Saturday, January 4, 2014


A hundred autumns ago, its stone-covered facade rose high into the Emerald City sky.  It was the tallest building between Macon and Savannah.  It is still one of the tallest buildings between the Central City and the Hostess City of the South. A century ago, the six-story super structure represented the zenith of Dublin's meteoric growth as a regional agricultural, economic and political center of east-central Georgia.  Today, she stands on the cusp of her former glory, awaiting the day when she will rise as a phoenix once again.
The First National Bank was chartered in April 1902 with an initial capital stock of fifty thousand dollars.  The principal stockholders were Frank G. Corker, William S. Phillips, and J.E. Smith, Jr., the latter being one of the top three movers and shakers in town.  

The First National's directors chose a prime location on the northeast corner of North Lawrence (Laurens) Street and West Jackson Street.  As Dublin grew, so did the First National Bank.  The board of directors began to look around for a site to build a new bank.  They were looking for a site which would be close to the leading commercial concerns.  At that time, the commercial center of Dublin lay between Jackson Street on the north, Washington Street on the east, the railroads on the south and Monroe Street on the west.  The center of the district was at the intersection of South Jefferson and Madison Street and that's the spot where Corker chose to build the new bank.  Corker chose the old post office site on the southwest corner of the intersection.  The directors wanted to erect an impressive structure, not just one which would draw customers from competing banks, but one which would also lure professionals and businessmen from the agribusiness, which sprung up during the city's golden age.

The bank secured the services of A. Ten Eyck Brown, an Atlanta architect and  one of the leading architects of the Southeast.   Although he was primarily known as a designer of public and office buildings, one of Brown's earliest designs was the fabulous Georgian Hotel in Athens, Georgia, which was completed in 1909. The hotel was as elegant as any hotel outside of Atlanta. Five years later, the Clarke County Courthouse, a four-story yellow brick building, was completed next door to the hotel. The courthouse in Athens was one of three major courthouses designed by Brown and completed in 1914. Brown designed the Neo-Classical Revival style courthouse in Salisbury, North Carolina. The Rowan County Courthouse features huge Ionic columns on its portico. 

Other noteworthy Brown buildings in the Atlanta area include: the Ten Park Place Building near Five Points, which features the rare modernistic style of architecture; the Cooper Street School and various schools built in the 1920s while Brown was the supervising architect of Fulton County Schools, Spotswood Hill - the home of Georgia's premier historian, Lucian Lamar Knight - The Atlanta Municipal Market, St. Anthony's Church, the Luckie Street YMCA, and the Thornton Building on Pryor Street. Brown also designed the Third National Bank and the Guarantee Trust Bank. Countless other buildings designed by Brown have fallen victim to the agony of progress.

        Brown's most famous design outside of Georgia was the Miami-Dade County Courthouse. Construction on the twenty-seven story, three hundred fifty foot tall, building began in 1925. A powerful 1926 hurricane delayed the construction period to a total of three years. The base of the courthouse is made of Stone Mountain granite, while the upper portion is constructed of terra cotta, much like the First National Bank building in Dublin. Brown designed the four-million dollar building, which was once one of the tallest buildings in Florida, in collaboration with August Geiger.

While standing nearly one hundred feet tall, the building was narrow, only thirty-one feet in width.  The first story, twenty-two feet in height, featured a mezzanine over the main floor of the bank.  As one entered the lobby, the president's office and the cashier's office were located on the right.  Behind the main office of the bank in the center of the first floor were the vaults.  The director's room was situated at the front of the mezzanine level.  The clerical staff kept the records at the rear of the mezzanine.

Most impressive were the marble floors and walls of the main banking room.  In the lobby was Dublin's first elevator, one which ascended six floors of the tallest building between Macon and Savannah.  Ornamental plaster patterns and elaborate bronze teller screens, as impressive as any in a metropolitan bank, were Brown's finishing touches to Dublin's first skyscraper.  The vaults, which included four hundred safety deposit boxes, were designed to be fireproof.  As a matter of fact, the building was constructed primarily of concrete, stone and steel and was itself virtually fireproof.  Above the bank were sixty-four office spaces, equipped with the modern conveniences of lighting and heating. However, there was no air-conditioning, except in the form of electric fans and open windows, the latter of which was most effective on the upper floors which were impervious to flying insects.  Construction of the building was completed in November 1913.  Tenants began moving in on December 5, 1913.  

The First National Bank, the last Dublin bank to survive the economic collapse following the coming of the boll weevil in 1917, closed its doors in 1928.  A receiver was appointed to disburse the remaining assets between depositors.   Mills Lane, President of the Citizens and Southern Bank of Savannah, came to the rescue of Dublin's remaining business interests by first establishing a private bank, and then in the early thirties, establishing the Citizens and Southern Bank of Dublin, which remained in the First National building until the early 1950s.

When George T. Morris incorporated Morris State Bank in the 1950s, he looked around to find a prominent location of what was then Dublin's fourth bank.  Morris State Bank occupied the bottom floor while many of the professional offices remained.

As the boom of modern banks and professional buildings began in the early 60s, the skyscraper's tenants slowly began to move out to newer quarters.  

In the late 70s, the building began a four-decade long decline.  Apathy set in.  Investors feared the cost of remodeling.   

The solid structure stood resolute against the sands of time.

Enter Gainesville attorney's Dan and Chandelle Summer.   One day, the Summers were driving home from Dexter, where Chandelle's grandfather, Cy Dozier lived.    Lights went on in their heads.  The bought the building and set out to restore it to its former grandeur, as they have done with a couple of buildings in Gainesville.    Their attempts were all for naught. 

The Dublin Downtown Development Authority has been working with a developer to renovate the old First National Bank Building for mixed commercial and residential uses. Architect Robert Brown of BBTB, Inc., in Macon, Georgia, has drawn conceptual plans for each floor, ranging from a grand bank lobby on the ground floor to a sprawling 7th floor penthouse apartment. These plans would bring the building up to 21st century fire code while retaining its historic elements. 

"The key to the DDA's plan is the ability to qualify the plans for historic tax credits, which would save the developer hundreds of thousands of dollars in renovation costs," commented Joshua Kight, the Executor Direct of the DDA. 

"While the project is still in its early stages, the DDA is working hard to give Dublin's landmark historic building another century of life," Kight added.

As she starts her second century, we can all hope once again that the no longer silent sentinel will mark the dawn of a new Golden Age for our community.  What a fitting tribute it would be to the new Emerald City for the First National Bank for all to see as we look up into to sky.


Christmas in Laurens County in 1940

The year was 1940.  It would be the last Christmas before the war.  It was a Christmas when Dubliners and Laurens Countians put their differences aside and celebrated the birth of Christ in its true form. A little commercialism could be found, but the main focus was the religious aspect of the 25th of December. Many were worrying about the impending war in Europe.  More than a hundred local men and boys in the Georgia National Guard were training in Fort Jackson, South Carolina for a war they hoped would never come.

A county-wide celebration began on the courthouse square in the late afternoon of the 12th.   Several thousand citizens gathered in downtown.  Streets were blocked off for several blocks in all directions.  Late shoppers were serenaded by the bands of Dublin High School and the Laurens County Marching Band seated on a specially constructed grandstand.  Music filled the air -  broadcast from loud speakers in the courthouse tower.  The boys of Cadwell, Dudley, and Rentz vocational classes aided Georgia Power employees in stringing the lights on trees and the courthouse itself.  A manager scene was constructed on the grounds.  The lighting also included the traditional tree of lights on the Carnegie Library grounds (now the museum).  Another part of the display of lights was a new neon sign placed on the steel frame of the river bridge wishing new comers a "Merry Christmas!"  Later the sign was change to read "Welcome to Dublin" for west bound travelers and "Thanks, Come Again" for east bound visitors on their way out of town.

Dr. C.H. Kittrell, President of the Dublin Lions Club, served as the master of ceremonies.  He hailed the gathering "as the most impressive Christmas display our community has ever had."  Dr. Kittrell praised the unity shown by members of the community and its significance in the Christmas season.  The Rev. Claude E. Vines prayed for world peace in his invocation.    Bob Hightower, chairman of the event, praised the spirit of cooperation by the business and professional men of Dublin, except the five "scrooges" who refused to donate to the program.  In all, Hightower and his associates raised more than fifteen hundred dollars.   Rev. W.A. Kelley, Superintendent of the Dublin District of the Methodist Church, called for a renewed observation of the spiritual significance of Christmas.  By then, children began tugging on their parents sleeves asking "when are they going to turn on the lights?"  Mae Hightower made here way to the stage where she threw the lights, just at the moment of dusk.  In eclectic voices the crowd filled the air with "oohs", "aahs", and "wows." 

The second phase of the celebration came five days later.  The ladies of the Dublin Garden Club, led by its president, Mrs. Carl Nelson, sponsored a city-wide outdoor Christmas lighting contest.  Mrs. Howard L. Cordell, Sr. and Mrs. Marion Peacock headed the committees which were able to secure out of town judges to evaluate the fifty-four contestants.  The judges made their decisions based on the suitability of the lights to the type of home, the size of the decorations in proportion to the size of the house, and the total artistic and color effect of the decorations.

Mr. and Mrs. O.L. Chivers, whose home still stands on Bellevue Ave. across from the Piggly Wiggly, won the first prize.  The George T. Morris home, now home to the Chamber of Commerce, finished in a second-place tie with "Green Acres," the home of Mr. and Mrs. Albert Geeslin.  Third place was awarded to Mr. and Mrs. James F. Nelson, Jr.

Rev. Ralph Gilliam led an impressive and inspirational candlelight service at Henry Memorial Presbyterian Church on the Sunday before Christmas.  Participants in the program included Blanche Coleman, C.C. Crockett, Leah Kittrell, Charles Alexander, Sara Veal, Noble Marshall, and the music club of Dublin High School.  The choir of the First Baptist Church presented a cantata at the regular Sunday morning worship service. Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus came to Buckhorn Methodist Church for an "Old Time" Christmas.

The third major event of that Christmas was a county-wide Christmas Carol program on the courthouse square, just two days before Christmas.  A.J. Hargrove, the master of ceremonies, presided over a program which featured thousands of local school students.  The children assembled at the school building downtown (now the City Hall.)  One group, after another, formed on the school grounds and marched to the courthouse serenading parents, shoppers, and merchants along the way.  At the courthouse they did an about face and marched back down the other side of the street. At four o'clock many church choirs assembled at the courthouse for the main part of the program which featured the traditional songs of Christmas, featuring soloists Mrs. Annelle Brown and Blanche Coleman.

An integral part of that Christmas in 1940 and each one since then has been the giving of gifts, especially the toys for the children.  Smith's Jewelry had special last minute gifts for momma and daddy or for the special girl or man.  Silverware sets sold from $15 to $150.00.  Bill folds and belt sets were popular at two dollars or so.  Bulova, Waltham, and Elgin watches were the most popular, all for less than forty dollars.  A solitaire diamond engagement ring sold for $49.75 with the matching wedding duet for only $24.75.  America's finest glassware sold from 25 cents up to $12.00.  

Across the street at Lovett and Tharpe, shoppers could shop until 10:30 on Christmas Eve for the last minute gifts.  For the boys, Daisy air rifles were a dollar, Wilson basketballs were two dollars and seventy-five cents, and Wilson footballs sold for a dollar and twenty-five cents.  The Westfield  bicycle, the top of the line, went for the sum of twenty-eight dollars.  Tricycles were four dollars and wagons brought three dollars apiece.  For the lady of the house, a husband could pick up a new Frigidaire refrigerator, range, or water heater for $120.00 and up.  Tree light strings, the old-fashioned kind with larger light bulbs, sold for fifty cents to a dollar.

Santa Claus came that night.  Toy lead soldiers, baby dolls, comic books, and tea sets, along with the requisite new sets of clothes found their way under the trees.    For the last two decades the county and city had suffered through a long and dark economic depression.  Things were beginning to change.  As Charles Dickens said in his "Tale of Two Cities," "It was the best of times.  It was the worst of times."  Our country was about to enter into a world war that would change the course of the history of man forever.

That joyous season of Christmas had  two sad postscripts.   Homer Jordan and M.C. Kincey broke into McLellan's Department Store.  The two men helped themselves to the contents of the store early on Christmas morning.  Otherwise, Sheriff I.F. Coleman and Chief J.W. Robertson reported that the day passed quietly, the only Christmas in recent memory that they didn't have to lock up a few drunks."  While all but ten local National Guardsmen returned home for Christmas, two Monroe Georgia soldiers were passing through Dublin on their return to Camp Stewart.  Just as Sgt. Roger Malcom and James Peters passed under the Merry Christmas sign on their way to Hinesville, they lost control of their car and crashed into the bridge.  Sgt. Malcom didn't survive. It was his last Christmas.  Christmas is a time to cherish with your family and friends.  Remember the true "reason for the season" and have a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! 


The Greatest Fair in Our County's History

When the air is cool, when most of the cotton had been taken to the gin, and when the kids were back in school, residents of Laurens County turned their thoughts to one of the most highly anticipated events of the year.  No, it wasn't the November general elections.  It was the Fall fair, held each year in each of Georgia's twelve congressional districts.  During the second decade of the 20th century, most of these fairs were held in Dublin.  Along with the Chautauqua festivals in the summer months, these district fairs were often the highlight of the year in the host cities.

The first 12th District fair was held in Dublin in 1911 on the second floor of the Gilbert Hardware Building at 123 W. Jackson St., the former main office of Farmers and Merchants Bank.  The second fair was held at the southwest corner of West Madison Street and South Monroe Street behind Theatre Dublin and the Fred Roberts Hotel.   The rapid growth of the fair caused the organizers to look for a permanent and larger site to hold the annual event.  The leaders purchased a tract on the north side of Telfair Street between Troup and Joiner Streets on the old Fuller property.  Peter S. Twitty, Jr. was chosen to manage the fair that year under the overall leadership of pioneer fair organizer and farmer, W.B. Rice.  N.G. Bartlett, Dublin school superintendent, served as secretary of the organization.

Fairs of the early Twentieth Century were a far cry from the fairs in the latter half of the century.  Planners often staged different events and exhibits daily in order to attract repeat fair goers. The fair began on Monday and lasted until Saturday, often the biggest day of the week.  The first day of the fair featured a series of speeches and musical numbers.  The second day of the fair was designated as "Good Roads Day," and visitors were induced to attend through free admission.  Transportation experts from all over the state came to town to discuss the importance of good roads in Laurens County.  The big event on Wednesday was the Kit Carson Wild Wild West Show.  "Big Sing Day" featured the best in local school musical talent,  organized by Prof. J.M. Spivey of Adrian and Prof. A.M. Pace of Eastman.  Prizes were awarded to the best school class in amounts of fifty, twenty-five, and ten dollars.   Friday was set aside to salute the school children of the district.  Saturday, the day when most of the country folks came to town,  was devoted to the farmers and agricultural products of the district.

One of the biggest events of the fair, possibly one of the biggest in the early history of the county, was the exhibition of daredevil flying skills by aviator Gene Heth.  The airplane, which  was still a novelty in East Central Georgia,  brought out three thousand people to the air strip and many more thousands to the fair grounds  to witness Heth's flight.  Heth took off from the Pritchett field, which was located between the Laurens County Library and Dublin Jr. High School, for a circular trip around the city, across the Oconee River, and back to the starting point.  After a little difficulty getting started, Heth, who held the world altitude record for a passenger carrying plane, thrilled the crowds in the airplane, which was built by Wilbur Wright. The plane was put on display for everyone to view  between flights.

The other big event on Wednesday was the Kit Karson Wild West Show at Stubbs Park.  The show, the second largest in the United States, featured sixteen railroad cars of animals, one car of horses and buffaloes, Russian cossacks, Spanish gouchos,  and scores of cowboys, cowgirls, and real sure enough Indians.   The highlight of the show was a re-enactment of the Battle of Wounded Knee.  Trick shooting, lassoing, and an attack on a stage coach were also featured.  One of the negative aspects of the show was the large number of empty wallets and purses found around where the railcars of the show were parked, undoubtedly lifted by light-fingered grafters working the crowds.

F.W. Stanley of the U.S. Department of Agriculture put on an demonstration of irrigation equipment on the W.B. Rice farm, which was located west of town on the present site of the Vinson V.A. Medical Center.    During fair week, the newly opened Bertha Theatre presented a live production of George M. Cohan's "The Little Millionaire," starring Burt Leigh and Hazel Burgess. Another popular and thrilling exhibit was the motordrome, which was an oval track, twenty one  feet wide at the base and forty  feet wide at the top. Four motorcycle riders raced each other at speeds up to sixty miles an hour on the nearly vertical track.  The Coney Island Company's tent featured top Vaudeville performers.  Among the other big shows were the Merry Makers Vaudeville shows, Colliers Famous Old Plantation Minstrel Show, McFall's Dog and Monkey Circus, Harry Kojan's Theatrical Girls Show, and a Big Street Parade.  Those attending the fair could stop in at the telegraph of the Courier Herald to catch up on the latest scores in the World Series games between the Athletics and the Giants. 

In addition to being "School Day," Friday was also the day that the politicians made their off year election speeches to the crowds.  Georgia Governor, John M. Slaton, and 12th District Congressman, Dudley Hughes, arrived at the M.D. and S. depot, greeted by thousands of supporters and serenaded by the Dublin Band.  The men were taken up the street to the New Dublin Hotel for the formal welcome by Dublin's leading businessmen and professionals.  The local folks liked to show off their city, so they took the men on a ride around town which wound up at the fairgrounds.  Slaton and Hughes were treated to a dinner following their speeches to the crowd. The speeches were congratulatory and laudatory in saluting the accomplishments of the district and the state during the past year.

The final day of the fair was a salute to the heart and soul of the district, agriculture.  Houston County won the first place award for agricultural display, followed by Twiggs and Laurens Counties.  Hundreds of prizes were awarded in a multitude of categories, including agricultural products, livestock, cooking, canned fruits and vegetables, pickles, sewing, crafts, painting, flower arranging, and wood working.  Among the prize winners that week were Carl Nelson for the best handmade hammer handle; Kellie Ballard for the best cakes; Dorothy Hooks for the best cornbread and biscuits (my personal favorites); and Mrs. W.C. Faulk of Jeffersonville for the best lace display.
Attendance at the fair was truly remarkable.   Special trains from all points in the district made runs into Dublin several times a day.   Each edition of the Courier Herald was devoted to the fair.  Businessmen put out an all out effort to attract the visitors to their establishments.  Every motel and boarding house room in the city were full for the entire week.  Seventy men spent the night in the City Hall for most of the week.  The crowd was estimated to be at least five thousand persons per day with at least twenty thousand coming on Wednesday for the big events, bringing the total attendance to approximately fifty thousand people, many of them, repeat visitors.  The county fairs of that era are a now a bygone part of Americana.  In today's "rush-rush" world, such an event wouldn't be possible, but it surely would be a welcome change. 


         In the cool dry days of October1913 a century of autumns ago  when Dublin was at the zenith of its boom years, the Bertha Theater came to town, bringing with it big screen movies, Broadway plays, premier wrestling matches and a plethora of pontificating politicians.  In its all too short four-year run, the Bertha symbolized one of the crowning jewels of the Emerald City in the days before the first World War.

The Bertha Theater, constructed by Stephen J. Lord and T.B. Brantley, was designed to replace the Opera House, which had burned in 1911.  In the summer of 1913, the Bertha joined the First National Bank, The Burch Building and the Black Chivers Building in a major building boom.  Little did anyone know that within a few year, the explosive growth which had catapulted Dublin from a tiny, lawless forlorn town into one of the most populated cities of the state would come to a screeching halt with the coming of the boll weevil which singlehandedly destroyed the cotton crop.  

Lord planned to have an opera house, although it appears that few real operas were ever performed in the building.  The three-story building was located on the eastern corner of the Courthouse Square at the corner of South Jackson Street and South Franklin Street.  In his grand dreams, Lord, son-in-law of banking magnate and businessman, C.W. Brantley, hoped that the facility would host the best and biggest stage shows anywhere around this area of the state.

The large auditorium was designed to seat 1200 people on the main floor and 300 in the gallery above.  The ceiling was elaborately finished with pressed metal designs.  The acoustics were pronounced nearly perfect as a Courier Herald reporter stated,  “Persons speaking on the stage can be heard to every corner of the auditorium distinctly.”

Managers T.W. Hooks, H.P. Diggs, E.W. Carswell, W.G. Triplett and others were given the mission to seek out and sign the best and most affordable touring acts along the East Coast.  

Opening night was October 7, 1913.  On the play bill that evening was “The Rolling Stone.”  Headlining the show was singer/comedian Al H. Wilson, one of the best known singing stars of the early 20th Century,  and his comedy company.  At the time, it was the greatest play ever staged in Dublin. 

Between the first two acts, Peter S. Twitty, Jr. spoke to the audience welcoming the visitors to Dublin and saluting all of those who participated in the event.  Practically all of Dublin’s high society were present.  Mr. and Mrs. Lord sat in their special box along with family members including Dr. and Mrs. J.E. New and their daughter Marie.   A reporter described Mrs. Bertha Lord as “queenlike” in her beautiful pink chiffon dress.  

The following week marked the Dublin debut of “Edison’s Genuine Talking Pictures,” which were not the usual laughing, talking and singing pictures. The movie featured the Kinetiphone’s synchronization of sound and film at the afforable prices of 25 to 50 cents a ticket.  The first talkie was “Nursery Time Favorites.” 

Also on the bill in the theater’s second week was a play , “A Bachelor’s Congress,” staring local talent in a benefit for the Children of the Confederacy.  One of the more popular plays was “The Little Millionaire,” written by George “Yankee Doodle Dandy” Cohan, and starring Bert Leigh and Hazel Burgess. Other featured acts were the “The Norman Field Players, The Cambridge Players, Coburn’s Minstrels and the Mack Musical Comedy Company.

During those first few months, the Bertha had its competitors.  Gentry Brothers Dog and Pony Show and a troup of the American Pavillion Theatre Company were all in town.  Kit Carson’s Wild West Circus came to the fairgrounds  with its three ring Wild West Circus.  On November 5, the Courier Herald estimated that Dublin had 20,000 visitors in town, mostly to attend the 12th District Fair. 

Among the most popular movies at the Bertha were  “Quo Vadis”, George Kleine’s 8-reel, 135 minute masterpice and the first block buster film in history and D.W. Griffith’s epic Civil War film, “Birth of a Nation.”

Nearly from its beginning, the managers of the Bertha promoted  wrestling matches.  One of the first featured hometown favorite, Homer Scarborough against Chief Little Bird, who hailed from Minnesota.  One of the biggest was a grudge match between Jack Leon and Mort Henderson in April 1914. 

The fights at the Bertha didn’t last long for in the early summer of 1914, the citizens of Dublin voted to prohibit any matches in the theater. 

The Bertha was often used as a place for public meetings and gatherings. In March 1914, the Dublin Chamber of Commerce was reestablished. Those present were treated to a movie and a refreshing Chero Cola, bottled only a few blocks away. 

The 1914 session of the Chautaugua was held in the Bertha.  With the former Opera House gone and the courthouse and school auditoriums not being conducive to mass meetings which organizers hoped would occur, the Bertha was the perfect place to stage the big event, which featured musical, religious, scientific, educational, agricultural and political events.

When it came to political speeches, the best place in town, other than the courthouse steps, was the stage of the Bertha.  Two national politicians took to the stage to deliver their message to the voters of Laurens County. Just after Thanksgiving in 1915, Speaker of the National House of Representatives, Champ Clark of Missouri, (below) promoted the programs of the Wilson Administration, especially those important to farmers. 

                                                                     Champ Clark

                                                                      John Burke

In one of the last political gatherings at the Bertha, John Burke, the Treasurer of the United States (above) and a former Governor of North Dakota, spoke to an assembly of bankers and businessmen, who were concerned with the economic depression resulting from the coming of the boll weevil to the South.

The grand life of the Bertha Theater came to a fleeting and fatal end early on the morning of September 23, 1918.  A fire started in the 2nd floor auditorium and quickly spread to the stores on the first floor.  In just a matter of minutes $50,000.00 and a a grand dream went up in smoke.


It was the year 1888, one and one quarter centuries ago.  Out of the mire of stagnation, Dublin was merging from a cocoon of apathy, mediocrity and drunkenness.  As towns go, Dublin appeared to visitors as it had four decades prior -  a decaying, lifeless and lawless town.  As the righteous and forward minded seized control of city affairs, the shroud over the village by the Oconee was lifted. And order, progress, vibrancy and prosperity came forth, leading the town, which had doubled its population four times in the decade, to becoming Dublin, Georgia, "The only city in Georgia, which is doublin' all the time" and one of the foremost population and economic centers of the Empire State.

The greatest catalysts to Dublin's meteoric growth were the railroads.  With the Wrightsville and Tennille Railroad's terminus across the Oconee in what would become known as East Dublin and revived river boat traffic up and down the river, a three-decade period of unfettered growth was just beginning.  Three railroads, the Macon and Dublin, the Savannah, Dublin and Western,  and the Empire Railroad, were making plans to complete their rail lines into the port city.  Other railroad entrepreneurs had their dreams on paper while they were awaiting financial backers to begin construction.  It took law suits to delay the completion for three more years.

The greatest need in the city was for a permanent river bridge. Judge of the Court of Ordinary, John T. Duncan, had been pushing the project for five years following the defeat of a bond issue.  Despite continued token opposition to a bridge, five thousand dollars in bonds were issued in 1888 to begin the process of building the only bridge over the Oconee south of Milledgeville.  The project obtained the requisite Federal approval in the summer and the emboldened bridge boosters never looked back.  

A fine brick true hotel was constructed on the north side of the courthouse square situated to accommodate prosperous guests.  Z.H. Broughton built the first brick store in the spring.  Five more were under construction by the fall.  Several of these buildings would be destroyed by a massive conflagration when a large part of the city burned in May 1889.

Agricultural exports began to fuel the local economy.  More than 10,000 bales of cotton were ginned.  The Dublin Brick Company proudly boasted that it produced a million bricks, mostly used in new brick structures going up in the city.

Major improvements in education in the city dominated the news in 1888.  The City of Dublin used funds from the newly enacted alcoholic beverage tax to increase funding.  A large, wooden, two-story school house was constructed under the direction of architect Alexander Blair of Macon.  The new building, in the rear of the current location of Club 604,  gave rise to the name of "The Academy" and consequently the name of the street upon which it faced, "Academy Avenue."

For the first time ever and in a rare expenditure for small cities around the state, the city council increased funding to Negro schools to a level of one-third of the entire education budget.  A new school for African-American students was constructed on the Telfair Road, near the present site of the National Guard Armory. 

The key to unleashing unprecedented growth in the city was the abolishment, or near abolishment of alcohol sales in the city.  The "wet" and the "dry" folks squared off in an election in April.  
One traveler reported to the Savannah Morning News, "The local option election in Laurens County was a disgraceful exhibition of demagoguery and corruption."  The visitor observed processions of drunken men wearing red badges inscribed "for sale," flaunting red tickets, yelling like fiends and boasting that they were "bosses of the ballot box."  The teetotalers and the city's coffers were the big winners.  To keep those criminals who drank too much, harmed others and stole things,  Judge Duncan ordered a fence built around the jail to prevent the many escapes so that desperate criminals would not need to be sent to Macon.

Later in the fall, the voters of the county decided to go wet by a scant majority of 41 votes.  The Prohibitionists protested, but after careful prayer, temporarily abandoned their mission of ridding demon rum from the county despite much evidence of illegal voting by the drinkers of the county. 

The saddest day of the year came on a Monday, November 5, 1888.  On the Sabbath evening the night before, for some unknown reason, W.M. Scarborough, in a stuporous state took offense to his arrest by Dublin Town Marshal N.K. Watson.  As Marshal Watson pronounced that Scarborough was to submit to arrest for being drunk and disorderly, Scarborough plunged a dagger into Watson's neck, severing his jugular vein, spewing blood everywhere.  For five agonizing minutes, the city marshal lay dying.  It was the first time in the recorded history of our county that a public safety officer was killed in the line of duty.

The town leaders were Dr. Robert Hightower, Dr. Charles Hicks, Rev. W.S. Ramsay, G.W. Maddox, attorneys Mercer Haynes, T.B. Felder, Jr., David Ware, Jr., T.L. Griner,  Judge John T. Duncan and Julius Burney.  

For those who kept up with such matters, one observant citizen pronounced Dublin as a "heavy weight town," due to the fact that of the 1507 people in the town, sixteen men weighed well more than 200 pounds.  It was estimated that there were about 27 more men who weighed in right at a tenth of a ton, leading the editor of the Dublin Gazette to proclaim, "Very few towns in Georgia can make a better show for weight, population taken into consideration."

In politics the year was not so extraordinary.  Among the shining new stars of the political world was Dublin's future mayor, Thomas B. Felder, Jr.  Felder, who went on to an illustrious and infamous legal and political career, was selected as a Presidential Elector for President Grover Cleveland in his unsuccessful campaign for reelection. 

In the area of trivial news, it was published that a Maltese cat, belonging to Wm. B. Jones, caught two rabbits and cared for them lovingly as if they were her very own kittens.  It was a big year for floods, old timers observed that the river was at its highest level since the Harrison Freshet of 1840.  Richard Niles, who was born at the turn of the 19th Century and was a slave for most of his life walked about the streets of town showing off his gourd dipper with a thirty-six-inch long handle.

The ninth year of the 1880s was important in the sense that it featured major advances in education, infrastructure and prohibition and accordingly marked the time when Dublin accelerated its rise to eminence in Georgia.