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

Monday, December 31, 2012

1912: IT WAS A VERY GOOD YEAR


If you could go back in time a hundred years ago, you would find the City of Dublin resting on a pinnacle.  The meteoric growth of the stagnant, lawless, village to one of the leading cities of the State of Georgia was nothing less than astonishing, to say the least.

The decision by city leaders to clean out the illegal and the legal sale of alcohol in the city along with the infusion of money and jobs with the location of four railroads converging in the heart of the Emerald City ignited a spark which took Dublin from a population of 200 to a population of nearly 5,000 in twenty-five years.

Ideally suited in the center of the state, Dublin became a favorite location for gathering of state leaders.  During that year,  eight associations held their state conventions in the city. The members of the Al Sihah Mystic Temple of the Shrine, the State  Sunday School Association, the Order of the Eastern Star, the Georgia Banker's Association, the Weekly Press Association, the State Agricultural Society, the Macon Presbytery, and the Hotel Keepers of Georgia gathered in the Emerald City for business meetings and pleasurable activities. 

With an eye on future, there was very little, if any, celebration or mention of centennial of Dublin in 1912.

The crowning jewels of the Emerald City were completed and started in 1912.  In August, the  city's modern post office was opened on East Madison Street.  For the first time ever, the citizens of Dublin had,  in reality, the city's first permanent post office building.  And, what a building it was.  The two-story building was recently renovated by Jeff Davis, IV as a testament to that generation of dreamers and doers who built the city into a crown jewel of Georgia. 

A. Ten Eyck Brown of Atlanta was selected as the architect for the First National Bank building.  He was engaged with Morgan and Dillon and had designed the then new Fulton County Courthouse.  Brown designed many notable bank buildings in the South.  The building featured  a marble front on the first floor with the remaining facade of brick.  The foundation was laid on October 12, 1912.  The work on the six-story building was completed within six months. 

It was also a year of great plans and unrealized dreams.  The Columbian Woodmen of the World planned to erect a four-story office building.  W.W. Robinson proposed to build a two-story opera house next to the Robinson Hardware Company a basement and a café.  A street car line  from the end of Bellevue never materialized. 

Dr. E. New  considered building a seven-story building on the corner of W. Jackson Street and Monroe Street with stores on first  floor, a café on the top floor and apartments in between.  Architect RB McGeckin included a  children's playground and garden on the roof.  

Elks Club members bought a lot for three-story building from the Georgia Warehouse and Compress Company at the southeast corner of East Madison and South Franklin Streets a project which never got off the ground.  

An application for the incorporation of the Jacksonville, McRae and Northern Railroad was filed.  It began at Barrow's Bluff on the Altamaha River and was to run north through McRae and Cedar Grove on to Dublin, giving Dublin a direct route to Jacksonville, Fla.  Future Georgia governor Eugene Talmadge was an incorporator of the failed project. 

One of the most highly contested presidential elections ever took place on November 5, 1912. It was the only time in the history of the country when three presidents, all serving consecutive terms, were on the same presidential ballot.  Woodrow Wilson, formerly of Augusta, easily won the race in Laurens County, with 83% of the vote.  The Bull Moose candidate, Teddy Roosevelt, came in second with 15%.  Republican William Howard Taft, with support from only a handful of blacks who were allowed to vote, finished a distant third.  Eugene Debs, the socialist candidate, received two votes in the Reedy Springs District.  Election results were received over a rented wire in the Elk's Lodge and flashed on the canvas on the front of Baynard's Store by the use of a stereopticon.  

It was a year to celebrate the courage and the bravery of the grand old Army of the South.  Under the auspices of the local chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy, a thirty-five foot, ninety-thousand pound marble statue was erected on the lawn of the Carnegie Library at the intersection of Bellevue Avenue and Academy Avenue.  After a four-year dispute when the statue remained veiled, the monument to the Confederate soldier was dedicated on Confederate Memorial Day in 1912. 

Hundreds of people from Dublin, including the Dublin Brass Band, traveled by rail to Macon to celebrate the National Reunion of the United Confederate Veterans in May.

It was a sad day in the town when one of those Boys in Gray, the universally beloved, Capt. Hardy B. Smith, died in his home on West Gaines Street on December 6.  

Laurens County's industries included a cotton mill, two cotton oil mills, several fertilizer plants, phosphate works, veneering mills, lumber mills, a variety works, an ice factory, brick plants, machine shops, hydraulic stone works, marble works, large buggy and wagon factories, bottling works, a disinfectant and chemical plant, naval stores manufactory, an oil heater plant, wood working plants, a cotton compress  and numerous  cotton gins.

With four banks with a total capital surplus over  than six hundred thousand dollars and deposits well more than a million dollars in the city and thirteen banks in Laurens County carrying over 1 and 1/4 million dollars in deposits, Laurens County became the regional banking center for East Central Georgia. 

Agricultural production dominated the local economy.  For the second year in a row, Laurens County led the state in cotton production.  Despite that fact, the beginning of the end of the county's position as the Queen of Cotton in Georgia would take place in the following years.

The year 1912 was the pinnacle of the explosive growth of Dublin, its surrounding sister towns and the unincorporated countryside.  Nearly a half century would pass before Laurens County would regain it dominant economic position she held in 1912, a century ago.

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