Beginning of the New Deal (1933)

In 1933 the people of Liberty County gathered around the few radios in the county to hear Franklin D. Roosevelt speak during his inauguration as 32nd president of the U.S. He said “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” Every­body hoped that prosperity was “just around the corner.” But few of them really believed it.


There were 107 commercial establishments in Liberty County during the period 1930-1935, and sales in these establishments amounted to $507,000. Fourteen industries in the county during the same period of time employed 295 persons, and the value of all products amounted to $369,837. The Liberty County Chamber of Commerce in 1933 said that taxable income for the county during the previous year was $2.5 million, derived mainly from its lumber and naval stores operations, and more than 1,000 farmers.


The Liberty County Chamber of Commerce report noted that “good pastures make cattle and hog raising practical, and many miles of coastal rivers supply an abundance of fish, oysters, shrimp, and other seafoods.” The organization was, of course, trying to attract industry to Liberty County. But its efforts had few results, and the economic depression continued and got even worse.


Elaborate pageants and other events were staged in the Savannah Municipal Stadium for three days commencing on April 28, 1933, in celebration of the Georgia Bicentennial Year. More than 200 Liberty Countians and other persons whose ancestors originated in Liberty County, staged a color­ful pageant before thousands of spectators during the round of activities.


There was a long drum roll as the brilliantly costumed participants, portraying pioneers of the county, marched onto the stadium field against a giant replica of the Midway Church altar. They were led by Reverend Arthur Morrison Martin, who portrayed Reverend John Osgood, first pastor of Midway Church.


After a prayer, the participants sang “A Charge To Keep Have I,” led by Robert M. Varnedoe. He portrayed Parmenas Way Sr., one of his ancestors, who always led the Midway Church congregation in song during his day and time. Varne­doe even used the same tuning fork used by Way to get members of the congregation off on the same key.


The Liberty County pageant was produced by the Hines­ville-Flemington Womens Club, under the overall supervision of Corrie McDowell Martin. Most of the participants were descended from the people they portrayed.


It was in 1933 that Robert M. (“Bob”) Martin, editor and publisher of the Liberty County Herald for 40 years, died. During that time he was away from Liberty County for seven years, and his newspaper was edited and published by his sisters, Inez Martin Perry and Estelle Martin Rimes. The latter became editor and publisher of the Ludowici News. His wife and son, Robert S. Martin, edited and published the news­paper after his death.


Election days have always been important occasions in Liberty County. During the early 1930’s a crowd would gather around the Liberty County Courthouse when all the county polls closed, and await the results. A victorious candidate would sometimes buy “dopes,” or Coca-Colas, at five cents each, for everybody in “Uncle Jesse” Ryon’s drug store on courthouse square. Sarah Hines worked the soda fountain and served up the drinks as long as the crowds and the victor’s money held out.


Beer (3.2 percent) became legal and prohibition in the U.S. came to an end in 1933, the same year that the National Recovery Act (NRA) and federal relief programs went into effect. It was not until the end of summer 1934 that the relief programs were felt in Liberty County.