Thursday, March 2, 2017

100-year-old news highlights from The Evergreen Courant from March 1917

Capt. Stouten Hubert Dent
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 1917.

In the March 7, 1917 edition of The Evergreen Courant, editor and owner George W. Salter Jr. reported that “the cold wave Sunday and Monday nights played havoc with early vegetables, practically all garden truck being killed. We understand the ground will be replanted as soon as seed can be procured.”

Readers that week also learned that “the Alabama brigade now on duty on the Mexican border will be brought to Montgomery and mustered out about April 20.”

It was also reported that week that “Commissioners court is in session this week, the full board being present. Routine matters are claiming the attention of the court.”

Readers also saw that week that “Mayor and Mrs. Ivey left last week for Hot Springs, Ark. Mr. Ivey returned home yesterday but Mrs. Ivey will remain several days for the benefit of her health.”

Also that week, it was reported that the “Rev. E.A. Dannelly of Montgomery spent a few hours here between trains on Saturday and was cordially greeted by many old friends. He was pastor of the Methodist church here about 15 years ago and has a host of friends who are always glad to see him.”

Salter closed out that week by letting readers know that “on the 28th of February, the grim reaper entered the home of James J. Ray and carried this good man away to his last reward, leaving his devoted wife, Mrs. Georgia Ray, alone and heart broken. There was no better man than Jim Ray, being of an amiable, kind disposition he had the esteem of his neighbors and acquaintances. He was a faithful member of Holly Grove church and had long been one of the most dutiful deacons. Interment took place at Owassa cemetery and the services were beautifully conducted by Brother Munn.”

In the March 14, 1917 edition of The Courant, under the headline “Washington Prepares For Big Reunion,” it was reported that “arrangements (were) in progress for caring for 150,000 visitors to Washington during the week of June 4, when the United Confederate Veterans hold their first reunion north of the Potomac River. Robert N. Harper and Harry F. Cary, in charge of the arrangements in a statement, said the reunion had assumed the character of a national event, voluntary contributions having coming from persons in all parts of the country.”

Readers that week also learned that “this week and next will see the last unit of the National Guard of Alabama homeward bound from Nogales, Arizona. The boys will no doubt be delighted to be with home folks again.”

It was also reported that week that “Gustave F. Mertins, Montgomery attorney and author, was elected a member of the city board of education Friday as the successor of Dr. B.J. Baldwin, resigned. Mr. Mertins received the unanimous vote of the commission. Mr. Mertins was born and reared in Evergreen and his many friends and old schoolmates here are proud to note the honor bestowed upon him by the Montgomery people.”

Salter closed out that week with the following somewhat humorous editorial comment – “Before the advent of the automobile, Evergreen was noted as a horse and buggy town and many citizens vied with each other in possession of the most attractive turnout. It is the auto now and few families in town are without one or more cars. Some predict that in less than 20 years, the airplane craze will be on.”

In the March 21, 1917 edition of The Courant, under the headline “Serious Conflagration Narrowly Averted,” it was reported that “fire broke out in the boiler room at the L.D. King lumber mill at an early morning on Friday morning last, and but for prompt response and effective work of a large number of citizens when the alarm was given, there would have been a very serious conflagration. The fire was extinguished with only slight damage. Had the fire gained sufficient headway it would have been utterly impossible to have saved the King mill plant, and Beaven and Jackson veneer mill and ice factory, all of which are in close proximity. It was a close call.”

Reader that week also saw the following announcement – “Members of Camp Capt. Wm. Lee No. 338 will meet at the courthouse at 10 o’clock a.m., April 2, 1917. All members most urgently requested to meet. Business, election of delegates to the attend the 27th reunion at Washington City, June 4, 1917. (Signed) G.R. Boulware, Commander; T.A. Jones, Adjt.”

It was also reported that week that “Mrs. Howard Gaillard reached home on Saturday last from San Antonio, Texas, where she has been with her husband who is in command of one of the cavalry troops on the border. Capt. Gaillard was expected to entrain with his company yesterday for Montgomery where they will be mustered out the service.”

Salter closed out that week’s paper by letting readers know that “there will be an oyster super at Sanford Furnell’s Saturday night, March 24, for the benefit of the Purnell school. Everyone invited.”

In the March 28, 1917 edition of The Courant, it was also reported that the “Hon. Edwin Marshall Lovelace, one of the leading citizens of Brewton, and known throughout Alabama, died at his home (in Brewton) this morning (March 26) at 6:45 o’clock from an attack of acute indigestion, which came upon his yesterday. Mr. Lovelace served the senatorial district of Baldwin, Escambia and Monroe counties in the legislature. Mr. Lovelace was 65 years of age and had spent nearly all of his life in or near Brewton.”

Readers that week also learned that “Capt. S.H. Dent, one of the best known men in business and political life in Alabama, and noted Confederate leader, died at his home (in Eufaula) today (March 26) after a general breakdown that set in several months ago. He commanded the noted Dent’s battery that took such a leading part in many of the most important engagements of the Civil War.”

It was also reported that week, under the headline “Strawberry Shipping Begun,” that “strawberries in small quantities are being shipped from Castleberry. The prospects, we learn, are encouraging for a splendid yield this season.”

Elsewhere in that week’s paper, it was reported that “Circuit Court will convene on April 9. The sheriff’s force and clerk of the court have been extremely busy for several days getting matters in shape for the court.”

Also that week, it was reported, under the headline, “Alabama Railroads Guarding Bridges,” that “while railway officials decline to affirm or deny the facts, armed guards are on duty at the various railroad bridges over the rivers and high cuts as well as the culverts of the railroads. It is understood action was taken on orders direct from the war department because of certain troop movements over railroads in this section. Fear of unreasonable delays of troops through possible destruction of bridges is given as the reason for employing the guards.”

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 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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