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An Edition of the Argus

This is Roald Tweet on Rock Island.

The front page of the Rock Island Evening Argus for April 15th, 1865 revealed some astounding—almost unbelievable—information. Leading the list was a notice for "Mackenzie's Patent Auto-Propelling Cantering Horses" for sale. Mackenzie horses, the ad claimed, "run rapidly over any road, sidewalk or park grounds with a graceful cantering motion, propelled entirely by the weight of the rider.” They were “gentle enough for a girl, or a man with one leg, to ride, strong enough for a 300-pound man.”

Next to Mackenzie's horses, Dr. W. R. Merwin announced "glad news for unfortunate males," the great Indian medicine, Cherokee Cure, which unfailingly healed spermatorrhea, seminal weakness, nocturnal emissions, and all other diseases caused by self-pollution, such as memory loss and dimness of vision.

On the other hand, if liver disease, pulmonary consumption, paralysis, epilepsy, headaches, and heart disease were your problem, Dr. Knapp and Son, fresh from triumphs in New York, could promise successful treatment based on a whole new system of medicine.

One might also try Roback’s Stomach Bitters, a compound of roots, leaves, herbs, barks, and seeds which showed promise in treating melancholy and loss of appetite.

Those who doubted the efficacy of medicines were encouraged to apply quickly for life insurance from Aetna Insurance Company or The Old Hartford Company, which also carried fire and home insurance.

One last column—the left hand—on the first page of the Argus that Saturday was reserved for the latest, up-to-date train schedules on the Chicago, Rock Island, and Pacific Railroad, the Sterling and Rock Island Rail Road, and the Mississippi and Missouri Rail Road.

Argus readers who turned to page two before supper learned another astounding bit of news. The previous evening, at Ford's Theater in Washington, D.C., President Abraham Lincoln had been assassinated by "Booth the Actor." "A most horrible deed," said the Argus.

Rock Island Lines with Roald Tweet is underwritten by the Scott County Regional Authority, with additional funding from the Illinois Arts Council and Augustana College, Rock Island.

Beginning 1995, historian and folklorist Dr. Roald Tweet spun his stories of the Mississippi Valley to a devoted audience on WVIK. Dr. Tweet published three books as well as numerous literary articles and recorded segments of "Rock Island Lines." His inspiration was that "kidney-shaped limestone island plunked down in the middle of the Mississippi River," a logical site for a storyteller like Dr. Tweet.