Thursday, August 6, 2015

100-year-old news highlights from The Evergreen Courant from August 1915

Alabama Gov. Charles Henderson
It’s that time of the month again, time to take a trip down memory lane and review all of the interesting things that took place in Conecuh County 100 years ago, way back in August 1915.

In the Aug. 4, 1915 edition of The Evergreen Courant, editor and owner George W. Salter Jr. reported that “about noon on Friday morning, the two condemned men, John Salter and Robert Watkins, will pay the penalty of their awful crime on the gallows of the county jail. The crime for which they are to pay the death penalty, the brutal murder of Mrs. Martha Lassiter, was committed on the night of June 23rd. They were apprehended the following day and 14 days later were tried at a special term of circuit court, convicted and sentenced to be hanged on Fri., Aug. 6, just 44 days lacking a few hours after the commission of the crime.”

Elsewhere in that week’s paper, Salter reported that “Ed Jackson killed a rattlesnake on the farm of I.L. Mills, three miles from town, that measured five feet, six inches in length, 7-1/4 inches in circumference, weighed five pounds and had 20 rattles. The snake had just bitten a dog and was ready to spring at him when he saw the snake and raised his gun and shot him.”

Readers that week also learned that “Evergreen and Chapman played a 13-inning game here on Thursday last with a tie score of 3 to 3.”

Also that week, Salter reported that the “Rev. D.J. Wright came dangerously near meeting a tragic death one night last week. He was attending a revival meeting at Owassa and shortly after leaving the church some person driving a horse at rapid speed ran into him, throwing him violently to the ground and very painfully injuring him.”

In the Aug. 11, 1915 edition of The Courant, Salter reported that “John Salter and Robert Watkins were hanged in the county jail on Friday morning about 11 o’clock.

“The two condemned men showed the most remarkable nerve from the time of their conviction until they each stepped upon the gallows; not seeming to fear death.

“Watkins was first to mount the scaffold and this he did with steady step. The noose and cap were adjusted, Sheriff Williams pulled the lever and his body shot through space and he was pronounced dead in a few minutes. Salter watched the process without an apparent quiver. He was placed on the scaffold and the same process carried out.

“The bodies were prepared for burial and turned over to relatives and in the afternoon were buried side by side in the same grave.”

Elsewhere in that week’s paper, Salter reported that “Gov. (Charles) Henderson yesterday appointed W.E. Rushing of Atmore, probate judge of Escambia County, to fill the vacancy caused by the death recently of Hon. M.F. Brooks. Mr. Rushing has for some time been mayor of Atmore.”

Subscribers that week also read that “George Foshee and Mrs. Foshee were over from Cohassett Monday. Mr. Foshee intimated that he might bring a wild hog to exhibit at the county fair.”

Salter wrapped up that week by saying that “if every family in the county will bring something to put on exhibition at the county fair we will have a show in Evergreen that will be of interest to everyone who comes to see it.”

In the Aug. 18, 1915 edition of the newspaper, under the headline “Highway Robbery,” it was reported that “L.S. Hyde of Herbert was held up and robbed of $23.50 about two o’clock on Saturday afternoon beyond the home of Mrs. Temple Rutland by two strange men. Mr. Hyde described the men to citizens at Herbert who kept a lookout for them. Early in the night they appeared in the little village and were taken in charge by citizens and held until the arrival of the sheriff, who brought them to jail and lodged a charge of highway robbery against them. They gave their names as Charles Morris and Walter Murphee.”

Salter also reported that week that “the ‘first new bale’ was brought in last week by County Commissioner John F. Salter and brought 10 cents.”

Also that week, “Brown Eyes,” the correspondent from the Effie community, reported that “Edgar Adams, J.T. Bolton, Percy Burnie and Clinton Sanders attended baseball game at Bowles Saturday afternoon.”

Readers that week also learned that “Barlow Hardware Co. is putting in a feed mill to utilize velvet beans and other products in the manufacture of mixed feeds. Evergreen, Andalusia and Georgiana will have similar mills and farmers are assured of a market for their beans and corn.”

Also that week, Salter reported that “Mayor J.M. Thomas of Castleberry was here last week. He is an enthusiastic county fair booster and will have a nice exhibit himself and also from his beat at the fair.”

Salter wrapped up that week by reporting that “The Courant is glad to note the hearty interest being manifested by the people generally in the county fair. A large number of farmers throughout the county are planning an exhibit of some sort.”

In the Aug. 25, 1915 edition of the paper, Salter reported that “the cry of hard times and business depression does not stop the progress of building in Evergreen to any great extent. George and Robert Jones have just had completed a very attractive new home on Salter Street, which is an ornament to that part of town. Work is now in progress for the erection of a handsome residence on Bruner Avenue. The old Orrie Hotel building is being removed to give place for a more pretentious structure. This building is being constructed for the Misses Barfield. Contractor Tate is doing the work one each of these buildings.”

That week’s paper also featured the following advertisement – “Second District Agricultural School, Evergreen, Ala. – The oldest, best equipped, best located high school in this section of the state. Standard and Practical courses of study, also Music and Stenography. Expenses low. Faculty of eight experienced teachers, graduates from two State Universities, one Normal, three Technical Scientific Schools, two Women’s Colleges, Business College and New England Conservatory. Evergreen is the business and geographical center of the district, her people love the school, appreciate your patronage and give you a warm welcome. For catalogue write W.C. Blasingame, President.”

Well, I guess that’s all that space will allow for this month. Next month, I plan to take a look at the events of September 1915 in Conecuh County. Until then, if you get the urge to research the county’s past yourself, take advantage of the Evergreen-Conecuh County Public Library’s excellent selection of old newspapers on microfilm and other resources. The library’s friendly and courteous staff will be more than happy to get you started.

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