Christ's Lutheran Church in 1877

[ The old church ]

Pastor William Sharts, conducting services in the newly renovated third church building, which, like the second one, was known as the "Church on the Rocks," because it sat on a rocky ledge overlooking the Sawkill (about ¾ mile east of our present location--that is, north of present-day Route 212, across from the country club). (To enlarge the picture, just click it.) Here is Pastor Sharts's description of the church grounds:

The site is most beautiful & pleasant. On an elevated rock--along the base of which flows the picturesque Sawkill--surrounded by a magnificent grove of pines--and almost at the very foot of Overlook, one of the highest points of the Catskills. It is no wonder that it excites the admiration of every passer by.(1) From Anderson, Mark J., For All the Saints: Christ's Lutheran Church, Woodstock, New York, 1806-2006 [Bloomington, IN: AuthorHouse, 2006], p. 56, citing the pastor's notes. (Close)

[ Beer's Atlas map of Woodstock ]

Above is a map of the Woodstock village, published just a year later, showing the Church on the Rocks on the east side of town, just north of current Route 212 (known then as simply Saugerties Road) and north of the Sawkill. It is identified simply as "LUTH. CH." (To enlarge the view, click it.)

New chandaliers and lamps, costing $28.69 [$506.67 in 2006 dollars], were paid for by socials. Pastor Sharts made and presented two contribution boxes.

Eudora Genevieve ("Dora") Sharts, daughter of the pastor, was the church librarian.

It was about this time that Dr. and Mrs. Harriet Heath donated a small melodion to accompany the singing of hymns. Eudora R. Sharts, wife of the pastor, as well as Lydia Cramer (later the aunt of church organist Lydia Russell) played the instrument. It was also about this time that the Bible School became a vital part in the church life, under the tutelage of Eveyln Cramer.

According to historian Mark Anderson, there was probably little to distinguish our services from the typical services of other Protestant sects in America. The basic pattern was: scripture reading, hymn, prayer, Gospel reading, hymn, prayer, sermon, prayer, hymn, and benediction. Four times each year there would be a communion service; the service the week before would be a service of preparation for the communion.

The congregation voted not to use the new hymnals and service book recommended by the General Synod. According to the notes by Pastor Sharts:

Many members are evidently quite ignorant of the usages & customs of the Ev. Luth. Church.(2) Ibid., p. 42. (Close)
For English-speaking Lutherans, the hymns were quite typically borrowed from the Anglican and Calvinist canon rather than from their own. Church historian Mark Anderson speculates that such hymns brought to the congregation by talented singing masters would not have seemed at all inappropriate to the members.

At Easter, the pastor noted the following:

Communion.… Many members absent as usual.(3) Ibid., p. 56. (Close)
In September, however, the Hartwick Synod had their annual meeting at Christ's Church, and Pastor Sharts happily noted that the church was crowded, with 110 people taking communion.

In addition to the detailed and meticulous minutes that Pastor Sharts entered in the pastoral record book, he also maintained a separate record of all the texts he based each sermon on, where he preached, what the weather and road conditions were, and--as you can see--an idea of the attendance. This record seems to indicate that he did evening services not only at the Pine Grove Church but also at the schoolhouse known variously as Herrick's and Overlook.

There was a controversy during this year over carriage sheds. Members living close by did not want to build sheds on the church grounds, whereas those living further away did want them. The pastor noted that a few years before, two families had left the congregation over this controversy.

[ Pine Grove Church ] In late October, the church council at the satellite Pine Grove Lutheran Church sent a letter to Christ's Church proposing that the two congregations each form committees to meet for the purpose of bringing about a "union" of the two churches. (Pine Grove had separated from Christ's Church nine years earlier. The picture above is the church, the one below a detail of one of the windows; to enlarge either picture, click it.) Pastor Sharts noted that the Hartwick Synod recommended that Pine Grove ought to unite with Christ's and that the proposal from Pine Grove was a result of that recommendation.

[ Detail of the window in the Pine Grove Church ] When the committees from the two congregations met in November, however, it was discovered that the Pine Grove congregation was not interested in reuniting at all; rather, they wanted the pastor of Christ's Church to preach at Pine Grove on a regular basis. Pastor Sharts responded that he would consider this idea if he could receive sufficient remuneration and transportation. (At this time, Pastor Sharts was receiving $350 per year [$6,181 per year in 2006 dollars] at Christ's Church, his only income.) Here is an entry the pastor made in late December:(4)

Ibid., p. 64. (Close)
Preached in Pine Grove. Announced to the church officers that I would preach for the congregation of Pine Grove on Sunday afternoons for the amount of $65 [$1,148 per year in 2006 dollars] & a donation yearly of conveyance. Answer to be given in two weeks.

The Woodstock Region in 1877

Regional historian Alf Evers cited the recollections about local Woodstock life at this time of Byron "Bide" Snyder, whose father had a store in town, including a telegraph office, operating the line running from the West Hurley railroad station through Woodstock and even up to what was left of the Overlook Mountain House(5):

Excerpted from Evers, Alf, Woodstock: History of an American Town, Woodstock, NY: Overlook Press, 1987, p. 271, citing Snyder, Byron, recollections in the Woodstock Weekly, 1924. (Close)
Nearly everybody spoke more or less Dutch when the town was first settled. I have heard often that services were held once a month in that language in the Reformed Church. Now [1924] the tongue for the great grand parents of most of us is forgotten. The names of some of the good things they had to eat are still in use. "Oley Keuks," I know that is not spelled right but who the devil can spell Dutch anyhow. They were a kind of big fat doughnut, about the size of a base ball, full of raisins and spices and covered with powdered sugar. Another great dish that deserves honorable mention was made of beef cut into small pieces and sewed up in tripe. They looked like small foot balls. After cooking, the balls were put in a big jar and vinegar poured over them and pressed down with a heavy stone until they were partly flattened. No one would take the trouble to clean a tripe and make them now. So they too have passed into oblivion. They had an unpronounceable and unspellable name. Sounded something like "rolejos," but that's not it [the name in New York State Dutch was "rolletjes"].

Every housewife prided herself in "putting up stuff," her cellar was full of cans, jars and tubs of preserves and pickles. Indeed a woman's social standing was measured in some degree by the number of different kinds of "sass" she had on the table when company came.

Prospectors were exploring the Woodstock area for coal, oil, and gas.

Judge Henry Hilton, manager of the very fashionable Grand Union Hotel in Saratoga Springs, NY, for the estate of department store magnate A. T. Stewart, refused accommodations to Jewish banker Joseph Seligman. When newspapers denounced him for his bigotry, the judge protested that he did not intend to exclude all Jews, but only "a certain class of Jews"(6)

This and the following quotations on bigotry are from Evers, Alf, The Catskills: From Wilderness to Woodstock, Garden City, NY: Doubleday & Company, 1972, p. 478, citing the New York Times, July 19, 1877; the Catskill Recorder, June 29, 1877; and the Catskill Examinier, August 11, 1877. (Close) or "Seligman Jews."

Charles L. Beach, 68, proprietor of the commodious 54-year-old Catskill Mountain House, the becolumned Greek Revival temple hotel near Kaaterskill Clove, sent out a dispatch about his establishment:

There is none of the shoddy aristocracy here. New England furnishes more than her usual proportion of appreciated guests.
The dispatch noted that although there were a few "Germans" at the hotel, they were at least "lovers of fine scenery." Though not explicitly excluding Jews, Beach was suggesting that they should stay away.

The Catskill Examiner came to the defense of Jews:

In the limits of our village we have a number of these descendants of Solomon and if we have observed rightly a better class of visitors could not be desired.

The United States in 1877

[ Rutherford B. Hayes ]

Ulysses S. Grant, 55 (Republican), was President, succeeded during this year by Rutherford B. Hayes (also Republican). The newly elected 45th Congress was in session. A dollar in that year would be worth $17.66 in 2006 for most consumable products.

Immigrants from the British Isles and western Europe (especially Great Britain, Ireland, and Germany)--the so-called "Old Immigrants," most of them boasting a comparatively high level of literacy and accustomed to some level of representative government, who were either Protestant (most of them) or Catholic, were arriving during this decade at an average annual rate of 159,300. The "New Immigrants," those from southern and eastern Europe (especially Italy, Austria-Hungary, and Russia), largely illiterate and impoverished, who tended to be either Catholic, Orthodox, or Jewish and who had little experience with representative government, were arriving at an annual rate of 18,100--11% of the Old Immigrants' rate. The New Immigrants huddled together in large cities, such as New York City and Chicago.

Presidential election of 1876 (continued)

In the preceding year's election, the Democratic candidate, weak-voiced New York Governor Samuel Jones "Whispering Sammy" Tilden, 63 this year, had apparently won the 8.5-million popular vote, 4,284,020 to 4,036,572, a margin of 247,448 over the nonentity Republican candidate, Ohio Governor Rutherford Burchard Hayes, now 55. Unfortunately, the electoral college results had been problematic: 20 electoral votes were contested. The winning candidate needed 185 votes; Tilden had 184 and needed only 1 of the contested votes, whereas Hayes had 165 and needed all 20 of the contested ones.

Each of the problem states had sent two opposing Electoral College tallies to Congress: One set of Louisiana's 8 electoral votes went to Tilden, another set to Hayes; South Carolina likewise had two sets of 7 electoral votes, and Florida had two sets of 4. Oregon had two sets of 3, one set all for Hayes, the other set was Hayes 2, Tilden 1. The election dispute had given rise to a severe Constitutional crisis, and many Democrats were muttering about a possible war to settle the outcome. With the House of Representatives in Democratic hands, and the Senate in Republican hands, it was doubtful that Congress as a whole would be able to arrive at an acceptable solution.

In late December, committees created by the two houses of Congress had suggested the creation of a 15-member Electoral Commission, consisting of 5 Senators (selected by the Senate), 5 Representatives (selected by the House), 4 named Supreme Court Justices, and a final Supreme Court Justice chosen by the other 4. The most senior Justice would be the President of the Commission. Here was the proposed party affiliations: 7 Democrats, 7 Republicans, and 1 independent (supposedly Justice David Davis from Illinois, widely regarded as a political independent but whom the minority Democrats in the Illinois legislature were sure they had bought). The decisions of the Commission could be overturned only by both houses of Congress.

Candidate Hayes had objected to the idea as unconstitutional, and several Republicans had concurred. This is how things stood at the very tense end of the preceding year.

Democratic hotheads were crying

Tilden or Blood!
and some Democratic "Minute Men" were already drilling with arms, preparing for an insurrection.

In January, enough Republicans finally joined the Democrats to ensure passage of Electoral Count Act, creating the Electoral Commission: the Senate voted in favor 47-17, and the House of Representatives followed suit 191-86. On January 29, lame-duck President Ulysses S. Grant signed the bill into law.

Unfortunately for the Democrats, at just that time a Democratic-Greenback coalition in the new Illinois state legislature elected Justice Davis to the Senate. This ploy was probably intended to secure Davis's loyalty, but it backfired: Davis resigned from the Supreme Court before the controversy was settled, in order to take his Senate seat. Now the "independent" final seat on the Commission was given to Supreme Court Justice Joseph Philo Bradley, 64, a Republican who could be counted on to vote with the Republicans. One Republican rhymester rubbed salt into this wound:

They digged a pit, they digged it deep,
They digged it for their brother:
But through their sin they did fall in
The pit they digged for t'other.

[ James A. Garfield ] Here was the makeup, then, of the Electoral Commission: From the Senate 3 Republicans (George Franklin Edmunds of Vermont, 49, Frederick Theodore Frelinghuysen of New Jersey, 60, and Oliver Hazard Perry Throck Morton of Indiana, 54) and 2 Democrats (Thomas Francis Bayard of Delaware, 49, and Allen Granberry Thurman of Ohio, 64); from the House of Representatives 3 Democrats (Josiah Gardner Abbott of Massachusetts, 63, Eppa Hunton II of Virginia, 55, and Henry B. Payne of Ohio, 67) and 2 Republicans (James Abram Garfield of Ohio, 46 [pictured here], and George Frisbie Haar of Massachusetts, 51); and from the Supreme Court 3 Republicans (Joseph Philo Bradley of New Jersey, 64, Samuel Freeman Miller of Iowa, 61, and William Strong of Pennsylvania, 69) and 2 Democrats (Stephen Johnson Field of California, 61, and the Commission's President, Nathan Clifford of Maine, 74). All told, there were 8 Republicans and 7 Democrats on the Commission.

At the beginning of February, the Senate and House of Representatives met in joint session to count the electoral votes, calling each state's results in alphabetical order. When they called Florida, the alphabetically first state with two sets of returns, they referred the disputed documents over to the Electoral Commission, sitting in the nearby Senate Court chamber.

The Commission conducted itself as a court and heard arguments from lawyers from both parties. Arguing for the Republican Hayes were William Maxwell Evarts, 59, Thomas Stanley Matthews, 53, Samuel Shellabarger, and E. W. Stoughton; they maintained that the Commission should simply accept the official returns certified by each state's Governor without inquiring into their validity. Arguing for the Democrat Tilden were Jeremiah Sullivan Black, 67, Montgomery Blair, 64, John Archibald Campbell, 66, Matthew Hale Carpenter, 53, Ashbel Green, George Hoadley, Richard T. Merrick, Charles O'Conor, 73, Lyman Trumbull, 64, and William Collins Whitney, 36; they insisted that the Commission should investigate the actions of the state returning boards and reverse those actions if necessary.

The Commission predictably voted 8-7, along party lines, in favor of the Republican position for Florida, following that vote with a series of like party-line votes for the other states with disputed returns, ultimately awarding all 20 disputed electoral votes to Hayes.

But would Congress accept the Commission's findings? The Republican-controlled Senate voted to uphold them, but the House of Representatives, controlled by outraged Democrats, voted repeatedly to reject them, even through filibusters prolonged "until hell froze over." New York Congressman Abram Stevens Hewitt, 55, who was Chairman of the Democratic National Committee as well as an iron manufacturer, spuriously challenged the electoral votes of Vermont, even though there was no doubt that the state had gone for Hayes. He also reported that angry Democratic war veterans in 15 states were readying themselves for a march on Washington to force the inauguration of Tilden.

Both House and Senate separated to consider Hewitt's challenge; the Senate, of course, overruled it, but Democrats in the House staged a filibuster. On March 1, Congressmen debated the challenge for about 12 hours before finally overruling it. Then, immediately, another spurious challenge was raised, this time against the electoral votes from Wisconsin. The Senate voted to overrule this challenge, too, while Democrats in the House staged another filibuster. Finally Speaker Samuel J. Randall, 49, a Democrat himself, from Pennsylvania, refused to entertain any more dilatory motions. The filibusterers finally gave up, and the House voted to overrule the challenge to Wisconsin's votes shortly after midnight on the beginning of Friday, March 2.

The House and Senate then reassembled in a joint session to finish counting the electoral votes. On March 2, at 4:10 a.m., Senator Thomas White Ferry of Michigan, 50, the President pro tempore, announced that by an electoral margin of 185 to 184 Republican Rutherford Burchard Hayes had been elected President of the United States and that his running mate, William Almon Wheeler, had been elected Vice President.

On Saturday, March 3, the House of Representatives passed a resolution that Samuel J. Tilden had been

duly elected President of the United States.

The Inauguration proceeded, peacefully, on schedule on Monday, March 5 (since March 4 was a Sunday). Democrats believed that they had been cheated out of the Presidency and dubbed Hayes "His Accidency" or "His Fraudulency" or "Rutherfraud." President Hayes rewarded William M. Evarts, who had argued his case before the Commission, by appointing him Secretary of State. He rewarded another of the lawyers, T. Stanley Matthews, by nominating him to the Supreme Court.

Acknowledging his defeat, candidate Tilden said:

I can retire to public life with the consciousness that I shall receive from posterity the credit of having been elected to the highest position in the gift of the people, without any of the cares and responsibilities of the office.

The Compromise of 1877

Behind closed doors on February 26 at Wormley House, a nearby Washington hotel, 4 Southern Democratic lawmakers and 5 Ohio Republicans (surrogates of Governor Hayes, including Congressman James A. Garfield) were working on a deal that would end the controversy, allowing Hayes to take office in return for some important concessions to the Democrats.

The Electoral Commission had already awarded, in alphabetical order, the 4 contested votes of Florida, the 8 contested votes of Louisiana, and the 1 contested vote of Oregon to Hayes, bringing the tally up to 178 for Hayes versus 184 for Tilden; the 7 votes of late-alphabetical-order South Carolina were still in contention to decide who would have the 185 votes necessary to win. For Hayes, it was really only a matter of time.

By early the next morning, the Southern Democrats had essentially been given a number of assurances. If Hayes's cabinet were to consist of at least one Southerner and if he agreed to withdraw all remaining Union troops from the South--in particular, the troops guarding the state houses in Louisiana, South Carolina, and Florida, preventing Democratic Governors from assuming office. Such a compromise would formally end Reconstruction (which had pretty much already ended anyway), and Hayes could become President with no further Democratic filibustering obstructions. In compliance with the deal, Hayes had already promised to appoint Democratic Senator David McKendree Key, 53, of Tennessee into his cabinet as U.S. Postmaster General, enabling Key to distribute the largest number of patronage jobs. Hayes had also already promised to end Reconstruction by removing the federal troops.

The deal also stipulated that another transcontinental railroad would be constructed and subsidized, extending the Texas and Pacific line, under the directorship of Thomas Alexander Scott, 54, from Marshall, TX, across the Southwest to San Diego, CA, and that the federal government would help in the industrialization of the South. Ohio Congressman James Garfield urged Hayes to find "some discreet way" to show Southerners that he favored "internal improvements," to which Hayes replied:

Your views are so nearly the same as mine that I need not say a word.
Nonetheless, these two stipulations--about the railroad and about industrialization--were in the end neglected.

This Compromise of 1877 is sometimes considered to be the second "Corrupt Bargain," the first one 52 years earlier, which installed John Quincy Adams as President. Boston abolitionist Wendell Phillips, 66, argued strenuously against any such bargain with the late rebels(7):

From "Transwiki: American History Primary Sources Reconstruction and the New South," Wikiquote (part of Wikimedia Foundation, Inc.), at _Primary_Sources_Reconstruction _and_the_New_South, accessed 7 April 2007. (Close)
The whole of the South is hidden by successive layers of broken promises. To trust a Southern promise would be fair evidence of insanity.
The compromise, and its gloomy outcome for blacks, who paid dearly for the sectional reconciliation, was summarized by Professor C. Vann Woodward(8): Quoted in Garraty, John A., The American Nation: A History of the United States, New York: Harper and Row, 1966, p. 444, citing Woodward, C. Vann, Reunion and Reaction, 1951. (Close)
The Compromise of 1877 marked the abandonment of principles and force and a return to the traditional ways of expediency and concession. The compromise laid the political foundation for reunion. It established a new sectional truce that proved more enduring than any previous one and provided a settlement for an issue that had troubled American politics for more than a generation. It wrote an end to Reconstruction and recognized a new regime in the South. More profoundly than Constitutional amendments and wordy statutes it shaped the future of four million freedmen and their progeny for generations to come.

Reconstruction was certainly over: Through fraud and intimidation, solidly Democratic white supremacists regained political power all over the South. In South Carolina, Union General Daniel Henry Chamberlain, 42, Republican, insisted that he was Governor, and ex-Confederate General Wade Hampton III, 59, Redeemer Democrat, insisted the same. President Hayes resolved the deadlock by withdrawing federal troops from Columbia, SC, in late April; the Redeemers took over control of the government. In early May, federal troops left New Orleans, and white rule was restored in Louisiana.

Black plantation owner Blanche K. Bruce from Bolivar County in Mississippi, who had even been elected 2 years earlier as a Republican to the U.S. Senate, continued to serve the remaining 4 years of his term; he was the second (and last) black to do so from that state, but otherwise the notion of blacks holding political office became a relic of the now-dead Reconstruction era. A black Louisianan lamented(9):

From "Transwiki," op. cit. (Close)
The whole South--every state in the South--has got into the hands of the very men that held us slaves.
From this time forward for nearly a century, the economically dependent blacks who even tried to vote would be facing unemployment, eviction, and violence. Blacks (and poor whites as well) were forced into sharecropping and tenant farming; former slave masters were now bosses and landlords. Through the "crop-lien" system, the serflike small farmers could get food and supplies from storekeepers by agreeing to a lien on their expected crops, a lien they would never be able to fully pay off.

In the South, the daily discrimination against blacks grew increasingly oppressive. Blacks were continually assaulted by harsh reminders of their second-class citizenship, and Southern white supremacists dealt brutally with any black who dared to violate the customary racial code of conduct. Even at the time, The Nation summarized the significance of the corrupt bargain(10):

From ibid. (Close)
The negro will disappear from the field of national politics. Henceforth, the nation, as a nation, will have nothing to do with him.

Debtor farmers of the agrarian West and South, the "cheap-money supporters," the Greenbackers, disappointed in the passage of the Specie Resumption Act 2 years earlier, which had authorized the resumption of specie payments in gold coins for all greenbacks in circulation by 1879, were now looking for relief to another precious metal: the "sacred white metal" silver. New silver discoveries in Nevada and other areas of the West had been shooting silver production up and forcing silver prices down. Unfortunately, Congress had formally dropped the coinage of silver 4 years earlier with the Fourth Coinage Act, which these debtor groups and Westerners from silver-mining states labeled the "Crime of '73." They were demanding a return to the "Dollar of Our Daddies"--essentially a call for inflation to make debts easier to repay.

Of course, "sound money" Republicans resisted this call, advocating gold money exclusively. Meanwhile, the U.S. Treasury was accumulating gold stocks against the 1879 deadline for resumption; coupled with the reduction of greenbacks, this policy was known as "contraction" and it worsened the effects of the continued economic depression from the Panic of 1873.

Larvae of the gypsy moth (Porthetria dispar) continued to spread from Medford, MA, where French naturalist Leopold Trouvelot had brought the insect from Europe 8 years earlier with hopes to start a silk industry in New England. The moth population was exploding and defoliating American woodlands.

Jacob Henry Schiff, 29, a partner for the previous 2 years in the 10-year-old Kuhn, Loeb & Company investment banking house in New York City, and the son-in-law of founder Solomon Loeb, moved the firm into railroad financing by underwriting a loan to the Chicago and North Western.

After studying for a year the operations of the internationally known insurance firm Prudential Assurance Company, Ltd., in London, John Fairfield Dryden, 38, one of the directors of the 2-year-old insurance firm, Prudential Friendly Society in Newark, NJ, changed its name to Prudential Insurance and began writing sickness and accident insurance policies.

More than 100,000 people signed up for home-study correspondence courses provided by the 3-year-old Chautauqua Assembly, which had developed into a traveling tent show of lecturers to bring culture to small towns in America.

The state supervision of grain warehouses, which had begun 6 years earlier in Illinois but had been challenged in court, was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court, a decision that became the basis for all subsequent regulation of business by government in the U.S.

The 15-year-old Homestead Act, designed to stimulate the family farm and to encourage a rapid population growth in the West, authorized any U.S. citizen, or any alien intending to become a citizen, to take 160 acres of Western land for just a $10 registration fee ($176.60 in 2006 dollars), provided that he make certain improvements and that he live on the tract for 5 years. Alternatively, the settler might acquire land after only 6 months of residence for a nominal price of $1.25 per acre ($22.08 per acre in 2006 dollars). Either way, the land acquired was to be exempt from attachment for debt.

Of course, the act augmented immigration. Tens of thousands of settlers applied for homesteads each year, a third of them actually receiving land. During this year, nearly 3 million acres of public lands were legally transferred to private ownership.

Unfortunately, most landless Americans were too poor to become independent farmers; the expense of moving a family from the East to the ever-receding frontier was prohibitive, and the subsequent costs of equipment, fencing, and housing was formidable for most. Industrial workers were ill-suited to transform themselves into farmers; most of the homesteaders were already farmers and were situated close to the frontier anyway.

Also, the standard quarter section was typically inadequate for raising livestock or for the kind of commercial agriculture that was suitable on the dry Great Plains; approximately two-thirds of the homesteaders eventually surrendered in their struggle against draught. Cynics joked that the government had put up the 160 acres against the $10 registration fee in a cruel bet that the settlers would not last the requisite 5 years. Notably, about five times as many families purchased their land from the states, the land companies, or the railroads.

Congress had attempted to address the problem with its 4-year-old Timber Culture Act, which permitting individuals to claim an additional 160 acres if they agreed to plant a quarter of it in trees within 10 years. This law was helpful to farmers in Kansas, Nebraska, and Dakota Territory, but raising seedling trees on the plains was difficult; fewer than 25% of those who took land under this law ever obtained final title.

The Homestead Act and similar laws spawned considerable fraud: Settlers often swore that they had "improved" their claim by erecting a "twelve-by-fourteen" dwelling, which actually measured 12 by 14 inches. Wealthy speculators used the law to obtain large tracts. Unscrupulous corporations bribed aliens with beer or a little cash to become a "dummy" homesteader so that they could snatch properties containing oil, minerals, and timber.

Cattle drives on the 700-mile-long Chisholm Trail from San Antonio, TX, to Abilene or Ellsworth, KS (two "cow towns" on the Kansas Pacific Railway, where cattle could be transported to Chicago), continued on a large scale, hundreds of thousands of steers driven north on the "Long Drive," moving at an average 12 miles per day through open, unsettled country.

Drought continued on a good part of the cattle range in the West.

Active prospecting for silver began at the exhausted 18-year-old placer gold mines in Oro City, Colorado, where metallurgist A. B. Wood had 3 years earlier recognized silver-lead ores in material rejected by gold miners.

Thousands of Chinese immigrants were fleeing the disintegrating Chinese Empire and coming to the United States, at an annual rate during this decade of 12,320. Most were men (the ratio was 21 males for each female). Some came with money pooled by their families back home, but most were desperately poor and in debt to Chinese middlemen, which they would need to repay in cruel conditions of indenture for years. The indenture business was known ignominiously as "pig selling." Chinatowns were springing up in railroad towns, farming villages, and cities, where the immigrants could speak their own language and seek safety from prejudice and violence. Many organized themselves into tongs (secret societies).

This is a placeholder for information on the United States during this year. The information will come soon. The footnote at the end of this sentence is also a placeholder; please don't click it.(11)

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The World at Large in 1877

U.S. entrepreneur Henry "Don Enrique" Meiggs, who had been building railroads for the past decade and a half on the South American west coast and into the Andes, died of yellow fever at the age of 66. His nephew Minor Cooper Keith, 29, was still trying to complete a 149-mile Costa Rican national railway from Port Limon on the Caribbean coast up to the national capital of San José, but had run out of money 6 years earlier after building only 60 miles of track (and after 4,000 men had died in the construction effort). Not to be discouraged, however, Keith had planted bananas in the Zent Valley behind Port Limon to establish a new source of funds and had married the daughter of José Maria Castro, the ex-president of Costa Rica.

Cuban rebellion

Hostilities continued.

Physician Sophia Jez-Blake, 37, who 3 years earlier had founded the London School of Medicine for Women, finally gained the legal right to practice medicine in Great Britain.

The coffee rust (Hamileia vastatrix), which had appeared in Ceylon (Sri Lanka) 8 years earlier, was spreading throughout the Orient and the Pacific, wiping out coffee plantations and causing coffee prices to soar.

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