One hundred years ago in 1917 Apalachicola found herself in the public eye.
An entrepreneur who would have an important influence on the county made his first appearance on the scene and no less a celebrity than William Jennings Bryan addressed the county from the stage of the Dixie. Not one but two railroad lines connected Franklin County with the world at large. It seemed St. George Island was poised to launch into flight as a major resort but it took another 40 years for real development to begin in spite of all that seeming promise. And it would be almost three more years before the nation entered Prohibition on Jan. 20, 1920, and began 13 years of banishment of the “abominable institution” of alcohol throughout the nation.
Our Chasing Shadows question this week: What was the exact location of the Club House?
A new town on St. George Island
Mr. William Lee Popham, the owner, has transferred 1,000 acres of St. George Island to the Florida Canadian American Company, who will at once begin and extensive campaign to sell homes in this tract to people who find the breezes of the Gulf of Mexico a tonic for tired nerves. The Secretary and treasurer of the Canadian-American Company is Mrs. Helen Brooks Smith who in January visited the island and she was so agreeably impressed that on her return to Lakeland, Florida she advised the company to make the investment. The result is the purchase of 1,000 acres extending from Apalachicola Bay to the Gulf beach near what is known as the Club House.
The resident agent Mr. Wm. H. Roat, who by the way is and architect as well as a builder, has received instructions to make a number of improvements at the Club House and have them ready for a party who will visit the island on a tour of inspection on April 1st.
The development of the 1,000 acre tract will, The Times is informed, be pushed forward as rapidly as men and money can do it and by the middle of the summer at the latest, it is reasonable to presume that the new town will be humming with the music of the saw and the hammer and buildings going up on every hand.
There is no reason why St. George Island should not be made one of the popular resorts of Florida. It has much of natural beauty to commend it and the nearness to Carrabelle and Apalachicola where trains can be met daily in a short time should be sufficient inducement even for the busy man of affairs to own at least a cottage where he can rest his tired nerves while basking in the soft sunshine and warm breezes of the Gulf while enjoying the sea baths or maybe angling for the finny tribe, shooting ducks and geese or birds on the wing.
The Club House will be in the charge of Mr. Wm. H. Roat and the name will be changed to the Hotel St. George.
Mine host invites Apalachicolans to visit him and partake of the good cheer that will be provided. That he will make an admirable Boniface his friends are certain.
W. J. Bryan in Apalachicola
William Jennings Bryan, the world’s greatest orator and three times candidate for the presidency of the United States, accepting an invitation from the Apalachicola Chamber of Commerce to deliver a lecture in the city, arrived Thursday afternoon in Mr. D. Sullivan’s railroad motor car accompanied by Mr. Sullivan and Dr. F. F. Ferris. The party was met at the A. N. depot by a number of Apalachicolans and taken for a ride over the city by Mr. R. R. Rice who was instrumental in bringing Mr. Bryan to Apalachicola.
At 6:30 p.m., a luncheon was served in Mr. Bryan’s honor at the Franklin by the Chamber of Commerce assisted by a number of ladies of the city, invitations being extended to prominent citizens and active working members of the Chamber of Commerce.
President J. H. Cook, of the Chamber of Commerce, sat at the head of the table and acted as master of ceremonies. On Mr. Cook’s right were Mr. Bryan and Mr. S. E. Rice Jr. and Mr. S. E. Teague. On his left were Col. C. H. B. Floyd and Mr. H. W. Johnson. In addition there were seated at the table Messrs. Sullivan, Clark, H. K. Joshton, W. J. Glasgow, K. A. Mohr, W. D. Buzzett, J. P. Coombs, H. L. Flowers, F. B. Moody, Jos. Messina, Dr. Noble, R. R. Rice, J. F. Warren, Dr. F. F. Ferris, R. J. Lockwood.
When all were seated Mr. Cook arose and speaking of the pleasure Apalachicolans felt in having with them so distinguished a guest, called on H. W. Johnston to speak. Following Mr. Johnston were Mr. W. J. Glasgow, Col. J. P. Coombs, Mr. Karl H. Mohr, Mr. R. J. Lockwood and Dr. F. F. Ferris. After partaking of the lunch an adjournment was had to the lobby where Mr. Bryan met a number of ladies of the city.
At the Dixie Theatre
Seated in the center of the stage was Mr. Bryan
Col. C. H. B. Floyd introduced Mr. Bryan in the public eye. Mr. Bryan divided his address in three parts, viz: Man’s relation to Christianity, society and the least important government.
The address was replete with gems of thought, yet delivered in a style so simple that even a child could understand him. Taken as a whole it was masterful, logical and convincing and through it all you could see the great Christian soldier battling for things that stand out strongest for the best things in mankind.
At the conclusion of Mr. Bryan’s address, H. W. Johnston presented him with a bouquet of beautiful Florida flowers from the ladies of the local W. C. T. U. (Women’s Christian Temperance Union) organization. In accepting the flowers, Mr. Bryan paid a glowing tribute to the W. C. T. U., an organization as he said that has done a vast amount of good work in the world.
Mr. Bryan left yesterday morning for Albany, GA where he was scheduled to deliver an address last night.
Shall we allow the open saloon to return to Apalachicola?
Dear Mr. Editor:
With your permission, I would like to discuss the above-named subject. I understand that some parties in our town and county are canvassing the voters with a petition calling for a “Wet or Dry” election to be held in Franklin County within the next few months.
In the first place I would like to ask our people the question, do we need the open saloon for the dispensing of alcoholic liquors? All that I mean by this is for the petitioners to prove wherein we actually need these shops to create drunkenness and debauch the manhood of our community? Will the return of these infamous institutions add to the efficiency of our people along the lines of material, financial, moral and spiritual prosperity? Will these abominable institutions lessen the heartaches, tears and sorrows of the people of our town and county? Will they put more food on the tables of our people? More clothes on the bodies of the drinkers defenseless and helpless children? Will they make the homes of people happier? Will these “vampire” shops make the wives, mothers, sisters and others of our homes brighter and more peaceful by allowing their return?
I challenge the advocates of the return of the open liquor saloon to prove just one good thing that comes of having these iniquitous institutions in a town, county or stats. I mean by actual facts, figures and logic that are substantiated and not by weak evasions or trifling assertions that are not substantiated that they must prove one good thing about a liquor saloon. What has any saloon ever done for a community that was a true benefit? Please answer the question, Mr. Voter.
I doubt not, but that those who are advocating the return of open saloons shall argue that as much liquor is being sold by “blind tigers” now as was sold during the saloon regime. All I ask you to do gentlemen is to prove it and not merely make an assertion. The facts are all against you and they who make those assertions do not make them seriously. The people of our town and county are convinced to the contrary and so are those who are petitioning for the election or else they would not advocate the open sale of this accursed poison.
I admit there is a strong probability of quite a liberal amount of liquor that is being sold in violation of the law against the sale but, gentlemen you must not lose sight of the fact that there is a tremendous moral, social and economic question of whether we shall return to the open saloon.
Come out to the Methodist church Sunday night and hear a further discussion of this important subject.
Rev. W. T. Brantley, Pastor
Apalachicola ME Church South