Pick an ancestor’s hometown and focus on what it was like to live in that area in your ancestor’s lifetime.
Arrow identifies my twenty-six year old Great-Uncle John J. Murray, when he was elected a Director in the baseball club “United Base Ball Club of Bellaire City,” soon to be aka – “The Clippers” of Bellaire.
Two newspapers of the area: The Wheeling Register (Wheeling West Virginia) and the Belmont Chronicle (Saint Clairsville, Ohio) supplied this information.
Transcribed from the Wheeling Register, August 12, 1875 is this Bellaire column:
“There will be a match game of base ball (sic) played on the Public Square in this city on next Saturday, between St. Clairsville club and the Clippers of Bellaire, and all we have to say is that the St. Clairsville boys will have to sail in right lively, or they will get badly beaten.”
St. Clairsville is eleven miles east of Bellaire, today, a fifteen minute drive, but in 1875? How long on horseback or walking? Want to know what the weather is like in Northeastern Appalachia in June?
From a column of “Fillers” in the Belmont Chronicle Thursday, June 7, 1877.
In the years following the Civil War, “Base Ball” became enormously popular all through America and had significant growth in the state of Ohio, particularly in Cincinnati. It seems unlikely that Uncle John and his Clippers on the Ohio River had “match games”with the famed Cincinnati Red Stockings players of 1875: Amos Booth, Dory Dean, Charlie Gould, or Scott Hastings, all four of whom soon joined professional teams in the newly formed National Baseball League, nor did the Bellaire Clippers travel 125 miles west to play that famous Columbus team named “Clippers.” Much historic baseball was played in Ohio between 1875 and 1900, but I suspect those new Irish lads, the Murray brothers, were simply keen to Play ball! Make friends! Be American!
If you would like to share your response to this prompt for publication in a few weeks, please send it to Joleen Aitchison or Susie Wood. Thanks!