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

Monday, August 19, 2013

THIRTEEN DOG DAYS IN '13

Reading old newspapers are a passion of mine.  You never know what kind of story you might come across.  The first thirteen days of August 1913 revealed several interesting stories about Dublin and Laurens County in the first thirteen days of August a century ago.

THE ONLY GOOD SNAKE IS A DEAD SNAKE - W.L. Moye and N.T. Gay were out to catch a mess of fish in the cool waters of Land Branch in the early days of August a century ago, when they saw a rather large snake, which they promptly killed.  Just as the first snake had stopped writhing in pain, the men spotted a second serpent, almost the length of a human being.  It too met a similar fate.

What the duo saw next was nothing short of amazing.  First one and then another snake, slithered out of a den.  Forty foot-long snakes emerged.  When the slaughter ceased, Moye and Gay counted the dead at forty-two, a massacre any snake hater would savor. Augusta Chronicle, August 10, 1913.

August 7, 1913 was another hot day in Dublin.  Harry and John Stanley, sons of Georgia Commissioner of Commerce and Labor Hal M. Stanley,  were out rabbit hunting in the fields and woods north of Bellevue Avenue.  The boys had been visiting their aunt and uncle while their parents were on vacation in New York. Harry noticed a bad looking thunder cloud coming up from the west and ran back to the home of his aunt, Mrs. William  Pritchett, He reached shelter just before the bottom dropped out.   Thirteen-year-old John stayed looking to bag one more rabbit.  After the torrent  diminished to a drizzle, a man stopped by the Pritchett’s home to report that he had found a dead body in the field north of the house.

As Pritchett and the man approached the body, they noticed a couple of hunting dogs standing guard over John’s motionless body.  Harry, who followed a short distance behind, went into shock when he saw that his brother was dead.  An examination of the body revealed little, if any, outward evidence of a lightning strike.   A single small spot was burned into the back of his neck.  His internal organs, however, were so twisted and disfigured that embalming became impossible.  Owing to that fact, the body had to be buried immediately in the family plot in Northview Cemetery, while his grieving parents made their way back home to Dublin to comfort their grieving son.  Macon Telegraph, August 9, 1913.

THREE FOR THE MONEY - J.M. Finn, Dublin’s Premier Citizen, never considered himself much of a planter.  Finn came to Dublin as a banker.  In his first twenty years in the city, Finn skyrocketed up the ladder of success to become the Emerald City’s most successful and respected business leaders.

It was in the summer of 1913 when Finn decided to try his hand at forming.  He thought he would start with an eight-acre corn field where he would plant peas later in the summer.  To ensure a good stand of corn, Finn saturated the ground with a coat of cotton seed fertilizer.  As the corn stalks were rising up, cotton plants were already thriving.  The farm hands left the “white gold” plants growing beside the corn.   Peas were also planted  at the same time.  By August 1, 1913, all three crops were flourishing in the same field.  Augusta Chronicle, August 4, 1913.

ALL POLITICS ARE LOCAL - It is known fact that all politics are local.  That maxim was never more true than when it came time for the appointment of the postmaster in cities and towns in the country.  From 1897 to 1913, the position of Postmaster of the Post Office in Dublin was left to the discretion of a Republican president.  The 1912 election of Democrat Woodrow Wilson changed everything.

The nomination of Vivian L. Stanley as Postmaster brought about controversy, not from Republicans, who virtually were nonexistent in Georgia, but within the Democratic Party itself.  Stanley, who had not been a fervent supporter of Wilson, was seen as an offensive choice by some  powerful Laurens County politicos.   More than three months elapsed after Danville, Georgia Congressman Dudley M. Hughes submitted Stanley’s name to President Wilson.

Turns out, Stanley was an obvious choice.  He was a popular newspaper man.   He was politically connected, his brother, Hal Stanley, had just been elected as Georgia’s first Commissioner of Labor.  Stanley would go on to a long career in public service, including a long term as a Georgia Prison Commissioner. Macon Telegraph, August 13, 2013.

SEE NO EVIL, HEAR NO EVIL, SPEAK NO EVIL - It is quite hard to believe, considering the depiction of all types of human behavior and misbehavior in movies in 2013, to realize that in the first half of August a century ago, Dublin’s City Council was finalizing plans to put a lid on immoral plays and movies in the city.  J.E. Burch, J.M. Finn, and A. J. Toole were appointed as the Board of Censors to police the increasing debauchery and sinful performances which were thought to be on the way with the opening of the Bertha Theater in October.  Augusta Chronicle, August 24, 1913.

THE FIRST BALE - In the days when cotton was king in the South, one of the most exciting times was when the first bale of cotton was brought into the gin.  Farmers, bankers and all citizens looked forward in anticipation of the initial prices offered for the South’s greatest cash crop.  J.F. Petway, who lived at the far southwestern end of the county between Cadwell and the Dodge County line won the honors on July 31,  1913.  Petway’s bale, weighing 346 pounds and bringing 18 cents a pound, was taken to the Georgia Warehouse and Compress Company, eleven days earlier than the year before and setting the mark for one of the earliest bales ever. Petway won the honor of shipping the first bale to Macon in 1912.  The honor of the first bale in Georgia  on July 30 was a bale produced in Dougherty County.  The Laurens County was the first to be sold in the Augusta Cotton Exchange

The year 1913 would be another good year for Laurens County as she led the state in cotton with more than 52,000 bales, setting the mark for the county’s highest cotton crop.  The all time best county crop and state record of more than 60,000 bales was ginned in 1911.  After 1913, cotton crops across the South began to feel the wrath of the boll weevil bringing a time of economic turmoil which would last all the way until World War II.   Macon Telegraph, Aug. 1, 1913.

HOW DARE THEY?  Times change.  They always will.  Today with rampant trafficking in illegal substances.  Folks in Dublin were shocked when a couple of men who  sold aboard the trains ( they called them news-butchers in the day) were arrested for selling Coca Cola and cigarettes aboard a Macon, Dublin and Savannah train on a Sunday.   Macon Telegraph, August 9, 1913.  

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