This information being taken from a book written by Arahwana Hendren Ridens named the Dyer County and Newbern Tennessee, A history of the 39 earliest families in Dyer County. Part of this information was extracted from this publication, along with other documents and related stories and oral family histories. We continue with the entries of the McCorkle Diaries and what was entered about the from his perspective as a Newbern business owner. We pick up late in the year of 1883 and continue from our March 2016 issue.
When we ended last month, we listed the businesses operating in Newbern in 1883. Newbern is only 26 years old.
In October 1883 the Louisville Southern Exposition was going on and several leaders from this area went.
(Off on a side track.) This was a trip that would begin a transition for Newbern where our leadership would bring ideas back that could have been implemented into our small West Tennessee area. The Southern Exposition was a five-year series of World's fairs held in the city of Louisville, Kentucky, from 1883 to 1887 in what is now Louisville's Old Louisville neighborhood. The exposition, held for 100 days each year on 45 acres immediately south of Central Park, which is now the St. James-Belgravia Historic District, was essentially an industrial and mercantile show. At the time, the exposition was larger than any previous American exhibition with the exception of the Centennial Exposition held in Philadelphia in 1876.
The Southern Exposition opened on August 1, 1883. Thousands of people crowded the streets as President Chester A. Arthur pulled a silken cord, setting the machinery in motion. Admission was 50 cents for adults and 25 cents for children under twelve, with a 25-cent admission for all on Saturdays. A total of 770,048 people attended the Exposition in the first 88 days. Originally planned to be open for 100 days, the popularity of the Southern Exposition allowed it to remain open for several years until it ended in 1887.
The Exposition’s main building was a large two-story wooden and glass structure designed by McDonald Brothers and Curtin that covered approximately 12 acres. Maps and drawings show four interior courts with fountains that would have provided light and ventilation within the building. A variety of exhibits were featured around the perimeter of the building.A branch post office, barbershop, boot-blacking stand and restaurants were available to visitors of the main building.
In addition to the main building, the Exposition featured a variety of curiosities for visitors to explore. A large carriage house displayed vehicles of all kinds. A lumber mill annex demonstrated modern milling techniques. A large art gallery built in Central Park held masterpieces from many famous international collections. The park also hosted several refreshment stands, a shooting gallery and a music stand. Visitors were treated to concerts, lectures, theatrical performances and weekly fireworks displays. The headquarters for the department of police and fire protection, organized to ensure the safety of visitors and exhibitors, was also located in Central Park. A police substation exists there today.
The Exposition’s agricultural department presented a working farm and horticultural garden of about three acres, featuring crops of cotton, tobacco, maize, hemp, flax, peanuts, corn and castor oil plants. This department also identified the trees in Central Park with labels.
The use of electricity made the Southern Exposition the first successful nighttime exposition in the country. The exhibition grounds, main building and art gallery were illuminated by recently introduced electric lights. Forty-six hundred lamps, made by the Edison Company for Isolated Lighting of New York, lit the main building. The courts and parks were illuminated by arclights created by the Jenny Company of Fort Wayne, Indiana. Electric lighting allowed for late afternoon and evening entertainment with the evening highlight being the illumination of the lights as the sun set.
The Southern Exposition marked the beginning of a new industrial era for the South.
As we close, imagine the ideas that were running though the minds of our old time city leaders. They had just experienced electric lights and electric operated lumber mills, the most innovative farming equipment, new ways to farm, new policing techniques, fire equipment, indoor plumbing, underground water supply systems and new crops that would appears in our area in years to come. Newbern has fire hydrants that are dated in the late 1890”s. Could this have been a catalyst for the start of Newbern progressing with new innovations?
In 1884, Mrs. John Christie advertised in the State Gazette in Dyersburg for all who were in the county in 1827 to meet at her table at the Fair Grounds in Dyersburg on October 17th. Only 7 answered her call. They were Mrs. Boggus, Mrs. Mulherin, Willis Davis (oldest one at the table), C. P. Clark, and H.R.A. McCorkle. The group decided to perpetuate the meeting and agreed to meet at the fair on its second day. The oldest person present, (Willis Davis) was to furnish dinner at the next meeting.
Earlier that year, The State Medical Society had requested the doctors in the county to organize a County Medical Society and Dr. R. H. McGaughey and Dr. J. C. Walker were elected President and Secretary.
Grover Cleveland was elected President of the United States. James R. Green’s 1st house burned in Newbern.
In November of 1885 John W. Burney was elected Mayor of Newbern for the second time and in January of 1886 David McCorkle was elected County School Superintendent.
That Winter and Spring of 1886 was one of the worst on record. Snows piled up 14 to 15 inches deep in places. The drifts measured from 3 feet to 6 feet. Some said it got to 6 feet on a level. For days no one traveled the roads to or from Newbern. It snowed off and on until April and then the heavy rains set in. The month of June was stormy with rains which made it unseasonably cool. When the weather began to warmup and moderate, the Buffalo gnats got very bad. (Buffalo Gnats or Black Flies are small 1/6” at maturity, are blood sucking varmints, will bite humans, dogs, cows, cats and carry all sorts of nasty sickness.) On June 3, 1886 the thermometer was 68 degrees. Cool for June. Wheat sold for 65 cents a bushel.
Temperance meetings were being held in Newbern and neighboring communities and a big picnic and temperance meeting was held at Pace 1s pond which was a grand success. The National Prohibition Party, formed soon after the Civil War, and was working hard to get state and National legislation against the manufacture and sale of liquor.
In August the county elections were held: Bracken won Sheriff, Wilkerson was elected Circuit Clerk, Tarrant was Elected Trustee, Boon won Register of Deeds and Crockfoft was elected State’s Attorney General.
In September 1886 a convention was held in Dyersburg and John N. Parker was nominated for Representative . Later a convention was held in Brownsville to nominate the Honorable J. H. McDowell of Obion for State Senator and H. Parks, Jr. for Floater from Dyer, Obion and Lake County. Mr. McCorkle recorded the following: "Election Day in Dyer County: For Governor— R. L. Taylor 1743 / Alf Taylor 806…..For State Senator—J. H. McDowell 1024 / Jonathan Gardner 744 / T. E. Richardson 716 / Floater, H. Parks, Jr. 1063 / A. G. Harris 686 / R. R. NcNeely 738…… Election for Representative was John N. Parker got 985 followed by R. L. Fowlkes with 789 and J. L. Sinclair having 772.