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Ads from a bygone era offer insight into turn-of-century lifestyle


Looking back one hundred twenty years, ads in the Adair County News in mid-May 1901 reveal a fair amount about life then.

Several area hotels touted their accommodations. The newly renovated Hancock Hotel just off the square on Burkesville Street offered a feed stable for horses as well as meals both for guests and the public at large, the table "supplied with the best the market affords."

Other area lodging accommodations included the recently opened Commercial Hotel (Holt & Vaughan, Props.) and the more established Patterson (J.B. Patterson, Prop.) in Jamestown; the Russell Springs Hotel (Vaughan & Graham, Props.), in Kimble; and the Wilmore Hotel, in Gradyville, W.M. Wilmore, Prop., which offered reasonable rates, a feed stable, and "a first class table."

E.W. Hopewell & Albin Murray, dba Hopewell & Murray, offered "livery, feed, and safe stable" in connection with the Marcum Hotel (exit corner of Greensburg Street and the square), promising "first class rigs with safe drivers furnished day or night -- drummer's rigs a specialty."

Mr. George Lee, proprietor of the Campbellsville Stage Line, gave his assurance of "sound stock, comfortable stage, safe driver [and] courteous attention to passengers." The hack left Columbia at six a.m. sharp Monday through Saturday to make connection with the Campbellsville to Louisville train, and departed Campbellsville for Columbia at 3:20 p.m., "just after arrival of the Louisville train."

J.W. Coffey, blacksmith and woodworker of Columbia, solicited any and all work in his line, stating his prices were right and guaranteeing satisfaction. His competition, Parson, Moss & Co., also of Columbia, offered similar services.

W.F. Jeffries & Son hardware store, on the exit corner of Jamestown Street, carried a complete line of Deering brand binders, twines, mowers, and rakes as well as other lines of cultivators and farm wagons and offered repairs for bridles, saddles, harness, and buggies. As a side hustle, the elder Mr. Jeffries acted as the local agent for Corcoran & Daisy, owners of the Lebanon Marble Works, "manufacturers of dealers in all kinds of marble and granite monuments."

J.W. Jackman, on the square between the Bank of Columbia (then on the corner of Burkesville Street) and the west corner) solicited buyers for the Excelsior corn drill, "The cheapest ever sold in the country. It works to perfection." In addition, Mr. Jackman had "a splendid line" of leather goods -- bridles, harness, and the like.

Wheat & Williams down Montpelier way carried a large stock of general merchandise, along with farming implements such as hay rakes and cultivators.

In Russell County, the venerable J.H. Smith & Co., general merchants of Font Hill, proudly announced the addition of undertaker's goods and would have on hand "for quick notices" a complete line of coffins, "from the finest to the cheapest," with the promise that "A coffin can be trimmed and sent out in only a few hours after notification."

Back in Adair County, Mr. N. Wood, lodging at the Marcum Hotel, kept busy taking orders for hydraulic rams "to throw water from your springs to your houses or barns." Judge James Garnett and James, Jr. (pere et fil), each had ordered one of Mr. Wood's "Rife Automatic Engines" along with the piping necessary to "throw water from the spring to both houses."

W.L. Walker, whose big box store stood next door to J.W. Jackman's establishment, offered dry goods, hosiery, notions ("12\0xBDc/yard New York Camlets"), shoes, groceries (five cents bought five pounds of rice), shoes, clothing, carpets, mattresses, and chairs, among many other shopping choices (wire nails, 3\0xBDc/lb).

Russell & Murrell (better remembered by its later styling, Russell & Co.), Columbia's other big box store then on the entry corner of Burkesville Street, boasted of having "just returned from the market with an immense stock of goods for the summer trade."

Lyon & Turner of Campbellsville, "dealers in fine buggies and carriages," noted they bought by the (train) car load and therefore could sell their merchandise "at short profit."

W.T. Stephens of Elkhorn offered "dry goods, notions, boots, shoes" as well as keeping an abundant stock of clothing and a nice line of millinery on hand.

This story was posted on 2021-05-16 15:51:31
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Wheat & Williams, Montpelier, KY, ca 1901

2021-05-16 - Columbia, KY - Photo courtesy JIM.
In 1871, Cyrus Wheat's son-in-law Z.T. Williams became a partner in Mr. Wheat's general store at Montpelier, and the firm operated as Wheat & Williams. Some twenty years later, Z.T. relinquished day to day involvement to devote his life to full time ministry, but he retained partnership until 1903 when he sold his one-half interest to his son Luther. After Cyrus' death in 1898, his second wife, Ellen Page Coffey Wheat, assumed silent partnership until Luther Williams bought her out about 1906.

The business maintained the Wheat & Williams name until Luther sold the firm in late 1917 or early 1918 in advance of moving to Cave City, a few months short of 50 years after his grandfather Cyrus Wheat's appointment as the Montpelier postmaster.

From the May 15, 1901 issue of the Adair County News.

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