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Death call proved untrue

125 years ago, 1896

Taken directly from the Youngstown Vindicator:

“Far from being dead. Announcement that James Gettins died made from the pulpit of Immaculate Conception Church.

“It was currently reported about the city yesterday that James Gettins, a pioneer citizen who lives on Belmont Avenue, was dead. The telephone bell in the Gettins residence ting-a-linged all day, and the service of an extra operator was necessary to answer the calls made by anxious people to ascertain whether the report was true. The report that Mr. Gettins was dead was the result of a misunderstanding. It is a custom in the Roman Catholic churches to announce from the pulpit the dangerous illness of any followers of the faith. It appears that the altar boy at the Immaculate Conception notified the clergyman of the condition of Mr. Gettins, but through a misunderstanding the announcement was made that he was dead, and the priest offered prayers for the repose of his soul.

“The fact of the matter is that Mr. Gettins has been a very sick man but today there is an improvement in his condition and he is considered to be out of danger. The report that he was dead was prevalent throughout the city and there are many who no doubt still think that it is true. That the report is groundless is certainly good news and Mr. Gettins will be made the recipient of many congratulations over the fact that he is still alive and is worth all the dead men who fill the cemeteries of the universe.

“John Gallagher and James G. Donovan were callers at the Gettins residence last night. Mr. Donovan, it will be remembered, was critically ill some time ago. He remarked last night that the people had him buried 100 times but that very fortunately the reports circulated that he was dead on so many different occasions proved to be untrue.”

100 years ago, 1921

An early morning fire caused hotel guests to flee their rooms in haste and confusion. The fire started in the basement of the Vanier Hotel, located at the corner of East Boardman and South Champion streets, around 3 a.m. under the confectionery store owned by John Cordon. An air shaft between the walls carried the flames to the roof and throughout the building’s partitions. The fire destroyed the floor joists under Cordon’s store, which caused the heavy tile floor to collapse. The collapse stopped the firefighters’ effort to safely enter the building. A barbershop that occupied the Champion Street side of the building was damaged by smoke and water.

The hotel itself was heavily damaged as firefighters cut holes into the walls to get water to the flames. Guests were compelled to leave their rooms and the early morning hour caused many to be scantily dressed. One man was ready to jump from his room’s window to the ground below but was encouraged to wait for a ladder from the fire department. In the confusion, the guest threw his suitcase out the window in preparation for his escape and hit a firefighter on the shoulder. Neither man was injured. The hotel was undergoing renovations at the time and early estimates placed damage costs around $30,000 (about $438,000 in 2021).

75 years ago, 1946

Lady Walter Maxwell-Scott, the granddaughter of Chauncey Andrews and General John A. Logan, returned to Youngstown after a 40-year absence. Marie Louise Logan, as she was born, grew up in Youngstown and recalled family and friends with fond memories, though the Youngstown she remembered was nowhere to be seen. “I was shocked as I drove up Wick Avenue. I remember it as a broad street with big houses set back on spacious lawns. It is the greatest change that I have noticed. Youngstown is not the Youngstown of my childhood,” she noted.

Lady Maxwell-Scott was baptized as an Episcopalian but converted to Catholicism. She paid a visit to Bishop James A. McFadden and was very happy that the old Andrews mansion was being used as the bishop’s residence. “As a little girl, I remember only one Catholic church here, and that was St. Columba. It is a wonderful thing that Youngstown should be the center of the diocese and have a cathedral,” she said. She also spoke warmly of Cardinal Mooney, noting how thrilled she was that a “hometown boy” was made a Cardinal. Lady Maxwell-Scott planned to visit Oak Hill Cemetery before traveling to New York City to be with her mother, Edith Andrews Logan.

Lady Maxwell-Scott had made her home in Abbottsford, Scotland, in the ancestral home of Sir Walter Scott. Her husband, Major General Sir Walter Maxwell-Scott, was a great-grandson of the famous author. Their home had been a refuge during the war, not only for the family but for 80 children escaping the dangers of London and other target cities.

• Compiled from the archives of The Vindicator by Traci Manning, Mahoning Valley Historical Society curator of education

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