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Mark was assuredly a good-looking boy. Neither he nor his brothers were as tall as the previous generation of Hannas, and Mark himself, when he grew up, looked almost short, because his broad and powerful frame seemed to need a few more inches of height. His uncle Kersey Hanna describes him as short, strong and rugged, with a full round figure. On the other hand, most of his playmates recollect him as almost slender. His complexion was fair, his hair brown and his expression frank, serious and communicative. But both as boy and man the most striking part of his personal appearance were his big, alert, shrewd, searching brown eyes, which, like his tapering fingers, he inherited from his father and which he alone of his father's sons did inherit. In this as in certain other respects Mark Hanna was another version of his father with better health, more energy and more purpose.
In describing the life led by the boys of Mark Hanna's generation in New Lisbon and certain aspects of their education, we have one very excellent authority. Shortly after Senator Hanna's death, a boyhood friend and playmate, Dr. Henry G. McCook, published a “Threnody” on Mr. Hanna, the notes to which contain an abundance of facts and stories about New Lisbon in the forties; and the reader may be referred to that volume in case he would like to know more than I shall tell him about the place, its youthful inhabitants, their occupations and sports.
He says nothing about the first school which Mark Hanna attended, which was kept by his mother's cousin, Miss Hattie Converse. Other schoolmates of Mr. Hanna have, however, furnished several authentic stories about this episode, each of which throws some light upon the school, the boy and the relations between the boy and his teacher. One lady who went to Miss Converse's school describes her fellow-pupil as pale and slender, but active and mischievous. He was accused of pushing a little boy over a bank on the hillside where a number of children were picking sorrel. Miss Converse evidently thought the offence extremely culpable, for she made him take off his coat, and switched him sharply on his bare arms — all of which frightened the little girls and made them burst into tears. On another occasion he was whipped for being late. Before going to school, he had to drive the cows to pasture, and on this particular morning they got away from him, and caused him, according to his own account, much trouble and loss of time in getting them together again. Miss Converse listened to this excuse for his tardy arrival and doubted its truth. Mark stuck to his story, said that he had never told a lie and was not then telling one. But he was none the less punished. In the end Dr. Hanna heard of the fault, its punishment, privately verified Mark's excuse and rebuked the doubting teacher. There are other indications that Mark did not get along well with his mother's cousin. One day Miss Converse found him loitering in the street after school was over, instead of making straight for home after the manner of really virtuous lads. Here was an opening, which the excellent pedagog could not overlook; but when she took him to task, he did not tamely submit. He asserted that her authority did not extend beyond the school building and grounds. She asserted that it did. The issue was presented to his parents, and they decided in his favor, and in this decision had the support of public opinion. The episode indicates a disposition to stand up for his personal rights rare in so small a lad, and confidence in him on the part of his parents. It also indicates that even in 1845, in a small Middle Western town, the American boy was coming into his own. There were parents who could understand a boyish propensity to loiter, and there were children who were beginning to discover and insist upon the great American domestic principle of filial authority. But I do not wonder that Miss Hattie Converse, who played the part of King George in this new struggle for independence, disliked her mischievous pupil. Like many other ladies, she had a peculiar horror of snakes. Several witnesses assert that Mark used to conceal little garter snakes in her text-books, and so cause her the utmost discomfiture. Whether he was switched for this offence, as he very well deserved, the records are silent. They are also silent as to the length of time that Mark attended Miss Converse's school, and they conflict as to the identity of his next school-teacher. The most renowned and popular school in New Lisbon during Mark's boyhood was kept by a Scotch-Irishman named David Anderson. This man, whose rugged character was typical of many of the pioneer pedagogs of the Middle West, began to teach in Lisbon about 1835, and continued to do so until obliged to retire by failing health in 1872. He was a stern, hard Puritan, who did not scruple to use the ruler on his pupils, and apparently needed in the exercise of his calling some warlike weapon. The story is that, when he attempted to chastise some big culprit, he was assaulted by his victim, and only escaped a thrashing by virtue of the assistance rendered by the rest of his pupils. Yet his pupils, apparently, did not have any reason to be fond of him. He wore rubber shoes, and would step silently up behind his boys when they were supposed to be writing on their slates. If he found them drawing pictures or scribbling messages, he would box them soundly on the ears — first on one side and then on the other, as the head was forced over by the force of the first blow. He was also subject to violent outbursts of temper, which are attributed by one witness to the influence of a malevolent wife — a lady who in her playful moods used to threaten her husband with a butcher's knife and was popularly supposed to be a witch. In spite, however, of his peculiarities, in spite of his sedulous laying on of two rulers, one round and one flat, in spite of his assumption of authority over the behavior of his pupils outside of the schoolroom, his memory is still reverenced in New Lisbon. Some years ago a fund was collected from his former pupils with which to erect a permanent memorial to the village teacher, but the project fell through, because of the failure of the bank in which the accumulated funds had been deposited. He was, apparently, with all his tantrums, his cuffings and his busy rulers, a kind-hearted man. The statement that he would be amiable and cheerful for the whole day whenever a new pupil happened in and paid the fee of two dollars for the first quarter, points to a hard and a fruitless fight against poverty as well as domestic unhappiness. No wonder that his temper was none of the best and his discipline harsh. The fact that in spite of all his failings the memory of “Davy” Anderson is cherished in New Lisbon sufficiently proves that when the books were balanced, his pupils could place to his credit a great deal of rough but effective elementary and moral schooling.
I have paused for a moment over the description of David Anderson and his school, because of the light which the man, his methods and circumstances throw upon the New Lisbon of the decade from 1840 to 1850; but there is some doubt whether Mark Hanna was ever cuffed and drilled by the irascible ScotchIrishman. At the local centennial celebration in 1903 the names of Mark Hanna and “Davy” Anderson, as the two most renowned celebrities of New Lisbon, were continually being coupled. Speaking of Anderson, the Senator said to the Hon. Chas. C. Connell, who had been writing a history of the town prepared for the occasion: “I don't like to spoil your story, Connell; but I never went to school with ‘Davy’ Anderson.” On the other hand, Dr. Henry C. McCook distinctly states that he and Mark Hanna attended “Davy” Anderson's school; and Howard Melville Hanna is equally emphatic in testifying to the same effect. There is no way now of definitely settling it; but if Mark Hanna ever did attend “Davy’s ” school, it could not have been for long. There is evidence that from 1850 to 1852 he was sent to another school-teacher; and authentic incidents connected with his attendance of Miss Converse's school indicate that he must have been at that time a boy of ten or twelve. Perhaps a father who objected to flogging, and who supported his son in a rebellion against the exercise of a school-teacher's authority outside of school hours, would have been loath to submit his son to “Davy” Anderson's rule and rulers.
When the “Union-School System” of graded public schools was adopted, Mark Hanna apparently went to public school. In the general re-grading and distribution of the children, Mark Hanna and Henry McCook were assigned to the high school, and were made deskmates. The school was lodged in the basement of the Presbyterian Church, and here Mark continued his education until he left New Lisbon. “As I recall him,” says Dr. McCook, “in the ‘roundabout' or tailless coat then worn by boys, he was a ruddy-cheeked youth, rather slightly built, certainly not stout or stocky — a pleasant, wholesome fellow, clean of tongue and with more polish of manners than many of his playmates. Nevertheless, we were in several School scrapes together, in one of which the writer saved