MARY BRASWELL: Looking Back - December 1893

FEATURES COLUMN: Each week Albany Herald researcher Mary Braswell looks for interesting events, places and people from the past. Here is a look back through the December 1893 pages of The Albany Heral

Mary Braswell

Mary Braswell

‘Twas the month of Christmas in Albany and Southwest Georgia. The year was 1893 and The Albany Herald was the chief source of news for all the area. Here is a look through those pages, now 120 years in the past.

— Dec. 1 was Arbor Day and the occasion was observed by the 250 children of the Albany Academy. Six water oaks, placed 30 feet apart, were already settled in their respective holes, one for each class. Following the group singing of “America,” the first-grade class announced the name of its tree and filled the hole with dirt. So it went through the sixth-grade. The names, in order, were Toombs, Grady, Hill, Davis, Jackson and Washington.

— A bill was passed by the Georgia Legislature which made it a felony to engage in mob violence and murder if the victim died. The bill also made it a misdemeanor to refuse to help the sheriff capture the mob.

— Three Albany police officers answered a call at Oil Mills concerning tramps. Three men were arrested after being found snuggled quite comfortably in the cotton seed hull house and charged with vagrancy.

— Hofmayer & Jones carried a full line of gifts for the Albany shopper. Among the items listed: cloth-bound books, Japanese embroidered handkerchiefs, China silk head rests, sofa cushions, toys, dolls, games, silver and bronze novelties, ties, framed pictures and more.

— The Albany Inn was described by one traveler as a “typical $2 per day hotel of the best class.”

— J.C. Mason, located at 49 Broad St., was considered the headquarters within the city for chickens, eggs and potatoes.

— A local man was jailed for larceny. It was charged that he stole 10 yards of fabric and a dress pattern from a house on Front Street.

— Christmas photos were available at a discount price by cutting the ad from the newspaper for Kuhns Art Studio. With the ad and $2.50, a customer would receive one dozen superior finish cabinet photographs, as well as one imperial size, all from the same negative. The offer was good through Dec. 15, after which the price returned to $4.50.

— A prominent farmer, who asked not to be named, told an Albany Herald reporter that he made four times as much growing one acre of potatoes in 1893 than he had made growing cotton on the same acre in 1892.

— School teachers, sometimes paid, other times not, began receiving payment from the state on a quarterly basis. Teachers were much pleased to be able to count on payment for working with their students.

— Word came down from Legislature that no reformatory for youthful criminals would be built in Georgia.

— Classes were under way for the dance school of Professor H.Hart. Hart proposed to teach children, ladies and gentlemen the important accomplishment of dance in “the most approved way.”

— Advice to parents: Don’t promise the little ones any more than Santa can deliver. Disappointment falls about as heavily upon children as upon grown people.

— Every night ‘possum hunters went out from Albany, always returning with a full sack of game.

— A reminder was published concerning a city-wide collection for the poor was to be held on Dec. 22. Residents would be called upon by the city fire wagon asking for any amount possible to help the impoverished have a better Christmas. On Dec. 11, the fund for the poor stood at $24.

— J.W. Joiner, practical watchmaker and jeweler, announced that except for customers in good standing, all sales would be for cash only henceforth. Special prices for select items were available throughout the month.

— A Christmas Bazaar was held in the parlors of the Albany Inn with gifts for everyone. Ladies were encouraged to shop the wide variety of bric-a-brac, nic-nacs, linen, lace,scarfs, aprons and more.

— The most serious situation at hand for Albany residents was the influx of tramps into the area. Many went door-to-door begging for food, most often aided by a soft-hearted woman, either the lady of the house or the cook. After filling his belly, a tramp was likely to panhandle for cash on the streets and, on a good day, was better off than those working hard for a living. Police frequently arrested tramps, only to let them go the next day after a snug night’s sleep in lockup.

Partridges were retailing in most parts of the state for 6 cents each.

— A Worth County farmer reported the killing of two hogs. The pair tipped the scales at a combined weight of 554 pounds — one weighed 240 pounds, the other a whopping 314 pounds.

The Exchange Bank of Albany, which opened on April 17 , had a paid up capital of $60,000 by its eighth month anniversary.

Joseph T. Steele’s Furniture Store was the place to find fine furniture, for Christmas gifts and all other occasions. In stock were chamber suits of walnut, oak and ash as well as pantry safes, tables, chairs, children’s carriages, rattan lounges and many other high quality items.

The Americus Times-Recorder announced expansion to an eight-page, six-column publication.

The report of a female committing suicide in Adel made front page news. No cause was known for the deed except that she was tired of living and decided to end her life by taking a large dose of laudanum, a solution of opium in alcohol.

At the train depot, officers found an entire boxcar loaded with tramps. The men were not arrested or harmed but the boxcar was locked and the “tourists” sent toward Thomasville.

N.F. Tift & Co. advertised sensible gifts for Christmas, including saddle blankets, whips, lap robes, ammunition of all shapes and breech-loading shotguns.

The contiguous dry counties relied heavily upon Albany for their “bug juice” during the holiday season. On the morning train came about 200 jugs, with another shipment expected on the evening train, just in time for celebrating.