In early 1902, it was announced that a new daily soap opera written by an unidentified local writer was going to be published in the Manistee Daily News. Originally titled “Nell Evans: The Romance of a Salt Well”, but changed a few days later to “Nell Evans: A Story of Manistee”, this series was first published on January 13, 1902 with installments daily for several weeks after. .

While many of the characters in the series are fictional, like the lead character of Dr Frank Randolph, a man returning to Manistee after several years away – their interactions with the surroundings of Manistee from 1902 – not to mention any local references. – make for interesting reading almost 120 years later.

On November 17, 2020, the News Advocate reposted Part 1 of the series with the second episode following December 15, 2020, Part 3 on January 12, Part 4 on February 12, Part 5 on March 30, Chapter 6 on April 20, the seventh chapter on May 18, the eighth chapter on June 15 and the ninth chapter on July 13.

The next tenth episode in the series was originally released on January 24, 1902 and resumes with Randolph returning to work after his weekend at Onekama.

“At about half past eight on Monday morning, Randolph entered room 7, Engelmann block. It looked good to come home to walk into the comfortable office again and find everything as he was gone on Saturday afternoon. He pushed open the window to let in the breeze blowing the river, then leaned back in his favorite seat, his feet on the windowsill.

“It was a beautiful morning and he had enjoyed every foot of the trip home. Mr. Williams and Fred Brady had accompanied him, all leaving Crow’s Nest before the ladies rose.

‘They sure know how to please a visitor,’ Frank thought. “A little atypical, but so much the better for that. He surreptitiously pulled a small, worn-out glove from his pocket and smoothed it in the palm of his left hand.

“How little! Could such a delicate mold hold a human hand? Frank lifted him up, ‘What did she say?’ crossed his mind. ‘Oh yes! ‘You’re doing fine’ that was all. I should have had more common sense than stealing his glove. I’m a jerk anyway. Guess Brady has a dozen gloves or handkerchiefs and the nerve to wear a ring on his gusset.

“He looked at the blue lake to the west, remembered seeing it the previous afternoon, then brought the little glove to his lips again.

“’She’s a consummate flirt,’ in a low voice, ‘A consummate flirtation. But his conclusion didn’t seem unpleasant to the young man, for he carefully folded the glove, pulled out a small drawer from his desk, closed it, and slipped the glove into an inside pocket.

“’How Brady looks,’ Frank began, sitting down. “One would have assumed that it was everything to have seen him leave the car this morning and walk towards his office. Mr. Williams seemed to like her too; said he was a nice boy. But I guess Mr. Williams thinks everyone is nice. He said the same thing about Ransom, I remember.

“‘Ransom is a very nice boy,’ Frank thought. “A remarkable con artist. He’s more business savvy than the three or four of us together. Not afraid to take risks either. That’s what makes the successful businessman, Randolph. You can’t make a fortune by walking these days – it must be fluke. Ransom has the nerve and with factory control from Eastlake Lumber Company, he’s likely to do better than ever. Some call it the game, the way he dives. I would like to know where the game ends. We are all gamers to some degree, Doctor, you and I and even the farmer who sows the seed.

“By Jove, speaking of Ransom, I think I’ll run and see him.”

Frank walked into his friend’s office without knocking and found Miss Evans sitting in front of the typewriter.

“‘Sir. Ransom is in Chicago, his pleasant voice said in response to his questioning gaze. He left for Charlevoix on Saturday night. He always travels on Sundays to save time.

“‘Time is very precious to some men,” and Frank walked over to the window, then turned to grab Miss Evan’s profile. “But with others, it’s different. Now the question of a day or two wouldn’t be serious for me.

“Miss Evans shook the keys and slapped the machine several times, then pulled out a completed letter and put it in an envelope.

“Most likely, it’s more valuable to you – right now for example?” I must not interrupt you, she said. – You can stay, doctor. I can continue with the little I have to do anyway.

“Normally Frank would have retired, but something in the girl’s firm tone and frank gaze assured him that she meant exactly what she said.

“’I’ll be pretty busy when the afternoon mail arrives. It’s always heavy on Mondays. She was starting another letter, writing apparently without shorthand. “Since we took over the factory from the Eastlake Lumber Company, there has been a lot. But now Mr. Ransom has a good man in the factory office and things are going well.

“An ADT boy came in with a telegram, which Miss Evans immediately opened.

“Sir. The ransom will arrive at 10:15 am tonight. I’m just going to call Marion and say, ‘Was there a message, Dr Randolph? Yes, he’ll probably be in the office early tomorrow morning. Have a nice day.’

“In response to a phone call, Frank met Dr. McLash at Mercy Hospital half an hour later. Their work in the institution finished, they returned to River Street behind Kittie.

“You have to have a horse,” Randolph said McLash. “Now I have my eye on a good animal and if you like, I’ll speak for it. I saw Jim Robinson watching him out of the corner of my eye this morning and we will have to be quick or lose the opportunity.

“Go ahead, doctor. “

“I thought you would say it. It’s good to practice in the hospital, boy, yet it is the reward of hard work, and you can’t refuse business as it comes. Not for what you get understand because you won’t get paid half the time anyway, but the overall experience is what we all need to avoid the trickery. Don’t expect to advise the Savings Bank for long, Randolph.

And that’s how Frank came into possession of a fine horse, between the saddle and bay, with an eye, as McLash said, “It’s better than any written pedigree and I wouldn’t be at all surprised if what the guy said about a saddle gait is okay. ‘

Nell Evans Chapter 10 is scheduled to continue next month.

Mark Fedder is the Executive Director of the Manistee County Historical Museum. He can be reached by email at [email protected], or by phone at 231-723-5531.

MORE FROM THIS SERIES

• The 1902 series continues with Manistee’s doctor visiting Onekama

• “Nell Evans: A Manistee Story”, chapter 7


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