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JIM: Odd bits of news, December 1905
The hottest conversational topic was "fer and agin" notion of new-fangled furnaces in churches, even at early adopter Columbia Christian Church, then - maybe even yet - in the vanguard of the times. That was front page news 100 years ago in Columbia. Within the weekly paper, there was a revelation of causes of deaths in Gradyville, KY, in the miscellaneous category, was "general prostration," which hardly registered against 145 deaths due to the leading killer of the day, consumption. Huge news was the declaration by Esto, a righteous angle in the sacred triangle of Sano, Ono, and Esto, that the city of Esto was the capitol of Russell County. For these and divers other matters of import, click the headline for one generous read of this great page out of history.
The December 13, 1905 edition of the News carried precious little of the commodity named in its masthead. In Columbia, the warmest item concerned the furnace newly installed in the Christian Church. The paper duly noted that some members of the congregation were still "agin" it but went on to observe,"The hot air proposition will probably extend to other churches in town..."
With leaps of progress made in the recent establishment of an electric plant (already in upgrade mode) in Columbia and the roaring success of the two-year-old Lindsey Wilson Training School, the News fixed it editorial sights on a water works for Columbia, and the opinion piece in this edition burned so hot it reeked of brimstone. At one point it thundered, in a hard-core appeal to business interests,
"[Fire] Insurance rates have almost reached the prohibitive point and in fact quite a number of business houses are not insured, simply because the rate is so high as to be a tremendous tax. The business portion of Columbia may be wiped from the map at any time. A little blaze on a windy day would soon pass beyond the bucket power and leave a heap of ashes only, to show our folly."
(These words proved eerily prophetic a few years later, with the Great Conflagration on the Square in September, 1921.)
However, viewed through the lens of time, the two most interesting pieces appeared in the Esto and Gradyville newsletters. In the former, the correspondent intimated that his (or her) community stood poised to surpass the county seat of Russell on several fronts:
"Our little village is quite a hustling place. Mr. W.A. Helms, our efficient blacksmith, is running a blacksmith shop, machine repair shop, grist mill, hardware store, and saw mill. At present there is quite a number of logs being hauled. We also have a dry goods store, church, schoolhouse and four preachers."
(Without a doubt, the citizenry of Esto would have stood foursquare together, staged a coup d'etat, and declared their village the capitol city of Russell County had not Mr. Helm soon thereafter deserted ranks and taken permanent abode on Jamestown Hill in the suburbs of Columbia.)
From Gradyville came one of the more bizarre bits of information ever carried in that newsletter. William A. Wilmore reported he recently had "called on our efficient undertaker, Mr. Henry C. Walker one day last week and requested him to give a statement of the deaths and the different kinds of diseases that take our people..."
Mr. Walker acquiesced to his friend's request, stating that over the years he had provided four hundred and fifty coffins and caskets, then gave a breakdown of how many in the Gradyville section had died from the various causes. The top ten (and the number who passed from each) were as follows:
- Consumption, 145
This story was posted on 2015-12-14 05:49:49
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Jim: Big doin's in Columbia, mid-May, 1915
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