The "Times" goes to its readers this week, draped with the emblems of mourning. Death--cold, remorseful, inexorable death, has invaded its sanctum and laid the master low. Whom no man could intimidate and no obstacle discourage, death hath vanquished. In the august presence of this phenomenon, enmity is disarmed, and the voice of calumny is hushed in the silence of the tomb. It seems fit that here and now, the record of the life and struggles of the dead editor should be traced with a friendly hand; and the indulgence of the reader is asked, while the chief points in the history of the man who was the creator, the life and the success of THE TIMES, are passed in hasty review; while his virtues are extolled, and his faults buried in the unfathomable abyss of oblivion.
Ezra G. Cass was born in Grand Detour, Illinois, in the latter part of the year (14 October)1858. His parents being poor, he was obliged at a tender age, to launch his frail boat into the surge of life, and we find him at the early age of twelve, after a little schooling, in the printing office of the "Sun", in Dixon, Illinois. Here he learned his trade; here, in devotion to the interest of his employer, and a determination to master the details of the profession he had chosen, he worked early and late. The current of life in his naturally frail organism, was not strong enough to withstand the draught made upon it by his close application to the case, and here he planted the seed that developed into premature decay. While at the end of six or seven years apprenticeship, he graduated with a thorough practical knowledge of the printer's art; it was at the expense of a weakened constitution, and the ingraftment into his being of a malady whose insatiate rapacity stole his life at one score and ten.
Early in 1878 he, with J. B. Gardner, was employed to come to Paw Paw to take charge of the "Herald," a paper just established. After a few months the paper was sold to other parties and the printer tramps were set adrift. Then they conceived the idea of starting a paper of their own.
"THE LEE COUNTY TIMES" was born. Strangers, without money, without credit, they started the enterprise. Dr. T. D. Palmer was induced to become financial sponsor for the concern and THE TIMES was started on its mission. After a few months, Gardner became discouraged and abandoned the ship, but Cass took the helm and steered for success.
About this time he was prostrated with a severe hemorrhage of the lungs, but his indomitable will, aided by careful nursing, mastered the trouble and he resumed his labors. He never enjoyed a healthy day afterward, and several times each year he was prostrated by attacks more or less severe. Slowly, but surely, the insidious disease progressed, steadily consuming his vitality. All this time he was struggling against bitter opposition and competition, to place THE TIMES on a paying basis. This was the ambition of his life; this determination seemed to supply him with energy not only to successfully combat all opposition, but to baffle for years the assaults of his implacable enemy consumption. Not till the dream of his life was realized, not till he found himself in the full fruition of his hopes, was his disease able to subdue his extraordinary will. When he saw his labors and struggles crowned with success, the incentive that had sustained him through so many dark days was weakened, and he quietly went down to the last long sleep. The deep pathos of his life, and the quiet heroism of his struggle against disease, drew to him the tender love and ardent admiration of a large circle of friends. Their tears and sympathy are a tribute to his manhood; and THE TIMES is a monument more eloquent than sculptured marble to his enterprise, ability and perseverance.
Funeral services were held in the M. E. Church, Sunday at 10 o'clock. The day was cloudless and the attendance very large. The exercises were appropriate and impressive. Rev. A. B. Mettler, the pastor, spoke from the text, Gospel St. John 10:10. After the conclusion of the sad rites, Bethany Commandry No. 28, Mendota, Ill., of which, lamented Sir Knight E. G. Cass was a member, having been exalted to Royal Arch Mason 1880, and Corinthian Lodge A. F. and A. M. of which Brother Cass was Worshipful Master, took charge of the remains, thence marched to the depot, whence the remains were taken to Dixon.
Through the efforts Dr. T. H. Stetler of this village, a special train had been provided for the Bethany Commandry at Mendota, and for those along the route to Dixon. Representatives of Masonic Lodges other than these given were in attendance from LaMoille, Arlington, Earlville, Compton, Amboy and Dixon. Upon the arrival of the train at Dixon, which was about 1 o'clock, a procession was formed which followed the remains to the Dixon cemetery. It consisted of about one hundred Sir Knights of the Bethany and Dixon Commandries, and about an equal number of Masons from the Corinthion Lodge and representatives from other Lodges; following these organizations were several hundred mourning friends. Having arrived at the cemetery, appropriate exercises were observed by the Masonic fraternity. Emminent Commander Jenkins and Prelate Hanson of the Bethany Commandry conducted the exercises in an impressive manner.
Every feature of the occasion from the beginning to the end was in accord with the spotless record and exalted worth of lamented Ezra G. Cass. It was the highest recognition which kind friends and loving hearts could render to one whose brave life and whose heroic struggles in the pathway of duty and ambitious purposes, had endeared him to those who properly value these attributes.
The casket at the church, and the grave at Dixon, were profusely decorated with rare and costly flowers, contributed by the friends of the deceased. A "pillow of flowers" in which was inwrought the word, "Ezra," from the Paw Paw Base Ball Club, because of its richness and appropriateness, attracted especial attention. There was also a large compass and square, from the wives of the members of Corinthian Lodge No. 205, of this place; another pillow with the words "Our Brother" from his sister and brothers; a large open book with the legend "The End" from Mrs. Palmer, the "Red Cross and Crown" with the name "E. G. Cass" from Dr. T. D. Palmer; a "Sickle" to which was tied a bunch of golden grain, from Mrs. S. P. Detamore; twin baskets and other beautiful floral emblems from Mrs. Dr. Stetler and Miss May Bauer.
Contributed by Marilyn Widler - from the Lee County Times