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The sinking of the Titanic and other facts about 1912

April 15, of this year marks the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the “unsinkable” Titanic, the British luxury liner that was supposed to be one of the safest ships of all time. Built at a shipyard in Belfast, Ireland, she sailed April 10, 1912 on her maiden voyage from Southampton, England to New York City. The gigantic ship hit an iceberg a glancing blow at 11:40 the night of April 14, beginning the ship’s doom. The great ship sank the next day at 2:20, taking with it more than 1500 souls. There were 2,223 passengers on board.
As I was thinking of the upcoming anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic, I thought it must have been one of the biggest headlines of 1912. Tragedy of that magnitude no doubt prompted large headlines and in depth stories about that event in the leading newspapers of that time. But, I began also to wonder what other interesting things might have occurred in the year 1912 on both the national and a local scene.
William Howard Taft was president during 1912. He served one term, which began in 1909. His bid for reelection in 1912 failed but he later entered a distinguished career as Chief Justice of the United States. He weighed 332 pounds and after getting stuck in the White House bathtub, a larger tub was acquired. He began the custom of the president throwing out the first ball to begin the baseball season. President Taft was 72 when he died on March 8, 1930.
On January 6, New Mexico became the 47th state with Santa Fe the capital city. On February 14, Arizona became the 48th state. On October 14, Theodore Roosevelt was shot while on a presidential campaign trip to Milwaukee. The bullet struck a thick manuscript yet went into his chest. Roosevelt made his scheduled speech before being taken to a hospital.
The governor of Tennessee in 1912 was Ben W. Hooper, a Republican. He served in that capacity from January 26, 1911 until January 17, 1915. He was the only Republican governor between 1880 and 1920, a span of 40 years.
In Johnson County, Caleb H. Garland was sheriff in 1912. In that year the county school superintendent was earning $350 per year. The late Ross D. Fritts in his very informative book on the development of education in Johnson County points out that in 1912 the Board of Education appropriated $400 to build a two room schoolhouse at Bethel (Doe) and $1,000 to build a schoolhouse at Doe Valley. The community of Doe Valley was to furnish the site and to add $1,000 to the cost of building it. The BOE added $500 to enhance the new venture into rural high school education. High school subjects were added to the new Doe Valley School and it became Doe Valley High School. Ninth and tenth grade subjects were taught.
Fritts’ book says the Pine Orchard School had water troubles. The school board agreed to pay for the labor of laying the wall for the well, provided the community would dig the well and deliver the rocks for walling it.
The community involvement of that time indicates the desire of Johnson County Citizens to provide education for their children.
These few things I have mentioned serve as only a glimpse of the year 1912 nationally as well as in Tennessee and Johnson County. Taking a glance back to the year 1912 was interesting to me and I hope it was interesting to you as well.