Thursday, March 3, 2016

100-year-old news highlights from The Conecuh Record from March 1916

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 March 1916.

In the March 2, 1916 edition of The Conecuh Record, editor J. C. Whitcomb reported that “R. Millsap Jr. left on No. 4 yesterday afternoon for St. Louis for the purpose of purchasing a carload of mules and horses, which he will be able to sell at prices to conform with prevailing conditions. This stock will reach Evergreen the first of the week.”

Also that week, readers learned that “Dr. Sanders of Troy, candidate for Congress, spoke at the court house Wednesday night,” and that “Judge Thames of Brooklyn has withdrawn from the race for Probate Judge.”

In news from the Finklea community that week, it was reported that “the public highway is being graded through here. They are also working on the Monroe and Conecuh side. Everywhere you can see road work going on.” The Finklea correspondent also reported that “Miss Hattie Green Brantley of Burnt Corn is teaching school at Ramah.”

Whitcomb also reported that “Dr. J.G. Dickinson preached to a fairly good congregation morning and evening at the Evergreen Baptist Church last Sunday. At the close of the morning service, a liberal collection was taken up for ministerial education.”

Readers that week also learned that “Dr. Chapman of Mobile is visiting here this week” and that “Mrs. J.C. Cheney arrived here Saturday. Capt. and Mrs. Cheney are domiciled in Mrs. Thomason’s house.”

In the March 9, 1916 edition of The Record, readers learned that “Mr. W.S. Crosby, one of Conecuh’s oldest citizens, died last Saturday morning after an illness of several weeks. Mr. Crosby was about 75 years of age. He served in the Confederate army during the war between the states. Funeral services were held Sunday morning.”

It was also reported that week that “the quarterly meeting of Camp Wm. Lee No. 338 United Confederate Veterans will be held at the courthouse of Conecuh County at 10 o’clock a.m. Sat., April 1, 1916. Delegates to be elected to the General Reunion at Birmingham, Ala. on May 16, 17 and 18. All veterans are urged to attend. By order of G.R. Boulware, Commandant; M.B. Salter, Sergeant Major.”

Whitcomb also reported that “County court was in session here Monday,” and that “County commissioners were in session Tuesday.”

Readers that week also learned that “F.N. Amos of the Amos Mercantile Co. Brooklyn was a business visitor here Tuesday,” and that “M.A. Travis is running a saw mill at Owassa.”

Whitcomb also reported that “bankers in the states of Alabama, Florida and Louisiana closed Tuesday in observance of Mardi Gras which is being held in the three states mentioned.”

Readers that week also learned that the “field day at the Agricultural School last week was a success in every particular, and Prof. Lewis is due much credit for the manner in which he conducted the exercises.”

Whitcomb closed that week by letting readers know that the “Rev. S.P. Lindsey occupied the pulpit at the Brooklyn Church last Sunday morning and was met by a good congregation.”

In the March 16, 1916 edition of The Record, Whitcomb reported that “the L.D. King Lumber Co. is shipping several carloads of lumber to Nova Scotia this week.”

Readers that week also learned that “the Boosters Club Chautauqua will give three big entertainments at the courthouse April 4th, 5th and 6th. Adult season tickets $1.50, children $1. These entertainments are high class in every respect.”

That week’s paper also included the following announcement – “Board of Education: The following qualified electors announce as candidates for Members of the Board of Education for Conecuh County: Dr. R.T. Holland, Castleberry; Dr. E.L. Kelley, Repton; Dr. W.A. Blair, Herbert; T.A. Jones, Rt. 1, Garland; E.J. McCreary, Evergreen; Geo. M. Harper, Herbert; Luke J. Mixon, Evergreen; S.B. Sanders, Brooklyn.”

That week’s paper also included a couple of political announcements.

“Mr. Hugh S. Hagood’s announcement for Tax Assessor appears in this issue of The Record. Mr. Hagood’s education peculiarly fits him for the position he seeks, being a civil engineer. He has been County Surveyor for a number of years and is familiar with county lands of every character.”

Elsewhere in that week’s paper, readers read that “Mr. N.T. Aarons announces his candidacy for Member of the Board of Revenue from the Third District in this issue. Mr. Aarons is one of the substantial farmers of Old Town Beat and is well qualified for member of the board of revenue. He was one of the county registrars originally appointed under the provisions of constitutional convention of 1901, which position he held continuously until the board was reduced to one man by the last legislature.”

The big news in the March 23, 1916 edition of The Record was all about an unusual train accident. Under that headline “Railroad Bridge Burns,” it was reported that “about one o’clock last Friday afternoon the long railroad bridge spanning Sepulga River on the L&N Railroad, just north of Wilcox, caught fire and before the flames could be gotten under control 196 feet of the structure had been consumed, completely blocking traffic until 10 o’clock Sunday night.

A northbound freight train ran onto the burning bridge and the engine and four cars were caught in the fire, which consumed the cars and their contents and the engine was dropped to the ground below.
In an incredible short time, the entire bridge building force of the M&M division and several gangs of bridge men from other divisions, together with track forces, were rushed to the scene with large quantities of piling and bridge timbers and before the fire had cooled the work of constructing a new trestle was started.

Our townsman H.L. Tucker, who is Supervisor of Bridges and Buildings on this division, had entire charge of the reconstruction work and directed the work in such a manner that trains were running 24 hours earlier than the most conservative estimate that it could be done. When it comes to bridge building, the L&N must hand the “big bouquet” to Mr. Tucker and his able forces.

Mr. J.W. McFarland, extra gang foreman, narrowly escaped death when he was struck on the head with a piece of timber being handled by the pile driver.

It was very fortunate that that fast passenger train No. 1 was running 10 minutes late. If it had been on time the freight train could have waited for it at Wilcox and the fast train with its human freight would have gone into the burning bridge. A number of our most prominent citizens were on No. 1, and they are all thanking Providence that the train was late.”

In the March 30, 1916 edition of The Record, Whitcomb reported that “a terrifying rainstorm last Saturday night resulted in the destruction of several mill dams, the outlets to which are tributaries to Murder Creek. When the contents of these mill ponds reached the creek, together with the great rise caused by the heavy rains, it swept away road fills and bridges like chaff. The Conecuh Naval Stores Co. and the Alger-Sullivan Lumber Co. sustained very expensive damages.”

Elsewhere in the paper it was reported that “high water prevented Rev. H.S. Ellisor from filling his appointment in the Kindig neighborhood last Sunday afternoon.”

Readers that week also learned that “Dr. W.B. Sanders of Troy, candidate for congress, spent Sunday in Evergreen,” and that “Allen Page, who has been appointed notary public and justice of the peace at Castleberry, was in the city on business Monday.

Whitcomb also reported that week that “4,954 bales of cotton were ginned in this county in 1915, 12,302 bales short of the 1914 crop.”

Readers also learned that “Miss Sarah Luther, principal of the Conecuh County High School at Castleberry, has promised an address to the Chautauqua. This lady is so well and favorably known to our readers that she needs no eulogy at our hands, however, we will say that those who hear her will be edified and entertained.”

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 April 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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