“Bamboo School House?” is the short (and uncertain) caption found on the edge of this photograph of an old schoolhouse building, apparently taken from an automobile. A number of such small schoolhouses once served Watauga County communities; a few of the buildings still survive.
(Courtesy of Historic Boone archives, housed at Watauga County Public Library).
January 25, 1906
The “Washington Letter,” a feature attributed as “from our Regular Correspondent,” reported on the front page of this week’s edition of the Watauga Democrat that “(s)trenuous efforts are being made to crush the ‘insurrection’ in the House (of Representatives) and force the joint statehood bill to a vote.” The Fifty-ninth United States Congress, sitting during the Presidency of Theodore Roosevelt, was considering statehood for Oklahoma, New Mexico and Arizona, as well as debating whether money should be raised by tariffs on trade with the Philippines, recently annexed during the Spanish-American War. “An arrangement has been made,” reports the Regular Correspondent, “to vote on the Philippine tariff bill within the next few days, and after that will come the real test of strength to see whether enough of the majority can be dragooned into voting for a rule on the Hamilton bill.” The Hamilton bill proposed to admit Oklahoma and the Indian Territory into the Union as a single state, and Arizona and New Mexico as one state, the latter proposition being rejected by voters of those territories. The Fifty-ninth Congress had a majority of 251 Republicans to 135 Democrats in the House of Representatives. Later that year, in June, Congress would pass the Meat Inspection Act, in part attributed to the Upton Sinclair’s novel The Jungle, an expose of meat-packing conditions in Chicago, and to the work of “muckraking” journalism.
An obituary run from the Tennessee Tomahawk under the header “Mrs. C.K. Mount is Dead” relayed that, “(a)t the home of her parents, Capt. B.R. and Mrs. Brown, near Vaughtsville, Mrs. C.K. Mount died last Saturday morning soon after giving birth to a child. The announcement of her death was a severe shock to her numerous friends as it came so sudden and unexpected.” The obituary notice mentions that the parents had already lost a son, who “died in the prime of his manhood and this loss was very great to the parents,” and assures the reader that “(n)ow that death has again entered their home and robbed them of their brightest and most cherished jewel, the bereft parents have the kindest sympathy of their numerous relatives and friends who find language inadequate to express their feelings.”
January 22, 1920
“Why is a Headache?” forms the “headline” of a font-page item of advertising among the news on this edition’s front page. “When one has an occasional headache it is usually due to some transient or passing cause, such as indigestion, eyestrain, overtiredness, etc. When, however, one suffers from frequent periods of headaches, there is always some special reason for it. Among the most common of such reasons is Anemia or Bloodlessness. This condition is especially frequent among girls and young women and those whose occupations or habits of life keep them too much indoors.” The column recommends “Gude’s Pepto Mangan” as a way to “build up the quality of the weak and watery blood,” a product which “may be had either in liquid or tablet form, as preferred.” The short designation “(adv)” at the end of this article marks the commercial, paid nature of this item. “When buying Pepto-Mangan be sure the name ‘Gude’s’ is on the package,” closes the advertisement, because “(w)ithout ‘Gude’s it is not Pepto-Mangan.”
“One Automobile for each Sixteen People in the United States” was a news feature documenting an economic and cultural trend in American life. “One forgets that hardly a quarter of a century ago people gathered in curious little groups to look at the pioneer motor cars,” states the feature, “when the enterprising owners left them standing in the street, and is not too particularly surprised to read that the latest automobile registration returns show an average of one car for every sixteen persons in the United States.” Interestingly, the article’s author “wonders if, twenty-five or thirty years hence, the aircraft registration will show the United States anything like as well provided with aeroplanes and if the casual newspaper reader will accept the condition as a matter of course.” The writer mentions in this regard a test for army aviators which “requires that the candidate must be able to walk in a straight line with his eyes closed”, and asserts that “one wonders if one person in sixteen throughout the United States could do it without wobbling.”
January 24, 1963
Tragic news dominated this edition of the newspaper: “Investigating Burglaries –Blowing Rock Chief Dies in Gun Battle.” The story details that “William Deane (Bill) Greene, 28, Blowing Rock police chief, was killed in a knife and gun battle early Friday as he approached an auto to investigate burglaries there, and Millard Greer, 45, is being held in the Lenoir jail charged with the slaying.” The murdered police chief was “taken to Blowing Rock Hospital [and] lived for four hours,” and “managed to give officers details of the gun battle and description of his assailants.” The alleged shooter was apprehended after a 36-hour-long manhunt.
“Election on or Before Sept. 30,” another news item of the day, was featured below a photograph of a model of the “proposed consolidated higs school for Watauga County,” with the County Commissioners having approved a request from the Board of Education to “present to the citizens of the county a $1-3 /4 million bond resolution” to fund a new high school building.
“Crest Store is Remodeled and Enlarged” reported that the “Crest store in Boone has been remodeled, and according to John B. Robinson, manager, all departments have been relocated to take advantage of added floor space.” The Crest “five-and-dime” store was located in Downtown Boone, near Boone Drug Company. Departments in the expanded facility included “lamps and shades, small electrical appliances, hardware, small furniture, rugs, tinware, enamel ware, glassware, house cleaning supplies, gifts, horticulture, floral supplies and artificial flowers, oilcloth and upholstery.”