Thursday, January 5, 2017

100-year-old news highlights from The Evergreen Courant from Jan. 1917

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 January 1917.

In the Jan. 3, 1917 edition of The Evergreen Courant, editor and owner George W. Salter Jr. reported that “Ishman Spears was killed on Saturday night about 10:30 by Deputy Sheriff R.G. Kendall and Night Marshal Conrad Davis, who had him under arrest for being drunk and disorderly. It is stated that Spears discharged his pistol several times near the Robson home and the marshal and deputy were called to take him into custody. He was found near the Episcopal church. After arresting him and starting with him to jail, the deputy and marshal say that the prisoner drew his pistol and snapped it several times in Deputy Kendall’s face, whereupon the officers opened fire and shot him dead, several shots taking effect in his body.”

Readers that week also learned that “the old soldiers held an interesting meeting Monday with a good attendance. The circuit court room being in use, the meeting was held in the Masonic hall. The old officers were re-elected without opposition.”

It was also reported that week that “the pupils of the Conecuh County High School are writing a history of the county. Exceedingly interesting data is being tabulated and put in permanent form for the first time. The first settlers, the first churches and schools and the first county officials are being treated somewhat in detail.”

Salter closed out the week by letting readers know that “there was nearly six inches of rainfall during December and as a consequence the roads in many places are in a sloppy and muddy condition.”

In the Jan. 10, 1917 edition of The Courant, Salter reported that “two more deaths occurred in the military company from this county on the Mexican border last week. They were Jeff Holloway of Belleville and Harry Ellis of Castleberry. Pneumonia was the cause.”

Readers that week also learned that “B. Long, once a citizen of Conecuh County, now of Garland, Butler County, celebrated his 91st birthday Jan. 7. There were 45 relatives present, only 33 being absent, received a large number of presents majority of which was smoking tobacco, which amounted to $9 worth. Smoking is his chief delight. At the noon hour, all gathered around a large table so bountifully supplied with goodies that it could scarcely be missed when we had finished eating. May he live to see many another such day as this, is the wish of his son, John.”

In news from the Castleberry community that week, it was reported that “Preston Castleberry, an optician of Pine Bluff, Ark., visited relatives here during the holidays.”

In the Jan. 17, 1917 edition of The Courant, it was reported that “the newly elected Probate Judge, Hon. S.P. Dunn; Clerk of the Circuit Court, Hon. J.M. Thomas; and the new board of commissioners, Hons. N.T. Aarons, M.J. Brown, E.A. Pritchett and T.M. Salter, on Monday morning formally entered upon the duties of their respective offices, and the old officers, Judge (F.J.) Dean, Clerk (S.L.) Tisdale and commissioners Hudson, Newton, Salter and Salter, retired to private life.”

Readers that week also learned that “Gov. Henderson left on Friday night for Nogales, Ariz. to make a thorough inspection of the military camps of the Alabama brigade.”

It was also reported that week, under the headline “Destructive Fire at Orphanage,” that “shortly after 10 o’clock last night fire destroyed the large concrete building at the Baptist Orphanage together with practically all its contents. How the fire originated is not known and when discovered was beyond control. The building was used for school and chapel purposes and all the books and contents is estimated at $10,000 to $15,000 with only $4,000 insurance.”

Readers that week also learned that “a preacher’s school for this district will be held at Beatrice Jan. 29 to Feb. 9 by a very efficient faculty, Dr. C. Ross Baker, L.L. Gwaltney, Jno. F. Gable and others. The church and pastor especially urge that every preacher attend as you will be entertained free. Write W.L. Skinner, chairman of reception committee, and you will have a home ready for you.”

In the Jan. 24, 1917 edition of The Courant, under the headline “Evergreen Honors Memory of Gentle and Heroic Lee,” it was reported that “Evergreen people paid appropriate tribute to the memory of Robert E. Lee on last Friday afternoon when a representative gathering on her people assembled in the Baptist church for this purpose. It marked the 110th anniversary of the birth of the south’s greatest hero. The meeting was presided over by Mrs. E.C. Page, president of the local chapter United Daughters of the Confederacy, and after appropriate songs by the choir and invocation by Rev. D.W. Haskew, Dr. J.G. Dickinson delivered a splendid address on the life and character of the great man, who through four years of civil strife was the guiding spirit of the armies of what is commonly referred to as ‘The Lost Cause.’ A recitation by Mrs. Ivey of Father Ryan’s poem, ‘Lee’s Sword,’ was much enjoyed.”

Also that week, under the headline “School Student Meets Horrible Death,” readers learned that “Frank Wade, a student in the County High School (at Castleberry), met a horrible death at the depot here (in Evergreen) last night about 10 o’clock.

“Young Wade, in company with a number of other students, came up from Castleberry to witness the basketball game between Evergreen and Fort Deposit, and the party were at the station awaiting the arrival of the regular passenger train when a freight train came along running at high speed and young Wade attempted to board it and was thrown violently beneath it and his body horribly mangled. The gruesome sight was witnessed by nearly all of his companions.

“An undertaker was called and the fragments of the body prepared for burial. The remains will be taken to the home of the parents of the unfortunate youth, Mr. and Mrs. W.N. Wade, near Brooklyn, for burial today. Deceased was about 20 years of age and was highly esteemed in the student body of the high school.”

In the Jan. 31, 1917 edition of The Courant, it was reported that “Lt. R.A. Baird of Castleberry was here for a few hours on Saturday last. He was brought home from Nogales some weeks ago, suffering from pneumonia. His many friends will be glad to learn that he is convalescent.”

Readers that week also learned that “Mayor J.W. Gaston, L.C. Gaston and Lee Stallworth of Repton were here Monday on business.”

It was also reported that week that “County commissioners held an informal meeting Monday to go over some matters relating to their duties in future. The regular session will be held on Feb. 12.”

Readers that week also learned that “I.B. Rutledge, who has served the county for the past several months as engineer and road supervisor, has accepted a similar position at Sumter, S.C. and left on Monday last for that place. Mr. Rutledge has proven to be the most efficient and energetic engineer this county has ever had. He was largely instrumental in introducing the wooden drag for keeping the graded roads in repair and kept constantly in touch with the work, and as a result, where they have been used the roads are as a general rule in excellent shape.”

Salter closed out the month of January with this somber story.

“Conecuh County High School is grieved because of the death of its splendid friend and student, Frank Wade, who lost his life at Evergreen on the night of Jan. 23.

“He was the kind of student and citizen by whom the real strength of a school or community may be measured – eager at play, earnest at work and standing for the right at all times. He worked all last summer, saving his money that he might enter school this session. Now he has entered that heavenly school and has truly begun to live the life eternal.

“On Sunday afternoon, the students and friends of the High School gathered in the auditorium to hold a service in memory of him. Devotional exercises were conducted by Mr. Calloway, pastor of the Baptist church. The Boys Glee Club sang “Now the Day is Over.” Other musical numbers were duets, 

“The Lord is My Shepherd” and “Still, Still with Thee” by Misses Davis and Stallworth.

“Marguerite Page, President of the Worth While Literary Society,” made a beautiful talk on Frank as a society member. Appropriate resolutions were offered by the society and by the school and adopted at the meeting.”

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 February 1917 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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