Presented by the Laurens County Historical Society, Dublin, Georgia. For questions and information, please contact Scott B. Thompson, Sr. at dublinhistory@yahoo.com.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

GOD'S ACRE



A Plan for the Man Above

When times are bad in this part of the country, most people turn to God. During the darkest years in the beginning of the Great Depression things were bad, really bad. Even God, or should I say the getting of His message out, needed help to pay the preachers, keep the churches running, and keep students in schools. That's when the Baptist churches of Georgia came up with the idea of God's Acre, a plan to keep going through the darkness and into the light.



The idea for the God's acre plan was cultivated in the late 1920s and first implemented in the early 1930s. The plan of churches and individuals setting aside a small tract of land to cultivate crops for the good of the Lord spread across the state, reaching a pinnacle in 1932. Every Baptist Association across the state implemented its own plan to raise crops for the Lord.

The plan was designed "to dedicate a parcel of land to be planted, cultivated, and harvested for the extension of the Lord's kingdom on earth, the proceeds to be contributed through the local church for the support of both the church and of the Co-0perative Program, which included missionary, benevolent, and educational causes of the denomination," so said James W. Merritt.

In Laurens County, Dr. C. D. Graves, pastor of the First Baptist Church, Dublin, served as chairman of the local effort. Dr. Graves saw the plan as a way of keeping the churches of the Laurens County Baptist Association open during the economic chaos which plagued the entire country.

In an article in the February 18, 1932-edition of the Christian Index, Graves reported that during the winter, organizers solicited thirty-one members of the local association to secure their help for the 1932 crop year. The association also sought out and received commitments from local Baptist women to donate their hens' Sunday eggs to the church.

During the previous year, more than 332 Laurens countians cultivated plots on 165 acres of land and realized a profit of nearly $1300.00. Eggs produced on Sundays were sold by ten church women's groups for nearly $140.00 in profits.

The members of the Rentz, New Bethel, and Mt. Carmel churches took the program a step further. These churches built new sanctuaries with funds raised from their members' gardens. In the case of Mt. Carmel, the members grew crops to raise the money to rebuild their church after it was flattened by a 1929 tornado. The Baptists at Pleasant Hill and Snow Hill remodeled their churches as well. The members of Marie Baptist used their crop money to aid the Baptist Orphanage at Hapeville, Georgia.

From the beginning, the crop of choice planted in God's acres was cotton. M.H. Hogan, improvising and improving on the methods of Captain W.B. Rice - one of the county's foremost farming experts - wrote a pamphlet on improving agricultural production which was distributed to farmers all over the county.

In the fall of 1931, the Laurens Baptist Association asked each church to maintain at least two plots and for individual members to plant their own plots to secure greater profits for the Lord. Especially successful in the fall of 1931 was the cotton grown on the 12-acre plot of Bethlehem Baptist Church.

With early successes in the growing of Irish potatoes, Mrs. H.A. Knight's Sunday school class planted a small half-acre garden in 1930. The following year, the class tripled its plot and harvested 210 bushels of potatoes and a tidy profit of $81.50, an outstanding mark considering a dramatic drop in the price of the staple spuds. It was soon discovered that a crop of late tomatoes could be planted on the same ground after the potatoes were dug. The girls of Jefferson Street Baptist planted an acre of potatoes primarily for the seed, which was highly in demand by local farmers. Experimentation in farming methods increased under the plan. Mrs. Knight's boys planted one acre of lettuce.

In it's annual meeting in 1931, the Baptist Association encouraged more participation in the Sabbath egg program. County Demonstration Agent, J.F. Hart worked with churches to increase production. At Mount Carmel Church, near Dexter, twenty women agreed to save their Sunday eggs for the Lord, while thirty-eight male members agreed to plant a plot of ground. Not to be outdone, a dozen boys and girls agreed to raise a calf or a pig for the Lord.

Over in Dodge County, every church in the rural sections of the county agreed to participate in the plan. The program continued well into the latter part of the 1930s. Members of the Baptist Church in Adrian used their profits to build a parsonage in 1936.

Dr. Graves in promoting the program said, "We are under the severest financial depression - world wide. It may be long drawn out." Graves saw the improved farming methods as a way of helping both the economic and spiritual health of the county.

The beauty of the plan was that it allowed rural churches to raise funds for the church by doing what rural people did best. And, that was farming. In the process, the farmers were introduced to better farming methods which helped them produce and realize a higher profit, when any profit at all was critical to just existing.

At this time of the year when life long farmers and amateur gardeners are preparing their fields and gardens, I urge you to think back eight decades ago when, in times of economic tumult, the people of our county set aside a small part of their lands to benefit the work of the Lord from whom all blessings flow.







Wednesday, March 23, 2011

THE CHAMBER OF COMMERCE


Boosting Dublin & Laurens County for A Century


Once upon a time, just about a century ago, Dublin's people boasted that they came from "Dublin, Georgia - the only town in Georgia that's doublin' all the time." This proud proclamation was a reference to the meteoric rise of the town's population of about 400 in the mid-1880s to become one the state's top ten cities in population in merely a quarter of a century. Right in step, the county's population boomed nearly 400% in forty years. To maintain this unprecedented growth, the city needed just the right person to lead the divergent business interests in the city into a single forward-minded alliance. And, one hundred years ago this week, the Dublin Chamber of Commerce was born.



A decade or so before, when the century turned, the Young Men's Business League was formed to take the city a notch or two up the ladder to metropolitan heights. Dublin was growing, but the community's leaders knew that in order to keep growing, more investments would need to be made, not only in the field of agriculture and agri-business, but advancements in education, culture, and a better quality of life.



A mass meeting of Dublin's leading businessmen was held on the evening of March 23, 1911. The meeting was called to order by banking magnate John M. Williams, who turned over the gavel to Judge J.E. Burch, who acted as chairman of the meeting. E.H. Hyman chastised those present to cease being "tight wads" and join in the movement.



A "who's who" of Dublin's leading businessmen were named to the chamber's first board of directors. The board was composed of R.M. Arnau, D.S. Brandon, John M. Williams, Frank G. Corker, J.M. Finn, C.H. Kittrell, T.W. Hooks, H.M. Stanley, M.V. Mahoney, H.G. Stevens, Leo P. Baum, W.F. Schaufele, R.F. Deese, J.S. Simons, Izzie Bashinski, J.A. Kelley, and F. H. Rowe.





The chamber's directors hired Robert M. Martin, former city editor of the Savannah Press, to coordinate and focus the various business interests in a single direction. Martin set up his office in the New Dublin Hotel in a room which adjoined the lobby.





On the top of the list for economic development projects was the development of modern highways through Dublin. Just two months after the chamber was organized, members set out in cars to scout the best routes to adjoining county seats. With a decent road along the "Old Macon Road" and an acceptable one to Statesboro already in place, road backers were confident that the Macon to Savannah highway would be a sure thing. By the middle of the decade, the chamber was pushing very hard to secure the location of U.S. Highway 80 through the center of town. By the mid 1920s when the highway was the primary east-west highway across the state and the Southeast, chamber officials instituted a project to construct a modern hotel along the route in the center of the city. The city's newest hotel was named the Fred Roberts Hotel in honor the chairman of the committee, who died during its construction.



An early project was the construction of a major power line from Dublin to the Central Georgia Power Company dam and electric plant in Jackson, Georgia. The chamber channeled a lot of efforts into improving navigation along the Oconee River. The chamber worked for an entire decade to establish a "big city" hospital to provide the best medical care available in this section of Georgia.



The first two fund raising projects of the chamber were an auto race in the city and a large bar-b-que at East Lake on the 4th of July.



When the chamber was organized, Laurens County was at the top of the state in the production of cotton. In fact, that year the county set an all time state record which stood until the late 1990s when machine operated mega farms broke the record of 60,000 bales. With the invasion of the deadly boll weevil which destroyed the cotton crops for several years, the chamber worked with farmers in diversifying the crops and to provide information on newer and better methods of improving agricultural production, soil conservation, and marketing strategies.



In the spring of 1914, the city's businessmen gathered in the Bertha Theater to reorganize the chamber of commerce. Those in attendance were entertained with a movie and plenty of locally produced Chero-Cola. At least $8,000.00 in memberships were subscribed. The new organization would be governed by commissioners at large. Izzie Bashinski oversaw the organization, while D.S. Brandon (Business Development,) R.F. Deese (Retail Trade,) R.M. Arnau (Public Affairs,) and W.B. Rice (Agricultural Development) headed the chamber's departments. Charles Caldwell served as secretary for two years until 1916, when he was replaced by former Dublin High School principal N.G. Bartlett, who served until 1922, when he was replaced by W.H. Proctor.



Finally on the evening of November 12, 1914, the Dublin and Laurens County Chamber was organized in Dublin's city hall. Frank G. Corker, president of the 1st National Bank, was elected president. Stephen J. Lord was elected vice president. Con A. Weddington accepted the office of temporary secretary.



In February 1921, the chamber sponsored "The Farmers' Institute" to promote increased production of peanuts, sweet potatoes, livestock and poultry. Other agri-business projects were the location of a grain elevator, creamery, a meat curing plant, poultry clubs, and a dairy institute. Within a decade of the chamber's formation, Laurens County, with leadership from chamber supporters, became one of the leading counties in the state in the production of hogs and poultry.



When women received the right to vote in the early 1920s, the chamber moved forward by inviting all women interested in promoting the local economy to attend a mass meeting in the fall of 1922. For the first time, women were invited to join the organization. The male-dominated organization established at least one committee which would be controlled by the chamber's female members.



This year, the Dublin-Laurens Chamber of Commerce celebrates one hundred years of boosting Dublin and Laurens County. The efforts of thousands of the organization's members over the last century have led to our community to become one of the best places in Georgia to live.

THE MAYOR DID IT


Some Men Need Killing



This "whodunit" had no mystery about it. The Mayor did it. Everybody saw him do it. In the end, it appeared, or at least to the majority of those present, that it needed to be done.



October 22, 1904: It was a cool fall Saturday morning. Lovett town marshal B.T. Kight and Mayor Nathaniel A. Thompson (no relation) had a job to do. In the company of their posse, Thompson and Kight approached one L.G. Barron on a warrant issued for a opprobrious offense alleged to have occurred on Friday. Kite said, "I hate to do this, but I have to place you under arrest." Barron responded, "Alright, we are friends." Barron then asked the marshal if he could post a bond on the charges in the City Court of Dublin. When the mayor refused and required that the defendant face trial Barron screamed, "Keep your d-n-d mouth shut! I'll lose the last drop of my blood before I will be tried there!"



Barron, standing between the wheels of his buggy, pulled a knife, and began to rub it upon one of the wheels. Thompson reached for a pistol and fired a single, but fatal, shot. L.T. Jackson saw the whole thing. He had know that Barron had been threatening the mayor for more than two years, but he didn't consider him to be violent or even dangerous. "I never heard him make any threats against Thompson, but he does talk considerably when he is drinking," Jackson said.



Tom Bray, of Wrightsville, saw it too. "I heard Thompson and Kight talking to Barron, who wasn't doing anything out of the way," Bray recalled. Bray remembered that Thompson told Barron that he must be arrested, whereupon Barron dared the mayor to arrest him. Thompson said, " Throw up your hands!" Barron retorted, "I'll die first!" "I said, throw up your hands," the mayor repeated! Bray didn't hear any cursing by Barron, until he was shot when he told the mayor to go ahead and shoot him in the other side.



Sam Barron, a son of the victim later testified, "My father told Thompson he didn't have anything to do with it and that he'd be d d if there were enough men in Lovett to lock him up."



After the excitement quieted down, Mayor Thompson was himself arrested and ordered to appear before a Magistrate Court to determine if there was probable cause to bind him over to the Superior Court on the charge of murder. Thompson, a well liked former employee of the Central and Wrightsville and Tennille Railroad, hired T.L. Griner and John S. Adams, two of Dublin's most able criminal defense lawyers, in his defense. The State of Georgia brought it its own all-star prosecuting team of John B. Cooper of Macon, John L. Kent of Wrightsville, and W.E. Armistead of Sandersville to prosecute the mayor.

In a commitment hearing in the Laurens County Courthouse on the morning of October 27, twenty-two witnesses were subpoenaed by the state, while prosecutors were ready to call thirty-two for the state's case. Magistrates Thomas D. Smith and John B. Wolfe listened to the testimony of only a few of the state's witnesses from ten o'clock until noon.



After a recess. Benjamin F. Parker, a Lovett merchant, repeated the previous testimony that Barron wanted to give bond, but recalled differently than others present in that Mayor Thompson said that he would have to give bond to the town council. Parker emphatically stated that the Barron's knife, presented by Sam Barron as of the small Barlow type, was not the weapon that the deceased had in his hand at the time of the shooting. Parker recalled that knife was 8 to 9 inches long. He also stated that Barron had at least "two difficulties in Lovett before being arrested and fined." "He cursed out the mayor, council, and town generally," Parker testified. "He was accustomed to bulldozing the town and he was a dangerous man," the Lovett merchant concluded.



G.F. Boatright, Thompson's father-in-law, repeated the generally accepted facts and stated that Barron had a reputation for violence.



E.T. Smith, the former marshal of Lovett, had his share of troubles with Barron. Smith testified at that some time ago he attempted to arrest Barron for being drunk and disorderly in public. "He cursed out the court and Mayor Thompson, and drew back a stool and threatened to kill the mayor if he continued to bother him," Marshal Smith remembered.



One Lovett resident after another took the stand in defense of their mayor. S.F. Glover, H.G. Marchman, C.N. Lovett, J.L. Manning, and J.D. Rawls called the dead man a "bad man." Former mayor E.M. Strange told the court that he had expected to kill Barron because of his bad behavior. E.A. Lovett, son of the town's namesake, testified that he knew that Barron had already purchased a gun to kill another man in town.



Marshall Kight told the magistrates that Barron was drinking and was prepared for trouble. Kight restated prior accounts that the mayor called upon Barron repeatedly to submit to arrest.



At the end of his case, Mayor Thompson made an unsworn statement that outlined his long history of problems with Barron. Thompson recalled that he had attempted to arrest Barron before, but the two had become friends. State witnesses returned to the stand in order to rebut the damaging testimony of many well-respected Lovettites. After grand speeches by Armistead and Adams, the court recessed for supper until 7 o'clock.



T.L. Griner rose to speak in favor of the defendant. Griner attacked the "abandoned heart" and "wreckless character" of the deceased. The defense attorney pointed out to the court that there are always a crowd of bullies who want to overthrow order. In view of all the threats made against his client by the deceased, Griner argued that Barron met his death in a justifiable act of self defense.



Cooper asked the court to disregard Barron's character and look to whether or not his actions deserved being shot. He postulated that if Thompson had let Marshal Kight take the prisoner to jail, that the whole incident could have been avoided.



Just before the midnight hour, after a short deliberation, Magistrates Smith and Wolfe returned to the crowded dimly lit courtroom and announced their ruling attributing the death of L.G. Barron as a justifiable case of self-defense or more aptly, a case of some men just need killing.



Post Script: Nathaniel Thompson returned to his native home of Washington County, where he died on May 1, 1952 at the age of eighty-five.



THIS AND THAT.


Do you remember this?  The building is still there.



                                                Wouldn't you like to own these cars today?




Did you know that the First National Bank of Dublin
had its own currency.  This note is dated 1902 and
was issued by the Federal government to all
national banks around the country.  At that
time, the bank was located on the old F&M
corner on West Jackson and North Roosevelt St.


Tuesday, March 08, 2011

THE SEARCH FOR A GIRL NAMED CLYDE


The Rest of the Story

Joseph E. Smith, Jr. wanted a boy for his second child. He expected his wife to have a second son. So he went ahead and gave him a boy's name, Clyde - just Clyde with no middle name. But Clyde wasn't a boy, Clyde was a girl. In January, I told you about Smith's river boat, The Clyde S., which he named for his daughter. This week, I'll tell you about what happened to Clyde Smith after she left Dublin.

Clyde was born on February 21, 1900 in Dublin. The only daughter one of the city's greatest business leaders, J.E. "Banjo" Smith, Jr., and his wife Caroline Isabella Blackshear, a descendant of General David Blackshear, the progenitor of one of Laurens County's most famous families, Clyde attended the public schools of the city until her graduation from Dublin High School.

Clyde enrolled at Wesleyan College in Macon, where her mother's namesake and grandmother, Isabella Maria Caroline Hamilton Blackshear, became the college's first student in the first institution of higher learning for women in the world.

During her senior year of 1920-21, Clyde received multiple honors from her classmates. She was elected president of the student body. Because of Clyde's involvement in a myriad of school activities, she was chosen by her peers as the college's most popular student. Just as she graduated, the boll weevil came in full force and killed the cotton crop in Laurens County. Clyde had not decided on her life's ambition, but when her father was financially ruined by the failure of his cotton businesses, she turned to teaching. "The boll weevil ruined cotton and that ruined father, and that made a very sorry teacher out of me," Smith remarked.

Clyde Smith graduated from Wesleyan and continued her education at Columbia University in New York. Miss Smith began her teaching career in Dublin. After a short term here, she went to teach in Middleburg, North Carolina at the recommendation of her brother Eldridge. Clyde returned to Dublin to teach for a brief time before she moved to Winter Haven, Florida for a year before once again moving, that time to Bradenton, Florida, where she taught for five years.

Clyde never had her heart in teaching. So, when the librarian at the Bradenton library asked her to substitute during two summers, Clyde decided it was time to change her career to something she liked to do.

After obtaining her Bachelor of Science Degree in Library Science from Emory University, Miss Smith returned to Bradenton, where she accepted the job as head librarian when it became vacant. When the Great Depression became even greater, Clyde was laid off. She returned to Georgia, where she was hired as the Head of the Circulation Department at the Washington Library in Macon. She served from 1930 to 1935. Clyde accepted an offer as the head librarian at the Hattiesburg Library in Mississippi, where she served until 1940. When the library board of the prestigious Olivia Raney Library in Raleigh, North Carolina offered her the position of head librarian, Clyde became the first professional librarian the library board ever hired. Clyde Smith would never have another job.

Clyde's mother came to live with her. They occupied a small apartment in the library building until her mother's death in 1964.

Clyde Smith, who had a sense of history and heritage ingrained in her, sought to build the Raney Library's collection of local history. Realizing the state library with its vast resources of historical materials was located just across the street, Smith began to build her own library's collection of materials on North Carolina history. Smith called for someone to step forward and write a history of Raleigh and Wake County, to meet the growing requests by local school children.

Clyde Smith saw the need for an adult reading room on the library's first floor and not at the top of a flight of steep stairs. She fought for programs to promote the reading of literature. Clyde was the driving force in establishing a bookmobile to carry books to the remotest areas of the county at least once a month. And, what made Clyde Smith enjoy coming to work was her hard-fought successes in expanding the library's facilities and programs to serve a vast number of patrons. Although Clyde Smith performed nearly every task when she first came to the old 0ne-room library, the humble librarian never took credit for her own accomplishments. Instead, she heaped praises on her board and her staff.

Acknowledging that, like most librarians, she did not have the time to read as much as she needed to, Clyde declared that she read mostly fiction works, because those were the kinds of books she was most often asked about. Refusing to give out a list of her favorite books, Smith did rank Gone With The Wind near the top of her favorites.

Miss Smith was known to all patrons as a librarian who enjoyed finding the answers to their questions no matter how unusual the question or what the answer was. Some questions weren't about books at all. Clyde even helped one couple name their newborn baby. She often told people what time it was or even what day of the week it was.

When Clyde Smith retired on New Year's Eve at the end of 1967, she was saluted as a librarian who combined her heart, mind, and spirit with grace, warmth, and eagerness. The Raleigh Times described the library as a "sacrosanct sanctuary where silence was the law and woe be the ambitious teenager who tripped up to the second floor to ask for some flagrant novel." Smith even opened the previously dubbed "naughty book case" to make those controversial books available to appropriate readers. Before Clyde's arrival, children were to be seen and not heard and adults were treated like older children, said Times writer N.D. Styron, who described Clyde Smith as "a breath of fresh air."

Clyde Smith never gave up on fighting for her library and the public's right to use the library to better themselves. Clyde Smith died at her home in Raleigh, North Carolina on August 15, 1983. She never married and is buried beside the parents who gave her the unusual name. The Smiths rest in eternal peace in the Blackshear family plot in Northview Cemetery.

And now you know that this young Dublin girl grew up to become one of the most beloved and respected librarians in the history of the capital city of North Carolina. Not bad for a girl named Clyde.





















Thursday, March 03, 2011

CEDAR GROVE, GEORGIA





Cedar Grove School



Whiteford Lodge, F&AM. Cedar Grove





THE ORPHAN'S CEMETERY, EASTMAN, GEORGIA



In 1887, Albert G. Williamson donated land for a cemetery following the death of his neighbor's infant child.  The cemetery, listed on the on the National Register of Historic Places, is one of the most well kept cemeteries you will ever find.  It is located a couple of miles west of Eastman, just off  the Cochran Highway on Orphan's Cemetery Road.



Williamson, a prominent Dodge County businessman, moved with his five orphaned brothers to Dodge County from their native North Carolina.

In 1912, a mausoleum was erected out of marble, carved by skilled Italian sculptors.  These exquisite sculptures depict Williamson, his wife Martha, and their nephew, Jay Gould Williamson.













Wednesday, March 02, 2011

DUBLIN'S BIG DAY


Here Comes the Train!


Imagine if you will, seven thousand people gathering around the train tracks at the corner of Telfair and Monroe Streets. Where they there to greet the president, a military hero or an exciting circus troop? No, Dubliners and Laurens Countians came by the thousands to see a train filled with exhibits on farming. Yes, I said farming. It was the largest crowd in the history of the Emerald City and they gathered to catch a glimpse of ways to better their lives one hundred years ago today.

The agricultural train had been to Dublin before, back on February 26, 1908. A mere three thousand persons showed up to see the exhibits and attend the lectures of W.A. Worsham and local congressman and agricultural expert, Danville's Dudley M. Hughes, in the Chautauqua auditorium. The "college-on-wheels" was sponsored by the State Agricultural College in Athens. A second annual tour was canceled in 1909 when top educators could not make the necessary arrangements to travel.

The event was again postponed in 1910. The delay allowed the college to make the "education special" even better. The 1911 train was more elaborate and made longer stops, three stops a day for three to four hours at time - depending on the size of the crowds. The train consisted of seven cars. One car featured the most modern examples of farm equipment. Another contained exhibits demonstrating new techniques for improving livestock production. General agricultural and soil exhibits filled two more cars. In towns where no lecture hall was close by, two cars were used for lectures. The last car was a Pullman and was used for sleeping quarters for the cadre of lecturers, teachers, and specialists. The train was under the direction of Dr. A.M. Soule, head of the State Agricultural College, who was aided by Agriculture Commissioner T. G. Hudson and other state officials.

W.A. Worsham, an agricultural chemist of the State Agricultural College, believed that the train would do wonderful work to arouse Georgia farmers. "I think a new era is dawning in Georgia, and the forces at work to arouse agricultural advancement is one of the most important works we have ever attempted," Worsham remarked.

In order to properly prepare for the big event, Dublin mayor L.Q. Stubbs named O.L. Anderson, J.S. Simons, Jr., J.R. Baggett, W.B. Rice, Hal M. Stanley, and J.E. Burch as a committee to oversee the arrangements and to meet the train in Danville. Mayor Stubbs set out to make sure that the crowd would set a local record. Stubbs also believed that the people of Dublin, Laurens County, and surrounding areas would constitute the largest crowd to see the train as it cris-crossed the state.

The main welcoming ceremonies were held in the Opera House, formerly the Chautauqua Auditorium where the event was held before. The site was chosen because the sidings at Telfair and Monroe were best suited to handle the massive multitude of attendees. Stubbs and the committee escorted the college officials to the Opera House where Stubbs issued a formal welcome on behalf of the city. Dr. Soule addressed those lucky enough to have seats in the overflowing auditorium. Soule, in stressing the need to improve farming methods, presented Guy Cochran a certificate honoring Cochran's largest yield of corn on a single acre of land. Cochran, working with the Boy's Corn Club, produced ninety-two bushels of corn on his small plot. Soule pointed out that Cochran, a mere child, produced four to five times the average yield per acre for the area.


Soule commented that the large crowd pointed to the fact that Laurens County farmers were progressive and he had no doubt that the county would mark an epoch in agricultural activity. Also on the dias was state school commissioner, Prof. J.M. Brittian, and Commissioner of Agriculture Thomas G. Hudson, who addressed the crowd on the need to make improvements in all areas of agriculture in the state.

The passage of the train through nearly every railroad depot town in the state was made possible through the cooperation of the state's railroads. The Wrightsville and Tennille established a special rate to insure greater attendance from persons living outside of Dublin.


School officials in the city allowed their seven-hundred students to leave school just prior to lunch to see the exhibits. County school students had the entire day off to accompany their teachers to town.

A.M. Soule's comments on the county's future in agriculture were correct. That same year, county farmers produced more than 60,000 bales of cotton, weighing thirty-million pounds. The production that year set a state record which stood until the latter years of the century when large machines picked cotton on the mega farms of Southeast Georgia. The record that year exceeded the output of all of the farmers in the state of Missouri.

As the dreaded and deadly boll weevil began to infest and destroy a substantial portion of the county's cotton crop, Laurens farmers attempted to diversify by growing more corn and sweet potatoes. Other farmers attempted to expand their livestock, dairy, and poultry operations to keep their farms going. In 1924, more than four thousand farms nearly covered the non-wooded landscape of the county.

Despite the economic hardships of the Great Depression, agriculture continued to be an integral part of the county's economy until the 1970s when high fuel and labor costs, coupled with escalating interest rates brought about a substantial decline in farming in the county. Agricultural programs in the schools and through the Co-Operative Extension Service have continued until the present day. But nothing compared to that day first day in March, one hundred years ago today, when one of every five people in Laurens County came to town to see the "College on Wheels."