Mexican revolutionary Pancho Villa, who had invaded the U.S. the previous year, made the front page of The Llano News on January 11, 1917, amid rumors that his “army” was advancing toward Chihuahua City (the state capital where he had served as provisional governor before the 1914 revolution; the attack never happened, and Villa made peace with the Mexican government in 1920).
Closer to home, Mrs. A.A. Knowles (born Adeline Augustus Osborne in Burnet County, although the article may have been mistaken in claiming that she was born there in 1842), died suddenly in Llano on Tuesday, January 9. The article called her “one of our noblest and best known citizens,” and described her 37 years in Llano as “a consistent and devoted Christian life.” Her husband, Captain W.W. Knowles, had owned the gin, mill and water works in Llano in the 1880s; he died in 1893.
Locals who sent carloads of hogs by train to Fort Worth that week included A.N. Box, W. Hoerster, Geo. Schuessler, Jas. Wyckoff, R.S. Schneider, J.M. Wilson and Dees & Moss.
Colonel A.J. Zilker (who also donated land for the future Zilker Park to the City of Austin that year) paid a visit to Llano that week; the paper noted that he was the principal stockholder in the Llano Milling and Manufacturing Company. T.W. Norton returned to Llano from a week-long business trip to Austin.
A.Z. Fuston Jr. was recovering from a successful appendectomy, and Mrs. Clint Breazeale III was reportedly “improving” after a serious illness. Ed McClary was in the Llano Hospital with a badly broken arm, and a 7-year-old child, who had been brought to Llano from Menard for medical treatment, died there on January 9.
On January 18, Watkins Auto Sales Company reported that nine more Fords had arrived in Llano; buyers included R.H. Peacock, Ed Crownover, Nelson Davis, G.L. Biggs, and D. Smith (from Llano), Doke Long (Kingsland), C.L. McDonald (Cherokee), Dave Moss (Lone Grove) and John Smith (Oxford).
But a cautionary news item titled “Speeders! Beware!” warned drivers that speed limits on straight roads had been lowered from 20 mph to 15, and drivers would be arrested for driving more than 10 mph around “the curves and corners.”
The Llano National Bank announced that M.M. Moss would become president of the bank and Myrick Johnson would be cashier. The article reported that “in addition to his active connection with the bank as president, Mr. Moss will look after the cattle loans of L.C. Smith and will supervise the Marble Falls, Cherokee and Junction City banks.” J.C. Stribling was re-elected as vice-president; F.K. Lange and Grady Faubion were re-elected as assistant cashiers.
Home National Bank re-elected all its officers: W.F. Gray was president; A. Vander Stucken and C.E. Schults, vice-presidents; W. Vander Stucken, cashier; Eli Parkhill and W.B. Haynie, assistant cashiers.
A new manufacturing firm, called Armadillo Basket Company, opened “the next door east of the store of H.E. Hedeman” on the north side of the Llano River. E.D. Durfee was the manager.
Mrs. Breazeale, who had seemed to be doing better the previous week, died on January 16. Born Pennsylvania Holton in Bastrop County 1849, she married Clinton Breazeale in Llano in 1867. The couple had ten children, seven of whom survived their parents. The music at her funeral was led by Mrs. George Watkins (Lutie Watkins).
Prize winners in the Llano County “boys agricultural contest and pig club” were: Hubert Speck and Tath Overstreet of Llano, Ted Fowler (Valley Spring), Eric Ray (Lone Grove), Billie Christian (Baby Head), Leo Warden (Lone Grove) and Aubrey Nolan (Kingsland).
On January 25, a fascinating article described renovations at the 25-year-old Franklin Hotel (formerly the Algona). “The entire roof of the building had been torn off,” and the new roof was “one of the most substantial kind, and overhead, in the place of the old plaster, which had fallen down in places, will be put a durable and pretty tin ceiling.”
The story continued, “All the walls have been gone over and they will be made absolutely new. New floors will be put in the dance hall, dining room, and one has already been laid in the kitchen. In the old basement, which at one time held the electric lighting plant for the building, a concrete floor has been put in and the walls will be plastered, making two well-appointed store rooms. All of the furniture that will be reserved from the old equipment has been renovated. Much of it has been discarded and will be replaced with new. The truth is that Llano will soon have a hostelry which will be an ornament to the town and one that will attract visitors from far and wide.”
The Llano Milling and Manufacturing company was also “doing extensive remodeling and improving at their plant,” including the addition of a “large concrete storage room,” the expansion of the ice plant, and a “gravel walk from the office to Bridge Street.”
Buie Auto Company moved into a new office in “the new part of the building,” described as a “well-appointed office with sectional racks for the holding of automobile tires and other accessories . . . an up-to-date office with plenty of room.”
Construction was completed at the new Llano County “disposal plant,” and two rent houses were nearing completion by A.H. Strahle. Local agent T.S. Parker announced the arrival of “a carload shipment of Overland automobiles,” one of which was “one of the new clover leaf designs.”
Nelson Davis opened his new wholesale grocery warehouse, and a “new Ford truck from Austin” was seen delivering groceries around Llano. Roy B. Inks, who had started with Mr. Davis as an “office boy” in Austin twelve years earlier, was in charge of the new warehouse. His success as a travelling salesman for the previous nine years had built up Mr. Davis’s business in the area and made the new outlet in Llano possible.
Mr. C.E. Shults announced a contest to re-name the almost-completely-renovated hotel (previously known as the “Franklin”). The prize would be $10 in gold.
Pancho Villa made the front page again on February 1, when a story reported that the first American troops, under General George Pershing, were preparing to cross the border in pursuit of the elusive guerrilla leader. In the meantime, refugees were streaming across the U.S. border from Mexico.