Some things never change.
Thomasville’s historically and architecturally significant buildings and community features and services were as evident in 1889, as they are today.
The city boomed 125 years ago.
The Thomasville Times-Enterprise, the community’s new daily newspaper, published it first edition that year, electricity came to the city, Paradise Park was developed and two large churches — that still stand today — were established.
Medical doctors, dentists and lawyers advertised their services in small ads that lined the outsides of pages of the first Times-Enterprise available in the Thomas County Public Library System reference section.
In addition to the establishment of St. Thomas Episcopal and First Presbyterian churches, Meigs and Metcalfe were granted governing charters by the state legislature, Friendship church at Metcalfe was dedicated and the settlement of McDonald became known as Pavo — all in 1889.
The Times-Enterprise reported that Thomasville’s new “electric light plant” would soon send “electric fluid” over wires in the town, producing a light to eclipse all other lights at a cost within reach of everyone.
According to information provided by the Thomas County Museum of History, the electorate defeated the city’s first quest to acquire all of what is today 18-acre Paradise Park. Finally, in 1889, the question was approved by voters. The required two-thirds vote of the electorate cast ballots in favor of issuing bonds to complete the purchase of park land at $500 an acre.
The Times-Enterprise editorialized that the newspaper was surprised to learn there was opposition and presumed it was based solely on the debt to be incurred.
In the July 5, 1890, edition of the paper, David Elias, of City Shoe Store, had gone to market to place orders for upcoming fall and winter stock.
Soda-water fountains and palm-leaf fans were popular around Thomasville, and a new freight depot would be built at the railroad depot.
A group of Thomasville citizens traveled to St. Marks, Fla., and boarded a steamer to reach St. Teresa.
Melons were moving through the city, as evidenced by long trains loaded with the fruit. The newspaper encouraged melon-growers to abandon the “Watermelon Exchange.”
A group of Sunday schools conducted a picnic at a Barnetts Creek church.
Democratic voters were asked to send the Honorable S.G. McLendon to the Georgia House of Representatives.
The fight for public office would be fierce that year, the newspaper said. “Hair, suspenders, buttons, fragments of cloth, with here and there a piece of flesh, will be found scattered over the battlefields,” the Times-Enterprise editorialized.
The newspaper regretted to announce that Col. A.P. Wright would no longer be chairman of the Thomas County Democratic Committee.
The 1890 census showed Thomasville had 2,555 residents. Other nearby populations were:
• Camilla — 672
• Valdosta — 1,515
• Bainbridge — 1,436
• Quitman — 1,400
• Albany — 3,216
• Americus — 3,635
• Cairo — 275
• Boston — 366
• Ochlocknee — 117
Under the heading of “Ochlocknee Dots,” readers learned the town needed a courthouse “badly,” watermelon men were happy and an able sermon was preached at the Methodist church by the Rev. John Hendrey of Brooks County.
Cairo and Ochlocknee, obviously baseball rivals, were planning a showdown on the Ochlocknee diamond.
In Metcalfe, 25,000 watermelons were shipped, which would result in “the clink of silver dollars and the silken touch of crisp bank bills.”
Ice-delivery wagons were common sights on Thomasville streets. Ice was so cheap it was within reach of all, and having been manufactured by a home plant, was chemically pure.
John P. Arnold advertised 200,000 first-class bricks that were ready for delivery. A nearby story praised Southern women for being true to “the boys in grey,” and a small ad touted C. Snodgrass as “a competent engineer.”
At Griffin & Sturdivant, one could purchase saddles, bridles, horse blankets and whips for ladies and gentlemen. Buggies and carriages also were available at the business.
Evans & McLean offered cotton gins, corn mills, cotton presses, saw mills and all types of machinery and parts.
A New York, N.Y., man told Times-Enterprise readers — via an advertisement — he specialized in selling pears and melons. Another New York man made the same claim, along with a New Orleans individual and another in Knoxville, Tenn.
A large advertisement said Tutt’s Pills would cure malaria, dumb chills, fever and argue, wind colic and bilious attacks.
A nearby ad said PPP would cure syphilis, blood poisoning and rheumatism.
The Times-Enterprise reported the federal election bill had been taken up again in the U.S. House.
“It is expected that a vote will be taken on it tomorrow. A few Republicans will now swallow it, but not enough to defeat it,” according to the newspaper.
EDITOR’S NOTE: As part of a celebration of the Times-Enterprise’s 125th year, this is the first in a year-long series of Sunday stories about important people, places and things in the area. The next one will be published on Jan. 26.