Tuesday, February 15, 2011

1888 - Genealogy

The Listener would not be understood to undervalue the study of genealogy, now followed by so many anxious to learn about the stock from which they spring. It is not only commendable, it is valuable, and its study has been long too delayed. The practical utility of the study is great. Our society is becoming more complex, and the influence of kinsmanship on property is felt more than when the population was small and the ties of consanguinity were readily ascertainable. That there is room for the study from the simple standpoint of the laudable desire to know about one's forbears is evident from the experience of census enumerators, may of whom found that no inconsiderable proportion of the people they called on could not tell where or when one parent was born, and often their ignorance extended to both.

Boston Evening Transcript
Boston, Massachusetts
Monday, April 2, 1888

1954 - Tax Payments - And Humor Gone March 15

By Jack Leland
News and Courier Staff Writer

"Memorandum to the Editor:
You said to write a funny story about Income Tax day having come and gone.

Well, it's gone and with it has gone most of my money and apparently that of most Charlestonians. Also gone - as far as I can find out - is everyone's sense of humor.

There just isn't anything funny about taxes this year.

Not funny, "Ha-Ha," nor funny, "peculiar."

Perhaps it's just that they're all smiled out. Last week, you know, was National Smile Week and maybe everybody bared their teeth to the winds so often that they are just tired of smiling. Whatever the cause, there just weren't any people smiling yesterday.

Especially when asked about taxes. Of course, the income tax people say March 15 really should be a day of joy for at least half the population. It seems, according to the tax boys, that at least half the taxpayers get refunds. Two years ago, this amounted to nearly $2 billion or some $60 for every one with a refund. That, they contend, is just like getting back something you've said goodbye to.

After all, they reason, it's only money.

It might be worse, at that. Deep in darkest Africa there is a saying which goes "watch out for the Kalabalaba." The kalabalaba, literally "he who sees everything," is the tribal income tax collector.

Only he doesn't hit you in the pocketbook. In fact, some tribal rules hold, he can take the shirt right off your back or the beef ribs out of the oven or even your prettiest daughter. In one tribe, the Bantu, the chief is the Kalabalaba and he has the privileged of calling on a continent of girls to work in his garden. He can claim any one who pleases him.

Chiefs of the Chagga tribe collect one leg and one rib from each head of cattle slaughtered by members of the tribe. The Makalange chiefs tax fires. All fires are put out and then agents levy taxes to start new ones from the chief's private blaze. For keeping them from getting hot under the collar, that system's probably matchless.

Back in Charleston, one unhappy taxpayer quoted Mark Twain as having said "the only difference between a tax collector and a taxidermist is that the latter takes only your hide." The tax agents, however, claim most of the skin games are aimed their way.

And so it goes. Money, sense of humor and brotherly love - all blown before the wind in the treasury trees.

Just like in Africa - where cuts of beef cattle are collected - the American collector has to put up with a lot of beef too.

But, as was pointed out, there just isn't anything funny about taxes."

The News and Courier
Charleston, South Carolina
March 16, 1954

1864 - The Income Tax

May 6, 1864
The New York Times
New York, New York

The Income Tax

"There appears to be considerable misunderstanding still existing in the public mind concerning the income tax now due under the United States Revenue Laws. Those unaquacinted with he provisions of the tax bill will find the following brief r sum of interest:

First, the tax of five per centum is only imposed on the excess of income over $600, and is payable on the income received for the year ending December 31, 1863. The tax on income derived from United States Securities is specially restricted to 2 1/[???] of 1 per centum.

All State and municipal taxes lawfully paid may be deducted from the estimate of the income of the person actually paying the same. It is also provided that the rent of the homestead used or occupied by any person or family, not exceeding $200, may be deducted from the excess of income over $600.

In estimating the income, all forms of indebtedness bearing interest, whether due and paid, or not, if good and collectable, must be included as part of the annual income. The incomes of all officers employed in the civil, military or naval service of the United States are specially exempted from taxation under the Revenue Law.

Guardians of minors, and trustees of all estates held in trust, are required to furnish annual returns of the incomes of such minors, and the amounts received from such trust estates.

All returns of income under this law are required to be made or levied on the first day of May, and the amount of tax to be paid to the Collector of the several collection districts on or before the 30th day of June.

By an arrangement among the Assessors of New-York, however, it is understood that all returns of income made on or before the 10th day of May, will be accepted by them. After that date, delinquents will be assessed on the basis of such information as the Assistant Assessor may possess respecting their several incomes.

All taxes on incomes remaining unpaid for thirty days after the 30th of June, and so continuing for ten days after payment of the same shall be depended by the Collector, will be subject to a penalty of 5 per centum, which is a lien on all property of the delinquent from which the income is derived, and the collection of the tax may be enforced by distraint upon such property.

Blank income tax papers are furnished to applicants at the offices of the several Assessors and by the Assistant Assessors.

The income tax is required in all cases to be paid in the district in which the person liable to pay the same resides at the time the same becomes due, and no notice is required to be given by the Assessor or Assistant Assessor to any person to furnish the return according to law."

Monday, February 14, 2011

1906 - Out of the Mouths of Babes - What is a Family Tree?

Little Bless - What is a family tree?
Little Harold - It's a tree people climb when they want to get into society.

Pawtuxet Valley Gleaner
Phenix, Kent, Rhode Island
Friday, March 9, 1906

1906 - Origin of the U.S. Valentine

Miss Esther A. Howland of Worcester, Mass., was the first person in this country to manufacture valentines. Before she began in 1840, all these missives were imported. Miss Howland was a graduate of Mount Holyoke seminary, and after she left school she took scissors, paste pot, colored pictures and paper and began at first to make imitations of the valentines which her father, a stationer, imported. She sent some samples of her work to Boston and New York. They were sold immediately, and a large number of others was ordered. That was the beginning of her trade, and from that time on till she died, some months ago, she had all the orders she could fill. She became very well to do.

Pawtuxet Valley Gleaner
Phenix, Kent, Rhode Island
Friday, March 9, 1906

Saturday, February 5, 2011

1904 - Slippery Sidewalks


City Ordinance Does Not Appear to Be Effective.

The sidewalks in the city of Providence are beginning to assume the same condition as last winter, many of them being already covered with snow and ice sufficient to make the walking quite a little dangerous.

For several days the commissioner of public works has had men on the streets with teams sprinkling the icy sidewalks with sand, which is appreciated, and in speaking of the matter this morning Mr. Slade said that this was purely gratuitous on his part, as there was no law compelling the city to keep the sidewalks clear.

The following city ordinance may be of interest to owners or occupants of buildings bordering on a street:

The owner or owners, occupant or occupants, or any person having the care of any building or lot of land bordering on any street, square or public place within the city shall within the first four hours of daylight after the ceasing to fall of any snow cause the snow to be removed from the sidewalks adjoining said building or lot of land, and each and every hour after the expiration of said four hours that the snow shall remain on said sidewalk shall be deemed to be a separate violation of this section. The provisions of this section shall also apply to the fall of snow from any building. - City Ordinance.

On the other hand, it might be said that the city owns the sidewalk, or at least claim to, and that it would appear unjust and somewhat hard to compel a man to take care of someone else's property. Be that as it may, the sidewalks in many places are in very poor condition.

The Evening Telegraph
Providence, Rhode Island
Monday, December 12, 1904

1856 - Valentine's Day

St. Valentine's Day.

This is St. Valentine's Day, and if there has not been a wonderful reform in the general mind, since February last, a great many foolish lines will be written, and a great many bad ones sent to silly girls and vanity-stuffed young men, before night fall. The origin of St. Valentine's Day is not known. Among the traditions we have the following:

Madame Royale, daughter of Henry IV. of France, having built a palace near Turin, which, in honor of the saint, then in high esteem, she called it Valentine; at the first entertainment which she gave in it, she was pleased to order that the ladies should receive their lovers for the year by lots, reserving herself the privilege of being independent of chance and of choosing her own partner. At the various balls which this gallant princess gave during the year, it was directed that each lady should receive a nosegay from her lover, and that at every tournament the knights's trappings for his horse should be furnished by his allotted mistress, with this proviso, that the prize obtained should be hers. These pleasant interchanges among the "young people" finally grew into a custom, and thus originated the exchange of love tokens on St. Valentine's Day.

All of which might have been very fine, but we need not say that the day is not thus observed in this country. Our beaux and belles are satisfied with a few miserable lines, neatly written upon fine paper, or else they purchase a printed Valentine with verses ready made, some of which are costly - many of which are cheap and indecent. In any case - whether decent or indecent - they only please the silly, and give the vicious an opportunity to develop their propensities, and place them, anonymously before the comparatively virtuous. The custom with us has no useful feature, and the sooner it is abolished the better.

The New York Times
New York, New York
February 14, 1856

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

1898 - Watch Tomorrow's Sun

Tomorrow will be "groundhog day." There are all sorts of theories about the weather on that day. In Spokane the popular creed seems to be that if the groundhog comes out of his hole at noon and sees his shadow in the sunlight he will go back again, knowing that there will be six more weeks of winter. Others say it's just the other way, and that anybody who says Spokane's to have six weeks more of winter, sunshine or no sunshine, does not know what he's talking about.

Spokane Daily Chronicle
Spokane, Washington
Feb 1, 1898

1899 - Groundhog Day

Something About That Day and the Practices and Beliefs Popularly Associated with It.

The careless, everyday reader, who is too busy to trouble himself about musty historic matters and exact dates, may perhaps be surprised to learn that the day which sands out hon his local calendar as "groundhog day" (being the day on which that interesting animal is supposed to emerge for a few moments from his customary hole to arbitrarily decide as to the immediate cessation or indefinite prolongation of Winter) has other claims upon public attention. But it es even so. It is a day that has been set apart in different countries for many centuries for the observance of various interesting ceremonies and quaint customs.

From the time of the Justinian, A. D. 542, Feb. 2 has been celebrated as the feast of the Purification of the Virgin. The popular name of this feast is derived from the consecration on that day in the Roman Catholic Church of candles that are to be used during the year for ecclesiastical purposes. It is the custom of the Pope to officiate personally at the religious services celebrating this festival in Rome. After he has blessed the candles, he himself distributes them to the officers of the Church, according to their rank.

In Scotland, where the 2d of February has been chosen as one of the four term-days, there is s curious practice in connection with Candelmas Day. On that day it is the custom for school children to bring presents of money to their teachers, the sum being proportioned according to the abilities of their parents. Each child in turn goes up to the master's desk and presents his offering. Sixpence is the most common sum given; a few, however, give a while crown and even more. The boy and girl who give the largest sum of money are designated King and Queen, and retain that title in the school for a year. At the close of the offering ceremony in school, the children, after having received a glass of punch and a biscuit from the teacher, are dismissed for the day. They march through the streets singing and laughing and carrying the King and Queen in state. Another custom in Scotland on Candelmas Day is to hold a football match.

There is universal superstition throughout Christendom concerning the weather on that day. Good weather indicates a severe prolongation of Winter and a bad crop; bad weather on this day indicates a good crop and a good Summer.

If Candlemas Day be dry and fair,
The half o' Winter's to come and mair;
If Candlemas Day be wet and foul,
The half o' Winter's gane at Yule.

On Candlemas Day each Hebridean family takes a sheaf of oats and dresses it up in women's clothes; they place the dummy in a large basket, and lay a wooden club on it; this they call "Brud's Bed." The mistress of the family then, just before going to bed , marches around the basket three times, calling out, "Brud is come! Brud is welcome!" The next morning she carefully examines the ashes in her stove to see if by chance any impression resembling a club be there. If she finds it, it foretells a prosperous year to herself and family; if not, it is taken as a bad omen. The dummy is carried to the top part of the house, where it is expected to ward off lightning for a year.

The German shepherd should rather see a wolf enter his stable on Candlemas Day than the sun. A proverbial belief in Germany concerning Candlemas is that the badger peeps out of his hole on that day, and if he finds snow walks abroad; but if he sees the sun shining he draws back into his hole. This superstition about the badger the Germans have brought to America, but as the badger is little known here the woodchuck or groundhog has been used in its stead in the proverb. In the Central and Middle Atlantic States Candlemas is known as "Groundhog Day," the saying being current that on that day the groundhog comes out to notice whether or not his shadow is visible. If the sun shines and he is able to see it he hastens back to his hole to sleep again, but if the day be cloudy and his shadow invisible he remains out, for he knows that Winter is at an end. A popular rhyme concerning that day runs as follows:

As far as the sun shines out on Candlemas Day,
So far will the snow blow in before May;
As far as the snow blows in on Candlemas Day,
So far will the sun shine out before May.

The New York Times
New York, New York
January 29, 1899