Perhaps the editor Andreas* refers to in this little story took the title “printer’s devil” a little to seriously during his training. Another example of guile and subterfuge at the local level, neighbor against neighbor. But back to the story, which adds life to a time unknown to us.
Once there was a wicked journalist in Port Huron. There may be wicked journalists in Port Huron now, but this wicked journalist is there no more. Once while he was there, Elder Smart proposed to get up a revival, and went about the work systematically. He set the date three weeks ahead, got out posters and made all arrangements to draw good houses. The wicked journalist did not believe in revivals, and he said one day to another Port Huron editor who was not truly good, “I believe we can break up that revival.” The other editor thought not.
Now it was just the time when the spelling mania was sweeping over the land. At once the wicked editor put an item in his paper suggesting that Port Huron shouldn’t lag behind the age, and it was high time she began to spell. T’other editor copied the item and urged Port Huron to do her duty. The third day a call was issued for a spelling match. In a week everybody had a spelling book in his pocket and studied at every odd moment. Orthographic exercises were the order of the day.
When the time came for the revival to open, Port Huron and Sarnia were booked for an international spelling match, and Port Huronites scarcely knew whether they had souls to save or not. They only knew they would spell the Canadians down or die in the attempt. The revival was abandoned. This does not profess to be a story with a moral, although it may tend to show how easily it is to set folks wild over nothing, and how like sheep they will go astray, or any other way, when some one chooses to lead them.
From History of St. Clair County, Michigan (Chicago: A.T. Andreas & Co, 1883), page 506.