“A Look Back… at Watauga County (North Carolina)” is back from a lengthy sabbatical!
A Look Back… at Watauga
By Ross Cooper
December 4, 1889
“Alas! Poor Harrison” was a political news item headline on the front page of this issue from one of the first years of existence of the Watauga Democrat newspaper. “President Harrison was publicly burned in effigy last week at Jeffersonville, Indiana,” reports the story, which originally ran in the Chatham Record, according to a byline at the conclusion of the column. “Of course it might be supposed that this was done by some ‘Bourbon’ Democrats, but no, strange to say, it was done by some of the truly loyal Republicans! There has been much dissatisfaction among the Republicans of that town at several of the President’s recent appointments, but the immediate cause of their violent outburst of indignation was his appointment of the postmaster, who obtained his appointment solely because he was a personal friend of the President.’” The article continues, “[t]he burning in effigy of the President of the United States of America is disgraceful to all concerned, and if it had been done by any Southern Democrats they would be bitterly denounced by every Republican politician and paper as being disloyal to the national government.” The President, “poor Harrison,” according to this item, “seems to have the peculiarly winning way of making enemies among the men who elected him, and when his term expires he will be respected even less than was the pitiable Hayes.”
In other news, the Democrat relayed from the Arizona Kicker newspaper that “[t]he suit of the Widow Gibbs brought against us [presumably the editor of the newspaper named] for breach of promise, damage $15,000, came up in court last Friday.” The story relates that, “this suit was instituted six months ago by the courthouse ring, which has sought our downfall ever since the first issue of this paper,” and continues with an assertion that, “they put up the widow to sue us, and have advanced the money as needed.” The item concludes, “[a]s for the widow, she was only a cat’s paw, and we have sent to her house a bag of groceries, a clothes line, and a sack of flour, to prove that we have no malice.”
Early editions of the Watauga Democrat often ran features from other newspapers, containing both news of the day and other matters of interest. As was the case with the Harrison article, these other papers may have been similarly aligned as political party outlets (though sometimes less explicitly so in their name than the Watauga Democrat), the Watauga paper maintaining its political affiliation and stance well into the twentieth century.
December 3, 1925
“News from the Cove Creek High” was front-page news in this week’s edition, bearing the subtitle “Outstanding Happenings of the Past Week at the High School and in the Community.” Among the notable happenings, “[o]n November the nineteenth the second year class in home economics served a luncheon to the County Superintendent, Board of education, local committeemen and teachers,” at which event “[t]he guests on entering the dining room found their places on place cards on which the Thanksgiving turkey was sketched.” The meal consisted of “baked chicken, stuffing and gravy, mashed potatoes, celery, beet pickles, hot rolls, butter, coffee, fruit salad, and pumpkin pie with whipped cream.” In sports news, “Cove Creek defeated the Sutherland High School in two very interesting basketball games,” one home game concluding with “a 25-22 victory for Cove Creek;” the other being an away game at Sutherland, at which “the final count was 38-37 in favor of the Cove Creek boys.”
December 4, 1941
Just days before the attack on Pearl Harbor, news on the local front filled much of the front page of the Watauga Democrat. “Seal Sales Reach Total of $167.71” reported that “[t]he Christmas Seal sales reached the total of $167.71 this first week of the campaign and officials are highly pleased with the initial effort.” A fund-raising effort to support the eradication of tuberculosis, the local amount raised at this date was “in excess of the amount collected during the entire campaigns of previous years.”
“Commerce Body Meets Tuesday” was the headline of a report on an upcoming Chamber of Commerce meeting, which was scheduled to meet at the Gateway Cafe under the presidency of H.W. Wilcox. The meeting was to feature a “new motion picture made in kodachrome,” entitled “North Carolina, Variety Vacationland,” which was to be “presented through the courtesy of the state department of conservation and development.” In other anticipated business, “[a] number of the tobacco men, who are now operating the Mountain Burley warehouses will be present, says Mr. Wilcox, and will give out information concerning this and other markets in the burley belt.” The last item on the agenda for this meeting, as reported in the newspaper, was that “Mr. Harry Hamilton and Mr. Bernard Dougherty will be present and will tell of the progress made by Watauga county this year in breeding superior livestock.”
A notice of more scurrilous news reported that “A. Loven, representative of the Metro Publicity Service, who is said to have swindled a number of local merchants recently on a give-away advertising plan, has been apprehended, and is now being held in Roxboro for trial there on similar charges. It is expected that Loven will be returned to Boone for trial in the near future.”
This column is prepared from the microfilm archives of the Watauga Democrat, which are available at the Watauga County Public Library in Boone.
The reverse of this photograph, which shows a dense crowd (probably in Downtown Boone) with a facing-away-Santa on a fire truck in the top-left corner, is inscribed “[t]his must have been [19-]’49 Christmas Parade – Betty Ruth Winkler & Betty Ellis near Santa,” and bears two stamps: “Photo by Palmer Blair,” and “Palmer’s Photo Service, Boone, N.C.”. Image courtesy of the archives of the Historic Boone society, Watauga County Public Library.