Search America's historic newspaper pages from 1836-1922 or use the U.S. Newspaper Directory to find information about American newspapers published between 1690-present. Chronicling America is sponsored jointly by the
National Endowment for the Humanities and the Library of Congress. external link Learn more
Image provided by: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Library, Urbana, IL
Newspaper Page Text
HE WAS A GREAT MAN
A great man died m Cleveland the other day.
His name was Thomas Gafney.
You probably never, heard of him. He never carried a sword
or a gun in any army. He never served in a legislature, or a city
council, nor held any kind of an elective or appointive office. He
never was a political leader or b.oss of the city or of the ward, or of
even the precinct in which he lived. He took no place in party
councils. His name never was connected with any big financial
deals or commercial enterprises.
It was quite natural that his name did not appear in the news
papers and that you never heard of him. His whole life, and he
lived eighty-three years, was along such linea that not many folk
heard of him outside the circle of friends of about the -same num
ber that most men have. He was of so little prominence in a news"
way that the papers printed only a few lines about him when he died,
and those lines told only of his d;eath, riot of his life.. But he was a
great man, nevertheless.
He was one of those great Copimon Men who are in quiet
places, but whose character and work are the firm foundation upon
which this country rests, and in whose strength and action are the
certainty of its endurance. He was one of the great Common Men
whose devotion toduty have given this country a citizenship un
equaled in any other part of the world. - '
Half a century ago Thomas Gafney's wife jlied, leaving him
with six small, very small children. He was a raj&road blacksmith,
earning the small wages that went with that kirid of labor in those
days. It was a tragedy. It looked like thebeginning of so many
long tragedies in whose scenes arei the sufferings of a spirit broken
by grief, the separation of children and lives of buffeting by an un
friendly world that they were not trained to combat.
But in the mind of this inan there were ho thoughts of sur
render to Fate; and faithful forever to the memory of the woman
he loved, he fought the fight, with never a cry for quarter nor an
appeal for help, keeping his family together, giving each child a1
better education that he had ever dreamed of for himself,' and start
ing them upon careers in which they have been of value to the com
munity, gaining honorable places in society. And this man was so
great than when others marveled at his achievement he could not
understand them; and he wondered that they did not regard it as he
himself did a commonplace work in the line of ordinary duty.
Who is there to say that Thomas Gafney was not a great man J