History Podcasts

Ben Spoor

Ben Spoor

Benjamin (Ben) Spoor, the eldest son and second child of John Joseph Spoor and his wife, Merrion Graham Spoor, was born in Bishop Auckland on 2nd June 1878. His father, a plumber, was an active member of the Liberal Party and prominent Primitive Methodist local preacher.

Spoor was educated at Bishop Barrington's School and at Elmfield College. At the age of fourteen he began an apprenticeship in plumbing. He later established his own business as an ironmonger and builder's merchant. On 10th October 1900, He married Annie Leybourne, with whom he had a son. (1)

Spoor joined the Independent Labour Party (ILP) in 1903. Like his father, he became a Primitive Methodist lay preacher. He was elected to the Bishop Auckland urban district council and over the next few years he chaired several different committees. According to Herbert Tracey: "As Chairman of the Education Committee he rendered particularly valuable service. He made unceasing war on all those prejudices against free education which have done so much to restrict the scope of a decidedly half-hearted measure." (2)

The Labour Party was completely divided by their approach to the First World War. Those who opposed the war, included Ben Spoor, Ramsay MacDonald, Keir Hardie, Philip Snowden, John Glasier, George Lansbury, Alfred Salter, William Mellor and Fred Jowett. Others in the party such as Arthur Henderson, George Barnes, J. R. Clynes, William Adamson, Will Thorne and Ben Tillett believed that the movement should give total support to the war effort. (3)

Ben Spoor was one of the founders of the Union of Democratic Control (UDC). Members of the UDC agreed that one of the main reasons for the conflict was the secret diplomacy of people like Britain's foreign secretary, Sir Edward Grey. They decided that the Union of Democratic Control should have three main objectives: (i) that in future to prevent secret diplomacy there should be parliamentary control over foreign policy; (ii) there should be negotiations after the war with other democratic European countries in an attempt to form an organisation to help prevent future conflicts; (iii) that at the end of the war the peace terms should neither humiliate the defeated nation nor artificially rearrange frontiers as this might provide a cause for future wars. (4)

Other members of the UDC included Norman Angell, E. D. Morel, Charles Trevelyan, J. A. Hobson, Charles Buxton, Ottoline Morrell, Philip Morrell, Frederick Pethick-Lawrence, Arnold Rowntree, Morgan Philips Price, George Cadbury, Helena Swanwick, Fred Jowett, Tom Johnston, Bertrand Russell, Philip Snowden, Ethel Snowden, David Kirkwood, William Anderson, Mary Sheepshanks, Isabella Ford, H. H. Brailsford, Eileen Power, Israel Zangwill, Margaret Llewelyn Davies, Konni Zilliacus, Margaret Sackville and Olive Schreiner.

Henry Page Croft, the Conservative Party MP, was one of those politicians who attacked Ben Spoor in the House of Commons for being "actively engaged in addressing meetings of a pacifist character" in the early stages of the war. (5) As Herbert Tracey pointed out, although "by conviction a Pacifist, but he was not so bound to the abstract idea of pacifism as to refuse his services when he could be devoted to the real service of his fellow men" and offered to help Britain win the war. (6)

In May 1916, Spoor agreed to act as commissioner in Salonika for the YMCA. During his time in the city he saw a great deal of suffering that included famine, and disease, and "many other terrible things that made an indelible impression on his mind". This experience later impelled him to become an early publicist and fundraiser for the Save the Children Fund. that was established after the war. While in Macedonia, Spoor contracted malaria, an illness that recurred for the rest of his life.

In the 1918 General Election defeated the Liberal Party candidate in Bishop Auckland. In the House of Commons Spoor argued for the establishment of a League of Nations and a fair peace with Germany, denouncing the Versailles Treaty as a breach of faith. He advocated full recognition of Soviet Russia and opposed the French occupation of the Ruhr. He also visited India and Egypt and was sympathetic to nationalist aspirations. (7)

Ben Spoor was elected to the National Executive of the Labour Party. He was also secretary of the National Peace Council and along with Fenner Brockway founded the No More War Movement, which promoted international peace demonstrations. According to his biographer, Ben Spoor was an outstanding performer in Parliament: "His eloquence, largely founded on a wide and deep knowledge of his topic, and his grasp of routine, rapidly established him as a Parliamentarian of the front rank". (8)

In the 1923 General Election, the Labour Party won 191 seats. Although the Conservative Party had 258 seats, Herbert Asquith announced that the Liberal Party would not keep the Tories in office. If a Labour Government were ever to be tried in Britain, he declared, "it could hardly be tried under safer conditions". On 22nd January, 1924 Stanley Baldwin resigned. At midday, Ramsay MacDonald went to Buckingham Palace to be appointed prime minister. MacDonald told one of his colleagues: "I want to gain the confidence of the country and shall suit my policy accordingly." (9)

Macdonald later recalled how George V complained about the singing of the Red Flag and the La Marseilles, at the Labour Party meeting in the Albert Hall a few days before. MacDonald apologized but claimed that there would have been a riot if he had tried to stop it. However, he would use "all his influence and that of his moderate and immediate friends to prevent this song being sung in the Commons" in the future. (10)

MacDonald had the problem of forming a Cabinet with colleagues who had little, or no administrative experience. MacDonald's appointments included Ben Spoor (Chief Whip), Philip Snowden (Chancellor of the Exchequer), Arthur Henderson (Home Secretary), John R. Clynes (Lord Privy Seal), Sidney Webb (Board of Trade) and Arthur Greenwood (Health), Charles Trevelyan (Education), John Wheatley (Housing), Fred Jowett (Commissioner of Works), William Adamson (Secretary for Scotland), Tom Shaw (Minister of Labour), Harry Gosling (Paymaster General), Vernon Hartshorn (Postmaster General), Emanuel Shinwell (Mines), Noel Buxton (Agriculture and Fisheries), Stephen Walsh (Secretary of State for War), Frank Hodges (Lord of the Admiralty) and Sydney Olivier (Secretary of State for India). (11)

Spoor was not considered a success in this role. It was claimed that one of the reasons for this was a growing addiction to drink. The Labour Party lost the 1924 General Election but Spoor increased his majority in Bishop Auckland. In the House of Commons he advocated closer co-operation with the remaining Liberals, asserting that "the spirit of Liberalism… has flowed into the channels of Labour". (12) In a letter to his old friend, Fenner Brockway he admitted that he was no longer a socialist. (13)

In August 1927, following an incident in which his erratic driving had endangered pedestrians, Ben Spoor pleaded guilty to being drunk in charge of a motor car and was fined £2 plus costs. "His alcoholism resulted in delusions, his doctors certifying him as insane at least once and intermittently confining him in a series of homes". (14)

Ben Spoor was found dead on the morning of 22nd December 1928 at the Regent Palace Hotel, London. A coroner's inquest recorded the cause of death as syncope from disease of the heart and liver, the consequence of chronic alcoholism.

Ben Spoor... received his education in the local board school, and at the age of 14 left school for his father's workshop, where he was apprenticed as an engineer.... Active mental habits, and an accurate perception of the importance of education as an asset to the individual, led him to continue his studies through the years of adolescence, and when at the age of 25 he joined the local branch of the Independent Labour Party his knowledge of political affairs, though lacking the confirmation of experience, was so considerable as to render him prominent in party councils. The ILP have from their inception been distinguished by the close and sagacious attention they have given to municipal affairs. In 1903 the ILP'ers of Bishop Auckland made a vigorous move for more effective representation on the Urban District Council, and young Spoor was among those of their members whose candidature was carried through to success.


Following family tradition by becoming a Primitive Methodist lay preacher, Spoor developed oratorical skills, which he used to good effect after joining the Independent Labour Party (ILP) in 1903. He was elected to the Bishop Auckland urban district council soon afterwards. During his thirteen years of council service, Spoor chaired a number of committees (notably the education committee) and the council itself. The outbreak of the First World War launched him into the national arena. Although he spoke against the war at meetings of the Union of Democratic Control, an organization that he later nominated for the Nobel peace prize...

From May 1916 Spoor acted as commissioner in Salonika for the YMCA - an organization with which he was already involved and a duty for which Spoor accepted the OBE in 1918.... During his time in Salonika, Spoor saw the destruction of the city by fire in 1917, famine, and disease, and "many other terrible things that made an indelible impression on his mind". This Macedonian experience later impelled him to become an early publicist and fundraiser for the Save the Children Fund. While in this mosquito infested theatre of war, Spoor contracted malaria, an illness that recurred for the rest of his life.

Child Labour Simulation (Teacher Notes)

The Coal Industry: 1600-1925 (Answer Commentary)

Women in the Coalmines (Answer Commentary)

Child Labour in the Collieries (Answer Commentary)

1832 Reform Act and the House of Lords (Answer Commentary)

The Chartists (Answer Commentary)

Women and the Chartist Movement (Answer Commentary)

Benjamin Disraeli and the 1867 Reform Act (Answer Commentary)

William Gladstone and the 1884 Reform Act (Answer Commentary)

Richard Arkwright and the Factory System (Answer Commentary)

Robert Owen and New Lanark (Answer Commentary)

James Watt and Steam Power (Answer Commentary)

Road Transport and the Industrial Revolution (Answer Commentary)

Canal Mania (Answer Commentary)

Early Development of the Railways (Answer Commentary)

The Domestic System (Answer Commentary)

The Luddites: 1775-1825 (Answer Commentary)

The Plight of the Handloom Weavers (Answer Commentary)

Health Problems in Industrial Towns (Answer Commentary)

Public Health Reform in the 19th century (Answer Commentary)

Walter Tull: Britain's First Black Officer (Answer Commentary)

Football and the First World War (Answer Commentary)

Football on the Western Front (Answer Commentary)

Käthe Kollwitz: German Artist in the First World War (Answer Commentary)

American Artists and the First World War (Answer Commentary)

Sinking of the Lusitania (Answer Commentary)

(1) Mel Johnson, Ben Spoor : Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (2004-2014)

(2) Herbert Tracey, The Labour Party: Its History, Growth, Policy and Leaders - Volume III (1925) page 269

(3) Tony Cliff and Donny Gluckstein, The Labour Party: A Marxist History (1988) page 43

(4) Martin Pugh, Speak for Britain: A New History of the Labour Party (2010) page 103

(5) Henry Page Croft, speech in the House of Commons (18th July, 1918)

(6) Herbert Tracey, The Labour Party: Its History, Growth, Policy and Leaders - Volume III (1925) page 269

(7) Mel Johnson, Ben Spoor : Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (2004-2014)

(8) Herbert Tracey, The Labour Party: Its History, Growth, Policy and Leaders - Volume III (1925) page 270

(9) Eric Estorick, Stafford Cripps (1949) page 547

(10) Tony Cliff and Donny Gluckstein, The Labour Party: A Marxist History (1988) page 97

(11) G.D.H. Cole, A History of the Labour Party from 1914 (1948) pages 156-157

(12) Ben Spoor, speech in the House of Commons (11th Febuary, 1926)

(13) Ben Spoor, letter to Fenner Brockway (10th September, 1924)

(14) Mel Johnson, Ben Spoor : Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (2004-2014)


Ben Spoor - History

Spoor is an extension bundled with the Adapt framework.

This extension provides course tracking functionality (hence the name spoor). Currently it only officially supports tracking to SCORM 1.2 Learning Management Systems (LMS), however, experienced users should be able to implement SCORM 2004 should this be needed as the underlying code is almost entirely version-agnostic (it's the packaging part you'll need to do yourself).

Spoor makes use of the excellent pipwerks SCORM API Wrapper.

Visit the Spoor wiki for more information about its functionality and for explanations of key properties.

If Spoor has been uninstalled from the Adapt framework, it may be reinstalled. With the Adapt CLI installed, run the following from the command line:
adapt install adapt-contrib-spoor

Alternatively, this component can also be installed by adding the following line of code to the adapt.json file:
"adapt-contrib-spoor": "*"
Then running the command:
adapt install
(This second method will reinstall all plug-ins listed in adapt.json.)

If Spoor has been uninstalled from the Adapt authoring tool, it may be reinstalled using the Plug-in Manager.

The following must be completed in no specific order:

Each block in blocks.json must include the following attribute:
"_trackingId":
Its value must be a unique number. There is no requirement that these values be sequential, but it is recommended as it can aid in debugging tracking issues if they are. Best practice begins the sequence of tracking IDs with 0 .

An alternative to manually inserting the tracking IDs is to run the following grunt command. With your course root as the current working directory, run:
grunt tracking-insert
If later you add more blocks, run this again to assign tracking IDs to the new blocks. ( grunt tracking-insert maintains a variable in course.json called _latestTrackingId . This variable is not used by Spoor itself, just by the grunt task.)

NOTE: as of Adapt/Spoor v3 you will first need to configure the settings in the _completionCriteria object in config.json to specify whether you want course completion to be based on content completion, assessment completion, or both. (In earlier versions of Spoor these settings were part of the spoor configuration - but were moved to the core of Adapt so that they could be used by other tracking extensions such as xAPI.)

The attributes listed below are used in config.json to configure Spoor, and are properly formatted as JSON in example.json. Visit the Spoor wiki for more information about how they appear in the authoring tool.

The _spoor object contains the setting _isEnabled and the _tracking , _reporting and _advancedSettings objects.

Enables/disables this extension. If set to true (the default value), the plugin will try to connect to a SCORM conformant LMS when the course is launched via index_lms.html. If one is not available, a 'Could not connect to LMS' error message will be displayed. This error can be avoided during course development either by setting this to false or - more easily - by launching the course via index.html. This latter technique is also useful if you are developing a course that could be run either from an LMS or a regular web server.

This object defines what kinds of data to record to the LMS. It consists of the following settings:

Determines whether the assessment score will be reported to the LMS. Note that SCORM only supports one score per SCO, so if you have multiple assessments within your course, one aggregated score will be recorded. Acceptable values are true or false . The default is false .

Determines whether the user's responses to questions should be persisted across sessions (by storing them in cmi.suspend_data ) or not. Acceptable values are true or false . The default is true . Note that if you set this to true , the user will not be able to attempt questions within the course again unless some mechanism for resetting them is made available (for example, see _isResetOnRevisit in adapt-contrib-assessment).

Determines whether the history of the user's responses to questions should be persisted across sessions (by storing them in cmi.suspend_data ) or not. Acceptable values are true or false . The default is false .

Determines whether the user's responses to questions should be tracked to the cmi.interactions fields of the SCORM data model or not. Acceptable values are true or false . The default is true . Note that not all SCORM 1.2 conformant Learning Management Systems support cmi.interactions . The code will attempt to detect whether support is implemented or not and, if not, will fail gracefully. Occasionally the code is unable to detect when cmi.interactions are not supported, in those (rare) instances you can switch off interaction tracking using this property so as to avoid 'not supported' errors. You can also switch off interaction tracking for any individual question using the _recordInteraction property of question components. All core question components support recording of interactions, community components will not necessarily do so.

This object defines what status to report back to the LMS. It consists of the following settings:

Specifies the status that is reported to the LMS when the tracking criteria (as defined in the _completionCriteria object in config.json) are met. Acceptable values are: "completed" , "passed" , "failed" , and "incomplete" . If you are tracking a course by assessment, you would typically set this to "passed" . Otherwise, "completed" is the usual value.

Specifies the status that is reported to the LMS when the assessment is failed. Acceptable values are "failed" and "incomplete" . Some Learning Management Systems will prevent the user from making further attempts at the course after status has been set to "failed" . Therefore, it is common to set this to "incomplete" to allow the user more attempts to pass an assessment.

If set to true the status of the course is set to "incomplete" when the languge is changed using the adapt-contrib-languagePicker plugin. Acceptable values are true or false . The default is false .

The advanced settings objects contains the following settings. Note that you only need to include advanced settings if you want to change any of the following settings from their default values - and you only need to include those settings you want to change.

This property defines what version of SCORM is targeted. Only SCORM 1.2 is officially supported by Adapt. SCORM 2004 should work, but the Adapt team don't include this version in testing. To enable SCORM 2004 support, change this value to "2004" and include the relevant SCORM 2004 packaging files (imsmanifest.xml and others - you can find examples over at scorm.com). The default is "1.2" .

If set to true , a pop-up window will be shown on course launch that gives detailed information about what SCORM calls are being made. This can be very useful for debugging SCORM issues. Note that this pop-up window will appear automatically if the SCORM code encounters an error, even if this is set to false . You can also hold down the keys d + e + v to force the popup window to open. The default is false .

If set to true , an alert dialog will NOT be shown when a SCORM error occurs. Errors will still be logged but the user will not be informed that a problem has occurred. Note that setting _showDebugWindow to true will still cause the debug popup window to be shown on course launch, this setting merely suppresses the alert dialog that would normally be shown when a SCORM error occurs. This setting should be used with extreme caution as, if enabled, users will not be told about any LMS connectivity issues or other SCORM tracking problems.

Determines whether a "commit" call should be made automatically every time the SCORM lesson_status is changed. The default is true .

Determines whether a "commit" call should be made automatically every time any SCORM value is changed. The default is false . Setting _commitOnAnyChange to true will disable 'timed commits'. Note: enabling this setting will make the course generate a lot more client-server traffic so you should only enable it if you are sure it is needed and, as it may have a detrimental impact on server performance, after careful load-testing. An alternative might be to first try setting a lower value for _timedCommitFrequency .

Specifies the frequency - in minutes - at which a "commit" call will be made. Set this value to 0 to disable automatic commits. The default is 10 .

If a "commit" call fails, this setting specifies how many more times the "commit" call will be attempted before giving up and throwing an error. The default is 5 .

Specifies the interval in milliseconds between commit retries. The default is 2000 .

Determines whether or not a "commit" call should be made when the visibilityState of the course page changes to "hidden" . This functionality helps to ensure that tracking data is saved whenever the user switches to another tab or minimises the browser window - and is only available in browsers that support the Page Visibility API. The default is true .

Used to set the identifier attribute of the <manifest> node in imsmanifest.xml - should you want to set it to something other than the default value of "adapt_manifest" . Strictly speaking, this value is meant to be unique for each SCO on the LMS in practice, few LMSes require or enforce this.

Determines the 'exit state' ( cmi.core.exit in SCORM 1.2, cmi.exit in SCORM 2004) to set if the course hasn't been completed. The default behaviour will cause the exit state to be set to an empty string for SCORM 1.2 courses, or "suspend" for SCORM 2004 courses. The default behaviour should be left in place unless you are confident you know what you are doing!

Determines the 'exit state' ( cmi.core.exit in SCORM 1.2, cmi.exit in SCORM 2004) to set when the course has been completed. The default behaviour will cause the exit state to be set to an empty string for SCORM 1.2 courses, or "normal" for SCORM 2004 courses. The default behaviour should be left in place unless you are confident you know what you are doing! Note: if you are using SCORM 2004, you can set this to "suspend" to prevent the LMS from clearing all progress tracking when a previously-completed course is re-launched by the learner.

Running a course without tracking while Spoor is installed

Client Local Storage / Fake LMS / Adapt LMS Behaviour Testing

When Spoor is installed, scorm_test_harness.html can be used instead of index.html to allow the browser to store LMS states inside a browser cookie. This allows developers to test LMS-specific behaviour outside of an LMS environment. If you run the command grunt server-scorm , this will start a local server and run the course using scorm_test_harness.html for you.

Note that due to the data storage limitations of browser cookies, there is less storage space available than an LMS would provide. As of v2.1.1, a browser alert will be displayed if the code detects that the cookie storage limit has been exceeded.

In particular having _shouldRecordInteractions enabled can cause a lot of data to be written to the cookie, using up the available storage more quickly - it is advised that you disable this setting when testing via scorm_test_harness.html. As of v3.0.0 this is no longer an issue - 'interaction data' is no longer saved to the cookie. As cmi.interactions are 'write only' in the SCORM spec, there was no reason to be doing this as the data would never be used.

As of v3.7.0, you can make the cookie 'persistent' if you want to be able to have the cookie persist for longer than the browser's 'session'. For example, you might want to make basic tracking & bookmarking functionality available to learners when the course is being run from a regular web server (rather than an LMS or LRS). Just be aware that this isn't officially supported by the Adapt Core Team, so if you want to use this you do so at your own risk! Please see the comments in scorm_test_harness.html for details on how to make the cookie 'persistent'.

As of v3.6.0 it's possible to amend and/or translate the error messages that are shown by this extension whenever an LMS error is encountered. See example.json for the data that needs to be added to course/lang/course.json

Note that you only need to include those you want to amend/translate.

These error messages can also be amended via the Adapt Authoring Tool - but must be supplied in JSON format. For example, if you wanted to translate the 'could not connect to LMS' error into French, you would added the following into the 'Error messages' field under Project settings > Extensions > Spoor (SCORM):

Print completion information from LMS data

If you have a course where learners are reporting completion problems, it can often be useful to check the stored suspend data to see if they are simply missing something out. As the relevant part of the suspend data is no longer in 'human-readable' format, Spoor v3.8.0 includes a printCompletionInformation function that translates this into into a more readable string of 1s and 0s which you can then match to the course's 'tracking ids' to see which bits of the course the learner hasn't completed.

To do this, run any course that uses Spoor v3.8.0 (or better) and execute the following via the browser console. Naturally, you need to replace the suspendData shown below with the one from the course you're trying to debug.

That will output something like the following:

Which, in the above example, indicates that the learner only completed the blocks with trackingIds 0, 1, 2, & 3.

Currently (officially) only supports SCORM 1.2

Version number: 3.8.1
Framework versions: 5.5+
Author / maintainer: Adapt Core Team with contributors
Accessibility support: n/a
RTL support: n/a
Cross-platform coverage: Chrome, Chrome for Android, Firefox (ESR + latest version), Edge, IE11, Safari 14 for macOS/iOS/iPadOS, Opera


Sometimes two people can look at the same handwritten record, and come up with different spellings of the name. Be creative when searching for your Spoor ancestors -- we often search for misspellings intentionally to see if we missed any records. If you want to know Where can I find naturalization records for my Spoor ancestors?, then read this frequently asked question.

Top Five Genealogy Databases to Search for Spoor

Historical newspapers give us the ability to discover ancestral history through eyewitness accounts. There are currently matching Spoor records at Ancestry.com! Start exploring this online Spoor family history resource today.

Death Records

Military Records


Who was Ben-Hadad in the Bible?

Ben-Hadad seems to have been the title of the reigning king of Aram (Syria). Ben-Hadad means “son of Hadad.” Hadad or Adad was the god of storm and thunder, and, as was common in that epoch of history, kings were seen as sons of the primary god of the region.

In the Bible, Ben-Hadad, the king of Aram, is mentioned in 1 Kings 15:18&ndash22 throughout 1 Kings 20 2 Kings 6:24 8:9 13:24&ndash25 2 Chronicles 16:2&ndash4 Jeremiah 49:27 and Amos 1:4. Since Ben-Hadad is a title much like Pharaoh or President, the term can refer to different individuals at different times. The context of each passage must be studied to determine just who is involved. Most students of history accept the existence of three Ben-Hadads who ruled in Damascus: Ben-Hadad I, who ruled c. 900&ndash860 BC his son (or grandson) Ben-Hadad II, who ruled 860&ndash841 and another, unrelated Ben-Hadad, the son of the man who assassinated Ben-Hadad II.

In 1 Kings 15:18, Ben-Hadad is designated as the son of son of Tabrimmon, the son of Hezion. In this passage, King Asa of Judah makes a treaty with Ben-Hadad to help protect himself against the king of Israel, who was threatening Judah. (This is also recorded in 2 Chronicles 16:2&ndash4.) Ben-Hadad sent soldiers against Israel and King Baasha and conquered a number of towns, bringing some relief to Judah.

In 1 Kings 20, Ben-Hadad once again attacks the northern kingdom of Israel, where Ahab is now the king. It is possible that this is the same Ben-Hadad who attacked in 1 Kings 15, or it could be a son, Ben-Hadad II. It seems that this time Ben-Hadad is attacking on his own without consideration for any treaty with Judah. And this time, although he had 32 kings helping him (1 Kings 20:1), he is defeated by King Ahab and the army of Israel. About three years later, Israel and Syria renew their conflict, leading to Ahab’s final battle and death (1 Kings 22).

In 2 Kings 6&ndash7, about nine years after Ahab’s death, Ben-Hadad II invades Israel and lays siege to Samaria, the capital. The siege went on for so long that the people in the city were starving to death. However, in the middle of the night, the Lord caused the Aramean army to hear sounds of an advancing army. Thinking the king of Israel was receiving help from foreign nations, all of Ben-Hadad’s men fled, leaving everything behind.

In 2 Kings 8, the prophet Elisha travels to Damascus and relays a paradoxical prophecy to Ben-Hadad II, who was ill: “Go and say to him, ‘You will certainly recover.’ Nevertheless, the Lord has revealed to me that he will in fact die” (verse 10). Just as Elisha said, Ben-Hadad began to recover from his illness, but then a man named Hazael murdered Ben-Hadad and took the throne of Aram. In 2 Kings 13, Hazael is succeeded by his son, who is also named Ben-Hadad. This final Ben-Hadad was defeated three times by King Jehoash of Israel, fulfilling another prophecy of Elisha (2 Kings 13:1&ndash25).

In Jeremiah 49:27, the word of the Lord says, “I will set fire to the walls of Damascus it will consume the fortresses of Ben-Hadad.” At the time of Jeremiah’s prophecy, none of the Ben-Hadads mentioned above would have been alive. The reference may be to the current king of Aram or perhaps to a fortress that had been built by and now bore the name of a former king. In Amos 1:4 we have a similar prophecy: “I will send fire on the house of Hazael that will consume the fortresses of Ben-Hadad.” By this time, the original Ben-Hadad had been killed, and Hazael was king. As above, “the fortress of Ben-Hadad” could simply refer to a fortress of the current king or to a specific fortress that was known by that name.

In summary, Ben-Hadad is the title of the Aramean king, “son of Hadad,” a prominent deity in the region. Several kings of Aram had extensive interaction with the kingdom of Israel and attacked several times. The Lord used Ben-Hadad and the Arameans to bring judgment on rebellious Israel, but He punished Aram for her evil, as well.


Featured

Founded 100 years ago, Chicago’s Essanay studio launched the movie careers of Gloria Swanson and Wallace Beery and helped a cockney comic named Charlie Chaplin rocket to fame.

Two days before Christmas 1914, on a windy and bitterly cold Chicago day, a small, scruffy man with tousled black hair descended from a train just arrived from California. He wore no overcoat, and his luggage totaled only a small bundle of clothes. No one in the station's bustling crowd gave any indication that they recognized the man-assuming they took any notice at all of the diminutive tramp.

His companion, on the other hand-a well-built man with heroic features, named Gilbert M. Anderson-may have elicited some gasps of recognition. In scores of short silent film Westerns, Broncho Billy, as Anderson was known, had become the movies' first cowboy star. Seven years earlier, in 1907, he had paired up with a budding film producer named George K. Spoor to form a Chicago-based movie studio called Essanay, a name derived from the initials of the men's surnames ("S and A"). Now Anderson, who shot most of his movies in Colorado and California, had come home to Chicago, bringing along Essanay's newly signed star, a brash cockney comic named Charles Spencer Chaplin.

The British-born Chaplin had first visited Chicago in 1910, while touring the American West with a vaudeville troupe. Then (as Chaplin would write in his 1964 autobiography), he had found Chicago "attractive in its ugliness, grim and begrimed. . . . It had a fierce pioneer gaiety that enlivened the senses, yet underlying it throbbed masculine loneliness"-a loneliness Chaplin assuaged with visits to the local burlesque halls and a libidinous longing for the showgirls who roomed at his small Wabash Avenue hotel.

When he arrived in the Windy City in 1914, Chaplin stayed with Anderson and his wife, Mollie, at the couple's apartment at 1027 West Lawrence Avenue, just a few blocks from the Essanay studios. The product of a broken home-his parents, London music-hall entertainers, had separated when he was a baby-Chaplin delighted in the An­der­sons' holiday domesticity, and in their little daughter, Maxine. "A Christmas tree, a baby, a Christmas tree," he exclaimed. "It's wonderful!"

On New Year's Eve, the Andersons took Chaplin to the Hotel Sherman (at Clark and Randolph streets), home to the fashionable College Inn restaurant and its burgeoning jazz scene. Appalled, Mollie realized that Chaplin had his pajama bottoms wrapped around his neck, and she managed to find him a scarf. At the restaurant, an enthusiastic vaudeville performer picked out Chaplin and made him stand on his chair. "Ladies and gentlemen," the vaudevillian cried out to the festive crowd. "I want to introduce you to the funniest man in moving pictures-Charlie Chaplin."

On Argyle Street just west of Broadway, two red brick buildings stand as a monument to the early days of film, when Chicago reigned as the country's movie capital. Home today to St. Augustine College, the buildings (at 1343-45 West Argyle), seen from the street, look a little rundown, though their rear façades, augmented by new entryways topped in faux red tiles, have a California mission feel. But it's the main entrance to the western building (at 1345) that catches the eye. Tall letters spell out essanay, and the doorway is flanked by the terra cotta heads of two Indians in colorful feathered headdresses, the studio's trademark.

One of the studio's former sound stages, housed in the building on the east (at 1343), is known today as the college's Charlie Chaplin auditorium-though there's hardly a chair in sight. The big, high-ceilinged room is virtually empty, its walls unadorned but for a poster for The Kid, a film Chaplin made in 1921, five years after he had left Essanay. Catwalks crisscross overhead. In My Auto­biography, Chaplin insisted that, along with his tramp persona, he needed only a pretty girl and a policeman to produce a movie comedy. Add a couple of klieg lights to those modest ingredients, and filmmaking might easily resume at any moment inside this Uptown auditorium.

But sadly, a century after Essanay made its first movie-a simplistic one-reel comedy filmed in 1907-the lights have gone out on Argyle Street. Over ten quick years, though, Essanay (here and at its sister studio in California) made some 2,000 movies. Along with Chaplin, stars such as Gloria Swanson, Wallace Beery, and Francis X. Bushman frequented the Argyle Street studio-that is, when they weren't shooting scenes in the streets around the city. They enjoyed romance, sparked scandal, and, in general, previewed the Hollywood lifestyle of the future. Ultimately, though, the business packed up and moved west, driven away in part by the brutal Midwestern winters.

Chicago's central role in the movies' nascent history had probably commenced around 1895, when George Spoor-a Chicago newspaper vendor and the box-office manager at the Waukegan Opera House-partnered with the mechanically-inclined Edward Amet to develop the Magniscope, an early movie projector.

Waukegan audiences thronged the opera house to view those first magic-picture shows, but Amet thought the novelty was only a passing fad, and he sold his rights to the invention to Spoor.

A 20-something Highland Park native (he was born there in 1871) with the calm reserve of an expert poker player, Spoor established a company to distribute projectors and movies nationwide. (In 1907, two of Spoor's employees, Donald Bell and Albert Howell, would start their own movie-projector company, Bell & Howell.) The public clamored for more flicks, and Spoor realized there was plenty of money to be made. All he needed was a partner with some moviemaking savvy. Broncho Billy to the rescue!

Born Max Aronson in Little Rock, Arkansas, in 1880, Gilbert Anderson had begun his movie career in 1903, the year he appeared in The Great Train Robbery, the first movie with a plot. He had made a few films at Selig Polyscope, a Chicago studio led by the self-styled "Colonel" William Selig, but now he longed for more autonomy. He and Spoor joined forces to create the Peerless Film Manufacturing Company, which they renamed Essanay in August 1907. The studio was "probably the MGM of the silents," says William Grisham, the Evanston movie historian who in the 1960s interviewed Mollie Anderson and some of the Essanay principals. (Academy Chicago Publishers expects to publish Grisham's book about the local movie scene later this year.)

What's more, the Essanay movies-and those made by Selig and others-established film as a dramatic and entertaining new art form. "They built the foundation for an industry that didn't exist before and changed the world," says David Kiehn, the historian for the Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum (in Fremont, California) and the author of Broncho Billy and the Essanay Film Com­pany. "Unfortunately, 1907 to 1918, when they were all thriving, is a black hole in film history."
Fortunately, some of Essanay's movies have survived, including its first picture, a quickie comedy featuring a mustachioed, cross-eyed man named Ben Turpin, who would also emerge as one of the medium's first stars.

Photograph: Chicago History Museum

Three Essanay stars (from left): Francis X. Bushman, Chaplin, and Broncho Billy Anderson

Born in New Orleans in 1869, Turpin had already had a varied career in show biz by the time he arrived at Essanay, having performed in circuses, burlesque, and vaudeville. At Essanay, he worked as a janitor and shipping clerk, a property boy and scenery shifter, a "telephone girl" and scenario writer. Before moving to Argyle Street, the studio had its offices at 501 North Wells Street, which was also home to the Richardson Roller Skate Company. So it only made sense that Essanay's first film, An Awful Skate, or The Hobo on Rollers, featured an inept skater-Turpin-careening down Wells Street. "Whatever pedestrians were on the streets got in the picture, too, and saved us [from hiring] that many extras," Spoor recalled in 1929.

Turpin's physical antics characterized the studio's early style, described as "rapid fire comedy" in an early review. "This is a great life," said Turpin in 1909. "I had many a good fall, and many a good bump, and I think I have broken about twenty barrels of dishes, upset stoves, and also broken up many sets of beautiful furniture, had my eyes blackened, both ankles sprained and many bruises, and I am still on the go."

In early 1908, Anderson directed a more ambitious dramatic film, The James Boys in Missouri, the first movie ever made about Jesse James and his gang. In this instance, he used Chicago's Riverview Park and Scottdale (in southwestern Michigan) as settings for his story. Frustrated with the Midwestern winters, Anderson made most of his films after 1909 in the West, first in Colorado and eventually in Niles, California, where Essanay built a second studio.

Even as Essanay began to establish itself as a major producer, it ran into a potential legal problem. Thomas Edison claimed industry professionals were infringing on his patents. To resolve the competing claims, Essanay and other studios formed a trust with Edison and all other patent holders in 1908-the same year Essanay began building its new studio on Argyle-called the Motion Picture Patents Company. The arrangement locked out any other "independent" studios, and the trust was accused of using "goon tactics" to foil any competitors-a charge that would come back to haunt Essanay and contribute to its downfall.

Essanay landed one of its biggest stars in 1911, when Francis X. Bushman joined the studio. "I put all of my emotions in my jaw," claimed the brawny Baltimore native, who as a young man had posed for a number of prominent statues-such as the Francis Scott Key Memorial in his hometown. "His classic profile and wavy locks literally drove the girls into a frenzy," said Louella Parsons, who, before gaining renown as a Hollywood gossip columnist, read scripts for Essanay. ("Manuscripts came in on pencil tablets, torn envelopes, and even on bits of wallpaper," she later recalled.)

Photograph: Kim Thornton

In 1912, Essanay started pairing Bushman with Beverly Bayne, a beautiful young brunette from Hyde Park. When she was 16, Bayne had walked into the studio wearing a tan suit and a hat festooned with pink roses. Impressed by her big brown eyes and soft dark hair, the Essanay switchboard operator summoned a director. He had Bayne come back a week later, when he gave her a script to read. Perusing it over a bowl of soup in a nearby restaurant, she was astonished to realize she had been given the starring role.

It wasn't long before Bayne was playing opposite Bushman in a series of love stories. "It's romance, just romance," Bushman told Photoplay, one of the first movie fan magazines. "We all know the ordinary ways of ordinary lives. We know that the peddler on Halsted Street and the bricklayer and the teamster have loves, and hates, and hopes, and disappointments. . . . It's not the world we know, but the world we'd like to know that we wish to see set in mimic. If it makes us forget for a little time our cares and worries, it is good."

In her later years, Bayne described her early films as "awful" and recalled the seemingly random way they were produced. "Most of the time there wasn't even a script to work on," she told the author Richard Maturi. "The director and a sort of &lsquoidea man' just worked it out as we went along. . . . In the silent movies we didn't learn lines. We learned a story's continuity and how to put ideas across with expressions and gestures."

Bushman recalled those days more fondly. "In the old days we acted with a capital A," he said. "We had to let people all over the world know what we meant when we shook a fist or smiled or breathed deeply. The pantomime we used was the Esperanto of the times."

In 1914, the readers of Ladies' World magazine picked Bushman as their favorite leading man. Crowds followed him everywhere, and the star lived up to their expectations. He drove a custom 20-foot-long Marmon auto, with his name spelled out in gold letters. At night, a spotlight inside the car illuminated his famous profile.

What Bushman's adoring public didn't know was that he had a wife and five children in Baltimore. "If he had been afflicted with five serpents it would not have been more of a handicap in a publicity way," wrote Parsons in her 1944 memoir, The Gay Illiterate. "Spoor nearly went out of his mind keeping the fact from the palpitating fans that his Adonis had &lsquobegat' five offspring, and it was a hush-hush job that required a bit of doing." One woman even showed up at the studio in a bridal gown, determined to marry the star.

In May 1915, Bushman left Essanay for a more lucrative contract at Metro Pictures, taking Bayne with him. Bushman's wholesome image took a hit, however, when the public learned of his secret life. In 1918, he divorced his wife and married Bayne three days later. His popularity waned, and Metro let his contract expire at the end of the year. In 1925, Bayne divorced Bushman, just as he was making a comeback as the chariot-riding villain Messala in Ben-Hur. But Bushman's career still failed to take off (there were rumors of a blacklisting by the movie mogul Louis B. Mayer), and he resorted to working on radio soap operas and on television. He died in 1966 shortly after appearing as a wealthy collector of silent films on the campy TV show Batman.

Photograph: Chicago History Museum

While Essanay's George Spoor huddles inside his overcoat (hatless, at right), Gloria Swanson smiles warmly from behind the camera.

Born in Chicago in 1899, Gloria Swanson first visited Essanay's Argyle Street studio when she was 15. Parsons would remember her as "a scrawny little thing with enormous ice-water blue eyes and a head that seemed too big for her petite body." Swanson had serious dramatic aspirations and so was dismayed when she witnessed a pile of men and women, some of them wearing roller skates, screaming and thrashing about in a hot, smelly basement. "I certainly didn't think it was funny," Swanson wrote in her 1980 autobiography, "especially when the skaters scrambled to their feet and dusted off their clothes and we could see that they had all been sitting on a great big woman who was lying in the middle of the floor." The "woman" was the lumbering Wallace Beery, a former elephant trainer for the Ringling Brothers circus. He had gone on to become a Broadway star, and now, clad in a wig and gingham dress, he had attained movie stardom as a klutzy Swedish maid named Sweedie.

On the day of her visit, a casting director noticed Swanson and immediately hired the ingénue she soon appeared opposite Beery in Sweedie Goes to College. When a scandal involving an underage girl forced Beery to leave Chicago for California, Swanson later followed, and in 1916, just after her 17th birthday, they were married. Their romance, however, didn't survive their wedding night, when Beery forced himself on his virgin bride. In her memoir, Swanson describes the scene as a brutal rape, and the couple divorced in 1919.

Beery went on to win a best-actor Oscar for 1931's The Champ, opposite the child star Jackie Cooper. Swanson is likely best remembered today for her 1950 comeback as the delusional former silent-film star Norma Desmond in Billy Wilder's Sunset Boulevard. But in 1915, all that lay far in Swanson's future. First she would have to deal with Charlie Chaplin.

The movie historian David Kiehn estimates that Essanay-which at its peak cranked out about six movies a week-shot some 1,500 films in Chicago and another 500 out west. Many of them burned in a studio vault fire in 1916, and others ended up in the trash when George Spoor, one of the studio's founders, sold the company's Argyle Street building around 1932. Today, only about 200 Essanay movies survive-stored at the Library of Congress and other archives-but most of them are not readily available for home viewing. All of Charlie Chaplin's Essanay comedies, beautifully restored, are available on three DVDs from Image Entertainment. Rent them at Facets Multimedia (1517 W. Fullerton Ave. 773-281- 9075 or facets.org), or order them at amazon.com ($22.99 each). This summer in Fremont, California, the Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum will screen 55 Essanay movies-some not seen in 90 years-at its tenth annual Broncho Billy Silent Film Festival (June 29th to July 1st nilesfilmmuseum.org). Paul Peditto's play Sounds of Silents, a somewhat different take on Chaplin and Essanay (recently staged here by Prop Theatre), is available from Dramatic Publishing ($6.50 dramaticpublishing.com).
&ndashR. L.

Having arrived in Chicago in December 1914, Chaplin made it his first order of business to find the baggy pants, oversize shoes, and other garb he needed to transform himself into the Little Tramp, the character he had created for Kid Auto Races at Venice, his second comedy for Mack Sennett's Keystone Studios. Shopping on State Street, Chaplin bought some trousers, but it took a long search to find boots big enough for the desired comic effect.

Chaplin's first day at Essanay did not begin well. When he walked into the studios on Argyle, a manager told him to get a script from Louella Parsons. "I don't use other people's scripts," Chaplin snapped. "I write my own." He had in mind a comedy about a bumbling handyman sabotaging a movie production. Appropriately, it would be entitled His New Job.

The next day, Chaplin rounded up some Essanay actors, including Turpin. He tested Swanson as a comic foil-literally kicking her in the pants-but just couldn't get the desired reaction from her. "He kept laughing and making his eyes twinkle and talking in a light, gentle voice and encouraging me to let myself go and be silly," Swanson remembered. "He reminded me of a pixie from some other world altogether, and for the life of me I couldn't get the feel of his frisky little skits. All morning I felt like a cow trying to dance with a toy poodle." Swanson ended up playing a small role, sitting at a desk in the background.

As filming began, Chaplin performed an odd dance for some five minutes. The rest of the actors looked on, wondering what he was up to. Testily, Bushman asked for an explanation. "Got to limber up," Chaplin said softly. "A little pep, everybody, a little pep. Come on, boys. Shoot your set." And then, in a startlingly loud voice, he shouted, "I'm ready!"

At times, the actors found it difficult to concentrate on anything other than Chaplin, staring at him as if they were hypnotized. As for Essanay's new star, he concentrated on his work, rehearsing scenes for hours. The others finally saw him relax when he lunched with them at Al Sternberg's bar and restaurant at Broadway and Argyle, taking part in their ritual of rolling dice to see who would pay the bill.

"I think I'm going to like it here," Chaplin told a Chicago Tribune reporter in early January 1915. "Nice people, nice studio, etc. With conditions favorable, a man can do so much better work, you know."

In fact, Chaplin had misgivings about Essanay. The employees reminded him of bank clerks. "The business end of [Essanay] was very impressive, but not their films," Chaplin wrote in his memoirs. "It was anything but conducive to creative work." He was horrified when Essanay projected the film negative-rather than make a positive print-to view the daily rushes.

As all this went on, Chaplin kept wondering when George Spoor, Anderson's partner, would finally show up. Out in California, Anderson had stolen Chaplin away from Keystone with an offer of $1,250 a week-a princely sum-and promises of a $10,000 signing bonus. But Chaplin had yet to receive his bonus, and when Spoor finally appeared-he may have intentionally stayed away, furious at Anderson for promising so much money-Chaplin asked for his ten grand. Spoor assured him that the front office would take care of it.

"What were you scared about?" asked Chaplin (or so he recalled the conversation in his autobiography). "You can still get out of your contract if you wish-in fact, I think you've already broken it."

"I'm sorry that you feel this way," Spoor replied, "but, as you must know, Charlie, we are a reputable firm and always live up to our contracts."

"Well, you haven't lived up to this one."

"We'll take care of that matter right now."

"I'm in no hurry," Chaplin said sarcastically.

Spoor tried to placate Chaplin, but their relationship was poisoned. On January 20th, the Los Angeles Times reported that Chaplin had returned to California, complaining that Chicago was "too damn cold."

Photograph: Chicago History Museum

Bushman (above, to the left of the camera) at work inside the Essanay studio.

Throughout 1915, Chaplin made films at Essanay's California studio, moving away from straightforward slapstick into more nuanced stories. He would make about a dozen films for the Chicago-based studio, including The Tramp, which would conclude for the first time with his threadbare hero waddling along with his back to the camera, twirling his skinny cane with an ineffable melancholy-an image that would become Chaplin's signature. Thanks in part to a promotional campaign by Essanay, "Chaplinitis" swept the country. Actors donned tramp costumes and mimicked that Chaplin walk. The public snapped up Charlie spoons, lapel pins, ashtrays, and "squirt rings," as well as statuettes by the Chicago artist Cyrus LeRoy Baldridge.

In January 1916, as Chaplin's contract came up for renewal, Anderson told his partner that their comic star wanted $10,000 a week. Spoor refused to meet his demand, and Chaplin jumped ship for the Mutual Film studio-where he got his weekly salary as well as a $150,000 bonus.

With Chaplin's departure, Essanay's days were numbered. Sensing the change in fortune, Anderson sold his share of the company to Spoor. Meanwhile, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 1915 that Thomas Edison, Essanay, and the other studios in the Motion Picture Patents Company were violating antitrust laws, a decision that opened up the movie industry to other "independent" filmmakers. When Essanay shut down in 1918, the entire film industry was shifting toward California. By then, Bushman, Bayne, Beery, Swanson, and Turpin had already left for the coast.

A decade later, Spoor would explain his reasons for shutting down the studio. "The place was a madhouse," he said. "I tried a number of general managers with no success. I found I was running a high class school for directors and actors. I'd make stars out of them and other producers would offer them more money. I had to meet those offers or lose the stars. Had I met all the offers, I would have gone broke myself, constantly doubling salaries. So I locked up the place and took a good, long rest."

In the early 1930s, Spoor introduced "Natural Vision," an early wide-screen, 3-D film process. Spoor had spent most of his Essanay fortune-some $4 million-on the project, but it never caught on. He remained in Chicago until his death in 1953, living in an apartment at 908 West Argyle. For his pioneering contributions to the motion-picture industry, he received a special Academy Award in 1947, as did Anderson, in 1957. (Broncho Billy, who died in California in 1971, also got a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.)

"Movies?" Spoor said in a 1947 interview with the Chicago Sun. "No, young fellow, I don't go to the movies much anymore. You see, there are only about 30 stories in the world, and by this time I guess I know them all by heart."

Photograph: Chicago History Museum

On the set of a Broncho Billy Western

In January 1916, after finishing Carmen, his last film for Essanay, Charlie Chaplin boarded a train for New York, a five-day trip that included a stopover in Chicago. He rode alone in an open compartment, "unrecognized," as he recalled in his autobiography, "without my comedy make-up."

But word had spread that the great movie comedian was headed east, and all along the route, crowds waited to catch a glimpse of the star. "People stood along the side of the railroad track," recalled Chaplin, "shouting and waving their hats." In the larger cities (beginning in Amarillo, Texas), they even pulled him off the train to say a few words, nearly crushing him in the process. In Chicago, an enthusiastic throng engulfed him. He escaped into a waiting limousine, which spirited him away to the Blackstone Hotel. There Chaplin received a telegram from New York's chief of police, who asked Chaplin to get off the train before arriving at Grand Central Station, where he would only be met by another mob.

To Chaplin, this was madness. He had arrived in Chicago unrecognized only a year earlier now, 26 years old and suddenly wealthy, he had won a fame usually reserved for royalty. "I wanted to enjoy it all without reservation," Chaplin later wrote, "but I kept thinking the world had gone crazy! If a few slapstick comedies could arouse such excitement, was there not something bogus about all celebrity?" For all his success, he might just as well have been back in that cheerless Wabash Avenue flophouse. "I had always thought I would like the public's attention," reflected the solitary tramp, "and here it was-paradoxically isolating me with a depressing sense of loneliness." It was a state of mind that, in various forms, would plague him the rest of his life.


History of the Mohawk Valley: Gateway to the West 1614-1925Fred Spoor

[This information is from Vol. III, pp. 333-334 of History of the Mohawk Valley: Gateway to the West 1614-1925 , edited by Nelson Greene (Chicago: The S. J. Clarke Publishing Company, 1925). It is in the Reference collection of the Schenectady County Public Library at R 974.7 G81h. This online edition includes lists of portraits, maps and illustrations. As noted by Paul Keesler in his article, "The Much Maligned Mr. Greene," some information in this book has been superseded by later research or was provided incorrectly by local sources.]

One who occupies an active field of usefulness is Fred Spoor, postoffice clerk of Herkimer, New York. He was born on January 31, 1872, in the town of Danube, New York, where his parents, James H. and Elda (Jones) Spoor, were also born. James H. Spoor was born on the old Spoor homestead on September 9, 1844, and is now living in East Herkimer, a retired farmer, at the age of eighty years. His wife was born on April 30, 1847, and died at Herkimer on August 1, 1902. James H. Spoor was the son of Gilbert and Nancy (Link) Spoor. Gilbert Spoor was born at Newville, New York, on July 7, 1817, and died there on January 29, 1897. His wife was also born at Newville, and died there. Gilbert was the son of Robert and Catherine (Harder) Spoor. Robert Spoor was born on August 10, 1767, and died on April 13, 1849 his wife was born on February 11, 1778, and died on April 3, 1844. Robert was the son of Isaac and Christina (Van Dusen) Spoor. Isaac Spoor was born, on August 16, 1741, and died on April 19, 1787. He served as ensign in the War of the Revolution. He was a farmer at Copake, New York, and a direct descendant of John W. Spoor, who came to America from England and acquired land between Albany and Schenectady. His wife's name was Ann Maria House.

Fred Spoor attended district school, No. 10, in the town of Danube, then entered Fairfield Military Academy, in the commercial and academic class. In the military department he rose to the rank of lieutenant, captain and cadet major. For five years he taught district schools in the town of Stark and Little Falls, then passed the civil service examination and in 1902 was appointed clerk in the Herkimer post office. Since that time he has been clerk and carrier and at the present time is clerk in the office.

On June 16, 1898, at the Vrooman residence in German Flats, New York, Mr. Spoor was united in marriage to Miss Bessie J. Vrooman, who was born on May 1, 1876, her parents being Jacob H. and Mary Jane (Ford) Vrooman. Jacob H. Vrooman, a farmer, was born on March 31, 1833, and died on December 22, 1888. He was the son of Nicholas and Christina (Wright) Vrooman. Nicholas Vrooman was born on July 31, 1809, and died on November 10, 1887. His wife was born on February 7, 1809, and died on July 12, 1841. Mary Jane (Ford) Vrooman was born in the town of German Flats on August 21, 1840, and died there on January 26, 1907. She was the daughter of Daniel and Lany (Youngs) Ford. Daniel Ford was born on August 29, 1804, and died on March 13, 1853. His wife was born on June 7, 1806, and died on January 26, 1894, at the age of eighty-eight years. Mrs. Spoor is a member of General Nicholas Herkimer Chapter, Daughters of the American Revolution. She is a member of the Methodist church and was superintendent of the Junior Sunday school for fifteen years, and is now a teacher in the Sunday school. Mr. and Mrs. Spoor have a daughter: Miss Louise Vrooman Spoor, who was born on June 20, 1889 [ Editorial note: possibly 1899? ]. She is a graduate of Herkimer high school, class of 1917, and of Syracuse University Department of Music, class of 1921. For a year she taught at Anderson College, Anderson, South Carolina, and for two years taught music at Perry, New York. She is now teaching music in the schools of Hastings-on-Hudson. Miss Spoor is a member of Sigma Kappa of Syracuse University.

Mr. Spoor is a member of Herkimer Lodge, F. & A. M. Van Hornesville Lodge, No. 674, I. O. O. F., and General Herkimer Canton, Herkimer Encampment. He has also been noble grand subordinate lodge of Van Hornesville and chief patriarch of Herkimer Encampment and captain of the Canton. He is a member of the National Letter Carriers Association and served as secretary of the Business Men's Association, now the Chamber of Commerce. During the World war Mr. Spoor was second lieutenant of the Defense League and is now a member of the local council of Boy Scouts. He is a member of the Methodist church and teacher of the "Tower Boys Class" in the Sunday school. In politics he is a republican.

http://www.schenectadyhistory.org/resources/mvgw/bios/spoor_fred.html updated June 10, 2018

Copyright 2018 Schenectady Digital History Archive — a service of the Schenectady County Public Library


You've only scratched the surface of Spoor family history.

Between 1944 and 2004, in the United States, Spoor life expectancy was at its lowest point in 1954, and highest in 1994. The average life expectancy for Spoor in 1944 was 33, and 75 in 2004.

An unusually short lifespan might indicate that your Spoor ancestors lived in harsh conditions. A short lifespan might also indicate health problems that were once prevalent in your family. The SSDI is a searchable database of more than 70 million names. You can find birthdates, death dates, addresses and more.


7. Give Up the Ghost

I’m not sure if Ben Cooper couldn’t get the Casperlicense or if Harvey Tunes’ lawyers were on a Halloween bender, but here you go, the Give Up the Ghost Ghost whatever the heck that is. It might be Casper, but the look on this restless spirit’s face is kind of insidious. The expression on the ghost’s face on the smock looks like he is about to do something decidedly not family friendly to innocent children and pets.

What was this ghost when he was alive, someone who hung out in basements doing unspeakable things to squirrels? And what’s with those lips? Nothing about this ghost sits right with us. It’s like Ben Cooper wanted innocent children to think this was a Casper mask and then boom, Halloween III: Season of the Witch.


Essanay Film Company

Peerless Film Manufacturing company, Chicago, name changed to Essanay Film Manufacturing company.

Advertisements for Essanay’s first movie, “An Awful Skate”, which was filmed in Old Town in July, 1907. The only existing copy is in the George Eastman House International Museum of Photography and Film in Rochester, NY and not available to the public. “Mr. Inquisitive” was released on August 24, 1907.

Moving Picture World, June 5, 1909

THE ESSANAY COMPANY’S NEW PLANT.
Enterprising Chicago Motion Picture Firm Moves Into Its New Quarters

The manufacturers are erecting plants of colossal proportions in order to supply the demand for more and better quality films.

The Essanay Company, of Chicago, is moving into its new quarters this week. Covering several acres of ground, the buildings within and without, models of beautiful architecture,’ the new plant is a fitting home for this enterprising motion picture firm. The writer recently enjoyed a visit to the new plant The genial president of the company, George K Spoor, first showed him through the company’s handsomely furnished offices. They are models of neatness and system. next went into the studio. Here we found G. M. Anderson, youngest and one of the most prominent men engaged in America to-day in the manufacturing of motion pictures. “Andy.” as he is familiarly known by the trade, was overseeing the work of a dozen or more carpenters who were engaged in swinging into place large framework for the overhead lights.

“We are going to have the most up-to-date stage equipment in the country,” Mr. Spoor said. “We have facilities here for staging the most stupendous productions. We have more than doubled our lighting systems, and I feel safe in making the assertion that future Essanay productions will be fully equal to the output of other manufacturers either at home or abroad.

Immediately to the south of this excellent indoor stage and studio is a daylight studio. This will be utilized at all times when the weather is suitable for outdoor work.

Taken all together, both the indoor and outdoor studios are the marvel of perfection. Every up-to-date appliance to minimize time and trouble, and to assure the best results, has been installed.

Adjoining the indoor studio is the carpenter shop and paint frame. Skilled artists were busy on the bridges above Two or three stage carpenters were building a padded cell for a scene from a story soon to be released, “The Curse of Cocaine.” It was not the usual painted upholstery, but the real thing. Indeed, the solidness of the construction of scenic effects, the care and watchfulness of detaH, would surprise one who has not been “behind the scenes.”

The property room is handily adjacent. We find here, if one is permitted to use the old phrase, everything “from a needle to a haystack.” Here is material for any sort of a scene from a drawing room in a Fifth avenue mansion to a corner in a boiler factory.

We went next to inspect the photographic department. The spotless cleanliness of these workrooms, so indispensable to the art, was prevalent. In the dimly-lighted developing rooms a dozen or more white gowned young ladies were busy putting the thousands of feet of celluloid strips through the various baths, or chemical processes, necessary in the developing of the films. The washing and drying departments, capable of handling 20,000 feet of film an hour, we found more inviting. The process here is a simple but delicate one.

The Essanay Company, indeed, is to be congratulated. Its facilities for turning out more and better films will insure the retention of the name an approving public has given it, as the one “House of Comedy Hits.”

Essanay Studio
1333-45 W. Argyle Street

Film set for a silent western featuring Gilbert M. Anderson, known as Broncho Billy, at Essanay Film Studios in Chicago circa 1910.

Essanay’s Ira Morgan and Harris Ensign stand on each side with Bell & Howell production cameras. Rollie Totheroh stands in the middle with the original B&H prototype. Camera assistants Howard West, Mervyn Breslauer and Martin Killilay sit in front.

On Monday evening, June 2, 1913, the new Essanay studio, at Niles, Cal., was informally opened. G. M. Anderson and all the members of of the Western Stock company received the invited guests, consisting of prominent business men of Niles and San Francisco. The speech by Mr. Anderson was enthusiastically received and gave the cue for the festivities to begin. Dancing interspersed with gallons of refreshments (grape juice) comprised the evening’s enjoyment.

Essanay Film Manufacturing Company Plant at Niles, California

Chicago Tribune, December 19, 1914

Essanay Captures Chaplin.
Charles Chaplin, the English comedian with the tiny mustache whose weird repertoire of gestures and postures has helped make the Keystone low comedy films famous, has been captured by the Essanay company. Chaplin has signed a long term contract at one of the largest salaries in movie land. He will come to Chicago next week and take part in a new series of comedies.

Francis X. Bushman, Charlie Chaplin and G. M. Anderson
December, 1914

Los Angeles Times, February 1, 1916

Chicago Tribune, February 18, 1916

From $55 to $12,050 Per-haps.
George K. Spoor got back from New York yesterday, and said he, wearily

Unless Chaplin comes down on his demands he is out of the running for Essanay. He is asking altogether too much for any company. Why, now he wants $626,600 a year, which is $12,050 a week. If I could get together the $12,000 for him I couldn’t raise the $50. He is very friendly toward Essanay, but he’ll have to ask for less money if he wants to come back, and there isn’t much chance of that.

And time was, about five years ago, when the same Charlie Chaplin was playing his celebrated “drunk” in “A Night in an English Music Hall” in Sullivan-Considine houses for $55 a week.

Chicago Tribune, November 25, 1953

George K. Spoor, 81, who as president of the Essanay Film company pioneered the moving picture industry in Chicago, died yesterday in his home at 908 Argyle st.

Spoor and Gilbert M. (Broncho Billy) Anderson founded the company in 1897. Many stars of the silent films got their start in the studio at 1345 Argyle st. The lot there was closed in 1916 when the motion picture industry invaded Hollywood, Cal.

Many Stars Began Here
In pioneer movie days, Essanay and Selig studios made Chicago one of the major motion picture producing centers. Stars who received their start on the Essanay lot included H. B. Walthal, Gloria Swanson, Wallace Beery, Francis X. Bushman, and Charles Chaplin.

Spoor was as prominent an inventor of movie equipment as he was a producer. He made one of the first projection machines that enabled filmed pictures to be flashed on a screen.

He worked for years on a three dimension film process, which he called “natural vision.” In 1930 he produced “Danger Lights” under that stereoscopic process. A fortune was lost, however, in attempts to put the three dimensional films on the market.

Lost Money in Crash
Spoor also promoted the construction of an apartment building, on which he lost money in the real estate crash of the late 󈧘’s at Argyle st. and the present extension of Lincoln Park.

His wife, Ada, a sister-in-law of Billy Sunday, the evangelist, died in 1951. Spoor lived with his daughter, Gertrude, and her husband, Douglas L. Weart, a retired major general who served in the Caribbean and China during World War II.

Services will be held at 2 p. m. Friday in the chapel at 5001 N. Ashland av., with burial in Forest Home cemetery.

San Bernardino County Sun, January 21, 1971


BY BOB THOMAS
HOLLYWOOD (AP)—Gilbert M. Anderson, the man who started the movie western with “The Great Train Robbery” in 1903 and became the first major film star as Bronc o Billy, died in a sanitarium yesterday at 88.

Once a major figure as an actor and studio owner, Broncho Billy had been supported in his waning years by the Motion Picture and Television Relief Fund. He returned to the limelight briefly in 1958, when the Motion Picture Academy presented him with an honorary Oscar for his early achievements in the industry.

Anderson was one of the last links to the beginnings of films.

Born Max Aronson Anderson in Little Rock, Ark., he adopted the name of Gilbert M. Anderson as a vaudeville performer. He drifted into movies, working for director Edwin S. Porter in the fragmentary films of 1903. Late in life Anderson recalled:

I told Porter that if people would sit still for pictures that were 50 and 60 feet long, they’s sit still for 1,000 feet. So we decided to make a long picture. But what about?

I suggested something that had a lot of riding and shooting—plenty of excitement. Why not a train robbery? Another fellow remembered there was a play called The Great Train Robbery. So we stole the title.

Filmed in Fort Lee, N.J., “The Great Train Robbery” became a landmark movie, the first to tell a well-developed story.

Anderson found himself a new career. He teamed with George K. Spoor to form a Chicago company, Essanay. They made films with Charlie Chaplin, Gloria Swanson and Wallace Beery.

Anderson made some westerns in Boulder, Colo., then built a studio on San Francisco Bay where he ground out one-reel westerns with himself starring as Broncho Billy. He lifter the name from stories by Peter Kyne—”we never bought anything in those days.”

The Broncho Billy shorts appeared in theaters around the world every week.

“In 1919 I started making five-reelers,” he recalled. “But I got into the field too late. Bill Hart had already been making then and he had the market sewed up.”

He lingered in the film industry until 1926, then drifted away. His fortune vanished, and he lived in a tiny house near downtown Los Angeles. Many believed that Broncho Billy had died.

The 1958 Oscar brought him out of obscurity. In his last dozen years he often gave interviews and even appeared in a western. His movie favorite was Gary Cooper—”just about the best cowboy who has ever been on the screen.”

He is survived by his widow Molly and a daughter, Mazine.


Group photograph of the Essanay Eastern Stock Company in Chicago in 1911

Top row, left to right: Joseph Dailey, F. Doolittle, Inez Callahan, William J. Murray, Curtis Cooksey, Helen Lowe, Howard Missimer, Miss Lavalliet, Cyril Raymond.
Middle row: Florence Hoffman, Harry Cashman, Alice Donovan, Frank Dayton, Harry McRae Webster, Lottie Briscoe, William C. Walters, Rose Evans.
Bottom row: Eva Prout, Bobbie Guhl, Jack Essanay (dog), Charlotte Vacher, Tommy Shirley


The cast and crew of Chicago’s Essanay Film Manufacturing Company in 1912.

Seated on Floor: Eleanor Kahn And Jack, The Bulldog Mascot
1st Row: Charles Hitchcock, Whitney Raymond, Eva Prout, Baby Parsons, Ruth Stonehouse, William Mason
2nd Row: Lily Branscombe, Frank Dayton, Dolores Cassinelli, Francis X. Bushman, Beverly Bayne, William Walters, Mildred Weston
3rd Row: Joseph Allen, Eleanor Blanchard, John Stepping, Martha Russell, Harry Cashman, Helen Dunbar, Harry Mainhall
Top Row: E. H. Calvert, William Bailey, Howard Missimer, Fred Wulf


The cast and crew of Chicago’s Essanay Film Manufacturing Company in 1914

Ben Turpin is in the back row, far left. George K. Spoor in the center, front row. Bryant Washburn is in the row behind Francis X. Bushman and Ruth Stonehouse with the white blouse in the same row as Bushman. A young Wallace Beery is in the photo as well.

A form rejection slip from Essanay Studios

Burlesque on Carmen is Charlie Chaplin’s thirteenth and last film for Essanay Studios, released in 1915 and then later recut into a different version in 1916.

Charlie Chaplin’s last production for Essanay, “Police,” is arguably his best for the studio.
Moving Picture World
20 May 1916

AFTERMATH

The Essanay building in Chicago was sold to Wilding Pictures, a subsidiary of Bell and Howell formed by two former Essanay Studio employees. Then it was given to a non-profit television organization, WTTW Corporation, which sold it. One tenant was the Midwest office of Technicolor. Today, the Essanay lot is the home of St. Augustine College and portions of the two buildings were occupied by Essanay Stage and Lighting Company, another film industry company.

NOTES:

1 The Great Train Robbery was the most popular film until the release of The Birth of a Nation in 1915.


Uptown Chicago History

This image is of George K. Spoor, founder of the Essanay Studios once located on Argyle. It was taken in 1953 from his home at 903 Argyle. This would have been the year he died.

A biography from Wikipedia:

George Kirke Spoor (December 18, 1872 – 24 November 1953) was an early film pioneer who, with Broncho Billy Anderson, founded Essanay Studios in Chicago in 1907.


Spoor and Anderson were responsible for discovering stars such as Wallace Beery, Francis X. Bushman, Ben Turpin, Gloria Swanson, and Charlie Chaplin. Allan Dwan, who was hired as a screenwriter, went on to become a famous Hollywood director. Louella Parsons, also hired by Spoor as a screenwriter, later became a famous Hollywood gossip columnist.

In 1894, while box office manager of the Phoenix Opera House in Waukegan, Illinois, George K. Spoor teamed with inventor Edward Hill Amet (1860-1948) to build and exhibit The Magniscope, the first practical 35mm movie projector ever designed and used in a large audience display. Spoor and Amet made films and distributed them with this device before the 1895 device by the Lumiere Brothers of France. Thomas Edison's more famous Kinetoscope was exhibited in 1891, but was only able to be viewed by one person at a time through a peephole.

Spoor and Amet are credited for having filmed: the world's first newsreel, a film of the first Inauguration of President William McKinley in 1897 the first use of film miniatures (The Battle of Santiago Bay) in which tin replicas and cigar smoke created the illusion of live war footage the first to experience local censorship (due to the graphic images of China's Boxer Rebellion) and even the first "fake newsreel" in which Spoor used neighbors to act out battles such as the Battle of San Juan Hill in a local park.

In 1926, Spoor and inventor P. John Berggren invented Natural Vision, an early 65mm widescreen process which was only used to film four movies, including Danger Lights (RKO, 1930). The trademark Natural Vision was later used for an unrelated system of making 3-D films in 1953.

In 1948, Spoor received an Oscar, specifically an Academy Honorary Award for his contribution to developing motion pictures as entertainment.