War, weather, crops led the news in July 1898

By July 1898, the United States was at war with Spain. Actually, it was a rather strange way to go to war. In April, Congress resolved that Spain must abandon Cuba where a fight was raging between Spain and Cubans. Meanwhile, the American press demanded war. “Remember the Main, to Hell with Spain.”

On April 25, Congress declared that a state of war had existed since April 21. Interestingly, that was after President William McKinley learned that the queen of Spain ordered hostilities suspended in Cuba. The war did not prove to be much of a conflict, it was over, with a total American victory by August. What it gave the United Sates was a colonial empire that included the Philippines, Guam and Puerto Rico. The Durango Evening Herald (July 12, 1898) reflected the times with headlines from the war front: Shot and Shell Poured into Santiago Imposing Building Ground to Ashes The Slaughter was so Terrible and Devastating the General (W. S.) Shafter asked for the Surrender of the Doomed City

The belief is that the city will give in.

News from Puerto Rico it will not require much fighting to occupy the island.

(It did not. The Americans faced almost no opposition with only three killed and about 40 wounded.)

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Meanwhile, back in Durango and La Plata County:

The heavy rain last night extended up the valley for some distance. The river is red today which tells of high water at Hermosa. Continued rains are making it bad for the ranchmen, as it is the season of the year for haying. Many of the ranchers up the valley have hay down and the loss will be heavy.

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T. C. Gradne, J. W. Fairchild and Charley Fairfield drove up to the Fino Oro (mining camp west of town) this morning where the mine and mill owned by the first named gentleman is located Charley expects to remain all summer and is going to work in the mine.

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Charley Gray’s wheel (bicycle) was stolen last night from the front of Dr. McLawn’s where Mr. Gray left it out only a few minutes. The wheel is a brand new Elgin King and the only one in town.

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Sam Nichols is up from the La Plata today and found time to call on the Herald. Like all the farmers this year, Mr. Nichols is rejoicing at the prospects of a good crop.

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We trust that the additional cost of getting married will not work a hardship on matrimonial inclined people. The new revenue law requires a 10-cent stamp to be affixed to every marriage license.

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Tumbled at last. A Madrid paper refused to publish war news. The paper’s editor does not want to share the responsibility of proclaiming Spanish victories and other false and absurd news, which will be later demonstrated to the people as absolutely untrue. It is better to have no news than to continue deceiving the Spanish people the way the Madrid papers have been compelled to do during the last few months.

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Walls and Simmons have opened a steam and cleaning establishment in the building next to Gomner’s Photographic Galley and are prepared to do all kinds of work in this line.

Duane Smith is a Fort Lewis College history professor. Reach him at 247-2589.

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