(Courtesy of Historic Boone archives, housed at Watauga County Public Library).
December 10, 1908
An interesting pattern may be seen on the front page of this edition of the Watauga Democrat newspaper, which seems common for this period of the paper’s history: a number of advertisements were for the services of attorneys-at-law. “W.R. Lovill, attorney at law,” announces one advertisement, “Boone, N.C. – Special attention given to all business entrusted to his care.” Another prominent local citizen’s ad proclaimed, “E.S. Coffey, attorney at law, Boone, N.C. – Prompt attention given to matters of a legal nature. Abstracting titles and collection of claims a specialty.” Other specialized notices were for lawyers from beyond Watauga County, such as this one: “A.A. Holsclaw, attorney at law, Mountain City, Tennessee, will practice in all the courts of Tennessee, State and Federal. Special attention given to collections and all other matters of a legal nature. Office north east of court house.” Another ad announces “Edmund Jones, Lawyer, Lenoir, N.C., Will Practice Regularly in the Courts of Watauga.”
Another advertisement in this week’s edition in another arena was for “The Lenoir Book Store (near the court house) – Be Sure To Visit It When In Lenoir – Holiday Presents in Great Varieties. Books, Stationary, China, Pictures, Dolls, Toys, Novelties.”
A grim item of statistical news reported that, “[i]t is stated that 3,764 persons were killed by the railroad during the year ending June 30th and for the same year 6,998 were injured.” The number of automobile fatalities some one hundred years later was listed in one source as 37,261 – one might see a tenfold jump in transportation fatalities in a time in which the population of the United States increased just over threefold, from some 90 million to about 300 million, albeit the modes of travel had changed significantly.
Among the local news items, it was reported that, “[a]t the Annual Meeting of the directors of the Watauga county bank held last Tuesday, George Hagaman was re-elected Cashier for the next 12 months without opposition; a dividend of 18 per cent was declared, and $1,00 was set aside to strengthen the bank. The institution, as you see, is doing well.”
December 10, 1953
“Homer Brown is Library Director in Wilkes-Watauga” was a headline on the front page of this week’s paper. “Homer Brown of Boone has been appointed district library director for the Watauga-Wilkes area,” reports the item. “He will begin his new duties immediately.” The story relates that, “Mr. Brown retired from the Navy in 1944 as a chief petty officer after 20 years of service. He then entered Appalachian State Teachers College and was graduated in 1951 with a B.S. degree in Library Science.” The appointee was noted to have served the past year already as Watauga County Librarian, and was the holder of a Master’s Degree earned in 1952. In addition, “Mr. Brown and Clyde Eggers of Boone were recently named co-chairmen of a committee appointed by the Southern Appalachian Historical Association to write a history of Watauga County,” according to the article.
Other front-page news related, “Glen Reese Third in Sheep Shearing Contest in Chicago,” with details reporting that Reese, “son of Mr. and Mrs. Asa A. Reese, placed third in the National 4-H Sheep Shearing Contest held in Chicago Friday, December 4.” The story stated that Reese had “scored 92.1,” while the winner, “Hal Brown from Indiana scored 92.43.” However, it was noted that “[d]uring the preliminaries which were held earlier in the week Glenn was high scorer with a score of 93.65.” Another Wataugan, Bobby Gene Norris, participated in the contest, but, scoring 88.35 in preliminary rounds, did not make it into the finals. “The boys were accompanied to Chicago by W.C. Richardson,” according to the Democrat article, “assistant county agent who is their coach.”
December 11, 1969
A sampling of headlines from this week’s paper offers a snapshot of life in a Watauga County December: “Santa Claus to Feature Bright Christmas Parade,” with the subheading “Miss Watauga, Snow Queen to Add to Event”; “Violent Wind Overturns Trailers”; and “Week End [sic] Ice Storm Shuts Off Power, Closes Schools”. The parade account records that “more than 50 units, including beauty queens, marching bands, and Santa Claus, will participate In Boone’s Christmas parade,” with a note that “Jimmy Kilgo of WSOC-TV in Charlotte will be honorary parade marshal… accompanied by his five Kilgo Girls of Kilgo’s Canteen.” The parade was also to include “Santa’s colorful North Pole float” and “the float of Miss Watauga County adorned with Ollie Jackson, Miss Watauga of 1970.” The wind storm report stated that “[s]trong winds whipping eastward along US [highway] 421 at Parkway School last Wednesday overturned three trailers being towed to a Winston-Salem hospital.” The ice storm item noted that “[u]p to an estimated 800 families were affected at one time or another by power lines that snapped under the weight of ice,” and that the results of the storm “gave children a school holiday Monday.”
This column is prepared from the microfilm archives of the Watauga Democrat, which are available at the Watauga County Public Library in Boone.