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

Monday, July 16, 2012

HERE COMES THE PRESS


The Weekly Press Association Converges on Dublin


It was another hot July week when 200 or more members and guests of the Georgia Press Association descended on Dublin, Georgia in 1912. It was during that pinnacle year in the growth of Dublin as a major city in Georgia that the "Emerald City" hosted eight state wide gatherings. Laurens County, one of the top seven counties in the state in population and with its central location, the city of Dublin, with all of its railroads and fine amenities was the ideal place to hold a meeting.

It was during the year 1878 when the Dublin Gazette was first published, giving the county its first weekly paper. Over the next quarter of a century, newspapers would come and go. In the year 1912, a year when Dublin and Laurens County had reached the pinnacle of their growth and economic development, Dublin was home to two weeklies, or semi- weeklies, the Dublin Courier and the Laurens Herald. A year later, the two papers would merge to form the Dublin Courier Herald, one of the first dailies outside of a major metropolitan area in Georgia.

The members of the Fourth Estate, as newspapermen were first dubbed by British philosopher, Edmund Burke, came to salute and honor their own and hear the finest and the best speakers, who spoke on a variety of topics relating to the present state of the newspaper business aswell as its future. Any discussion of news, especially in a presidential election year, revolved around politics. The year 1912, which pitted Republicans, Wm. Howard Taft and Theodore Roosevelt, against Democrat, Woodrow Wilson, was no exception.

The participants rolled into town on a special M.D. & S. train on July 15th. Anyone who had a car, remember it was 1912, was invited to meet the 6:00 o'clock p.m. train at the depot to give rides to the out of town guests to their assigned homes around the city. The people of Dublin had done this all before. As they had done in 1899, every factory whistle wailed upon the train's arrival.

Association President, Claud M. Methvin, called the first meeting of the 26th annual convention to order later that evening in the Dublin City School Auditorium. Methvin, editor of the Eastman Times Journal was married to the former Miss Madge Hilburn, of Dublin. Mrs. Methvin became an exceedingly successful editor on her own, earning a place in the Georgia Newspaper Hall of Fame in 1994.

Dublin's perpetually popular Mayor, E.R. Orr, and Judge John S. Adams, one of the many smart legal minds in Dublin, welcomed the guests to Dublin. W.T. Anderson, the legendary editor of the Macon Telegraph and one of the initial inductees into Georgia's newspaper hall of fame responded on behalf of the association.

After J.C. Williams reminisced about the 1899 meeting in Dublin, editor Frank Lawson gave an interesting talk, "From Railroading to Journalism." Lawson, then the editor of the Laurens Herald and later the Dublin Courier-Herald, began his business career as a lowly railroad clerk and ended it as one of the state's most respected editors.

Pleasant A. Stovall, (LEFT) the statesmanlike founder of the Savannah Evening Press and a former editor of the Augusta Chronicle, and an initial 1931 inductee in the Georgia Newspaper of Fame, gave the most highly acclaimed speech of the night. Stovall saluted the small town journalists by advising them to follow the exemplary procedures of the New York World. Just a year after appearing in Dublin, Stovall was appointed by his childhood friend, Woodrow Wilson, as the United States Ambassador to Switzerland, a position in which he served in until the end of World War I.

At the end of the speeches, Mrs. T.H. Smith and Mrs. Holt Skelly sang, accompanied by Miss Mary Hicks on the piano. To conclude the musical presentation, Miss Ruth Oppenheim, of Atlanta, performed several operatic arias.

After a morning session of quote, "interesting" papers, the whole congregation of conventioneers boarded a Wrightsville and Tennille train for a picnic at Idylwild, the railroad's resort on the Big Ohoopee River, southwest of Wrightsville. There they enjoyed a fine barbecue, prepared by experienced Dublin barbecue artists, Peter Twitty, William Tindol and F.C. Tindol, a fish fry and a speech by Cedartown Standard Editor, W.S. Coleman. The originally planned and usual visitor Oconee river boat ride down to Well Springs was canceled when a ban on passengers on freight boats was instituted after the sinking of the Titanic some three months earlier.

After another filling feast, the group returned to Dublin for one final meeting. W.W. Robinson, opened his new hardware store (which became the Ritz Theater two decades later) on West Jackson Street in what was described as "the most brilliant of its kind ever held in the state." In justifying that often quoted praise, W.T. Anderson told the assembled multitude that the affair wasn't equaled by a ten-dollar a plate banquet that he recently attended at the Waldorf Astoria in New York City.

Rev. W.A. Talieferro, of the First Baptist Church, served as the toastmaster of the evening's festivities. R.M. Martin, the head of the newly constituted Chamber of Commerce, spoke of "Hot Air and the Press" in the first toast of the evening. Rev. Talieferro kept every toaster on time (a three minute limit) during the festivities.

Dublin attorney and political afficionado, G.H. Williams, spoke of politics and the press. Peter S. Twitty, Jr., who would later become Mayor of Dublin and Georgia's Game and Fish Commissioner, preached to the choir on the subject of the returns of advertising in the newspaper business. Dublin attorney and future Superior Court Judge and U.S. Congressman, W.W. Larsen, spoke of his experiences as the Governor's Secretary.

Returning to Dublin that week was Ernest Camp, former editor of the Dublin Times, and a 1962 inductee in the state's newspaper Hall of Fame. Possibly present was Nora Lawrence Smith, a 26-year-old native of Dodge County and editor of the Wiregrass Farmer and the Hall of Fame's first female inductee. Attending the convention were; William G. Sutive (Savannah Evening Press - 1942 inductee,) Pleasant T. McCutchen (Franklin News) and Theron Shope (Dalton Citizen,) 1966 inductees, William Shackleford (Oglethorpe Echo-1968 inductee,) Albert S. Hardy (Gainesville News-1956 inductee,) James C. Williams (Greensborough Herald Journal-1944 inductee) and Louis Morris (Hartwell Sun-1956 inductee.)

During a short business meeting on Wednesday morning. C.M. Methvin was reelected as the head of the organization. R.Y. Beckham of the Laurens County Herald was elected as the association's 2nd Vice President.

Hal M. Stanley (LEFT) assumed the role as editor of the Dublin Gazette, Laurens County's first weekly newspaper in 1890. Seven years later, Stanley and brother Vivian joined to establish the Dublin Courier. Hal Stanley involved himself in the inner workings of the Georgia Press Association, serving as its President from 1907 to 1909 and as its executive secretary for three decades, all of this in addition to a mirror role as the Executive Secretary of the Weekly Association. For the last five years of his life, Stanley was honored with the title of Secretary Emeritus. Stanley and Telegraph editor, W.T. Anderson, joined Stovall as the three initial members of the Georgia Newspaper Hall of Fame who were present at the gathering.

After yet another grand meal, the members of the association caught a train for the coast for two days of surf, sun, fun and fishing. But, it was during that showery, somewhat mild July week, a hundred years ago that a baker's dozen of the finest journalists in Georgia history gathered in the Emerald City for three days of fine dining, great speeches and all around fun.







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