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LOOKING BACK: Oct. 6, 2013

History column

Each week Albany Herald researcher Mary Braswell looks for interesting events, places and people from the past. You can contact her at (229) 888-9371 or mary.braswell@albanyherald.com.

Here is a look back at news items from the pages of The Albany Herald in October 1899.

— A chimney fire at the New Albany Hotel caused quite a bit of excitement. The blaze was, however, quickly extinguished and no lodgers were displaced.

VOTING NUMBERS

A new record was set for voter registration numbers in Albany. How many voters were there by November 1899 ( as reported in the newspaper)?

a) almost 800

b) more than 800

c) almost 1,000

d) more than 1,000

See the answer at the end of this column.

— The American Bar Association was busy securing a uniform divorce law. Among acceptable reasons for divorce: habitual drunkenness, whether from drink or drug; adultery; extreme cruelty; conviction of a felony with a sentence to prison, and continuous desertion.

— An insurance company completed a study to illustrate the comparative longevity of clergymen, farmers, teachers, lawyers and doctors. Among those occupations, ministers of the Gospel showed a better chance of living to the age of 70 (42 out of 170), while the doctors came in last with only 24 out of 170 living to that old age of 70.

— News arrived that there were plans being made for a Syrup Fair to be held in Cairo in the near future. Already $500 had been raised to get the fair going.

— The captain of the Thomasville Guards disappeared just before a parade in New York City to welcome Admiral Dewey. The men were greatly upset with their captain, as he was carrying the 25 passenger tickets needed for the return trip home.

— Green’s Book Store on Pine Avenue (facing the courthouse) offered trading stamps with all cash purchases.

— A list of unclaimed letters was published with the warning that, if not soon claimed, the letters would be sent to the dead letter office.

— A large gospel tent on Jackson Street was blown down in an overnight storm. Plans were to stand the tent back up and resume services as soon as possible.

— Forest fires near Century, six miles from Albany, destroyed a great amount of timber as well as several turpentine farms.

— Considering the rainy weather on the night of the meeting, turnout was good for public input on the new charter for the city of Albany. A committee was selected to review the elements of the charter found objectionable, including the implied power given to the City Council to spend money collected through taxes in any manner it wished to do so. Objection was also given to raising taxes from 1 percent to 1.5 percent.

— Much to the dismay of many citizens, it was reported that Albany was spending $22,000 per year on the salaries of city employees.

— It was discovered at the Methodist Church that an electrical wire had fallen where a cushion on one pew and several hymn books were burned to a char. The fire apparently extinguished itself before additional damage was incurred. Another blaze at a cabin on Broad Street caused only two or three dollars worth of damage.

— The Exchange Bank of Albany, which opened April 17, 1893, had a capital of $57,200.

— Accused of murdering his wife, a local man’s trial began and ended in about 24 hours, including jury selection. After a guilty verdict was announced, the judge adjourned the court for the day. The following morning, the guilty party was sentenced to be hanged on Nov. 24 between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. The execution was to be a private one with no spectators allowed.

— The establishment of the Albany Library Association continued to be a great success. Members were added almost daily. Rules inside the library included no smoking or loud voices. The poor people of the city could come inside and read any and all materials, but only members could take materials home. Inventory showed in excess of 1,200 books plus magazines and newspapers. Each day the library received three newspapers, The Albany Herald, The Atlanta Constitution and the New York Herald.

— After many promises followed by just as many delays, Albany was finally notified in mid October that free mail delivery within the city would begin on Nov. 10. To qualify for the service of carriers, an individual post office must show business of $10,000 or more in a year. One of the primary delays was caused by an insufficient number of qualified applicants taking the civil servants exam.

— After much discussion, it was voted by the City Council to abandoned the proposition to have a new charter sent to the Legislature and that the matter be referred back to the citizens to take such action as they deemed fit. With citizen input later in the month, an agreeable charter was created and would move forward to the Legislature and then be voted on by the people of Albany.

— Solomon’s Whiskey House at 22 Washington St. boasted of having the most complete line of fine liquors in Southwest Georgia. Jed Clayton Rye was $1 per quart, while a high-grade rye cost $3 per quart.

— Albany voters elected to authorize $15,000 in bonds to erect a new jail.

— At a meeting of ladies, the Albany Kindergarten Association was organized. The group expected to have a library of books dealing with child rearing and training. One goal of the newly-formed group was to “secure more intelligent co-operation between fathers and mothers of the city in the training and management of children.”

— Both Albany and Americus issued a quarantine against Richland because of the smallpox cases there. Albany also issued a quarantine against Ocilla for the same reason. The City Council considered passing a mandatory smallpox vaccination ordinance, but instead the mayor issued a proclamation asking all citizens to voluntarily be vaccinated. It was also stated that the city physician, Dr. P.L. Hilsman, would vaccinate any and all poor people at no charge.

— The Methodist congregation of Albany voted to build a new edifice of bricks and stones at the corner of Flint and Jackson streets. The old meeting house was to razed and the parsonage moved to that location in order to begin of the new $10,000 church, $4,000 of which was already pledged.

QUIK ANSWER

(b) more than 800. The previous record of 735 registered voters was set in 1889. Interestlingly, no man in default of city or county taxes for any year was allowed to vote.