E.S Coffey, with his home and family. E.S. Coffey, Esq., is noted as having been “a prominent member of the Boone bar,” as well as serving as a North Carolina State Senator, according to John Preston Arthur’s 1915 volume “A History of Watauga County, North Carolina: With Sketches of Prominent Families“. Picture courtesy of the Historic Boone society’s archives.
“Original Linch [sic] Law” reports on this date that “[i]t is not generally understood that the term ‘lynch law’ originated in Campbell County, Va., before the revolutionary war. At that period the county was thinly settled and was infested with Tories and desperadoes [sic] – too many of them, apparently, for the local authorities to adequately punish. Col. Charles Lynch, a distinguished officer in the revolutionary army, undertook to rid the country of the outlaws. He organized a force, arresting the outlaws, and having satisfied himself and comrades of the guilt of the accused, executed them without reference to the constituted authorities. He, while not altogether approving of the desperate remedy to a desperate cause, the beneficial effect of Col. Linche’s action was recognized, and has since been known as ‘Lynche’s Law’ or Lynch Law.”
“Mr. Stephens fired his huge kiln of brick Monday,” appeared in the “locals” column. “He will begin at once on the new jail.” Perhaps this work was the “Old Jailhouse,” still in existence on Boone’s Water Street to this day.
“Rev. Geo. H. Bell preached morning and evening at St. Luke’s church last Sabbath. The Sacrament was administered at the morning service,” according to another local item. An advertisement in the same issue reads, “The Episcopal Church in Watauga Co.: Blowing Rock: Every Sunday morning, 10:30 and 11. Boone: First and Third Sundays, 4:30 p.m. Shulls Mills: Fourth Sunday 4:00 p.m. – J.N. Atkins.”
“Mr. T.A. Critcher, of Bamboo, proposes to give a site on Cook’s Gap to anyone who will build a hotel on it. There’s no finer place in the county for a Summer resort.”
A more tragic notice states that “a little son of Wash Culver, of Banner Elk, accidentally shot himself through the lungs while carelessly handling a pistol. It is hoped that the little fellow will recover.”
In an interesting record of migration out of and back to the Watauga area, it was reported that “Lemuel Green, of Beaver Dams, was in town this week to send money to Washington to bring his son-in-law and daughter, Will Patterson and wife. They write that the drought has ruined the wheat crop in that section, that there is little or no demand for labor and a poor man can’t live there. Patterson’s little child died and it cost him $17.00 to have it buried. All the Wataugans are coming home as soon as they can.” Many Watauga area individuals and families moved to the Pacific Northwest during this period, pursuing livelihoods in occupations such as sheep-raising, farming, and logging.
July 18, 1918
“Fine Work of the Tanks” reports that “details now are available concerning the work of the large set of tanks which participated in the recent attack by the Australians and Americans on the battlefront.” According to reports from the Associated Press, “officers say that this was one of the most economical assaults ever undertaken on the British front, owing to the fact that the tanks saved casualties among the infantry by mopping up machine gun posts and strong points in advance” of the attack by the British infantry troops.
“Ku Klux in Alabama” relays from another newspaper, the Landmark, that “an automobile load of men, garbed in the attire of the Ku Klux Klan, drove to the court house square in Gadsen, Ala., erected a slacker cage, placed a warning thereon and drove away. The cage is built of heavy timber and bears the legend ‘big enough for all.’ The notice with ‘Ku Klux Klan’ printed in red gives warning that loafers must go to work and that every person must do his part to help win the war or suffer the penalty of the cage, accompanied by a coat of tar and feathers.”
July 20, 1939
“Local Schools open August 30” proclaims a front-page headline of this date. “Most of the schools of the county will open on August 30th, according to information given out by County Superintendent W.H. Walker. Those opening on that date include: Howard’s Creek, Miller, Rich Mountain, Bamboo, Green Valley, Winebarger, Riverview, Castle, Mount Paron, Elk, Lower Elk, Cool Springs, Penley, Bradshaw, Cook, Valle Crucis, Foscoe, Grandfather, Valley Mountain, Cove Creek, Liberty Hill, Rominger, Presnell, Kellersville, Windy Gap, Bethel, Mabel, Silverstone, and Pottertown.” The article notes that some few other schools (“Appalachian high school, Appalachian elementary, Rutherwood, Deep Gap, and Stony Fork”) would open the next day, and that Blowing Rock would not begin the school year until September 18th.
“Library Week is to be Observed: Week of July 30 to be Devoted to Upbuilding of Library Facilities in County” found another leading spot in this week’s Watauga Democrat. “The Library committee of Watauga [C]ounty met Monday evening, when it was determined to observe Library Week in this County from July 30 to August 5. Miss Jewel Hagaman is the county librarian and she is putting forth every effort to get more and better books for the people of the county to read. The observance of Library Week will be an effort on the part of the churches and the people generally to help Miss Hagaman to get more money and more books for the library. Every citizen is asked to give one book or a free will offering for this purpose. The committee hopes that all of the people of the county will pull together during Library week for this worthy movement.”
Visit the Watauga Democrat newspaper online at www.wataugademocrat.com – Serving Watauga County since 1888!
Ross Cooper is a member of the Reference Staff at the Watauga County Public Library in Downtown Boone. The microfilm archives of the Watauga Democrat newspaper, from its beginnings in 1888 up to the current year, are available to the public at the Watauga County Library. The photographic archives of the Historic Boone society are also housed at the Library, and are available to the public during hours of operation.