This & That

Story published: 01-16-2013 • Print ArticleE-mail Story to a Friend

Old editions of The Tomahawk offer some interesting reading

By Jack Swift

As those of you who read my column know, I love to dig into my collection of old newspapers just to pick out one and read the stories and note the advertisements therein. You guessed it. This column is a result of another “discovery.” As I talk with folks around Johnson County, one of the subjects brought up most in conversations is old times in the county and Mountain City. With that in mind, I chose a January 6, 1910 edition of The Tennessee Tomahawk. The name of the newspaper was printed in bold ˝ inch letters at the top of the front page. It was a six-column newspaper and it was the second name of the long running paper that is still going strong today. It was originally called The Taylorsville Reporter.

One of the first things that caught my eye was a 2-column advertisement on the front page. The ad read “Mountain City Auction Co., Dealers In Dry Goods, Notions, hats, caps, Shoes and Clothing.” The ad announced a sale that was due to end February 1, 1910. As I’ve written many times, I just can’t imagine prices as low as they were advertised. There was a list of men’s suits priced from $4.00 to $14.50. Dress shirts were listed at 39 cents to 78 cents each. Quilts were priced at 95 cents and blankets for 90 cents. At the bottom of the ad this note from the manager read “Cut this advertisement out and bring it with you. Please ask our customers if we do what we advertise.”

I noted that the 13th census was apparently coming up as one of the articles on the front page considered Enumerators’ tests. The story was headed “Enumerators’ tests will be easy. Census Director Durand Sets February 5 as the Date for Giving Tests.” The dateline was Washington D. C. Dec. 27. According to the article, any person of good judgement, who has received a common school education, can readily and easily pass the test. The article went on to mention that several people were eager to take the test to possibly help in the census.

Another story had as its subject iron mining. Three prominent men from the county had formed a $100,000 corporation, known as the Maxwell-Knight Iron Company, Inc., to develop ore mines in Johnson County near Butler. The company had acquired 600 acres of land rich in ore deposits.

The four-page paper’s last page featured almost a complete page on Berea College. There is a photo showing some of the buildings on the campus. At that time the newspaper showed Berea as having five departments: College, Academy, Normal, Vocational and Model Schools. There was a picture of eight Berea teachers but they weren’t identified. The cost of attending Berea is very inexpensive by today’s standards. A winter term of twelve weeks beginning January 5, 1910 cost a total of $30.00 for the Vocational and Model School, $31.00 for the Normal and Academy, and $32.00 for the College. Over the years a number of Johnson County folks became graduates of Berea and have led successful lives.

For me, it was an interesting trip through The Tennessee Tomahawk of 1910. Mr. E. E. Barry was editor and manager at the time.