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Jim: Big doin's in Columbia, mid-May, 1915

One hundred years ago in Adair County, society and school items dominated the news, politicians were out in earnest, and the dangerous life facing pedestrians had begun - as pedestrians dodged Tin Lizzies

By Jim

Had Marty Stuart been in Columbia about a hundred years ago, no doubt any number of the denizens of the Square would have heard him exclaiming, "Big doin's in town this week, big doin's!"

And big doin's there were, as reported in the May 19, 1915 edition of the Adair County News.

In what had to be the society event of the year, the Rev. Z.T. Williams eloquently spoke the sacred rites of matrimony for a double wedding ceremony on the morning of Wednesday, May 12th. Said the News as prelude to the details, in a prose style befitting the occasion,
"Cupid is always busy, but he has been sending his arrows out swiftly and accurately these latter months, and some of his shafts have made their way to our quiet little inland city, nestling so securely, in these fair foot-hills."

The bride-elects were two of Columbia's best known and best loved belles, life long friends Miss Grace Conover, 19, a daughter of Mr. and Mrs. J.N. Conover, and Miss Mary Myers, also 19, the younger daughter of Mr. and Mrs. W.R. Myers. The grooms were, respectively, Mr. Cecil Ramsey of Monticello and Mr. Herman Barnett of Chicago. The ceremony, held in the splendid residence of Miss Myers' parents on the Campbellsville Pike just off the square, was accented by "decorations in white and green and pink."

The brides-to-be were "pictures of modesty and true loveliness, dressed in strictly tailored suits of Wool poplin, of sand color, with hats and gloves to match and each carrying a bouquet of pink Killarney roses...:" The grooms were "so manly, so handsome in their English morning suits of dark blue mannish serge, with dark grey ties and gloves."

Immediately after the ceremony, the newlyweds departed Columbia via automobile for Lebanon, where they boarded a train to Louisville. From there, the two couples parted ways for their wedding trips, after which Mr. and Mrs. Ramsey would reside in Monticello and Mr. and Mrs. Barnett in Chicago.

Wrote the News in conclusion, "Our little city joins in best wishes for lives full of happiness and prosperity--as God gives happiness and prosperity--for these four young people."

(The Ramseys stayed in Wayne County; Cecil passed in 1946, Grace in 1971. The Barnetts eventually returned to Adair County where Herman died in 1958, Mary in 1980.)


School Year Ends
Over at the Columbia High and Graded, academics came to a close for the summer after a most successful year in which the school enjoyed an average daily attendance of over 200. On Class Night, a standing room only audience crowded into the gymnasium for the activities, including a speech by senior class president Young Todd. In a moment worthy of Lake Woebegone, the News proclaimed his presentation as "far above average for such addresses by those who heard it."

At the commencement service, held in the new Baptist church building (completed in late 1914 but not yet dedicated), the crowd assembled heard speeches by seniors Clay Smith, Arthur Alexander "Rex" Holladay, and Edgar Allen Diddle -- speeches "good enough for college students," according to the paper. In addition, Miss Mary Breeding read a splendid essay of her own composition, and Miss Cary Rosenfield artfully played a piano solo which "brought forth much applause" from the audience.

(The article elsewhere mentioned eight seniors, but named only the six mentioned in the above paragraph. A search of earlier issues of the paper turned up only one other student named as a senior, that being Miss Lettie Dunbar, she having been on the honor roll several weeks earlier.)

The Training School wound up the school year on Monday, May 17th with graduation exercises. The News, with perhaps a grain of hyperbole, solemnly intoned that "Never has a more successful year been recorded for the Lindsey-Wilson Training School..."

Three young women and five young men "received diplomas for work faithfully accomplished in the Training School course." The eight graduates were: Misses Frances Workman, Dexter English, and Ida Hogard; and Messrs. Sam Duvall (late of Cumberland County), Joe Harris (son of News editor C.S. Harris), Guy Stevenson, Joe Hogard (he and Ida being the children of Rev. W.F Hogard, then serving as the Presiding Elder of the Columbia District, M.E.C, S.), and Lawrence (Doodle) Sullivan (of Russell County). Mr. Duvall gave "an excellent oration" titled "Women in Politics," while Miss Workman gave a presentation about "The American Girl."

And too, Misses Alma McFarland of Rowena and Nellie Huffaker of Columbia had completed curriculum requirements for the Certificate of Music, and each gave a well-attended recital as evidence of her training and accomplishment.

On the previous Wednesday evening, as part of the Training School's commencement week activities, five young men of the Arbor Vitae hill vied for the coveted "Lyon Medal" in the Declamatory contest (sponsored by Rev. A.P. Lyon of Elizabethtown), they being Messrs. Cleo Pelly, Guy Stevenson, H.T. Speak, David Vance, and William Hynes. Said the News, "All the declamations were delivered in a strong and satisfactory manner, but the able judges finally decided the medal should be awarded to William Hynes."

(Mr. William S. Hynes, who generally went by his middle name, Strother, was only 15 at the time he won the contest. He finished studies at Lindsey Wilson in 1917, then attended and was graduated from Georgetown College. After completing the fall 1922 term at the University of Kentucky as a law student, he went to Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar and eventually earned from that school both a Bachelor of Arts degree in law and a Bachelor of Civil Law degree and spent much of his long career as a railroad attorney. He had arrived in Columbia toward the end of 1905, shortly after his father, the Rev. W.A. Hynes, was appointed Presiding Elder of the Columbia District.)


Politicians out in earnest
Otherwise, the front page of this edition of the paper was occupied in part by a report for the condition of the First National Bank of Columbia for the period ending May 1st, the resources and liabilities nicely balancing at just short of $202,000. Meanwhile, the politicians, all but one being of the Republican persuasion, were out in force on the Square on Monday the 17th, earnestly stumping for votes in the upcoming primary. Snipped the staunchly Democratic News, "There were too many candidates...for this paper to comment upon the speeches."

On the business scene, the millinery firm of Eubank & Summers offered "great reduction on hats. Shapes that sold for $3.00, [now] $1.50." Bennett & Smith, in an ad that had more import then than now, announced they would "handle ice during the summer at 1 cent a pound."

Those seeking entertainment were urged to plunk down a quarter at Paull Drug Co. in advance or at the venue door (the court house, "no reserved seats") for a ticket to hear the multi-degreed Rev. Frederic A. Hamilton, then a resident of Columbia, deliver a lecture the evening of May 25th on the topic of "The Art of Living Together; And Some Other Matters."


Tin Lizzies take over
And, without a doubt, everyone on the Square -- merchants and miscreants, shoppers and sharpsters, politicians, passers-by and poltroons, lecturers, loafers, and lazy bums alike - kept wary watch, lest a driver, without regard for life or limb, come roaring around the Square in one of the eighteen Tin Lizzies then in possession of Columbia citizens. (Thank goodness that's no longer a worry! Right?)


This story was posted on 2015-05-17 09:09:25
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