Welland History .ca

The TALES you probably never heard about

SWEEPINGS – We reprint here some excerpts from that notorious sheet, “Sweepings.”

Welland High Paper circa 1930s’

WILL MAN REACH MARS?

Arthur Smith

To the average person interplanetary travel is something so improbable that it belongs to the realm of fantastic. To my mind, there is nothing fantastic about it. I am convinced of the feasibility of space travel, and I predict that a successful flight to Mars will be made before the close of this century.

I am aware that there are great difficulties, but these are not insuperable. It is true that the distances are vast (Mars at its nearest is 5,000,000 miles away) but in space you can go a million miles as easily as one. This is because space is almost a perfect vacuum, and thus friction is practically absent.

A frequent objection is that a spaceship would have to obtain a speed of 7 miles per second, and that the acceleration would kill all on board. This is erroneous. Seven miles per second is the speed necessary if the rocket is to cut off its power and continue on momentum. But why not build a ship to travel at a bearable acceleration and keep the rocket blast on?

The greatest difficulty is fuel. The only suitable fuel now known is a mixture of liquid oxygen and gasoline, which is too bulky. However, I am confident science will find something better and thus remove the main obstacle.

JAMES RICHARD WILSON

JAMES WILSON, PICTURESQUE WELLAND NEGRO AND FORMER SLAVE, DIES IN 109TH YEAR

Had resided over 65 Years in Canada Coming From Civil War

AUCTIONED AT 10

Sold for $500, Deceased Was Treated Cruelly For Many Years

[The Welland-PortColborne Evening Tribune, 22 March 1930]

             James Wilson, perhaps Welland county’s most picturesque figure for more than 40 years, a slave on Missouri plantations and a resident of Canada for more than 65 years, died early this morning at his home on Church street, Welland, after having attained an age of 108.

             Surviving relatives are two sons, George in Toronto, and Robertson, Church street, Welland, and one daughter, Mrs. William Little, Niagara Falls. The funeral will be held on Monday at 2 p.m. from the Sutherland Funeral parlors to Woodlawn cemetery.

             Mr. Wilson died of old age and had been in fair health until a few days ago when he suffered a rapid decline.            

             Jas. Wilson had an unusually picturesque career. Born of slave parents more than 107 years ago, he had been in Canada more than 65 years following vicissitudes both in slavery and in process of escaping the bonds of slavery. He was able to boast that during his 109 years, he never smoked, chewed tobacco nor drank. He was born near Korent, Missouri in 1822. Mr. Wilson tried on one occasion to escape from a particularly brutal master but was arrested near Cairo, Illinois and for 13 years after that was subjected to intolerable brutalities and to the ever-present menace of the dirk and the revolver, finally escaping through the Northern lines during the American Civil War in 1864, and eventually reaching Canada that year. He made his escape by Detroit. In that city someone asked him to hold a horse. He did so, and was then taken over to Windsor where the man gave him this parting message, “Sonny, you’re in God’s country, a breathin’ of God’s free air. If any son of a gun should axe you where you be goin’ jes’ tell him to go plumb to H…”

Sold By Auction

             At the age of 10, Mr. Wilson was taken away from his mother and sold on the auction block for $500 to an immensely wealthy family. When he was 25, he was sold to a family named English, the master there being unusually cruel. He escaped to the State of Illinois by crouching in the darkened night through forest glades and among reeds. He fell into the hands of a slave searching band and was brought back to Missouri. 13 years later he again saw his chance to escape, secretly made his way onto a Mississippi steamboat and got into the lines of the Northern army and as already noted after a sojourn with the Northern troops finally reached Canada.

             Mr. Wilson spent nearly all his life in Canada in the county where he was particularly well known. For more than 50 years he worked at one thing or another finally retiring worth more than in his slave days than he ever believed would be possible. He wore a copper band around one wrist and a metal band around the other, the first as a preventative against rheumatism, the latter because he had a penchant for adornment.

The Welland-Port Colborne Evening Tribune
22 March 1930
Died: 22 March 1930
Woodlawn Cemetery
25 December 1821-22 March 1930
Old Age