Since shifting the focus of this column last fall to unearthing interesting stories from the archives, I have written several on Walker County in wartime. This week we'll take a look at Walker County …
Since shifting the focus of this column last fall to unearthing interesting stories from the archives, I have written several on Walker County in wartime. This week we'll take a look at Walker County during the Depression years.
The Eagle announced in August 1934 that The Walker County Relief Administration was establishing 10 canning centers around the area. The goal was "preserving large stores of food for indigent families of this county during the coming winter."
Mrs. Love Wilson Lollar was in charge of the effort. The canning centers were located in Kansas, Carbon Hill, Sides School, Townley, Jasper (curb market), Oakman, Dora, Good Springs, Summit and Sproul Farm.
Three of the centers worked six days a week and the others operated three days a week.
Families on relief furnished their own fruits and vegetables and were not required to pay the toll for canning.
The Alabama Relief Administration furnished cans, sugar and supervision. For those not on relief, the ARA charged one half of canned goods as a toll.
From the start of the canning campaign in June to mid-August, 11,968 quarts had been canned.
The local relief administration also headed up a project to manufacture at least 1,000 mattresses for families in need. The mattresses would be made in Dora, Cordova, Jasper and Carbon Hill. The work would be done exclusively by women.
The federal government furnished the cotton.
The same Aug. 15, 1934, edition of the Eagle included an article on a Woman's Paint Shop located on 20th Street in Jasper.
A sign in front of the building announced that the shop was Project 64 1-745G of the Civil Works Administration.
The aforementioned Mrs. Lollar was in charge of the paint shop but was absent most of the time due to her other projects. In her absence, Mrs. Mamie Dunston had been appointed foreman.
Eleven women were employed there at the time of the Eagle reporter's visit. All but one were widows who were on relief but "are permitted to earn an honest living by repairing and repainting old, discarded furniture which is to be distributed among the needy in this county."
"The women's paint shop has the appearance of a large furniture store. It is full of furniture, a great deal of which is nice-looking. But it looked pretty tough when it arrived at the shop, the women said. Some of it was really nasty, having been discarded and stored in outhouses before it was acquired for reconditioning at the shop. When furniture is receive at the shop, it is washed, sandpapered, repaired and painted," the Eagle reported.
The furniture was distributed to area families, some so poor that they had no chairs and were sleeping on floors.
In other news from that week, the city of Jasper was temporarily without fire protection after all of its volunteer firefighters resigned.
The move was attributed to friction between the firemen and the new Jasper fire board, which consisted of Mayor John G. Burton, John Pagett and R.A. Cain.
The firemen were reportedly upset that the board had dismissed C.R. Cranford and Cecil Deavours without a hearing and without complaint. They also suggested that Burton had created the board for political purposes.
Burton declined to comment on the resignations, but another city official told the Eagle that the board had been created in an effort to control the firemen from squabbling among themselves.
The Jasper council met the night before the resignations were to take effect to accept the resignations and appoint a new department.
The new department included Hugh Sherer, John Powell, L. Herndon, Jimmie Jones, Howard Utley, Charley Hudson, John McCoy, Jim Daly, Lecil Gunter, J.D. Padgett, Rufus King and J.D. McDaniel.
King and McDaniel had been among the group of firemen who resigned. Some of those who resigned had been members of the department for 20 years, according to the Eagle.
The Eagle also gave a brief history of the department. The volunteer fire department was organized in April 1911 with 14 members.
John R. Smith was the first chief. Wallace Wilson was elected assistant chief, and Henry Vance and Mose Newberger served as secretary and treasurer, respectively.
Jennifer Cohron is the features editor of the Daily Mountain Eagle.