10 July 2007

Reads the Record # 1.1: 1906 JAN-MAR

[In this recurring feature, the Rabbit reads and writes about past issues of Chatham County's longest-running newspaper. For further explanation, see Chatham Rabbit Reads the Record.]

Issues Surveyed
1906 JAN 18, 25; FEB 1, 8, 15, 22; MAR 1, 8, 15, 22, 29.

In early 1906, we find activities related to one of the most recognizable landmarks in Chatham County, as editor H.A. London and his wife use the pages of the paper to solicit donations for the Confederate memorial that now stands before the Chatham Courthouse. For residents of the county now, or anyone who drives the roads, the editor's note to the "Deer Killed in Chatham" letter will be of special interest. Other local affairs include a near-drowning in Roberson Creek and some stern editorial words regarding the assembly of disreputable characters at the previous year's state fair.

If It Bleeds, and Other Mayhem
Page-two headlines and datelines from JAN 25: "Bloody Revolution In Ecuador. Guayaquil, Ecuador, Jan. 16." "Fatal Mine Explosion. Charleston, W. Va., Jan. 18." "Boy Boiled in Vat. Greenville, S.C., Jan. 20." "Fatal Panic In Church. Philadelphia, Jan. 21." "Preacher Arrested For Poisoning. Gainesville, Ga., Jan. 21." "Hung to City Scales. Hopkinsville, Ky., Jan. 22." "Burned In Calaboose. Salisbury, January 22."

Bad things happening to editors. FEB 1, "Editor Wilkie Commits Suicide": "Special to the Charlotte Observer." Clarence D. Wilkie, editor and founder of The Rutherfordton Sun, committed suicide "by shooting himself through the right temple with a 32-calibre Smith & Wesson pistol."

State of NC
Gambling and immorality at the State Fair. JAN 18, editorial: "Such a horde of gamblers and dissolute characters of both sexes as attended our last State Fair had never before assembled in our good State, and we hope never will again. They can be excluded and ought to be." JAN 25, editorial: "We are pleased to learn from the News and Observer that the secretary of the State Agricultural Society says that no gambling or immoral exhibitions will be permitted at the next State Fair. It would be well for the president and secretary of the Society to publish an offical card making a pledge to that effect."

Top Local Stories Reported
Lee's birthday. JAN 18, "Lee's Birthday": "Tomorrow (Friday) afternoon beginning at 2:30 ... the Winnie Davis Chapter of the Daughters of the Confederacy will commemorate with appropriate exercises at the academy the birthday of General Robert E. Lee." JAN 25: "Last Friday being the 99th anniversary of the birth of General Robert E. Lee appropriate exercises were held at the academy under the auspices of the Daughters of the Confederacy. The academy had been artistically decorated with Confederate and North Carolina flags and with pictures of Gen. Lee and other distinguished Confederates. Quite a number of persons attended the exercises, among them being several veterans from a distance in the country. The exercises were conducted by Mrs. H.A. London, the President of the Daughters ...."

Confederate memorial. FEB 15, "Appeal For Monument", signed "Winnie Davis Chapter, Daughters of the Confederacy. By its President, Mrs. Henry A. London.": "To the Men and Women of Chatham County: We are anxious to erect our Confederate Monument, and unveil it at the Soldiers' Reunion in August." The editorial outlines an offer received from Carolina Marble Works of Statesville, for a 24-foot monument costing $2000. It describes monuments and their dimensions and cites their costs in cities such as Asheville, Winston-Salem and Lexington. "Colonel Lane most generously started the monument fund with $100, now we appeal to ALL to come forward and make up the balance right away. We know that all will give; but we want it NOW. WE ARE READY FOR IT. Or a written PROMISE for the amount to be paid in June." MAR 29, a letter titled "'Buck' Appeals For The Monument", signed, "Yours truly, Buck.": "I am apprised of the fact that some think that a monument is unnecessary and is of no good to those who shall live in the future. But let us think of the thousands of boys who had so much to look forward to in the future and for a cause that was as dear to them as life and for forty odd years they have been sleeping in the valleys of Virginia where the snow-clad mountains are looking down upon their unmarked graves as a token of love for their noble sacrifice."

Confederate memorial fund. All entries found under "Local Records" unless otherwise indicated. JAN 25: $1,025.89. "It ought to be twice that sum." FEB 22: $1029.14. MAR 1: $1,042.09. "Who will give the next $5?". MAR 8: $1,054.79. "Rally up, men of Chatham, and send your contributions without further delay. Let us raise the monument next summer." MAR 15: $1072.29. MAR 22: $1072.99. MAR 29: $1087.29.

The Alick Allen Affair. JAN 18, "Local Records": "We are pleased to learn that Mr. Alick Allen, who was so seriously shot by revenue officers is much better and will, it is now thought, get well." FEB 1, "Local Records": "The revenue officers who shot Mr. Alick Allen, in Baldwin township a few weeks ago, have been arrested at Durham and will have a premilinary trial before G.W. Riggsbee, J.P., in Riggsbee township, next Saturday. Mr. Allen is recovering from his wound, and will not lose his leg."

FEB 22, "Deer Killed In Chatham. Williams Township, N.C., Feb. 12, 1906", letter from D.J. Williams: Describes in vivid detail the shooting of a deer by the author and "Mr. W.H. Goodwin, a well known turkey hunter and trapper." Concludes, "Since writing the above, I have enjoyed two fine meals off of the deer. I can not describe the flesh more than it is very firm, sweet and wholesome. I dare say that more than hundred people have tasted some of the venison. // "[The above letter ought to have been received in time for last week's RECORD. This deer must escaped from some park, as no wild deer have been roaming in this county for many years. -- ED. RECORD.]"

MAR 22, "Local Records": "Dr. J.N. Taylor narrowly escaped drowning, on last Monday afternoon, while driving in his buggy through Roberson's creek, near Mr A.P. Terry's which had become very high by the heavy rains that fell that day. The water came into his buggy as high as his waist, but the horse by swimming pulled the buggy through the rushing torrent. The doctor's case of medicines and surgical instruments was washed out of the buggy and lodged on the bank a short distance below the ford, where it was found the next day."

Roads -- Policy, Reports, Opinion
JAN 18, "Good Roads", page-one editorial reprinted from the New York Tribune: "The wealth of the nation depends largely upon the farmers. They are the wealth-creators, and if we would increase our farm products and improve land we must keep our young men at home instead of sending them to the cities. The way to destroy the isolation of farm life now so discouraging to young men is to build good roads." ... "Good roads are needed to make life desirable upon the farm, to increase the average of intelligance by putting people in close touch with the world and ech other, and for the advancement of education and for Christianity." ... "We can have good roads only when the expense of building and maintaining them is somewhat equally distributed." ... "Every country on earth that has good roads secured them by recognizing road building as a legitimate function of government, and it is safe to say we shall never have them in the United States without the Federal Government leads in the movement."

JAN 25, "Good Roads", page-one article reprinted from the New York Tribune: Describes techniques for the building and care of roads.

MAR 15, "Good Roads", page-one editorial reprinted from Good Roads Magazine: "The wise arrangement of tree growth along the lines of streets, roads and avenues is more nearly fruitful at producing financial benefit, pleasing and attractive surroundings than any other investment that can be made in the way of public improvements." ... "There is no one improvement that municipal engineering can arrange for that can help a suburban locality so much as tree planting."

MAR 22, "Good Roads", page-one editorial reprinted from Uptown Weekly: "The time has come when Congress should do something directly beneficial to the farming classes, and that thing can best be done by extending the aid of the general government to the States in road construction and improvement. The proposition to do so, in the form of what is now commonly known as the Brownlow-Latimer bill, has been generally discussed by the press, and has been endorsed by the National Grange, the National Good Roads Association, by farmer's societies, county organizations, State legislatures, State school officers and college presidents of eminent character, by leading ministers of the many churches, by State Governors, county officials, legal bodies, medical societies, trade and labor organizations, and by the President of the United States, who declared in a speech two years that the people had a right to demand it."

Landmarks Referenced
Depot at Bonsal. JAN 25, "Local Records": "The depot at Bonsal will completed in a month. The framing is nearly all done at Hamlet and will be put up in a short time after being hauled to Bonsal. A telephone line, instead of a telegraph line, is being erected between Bonsal and Durham, and will be completed in two weeks' time. No regular schedule has been put in operation, but freight trains are run occasionally from Durham to Bonsal."

Bridge Repairs. FEB 8, "Commissioners' Meeting": Account of $137.51 paid to "John L. Council for repairing bridge at Sears' mill". W.A. Copeland was paid $4.50 "for repairs on bridge on Roberson creek".

Culinary Notes
Page-one recipes. JAN 18, "Household Recipes": Graham Gems, Cornmeal Bread (Creole Recipe), Swan Pudding, Toasted Graham Gems, Monkey Pudding, Mutton Cutlets. MAR 1, "Household Affairs": Corn Pudding, Baker's Custard Pie, Stewed Sirloin of Beef, Apple Pie. MAR 29, "Household Affairs": Cheese Cakes, Dream Sandwiches, Steamed Brown Bread, Macaroni with Oysters, Apricot Tapioca.

Metereological Exceptionalism
FEB 1, editorial: "The sleet on last Thursday night was the heaviest that we remember ever having seen. The branches of the trees and every twig and bush were more heavily coated with ice than we have ever before seen ...." "Many of our public roads were obstructed with fallen limbs and uprooted trees, and there was less travelling done last Friday on any one day in a long time."

FEB 15, "Local Records": "Yesterday was as a delightful day as anyone could wish for."

MAR 1, "Local Records": "The past month has been the mildest and pleasantest February that has been known in this section for several years."

The Chatham Record was founded in 1878 and owed both its existence and its character to Henry Armand London (1846-1918). London was a Confederate veteran, having joined the army in 1864, his senior year at UNC-Chapel Hill. From William S. Powell's entry in the Dictionary of North Carolina Biography: "Serving as a courier in Company I of the Thirty-second North Carolina Regiment, he participated in one of the last actions of the Civil War in carrying the message to General William R. Cox to cease firing because General Robert E. Lee had just surrendered." On returning to Pittsboro, London took active roles as banker, lawyer, and railroad developer, in addition to founding the Record.

During the present survey period, London's editorial voice bespeaks an intense, patriarchal focus on social control and a consensus among elites in the community. His affinity for the Confederacy, unreconstructed attitudes toward race, and high-handed scolding dominate the editorial and "Local Records" sections of the paper. One of the challenges of this exercise lies in selecting and presenting items from the paper without getting caught up in the editor's point of view. "Reads the Record" is on the beat of Chatham County and its story, not that of H.A. London. However, in these first few installments, before the Good Roads movement really picked up political steam following 1910, London's editorial voice takes prominence.

As we pick it up, the paper follows a strict and predictable format based around four broadsheet pages with seven columns per page. Each of the two interior pages supports a particular, recurring function. Page two runs editorials on the left, usually across two columns sometimes spilling into three. Extending across the seven-column structure to the right run brief opinion pieces and news dispatches, ranging in scope from local to regional to national and occasionally foreign. Letters to the editor occassionally appear on page two. Page three repeats the formula but calls itself "LOCAL RECORDS". It provides single-paragraph and often single-sentence notices, and mostly succinct commentary up to four or five paragraphs, regarding local and regional affairs. It runs into printed official notices and advertisements as it moves to the right. Page four is generally devoted to advertisements and syndicated columns.

The front page of the JAN 18 leads on the three leftmost columns with chapter 7 of a serial, "Little Make-Believe, or a Child of the Slums", by B.L. Farjeon. A recurring feature, "Woman's Realm", occupies two columns. Another recurring feature, "Household Affairs", runs in the sixth column, and the seventh and right-most column of JAN 18 is given to the "Good Roads" editorial described below.

"Little Make-Believe" ran on the front page of the Record through March 15, when a new serial would commence, "The Great Hesper, or the Search for the Biggest Diamond in the World," by Frank Barrett. Through the middle of the year, besides the serial, the front page rotated the recurring features. Other titles that lead the paper include "Popular Science", "With the Funny Fellows", "Farm and Stock Yard", "For the Younger Children....". Hard news would not lead until MAY 17, with the headline "Czar Opens Parliament".

Selected titles and quotations from "Woman's Realm". JAN 18, "Women With Federal Jobs": "Less than ten per cent of the Federal employees are women, and a great majority of them hold minor positions at small pay." FEB 1, "Feminine Press Agent": "The only woman in the world who travels as press agent for a circus, it is said, is Lillian Calvert Van Osten, who left the stage to exploit the merits of a Wild West show." MAR 8, "Shoes That Creak" and "Self-Government at Vassar".

The main editorial themes on page two through this period are Confederate memorials and commemorations, along with London's relentless broadsides against the state's Republicans. National and foreign affairs make limited appearances in the news or the editorials.