Wednesday, October 31, 2012

31 October 1844: A Youth Library Offered "at the New York Price"

On this day, Albon Chase began advertising a new set of books, available together or individually at his "Book-Store," for the impressionable young men and women of Athens. 


Primary education in 1844 was reserved for those who could afford both to pay to have their children educated and did not require their labor at home. Athens had a highly literate population, but there were no free schools. The cheapest schools in the 1840s charged $3.00 per quarter for basic primary education, akin to $93.10 in today's dollars. 

Those with more money could hire private tutors for their children, or send them to one of the local academies that taught basic English, grammar, writing, rhetoric, arithmetic, geography, history, chemistry, astronomy, Latin Greek, natural philosophy, music, drawing, painting, and French. Schools such as The Female Academy (which offered co-ed education), offered subjects on a sliding scale ranging from $4.00 per quarter for the most basic instruction to $8.00 per quarter for everything except more artistic pursuits, which could be purchased as separate lessons. 

Most education for girls focused on softer learning, such as arts, recitation, and French, rather than the speeches of Cicero or higher mathematics. It was this lack of rigorous higher education for women that caused the Lucy Cobb Institute to be founded in 1858, for Athenians believed their daughters should be as well educated as their sons, and did not want to send them away to school for the necessity. 

Albon Chase was a member of the class who could afford education for his children. He was born in New Hampshire in 1808. became the publisher of the Southern Banner 1832. He established with John Linton the Pioneer Paper Manufacturing Company located on Barber Creek, just southeast of Athens, a venture that cleared 60% profit in its first year.

In 1845, he moved the newspaper offices to a three-story wooden building at the corner of College Avenue and Front Street (now Broad), with his newspaper offices above the bookstore. Many newspaper publishers also printed books, ledgers, and other sorts of paper materials for sale other than news; Chase also offered colored wrapping paper for gifts.

He retired from the Banner in 1846 after 14 years of work, but his son, William, purchased part of it in 1858 and acted as co-editor. According to the book Antebellum Athens, "political opposition charged that regardless who was the editor, the Banner was controlled by Howell Cobb."

Chase was a founding and guiding member of other local business ventures, such as the National Bank of Athens, the Athens Building & Loan Association, the Georgia Equitable Insurance Company, and the Southern Mutual Insurance Company, where he served as Secretary until his death in 1867.

He was also active in the practical running of Athens, serving as one of the city's first commissioners, starting in 1839, and representing Ward 2 off and on until 1859. In 1852, Albon Chase served as Intendent of the city, akin to being Mayor today; Chase Street is named for him.  Two of his homes are still standing in Athens, at the corner of Hull and Clayton Streets downtown (now apartments), and at 243 Dearing Street. He is buried at Oconee Hill Cemetery.

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Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Are You Reading Our Heritage Room Newsletters?

On this day we'd like to remind you to subscribe to our two fantastic Heritage Room newsletters. They will be delivered to your email Inbox, and are a great way to keep up with all that is going on in genealogy and history throughout the year, and especially during the busy holiday season.

Our Genealogy and History Events newsletter covers everything from Haunted History tours in Athens and Macon to free webinars about Irish ancestor brick walls and getting started with Native American genealogy. Find out where to hear historians talking about their latest books, or when the dedication ceremony for a new historical marker will be held. Autumn is a busy time for cemetery tours, and with the newsletter, you can take your pick of tours in Athens, Cartersville, Atlanta, and McDonough. The commemoration of the sesquicentennial of the Civil War continues apace, with a variety of symposia, lectures, programs, and book-related events. Don't regret not doing something because you didn't find out in time--just read our newsletter!

Our Genealogy News and Tips newsletter makes sure you will not miss out on the information you need for your research, even as everyone's schedule speeds up this autumn. We cover practical information, such as the increase in copying fees at all National Archives locations and updates about the status of the Georgia Archives, to new resources online such as Mercer campus newspapers from 1920-1970 and Scottish post office directories. We even include information on how to fit your research into a busy schedule, such as Family Tree magazine's list of "Weekend Warrior" genealogy projects.

Click here (or either newsletter link above) to subscribe. It couldn't be easier, so sign up today!

Friday, October 26, 2012

25 October 1892: "There has always been too little interest in Athletics among Southern colleges..."

On this day in 1892, the Banner newspapers advocated for the students who were "very desirous of entering into collegiate games of football."

Football was a relatively new sport, and was seen as a way to ensure young men did not become soft while gaining their education. Physical strength was seen as the basis for mental and moral strength as well. 

Adapted from rugby, football was primarily a running game (the forward pass was not implemented until 1906, as a safety concession), and players wore little padding or other protection during the course of the game.

At the time, Georgia had club and fraternity teams that participated in a variety of sports, including a campus Field Day with races, but also such events as "greased pig chases." Sports had faculty advisors, similar to the way high school sports often operate today. There was a football team that had played two games in the winter of 1892, beating Mercer College 50-0 at what is now Herty Field on North Campus, and losing to Auburn 0-10 at Piedmont Park in Atlanta. 

In 1893, the school had its first real football season with a five-game schedule that ran from November 4th to December 9th. Georgia went 2-2-1.

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Saturday, October 20, 2012

20 October 1899: A Burglary by "Dastardly Miscreants"

On this day in 1899, the story of the burglary of the "bedding, furniture, crockeryware, and clothing" of Mr. Joe Brightwell was published on the front page of the daily Athens Banner as well as the Weekly Banner:

Unfortunately, no further news was published about the robbery, so it is thought that Mr. Brightwell's goods were never recovered, nor the guilty parties ever brought to justice.

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Wednesday, October 17, 2012

17 October 1914: Georgia Tech Band Plays for Georgia Game

On this day in 1914, Georgia Tech provided both a marching band and the location of Grant Field for Georgia football game with North Carolina in Atlanta. The Yellow Jackets, as they were already known, were playing Alabama in Birmingham, and did not need the field.

Kickoff was at 3 o'clock in the afternoon, and admission cost $1. At the time, Grant Field seated approximately 800 people with no seats in the endzones. Both teams had won the previous week, and in their meeting in 1913, Georgia had won, 19-6.

However, it was not to be Georgia's day, losing 41-6 to the Tar Heels; Georgia even lost the coin toss. The Atlanta Constitution noted that North Carolina "have a 'real' football team. There is no getting away from that fact. They have a machine that looks far superior to any football team that has performed in Atlanta in the past six or seven years." 

In the Athens newspaper, it was noted that while Georgia fans appreciated the efforts of the Georgia Tech band, and therefore sympathized with them for their 13-0 loss to Alabama, their rendition of "Glory" wasn't so much a fight song as "a dirge." And that from now on, maybe going without a band at all is a better option than using Georgia Tech's.

Georgia would not win another game that year, losing their next four games (including to Tech) before tying Auburn 0-0 in the season closer, to end 3-5-1. Tech ended the season 6-2. North Carolina went 10-1, losing to Virginia by 17 points in their last game.

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Monday, October 15, 2012

15 October 1910: 57 Cakes Submitted, Only 5 Winners

On this day in 1910, the Athens Banner published the winners of the Young Women's Christian Association Cake Contest:

Though the Y.W.C.A was quite modern, as an organization that not only recognized the need for young, single women to work and be educated, and therefore, also need a safe place to stay when they came to cities on their own, they realized that barbeques, bake sales, other contests remained an acceptable way to raise money for these efforts.

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Saturday, October 13, 2012

Hear Ye! Hear Ye! Fantastic Scanner Demo on October 23rd!

On this day, we hope you will mark your calendar to come to the Athens-Clarke County Library's new Heritage Room space to see a demonstration of the incredibly cool ScanPro 2000 microfilm scanner and image processor on Tuesday, October 23rd

This machine is simple to use, and has powerful, automatic enhancement options for the image you are trying to scan. The Heritage Room staff saw an early demo of this new development in microfilm scanning a couple of years ago, and could not have been more impressed by the quality of the images created and the easy, intuitive interface. 

While no technology can fix every bad roll of microfilm, the improvements made by the ScanPro to your scanned images are something to see for yourself! A representative from Palmetto Microfilm Systems, Inc., will be here to demonstrate the ScanPro 2000, including information on how to copy microfilm and digitize the images.

We will have four demonstrations over the course of the day: 
12:30pm (lunch time)
 3:30 pm (after school)
 5:30 pm (after work)
 7:30 pm (after dinner)

The demonstration is free, but reservations are required, so please call the Reference Desk at (706) 613-3650, ext. 356  or email Laura Carter at to sign up for the session you want to attend. (You'll also get a peak at the new Heritage Room space while you're here!)

We look forward to sharing this smart new development in microfilm reading and scanning with all of you, and hope to see you at one of the four demonstrations on the 23rd!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

10 October 1912: "Athens Is a Plenty Good"

On this day in 1912, a small item appeared between news about the upcoming Stewart County soil survey and an ad for the Atlanta Coal and Ice Company ("phone 117") in the Athens Banner:

Says Athens Is a Plenty Good

Mr. L. M. Leathers, who moved to Atlanta several months ago, has returned to Athens. He prefers Athens to Atlanta. He will be at his place of business at 1366 Foundry street. His family will return in a few days.
- Athens Banner, 10 October 1912, p. 8, col. 4.

According to a mid-century business directory for the city of Athens, the L. M. Leathers company started in 1907 and moved to Athens in 1909. They specialized in roofing and other metal work, including doing all the cornice, sheet metal and roof work on the new courthouse in 1913. Their phone number for decades was 264.

Mr. Leathers retired from the company in 1942, and his three sons, Fred, Claude, and Milton, took over the business. By the 1940s, their manufacturing building was located at 675 Pulaski Street, and the company had expanded their offerings to refurbishing Coca-Cola bottling equipment, and "orchestrated the mass production of two of America’s favorite snacks- the peanut butter cracker and the Moon Pie."

Their manufacturing building was refurbished by Athens firm D.O.C. Unlimited, with an emphasis on retaining much of the original structure, including skylights, the company name on the exterior of the building, and high ceilings with brick walls inside, while also making the space pedestrian-friendly with plant beds and platforms that act as porches for the businesses now in the space. In 2005, the renovation won an award from the Athens-Clarke Heritage Foundation

Some of the current occupants of 675 Pulaski Street include Rubber Soul Yoga, Koons Environmental Design, and Shiraz Fine Wine & Gourmet.

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Sunday, October 7, 2012

7 October 1898: "Hansomest Coroner in Indulge in the Luxury of a Kiss."

On this day in 1898, the Weekly Banner published a strange story on the front page of the paper about "A Kissing Bee on Broad Street."

Despite much discussion amongst our library staff, we have no earthly idea why the coroner was raising money (and quite little of it) by kissing other professional men in town, or why the story ended when Tom Hunnicut, superintendent of the Athens Electric Railway, appeared. 

It seems to be yet another example of the different standards of journalism that existed in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, where it was apparently not at all unprofessional to publish, on the front page of the weekly paper, inside jokes. 

If you have any ideas about this story and why the coroner would have had to kiss for coins, please let us know via the comment section below, or our This Day in Athens email address,

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Friday, October 5, 2012

5 October 1906: Mrs. Williamson Kills 5-Foot Rattler

On this day in 1906, it was reported that Mrs. G. D. Williamson was not a delicate flower but an adept and potentially dangerous lady, if you were a snake.

There are three types of rattlesnakes in Georgia: the Pygmy, the Eastern Diamondback, and the Canebrake or Timber rattler. It was likely one of the latter two, as both can grow to be over five feet long. 

The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service is currently evaluating the Eastern Diamondback rattler for inclusion on the Endangered Species list. There are no limits on the hunting of this snake in the Southeast, and they are losing their habitat of long-leaf pine forests. 

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Wednesday, October 3, 2012

3 October 1899: Swearing, Not Snake Oil, Lands "Progressive Tooth Puller" in Jail

On this day in 1899, a local snake-oil salesman was reportedly sent to jail not for selling fake medicine, but for cursing at the man who disputed his claims and demanded his money back.

Cursing in public, especially in mixed company, was a serious offense in Athens, often with large fines attached and/or sentences requiring the offender to attend Sunday School each week for six weeks as a public way to atone for their public sin. Ladies who cursed were often treated more harshly by the local courts, as women were seen as not being properly feminine if they committed such a transgression, while men had merely shown poor judgement.

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