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Jim: 100 years ago for Sunday, February 27, 2011

Ripped from the front page of the News. The dastardity of some crimes plaguing Columbia a century ago seems somehow to still prevail. Then, and maybe now, things were kept in perspective. "The town Marshal's attention is called to riding bicycles upon the pavements of this town. There is an ordinance against it, and the law should be enforced. The skating stopped. The city council should see that its laws are obeyed." as the News courageously stated. There was, then, as now, a greater understanding for trivial matters, as when the News reported: As an evidence that Columbia is a quiet, law-abiding town, there has been but one serious difficulty in the corporate limits since the close of the civil war, forty-six years ago. The killing of Cy Watkins by Eli Bailey is the difficulty to which we refer, and that trouble was not brought about by the man who was forced to do the killing. All this plus the Six Alarm School Bell in this thrilling Episode of 100 Years Ago in Adair County! -CM

By "Jim"

The front page of the March 1, 1911 News was nothing short of a cornucopia of information and spicy bits.

The meeting at the Baptist church wasn't to end until that night, but already, "the Church was greatly revived." The Christian Church, not to be outdone, announced a series of meetings to be held beginning the second Sunday of the month, led by "Eld. [John Lincoln] Brandt, a noted evangelist," with song service led by the minister's son-in-law and daughter.


After the meeting broke up, Eld. Brandt's songstress daughter, Virginia Berg, was quoted as saying "The hack ride from Campbellsville over here caused me to think that Columbia was an out of the way place..." However, she went on to state, in a most Lake Wobegone-ish way,

[Y]ou have a city and your people have city ways. I have never been in a community where I found more intelligence. Every body is educated, even the small boys and girls. You have miles of concrete [sidewalks] and the large majority of homes are beautiful and attractive, and the hospitality of the residents is unexcelled. I just tell you I am in love with Columbia, and my husband and father are with me in this expression.

Well, anyway.

The Baptists, not to be outdone by the Christians, reported they planned to put up a new church building. As stated in a later edition of the News, "Two Baptist churches have been erected in the town, and the one soon will be razed and the third, a handsome brick, will be erected on the same site." However, not until the spring of 1913 was the old building demolished; the new structure wasn't ready for use until the fall of 1914; and the dedicatory service was delayed until Sunday, August 22, 1915.

The November 19, 1913 edition of the paper carried this account of the placement of the cornerstone:

Last Thursday afternoon at 3:30 o'clock, the corner stone of the Baptist church, now in course of construction, was laid with imposing ceremonies.The pastor, Rev. O.P. Bush, took the lead, giving a short history of the laying of corner stones. He was followed by Eld. Z.T. Williams, of the Christian church, Rev. J.S. Chandler of the Methodist Church and Rev. Frederick Hamilton, pastor of the Presbyterian church. All the ministers spoke impressively of the time honored custom.

Mr. C.S. Harris followed the speakers and read a short history of the work of the Baptist Church in Columbia, the building now going up being the third, when completed, on the same site. After the reading of this paper, Rev. Bush enumerated all the articles that would be placed in the vault, the Holy Bible, Church record, the present membership, the Baptist Recorder, the Baptist World, the Russell Creek Baptist, The Adair County News, a few coins, etc., etc. These articles were sealed in a small tin box presented by Horace and Marvin Walker, then placed in the vault, the corner stone being placed by Mr. Lonnie Sims, the brick foreman, and Mr. J.C. Miller, the contractor.

All the denominations in Columbia were represented in listening to the ceremonies, good feeling pervading, and many best wishes were expressed for the continued prosperity of the Baptist people in this town.


In a bit of reverie in which selective memory may have played role, long time News man John Ed Murrell wrote that

As an evidence that Columbia is a quiet, law-abiding town, there has been but one serious difficulty in the corporate limits since the close of the civil war, forty-six years ago. The killing of Cy Watkins by Eli Bailey is the difficulty to which we refer, and that trouble was not brought about by the man who was forced to do the killing.

Yet another tidbit stated that a Mrs. McQueary, of the eastern part of Adair County, had sent to the News office a copy of "the first page of the first paper published in Columbia." This paper, the Columbia Reporter, was dated September 10, 1825 and "was published every Saturday by H. Miller and edited by Robert Bailey."

In other (perhaps more current) news, came an announcement the Graded School was getting quite up-to-date:

The Columbia Graded School has recently installed electric bells in its classrooms which is a convenience but few institutions of this kind enjoy in this part of the state. Prof. A.H. Ballard, electrician, superintended the installation and when a button is pressed six alarms are given.

T.G. Rasner had an eight room dwelling on an acre lot for rent; H.N. Miller had sprung for a new roof for his dwelling-place; Judge H.C. Baker had sold several pieces of property in Russell County the previous week; and Miss Pearl Hindman, the school superintendent, "hereby notifies the teachers that she is ready write checks."

And in closing, this stern admonition to law enforcement concerning the rising tide of desperadoes and scofflaws in Columbia:

The town Marshal's attention is called to riding bicycles upon the pavements of this town. There is an ordinance against it, and the law should be enforced. The skating should also be stopped. The city council should see that its laws are obeyed.

Compiled by yr. humble scribe, "Jim"
Whose latest magnum opus, "Early Cinema in Columbia," is about to be released at an internet magazine near you.


This story was posted on 2011-02-27 07:01:54
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