By the end of May, 1917, the war in Europe was dominating the news – even in the small town of Llano. A banner headline on the May 24 issue of The Llano News announced “Tuesday, June 5 is the day when EVERY man between the ages of 21 and 31 MUST register.” One of the stories under that headline was titled, “Army Registration to be made on June 5,” and another advised young men on how to answer the questions on the registration cards. A third front-page story reported that the Germans were holding several Americans as prisoners in Belgium, and a fourth listed five Llano volunteers who had already signed up to serve in the U.S. military.
There was a little bit of local news that week, too. George Watkins was at Scott & White Hospital in Temple for “diagnosis and medical advice.” G. Ehman had come from Brownwood to take a job as tailor for the Johnson & Byfield store. And local members of the Woodmen of the World were planning a banquet “next Saturday night” at the Don Carlos Hotel.
The same banner headline was repeated on May 31, as the June 5 deadline approached, and a front-page story noted that the German newspapers had reported the top-secret landing of American ships in England four days before it happened (and that the harbors were mined by German submarines the day before the ships arrived in England). A Llano volunteer in training for the U.S. Navy (Lee Anderson) died of pneumonia.
But there was a lot more “local” news in the May 31 paper. Robert Lewis and George West were “badly bruised” after the buggy in which they were riding was struck by “a large Mitchell touring car being driven by Earl Goodson,” which was traveling across the Llano River bridge at “a very rapid rate.” The story detailed the collision, saying that “the car came on without any apparent decrease in speed until it struck them, knocking them from the buggy and carrying the horse and vehicle for several feet.” The back of Mr. West’s head “struck the top of the outside bannister of the bridge, and he fell to the footpath. But for the fact that his head struck this railing, he would have been hurled entirely off the bridge onto the rocks below.” The horse suffered two broken ribs and was “badly skinned all over the body.” The occupants of the car (which belonged to Watkins Auto Sales) were not injured, but the car itself was “badly damaged.”
Two young children were reported missing in Valley Spring, and a large group of searchers fanned out across the hilly terrain. The children were discovered about midnight, six miles from their home at the home of Fritz Kothmann Jr., where they had been given a meal and put to bed. In the absence of cell phones, most of the searchers kept on looking for the children. T.E. Foster and A.H. Willbern followed the children’s trail through the night, arriving at the Kothmann home around 3 a.m.
George and Lutie Watkins returned from Temple, with George reporting some improvement in his condition.
Lee Jernigan and App Smith completed renovations at the old Gray store, turning it into a well-appointed showroom for five auto manufacturers: Interstate, Pathfinder, Jordan, Dodge and Hudson Super-Six. The Western Union Telegraph and Cable Company and the stockmen’s exchange announced planned moves to offices inside the Don Carlos Hotel.
The banner headline on June 7 urged residents of Llano to “Serve your country by buying a Liberty Loan Bond. They are now on sale at both Llano banks.” A front-page story titled “Wave of Patriotism sweeps the country” reported that an estimated 10,500,000 young men had registered under the Conscription Act, far exceeding government estimates. A reported 591 were from Llano County; 244 from Llano, 58 from Valley Spring, 34 each from Kingsland and Baby Head, 25 from Castell and Six Mile, and smaller numbers from Lone Grove (21), Field Creek, Click and Tow (17 each), Esbon (15), Winkel (12), Long Mountain, Oxford and Sandy Mountain (11 each), Bluffton (10), Honey Creek (9), McNutt (8), Prairie Mountain (7) and Gainesville (5).
J.C. Cone and four passengers made a trip to Garden City and back in his new Buick, a trip of 234.9 miles each way. The party left Garden City at 6:17 a.m. for the return trip, and arrived in Llano at 8:45 p.m. (an average of 16 miles per hour). The newspaper called it a “record” journey, and said “the most pleasing part of the trip was that neither going nor returning did the car happen to even the slightest mishap, and the entire trip was made without the least trouble of any kind.”
A cloudburst in northern Llano County on June 2, accompanied by damaging hail in Baby Head, caused a temporary eight-foot rise in the Llano River even though the city of Llano had only a light rain.
Headlines on June 14 reported “Allies Dethrone the King of Greece,” and “Another advance of the British Forces.” A promotion for Liberty bonds caused pandemonium in downtown Llano when combined train whistles and church bells were mistaken for a fire alarm. Residents fired guns into the air and volunteer fire fighters converged at the square, but nobody could find the fire. Eventually, the confused citizens learned that the original sounds (four whistle blasts and four chimes) had been intended to remind them that there were just four days left to buy Liberty Bonds!
Two axe accidents were reported: Willie Willbern cut his arm severely while chopping cedar near Tow, and Roy Cates had to have his foot amputated at Scott & White in Temple after he nearly severed it when the axe slipped while he was chopping kindling. William Williams, of Kingsland, was taken to the Pasteur Institute in Austin after he was bitten by a “mad dog.” The dog was killed “on Henry Long’s place, near Pack Saddle.”
A big Baptist revival was going on at the Opera House in Llano. Mrs. M.M. Moss, chairman of the local Red Cross, announced that Lee Jernigan and App smith had donated the “upper part of their show room on Bridge Street” for use as a Red Cross headquarters.
A small news item on the front page of the June 21 paper was titled “Fords Delivered.” It listed seven buyers who had taken delivery of new Fords that week, and said “War or no war, the Ford cars are in demand and as fast as they are received purchasers take them up.” Another article reported that “the Buttery Hardware Company delivered this week two of the popular Chevrolets.”
The June 28 paper reported that Reeves Kuykendall had purchased a Hudson Super-Six, and that Dr. W.Y. Fowler had purchased “a fine Cadillac” in the previous week. Lee Jernigan reported that, in addition to Mr. Kuykendall’s Hudson, he had sold Dodge cars to D.F. Rich and C.W. Whitt of San Saba, and a “second-hand Maxwell” to R.W. White of Llano.
Local railroad agent R. Fishbeck reported that (apparently due to the war effort) the railroad would not be furnishing stock cars for stock loading “until further notice.”
A front-page article in the June 27 Houston Post contained an interview with Llano mineralogist N.J. Badu about “present mineral developments in Llano County.”