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100 Years Ago: Columbia, KY, on the Precipice of Perdition

Introduction:This article is posted in a spirit of community betterment, not to steer things up. If Columbia, KY, tolerates the vices outlined by our spiritual leaders in 1911, what is to become of us next, in 2011? Men wearing short-sleeved shirts? Roller rinks? Beer with pizza? Mixed drinks - the gateway sin to the ultimate evil, Dancing? The late Pete Walker ended the argument for imbibing just a little - the suggestion of moderate (Satan's trick word) use of alcoholic beverages - once and for all. In his tenure as Intermediate Sunday School class teacher, he issued this irrefutable answer, "Can you murder in moderation"? Not a teenage boy in the class could answer that one. Sensing that we had learned that lesson, he would adjourn the session, pronouncing it a good Sunday School lesson, telling us we should adjourn to the G & M Grill and have a Coke, smoke, or play the pinball machine, while warning us we'd have to be back for church services. There was always a stern admonishment, in leaving, that we should step up the stairs in the manner of squirrel hunters, else, he predicted, "Avery (Ashbrook, the SS Superintendent) will catch you on the way out." That was in the 1950s. A lesson never forgotten, by any of us. But the fight never ends to keep this place a righteous. "Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it," to quote or paraphrase George Santanaya. EW

By "Jim"

The Warning Cry: Columbia Saved from the Precipice of Perdition and Pool Room

The following article, penned by local pastor J.R. Crawford, appeared in the Adair County News 100 year ago this week under the headline "The Churches and 1911."

If the spirit of earnestness which characterized the week of Prayer, just observed by union services in the local churches, is carried into the New Year, then there will be a moral and spiritual uplift for Columbia.


Even the worst of weather conditions and the consequent small attendance did not stay the enthusiasm of the leaders. They were as men suddenly awakened to the community's real needs and spoke vigorously, pointedly, sympathetically. They did not hesitate to say that the members of their churches were taking their obligations too lightly; that the officers of the law were too slack in vigilance and enforcement of good order; and that the good citizens and business men were but half awake to the evils that exist and threaten the community.

As proof of these charges, it was submitted that the out-lawed drink traffic is increasing its ravages in our midst with no effective and streanous (sic) effort at its suppression; that "harmless" chance devices that tend to cultivate the gambling evil are encouraged in too many business houses; and that there was a persistent, systematic effort being made to re-establish the public Pool Room.

Then other existing and threatened evils were pointed out as reasons for greater diligence in moral efforts. The speakers were by no means forgetful of the good work already done and the excellent moral position attained by our town, and made grateful mention of the agencies and efforts that have brought about this most desirable condition. It was but the warning cry of the watchmen who beheld the approach of danger.

Never was the sweet fellowship of believers more manifest than at present exists amongst the churches, and never were pastors more eager to point their people toward higher moral and spiritual attainments.

With the united sympathy and co-operation of the working forces the year 1911 will witness a great advance for our churches and in the things that are worth while for our community.

(In early 1911, the pastors of Columbia's four churches were, D.H. Howerton, Baptist; Z.T. Williams, Christian; B.M. Currie, Methodist; and J.R. Crawford, Presbyterian.)


This story was posted on 2011-01-09 08:31:14
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