Thursday, February 2, 2017

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

In the Feb. 7, 1917 edition of The Evergreen Courant, editor and owner George W. Salter Jr. reported that “the body of Mrs. Mary Ella Bowles-Cobb was brought here on Saturday last for interment beside her husband and father and mother. Mrs. Cobb died at her home in Tampa, Fla. on Thursday. She was the daughter of the late General P.D. Bowles and Mrs. Bowles and the widow of the late J.M. Cobb. Deceased is survived by a little daughter and a sister, Mrs. Frank of Tampa.”

Also that week, readers learned that “the home of B.G. Moye near Belleville was destroyed by fire on Monday night. Practically all the contents also went up in smoke. It has not been learned how the fire originated.”

Salter also reported that week that “three of Conecuh’s best known and oldest citizens have passed away within the past few days. Charles G. Albreast of near Castleberry died on Friday, James L. Jones of Melrose on the same date and Jerry P. Matthews Sr. of Castleberry on Sunday. Mr. Albreast was 78, Mr. Jones 73 and Mr. Matthews 85. All of these were excellent citizens and highly esteemed by all who knew them. Their deaths will be greatly deplored by their large number of friends.”

Also that week, it was reported that “tomorrow night, Feb. 8, at 8 p.m. in the chapel of the Agricultural School the Mother’s Club will give an entertainment of living pictures. There will be 40 participants. This entertainment will be very unique and no one should miss seeing it. Benefit City School. Admission 50 cents and 25 cents.”

Salter closed out the week by telling readers that “Judge Dunn presided over the county court for the first time on Monday. Quite a number of cases of minor importance was up before His Honor.”

In the Feb. 14, 1917 edition of The Courant, Salter reported that the “first session of the board of County Commissioners began on Monday and had not adjourned at the hour of going to press. The new body appears to be getting matters well before them.”

Also that week, under the headline “County Divided Into Commissioner’s Districts,” Salter let readers know that “the Court of Commissioners has divided the county into districts with assignments as follows: Commissioner Aarons, Beats 7, 8 and 9; Commissioner Brown, Beat 1, 2, 10 and 14; Commissioner Pritchett, Beats 5, 6, 11 and 12; Commissioner Salter, Beats 3, 4, 13 and 15. Each member of the board is required to look carefully after his district, especially as to roads and bridges.”

It was also reported that week that “the annual meeting of the board of trustees of the Baptist Orphans Home is being held here today. The board as now constituted is composed of 15 members, five of whom are ladies. The full board was present and a harmonious session held.”

Salter also told readers that they would “not recognize the part of Cemetery Avenue from the power house to Park Street when the work now in progress is finished. The improvement will be marked.”

Elsewhere in the paper it was reported that “Judge Zell Gaston, prominent lawyer and well known in this section, died on Sunday following a stroke of paralysis on Saturday. He was for a number of years probate judge of Butler County. He was 50 years old.”

In news from the Bermuda community, the correspondent there reported that they were “glad to know that Miss Etta Wood is again able to take up her studies in the Monroeville high school after losing so much time at home with lagrippe.”

In the Feb. 21, 1917 edition of The Courant, Salter reported that “on Friday night the bard of Mrs. John Dr. Burnett, together with its entire contents, was destroyed by fire. The origin of the fire could not be figured out. Before this barn had burned down, the barn of Mrs. Sampey, in another part of town, was found to be on fire. This last fire was discovered before the flames had gained much headway and was promptly extinguished. It is the belief of many that these fires were started by fire bugs who probably hoped to attract a large crowd from the business section in order to commit robbery.”

Readers that week also learned that “the heaviest rainfall since the memorable July freshet occurred on Saturday afternoon and night, the rain gauge of the local weather observatory registered four inches at seven o’clock on Sunday morning. Two inches fell in as many hours on Saturday afternoon. We learn that the rainfall was heavier on the headwaters of Murder Creek than was recorded here, considerable damage is reported to roads in the county.”

It was also reported that week that “a balloon passed over Evergreen Saturday afternoon and attracted considerable attention. It came from Pensacola and seems to have gotten from the control of those in charge. It is said to have gone to ground near Tyson, a few miles south of Montgomery.”

Salter also remarked that week that “the travel to Mardi Gras from northern points appears heavier than in former years. Many trains have passed through loaded with people. Very few Evergreen folk took in the carnival this time.”

Salter closed out the week by saying that “parties desiring to pay arrears for subscription to The Courant in syrup will bear in mind that we will accept only fresh syrup in new cans. We cannot use it otherwise.”

In the Feb. 28, 1917 edition of The Courant, readers saw the following advertisement - “Saturday, March 3, at Arcade Theatre, children’s day. Mutt and Jeff and Golden Locks and the Three Bears.”

Salter also reported that “Morton Jones has been quite sick for several days and is yet confined to his bed. Morton has presided at the general delivery window of the post office for a number of years and has many friends who hope that his illness will be of short duration.”

Readers that week also learned that “Mrs. Hart, relict of the late Elisha Hart, was found dead in her bed on Sunday afternoon last. It is stated that death resulted from some kind of poison taken with suicidal intent. Deceased with 75 years old. The funeral occurred on Monday at Old Town.”

It was also reported that the “Rev. J.M. Shorter, president of the Downing Industrial School, requests The Courant to state that any member of the Girls Canning Club of this County who desires to enter the school as a student may pay her tuition in canned goods at five cents a dozen above the market price. This offer is made in the interest of deserving girls who are ambitious to obtain an education. Any girls interested in this offer should confer with Mrs. Mary Sturdivant, county agent of Girls Canning Club.”

Also that week, in news from the newspaper’s correspondent in Belleville, it was reported that “there are many longing hearts in our community to see the bright faces of our soldiers again.”

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 March 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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