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Columbia: A Happening Place in early September, 1915

Columbia was a happening place a century ago this week.

By Jim

Mr. George W. Lowe, formerly a tonsorist, had closed out, "on account of the illness of his wife,"the shoe store he'd opened on the Square about a year and half earlier. Merchant J.F. Neat offered to buy eggs at sixteen cents on the dozen, cash.

Mrs. George W. Staples had sold her millinery business to Mrs. George F. Stults and Mrs. L.L. "Brud" Eubank, and the two latter-named entrepreneurs, in advance of the upcoming season, already had traveled to Louisville and Cincinnati "where they bought a well-selected stock of the very latest designs" While in Cincinnati they also secured the services of Miss Lula Dersche, "a young lady of delicate taste and large experience in artistic work."

(During this era of expressive headwear for women, milliners purchased separately the hats and the adornments -- feathers, bows, streamers, and the like -- for the hats, as well as ready-to-wears. Women such as Miss Dersche, known as "trimmers," then helped customers select both hat and decorations for the hat and generally assembled the finished product for the customer.)

The Lindsey-Wilson had just opened with "flattering prospects" and with the expectation of students continuing to arrive over a period of several weeks. Noted the newspaper, "The two large brick dormitories are well-furnished, and there is comfortable room for all who will come."

The News also commented on the weather, stating that a review of daily records from May 1st through early September revealed that the average temperature had been 4.6 degrees below normal -- "the coldest summer during the 44 years weather data have been kept in Cincinnati."

Whatever the weather, those attending the revival under way at the Court House received a warm welcome, especially on Sunday night, September 5th, when evangelist F.W. Fall "spoke to a house full...on the subject 'Eternal Hell'." Those of a religious bent no doubt also welcomed the news of another revival to begin at the Columbia Christian Church late in the month, this one conducted by Eld. J.Q. Montgomery, a kinsman of the church's minister, Eld. Z.T. Williams. This was to immediately follow a Rally Day of the church and Sunday School. Columbians with the desire and the means to travel a bit were invited to attend an all day singing at Providence Church on Sunday, September 12th. (I have to wonder if my grandparents, oldest uncles, and mother attended the singing. In September 1915, Uncle Ray had just turned eight, my mother was a few weeks short of her fifth birth, and Uncle Avery was two and a half.)

Meanwhile, the Court House was put to a more secular use on Monday the 6th when a large crowd "gathered to hear the bond proposition discussed" in advance of a special election to be held on Saturday the 11th, the election to determine if Adair Countians were willing to commit themselves financially to a good roads program. The first speaker was the president of the statewide Good Roads Association. He was followed by Mr. J.F. Montgomery, who passionately spoke for an hour against the proposition and "enthused the friends of his side." Next up came Judge W.W. Jones, who spoke in favor of the issue, and last, Rev. J.S. Chandler of the Lindsey-Wilson Training School made "a telling speech" of some fifteen minutes duration, also in favor.

Elsewhere on the front page, the News, long a proponent of better roads in the county, pointedly stated, "Every man who wants to get out of the mud should vote for the issuing of the bonds."

(The No New Taxes contingent carried the day; the bond issue went down in fiery defeat by a greater than two to one margin. It carried in only two of fifteen districts, East and South Columbia; in the Keltner, Pellyton, Roley, and Egypt districts combined, it received only 20 yea votes. The bond, along with the current road taxes, would have provided monies enough make good roads in fairly short order of all six of the "spokes" leading from Columbia to the various county lines and thus to the surrounding county seats, a total of 74 miles. In the next edition of the News, Editor Harris came out swinging, lashing with white-hot fury-sarcasm at those who had adamantly, overwhelmingly held the line at the short-sighted status quo, stating in part that "[T]he citizens living along the various county seat roads were willing and anxious to await their turn under the present system...[and] [i]t is commendable in those living off the county seat roads to show themselves willing to be taxed to build all these 74 miles of county seat roads before a dollar could be expended for them. Such patience and patriotism is rare. We admire their pluck.")

Otherwise, plans were being laid in for the annual Education Day Rally to be held in a few weeks; E.L Feese offered for sale his house and lot, located on the Stanford Pike, not far removed from the L.W.T.S; and nnother residence for sale, this one near the Fairgrounds, offered several amenities -- a two-acre lot, out-buildings, good water, and fruit trees. Those interested were to contact either Sallie Newby or Henry Mullinix.

And finally, W.T. Ottley & wife had been injured the previous Saturday. They were near the high school building, returning from the circus, when the front axle of their loaded surrey broke "and the carryall dropped to the ground." The Ottleys were severely bruised and shaken up, enough so they had been confined to their home since, but the News confidently expressed hope they would out and about in short order.

This story was posted on 2015-09-08 08:54:07
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