Two national issues and one state issue dominated the front page of The Llano News on September 6, 1917. The U.S. Army was mobilized for World War 1, Prohibition failed to win a majority in Llano County, and the Texas Senate zeroed in on a mysterious $156,000 loan in Governor James Ferguson’s impeachment trial.
The first 30,000 American draftees were called to active service on September 5, and the Provost Marshal’s office reported that the mobilization was proceeding “without a hitch.” An elaborate banquet was held on the courthouse lawn to honor local draftees and their families. Joe McGinnis, Elmer Crockett and Raymond Hargroves were the first three Llano boys called up; they left on the train on Wednesday morning.
Frank Flack, originally from Llano and more recently from San Saba, was promoted to Sargeant-Major. Frank Wallace, one of the early volunteers from Llano, sent a letter to his mother from France, reporting a pleasant trip with no seasickness and a good first impression of the European country. The letter took two weeks to get from France to Llano.
Prohibition lost by six votes in Llano County’s election. In the City of Llano, the margin was much bigger (214 for Prohibition, and 281 against). Around the county, 13 of 19 communities favored Prohibition, including Valley Spring (76-24), Kingsland (24-23), Baby Head (24-22) and Lone Grove (26-16). Six Mile bucked the trend with a 4-49 vote, while Sandy Mountain (16-1) and Duncan (17-2) were the most emphatic of the towns in favor.
There was some local Llano news at the bottom of the front page. The cotton gin, belonging to T.G. Hyslop of Hutto, burned to the ground. It was valued at $20,000, but the insurance policy covered only $8,500.
Clay Fowler beat his speeding ticket in a Burnet court case, causing rejoicing among his friends in Llano. Railroad agent Richard Fishbeck missed a day’s work after he was kicked by a steer while loading cattle. Rain fell all around Llano, but the city remained in the grips of a drought, with only 8” of rain reported for the year so far.
The headline on September 13 proclaimed “Government Seeks Location for Huge Artillery Ranges.” The story reported that a telegram had been received from Colonel M. McFarland of Fort Sam Houston, asking about the possibility of locating a 250,000-acre tract near Llano to train about 20,000 soldiers in the use of artillery. A competing site in Oklahoma was also being considered.
A new Superintendent of Schools (H.B. Cogdell) arrived with his wife to take the place of departing superintendent Mr. McCollum, who had taken a new job at Commerce.
A representative from Ford Motor Company was in Llano to install machinery at the new garage at Watkins Auto Company, on East Main Street. An expert Ford mechanic, Lester Moore, had been hired to be foreman at the garage, and was expected in Llano within ten days.
A fire broke out on Saturday night in an unoccupied cottage just north of the Llano Troy Laundry in north Llano. The cottage burned to the ground, but no other buildings were damaged.
Jerry Alred and F.P. Smith, of Click, passed through Llano as they took their children to Cherokee to be enrolled in school there (possibly at Cherokee Junior College, which accepted students from 1911 until at least the fall of 1918).
Five young men from Llano County left for Bisbee, AZ (called “the biggest city between St. Louis and San Francisco” in the early 1900s), to work in the copper industry there. They were: Jim Smith and Tom Martin, from Kingsland, and Foster Breazeale, Louis Foster and H.C. Cone, from Llano (incidentally, newlyweds Shirley and Ellen Williams had moved to Bisbee just four months earlier; Shirley operated a “jitney” (taxi) business there for several years with his Model T Ford).
On September 20, The Llano News rejoiced to announce that “At last, yesterday afternoon Llano had another one of those Old-Time ‘Gulley-Washers.’”
Another headline reported that “Twenty-four more of Llano County’s young men leave for war.” The 24 were entertained at the Don Carlos Hotel for lunch before a large crowd wished them well as they boarded the train for Camp Travis.
School opened in Llano on September 17 that year; 487 students were enrolled “on both sides of the river,” including 116 in high school. An article about the football team reported that “although the war has taken many of the larger boys, Llano will have a team that will be surprising in weight. The boys will average at from one hundred and thirty to one hundred and thirty-five pounds. This will probably be as heavy as any high school team in the state this year.”
Another article was headlined “Large College Attendance.” It said “each year the number has seemed to increase,” and “a great many more of our young men and women are leaving for colleges and normal schools.” It listed 11 names (including five to UT, two to Baylor, and just one to A&M) and added that there were several others going to college.
The September 27 headline announced “Ferguson Forever Disbarred From Office in Texas,” and the story explained that he had been found guilty on “ten counts of 21 articles of impeachment” and removed from his office as governor by a 25-3 vote in the Senate.
Another headline said “Despite Drouthy Conditions, Business in Llano Continues to Show Signs of Prosperity.” A story near the bottom of the page reported that Watkins Auto Sales Company had received another shipment of six Ford cars, and that they had been delivered to customers on the waiting list. Three of the happy new owners were from Llano, two were from Castell and one was from Valley Spring.