The Commercial-News, Danville, IL

Local News

October 27, 2013

Spelling bees were a source of income

The following article appeared in the July 20, 1911, issue of the Warren Review newspaper.

Uncle David Sewell was one of the pioneer teachers of Warren County, Indiana. He was a very tall man, large in proportion, with a very kind and benign countenance. Uncle Davy was a splendid specimen of manhood, except in one important particular — he was born with one foot, there being only a stump where his right foot should have been.

Sewell lived to a great age, being about 97 when he died. A few years before his death, he depended upon what he called “Social Spelling matches,” for a living. He lived very frugally and never married. He had saved a snug sum of money, the interest of which would have maintained him in his old age, but in an evil hour, he loaned it on insufficient security and lost it.

It was in the late 1870s; the old gentleman had held one of his spelling matches in the Gravel Road School house. He procured the privilege of using the building from the trustee, and offered a prize of a 5-cent lead pencil to the champion speller, and charged an admission fee of 5 cents.

He cleared about $2 at the Gravel Road School, and after staying all night with a friend, went on to Independence, where he advertised to hold another spelling match in the evening. He usually wrote his ads and mailed them to the postmaster or some friend with a request to post them for him. It chanced that Ed. H. Mace of Lafayette, a nephew of Mrs. Jacob Hanes Sr., was visiting at the Hanes mansion. He noted, with a feeling of sympathy, the efforts of the aged cripple to dispose of his tickets, and to awaken an interest in his little enterprise.

No one, however, seemed much interested in the prizes offered and his spelling match tickets did not sell very fast. More determined, however, that the affair should turn out to be a financial success, he went to Attica and had a number of dodgers printed and returned with them before dinner. It was Saturday and a big crowd was in town in the afternoon and every buggy and wagon, and every man, woman and child carried dodgers announcing prizes of a $10 suit of clothes to the best speller if a male, or a $10 dress over-skirt, shoes, hose, etc., to match if that champion was a woman.

Text Only
Local News
  • Library sets program for Farmers' Market

    July 28, 2014

  • Reception celebrates truck

    July 28, 2014

  • Police, Fire Reports

    July 28, 2014

  • Artists can sell artwork

    July 27, 2014

  • Children’s show auditions set

    July 27, 2014

  • Upward Bound still opens path to college Nervous but determined, the 15-year-old boy walked into a conference room in Columbus, Ohio, for a fateful interview. If it went well, perhaps he’d have a chance to be the first member of his impoverished family to attend college.That was 34 years ag

    July 27, 2014

  • Tilton Redneck Games Today9:30 a.m. — Church services, Stage10:30 a.m. — Mud Bog Registration opens11:30 a.m. — Mud Volleyball, Beer Tent, Vendors and Kidz Zone opensNoon — Toilet seat pitching contestNoon — Tug of War grudge match, Mud Bogs start1:30 p.m. — Hotdog eatin

    July 27, 2014

  • Monical's to rebuild Tilton restaurant TILTON — Local residents could be enjoying Monical’s pizza in Tilton by the end of this year.Monical’s corporate officials issued a press release Friday outlining the rebuilding of the restaurant that was damaged by fire on April 24.According to the

    July 27, 2014

  • Dr kakarla.jpg On the mend

    OAKWOOD — As a mechanic, Charles “Chip” McArty thought he could fix anything … until he was diagnosed with cancer.

    July 27, 2014 2 Photos

  • Police Report Incidents reported to police include:DanvilleThursdayBattery in the 1000 block of Walnut Street.FridayTheft of a cell phone in a box case valued at $400 taken from the Days Hotel, 77 N. Gilbert St.Danville female arrested in connection with retail th

    July 27, 2014

E-edition
Spring 2014 Photos


Buy these photos and more via Smugmug

AP Video
Kerry: Humanitarian Cease-fire Efforts Continue Raw: Corruption Trial Begins for Former Va Gov. The Carbon Trap: US Exports Global Warming UN Security Council Calls for Gaza Cease-fire Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating 13 Struck by Lightning on Calif. Beach Baseball Hall of Famers Inducted Israel, Hamas Trade Fire Despite Truce in Gaza Italy's Nibali Set to Win First Tour De France Raw: Shipwrecked Concordia Completes Last Voyage Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge From Nest Raw: Massive Dust Storm Covers Phoenix 12-hour Cease-fire in Gaza Fighting Begins Raw: Bolivian Dancers Attempt to Break Record Raw: Israel, Palestine Supporters Rally in US Raw: Air Algerie Flight 5017 Wreckage Virginia Governor Tours Tornado Aftermath Judge Faces Heat Over Offer to Help Migrant Kids Kangaroo Goes Missing in Oklahoma More M17 Bodies Return, Sanctions on Russia Grow
NDN Video
'Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1' Sneak Peek GMA: Dog passes out from excitment to see owner Chapter Two: Designing for Naomi Watts Baseball Hall of Famers Inducted Florida Keys Webcam Captures Turtles Hatching Morgan Freeman Sucks Down Helium on 'Tonight Show' Robin Wright Can Dance! (WATCH) She's Back! See Paris Hilton's New Carl's Jr. Ad Big Weekend For Atlanta Braves In Cooperstown - @TheBuzzeronFox Chapter Two: Becoming a first-time director What's Got Jack Black Freaking Out at Comic-Con? Doctors Remove 232 Teeth From Teen's Mouth Bradley Cooper Explains His Voice in 'Guardians of the Galaxy' Deja vu: Another NYPD officer choke-holding a suspect 'Fifty Shades of Grey': Watch the Super Sexy First Trailer Now! Reports: Ravens RB Ray Rice Suspended For 1st 2 Games Of The Season Air Algerie plane with 119 on board missing over Mali Diamond Stone, Malik Newman, Josh Jackson and others showcase talent Free Arturo - The World's Saddest Polar Bear A Look Back at Batman On Film Through The Years
Must Read