Hinesville turned back the pages of its history on October 28, 1937, and reviewed in oratory and pageantry the story of its first 100 years. The centennial celebration took place on the first day of the Liberty County Fair.
Virginia Fraser, great-granddaughter of Charlton Hines, for whom Hinesville was named, was appointed chairperson of the centennial celebration which was sponsored by the City of Hinesville. She appointed committees to produce segments of “The Pageant of Hinesville”, which she wrote and directed.
Mayor T.W. Welborn, Louise Rambo, Wallace F. Mills, and M.F. Clark Jr. were vice-chairpersons of the pageant. Members of the pageant committee were Virginia Fraser, Alice W. Winn, Laura Martin Fraser, Lennox F. Cook, W.C. Hodges, Wallace F. Mills, F.F. Rambo, J.G. Ryon, and Reverend W.E. Dennis. Other chairpersons were Beulah Hines Fraser McCall, reception committee; M.F. Clark Jr. publicity committee; M.F. Clark Sr., dinner committee; Mrs. Henry Lowe, serving committee; D.S. Owen, float committee; Paul E. Caswell, music committee; Sheriff Paul H. Sikes, traffic committee; Edna R. Fennell and Ethel D. Hack, costume committee; Mrs. Travis L. Slayden, entertainment committee, and Willie D. Stafford, sale of pageant booklets by the Laura Martin Fraser Chapter of the Children of the Confederacy.
An article in the Savannah Morning News for October 23, 1937, said: “Committees have been working for months to perfect all of the details and reports from chairmen indicate that they have done a wonderful job. They have labored with their hearts and souls in the undertaking and those who come from elsewhere are assured of a finished production.”
A group of young ladies from Liberty County traveled to Savannah, Georgia, a few days before the celebration to promote the pageant and the Liberty County Fair. They visited city officials, radio station WTOC, and the Savannah Morning News. Robert M. (“Bob”) Martin, editor and publisher of the Liberty County Herald, originated the idea of publicizing the fair a few years earlier, and he named the young ladies “The Liberty Belles.”
Dignitaries who attended the celebration included Governor E.D. Rivers, U.S. Senator Richard B. Russell, U.S. Congressman Hugh Peterson, Georgia Attorney General M.J. Youmans, and Savannah Mayor Robert Hitch. Governor Rivers led a motorcade of the dignitaries from Savannah to Midway on the morning of the celebration. It was met by still another motorcade from Liberty County, led by Mayor T.W. Welborn and Sheriff Paul H. Sikes, who escorted the visitors to Hinesville.
The 118th Field Artillery Band from Savannah provided music for the celebration all day. The Liberty-Long String Band, led by J. Ernest Groover and Ben Way, provided music for portions of the pageant in the afternoon.
The morning program took place in front of the Liberty County courthouse. It opened with a salute to the governor fired by the 118th Field Artillery and the Liberty Independent Troop. The audience then sang “America,” Reverend Arthur M. Martin, pastor of Eastern Heights Presbyterian Church in Savannah, gave the invocation, and the dignitaries spoke.
Mayor T.W. Welborn made a welcome address. and Governor Rivers officially opened the celebration. Senator Russell spoke and reminded the audience that Charlton Hines was his great-great-uncle. He was followed by speeches from Georgia Attorney General Youmans and Congressman Peterson.
After the speeches, a “Parade of Floats” formed on courthouse square and began a march to the National Guard Armory grounds for a free seafood dinner, and “The Pageant of Hinesville” in the afternoon. Colonel Sheftall B. Coleman and the 118th Field Artillery led the march, followed by Captain Paul E. Caswell and the Liberty Independent Troop.
The troops were followed by cars bearing dignitaries and officials of Hinesville and Liberty County. They were followed by floats from the City of Hinesville, Liberty County, Long County, Liberty County Chapter No. 480, United Daughters of the Confederacy, the Knights of Pythias, the Farmers Market in Savannah, Bradwell Institute, Dorchester Junior High School, the Liberty County Herald, the CocaCola Bottling Company, the Liberty County Chamber of Commerce, and the Appling County Protective Timber Association.
After the crowd had eaten the seafood dinner, “The Pageant of Hinesville” was presented in a set erected on the race track in front of the grandstand at the National Guard Armory. W.C. Hodges narrated the pageant over loudspeakers.
Hundreds of spectators watched intently as the history of Hinesville unfolded before their eyes. Prizes for best segments of the pageant, provided by the City of Hinesville, were presented by A. Gordon Cassels of Savannah, Georgia, a former captain of the Liberty Independent Troop and citizen of Liberty County.
James R. Bagley, first Town Marshal of Hinesville in 1897, was present at the celebration. Enoch L. Hendry of Savannah, Georgia, represented his father Alfred Iverson Hendry, first mayor of Hinesville in 1894. Robert Charlton Hines of Thomasville, Georgia, represented his grandfather, Charlton Hines.
After the pageant there were horse races supervised by W.F. Mills. Riders from several counties took part in the event. There were then “tilting” contests in which members, or past members, of the Liberty Independent Troop participated. They were Joseph B. Fraser Jr., H.C. Norman, J.R. Waite, C.J. Martin Jr. and Herbert P. Norman.
Celebration of the 100th anniversary of Hinesville ended that night with an old-fashioned ball in the drill room on the second floor of the National Guard Armory. Merrymakers and dancers packed the room, and nobody went home much before midnight.
The Liberty County Fair continued for two more days, and one of the most interesting exhibits was a livestock show with 40 Angus and Hereford cattle. O.C. Martin produced the exhibit. The Savannah Morning News said it “showed the result of a four-year program of better cattle breeding.”
There was a forestry exhibit where C.J. Martin Jr. explained the value of fire prevention. There were other exhibits of produce, baked goods, fruits and vegetables canned in glass jars, and handicraft from every community in Liberty County. Ribbons were awarded to the best in each class.
The last day of the fair was devoted to the black people of Liberty County. Mary L. Ralston, the black county home demonstration agent, arranged an array of exhibits of black housewives and farmers. Ribbons were presented to the best entries of handicraft, canned goods, and farm produce.