1918 - THE WORLD GOES TO WAR
The year 1918 saw the world and Laurens County go to war. Some 50 Laurens Countians gave their lives for the cause of freedom.
The new year started off with Corp. Walter A. Warren (above,) of Dexter, in a base hospital. Warren was one of the first two aviators of the United States wounded in France. The aviator was the first Laurens Countian wounded in active service.
S.J. Hattaway served as the coxswain of the U.S.S. Oklahoma as he piloted the battleship across the treacherous waters of the North Atlantic protecting American and allied ships.
James Braddy, soldier from Dublin, died at Camp Gordon. Cecil Preston Perry, the first man from Laurens County to die in action in World War I. James Mason (left) followed. James Tillman Wyatt was wounded on March 24 on the French Front. In addition to Early Miller, it is said that Wyatt and Howard Blackshear were the first Laurens Countians to enlist in the Army.
Peter S. Twitty, Mayor of Dublin, was appointed to a field clerkship in the Army. Twitty tendered his resignation as Mayor, but the council refused and granted him an indefinite leave of absence. Acting Mayor, Izzie Bashinski, gave his salary to the Red Cross and the Y.M.C.A.
Total war bond sales over $550,000.00. Laurens County is ninth among Georgia counties in war bonds sold and is third in the overscriptions of the quota amount. W.L. Hughes leading the War Savings Stamps sale in the Negro community.
A party of men training in a U.S. Army balloon from Macon passed over Laurens County and landed at the old school grounds in Scott this morning. This is the same balloon which Clem Clements of Dodge County admitted shooting at thinking it was a German balloon. The balloon was named the "Cleveland". See also
The men were given lunch in Scott and brought back to Dublin by S.P. Rice. They waited here for a train back to Macon.
On the home front, African Americans organized two fair associations. The officers for Negro Fair were: President, W.L. Hughes; Secretary, E.L. Hall, Secretary of Board of Directors, J.W. Dent; Mananger and Treasurer, E.D. Newsome. Board of Directors: W.L. Hughes, J.W. Dent, E.L. Hall, W.A. Jenkins, E.J. Newsome, D.F. Kemp, W.T. Wood, Major Thomas, and E.D. Newsome. Fair set for November 4, 1918. Another Negro Fair Association is organized. The Oconee Fair Association is incorporated by J.J. Jenkins, H.T. Jones, T.C. Kinchen, William May, and W.F. Robinson.
Laurens County’s cotton Crop for 1917 was 51,097 bales, second to Burke County with 64,534.
The accomplishments of the rejuvenated Chamber of Commerce in 1918 included: the securing of Dixie Overland Highway, the establishment of Oconee Milling and Grain Company, the organization of the Dublin Stockyards, the initiation of oil mills to use peanuts, the establishment of a sweet potato curing plant and a canning plant, the taking of a food census, the starting of a tick eradication program, and J.H. Beacham’s installation of a 20-ton per day velvet bean mill at his warehouse near the river.
The Southern Exchange Bank and the Commercial Bank merged into the Southern Exchange Bank.
The New York Yankees defeated the Boston Braves on the 12th District Fairgrounds on Telfair Street.
The Chautaugua festival opened on May 7 for three days. It was operated by the Radcliffe Bureau. Programs included food conservation, Red Cross work, and general war work as well as the usual lectures, music, and performers.
John Burke, (left) Treasurer of the United States, spoke at the Bertha Theatre tonight, just a few days before it burned in October 1918. Gov. Hugh Dorsey also spoke at the Bertha Theatre. J.J. Brown, Georgia Commissioner of Agriculture and future U.S. Seantor William J. Harris also spoke here.
A Liberty Loan Demonstration, headlined by William H. Burwell, Speaker of the Georgia House of Representatives, was heald at the courthouse with a crowd of 5,000 in attendance.
Rev. W.N. Ainsworth, (left) former pastor of First Methodist Church, is elected Bishop of the Southern Methodist Church. J.G. Patton accepts call to Henry Memorial Presbyterian Church. Dr. R.L. Baker is new pastor of First Baptist.
Miss Picciola Prescott begab ger duties as the first female postal carrier in Laurens County.
Laurens countians became victims of a world-wide influenza epidemic. The Board of Health placed a ban on public meetings in schools, churches, and theaters.
The name of Academy Avenue was changed to Wilson Avenue after a petitioned circulated in the area. It turns out that many of the petitioners were tenants, did not live on Academy, or did not in fact own the property as some of the properties belonged to the wives of the men signing the petition. A new petition is circulating to change the name back to Academy Avenue. Academy Avenue gets back its name.
The United Daughters of the Confederacy began plans for a monument to Laurens County men who died in World War I. A century later in 2018, Laurens County honored those African Americans whose names were left off the original marker.
As I begin my 23rd year of writing this column, I treasure you the readers and eagerly look forward to bringing you more intriguing and fascinating pieces of our past.