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Valley of the Shadow

Valley Virginian: October 21, 1869

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A Matter that Affects All Our Citizens
(Column 01)
Summary: This article points to the middleman as the main contributing factor in increasing prices for consumer products. Lacking a market house, producers of agricultural products such as butter and eggs must first bring their products to a middleman, who in turn sells to the consumer. This not only raises prices to cover middleman profits, but also destroys the competitive process that the author claims benefits both the buyer and seller. Since the town is growing at such a rapid rate, future prosperity demands that this obstacle be removed.
Full Text of Article:

If our common Council were to lay a tax of twenty-five percent on all the fresh meats, vegetables, butter and poultry consumed by our people, the whole community would be in an uproar. It would be regarded as intolerable oppression, and every body would rise up, as one man, to relieve themselves of such an onerous burthen.

Yet this very thing has been done--but done indirectly--and therefore the people do not see it, though they may feel it. This is the difference between direct and indirect taxation. People understand the one, but they do not readily see the other.

The enquiry now comes how is this affected? We answer, by not having a market house in our flourishing town. If we had a marketing house, the consumers would be brought into direct communication with the producers. There would be no middle men, with their profits, between them. The buyer would get his supplies from first hands, and the seller would get a fair price for his commodities.

But as matters now stand, all the produce of the country is brought to the grocers, who buy it, and sell it to the consumer. In this way, every working man in the town, pays from five to ten cents higher for every pound of butter, and every dozen of eggs--and in the same proportion for other country produce--that he uses, in his family. This amounts to a very large tax on the mechanic and laboring man--much larger than all his other taxes put together.

Is this right? Is it just to our hard working fellow citizens? It is for them to say. We venture to affirm, that there is not another town of the same size, in the State, which is without a market house.

The effect on the farmer and gardner is equally injurious. Now, when they wish to sell their products, they must go to the grocers. The competition is limited, because the buyers are few. If, on the other hand, there were an open market, they would be brought face to face with the whole body of consumers, and could thus have the benefit of the larger competition. By getting rid of the middle men, buyers could buy cheaper, and sellers could sell for far better prices, for all parties would get rid of the profits of the grocer. Assuming the grocer's profit in a pound of butter, or a dozen eggs, to be only 5 cents, (it is often double that amount) the buyer could afford to pay to the producer two cent per pound or dozen, more than he now gets from the grocer, and yet save three cents on each pound or dozen. We invite the attention of our laboring men to this view of the subject. Are they so enamored of taxation, that they are willing to submit to this state of things?

We also respectfully invoke the interposition of our Common Council. The town is growing. The only obstacle to its continued growth and prosperity is the cost of living. Let us all see if that evil cannot at least be diminished.

"Day After the Fair"
(Column 02)
Summary: "Valley" writes a letter to the editor describing some of the highlights of the fair. They included the products of Burke's Iron Works, Staunton, and the maps of Jed Hotchkiss.
(Names in announcement: Capt. William A. Burke, Maj. Jed Hotchkiss)

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[No Title]
(Column 01)
Summary: W. H. Pelton, a white man, and James Bons, a black man, were brought before Mayor Allen on charges of stealing a ten dollar watch from a black man named Spot Wood. George Harlan has them in custody.
(Names in announcement: W. H. Pelton, James Bons, Mayor Allen, Spot Wood, George Harlan)
Dramatic Readings
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Summary: Henry Scharf delivered a series of dramatic readings at the Odd Fellows' Hall. His selections included "A Candle Lecture;" "Bridge of Sighs;" "Bardell vs. Pickwicks;" "Temptations of St. Anthony;" and "Shamus O'Brien."
(Names in announcement: Henry Scharf)
(Column 01)
Summary: A number of young ladies contended for an archery prize at the fair. Miss Taylor won the competition.
(Names in announcement: Serena Williams, Mary Williams, Avery Covell, Lou Sheffey, Kate Phillips, Bell Taylor, Florence Phillips, Ella Boykin, Jennie Johnson)
(Column 02)
Summary: John Crousehorn and Miss Ann Eliza Plecker, daughter of Samuel Plecker of Augusta, were married on October 7th by the Rev. J. C. Hensel.
(Names in announcement: John Crousehorn, Ann Eliza Plecker, Samuel Plecker, Rev. J. C. Hensel)
(Column 02)
Summary: Joseph G. Wiley and Miss Amelia W. Pemberton of Staunton were married in Staunton on October 14th by the Rev. George B. Taylor.
(Names in announcement: Joseph G. Wiley, Amelia W. Pemberton, Rev. George B. Taylor)
(Column 02)
Summary: D. H. Evans and Miss Mary A. Sibert, daughter of Lorenzo Sibert and both of Augusta, were married at Siberton on October 19th by the Rev. W. E. Baker.
(Names in announcement: D. H. Evans, Mary A. Sibert, Lorenzo Sibert, Rev. W. E. Baker)
(Column 03)
Summary: Mrs. Isabella White died near Sherando on October 17th. She was 24 years old.
(Names in announcement: Isabella White)

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