Not all news stories make the headlines of long-lasting importance. On the other hand, some seemingly inconsequential stories do have an impact on the way will live, a century later. Others had no long term significance, but at the time, they were interesting, curious, or downright fascinating. These are some of those stories which made the news in the year Nineteen and eleven.
The tabulations of the 1910 Census were in. Dublin grew at an unbelievable rate of 94 percent in the first decade of the 20th Century, leading to the horn-tooting moniker, "Dublin - the only city in Georgia that's doublin' all the time." That rate paled in comparison to the 240 percent population increase in the 1890s. Over those two decades, the county seat grew from 863 people to 5,795, for a 572 percent increase. Dublin ended the decade as the 19th largest city in the state. Laurens County, with its 35,501 enumerated residents, was tabulated as the 7th largest county in the state, just a few hundred inhabitants behind Muscogee County.
The year 1911 was one of the most productive, if not the most productive, in the history of Laurens County agriculture. Local farmers produced more than 60,000 bales of cotton, each weighing 500 pounds, for a total of thirty million pounds - a figure which was more than any other county in Georgia that year and more than the yearly crop of Missouri. That record stood for nearly eight decades when machine harvested mega farms in South Georgia topped the mark.
Laurens County corn farmers were also right proud. Messers D.R. Thomas and J.T. Mercer planted twelve acres of prize winning corn. J.E. Smith, Jr. and the Chamber of Commerce pledged to pay a bounty of $1000 to anyone who could match the yield of the men, who produced 1,050 bushels on 9.5 acres in 1910. The reward was never claimed, leading to a local booster's claim that this Laurens County patch was the best in the United States. One indicator of the superlative agricultural productively of the county came when a local hardware company ordered twelve car loads of a popular plow. Eight years before the same firm only purchased on twelve plows. G.W. Kent came to Laurens County in 1896 without a single cent. A decade and a half later, the successful farmer operated a diverse 158-acre, three-mule farm and made a profit of $3,000 without incurring any debt.
Laurens County had the largest corn club in the state with 241 boys and 292 girls enrolled. R.P. Vaughn was right proud of his pig. He even charged folks ten cents a head to come by his house at 302 Jefferson Street to see his highly prized and overly heralded, one-headed pig, which possessed two bodies and eight feet.
The Mingledorffs of Dublin were known locally and across the countryside for their marathon bicycle trips. Frank, George, Claude, and Lambuth Mingledorf took their first ride over to Guyton, Georgia and back. They liked cycling so much that Frank and Claude rode their bicycles to Wilmore, Kentucky where they attended school. In the late spring of 1911, George, Claude and Lambuth set out in a northerly direction and pedaled all the way to Canada and back.
The year was also a prime year in banking circles. The Commercial Bank of Dublin, with a capital stock of $25,000 was chartered by J.M. Page, E.D. White, R.R. Johnson, C.O. Sikes, J.O. Barnes and A.P. Hilton. The Farmers State Bank of Dexter was headed by F.M. Daniel, Jerome Kennedy, John D. Walker, Dr. L.W. Wiggins, H.L. King, W.P. McClelland, Ernest Clarke, C.T. Beacham, Sr., P.A. Ashley, B.F. Wood, and F.L. Hobbs. The Montrose Banking Company, with $25,000 in assets, was founded by C.R. Williams, W.S. Burns, J.H. Rowland, E.J. Garbutt, W.M. Allen, H.E. Butler, Joel A. Smith, Sam Bashinski, W.G. Thompson, H.C. Black, Mrs. O.J. Pierce, E.L. Wade, C.C. Wade and W.R. Cook. A fourth bank, the Bank of Lovett, was incorporated by B.T. Kight, L.J. Manning, Dr. C.H. Manning, C.H. Moorman, A.J. Carter, J.D. Matthews, D.A. Moorman, W.T. Bridges, Mrs. P.M. Johnson, Della Manning, E.J. Smith, R.T. bray, C.W. Mills, J.J. Wyhnn, I.T. Jackson, M.F. Hightower, G.L. Garnto, J.D. Garnto, J.W. Stewart, E.K. Sumner, John B. Haines, A.W. Newson, B.W. Morgan, W.D. Sumner, Wright Sumner, Mrs. E.A. Hall, and C.R. Williams. The fifth and final bank organized in 1911 was the Bank of Rentz, which was founded by T.J. Taylor, H.D. Barron, John D. Walker, J.T. Mercer, J.F. Graham, P.C. Coleman, W.E. Bedingfield, W.A. Bedingfield, and B.O. Rogers.
The first leg of what would become Highway 80 was graded from Turkey Creek to the Wilkinson County line. The eight-mile stretch was part of a 54 mile road said to be one of the finest roads in the state.
Dudley folks had a lot of excitement in the first year of the second decade of the 20th Century. A firebug torched the home of Rev. S.W. Gray and the Dudley Supply Company within two weeks. Dudley lost the dormitory of the Dudley School and the Baptist Church two years before. Excitement of a different kind came on August 10, when gubernatorial candidate Pope Brown spoke to an assembled multitude of three thousand persons who came for car races, music, and barbeque.
Ice cream lovers loved the news the Pepsi-Cola Bottling Work's announced that it was making forty gallons per hour. Aldine Hawkins promised delivery of the company's "Hokey Pokey" ice cream in sanitary churns all over the county in ample time for dinner. Hawkins promised his ice cream would last for days before melting.
Only the second and third brick homes ever built in Dublin were constructed in 1911. J.S. Almond built a two-story brick house between his and J.A. Peacock's on Monroe Street. The house still stands and is a part of the Townsend Brothers Funeral home complex. A.B. Eubanks built Bellevue Avenue's first brick home (1305). The two-story, ten-room house was erected at a cost of $6,000.00 and is the last house on the northern side of Bellevue Avenue as you leave the downtown area.
In what appears to be the first game of basketball ever played, or at least reported to be played, by a Laurens County team, Dublin High's boys traveled to Macon to face the second team of Mercer University. Frank Grier, Currell Daniel, Leon Bush, Edgar Hodges, Sam Daniel and Lee Smith lost 34-3 and returned the following week to see their first win on the outdoor court in Stubbs Park. When players and spectators needed a refreshing drink, all they had to do was to go over to the new artesian well, dug by Thad Bostick. Bostick's pride and joy provided cool, clear water at the rate of 50 gallons per minute. That output didn't count the half-million gallons per day used by city water customers.
For the first decade and a half of electrical service, the City of Dublin acted as the only provider of electrical wiring. That practiced stopped in 1911 when private electricians took over the job of lighting our homes and businesses.
Of the year's most lasting impact was the formation of the Laurens County Baptist Association in November, which is more active in serving the needs of its members and the needy than it ever has been before.
As I complete my fifteenth year of writing "Pieces of Our Past," I want to thank each and every one of you who have enjoyed my writing. My zeal for writing comes from the stories of the outstanding people who call Laurens County and East Central Georgia their home and the hope they will inspire others. And, always remember that our most important history is in our future.