gotten up by the proprietor of one of our local saloons in which might have been seen after the sport of the day was over from four to six card tables in full blast, and the patrons of them, black and white, turning the earnings of the week into the coffers of the individual, who had supplied the ‘‘drawing card,” the “pigeon shooting.”
The Whig is generally to be found advocating the right. I therefore venture to ask if there is a law on the statute books of this state looking to the prevention of the wanton slaughter of these birds as above described. If there should be such, may I not ask that you will attention of our State’s Attorney to it.
Cruelty to animals
if draw the — C.
Our readers will find in our local columns a communication from a prominent citizen of Chesapeake City, deprecating the cruel exhibitions called “pigeon matches,’’ and asks whether such “matches” are prohibited by law in this county.
We endorse fully every word our correspondent uses in denunciation of such sport (?). They are not only cruel, inhuman and unsportsmanlike exhibitions, but with the accompaniment of bad whiskey which usually attends them, they generally culminate in scenes of disorder and drunkenness, and become a menace to the morals and peace of any community.
Although we believe that there has never been a prosecution in such a case in this county, either in the Circuit Court or before a magistrate, yet there can be no reasonable doubt that shooting at live pigeons over a trap, is in direct contravention of existing law, and comes within the class of offenses contemplated in the Act of the General Assembly of 1890 chapter 198, entitled “An Act in relation to Cruelty to Animals,” which provides
Sec. 1. That any person who willfully sets on loot, instigates, engages in or in any way furthers any act of cruelty to any animal, or any act tending to produce such cruelty, or by any act, conduct, or omission, willfully causes, permits, or suffers any animal to undergo any species of torture or cruelty shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor.
Sec. 2. And be it enacted, That the words torture or cruelty shall be held to include everything whereby unjustifiable physical pain, suffering, or death is caused or permitted, and the word animal shall be held to in elude every living creature except men.
The language defining the meaning of the word “animal” used in the above Act of 1890, we have italicized to make its meaning the plainer. That a bird of any description, pigeon, or any other variety of the feathered tribe comes under the generic terra “animal” as above cited there can he no reasonable doubt.
The very language of the act sets at rest all doubt as to cruelty to pigeons or any other birds being included in its meaning and provisions.
The language also of the first section of the Act, “Any person who willfully sets on foot, instigates, etc., any act of cruelty,” certainly would include any person who sets on foot or organizes a shooting match by which cruelty or torture is inflicted upon any bird or in its wider meaning, any animal. To fur ther strengthen the enforcement of this Act, the Legislature of 1892 confers upon Justices of the Peace concurrent jurisdiction with the Circuit Court in trying violations of the Act of 1890. The Justices may pronounce sentence of fine and imprisonment or either, giving the party accused his right to a trial before the Circuit Court if he prefers.
Gentlemen who are organizing or taking part in pigeon “matches” in the county, would do well to take note of the Acts above cited.
A unique superstition
Elizabeth Short, daughter of Elijah Short, who died on December 21, was interred in the cemetery at Bouldens Chapel, a few miles from Elkton, a silk dress belonging to her mother being used as a shroud. Shortly after the funeral the mother became sick and growing worse attributed her illness to the fact that the body had been attired in her garment, the superstition being that when a corpse is buried in clothing of a living person the owner of the clothing will decline in health as the clothing decays. This so preyed upon her mind that the remains were exhumed last week, the dress being removed. Mrs. Short is reported to be improving.
James and Mary George Louttit, originally of Scotland, were also early parishioners at St. Stephen’s in the mid-1700s. The grave of John Lovering, deceased in 1754, is noted in the cemetery of St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church for its skull etching and poetry. St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church, in Earleville, is one of the oldest Anglican churches in the state and has a noted history. The family lineage of the George family, early St. Stephen’s Church parishioners, is prominently displayed on their gravestone in the church cemetery.