The Hysteria and Overbooking of Hayley’s Comet 1910

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The Hysteria and Overbooking of Hayley’s Comet 1910

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If you read *When The Streets of Carleton Place Ran Thick With the Blood of Terror! you will remember three young ladies residing in a house in one end of Carleton Place. They were suddenly awakened at 3 am that night in May of 1910 by the cries from the town fire and the illumination of the sky. The women thought that Halley’s Comet had passed that night and had produced the end of the world.

The three rushed outdoors in their night clothes waving their arms and crying in despair. They thought it the end of the time was near. It took awhile to get the ladies under control and understand what had really happened. No doubt they had read the newspapers that very day about the coming of Halley’s Comet.

 

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For weeks international and local newspapers literally terrorized their readers. Over 500 Italians in Little Italy in New York fell to their knees in prayer that night when they saw the ball of flame bearing down on them in the sky. In New Jersey locals took the whole day off work to pray in their local churches for their salvation. Fraudsters hawked anti-comet pills, with one brand promising to be “an elixir for escaping the wrath of the heavens,” while a voodoo doctor in Haiti was said to be selling pills “as fast as he can make them.” Two Texan charlatans were arrested for marketing sugar pills as the cure-all for all things comet, but police released them when customers demanded their freedom. Gas masks, too, flew off the shelves.

 

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The whole performance took five hours that night while the Carleton Place fire raged. On the bridges of Ottawa and on rooftops people gathered and some educators carried bottles so they could contain some the atmosphere for future analysis.  The world’s greatest scientists assured everyone that no harm would befall and their analysis could not be foretold, but it was concluded that there was no cyanogen gas from the tail of the comet that they were fearful of. Local bartenders were telling their patrons to drink half water and half alcohol and that was an antidote if they breathed any cynogen gas from the meteor. Local farmers removed their lightening rods from their homes and barns fearful of dangerous light flashes and substances that might accompany the comet.

Folks got real creative with their anxiety. It didn’t help that a few months earlier, The New York Times had announced that one astronomer theorized that the comet would unceremoniously end life as we know it. The Associated Press warned their readers they had observed two rather large black spots on the sun and solar eruptions were viewed and spread even more hysteria.

In the end there was no collision, and no drastic effects and life went back as we know it. That night as part of Carleton Place burned down few thought of Hailey’s passing comet except for the girls near Townline and the visibility of Halley’s Comet at the birth and death of Mark Twain was nothing “an exaggeration.”

 

I came in with Halley’s Comet in 1835. It is coming again next year (1910), and I expect to go out with it. It will be the greatest disappointment of my life if I don’t go out with Halley’s Comet. The Almighty has said, no doubt: “Now here are these two unaccountable freaks; they came in together, they must go out together.”
 Mark Twain, a Biography

 

Some of our citizens claim to have seen the comet Friday night.
There is nothing wrong with their eyesight–Almonte Gazette- May 27 1910

 

Information where you can buy all Linda Seccaspina’s books-You can also read Linda in The Townships Sun andScreamin’ Mamas (USA)

Come and visit the Lanark County Genealogical Society Facebook page– what’s there? Cool old photos–and lots of things interesting to read. Also check out The Tales of Carleton Place.

 

relatedreading

When The Streets of Carleton Place Ran Thick With the Blood of Terror!

When The Streets of Carleton Place Ran Thick With the Blood of Terror!- Volume 1- Part 2

 

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About lindaseccaspina

Linda Knight Seccaspina was born in Cowansville, Quebec about the same time as the wheel was invented and the first time she realized she could tell a tale was when she got caught passing her smutty stories around in Grade 7 at CHS by Mrs. Blinn. When Derek "Wheels" Wheeler from Degrassi Jr. High died in 2010, Linda wrote her own obituary. Some people said she should think about a career in writing obituaries. Before she laid her fingers to a keyboard, Linda owned the eclectic store Flash Cadilac and Savannah Devilles in Ottawa from 1976-1996. After writing for years about things that she cared about or pissed her off she finally found her calling. Is it sex drugs and rock n' roll you might ask? No, it is history. Seeing that her very first boyfriend in Grade 5 (who she won a Twist contest with in the 60s) is the head of the Brome Misissiquoi Historical Society and also specializes in local history back in Quebec, she finds that quite funny. She writes every single day and is also a columnist for Hometown News and Screamin's Mamas. She is a volunteer for the Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum, an admin for the Lanark County Genealogical Society Facebook page, and a local guest speaker. She has been now labelled an historian by the locals which in her mind is wrong. You see she will never be like the iconic local Lanark County historian Howard Morton Brown, nor like famed local writer Mary Cook. She proudly calls herself The National Enquirer Historical writer of Lanark County, and that she can live with. Linda has been called the most stubborn woman in Lanark County, and has requested her ashes to be distributed in any Casino parking lot as close to any Wheel of Fortune machine as you can get. But since she wrote her obituary, most people assume she's already dead. Linda has published six books, "Menopausal Woman From the Corn," "Cowansville High Misremembered," "Naked Yoga, Twinkies and Celebrities," "Cancer Calls Collect," "The Tilted Kilt-Vintage Whispers of Carleton Place," and "Flashbacks of Little Miss Flash Cadilac." All are available at Amazon in paperback and Kindle. Linda's books are for sale on Amazon or at Wisteria · 62 Bridge Street · Carleton Place, Ottawa, Canada, and at the Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum · 267 Edmund Street · Carleton Place, Ottawa, Canada--Appleton Museum-Mississippi Textile Mill and Mill Street Books and Heritage House Museum and The Artists Loft in Smith Falls.

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