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

Friday, March 04, 2016

1926: THE IN BETWEEN YEARS

1926: THE IN BETWEEN YEARS


The year 1926 was a year of hope. It was a time when the economy of Dublin and Laurens County was already in and had been in an economic downturn for more than a dozen years.  As the cotton crops began to rebound, way too many African-American tenant farmers were deserting the county in droves, if they had the financial resources to move to the North for better paying jobs and presumably favorable social conditions.

In March of that year, Charles Saunders, of the Macon Telegraph, took a trip to Dublin to write a paid promotional article exalting the agricultural opportunities and industrial advantages for new entrepreneurs.

In those in between years, Laurens County's population was holding steady at nearly 40,000.  It will be noted that the number of residents  would fall in the decades to come and only return to the mid-1920s level during the 1990 Census.  With nearly 510,000 acres and 810 square miles of area, Laurens County was situated near the center of the state and in the center of a 300,000 person trading area.

Dublin's 1926 population, with  an estimated 8,000 persons, was up some ten fold from its 1890 level before the economic boom of the city's first Golden Age began.

Essential to the recovery of the county was the success of the county's four railroads; the Macon, Dublin and Savannah, the Wrightsville & Tennille, the Hawkinsville & Eastman and The Dover Railroads.

More importantly to the local the local economy was the fact that Dublin was located at the intersection of the Dixie Overland Highway (U.S. Highway 80,) the Woodrow Wilson Highway (U.S. Highway 441,) and the Jefferson Davis Highway (U.S. Highway 319.)  Although the vast majority of the county's roads were yet to be paved, plans were already in the works to pave the national and state highways in the coming five to seven years.  A positive, but dwindling resource, was the availability of river transportation.

Every community claims it has an ideal climate.  And, Laurens was no exception with an average temperature of 66.8 degrees.  County residents were extremely proud of their recently established health department, which led the way to reduce the number of infant deaths, keep her citizens healthy and provide preventive measures to keep the birth rate at 10 per thousand above the death rate.  The location of the city of Dublin above artesian acquifers made drinking water here a prime, pure and safe commodity.

With its vast abundance of pine and hardwood timber and its close proximity to the rich deposits of bauxite and kaolin in its neighboring counties, Laurens claimed to be a prime location for new businesses.  Dublin boasted rich deposits of clay which were used for the mass manufacturing of bricks.  Land prices were at a recent low following the coming of the boll weevil and the end of World War I in the recent decade.

The county boasted the finest schools and best churches anywhere in rural Georgia.  Chief among the county's promoters were W.H. Proctor, Chamber of Commerce Secretary and J.F. Hart, Jr., the county's farm agent.  Many in town were proud of the recently organized Lions Club under the leadership of Marshall Chapman and Tom Curry.  Many people got the groceries from small grocers who purchased them from wholesale grocers, Cochran Brothers, organized in 1916, and Alsup Grocery, organized in 1919.  The Cochrans expanded into agricultural related products, gloating over the fact that they were the first business to receive a load of chicken feed in the county.

If the country side and its outlying communities were the center of agriculture, Dublin was the center of industrial, commercial and service businesses.

There were lumber mills, a new half million-dollar pulpwood mill, a veneer mill, as well as a bobbin, shuttle and handle factory.   And, there were numerous saw mills and planing mills in addition to a buggy wheel rim factory and barrel stave factory.  

For nearly three decades, Dublin had generated its own electricity, while county residents still dined and read by lantern and candle light.  Georgia Power's 1925 purchase of Dublin's power plant guaranteed the spread of electricity throughout the county.  Another dozen years would pass until  Rural Electrification began to supply county residents with lights.  Another two dozen more years would pass before electricity was available to all county residents.

Dublin boasted two strong banks, the First National Bank and the Georgia State Banking
Company. Both would fail within the next two years.  There were the usual compliment of stores
and business to serve the needs of the city's citizens.

City boosters were right proud of the city's infrastructure, including her schools, the
Carnagie Library, Stubbs Park, the city's two swimming pools and beautiful tree lined streets
which combined to make the city an ideal place to live with unlimited opportunities for success
for every man.

Among the more successful agri industries was the Empire Cotton Oil Company, which encompassed two and one half blocks.  Marshall - Peacock Chevrolet Company became the first modern car dealership in the city.

Labor sources were adequate to meet the needs of employers, primarily in the agriculture related industry.  The county's main crops were: cotton, corn, oats, sweet potatoes, Irish potatoes, tobacco, melons, sugar cane, wheat, peaches and pecans while farmers raised large numbers of cattle, hogs and poultry.

The diversification measures put in place by farm organizations, the Chamber of Commerce and the Georgia Department of Agriculture's agents kept the county from collapsing when the one major cash crop began to fail after the boll weevil invasion of 1914.

While there was still hope in 1926.  Those faithful wishes came crashing to halt in October 1929 when the Stock Market crashed.    The aftermath of World War II saw a renewed growth in the agricultural and industrial areas of the local community.

Everyone does or should promote their community at all times.  Otherwise, who else would?

So, I leave you with this wise maxim as proclaimed by former Dublin city councilman, Junior Scarboro, who said, "It is a poor frog who won't croak his own pond."

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