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90 years ago: Roads, Water, the Fair, and a real hotel man

As August made its advent and began the slow march toward summer's end, baseball great Babe Ruth tied one record and set another. Aviation pioneer Amelia Earhart surrendered a chance for victory in the first ever Women's Air Derby to help a fellow aviator and friendly competitor. The van guard of that "rough beast" later called the Great Depression continued its surreptitious slouch toward Wall Street and Main Street -- and the band played on.

But meanwhile, back in The Shire...


Without a doubt, excitement over the upcoming Fair (scheduled for the 13th through the 16th) already danced in the Adair County air that long ago early August. In additional to the sideshows, provided that year by the Ideal Amusement Company, and the usual local attractions -- races, horse shows, agricultural and household exhibitions, and kids' events -- Haag's Might Show, a circus that made an annual stop in Columbia for many years, would give two performances at the fairgrounds the last day. A front page blurb -- possibly a news item, possibly an ad -- stated of the circus in part, "Free parade at noon. Same clowns, same jokes. Do not miss it."

The recent grading of Greensburg Road, the near-completion of same for Burkesville Road, and "the work of surveying the road from this place to the Russell County line,"commenced a few day earlier, brought cheers from the ever-progressive News.

The paper pointed out that with these improvements in transportation, and to an even greater degree once the roads were surfaced, more people than ever would travel to the county seat and "Columbia will take on new life." Already, "The past few Sunday have found numerous people taking advantage of the new roads... A great many visitors from both [Burkesville and Greensburg] may be seen here, and also from Hardin, Warren, Barren, Larue, and other more distant towns."

Still, the News continued, the town needed two things to really thrive: a water system and a good hotel. The latter looked to be the more immediately obtainable goal, as "we are informed that a real hotel man will soon take charge of the Hotel Miller."

At the time that article appeared, Owen Miller, son of hotel owner J.C. Miller, had been manager for a few months. In mid-September, he and Miss Catherine, daughter of Dr. C.M. Russell and his second wife (Angeline, nee Clark), slipped off to Louisville and were married. In late October, the young couple moved to Chicago and by the end of November, King Crenshaw, of Sulphur Well fame and quite possibly the "real hotel man" of whom the News had spoken in August, managed the Hotel Miller.

As far as the water works, that had been a topic of discussion in the Columbia Council the previous week, and a committee of three -- G.R. Reed, A.H. Ballard, and Bruce Montgomery -- appointed to look into the matter. Despite best efforts, however, it was over two years before work on system started, and then the Great Depression stopped progress on at least two occasions. Not until the late spring of 1933 was the Columbia water works finally operational.

At almost exactly the same time, the Hotel Miller reopened after extensive renovations with "every modern convenience" installed, including hot and cold running water in every room -- and "several suites with private baths."

And, in perhaps a bit of fortuitous timing, a new five and dime, the Economy Store, planned to open soon in a building between Campbellsville Street and the Well Walk.

And thus went early August in Adair County, ninety years ago.

This story was posted on 2019-08-04 07:17:11
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Haag's Mighty Show

2019-08-04 - Adair Co., KY - Photo courtesy JIM.
The advertising image for Haag's Mighty Show is from the August 6, 1929 edition of the Adair County News, page 3.

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