­News Travels

By DEBORA REESE HISTORIC CLARKE COUNTY,

Searching through old newspapers, you sometimes stumble across an article that strikes you a bit amusing.  A majority of the time the event took place somewhere outside of Clarke County, but here is one dating back to 1854 that took place right here.  It is possible that it did take place, but it makes you wonder if it was just mere fabricated gossip for someone’s enjoyment. I’ll leave it up to you to decide how much is truth and how much may be fictitious.

This article was published in the Alabama Standard and was carried in several newspapers across the U.S. including The Weekly National Intelligencer, Washington, D.C., July 22, 1854, pg. 8, and The New York Daily Times, New York, New York, July 31, 1854, pg. 3.  It reads as follows:

Novel Way To Kill Fleas. – A certain academy in Clarke County, Mississippi, had been the resort of a parcel of hogs, under whose structure they took shelter from the inclement weather.  In the course of time the fleas became very numerous, and so annoyed the students as to cause the teacher to call together the trustees to devise ways and means to get clear of this troublesome vermin. 

After consulting upon the matter, the most sure means to rid the place of the fleas was thought to be burning them up.  Accordingly, a large quantity of pine straw was collected and spread round and under the house, and set on fire.  In a short time every flea that there inhabited, as it supposed by those who were present, was consumed in the flames, or made their way off so badly scared as never to return to the scene of so dreadful havoc.

While this was going on, and such a general destruction being made among the fleas, the flames might have been seen making their way through the roof of the academy, and in less than one half-hour the entire house had fallen a prey to the devouring element, with books and every thing (sic) appertaining thereto.

If any of our readers are annoyed by fleas we recommend the above as a sure and effectual means to get clear of them.  The above was stated to us as being literally true.

Alabama Standard