Last week I wrote of the “Town Fathers” of early Wayne and of one “Town Mother”, Mrs. Helena Lienhardt. The bakery the latter established here in 1885 is still actively engaged in business in the same Pike location in which it was founded. Several other businesses established at about that time are still in existence, among them Adelberger’s nurseries; L. K. Burket and Brother, coal and feed; R. H. Johnson Company, contractors, and the Joseph Thomas nurseries near Martin’s Dam.
In 1885 the “Wayne Times” was founded by W. Chandler Stewart, W. W. Pinkerton, and F. O. Pinkerton. At a later date its name was changed to the one with which we are all familiar, “The Suburban and Wayne Times.” Among notes of one Wayne historian I find the following: “Fired with ambition to write, W. W. Pinkerton, F. O. Pinkerton, and W. Chandler Stewart started the “Wayne Times”. That was in 1885. Little did they think that small acorn would become the great oak under whose branches the whole population of this day would sit and read.”
In an 1882 issue of the old “Public Ledger”, Wayne had a very prominent place when the paper brought out a full page picture of North Wayne. The photographer climbed to the cupola of Louella House to take the picture. This was a tremendous novelty in the newspaper fashions of that time; indeed, the Ledger’s first venture in that line. The newspaper at that time was owned in part by George W. Childs, who had much to do with real estate development in Wayne in the eighties and nineties. It is said that when his building operation here was pretty well under way, he brought Mr. Harjes, the French member of the Ledger corporation, out to see the houses and the latter was very much impressed.
In 1881 the town of Louella (as Wayne was then called) was listed as having a population of one hundred inhabitants. But is was not long thereafter that it began to expand and to develop from the farming section as it was then. As the development took place, of course it was the obvious thing to have as constable “a strong and valiant man to safeguard the growing town . . . and one Charlie Cressman was impounded for that arduous duty. He had a flea-bitten, rangy mare and a gig. No one ever recalls seeing him walk. He always held the reins up high and jerked them constantly. Charlie had one dominant characteristic-he always chewed! As he jerked the reins and the mare speeded up or slowed down to a walk-so Charlie chewed!
“One night, we are told, when life was very dull in the hamlet and no murders, robberies or kidnappings were taking place, Charlie got desperate and pulled out his pistol. He fired several vicious shots into the the air-but only echo answered.
“When the Lyceum became the Wayne Opera House and we gave ‘The Mikado’ and ‘Patience’ and the famous Euterpean Concerts were held there, Charlie was the janitor and curtain-raiser. And many a timid actor had a hearty slap of encouragement on the back before the curtain was jerked up.”
From another source comes an amusing story of Charlie and the “Radnor Panther.” It seems that there was a rumor that a wild beast had escaped from a circus and was roaming in the dense woods of North Wayne. People were terrified at night by roars and loud screams, but nobody had actually seen the supposed mountain lion. Francis Fenimore and Robert Martin; who lived close to these woods, contributed theories about the animal in amusing chits in the Wayne Times. And then one Saturday when Wayne was bustling with business, Charlie Cressman was seen slowly driving up the Pike holding a long rifle in one hand, while on his lap was the “panther” with claws hanging down, blood dripping from its jaws.
The truth, as it came to light later, was that a couple of local wags had secured an animal rug and stuffed it with straw, with tomato ketchup to simulate blood. The crowds of men and boys who followed the wagon were completely fooled by the practical joke, according to my informant, wo adds, “Those were the days when small things like this afforded the people fun and amusement for days.”
For the information in this article I am indebted to several sources, among them Miss Josephine W. Scott, W. W. Schultz, and the 1948 Historical Record and Business Guide of Wayne.