Friday, August 28, 2015

An Esperanto Enthusiast in Ohio

Entusiasmo estas bona!
There were a series of letters to the Omaha Daily Bee in August 1915 debating the relative merits of Esperanto and a language that was championed and invented by one D. C. John, Monoglott. Though Mr. John said that he was “trying to prepare a Monoglott grammar,” (the language is referred to both as “Monoglott” and “Monoglot”; I’ve decided to use the version ending in two t’s) I have found no evidence that any such document was ever published. Many proposed international language projects turn out to be vaporware, with no final product ever seen. This is common and I continue to see evidence that people loudly announce language projects and then quietly slip out of view.[1]

It does not surprise me that no evidence exists for Mr. John’s Monoglott project beyond a few letters to the Omaha Daily Bee. On August 28, 1915, one more correspondent came into this conversation held in the Bee’s “Letter Box” column. It’s signed by James G. Hayden, who was eager to rebut the question of Monoglott as an Esperantist. Hayden left little trace of his activity in Esperanto, but there was sufficient information with which to identify him.

His letter does allude to skill in Esperanto, and I was able to find the one reference to him in the Esperanto press: in May 1912, he passed the prelimary examination (Atesto pri lernardo) of the Esperanto Association of North America. He was, as the Bee termed him, an Esperantist. The remarks are addressed to Mr. John, not Mr. Corios.

Another Esperanto Enthusiast.
OMAHA, Aug. 27.—To the Editor of the The Bee: In one respect I am like Diego C. Corios—I know nothing about “Monoglot.”

He says some very nice things about Esperanto, the international auxiliarly language, but prefacing the same with an “if.”

I can assume him the “if” is unnecessary. Here is a concrete example of the shortness of the time in which one can learn the fundamentals of this truly wonderful language.

A young man wrote me a long letter in Esperanto nine days after receiving an instruction book—the first knowledge he had of such a language being in existence.

Here is also an illustration of the present standing of Esperanto in the world today.

The Germans, whose efficiency all must acknowledge, whatever our sympathies in the present contest, have adopted Esperanto as the language in which to give their side of the story of the great war, and are sending their official war reports, bulletins and magazines to delegates throughout the world, whose names appear in the Esperanto year book. They began this very early in the war—in August or September of last year.

In April of this year the French also began sending out their side of the story in Esperanto.

In this world crisis no other language has received such an indorsement—an indorsement that speaks louder and carries more weight than all the adjectives I have at my command.

JAMES G. HAYDEN, 3331 Taylor street.
Mr. Hayden was born in Ohio, where he spent most of his life. He is likely the James G. Hayden listed in October 1907 in the Esperanto Society of the North American Review among those in Ohio. He was born in October 1858, so when that list was published, he was just prior to his forty-ninth birthday. At fifty-three, the EANA noted that he had his preliminary certificate, and so he had been an Esperantist somewhere between three to eight years prior to his letter.

His wife, Mary, whom he married when they were both twenty-nine, does not seem to have followed his interest in Esperanto, nor his sons (both of whom were in their twenties before he discovered Esperanto). In 1910, he was working as a plumber, but by 1920 he was a stationary engineer at the water works. He died in 1943.

Update: The whole Esperanto discussion in the Daily Bee ran from its first reference on August 2, 1915 all the way through September 14, with something about Esperanto every few days.

  1. I’m thinking of one in particular that announced in March 2015 that “Esperanto failed.” That particular language project remains unfinished.  ↩

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