Domino clubs in Sussex circa 1800s
Rob Howard, a lifelong insurance agent in Sussex whose roots go back to the pioneer families of Lisbon including the Davidsons who came in 1850, the Weavers who came in 1836 and Charles Howard who took up a claim near the intersection of Hillside Road and Howard Lane in 1844. He is also related to the Russells that was a large early pioneering family. Most importantly Rob Howard is the great-great-great-grandson of James Weaver (1800-1886) who is considered the "father" of Sussex-Lisbon. What it all boils down to is Rob Howard is a walking genetic piece of the pioneers of Lisbon-Sussex.
His father, Russell Howard was the last true farmer of the Howard Lane claim but he gave up farming to become an insurance agent and ultimately Rob took it over. Rob has a habit of contacting me, the Sussex-Lisbon historian periodically to discuss local history and his extended family. During one visit we were going through old papers that included information on the Howard Livery Stable when he came upon a newspaper clipping from 1895. The following is this clipping titled, "Sussex Domino Club Promulgates" and an interesting set of club rules and regulations.
It reads, "Following are the new constitution and bylaws of the Domino Club at Sussex. Its aims … to live and let live-honesty, if we can, but live anyway. Hard, diligent and continuous work is strictly enjoyed for laziness is abhorrent to the members of this club."
"Bylaws - Members of the club will not be allowed to help one another for no one will be admitted to membership who is not self-supporting.
No member of this club will be allowed to shovel snow, except in the months of June, July and August. And their tools must be bright and in good working order."
No member will be allowed to carry an umbrella as that is unnecessary and unmanly. So stay in when it rains.
While playing the members shall not grab the double six; it shows greediness and that is contrary to the teachings of this club.
The finances of the club must be kept on the gold basis. No issue of scrip will be allowed. Neither will any member be allowed to be in arrears, nor to have his fines remitted.
If a member is absent at the usual time of meeting he shall be fined 7 cents unless he can prove that he was somewhere else.
No member shall be allowed to show any temper while playing if he is compelled to draw. Let him draw good naturedly or withdraw from the game.
When outsiders wish to play they must comply with the laws and regulations of the club.
Soberness will be required at all times while playing. If a person cannot tell the double six from the double blank, he shall be deemed unfit to play and be excused until he has time to sober off (sic).
If a player feels sick he shall keep it to himself, so as not to be a source of annoyance to others, for the club has great respect for the sufferings of humanity.
It is always in order to claim the down, otherwise he will be liable to get missed.
Let those laugh that win, for when a player is getting beat he don't feel so funny as the other fellow."
Notice that these 116-year-old rule are male-oriented as the male gender is mentioned no less than 11 times in the rules. No doubt that the games are played in a tavern or else in the 1866-built Lisbon Town Hall today the Sussex Family Practice.
Sussex in 2011, is again into domino playing with many playing a game called Mexican Train which is played with 91 white dominoes and blank to 12 pips.
A little side story is my grandson married a Mexican national. We sat down to play explaining the Sussex modified rules to her and she immediately recognized this game saying, "In Senora, Mexico we play this game also, but we don't call it Mexican Train, we call it Cuban Train."
Dominoes go back to the Chinese. Western dominoes are first recorded about the 1700s plus it is said that French soldier pioneers introduced it to the English and later the English settled in Lisbon as the dominant ethnic group.