Pulaski Citizen Archived Issues
By CLAUDIA JOHNSON|
February 10, 2004
One of the benefits of reading the archived issues of the Pulaski Citizen in chronological order is that I am getting a sense of the county's history as it unfolds. My only regret is that there is insufficient space to tell all these stories. Each week it is difficult to choose what should appear on "a page from the past…" At this point in my reading I am witnessing the subtle transition from the Reconstruction Era to the Industrial Age, not just in the articles but also in the advertisements. New ads appear almost weekly for new or improved farming implements, washing machines, sewing machines and various "inventions" like a portable soda fountain. As Giles County reached the mid-1870s the portion of local news was about the following topics:
Dozens of reports, guest columns and editorials over a period of years followed the regional movement to build a railroad through the southern portion of Tennessee that would connect Pulaski to Memphis and Knoxville.
The public educational system approved by the Tennessee General Assembly is being implemented. Giles County has hired a superintendent and is providing training at Pisgah, Campbellsville, Beech Hill, Rural Hill, Prospect, Minor Hill, Elkton, Lynnville and Odd Fellows Hall for local teachers. The Pulaski bookstore, owned by Citizen publisher L.W. McCord, sells teaching materials and textbooks.
The Tennessee River Iron and Manufacturing Company formed with local leaders Gov. John C. Brown, attorney Solon E. Rose and Dr. Elihu Edmundson as officers and other prominent men from Lawrenceburg, Bolivar and Henderson as board members. The purpose of the company was to sell $100,000 worth of stock and examining and purchasing suitable land for factory sites or mining.
The Grange concept that swept the county was very popular in Giles County. J.K.P. Blackburn was elected to help organize a farmer's group in several communities.
Local, state and federal elections were constantly subjects of news and commentary. In 1874 the county held community meetings and a countywide convention to choose candidates. Some candidates were not in favor of the convention choices and bought advertisements announcing that they would not withdraw their names from the local races merely because delegates did not choose them.
Pulaski hosted a Fruitgrowers Exposition for several years with days of lectures, exhibits, competitions and demonstrations attended by visitors from throughout the south. Concerts, balls, theatrical presentations and grand receptions associated with the event are described in detail in the newspaper.
The building of turnpikes and bridges has long been promoted by the Citizen. By the mid-1870s several turnpike companies have been formed by businessmen who fund building of roads, then charge tolls to recover some of the cost. County Court records indicate communities request funding of bridge building across major waterways.
A surprising number of Giles Countians migrated to Denver, Colorado, including Angenol Cox, builder of Antoinette Hall. Cox owned a massive vineyard and nursery, produced wine, developed commercial buildings and served on many boards of business and social enterprises. He sold all his local holdings and moved to Denver. Train excursions to Colorado with dozens of local passengers were commonly reported.
The bankruptcy law was enacted in the 1860s, and notices of bankruptcy appeared weekly in the Citizen along with foreclosures, sheriff's sales and chancery court sales. Some of the wealthy merchants closed up, advertising sale of their goods at cost, in the years leading to the depression of 1873.
In answer to the Citizen's call for community correspondents, columnist writing under pen names regularly submitted articles from Bunker Hill, Bethel, Lynnville, Wales, Parker's Store, Prospect, Stella, Elkton and Aspen Hill.
Marriage licenses, land transfers (including sale prices), the court docket and other public records were printed weekly.
This week I've chosen the typical local news items that appear on pages two and three of the Victorian era newspapers. Page one of the four-page, eight-column paper contains national news, poetry and short stories and reprinted material from other newspapers and magazines. Page four is usually reserved for agricultural or household articles, news and tips, few of which are local.