Friday, December 4, 2015

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

William Jennings Bryan
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 December 1915.

In the Dec. 1, 1915 edition of The Evergreen Courant, editor and owner George W. Salter Jr. reported that the “Hon. William Jennings Bryan honored Evergreen with his distinguished presence on Friday last and delivered his famous speech, ‘The European War and Its Lessons for Us,’ to a large and thoroughly appreciative audience in the courthouse. The speaker was introduced in a very pleasing manner by Rev. W.T. Ellisor, and for a full hour and a half the great man held the closest attention of his audience. Before leaving, Col. Bryan made a generous donation of $100 to the building fund of the city school, and this of course makes every Evergreen citizen think more of the big-hearted Bryan.”

Also that week, under the headline, “The New Church at Old Town,” it was reported that “on last Sunday afternoon quite a number of our townspeople went out to Old Town to be present at the dedication service at this new church, which is an honor to the good people of this community. The scripture reading and sermon by Rev. J.G. Dickinson was very impressive and appropriate. The singing and music was enjoyed by all.”

Local politics were also heating up that week as “the entry of four gentlemen into the political arena last week has emboldened three others to take a plunge into the political mill pond. The announcements of Hon. J.F. Irwin for probate judge, and John M. Thomas for clerk of the circuit court, and W.S. Dreaden for tax collector, appear elsewhere in this issue.”

In the Dec. 8, 1915 edition of The Courant, it was announced that the “26th annual reunion of the United Confederate Veterans of Camp Capt. Wm. Lee, No. 338, will meet in Evergreen at the courthouse, Jan. 1, 1916. Business: Election of officers for the ensuing year – Commander, Lieut. Commander, Adjutant, Surgeon, Sgt. Major, Chaplain, Historian and appointing of benevolent committee, and collection of camp dues, 10 cents per capita. All veterans who are physically able are required to attend and participate in the meeting.”

Readers that week also learned that the “Rev. W.T. Ellisor left yesterday for Brewton to attend the annual session of the Alabama conference. Mr. Ellisor has served the Evergreen church for the past four years and under the laws of the church cannot be returned, and will be given a new assignment. Evergreen people without regard to denominational lines will part with him and his charming wife with sincere regrets.”

Also that week, it was reported that “Judge J.B. Brown, member of the Court of Appeals, was here yesterday in the interest of his candidacy for re-election, renewing old acquaintances and making new ones. Judge Brown has many friends in Conecuh.”

Salter also reported that week that “J.T. Vann and family removed here last week from Monroeville and are occupying the E.C. Page home on Park Street. They are cordially welcomed as citizens of Evergreen.”
It was also reported that “two more gentlemen this week toss their hats into the political ring. W.C. Relfe and W.S. Oliver each are seeking the office of tax assessor.”

In the Dec. 15, 1915 edition of The Courant, a correspondent from the Owassa community wrote in to say that “there will be a box supper and play, ‘The Haunted Hotel,’ at the Owassa school building, Monday night, Dec. 20. Admission five cents. Come and have a good time. Everybody invited.”

Also that week it was reported that the “Conecuh County Educational Association met at Castleberry on Dec. 4. The meeting was held in the beautiful new high school building. Miss Luther and other members of the faculty gave the teacher a most cordial welcome.”

Readers that week also learned that “two threshing machines in operation here for the past 10 days have attracted considerable interest and attention. Hundreds of bushels of velvet beans have been threshed and bagged up, ready for the market.”

That week’s paper also let readers know that “teachers of the City School are very anxious to thank the disbanded ‘Bachelors Club’ for the donation to the school library of a book case. All the teachers appreciate the gift and the members of the club that used to be may be assured of this fact.”

That week’s paper also included a number of Christmas advertisements like those that follow:

“That Xmas present last year was just fine. It caused her to make googoo eyes at you. Come get another one at Hughes Jewelry Store.

 “My line of Xmas goods is the most complete ever shown here and my prices are right. Crook’s Variety Store, next door to Powell & Son.”

(There is no Dec. 22, 1915 edition of The Courant among the microfilm records at the Conecuh County Library, and in all likelihood, no edition of the newspaper was printed that week due to the Christmas holidays. A century ago, it was customary for some newspapers not to print the week of Christmas.)

In the Dec. 29, 1915 edition of The Courant, it was reported that “F.R. Whittle’s gin, one of the largest in the county, was completely destroyed by fire on Monday night. The fire is believed to have been of incendiary origin. Mr. Whittle was not protected by insurance and his loss is complete.”

Readers that week also learned that the “Rev. H.S. Ellison preached his first sermon at the Methodist church on Sunday morning to an appreciative congregation. The sermon, the prayers and the songs all breathed the Christmas spirit and the service was greatly enjoyed by all. The new preacher at the evening service was greeted by an unusually large congregation, the Baptist people and others joining in the service.”

That week’s paper also included the following note from “Hughes, The Jeweler” – “Happy was this Xmas – that scattered my many presents all over the county. I want to thank my many customers for their patronage. I had the best Xmas trade that I have ever had and sold more goods. I have gained so many new customers and my trade is growing fast. Thank you!”

Salter closed out the year with the following announcement “To Courant Subscribers: Persons indebted to The Courant for subscription are advised that they may pay such indebtedness with velvet beans at the rate of $20 per ton in the hull or $2 per bushel in two-bushel bags, for sound beans. Corn, hay and peanuts will be taken at the market price. Bring them as soon as convenient.”

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 January 1916 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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