The big news in Llano on January 1, 1917, was some New Year’s Eve vandalism. The Llano News reported in its January 4 issue that 11 local boys had been assessed fines totaling $14.70 for “general mischief,” and several more were to be charged after the town awoke to find an overturned garbage can covering the head of the Confederate soldier statue (which had been dedicated with great fanfare the previous year) and broken “window lights, desks and laboratory equipment at the school building.” According to the report, “considerable other mischief of less violence was the result of the night’s rowdyism.”
The Watkins Auto Sales Company announced its delivery of thirteen new Fords (a hot commodity in 1917; all of them were already spoken for, and there was still a waiting list of prospective buyers). Several of the buyers were familiar names, including Roy B. Inks of Llano, O.K. McDonald of Tow and W.H. Hill of Kingsland. Mr. Watkins expected more Fords to arrive “any day.”
Traveling by car was an interesting experience back then. Another front-page story told how Professor B.F. McCollum and his wife had planned to travel with three young school teachers to Dublin for Christmas. They had almost made it as far as Cherokee when the car broke down. It became evident that the car needed a part which was not available anywhere nearby, so when a Good Samaritan stopped to help, the four ladies hitched a ride into town and called a “jitney” to take them to Lometa, where they could catch a train. The jitney broke down, too, and they had to spend the night with a hospitable family in Cherokee while they waited for another jitney from to come and get them. In the meantime, the professor found a telephone (and refuge for the night) at a nearby ranch, and called a supplier in Mason to bring the necessary part for his car the next day. The “chauffeur” of the second jitney “overslept himself” and the ladies missed their train by 15 minutes, but they were able to catch up to it and board the train at its next stop. The professor installed the new part, and arrived in Dublin shortly after his wife and their friends!
Of course, trains were still the primary mode of transportation, and the paper listed shipments from Llano by several area ranchers. J.C. Stribling sent two carloads of hogs to Fort Worth. D.P. Hasse and J.W. Hasse each sent four carloads of hogs, also to Fort Worth. H.R. Smith sent two carloads of cattle to San Marcos, but most of the shipments went to Fort Worth.
Thomas G. Cowley, who had enlisted with the Marine Corps the previous August, completed his basic training and became “a full-fledged Marine.” He was waiting in Norfolk, Virginia, for an overseas assignment.
Miss Bessie Chism was hired as the new manager of the Southern hotel after the resignation of the previous manager, Mrs. Emma West. Miss Chism announced plans to do “considerable remodeling,” including re-papering all the walls of the old hotel.
Llano’s Baptists welcomed Rev. J.M. Reynolds, formerly of Brady, as their new pastor. The Methodists installed “a complete new concrete walk across the entire front of the lot, and walks leading to the entrance of the Sunday School room and the church. All around the courthouse square, workers were installing culverts, gutters and walks.
Julian Lauterstein, Abe Wernberg and Lewis Lauterstein announced plans to move their general merchandise company from Field Creek to Kingsland, where they would operate as “Lauterstein Mercantile” in the old store house of J.T. Hallford.
Mrs. Mollie Thornton closed her boarding house, even though it had been very successful and she “always had even more boarders than she could consistently care for.”
The headline on the front page on January 11 said: “Every Day Some New Building is Begun and Improvements are Noticed Everywhere in Llano. A story described a new 56’ x 70’ one-story building “just to the north” of Frank Kothmann’s feed business. It would be an addition to that business. The article also noted that the building just behind Mr. Kothmann’s had been leased to Nelson Davis of Austin, to be used as a wholesale grocery house (Editor’s note: Mr. Kothmann’s business was on Bessemer Avenue in North Llano; Roy Inks was an employee of Nelson Davis, and was apparently in charge of the new Llano warehouse).
The Llano post office reported steady increases in revenue, going from $5,792.42 in 1913 to 7,144.74 in 1916. Bonds totaling $20,000 for street improvement were approved, and a Chicago company was expected to begin work in the near future. The commissioners court “received” the new bridge in Tow, and asked for bids to paint the Bluffton bridge. They also “favorably considered” the possibility of “fixing and painting the ceiling in the upper story of the courthouse.”
J.B. Buie bought Frank Mosely’s garage and opened the Buie Auto Company. Obe McClary took over the tailor shop in the Johnson & Byfield store, and tailor George Johnson moved to the barber shop of Rufe Deats, where he was setting up an independent business. Mrs. T.O. Riley bought back her “millinery establishment,” which had been owned by Mrs. Grady Faubion for “some months” in the recent past. Bookkeeper Pius L. Barker left Rockwell Lumber Company to join the Llano Milling Company.
Mr. George M. Willis, a Pontotoc rancher who had just been elected sheriff of Mason County, was married to Miss Ellen Wyckoff, of Coal Creek (Llano County), in a ceremony conducted by Rev. J.M. Streator at the Southern Hotel in Llano.
That was the beginning of 1917.