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JD Gee: Almost 100 years ago

Of barber shops & black eye peas; mills, marriage, & mercantile firms; cackleberries and concerts; and myriad other things in the News a century ago.
Then, as today, 100 years later there were changes in business ownership, big goings on up on Lindsey Hill, and sports were the talk of the town. New School Books were causing controversy. Moonlight schools were as prevalent as those for GED's are in 2014. Renovation of water systems was headline news as it is today. There was news from Esto in Russell County, and a brilliantly written piece from native son Melvin White.

By JD Gee

The October 14, 1914 edition of the Adair County News, while short on news and long on boiler plate, still had several items of interest.

Smith & Conover's new mill house nearly completed
On the business front, Smith & Conover's new mill house was nearing completion. Located not far off the Square, the three-story building had plenty of room for storing grain, and the soon-to-be installed new machinery held the promise of making it "an up-to-date flouring mill."

Messrs. Neat & Murray opend cash only mercantile firm
On another part of the Square, the Messrs. Neat & Murray had just opened a cash-only mercantile firm next door to the News office. A large ad on an interior page proclaimed, "We will sell for cash; hence we can give you better bargains than a credit store."

Asa Loy buys Mr. George W. Lowe's barber shop; Mr. Lowe opens shoe store
Asa Loy announced he had purchased of George W. Lowe the barber shop former occupied by the latter and stated, "I am prepared to give good service and will appreciate the patronage of the many who have been patronizing this shop." Meanwhile, the aforementioned Mr. Lowe -- former tonsorial artist, former hosteler, early partner and later sole owner of the Parlor Circle Theatre, and cornetist extraordinaire -- changed his mind about leaving Columbia. Instead, he rented the space on the north side of the square currently occupied by Mr. M.C. Winfrey's grocery store. His plans called for immediately wholesaling the stock of groceries and establishing a shoe store, proposing to handle only "the best and up-to-date brands of ladies and gents shoes" with Mrs. Lowe as the sales lady. "An ad will appear in the News later, giving particulars."

School text books, supplies available from Merchants Mr. W.I. Ingram, Mr. Lee Chelf, Mr. J.R. Tutt, and Mr. J.P. Miller
Educational endeavors also claimed a few column-inches. At long last, the textbooks adopted by the state were available for purchase. The merchants handling the textbooks and related school supplies were: Mr. W.I. Ingram, on the Square in Columbia; Mr. Lee Chelf, in Knifley: Mr. J.R. Tutt, in Milltown; and Mr. J.P. Miller, in Crocus. Superintendent of Schools Tobias Huffaker reminded teachers and patrons that state law mandated use of the generally disliked new texts, writing. "I did not make the law or the adoption, but I must be a law-abiding man in my official capacity.

Mrs. W.L. Russell's Moonlight School has 44 enrolled - with 12 of them illiterate
Meanwhile, the moonlight schools - education for adults - were going strong across the county. An impassioned letter from one of the instructors, Mrs. W.L. Russell, graced page five. She wrote, in part:
"I began my first term on Sept. 14th. There were forty-four present, twelve of them being illiterates. The interest increased and there was an average attendance of sixty-one for the term, with twenty-two illiterates enrolled. I received the hearty cooperation of the people of the community...There seems to be quite an educational interest aroused and I don't know when I'll close my Moonlight School."
Waterworks fixtures were going in Chandler Hall at Lindsey Wilson
Up on Lindsey Wilson hill, workmen were busy "putting in waterworks fixtures" in the new boys' dormitory (Chandler Hall) and retrofitting the girls' dorm (Phillips Hall) with the same.

Sparksville String Band entertained at the Courthouse
In other news, two entertainments at the courthouse had come a-cropper. The Sparksville String Band, scheduled to perform on Friday evening, October 9th. Reported the News, however, in a silent rebuke of the road conditions at the time, "It rained during the day and only three of the musicians put in a appearance, and the entertainment was called off..."

Bandy Group gospel concert saved by little girl, seven yeas old
The previous evening, the Bandy Singers, a gospel group, "were greeted by a very fair audience." Said the paper, "The singing of the little girl, seven years old, was appreciated..." but Prof. Bandy, reputably "a very melodious singer," had a off night. Sniffed the News, "[U]pon this occasion he was certainly indisposed, as his singing did not come up to his reputation," then softened the blow by adding, "It is often that a singer's voice is out of commission."

Water witch nails spot to drill for water at new practice location for the Drs. Taylor
The Messrs McFarland & Feese were coming right along on Dr. Taylor's new residence out Burkesville street, the house to be occupied by Dr. Taylor and his son, Dr. James Taylor, "who will come to Columbia to practice their profession." On another Columbia property, the fourth time was the charm for finding water on John Lee Walker's premises. "A water witch named the place to start the drill," and a good stream was hit at a depth of 35 feet.

Judge Herriford joins Mr. Alfred Sneed and Miss Ada Smith in matrimony
On Thursday, October 8th, in the County Clerk's office, Judge Herriford joined in marriage Mr. Alfred Sneed and Miss Ada Smith. Quipped the newspaper, "The father of the boy contributed to Judge Herriford a coin of the realm for starting the enterprise." (The bride and groom were 17 and 19, respectively. Mr. Sneed passed in the summer of 1972, less than three months short of their 58th wedding anniversary. Mrs. Sneed passed in December, 1976.)

From Esto, the word of Mr. Abraham Lincoln Dowell's fine tobacco
In the Esto newsletter, Rev. Thomas Hadley remarked that "Abe Dow" (actually, Abe - Abraham Lincoln - Dowell) had grown the finest crop of tobacco seen in that vicinity in many a year, then added, "It was grown on my grandfather Cook's farm. 40 years ago it was so poor it would not sprout black eye peas."

What drummers were these!
Native son Melvin L. White, a long time resident of the Tar Heel state whose heart never strayed far from the Auld Sod of Adair, in commenting (somewhat circuitously) about the war then raging in Europe, wrote thus:
"The most prolix talkers here [Lattimore, N.C., near Kings Mountain], are the fifteen dollar drummers who visit the crossroads merchants. They know more about war than Napoleon or Bismarck ever knew; can lay out Hamilton, Carnegie or Rockefeller on finance; know more theology than was ever dreamed of by Beecher or Talmage; and have Bryan, Roosevelt, and Wilson skinned on statecraft."
In Basketball: Lindsey Wilson 33. Jamestown 18
To round out the goings-on, Saturday evening October 10th saw the Lindsey Wilson basketball squad handily dispatch the Jamestown quintet in Columbia by a score of 33 to 18. Meanwhile, Rev. J.S. Chandler displayed at the newspaper office a cackleberry nigh onto the size of turkey egg, and the News pronounced it the largest such offering ever viewed by those within eyeshot.

This story was posted on 2014-10-12 11:01:50
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