This Month in Athens - March 2017


Welcome to the March 2017 Edition of This Month in Athens.

For more historic Athens newspapers, be sure to visit the Athens Historical Newspapers Archive on Galileo.

March 27th, 1903...

Clipping from a March 27th, 1903 edition of the Banner-Herald describing the need for free libraries in the city


March 14th, 1922 - Charm the Educated Horse Charms Local Students

 Charm was awarded a diploma by the University of Kentucky, in case any of you football fans out there want to start honing your SEC jokes by the spring football game.

March 26, 1915...Woodmen of the World Visit Athens! What will they see?

Clipping from a March 26, 1915 edition of the Weekly Banner describes a visit of the Woodmen of the World to the town of Athens, Ga.

The Napoleon Willow mentioned here is of interest to anyone who has visited the Athens botanical gardens. It was of interest to members of the Woodmen of the World.

For a more information about the old Botanical Garden at the University of Georgia, check out this interesting article from 1899, written by Rev. Samuel Boykin, of Nashville.

Boykin cites Dr. Henry Jackson as the progenitor of the Napoleon Willow in Athens and it is from this slip, taken from a tree on St. Helena, that Boykin says all willows in Athens owe their heritage. This is questionable, but an interesting thing for Boykin to note.

While Napoleon died in 1821, his body was not exhumed and taken to France until 1840. It was at this time, according to a 1927 article by Dr. Sylvanus Morris, that the French government sent clippings of the willow to countries who were considered friends of France. William H. Crawford (U.S. Minister to France until 1815, then Secretary of War until 1816, and Secretary of Treasury until 1825) though deceased, received one of these clippings, which were then passed on to Dr. Henry Jackson. According to the Tree Registry of Athens and Clarke County Georgia (1977) published by the Junior Ladies Club and Julian Howard Miller (call no. GR 582.16 TREE) the clippings were planted in the old Botanical Garden in the 1830s.

The Tree Registry from 1977 notes the location of several other willows grown from these clippings, including one at 460 Pinecrest, planted in the 1940s by R.N. Fickett from clippings purchased at Dudley's Nursery in 5 Points. There is also a willow located at 436 Dearing Street, not viewable from the street, planted by Dean William Tate. I would be interested to learn if these are still extant.

Check out the following article by Col. T. Larry Gantt (editor of the Banner in the 1920s) for more information!

A clipping from the January 20th, 1927 Banner-Herald describing the history of the Napoleon Willow in Athens, Ga.

This Month in Athens - February 2017

Welcome to the February 2017 Edition of This Month in Athens.

For more historic Athens newspapers, be sure to visit the Athens Historical Newspapers Archive on Galileo.


February 27th, 1914... 

A clipping from a February 27th 1914 edition of the Banner Herald describing the mystery surrounding a man and woman seeking Vaudeville employment in Athens, Ga.


There’s trouble at the Theatre! By the early 1900s Athens had gained a bit of a reputation as a launching-point for young entertainers coming from the Atlanta area. Thus, a mystery presented itself in early 1914, when a young woman from Atlanta, Mrs. Ruth Martin, a bride of five months, absconded to Athens to seek employment as a vaudeville pianist. After, presumably, lying to her husband H.J. Martin about her whereabouts, her husband pursued her to Athens to bring her back home. The article gets particularly evocative about the impression vaudeville work left on her husband, “Before the footlights, possibly in abbreviated skirts, associating with the rough and tumble hoi-polloi to which the show crowds must needs get used. The idea was a shock to him.”


Uh oh! Hoi-polloi, no less! When the young man finally retrieved his bride he gave her the “choice” to stay in Athens or to come back to their home in Atlanta, where he had initially claimed to be a machinist. Though she agreed to come home with him in front of two witnesses, H.J. Martin then went to the Banner-Herald, accompanied by the manager of the vaudeville house, to put a notice in the paper that his wife Ruth had accepted a position as a pianist in Athens. He also stated that he worked with the Greenwood Company, a vaudeville company connected to Charlotte Greenwood, a popular star of the day.


Sounds fishy! I wonder if the Banner-Herald was attempting to drum up rumors with the original story in tandem with Mr. Martin and his wife for mutual benefit. The story is very odd - it seems plausible to me. Check out the original article here.


In July 1915 H.J. Martin drowned outside of Atlanta after jumping into a pond to save two drowning boy scouts. His wife, Ruth, attempted suicide with a piston immediately after witnessing his death. The pistol was wrested from her by several scouts on the banks of the pond. These Martins certainly lived a dramatic life.


A clipping from the July 29th 1915 edition of the Banner-Herald describing the drowning death of H.J. Martin

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