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Almon Baldwin Carrington Hitchcock
"History of Shelby County, Ohio"
by A.B.C. Hitchcock; Sidney, Ohio; 1913
Richmond-Arnold Pub. Co.; Chicago, IL.
ALMON BALDWIN CARRINGTON HITCHCOCK says in his reminiscences that he was born from necessity, not having voluntary control of that important event, in the obscure town of West Haven, Vermont, October 13, 1838, and can not discard the idea that there is something unlucky in the number thirteen, and the superstition grows with his passing years. Townships are called towns in New England and this town was bounded nine miles on the west by Lake Champlain. The obscurity and comparative unimportance of West Haven prevented its being dignified with a place even on the map of the geographies, and no steamer on the charming lake paused for a moment to take on or let off passengers at West Haven, but plowed its way from Whitehall for fifteen miles to Benson without stopping.
He was the middle living child of Almon and Emily Barber Hitchcock, having one sister younger and one older than himself. He went to a district school until fourteen years of age, and being large for his years, and above the average pupil in most of his studies, was solicited at that tender period to teach a four months' term in an adjoining district at ten dollars a month and board around. When he came to settle for his four months' work the treasurer said there were only thirty-six dollars on hand, so he took that without a murmur. With his money he bought a broadcloth coat, a double-breasted satin vest, a pair of doeskin trousers, a green neckerchief as big as a stand cover, and thus was gorgeously equipped and had a few dollars left. The envy of his boy companions from which he suffered was more than compensated for by the increased favor the girls bestowed on account of his stunning toggery. As he was now elevated above going to a district school any longer his career as a common pupil closed and Troy Conference Academy at Poultney, Vermont, was the place selected to continue his education. It might be of interest to the youth of the present day to state that his father deposited the sum of forty dollars with which to pay his tuition, board, lodging and washing for twelve weeks' schooling. True, his room, which was a back one in the fourth story, was not inviting, with its uncomfortable bed, two modern chairs, and a warped table, nor was the board a Delmonico spread, but their intellects were especially lively, as the blood, not being called upon for much digestive work, went to the brain. Being rather an expert at base ball, foot ball and quoit pitching, favorable acquaintances were soon formed, for a long drive with a bat, accurate throwing and a sensational catch of a fly is quickly noised abroad and puts one in the front rank among students. After two terms at Pultney he went a term at Castleton Seminary and three terms at Fort Edward Institute, in New York. In the latter part of the fifties he made a visit to Illinois and taught school two winters near Chicago.
Among his most treasured recollections are his visit to Lincoln at Springfield, Illinois, after his nomination in 1860. He was with him alone in his unpretentious home and says that the mien of that sad-eyed man seemed to prefigure a martyr's end. He heard him speak in the afternoon at their fair grounds and returning to Chicago heard Stephen A. Douglas make his last speech as candidate for the presidency on the northern ticket of the Democracy.
Mr. Hitchcock came to Sidney in 1863, which has been his home ever since. He enlisted in the army but was rejected on account of a bad knee gotten in a wrestling match and paid a substitute $100 a year in addition to the army pay to take his place. On settling in Sidney his father bought the place now owned by W. B. McCabe on the Hardin hill where they lived for many years. To show the advance in real estate in the city the old Honnell farm, one mile northeast of Sidney, of one hundred acres his father bought for $20 an acre and the Carey farm of 170 acres, comprising the Orbison hill, now a delightful suburb of Sidney, for $45 an acre.
Mr. Hitchcock was identified with the schools of Sidney two different times as principal of the high school, many years county and local examiner of teachers, and for more than thirty years a writer for The Sidney Journal, the Gazette and Sidney Journal Gazette.
He has been too credulous, thinking that men are better than they are, has sung at more funerals than any man in the county, written more obituaries and filled more sporting columns with base ball accounts than any other writer in these parts. He is a great lover of poetry and the best of literature, a mind rich with the masterpieces of the ages and an author of a book of poems called "Waifs," which contains some rare bits of philosophy.
In politics he has always been a republican, though the political complexion of the county has not been nor is not of the hue to inspire nor foster republican aspirations. A member of the Presbyterian church and a leader of its choir for thirty years.
He was married October 20, 1864, to Margaret Jane Edgar and had three children, Jane, now Mrs. Harry Van De Grift: Wade, deceased, and Ruth.
As Thanksgiving-time is approaching and trees are bare it is not deemed inappropriate to insert a poem on autumn from his booklet:
The autumn leaves are falling
Because it's time to fall;
That must be the reason
For there's scarce been frost at all,
Just lost their hold and grip it seems
Obeyed the parting cail.
Have they got tired swinging,
On branches to and fro ?
The sport of wanton breezes
That had a mind to blow,
And so come reeling downward
To find a rest below?
Or do they grieve to see their hue
Fading every day?
Their green turning to yellow
Brown or ashen gray?
The tints which say you're growing old
And hastening to decay.
The happy birds all summer
Have caroled sweetest songs
Among the leaves upon the trees;
But to the south they've gone,
And now the only music,
Is a rustle of their own.
The rosy smile of morning
The hushed air's restful calm;
Refreshing dews, reviving rains
Were welcomed as a balm,
The moon's pale beams, and starlight gleams,
They caught in eager palm.
But now the summer's over,
The leaves have had their day:
Their shade's no longer needed,
Thus has it been alway,
That they must fall and be the sport
Of vagrant winds at play.
Baldwin Hitchcock, as he was more familiarly known, closed, his eyes forever December 26, 1912, a little past seventy-four years of life. The infirmities of age did not invade the realm of his intellect nor befog his memory, so he was never old.
The following article on the death of Mr. Hitchcock was written by Judge H. T. Mathers, of Sidney, and was read at the funeral services:
"Notwithstanding the sorrow I feel over the decease of my friend, it affords me a deep satisfaction publicly to attest, as I have often done privately, the loyal friendship and lovable characteristics of him whom we have lost awhile. The unconscious influences of life are more constant and more potent than we realize. As teacher and newspaper writer Mr. Hitchcock served his day and generation well. Again and again have I met his old scholars, who, when they learned I lived in Sidney, asked me about him and gratefully acknowledged their obligation for the instruction and inspiration he had given them. There are many successful business men today whose commercial education began under his tutelage, which gave the first and correct impulse to their subsequent training. No man connected with the press of this country, no matter how small the town or humble the publication. who appreciates its capacity for patriotic service, can fail to render that service, in some degree at least, if his literary activities are appreciable and rightly directed. And Mr. Hitchcock's were both large and rightly directed. His editorial and literary work was never malicious, usually helpful and always wholesome. His was a gentle spirit, which was imbued with the philosophy of the Master, whether he realized it or not, and which would rather return good for evil and when reviled revileth not again. Nathaniel-like, it was without guile, and was simple and lovable. His was a sunny spirit, whose coming was always a joy and whose going a regret, whose presence made some of life's disappointments less keen and its darker outlooks brighter. His magnificent voice, for so many years employed in the church services, lent an impress! veness to the lines of our majestic hymns that, I have no doubt, carried their meaning to many minds not influenced by the spoken word: and that same voice in reading or recitation, expressing, as it always did, the selections of excellent taste, was a delight and a benediction to those fortunate enough to hear him and helped one to realize the true, the beautiful and the good in literature. Can any doubt that that gentle, sunny spirit, that magnificent voice, that exquisite taste, that lovable arid loving comradeship he was always willing to indulge with his friends and with those who needed it, was needed elsewhere in God's universe, and so God took him there ?"
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