Death of Charles Arms in 1896 saddened Valley

125 years ago, 1896

The end of a well-known businessman, husband, and father’s life was center stage in The Vindicator throughout the week. Charles Dayton Arms was born in 1826 and moved to Youngstown and the Mahoning Valley in the 1840s. He married Hannah Wick in 1852, and his influence and business interests grew immensely. Charles and Hannah had six daughters, including Olive Freeman Arms. Several Vindicator issues included dedicated coverage of his illness and death.

“Charles D. Arms, one of the best known citizens of the Mahoning Valley, is critically ill at his home, 626 Wick Ave., and his physicians say that there is no hope for his recovery. The news of Mr. Arms’ serious illness will be learned with surprise and regret by the people of the city and Valley generally. Very few outside of his family circle and immediate friends knew of his sickness, and for this reason the fact that he is lying at death’s door will be received as a shock by the people generally.

“Mr. Arms went to New York shortly before Christmas, and on his return he was feeling ill, and shortly symptoms of yellow jaundice developed. His condition grew rapidly worse and on Thursday last Dr. J. H. Lowman, a prominent Cleveland physician was called in consultation with local physicians. The doctors upon examination discovered a malignant growth of the pancreas and decided that the case was incurable.

“Hope was not given up, however, and Mr. Arms’ family sent for Dr. J. B. Murphy of Chicago, one of the most prominent physicians in the country. The doctor arrived here yesterday and after an examination of the patient, he confirmed the diagnosis which was made on Thursday. He decided that an operation would prove unavailing, and that the case was hopeless.”

Four days later the news broke of Mr. Arms’ death. He was surrounded by family in his final moments. “The confidence he maintained enabled his family to bear up under the blow which they realized was to fall upon them, and the last hours were passed by those nearest and dearest to him in cheering up the patient sufferer.”

Mr. Arms has had a lasting impact on the region, but even moreso with Mahoning Valley Historical Society. His daughter, Olive, bequeathed her home on Wick Avenue to MVHS in honor of her parents. The home, Greystone, is located next to her parents’ former home (today, the Holy Trinity Romanian Orthodox Church). She insisted that her home be transformed into the Arms Museum as a lasting recognition of her parents.

35 years ago, 1986

“Curled up on his down-filled L. L. Bean bed in the middle of the living room floor, Earl opens one eye, cocks an ear toward the football game on the television, and drifts back to sleep.” Such was the life of this former racing dog, recently adopted by Michael E. and Judy Hamracek. Earl spent the first five years of his life racing at Wheeling Downs in Wheeling, W. Va. His new life with the Hamraceks marked the first real home he had ever lived in and was a drastic change from his cage and kennel.

Earl had a AA track rating but was approaching mandatory retirement at age 5. Had he not been adopted, he would have been put down, like thousands of other greyhounds. That inspired Ron Walsek to create REGAP: Retired Greyhounds As Pets. With chapters around the country, REGAP helped to place more than 2,000 greyhounds into homes. The Hamraceks were inspired by a recent article seeking caring homes for these “discarded” dogs. The family worked with the Upper Ohio Valley REGAP Chapter to adopt Earl, and not only did they soften his heart, he softened theirs.

His first few days in the Hamracek home were filled with a few struggles due to the fact that Earl had never actually been in a house before. He had never seen stairs, been unleashed or without a muzzle. He overcame those obstacles in time and his new life was spent taking jogs with Michael, trotting from tree to tree at the Lake Newport Boat Dock, and, sometimes, still sprinting around the grounds. “No Olympic athlete is more beautiful to watch, more exquisitely coordinated, than this canine speed machine. Traveling between 30 and 40 mph, he is almost a blur as he hurtles through the snow, but when his private ‘race’ is run, he returns to Hamracek’s side.”

• Compiled from the archives of The Vindicator by Traci Manning, MVHS Curator of Education


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