This & That

Story published: 04-16-2014 • Print ArticleE-mail Story to a Friend

Old Butler newspaper is interesting to read

By Jack Swift

Over the years I have received a number of old newspapers from various sources. Occasionally it is kind of fun to open up one of those old newspapers and let it be a lens through which we can view a chunk of time in the area where these papers were published. Newspapers record history. Some folks read old newspapers just for entertainment while others glean a bit of history from those printed pages. Old advertisements and how prices have changed over time is always interesting to me.

A few years ago I received a unique newspaper. It was published from Butler, Tennessee. It was Volume II; Number 18 of The Holly Leaf dated Friday May 26, 1899. Now, that’s a long time ago — 115 years actually. I have kept it in a plastic sleeve to protect it and although the type has faded, it is readily readable. It is one of my oldest newspapers. The motto of the paper was “Energy Means Success.” On the front page of the 4-page paper were a lot of strange, humorous and short articles. A front-page ad touted a company that specialized in patents. C.A. Snow & Co. was the firm and the ad stated that it was opposite the U. S. Patent Office.

An interesting blurb from the front page of the paper headed “Town Killers” is as follows.

Town killers, remarks an exchange, are classified into eight separate branches. “First — those who go out of town to do their shopping; Second — those who are opposed to improvement; Third — those who prefer a quiet town to one of push and business; Fourth — those who imagine they own the town; Fifth — those who deride public spirited men; Sixth — those who oppose every movement that does not originate with them; Seventh — those who oppose every movement that does not benefit them; Eighth — those who seek to injure the credit or reputation of individuals.”

There is a schedule announcement for Holly Spring College and since the paper is contemporary with the college, I suspect that the Holly Leaf is a publication of the college. Perhaps someone can advise me on that. In the announcement, it says that the Spring Term commences January 2, 1899 and ends May 5, 1899. Tuition ranged from $1.25 to $4.00 per month. Board was $8.50 per month. It boasts of a good library and reading room. The college had three literary societies. Museum, Microscopes, Globes and other apparatus were provided. There were 250 students last year. J. H. Smith was president of the college at the time.

Another item headed “New Road Law” is informative. It reads, “The new road law passed by the Legislature does away with road overseers after the first of January, 1900. The roads will be let to contract and the contractors are clothed with all the authority as to summoning road hands requiring them to labor etc., which was heretofore vested in road overseers. All male residents of a county between the ages of 18 and 50 years are subject to road labor, except those who have been exempted by the county courts due to disability. ”Of course, there are a few announcements on the front page by doctors, lawyers, painters, contractors, etc.

It is interesting to know that even that early there was a thriving college in Old Butler. The Holly Leaf gives us a glimpse into what was deemed news in that day. Incidentally, prior to Holly Spring College there was Aenon Seminary. Later Watauga Academy was established and served the educational needs of the community for several years.