The Daily Star, Oneonta, NY - otsego county news, delaware county news, oneonta news, oneonta sports

Mark Simonson

May 25, 2013

Blackmail scheme failed to hurt Richfield Springs resort season in 1888

(Continued)

Nevertheless, the damage had been done in New York City, where many Richfield Springs resort clientele came from, so the village then turned their efforts to get a retraction from The New York Sun. At first the Sun refused to budge, and asked for “particulars and enough evidence” to show that their article was untrue. Two Richfield Springs residents went to New York with evidence of the village’s good health records.

Apparently not convinced, and a lawsuit of libel brought against it, the Sun still didn’t immediately act. Meanwhile the competing New York Herald promised to send a representative to Richfield Springs and give their observations of health and cleanliness through its “widely-circulated” paper.

“The Herald expressed a willingness, if everything was found as represented to it, and of that we have no fear, to take hold of the matter and give our libelers a dressing down that would do them good,” according to the Mercury.

As expected, nothing threatening to health or cleanliness was observed by the Herald reporter. The Sun finally gave in and simply said in its Saturday, May 26 edition, “We are assured by those we have confidence that the report of a dangerous and fatal epidemic at Richfield Springs is untrue and unfounded, and that the place is as healthy as it had ever been.”

The competing New York World took a swing at the Sun, saying, “The certificate of the Board of Health and the physicians of Richfield Springs effectually stamp out the libel of that lovely and healthful summer resort has been invaded by contagious diseases. The motive for this particular falsehood can but be inferred from the refusal of its circulator to correct it.”

With the damage now growing under control, resort owners got busy preparing for a busy season of 1888, which was historic in several ways in the village. The throngs of guests would arrive around July 4, and closer to that date we’ll explore that summer season.

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Mark Simonson

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