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In One Ear: Local brevities

Notes from 1888
By Elleda Wilson

The Daily Astorian

Published on October 13, 2017 12:01AM

Newsy tidbits from the Saturday, Oct. 13, 1888 edition of The Daily Morning Astorian:

• The individual with the dark and roguish eye who stole three suits of clothes from Flynn’s Tailor Shop last Thursday night is still at large.

• Frank Surprenant has been appointed a trustee of the Northwestern funeral directors association. They will raise rates January 1st. If you want cheap burial, now is the time to croak.

Note: Mr. Surprenant built a morgue on the first floor of his “undertaking establishment,” F.H. Surprenant & Co. in January 1888, the same year he ran for county coroner on the Republican ticket. It was a Republican victory all around, even the presidency (Benjamin Harrison), so he probably won.

However, in February 1885, he almost required the services of an undertaker, himself. He left Fort Stevens in a rowboat, but one of his oars broke. The current pulled him toward the deadly Columbia River bar, but luckily he was rescued by the crew of the Geo. S. Homer.

• Many of the Mishawaka people who realize the need of good roads have organized in road district No. 13. … They have levied a $5 assessment as a starter, and the intention is to build a passable road to Astoria as far as practicable. When people take hold of a thing themselves, there is some chance of having it done.

Note: The town of Elsie actually began as Mishawaka in 1876, but has been Elsie since 1892, according to “In Search of Western Oregon,” by Ralph Friedman (

• A San Francisco woman sued her dressmaker for damages for furnishing her with a bustle which burst with a muffled report when sat upon, and the court awarded a judgment of $11.50 (about $286 now). A women may not care how loud her clothes are, but she wants a still bustle.

Note: The bustle was a ridiculous fashion rage, a cage-like contraption that attached at a woman’s waist and extended out past her derrière, creating a most peculiar profile (see drawing). One can only imagine how disconcerting an exploding bustle might be.


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