Signs of the Times (1931-1932)

Liberty county property owners by 1931 were lagging badly in the payment of their taxes. The county treasury was nearly depleted. The liberty County Board of Commissioners issued script to meet its obligations. It could be exchanged for cash, food, or supplies in commercial establishments, which discounted the script 25¢ on the dollar.


The Liberty County Chamber of Commerce made other efforts to bolster the local economy. During the first 13 months of its existence it established the Liberty County Car Credit Corporation Unit, the Liberty County Truck Growers Association, and the Liberty County Livestock Association.


Despite all of these efforts, however, the economic plight of Liberty County worsened each passing day in 1931. The number of people on the Liberty County pauper roll in­creased. Many people left to look for non-existent employ­ment in other parts of the country. Other people, broken in spirit by the depression, came home from the cities to a marginal existence on farms they left long before.


The U.S. Congress established the Reconstruction Finance Corporation to stimulate business. Banks and insurance, mortgage, loan and credit companies were given federal loans for the purpose. The Liberty County Chamber of Commerce went to work almost immediately to implement the program locally.


Road conditions in Liberty County in 1931 were poor.


U.S. Highway 82 had not yet been built. The road from Hinesville to Midway still had the same clay top put on it by the Liberty County Board of Commissioners in 1907. It was almost impassable in bad weather.


J.L. (“Cap”) Haymans operated a barber shop with shoe­shine boy on courthouse square in Hinesville. It was where Robert Hendry went early every Saturday night for a hair trim and a shoeshine before calling on Ruth Wilcox (1910-1986), his sweetheart, who he married. They had no chil­dren. She was the daughter of J .C. and Joanne Wilcox and the other Wilcox children were Arthur E. (“Buddy”), Daisy, John Terry, and Margaret Wilcox. The latter, a Liberty County historian, married Fred Darling, nephew of George B. Hack, a Hinesville physician.


Young people went often to the drug store operated by J.G. Ryon and T.W. Welborn in Hinesville to buy a soft drink when they had five cents, but more often just to loaf. They could stay as long as they liked without buying any­thing. Jesse G. Ryon was a kindly man who liked having young people around him. He installed a radio on a high shelf in the drug store. It played all day. The young people heard the latest recordings from radio station WTOC in Savannah, Georgia, for the first time on the drug store radio.


One of the most talented vocalists in Liberty County in the early 1930’s was Carl Varnedoe. Helen Hack, sister of George B. Hack, played the piano beautifully for benefit shows in the Bradwell Institute auditorium to raise money for the needy — and there were a lot of needy people in Liber­ty County by the winter of 1932.


The Liberty County Teachers Association met in the Willie High School auditorium on November 5, 1932, at 10:30 in the morning. Georgia Superintendent of Schools, I.S. Smith, Liberty County Superintendent of Schools, H.A. Bacon, and the principals of every white school in the county attended the meeting.


The meeting opened with a song by the audience. This was followed by a devotional delivered by Reverend J.F. Merrin, pastor of the Flemington Presbyterian Church.


Dorothy Hodges spoke on “Health in the Primary Grades,” followed by another talk on “The Place Exercise Has in the Elementary School” by Marion F. Martin Jr. Mildred Smith then spoke on “Teaching of History in the High School.”


There was then musical entertainment by Olive Ryon and Virginia Fraser. After a general business session, Edna R. Fennell, the county home demonstration agent, closed the program with remarks on “Celebration of the Bicentennial Year of the State.”


There was no Liberty County Fair in 1932, so Mary L. Ralston, the black county demonstration agent, grouped communities together and staged several “community fairs.” The events were a complete success.


The groupings were Baconton; Richland, Walthourville, and Lambert at Baconton; Strumbay and Shiloah at the latter; Gum Branch, Taylors Creek, Cross Bay, and Toms Creek at Taylors Creek; Philadelphia and Pine Hall at the latter ; Fleming, Freedmens Grove, Midway, Dorchester, Sunbury, Bacon Town, Cross Roads, and Retreat at Mid­way; Arcadia, Thebes, Holmes Town, McIntosh and Clay Bank at Mclntosh, and Cypress Slash, Flemington, and Hinesville at Cypress Slash.


The Liberty County Herald in the autumn of 1932 ad­vertised that it would accept produce and pigs as payment for subscriptions to the newspaper, with corn and sweet potatoes received at 75¢ a bushel, and pigs at 5¢ a pound.


The Liberty-Long County Singing Convention, with David I. Dawson as president, met in the Gum Branch Church on the second Sunday in November 1932. The public was invited to attend and bring “filled lunch baskets.”


The Hinesville-Flemington Womens Club produced a pageant titled “Neighbors” in the Bradwell Institute auditor­ium on the night of November 11, 1932. Its music was directed by Laura Martin Fraser, and the pageant was directed by Virginia Fraser. Admission was 15¢ for children and 25¢ for adults.


Postmistress Beulah Hines Fraser McCall, and her husband Bruce C. McCall constructed a combination post office­ general store adjacent to the Hinesville Bank. His old store was on the other side of courthouse square, while the old post office was in an addition to their home on courthouse square.


An unoccupied dwelling belonging to J .H. Salter in Hines­ville burned to the ground in 1932. He believed it to be the work of an arsonist. Sheriff M.F. Clark Sr. investigated the case and came up with nothing.


Moonshine-still raids by state revenue and local officers were fairly common in Liberty County in 1932. During one of the raids a moonshiner was killed and another injured when they tried to escape. The officials raided another still, found it deserted, and lifted up a large wooden tub to see what was under it. They found a very large and angry bob cat. They escaped without bodily injury.


Traveling by automobile from Liberty County to Savan­nah, Georgia, was considered a newsworthy event during this period of time. The local newspaper regularly reported that this or that person, or groups of persons, had “motored to Savannah.” A reason for the journey was considered unim­portant.


A Parents-Teachers Association “Summer Health Round­up” was held in the home of Inez Tippins Mingledorff in 1932 for children scheduled to enter school that fall. Physical examinations were given free to each child by B.H. Gibson, an Allenhurst physician. The Mingledorff home just off courthouse square was formerly owned by Thomas S. and Leila Mabelle Boulineau Layton.