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One hundred years ago: first news of the new year, 1916

Happy New Year, Adair County!

By Jim

A century ago, the first edition of the local paper published in the new year very nearly carried more news on the front page than there was space in which to print it.

Clifton Scott had been paying call on his sweetie, Amanda (also known as Mandy Belle) Curry for some time and the young couple (21 and 20, respectively) decided the Christmas season was a good time to begin their life together. Acting in accordance with that belief, they slipped off to Jeffersonville, Indiana, where, on the 28th of December, 1915, the rites of marriage made them as one. The newlyweds arrived back in Columbia about one o'clock Wednesday morning, December 29th, and "about 9 o'clock started for the Rugby section of this county, where they will reside."

A fair amount of business news occupied the columns this edition. An article about native son Melvin A. Traylor claimed a prominent spot above the fold, the greater part of the piece being reprinted from a recent article in the "Chicago Banker" which announced the imminent retirement of Wm. A. Heath as president of the Live Stock Exchange and named Mr. Traylor as his soon-to-be successor. Stated the "Banker," in part:

"Mr. Traylor will be a very young bank president, but he has looked the part to those who know him for quite a while. He has mastered the cattle loan and beef packing problems as few have attempted. He is alert, patient and effective. He has banked his way from Texas to Chicago with as clean and progressive record as any who ever scaled a similarly ambitious ladder." (Mr. Traylor has turned thirty-seven about two months earlier.)

A postscript appended to the article (it isn't clear if it were part of the "Banker" article or if it were added by the News) stated that Mr. and Mrs. Traylor's lives recently had been blessed with the advent of a baby boy, Melvin, Jr. The younger Melvin served admirably in the US Marine Corps during the second world war and earned the Silver Star medal for his valor and heroism. After the war, he returned to his beloved ornithology and gained world renown in that field.

On the business scene closer to home, brothers Ores and Eros Boliver "Cy" Barger announced they had "purchased the splendid stock of groceries, hardware and farm machinery from Reed & Miller" (E.W. Reed and Henry N. Miller) and stated they would "sell on the closest margin, consistent with sound business" and pledged to continue the Reed & Miller tradition of never carrying "shoddy or inferior" merchandise. (The Bargers proved as good as their word and conducted business on the Square just short of thirty-one years before selling the establishment to J.L. Vaughn, Jr., and Warren Shipp in early October, 1946.) The previous week, when the sale drew first mention in the News, the paper noted that former partner-owner H.N. Miller "will continue as manager of the Columbia Telephone Company, and there will be no change in the location of the exchange." Columbia Telephone was housed in the same building as the hardware & grocery store. E.W. Reed, Mr. Miller's brother-in-law and father of Edgar W., died in the spring of 1917.

A few blocks away, the Nell & McCandless (George H. Nell and Walter E. McCandless) Columbia Bottling plant, located on Water Street, had by mutual consent of the owners, sold at public auction on January 3rd, with Mr. McCandless winking in the high bid at eleven hundred dollars. The new sole proprietor immediately announced plans to continue the operation. By the spring of 1916, Edgar Reed had gained half-ownership of Columbia Bottling, and a competitor, the brand new Nell & Son Bottling Plant (George H. and Guy Nell) was up and running. Guy was manager of the new business, as he had been at Nell & McCandless.

A terse note from T.B. Short, general manager of the Rapid Transit Co., put a quietus to the "false statements" that Rapid Transit planned to quit hauling goods to and from Campbellsville. Pointedly penned Mr. Short, "We are incorporated for 99 years and after that time is us, further announcement will be made."

An ad from Tola Walker announced her desire to sell her "entire stock of dry goods," and noted that "The business is being conducted in one of the best business houses which I will rent. The stock is clean, and the purchaser will be given a bargain." Mrs. Walker's husband, well known Columbia businessman Wm. L. Walker, had died about eighteen months earlier. The Walker storehouse, located in part of the space now occupied by the Bank of Columbia building, fell victim to the Great Conflagration of 1921.

On the political front, Columbia native James Garnett, his four-year term as Attorney General of Kentucky just ended, announced he and Louisville attorney A.C. Van Winkle had formed a partnership. Some weeks earlier, "General Garnett decided to quit politics and devote his attention to the practice of his profession." A year or two earlier, he had been boomed as a gubernatorial candidate for 1915.

Will Dohoney, who kept records of such matters, reported that during the year just ended, five Adair County Federal soldiers (names not given) answered the final call to arms, leaving only eighty-five of the aging brothers-in-blue in the county.

A number of other deaths were also reported. On December 28th, a hunting mishap claimed the life of 13-year-old Jo Caldwell of the Portland section. "He was carrying a muzzle-loading shot gun, and in attempting to climb a fence, the hammer of the gun struck something, causing the gun to fire...and he died instantly."

On the first day of the New Year, another shot gun blast, this one in generally peaceful Knifley, claimed the life of a Mr. Taylor. On that ill-fated Saturday, a person with whom Taylor had been having a difficulty walked away from him and entered A. Hovious' store. Mr. Taylor, reported to be under the influence of alcohol, followed, where he "renewed the trouble by cursing...[and] making threats, etc." Mr. Hovious asked Taylor not to raise a ruckus, and Taylor responded first by threatening to throw a heavy object at the storekeeper and then by striking Mr. Hovious in the mouth with his fist. "Taylor continued to use abusive language, and remarked: 'No d--n man can put me out of this store.'" By this time, Mr. Hovious had stepped behind the counter, and "At this juncture Hovious reached for his gun, a single barrel shot gun, and fired at Taylor, the contents taking effect in Taylor's right shoulder and left breast. Despite best efforts by the physicians who attended, Taylor died about eight o'clock that night. The next day, Hovious arrived in Columbia before noon and surrendered himself to authorities. In an examining trial held before Judge G.T. Herriford on Tuesday, January 4th, several witnesses were introduced by the State and "four or five" by the defense. "At The conclusion of the testimony Hovious was acquitted, and left at once for his home, at Knifley."

Well, Editor Waggoner has been frantically giving the "cut short!" signal for the last six paragraphs, so several items, including the death of Rev. Perryman, the passing of Solomon Isenberg, the social event of Miss Nonie Conover, and the trial of Pennick Curry, will have to await their telling. However, this brief article in closing:

"The Watch Meeting

"A large crowd of young and old assembled in the High School Gym, last Friday night and remained in session until the Old Year passed out and the New Year came in. There were refreshments and a jolly good time until the hour of separation."

The above-mentioned gymnasium, completed in the early fall of 1914, could seat 200.


This story was posted on 2016-01-01 13:06:59
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