On February 8, 1917, The Llano News reported that the U.S. had broken off diplomatic relations with Germany. It was the middle of World War 1, and American sympathies were mainly with England and France, but most were still hoping that the U.S. could stay out of the war. The headline said, “Let us Hope that no ‘Overt Act’ on the part of Germany will Occur to Precipitate War.” A separate article told how Congress was appropriating $15 million to “prepare the country for whatever may follow” by strengthening the nation’s military.
Closer to home, the Llano County Good Roads Association and the Llano Business League called a “mass meeting” at the courthouse to discuss transportation needs and solutions.
C.E. Shults announced that he had hired S.B. Zittle, who had formerly managed hotels in San Antonio, Marlin and Bay City, to manage his hotel (still called “Franklin” pending results of the re-naming contest). As renovations neared completion, Mr. Zittle’s attention was focused on furnishing the hotel, and he had already placed an ad seeking local goods and services wherever possible for the classy “new” hotel.
Local Boy Scouts had been busy beautifying the downtown area (especially the “approach to the main part of the town from the Southern Hotel,” and a front-page article bragged that the “walk way is improved a hundred per cent.”
Watkins Auto Sales purchased a business lot from A.G. Bradley, “across the street from the Buie Garage, a few doors east of the post office. It is part of the livery stable property which Mr. Bradley has owned for some years.” The article explained that “The lot has a 50-foot front and runs back 147 feet to the alley,” where “after passing the building now occupied by D.B. Williams,” widened to 80 feet of alley frontage.
The article went on to say “It is the purpose of Mr. Watkins and his associate, Roy B. Inks, to build a first-class Ford service station. The structure will be modern in every particular and will be begun at a very near date.”
T.O. Riley and his son, Frank, signed a lease to operate the meat market of R.H. Peacock. A fire destroyed the home of Van Smith, who lived “out beyond Click.” Nothing was salvaged; Mr. Smith estimated the loss at “between four and five thousand dollars.”
The big news (judging by the headline) on February 15, 1917, was the increase in annual subscription costs for The Llano News, from $1 to $1.50, effective March 6. A smaller headline reported that the Franklin Hotel would be re-named “Don Carlos,” and another proclaimed that “Texas has Graphite in Large Quantities.” Dr. William B. Phillips, from Austin, reported that he had inspected graphite deposits in Burnet and Llano Counties, and that “these deposits are of an extraordinary character with respect to quality and quantity, and could be made the basis of considerable industry.” A separate story reported that “McCarty Moore, manager for the Llano Company, has shipped a solid carload of graphite. According to our information, this is the first carload of this product ever shipped from Texas to the market.”
The mass meeting on February 12 was described as “enthusiastic,” and resulted in the passing of a number of resolutions. One described the unequal “benefits and burdens of citizenship” and called for re-drawing the county map so “the four commissioners’ precincts corner in the center of the courthouse.” Another called for a pay raise for commissioners (from $3 per day to $5) and the hiring of qualified road superintendents in each precinct.
Watkins Auto Sales delivered five Fords to customers around Llano County, and “local agent” Lee Jernigan delivered six “Dodge Bros. cars” and three “Hudson Super-Six cars” to customers as far away as San Saba, Mason, Brady and Fredericksburg. Druggist J.E. Smith, from Dallas, accepted a job with Ransom & McInnis in Llano.
A front-page story on February 22 told of the passing of J.P. Collier, who had been a school teacher for many years. To quote the article: “On coming to Llano (in 1881), he was placed in charge of the school here. At that time, the young men and boys of the town had, by rowdyism and disobedience, thrown the school into an uproar. Mr. Collier took charge with the understanding that he would straighten things out, and many of the citizens of our town today can attest to the fact that he did all and more than he said he would.”
Manager Lee Jernigan, of the Llano Milling and Manufacturing Company, reported the shipment (and impending arrival) of a new “filter plant” from Chicago. There would be “some assembly required,” but The Llano News expected that the town would be enjoying the benefits of filtered water before the end of March. Three large tanks would be used to treat river water with “sulphate illuminum,” “crushed quartz” and “chloride of lime to kill the germs.”
Car salesman Lee Jernigan (the same man?) delivered a “Dodge Brothers motor car” to J.A. Winsier, of Republic. Watkins Auto Sales Company delivered eleven more Fords to customers around Llano County (including M.C. Barnett of Kingsland), and Herbert Marschall accepted a clerical position with the Llano Auto Company.
On March 1, The Llano News announced the 6th Anniversary of Llano Trade Days, to be held the following Monday with “scores of bargains in the line-up.” The article concluded by saying “Come and bring the family and stay all day.”
There was plenty of bad news that week. In addition to war clouds in Europe, the paper told of several accidents and deaths in Llano County. Henry Doeppenschmidt was a recent arrival from New Braunfels who was hauling cedar from a hill near Kingsland when the brakes gave way on the horse-drawn wagon. The horses bolted, throwing him from the wagon and dragging him some 200 yards before other workers could stop them. Undertaker Miles Buttery was called to Kingsland to prepare the body for shipment to New Braunfels; a separate news item said, “Miles Buttery made a business trip to Kingsland on Tuesday of this week.”
Another sad article told of the death of pioneer settler Martha Huffman, who had come to Llano County before it was a county, and had lived on the town site of Llano as a newlywed when the county was formed in 1856. She was survived by five of her seven children.
There was only one new car registered in Llano County that week; it was a Ford, belonging to G.A. Coulson. The only stock shipment of the week was a carload of hogs sent to Fort Worth by H.L. Gray. The Corner Drug Store, which had become the agent for Cooper Cattle Dip, purchased a whole carload of the tick-fighting chemical. Dallas Stoudenmier, who had been away from Llano for two years, surprised his parents by arriving on the noon train on February 27.
The biggest local news of March 8 was that the Hotel Don Carlos was preparing for a Grand Opening “on or about April 1.” Manager S.B. Zittle’s connections in the hotel industry gained him and the Don Carlos some national publicity when “Tavern Talk” magazine, based in Kansas City, featured the hotel in an article that month. The Llano News boasted that “the word is going out that Llano is soon to have a hotel on a par with any other town in the whole country.”
On March 15, a front-page story reported that $20,000 had been received from the sale of street bonds (from Halsey Stuart & Company of Chicago), and that city council had hired Austin engineer O.E. Metcalfe to supervise construction. Work was expected to begin sometime in April.
City Council authorized the purchase of a Ford car, which would be modified by “a local blacksmith” to serve as a fire truck. Most of Llano’s prominent ranchers were in Fort Worth that week for a big Cattlemen’s Convention. Dr. R.V. Bingham, from Toronto, Canada, preached at the Llano Opera House on Sunday morning and evening, then gave a talk on Monday evening (to capacity crowds each time) about his missionary work in Sudan and the great needs in the African continent.