1910: A Benchmark Year For Laurens
The year 1910 was a pivotal and notable one in the history of Laurens County. That year ended the first decade of the 20th Century and Laurens County's growth to become one of the state's top six counties in population. In the previous 20 years, the county's population nearly tripled and increased five times since the end of the Civil War.
The county and its seat of Dublin were often the sites of state conventions and gatherings. One of those meetings, the Laymen's Missionary and Christian Worker's Conference, billed as the greatest meeting ever held in Dublin, was held in Dublin during the week of March 15-20, and featured Methodist bishops, W.N. Ainsworth and Warren A. Candler, along with ministers from Georgia, Tennessee, Ohio and Illinois.
The Elks Lodge in the city was established on the third floor in the western part of the Brantley Building at the corner of W. Jackson and N. Lawrence Streets. The Elks, led by Exhalted Ruler Thomas R. Ramsay, built rooms for a lodge, billiards, and reading along with a parlor.
The year marked the premier issue of the Laurens County Herald, which in three years would merge with the Dublin Courier as the city's main newspaper.
In the spring, the City of Dublin enjoyed one of the biggest building booms in its history, with more than a third of a million dollars in new buildings in the first three months of the year alone. Among the largest projects was Izzie Bashinski's construction of the five-story Consolidated Phosphate Company. The year also saw major additions to the Methodist Church and the construction of the Catholic Church. Financier A.W. Garrett, built one of the last grand houses on Bellevue Avenue. The New Dublin Hotel, the city's largest, underwent a major expansion and improvements to its existing facilities.
Among the big shows of the year was the appearance of Howe's Great London Circus, one of the country's largest and most popular traveling circuses. Eugene Laurant, one of the country's greatest magicians performed for the Lyceum Course at the Opera House.
Mrs. John M. Stubbs, Mrs. Attys P. Hilton and Lilly Hightower led the formation of the Women's Civic Improvement Club. That same month of March, the wives of the Masons formed the Order of the Eastern Star.
The emergence of the automobile, especially driving them at high speeds became a popular pastime among the wealthier men of the city. The events drew spectators of all economic statuses across the county.
The Farmers and Merchants Bank was established in Brewton by James L. Keen, J.W. Jones, H.T. Bush, F.C. Brantley, B.F. Maddox, F.H. Brantley, N.W. Josey, J.M. Lovett, I.E. Thigpen, O.D. Cobb, J.H. Curl of Brewton, Ga; E.B. Jones of Dublin, Ga; and R.M. Holmes of Scott, Ga.
The Earth passed through Halley's Comet with no damage except some interruption of telegraphic communications. There were a few sunspots and meteors, but not the expected cataclysms.
The funds for the construction of the Federal Courthouse and Post Office were appropriated. The project would take two years to complete.
A new charter for the City of Dublin was adopted the state legislature. Among the notable provisions of the bill were the designation of councilmen as alderman and the moving of the city limits of Dublin to the high water mark on the eastern bank of the Oconee River.
Improvements to the infrastructure of cities and towns throughout the county were hastily being made. In Dublin, Southern Bell, the dominate leader in telephone service, still in its infancy, was making major improvements to its lines and equipment. The City began the use of coal instead of wood to burn for power at the light and water plant. By the end of the year, the city stopped the practice of selling light bulbs to its customers.
Six companies of Laurens County Confederate veterans (50 men) and one company of other veterans (102 men) formed at the courthouse. Judge John H. Martin of Hawkinsville was named Colonel of the Brigade. W.C. Davis was elected Chief of Staff. Hardy Smith commanded the Laurens County Companies and L.A. Matthews the Miscellaneous company. The Dublin Band led the parade down Jackson Street to Church Street and then to the pavilion in Stubbs Park. Major T.D. Smith organized the event.
Doctors H.T. and C.A. Hodges opened a sanitarium, the city's first true hospital, in the J.E. Smith, Jr. house on the corner of Franklin and Columbia Streets.
A bond election was held in December. Voters overwhelmingly approved the issue by a vote of 311-4 for $25,000 for the light and water plant and $5,000 for paving Madison from Lawrence to Franklin Street.
Thomas E. Watson spoke to a large crowd at the Opera House on November 4. Watson, a perennial Populist presidential contender, spoke on the need for better moral and spiritual attitudes. He also spoke on the need for foreign missions. The Dublin Band provided the music. Mr. Watson spent the night at the home of Charles H. Kittrell (at the corner of Academy Ave. and Palmer Streets).
The shooting incident with John, Tal, and Claud Thigpen being killed by Rockledge Marshal Ras Raffield rocked the sleepy county-line community for generations to come.
As I end my fourteenth year of writing Pieces Of Our Past, I want to thank all of you for your interest in the stories I bring to you each week. I encourage you to study your own past and write it down. No one's heritage is more important than any one else. I also encourage you to remember the words of writer David McCullough, who said, "If you think about it, no one ever lived in the past, they lived in the present." Our most important history is yet to be written. It is up to all of us how that history will be written. Let us all use the past as a guide to mold our present into our greatest history, the history of the future.