It’s the roaring 20s. The age will begin with economic prosperity and end in economic despair. But during this early boom time, neither Gallatin nor the rest of American has any hint of impending disaster.
Gallatin has voted for paved streets, lighted by a modern white way — the long cherished dream entertained for years by the forward looking citizens of the community. A sewer system for the entire city is also planned.
“Gallatin will take rank among the leading cities of north Missouri in point of public improvements. Already equipped with modern water and electric lighting systems, with a new power house and oil engines, this latter improvement particularly valuable in this period of coal strikes; an up-to-date school building; a Y.M.C.A. building, the finest boasted of by a town of this size in the state; beautiful churches and homes, modern business and office buildings, recently constructed court house and wide streets that will be turned into excellent thoroughfares under the plans for paving. (Aug. 10, 1922)
Industry is increasing rapidly. Consumer spending is on the rise and the economy is steadily growing. Gov. Arthur M. Hyde terms farming as Missouri’s greatest industry.
“An industry representing so vast a capitalization and providing employment for so large a number of citizens of Missouri, and at the same time providing homes for nearly half of the population of the state, is an industry which challenges the attention of every man or woman interested in the future progress and development of this commonwealth. (Nov. 2, 1922)
Hogs the farmer’s biggest income producer
“Porkers of high degree contested for breeding points at the big Pig Show and Sale and Corn Exhibit held in Gallatin under the auspices of the Vocational Agriculture departments of the schools of the county. This is the first sale of the kind held in Daviess County. The farmers of the corn belt states have received more than half billion dollars cash during the first six months this year from the sale of fat hogs.” (Oct. 5, 1922)
Farm Cooperative movement
The first movement toward farm cooperatives is underway. There are as many different opinions on the subject as there are individual farmers. They range all the way from unstinted praise to bitter denunciation.
“That the cooperative movement does tend to impair the historic and cherished individualism of the farmer is true. For a cooperation to succeed all of its members must submit to standardization of their output as to the varieties, grades, times of harvesting and shipping and the like….But the cooperative movement is no longer something which any farmer who wants to get ahead can take or leave as he chooses. …in the course of a very few years all of the products of the farm…will be hauled by railway from grower to consumer by farmer owned cooperatives….Sooner or later the ultra-individualistic type of farmer will vanish and agriculture all over the country will assume the aspect of other business, in which team work is the essential element of success.(Feb. 28, 1939)
Television is still just a twinkle in the inventor’s eye during this era. This is the beginning of radio. Jazz is the music and the Charleston’s the dance craze. “Once you have a radio receiving set in your home you will never be without one,” states an ad for the Reliable Electric Co. A new municipal radio set is installed at the local Y.M.C.A. The radio program was sent out by the Kansas City Star’s broadcasting station that evening.
“After the musical program, Gov. Hyde spoke on what the radio means to humanity in general and those of the rural districts in particular. (June 8, 1922)
Like all new technology, radio has its spits and starts. A crowd estimated at from 1,500 to 2,000 assembled in Pattonsburg to listen to the radio concert put on by the Pattonsburg Mill & Elevator Co.
“These lessened the pleasure of the entertainment. First, the men who installed the horn were too anxious to make it loud enough to satisfy and overdid it, making it a jumble and increasing the frying sound of the static; second, there was a rain storm between Kansas City and Pattonsburg, and third, there were too many cars backing and tooting around. Towards the last the operators got it toned down until it was very enjoyable.
John Rogers and wife could hear it very plainly at their home, a mile northeast of town, and it reported that Jesse Morris heard it, and supposing some big-gun politician was making a speech, came down to see what was going on. He lives a quarter of a mile farther away than John Rogers. George Auldridge who lives a quarter or better north of Jesse, says he heard it, but was too tired and sleepy to sit up and listen to it.”
Coal miners go on strike
Not everyone is pleased with the way things are going. Coal miners go on strike and a fuel commission for Daviess County has an unpleasant task.
“In our opinion the coal supply is very uncertain. Schools, flour mills, hotels, restaurants, ice and light plants will have first supply…dwelling will be about the last. In the churches of the county, the brethren will have to dwell together in unity…This committee receives no salary… “not even one dollar a year, nothing for postage or other expenses, so please don’t cuss us if we don’t get your view point.” (Aug. 31, 1922)
Nature takes another heavy toll this decade.
“Another great flood! Waters of Grand River spread over entire bottoms. Greatest loss of crops in history of county. Many are made homeless by fast rising tides. Town of Pattonsburg again entirely covered by flood water. Exceeded only in 1909.” (July 13, 1922)
Fire sweeps west side!
One of most disastrous blazes in history of Gallatin takes entire old courthouse block, entailing an estimated loss of $100,000. Only telephone building left standing. Five buildings and contents claimed by flames: Pettijohn building, housing Payne Furniture Co, and Cox Restaurant; Alexander building, Jacob Mann Second Hand Store; law offices, Judge J.W. Alexander and O.O. Mettle, second floor; Mrs. C.A. Nixon one story farm building, housing T.P. Leabo Barber Shop and H.E. Roland Shoe Shop and one story Alexander building housing C.F. Dannar Shoe Shop and A.R. Maffitt Real Estate and Loan Office. Sparks set court house afire. (May 15, 1924)
Gasoline is 23 cents a gallon. The 12th Annual Gallatin Chautauqua was a “successful assembly in every particular” (Aug. 31, 1922) Gallatin has four churches. The Buick automobile is the popular car of the area. A 6-cylinder, 3-passenger Roadster sells for $1305. (Aug. 10, 1922)
Showing at the Courter Theatre in the summer of 1922 was Tom Mix in “Up and Doing” You all like Tom Mix, and this is one of his best. The beautiful Marion Davies in “Enchantment,” a clever and brilliant satire on the modern society “Flapper,” gorgeously screened and superbly acted. A picture that you will be glad that you came to see. And Alice Lake in “Over the Wire.” Alice Lake is very clever and at her best in this picture. (Aug. 24, 1922)
Women are no longer confined to home and the kitchen. The flapper of the 20s was a bit of a rebel. She defies convention. She bobs her hair and wears short skirts and lipstick. She upsets more than old fashion trends. She upsets tradition, ideas of acceptable feminine behavior, and the older generation.
A guest columnist for the Gallatin newspaper writes: “Ultra-feminists, whose purpose in life seems to be to break up the American home and put married life on the plane of the cheapest illicit love-affair. Because this ‘modern’ idea runs contrary to the most deep-seated traditions every expression of it gets a lot of publicity… But it by no means follows that American family life is in danger. Home and babies and a husband with a good job are what the overwhelming majority of American girls still want in marriage. (Feb. 4, 1930)
Ku Klux Klan making its move
“A Ku Klux Klan national lecturer spoke at the Courter theater here Sunday afternoon, and there was a fair sized crowd present to hear his address….He declared the Klan stood for Americanism, law enforcement, free speech, free press, free public schools with the putting back of the Bible, protection of pure womanhood, supremacy of the white race and Protestant Christianity. The speaker did not wear any Klan garb, and in the main his remarks might be called a patriotic address. Those who attended the meeting, or at least a great majority of them, attended more out of curiosity than anything else. The speaker had no introduction, and left the theater just about as hurriedly. We never learned his name. Some blank cards were passed out, with instructions that those who cared to sign them could mail them to Trenton. No fiery cross was displayed, nor were there any evidence of organization at this meeting save the passing out of these cards, and collection by some one at the door. Whether the Klan is to be perfected here we do not know. To date locally it is only a curiosity proposition. (May 31, 1923)
Chicago had Al Capone. Gallatin had its own reckless, ruthless gangsters.
“Laying down a regular army barrage, warning all comers to keep in the clear, robbers, believed to have been six of them, entered the First National Bank in Gallatin about 3 o’clock this morning, blew the big vault and safe, wounded John Chamberlain, veteran night officer, wrecked the bank interior, and escaped with about $4,100 in gold and currency and registered Liberty bonds in one of the most daring and deliberate bank robberies ever pulled off in this section of the state, the yeggmen using a full one hour’s time to complete the job. John Chamberlain, night-watchman, who was wounded, was held a prisoner in the stairway, west of the bank, for one full hour. Mayor J.H. Tate and Frank A. Woodruff also received slight buck shot wounds from the shot gun barrage sent down the street by the bandits. (Nov. 23, 1922)
Last night’s robbery recalls Gallatin’s other bank robbery December 7, 1869, when Capt. John W. Sheets, cashier of the Daviess County Savings Association, was killed . In a few more days it will have been 53 years since this robbery. (Nov. 23, 1922)
Prohibition for a reason
People no doubt heard the news of the robbery while sitting on the porch, listening to jazz on the radio, and maybe sipping bootlegged whiskey out of a mason jar. Prohibition is in full force. Alcohol-related accidents had a whole different meaning back then. One unfortunate young man, Hammitt Ward, met a horrible death when his auto left a bridge on a road near Carlow.
“He was said to have been in an intoxicated condition and this was his third or fourth trip between the towns. Many are of the opinion that he was transporting “white corn” from Carlow to Breckenridge. He drove a Ford car and instead of having regular headlight he used a lantern to light his way. In leaving the wooden culvert the car turned turtle and in some manner Ward was pinned between the top of the seat and one of the bows at the top of the car. The drop from the bridge was about eight feet and the fire must have started from the lantern catching the leaking gasoline from the car. (June 22, 1922)
The writer of the Magill Items had more to say about the accident:
“All indications were that local corn juice was mixed up in this affair and was directly responsible for this poor man’s death. And this leads us to believe that the county officer we now have whose duty it is to look after such matters, are entirely blind, and not only blind, but have lost all sense of smell, for there are a number of places near where this accident happened, that can be smelled for at least one-half a mile, so with at least five stills running full blast within one-half mile square and two more running within a mile of them, it shows plainly that the officers are in the condition above described, for we know they would not neglect their duty in matters of this kind, nor, would an officer send any man word two days ahead of time that he was going to search his premises, and to get his still covered up so he could not see it. However, the people of this vicinity have their weather eye on candidates who are before them now, and if there is no show of keeping them off their ticket in the primary, there will surely come a day that will see some of their names with pencil mark plainly drawn through them.” (June 22, 1922)
While the citizen of Magill had the right idea in how to handle a complaint about lax law enforcement — through the election process — some had other ideas about how to get things done:
“This letter was received by Sheriff Gildow. We print it just as it was received:
To the sheriff and prosecuting attorney. We hereby warm you to clean up Stills and bootleggers at once We know you are in with them you come to Carlow and get boose… you know who and where all the still is distroy them at once and clean up or this is the end of you it never was know to be in such a condishion supporting such a man as you no other county in the state like Daviess come from all over the country everywhere after boose get buisy at once last worning short notice. — K.K.K. (July 13, 1922)
Sheriff Gildow had his hands full trying to keep track of the bootleggers.
“Last Thursday evening 27 sacks of sweetness, each weighing 100 pounds, were taken from the Paul E. Comstock Grocery Store at Carlow. A quantity of corn chop was also taken. These two “ingredients” are used quite extensively in the manufacture of a certain beverage. A search was instituted by the officers and several premises were investigated. We understand six sacks of the sugar, also 200 pounds of the corn chop were found in the weeds near the James Drummond farm, east of Carlow, Friday night. The amount of sugar and corn chop taken from the store would make enough “bug juice” to make all the citizens of the whole county ‘sit up and take notice.’
“In making search of the country, the officers located a regular “French dug-out,” which had been the home of a still. The dug-out was fixed up in great shape, with good covering and underground entrance. Sheriff Gildow says it reminded him of the “war hide-aways” in France. Parts of a dismantled still were evident in the dug-out. (Aug. 10, 1922)
Thirty-three barrels of mash is the total capture of wet goods by Sheriff J. Frank Gildow in three trips to the Carlow country this week, and the liquid refreshments were taken from three farms, all within a short distance of each other.
‘Upon seeing strange faces approaching, the custodian of the stills took across the country at a gait which would give a rabbit no look in whatever when it come to moving fast. Hills and hollows did not decrease his speed,’ said Sheriff Gildow.
Samples of the thirty-three barrels were brought back by Sheriff Gildow, and the remainder of the joy juice was dumped and all the fish in Grand River may be on a spree.” (Oct. 26, 1922)
Great Depression begins
Thursday, October 24, 1929. Black Thursday. The day the New York Stock Exchange crashed. The “Roaring Twenties” are over. The Great Depression has begun. Editor Wm. G. Robertson is still optimistic. He writes the following:
“While stocks “faw down and go boom” and a multitude of speculators find themselves the victims, our national prosperity continues on an even keel. During the height of the Wall Street slump in the market should have no great effect on our national prosperity. Level headed government, a sound banking system …keeps the indisposition of Wall Street from throwing the entire nation out of whack. (Nov. 5, 1929)
Less than three months later, Mr. Robertson writes: “The three million unemployed of this country are looking hungrily for that promised Hoover prosperity.” (Jan. 21, 1930)
A proposal making voting in Missouri compulsory, and providing a penalty for failure to vote, was submitted to the constitutional convention today by W. T. Johnson of Kansas City. Failure to comply would be a misdemeanor.
Mrs. Elizabeth Hawkins, who bore the distinction of being the first white child born in Daviess County, died in Kansas at 90 years of age.
— researched from Gallatin newspapers by Wilbur Bush