Young in Years – Old in Crime

In my last post, I reported that on Friday, March 7, 1907, the Norwalk High School boys basketball team lost to Elyria in a close match–then I drifted off subject to wonder about young people of the day who did not attend high school at all.

The report of the game was in the Saturday issue of The Norwalk Daily Reflector one-hundred and ten years ago today. In that same edition that reported on the advantages of sport and scholarship for those fortunate enough to receive a high school education, was an account that may shed light about life on the other side of the tracks in 1907.


J.W. Johnson did not go to high school, of that I am confident. He did, however, spend four years attending the Boys’ Industrial School in Lancaster, Ohio, where he was sent at the age of twelve for burglary and larceny.


Boys’ Industrial School, Lancaster, Ohio

The Boys’ Industrial School was not successful in instilling in J.W. the values and morals undoubtedly impressed upon the minds of students in the Norwalk High School Class of 1907. Within four years of his “graduation” young Johnson was convicted of larceny and sentenced to a year in prison, an institution he was in and out of the next few years.

His most recent incarceration came on February 12, 1907: eighteen months for stabbing and wounding a man in Huron County. Sheriff Snyder, who transported J.W. to the penitentiary,  later learned of the young man’s criminal record. The sheriff did not ponder whether a life of crime begun at such a young age might be the result of a disadvantaged upbringing. He did, however, lament that, if the facts had been known, J.W. would have received a longer sentence.

How many students in the Norwalk High School Class of 1907 do you think were shown this article by their parents? When I was their age, I was warned of the horrors of “reform school,” so I’d say it’s a good bet they were.

What were the conditions at the Boys’ Industrial School where J.W. Johnson was an inmate from his twelfth to his sixteenth year. How did his experiences there contribute to his later life of crime. We’ll find out in my next post.



“Young in Years, Old in Crime,” The Norwalk Daily Reflector, March 9, 1907, page 2, column 4.

“Boys’ Industrial School,” Ohio History Connection.


Please like this post and let me know what you think in the comments. Thank you.

Norwalk Reflector Today

The Norwalk Daily Reflector has been a major resource for the stories I’ve posted to this site, especially since I began covering the Norwalk High School Class of 1907. But did you know that that newspaper, founded in 1830, is still published today as the Norwalk Reflector? That’s 187 years! 20 years longer than The New York Times, and 46 years longer than the Washington Post!

norwalk-reflectorThe Norwalk Reflector today still reports on international, national, and local news of the day, as it did in 1907 and throughout its long history. But that’s not all. In his weekly column “Just Like Old Times” author and local historian Henry Timman spins tales of Norwalk in days gone by.

An email from my sister yesterday reminded me of Mr. Timman’s column. She sent me a link to his latest column (thanks, Laura), “Home of Norwalk’s First Settlers Burns Down,” a report on the founding of Norwalk in 1817 by Platt and Sally Benedict. (In 2008, I posted about this very incident on this site in “A Home in the Wilderness.”).

Henry Timman is a talented and entertaining author, writing in the Literary Non-Fiction genre that I have tried–with limited success, I’m afraid–to emulate in this blog. His latest article does not disappoint. Please check it out.


Gentlemen’s Agreement of 1907 Ends War Scare with Japan

In my February 4 post, Pearl Harbor Harbinger, we saw that a 1907 dispute about discrimination against Japanese immigrants in California had brought the U.S. and Japan to the brink of war. On this day, one-hundred and ten years ago, the two countries concluded the Gentlemen’s Agreement of 1907, averting the crisis.

The U.S. government promised not to restrict Japanese immigration, and the Japanese said they would not allow emigration. It seems like a face-saving exercise for Japan to me, as it effectively halted immigration.

Compared to the hysterical articles reporting of impending war back at the beginning of the month, there was little coverage in either Norwalk newspaper of the end of the tension between the two countries. The Norwalk Evening Herald carried nothing on this day, or the following. The Norwalk Daily Reflector had a short article on the day following the agreement that the agreement had been sent to the Senate for ratification.


In fact, the agreement was never ratified, and it was eventually ended by the Immigration Act of 1924.


Source: “Japanese Question up to the Senate,” The Norwalk Daily Reflector, February 16, 1907, page 1, column 7


Basketball: Two Games at Norwalk High School

Friday evening, February 8, 1907, a night of basketball at the School Hall of the Norwalk High School began with a game between girls’ freshman and sophomore teams. According to the Norwalk Daily Reflector, the six to one score in favor of the freshmen team, did not reflect the excellent play on both sides. The newspaper opined that the high level of play bode well for the future of the junior/senior girls’ team in the coming years.

One exciting game was followed by another. A boys’ team from Elyria High School had come to School Hall to play the Norwalk Squad. The game began in a rush and the high pace was sustained throughout the contest. At the half, Norwalk led 9 to 5, and they continued to lead the rest of the game, winning at the final whistle 14 to 11.

The Norwalk squad was represented by two seniors and three juniors: Captain Arthur Young, and Clifford Williams as forwards, Leonard Delameter at center, and guards Ross Culp and Sheldon Laning. (The seniors of the Class of 1907 are indicated by links to their WeRelate pages).


Arthur Young


Sheldon Laning





Lucy Rule, Harriott Wickham, Sarah Barnett, Sophie Harkness, Walter Evans, Leonard Delamater

The Norwalk High School girl’s team did not play in Norwalk that evening. They had traveled to Clyde, for a game against the “Clyde Maidens.” More about that in my next post.



“Basket Ball School Hall,” The Norwalk Daily Reflector, 2/9/1907, page 1, column 7.

“Boys Won But Girls Lost,” Norwalk Evening Herald, February 9, 2017, page 1, column 6.

A Close Call

terrified-spectatorsThe Norwalk Daily Reflector reported on this day, Thursday, February 7, 1907, on a near tragedy at the Lake Shore and Michigan Southern Railway station in the city the previous evening. A middle-aged man dressed in working clothes, apparently not a Norwalk resident, fell off the platform onto the tracks in the path of a train to the horror of onlookers. Fortunately, the stranger managed to scramble out of danger, then hurried down the platform and disappeared.

Because this man seemed to have been heading toward the baggage car when he slipped and fell off the platform, the author of the article conjectured that he might have been “excess baggage,” in other words, attempting to ride the rails. In any event, in those days when fatal accidents were all too common, he was a very lucky man.


Source: “Terrified Spectators,” The Norwalk Daily Reflector, February 7, 1907, page 2, column 4.

Comics: What was Funny in 1907

Growing up, I loved the comics pages of the daily newspaper–and I still do. There were comics in 1907 Norwalk, at least in the Norwalk Daily Reflector. Like the Gray Old Lady (The New York Times), the Norwalk Evening Herald did not stoop to such low-brow entertainment. They ran serialized novels instead.

So what comics was the Norwalk High School Class of 1907 enjoying one hundred and ten years ago today? Here’s a sample. What do you think of 1907 era humor?


“A Bachelor’s Query,” The Norwalk Daily Reflector, February 6, 1907, page 4, column 4


“Nonsense,” The Norwalk Daily Reflector, February 6, 1907, page 4, column 5


The Firelands Historical Society Museum

On this date, one hundred and ten year ago, Caleb Gallup, grandson of Norwalk founder Platt and Sally Benedict, ran an article in the Norwalk Daily Reflector, requesting donations for the-firelands-pioneerthe new museum of the Firelands Historical Society. The society was the second oldest in Ohio, founded in 1857. Since then, the organization had held annual meetings and published the Firelands Pioneer to record stories of the settlement of the Firelands. Now they had established the first historical museum in the state to preserve the relics of those times.

The museum had been established in “fireproof rooms” in the Norwalk Public Library, and its display cases were waiting to be filled. Mr. Gallup, in his role as Custodian of Relics for the society, requested that descendants of the early pioneers comb their attics, basements and store rooms for portraits, papers, old furniture and anything else that harked back to those early days.



The Firelands Historical Society Museum

The Firelands Historical Society Museum is still going strong. It is now quartered in the old Wickham home at 4 Case Avenue, directly behind library. The museum’s collection has grown in the last one hundred ten years, and contains many relics of the pioneer days, to include one of the most extensive collections of old firearms you will ever see.

Just down the street, at 9 Case Avenue, it the Laning-Young Research Center. With over 4,000 historical volumes, this is the go-to place to research about the history of the Firelands.

The next time you are in Norwalk, Ohio, be sure to visit this great museum and research center. You’ll be glad you did.


Source: “Historical Museum,” The Norwalk Daily Reflector,” February 5, 1907, page 2, column 3.

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