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How Hinesville celebrated its 100th birthday

Parade, prominent politicians and a pageant were among the highlights

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POSTED: September 9, 2012 1:26 p.m.
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For more on Hinesville's history and the celebration of its 175th birthday, see the special section with Sunday's Coastal Courier.

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On Sept. 12, 1837, the justices of the Inferior Court of Liberty County — Enoch Daniel, S. Spencer, E. H. Bacon, William Way and E. Stacy — were ordered to move the records from Riceborough to the courthouse in Hinesville.

Twenty-five acres of land had been purchased from the heirs of John Martin for the town of Hinesville, which was named in honor of Charlton Hines, one of the early settlers. The land was divided into 60 lots, and 54 were sold at public outcry. Six were saved for public buildings.

This Wednesday, the city of Hinesville will celebrate its 175th birthday. It will be quite a difference from 100th celebration. Let’s go back in time and see how it was celebrated in October 1937. I gleaned the following information from Savannah Morning News clippings and excerpts from “Sweet Land of Liberty:”

The whole city of Hinesville and Liberty County were excited as the day of Oct. 28, 1937, approached. The city would be celebrating its 100th birthday, and many people had worked very hard making preparations for the celebration.

The centennial celebration would be taking place on the first day of the Liberty County Fair, which was a big deal in itself and one that all looked forward to from one year to the next. The fair was on Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

The Savannah Morning News wrote: “Committees have been working for months to perfect all of the details, and reports from chairmen indicate that they have done a wonderful job. They have labored with their hearts and souls in the undertaking, and those who come from elsewhere are assured of a finished production.”

Perhaps the largest part of the celebration was the “pageant” written and directed by Virginia Fraser, great-granddaughter of Charlton Hines. She also was the chairperson of the whole celebration sponsored by the city of Hinesville. This live pageant was performed at the National Guard Armory Grounds. There were more than 200 characters in it.

A few days before the fair began, a group of beautiful young women known as the Liberty Belles made a trip to Savannah to promote the fair. They had been doing this for several years. The idea was originated by Robert M. Martin, editor and publisher of the Liberty County Herald. The Liberty Belles visited Savannah city officials, WTOC and the Morning News.

They also visited the Irene Indian Mound and the model of the steamship Savannah. They were escorted by M. F. Clark Jr., editor and publisher of the Herald and secretary of the Liberty County Chamber of Commerce. They were a great advertisement for the Liberty County Fair and the historic pageant.

Oglethorpe Highway finally would be opened between Midway and McIntosh on the day of the celebration. This was something all anxiously had been waiting for. By finishing this section, it would eliminate any detours for folks traveling from Savannah to Hinesville. In 1934, the highway and bridge from Ludowici to Jesup was completed. These new highways made travel to Liberty County from other towns much easier.

Many dignitaries attended the celebration. Gov. E. D. Rivers, U. S. Sen. Richard B. Russell, U. S. Congressman Hugh Peterson, Georgia Attorney General M. J. Youmans and Savannah Mayor Robert Hitch. Hitch led a motorcade of dignitaries to Midway, where he was met by Mayor T. W. Welborn and Sheriff Paul H. Sikes, who escorted the visitors to Hinesville. James R. Bagley, who in 1897 became the first town marshal, was present. Enoch Hendry of Savannah represented his father, Alfred Iverson, the first mayor of Hinesville. From Thomasville came Robert Charlton Hines, who represented his grandfather, Charlton Hines.

The morning program opened at the Liberty County Courthouse with a salute to the governor by the 118th Field Artillery Band from Savannah and the Liberty Independent Troop.

After many speeches, a parade of floats was formed on the courthouse square and marched to the National Guard Armory grounds. There were about 20 floats in the parade. Everyone was excited to get to the National Guard Armory. There was a free seafood dinner served.

After lunch, “The Pageant of Hinesville” was presented on a set erected on the race track in front of the grandstand at the armory. W.C. Hodges narrated the pageant through loudspeakers. Hundreds of spectators watched as the history of Hinesville unfolded in 13 dramatic episodes. Prizes provided by the city were awarded for the best segments of the pageant. (To read the complete pageant, see appendix 34, page 186, in Robert Groover’s book, “Sweet Land of Liberty.”)

After the pageant, there were horse races, and people from several counties participated. The Liberty Independent Troop held tilting contests and, as was custom, the winners received delicious homemade cakes made by the ladies.

The 100th celebration came to an end that night with an old-fashioned ball in the drill room on the second floor of the armory. Dancers and merrymakers packed the room; almost everyone stayed until midnight. The first day of the celebration had ended, but there were two more great days of the wonderful Liberty County Fair to be enjoyed by all.

Happy 175th birthday, city of Hinesville!

 

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