The Vagabond – Early newspaper advertisements in Gadsden

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By Danny Crownover

The Vagabond is frequently asked about the amount time it took for steamboats to make the trip from Gadsden to Rome, Georgia, on the Coosa River. It seems that some of those folks were slightly misinformed on the subject.

The Vagabond discovered an 1877 schedule for the steamboat Magnolia. The ship’s general manager, J.M. Elliott, Sr., announced a change of the schedule by which the Magnolia was to leave Rome at 1 p.m. on a Monday afternoon and arrive in Gadsden Tuesday morning at 7 a.m.

Another schedule had the steamboat departing Rome at 9 a.m. om a Thursday and arriving in Gadsden at 7 a.m. the following day.

The return trips were made at about the same time. The boat was scheduled for two round trips a week, and it usually made them except when the water level was extremely low.

In 1877, General D.C. Turrentine, who arrived in Gadsden in 1842, posted two advertisements in the local newspaper. One was to tell about his furniture store located at Fifth and Broad streets where the Tolson Building and Vance Drug Store once stood. Turrentine’s store was located directly across Broad Street from where the First Baptist Church once stood at the northwest corner of 5th and Broad streets.

According to Turrentine’s ad in the newspaper, the furniture store featured “all kinds and grades of furniture kept constantly on hand and for sale at rock bottom prices for cash.”

Turrentine’s other advertisement said that “General Turrentine was a fire insurance agent, notary public and a general collecting agent.”

In addition, Turrentine advertised that “regular terms of court would be held on the first Thursday of each month.” This meant that he was an official justice of the peace. As a justice Turrentine married more couples than all of the preachers in Gadsden put together. He also was superintendent of the First Methodist Sunday School.

Apollo Harris, who was a son-in-law of General Turrentine, was a blacksmith on South Fourth Street where the Sibert Store once stood. Harris’ newspaper advertisement stated, “I am prepared to do with dispatch plow, mill and machine work, and take produce in payment. I am putting up to order and have on hand buggies and wagons of the best style and finish.”

Harris owned considerable vacant acreage in the southern part of the city, which was roughly bounded by what is now Randall Street, Sixth Street and Birmingham Street.

His residence was located on Sixth Street. He sold that entire section for $40,000 cash and moved to Corpus Christi, Texas, where he became rich in building and operating a water works.

W.H. Mayne was also a furniture dealer and manufacturer in Gadsden. He operated a factory located at Locust and Fifth Streets where he made all kinds of furniture. In his newspaper advertisement, Mayne explained that he had adopted the cash and barter system and would no longer sell on credit.

He accepted all kinds of produce in payment for furniture. For some time, Mayne and B.J. Kittrell operated the factory. Dr. R.F. Thornton & Brother offered surgery and mechanical dentistry. They advertised that they would visit parties at their residences on short notice in Etowah and adjoining counties.

Contact The Vagabond at dkcrown@bellsouth.net.

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