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January 1920: A New Decade Dawns in Adair Co.

January one hundred years ago marked the beginning of a remarkable decade, the Roaring Twenties, a ten year span that began with Prohibition, women's suffrage, and the real start of commercial radio (when the November broadcast of the presidential election caught the nation's imagination. The decade also saw the rise of speakeasies, jazz, illegal alcohol (and mobsters trying to get or maintain control of it); the proliferation of automobiles; Amelia Earhart and Charles Lindbergh capturing the attention of the world with their respective transatlantic flights; shingle bobs, knee rouge, and raccoon coats becoming all the rage; and the national economy eventually super-heating and flaming out nine weeks before the start of the 1930s. But meanwhile, back in the Shire, 1920 started quietly and with a sense of optimism.

By JIM

A joint statement from the merchants of Columbia set forth that high wholesale prices notwithstanding, they had enjoyed a prosperous trade during the past twelve months -- that quite possibly "the business of Columbia, was better during the year 1919 than any other year in its history."

Hutchison & Patteson announced plans to build a two-story brick business house on the Square come spring; C.C. Yates informed the public he had opened a grist mill near the S.F. Eubank shop and invited customers to give him a try; and both of Columbia's school began the new year with good openings with more students expected to arrive at each institution over the next several days.

Oil fever raged in nearby Russell and Cumberland counties, and, advised the News, "preparations for driving the bit is being made in Adair County," adding that "geologists, who have been through this section, say there is not a doubt but oil can be found here."


A half-page ad offered Adair Countians the opportunity to cash in on the coming liquid gold boom by investing in the Trico Oil & Refining Co. (John W. Flowers, Treasurer), at one dollar on the share.

The local amateur basketball team, the Columbia Athletics, started the year off hot, on successive nights during the first week of January laying low their Somerset counterpart, the first time 37-14 and the second by a closer but still decisive 22-16. The Columbia players (first names not given) were Lewis, Davis, Hutchison, F. Pickett, Epperson, and Jeffries (substitute).

The News opined that the first order of business for the just-seated Columbia city council should be "to arrange for building a concrete walk from the pike to the Lindsey-Wilson" come spring, pointing out that property owners on the route were "ready to do their part."

Columbia businesswoman Julia Eubank had three "cards" (ads) on the front page, one of which sternly refuted a rumor that had "gained circulation" that she was going out of business. Still, another of the cards hinted a change of some sort was in the making. In it, she called for all who owed her for millinery to come forth and pay at once, as she was "in need of the money for a special purpose."

Keene & Hoy, recent successors to Epperson's grocery stand in Columbia, invited customers old and new to try the selection of "fresh line of all kinds of groceries, fresh meats, etc." available. (James T. Hay, not Hoy, as given in the paper, comprised half the partnership; Clarence E. Keene completed the duo.)

In Gradyville, many of inhabitants therein recently had seen the light. Said Mr. Wilmore, the local correspondent,
"Mr. M.D. Boone, of Louisville, in company with Mr. Fred Myers, of Columbia, made our town one day last week, representing the lighting and cooking plants made by J.B. Colt Co., of New York City, [and] while in our midst, placed their lights in nearly every home in our town. Our people have been in the dark as long as they desire."
(The J.B. Colt Co. sold lighting, heating, cooking, and ironing systems powered by carbide gas. A few days after the Gradyville visit, these same two gentlemen sold seven units in the Milltown section. A short front page article near the beginning of March, stated that since December 1, no fewer than sixty-seven lighting plants had been purchased in the county.)

Up in Cane Valley, the Farmers Bank elected T.T. Tupman as President, John Green Sublett as Vice-President, and D.O. Eubank as cashier. Down Montpelier way, the old year ended peacefully, and in the passing scene there, Misses Lula and Margie Antle spent part of the holidays on the Russell County side of the community, at home for a few days from Berea College.


This story was posted on 2019-12-29 13:57:52
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