Raising funds for a mission trip to Costa Rica next summer, talented members of the Lutie Watkins Memorial United Methodist Church in Llano served a delicious dinner and performed famous songs from Broadway hits like “Fiddler on the Roof” (above) in three dinner theater presentations of “A Taste of Broadway” last weekend (see more pictures on page 8 and lots more on the “Highland Lakes Weekly” Facebook page).
The amazing adventures of General Adam Johnson
Adam Rankin Johnson is, without doubt, Burnet County’s greatest hero. The county was among the wildest places in the west when Johnson moved here in 1854, but the twenty-year-old Kentuckian proved equal to every adversity, and then some. At various stages in his life, he was an Indian fighter, a Confederate general, the founder of Marble Falls (after being severely wounded during the war) and the only blind man on record to lead a cattle drive. Combining the best traits of legendary figures as diverse as Robin Hood, Daniel Boone and Helen Keller, Johnson gained celebrity status across the South, and had an enormous impact on our area’s history. Every Texan can be proud of Adam Johnson’s amazing achievements.
Adam Johnson’s boyhood was a perfect preparation for his exploits in later life: the son of a prominent physician in Henderson, he enjoyed a freedom to roam the forests and fields, while acquiring a superb education during evening hours at home. At the age of eight he was allowed the use of a gun, and became an expert shot and a great hunter. He also learned to swim well. He was healthy, strong, and active, and quickly became a leader of the other boys. James R. Holloway, who later fought for the Union army, described Adam as a born leader: “He was ever characterized by a genius in designing and a boldness in executing, and got us in and out of many scrapes.” His keen powers of observation and his decisiveness would serve him well all his life.
My vacation will begin as soon as this week’s paper is distributed, and it seems like that’s not a moment too soon; I think my brain got a head start! It seemed like things were going pretty well, with less events to cover and more time to put the paper together these last few weeks, but the mistakes have only been increasing. One that I want to mention is the ad for “Sure Cuts and More” in Kingsland (see page 5). A casual reader wouldn’t know it, but Charlotte West wanted to let people know about her “Back to School” supply drive (you get a discount if you bring in $5 worth of school supplies: pencils, Kleenex, etc.) I put the ad together last week, but forgot to put it in the paper! I hope some of you will help me make that up to her.
Anyway, there won’t be an August 4 issue of the Highland Lakes Weekly; I guess you’ll just have to read this one over again next week. That wouldn’t be a problem for me; I often read my paper and think, “That’s very interesting!” just a couple of days after I wrote it. And my friends tell me it just gets worse with age.
Apart from the mistakes, most of which I have already forgotten, things seem to be going pretty well in my little Highland Lakes world. There is no shortage of economic activity; new buildings, new homes and new businesses are appearing everywhere I look, and there are new community groups trying to make sure that everyone benefits from the general well-being. I was very much impressed at last year’s Back to School Bash in Marble Falls, and impressed again this year to see that “the first 1,500 students” will receive free backpacks and school supplies! I was also impressed by the turnout at the new 4-H Club in Kingsland (and the news that there will be a Boys and Girls Club at Kingsland First Baptist, starting next month). There are similar good things happening all around the Highland Lakes.
Live music seems to be increasing as a Highland Lakes attraction, and the huge crowd at Haley Nelson Park in Burnet last Saturday was another impressive sign. This weekend, there will be a bunch of great live music events again (see Upcoming Events, on page 2). One venue which has a stellar line-up (including Kevin Fowler on September 3) is Brass Hall, on 3rd Street and Avenue J in Marble Falls. I was there for part of the show with the Tejas Brothers last Friday, and was really impressed (again) with the quality of the performers they have there.
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.
Well, life has definitely slowed down a little since Kingsland’s big Aqua Boom festival, but I’m finding that perfection in the newspaper business (at least for me) remains an elusive goal. I do feel more rested, and I’ve made progress in catching up on some personal details (house-cleaning, healthcare updates, vacation planning), but I’ve continued to make mistakes and forget appointments. I hope people will continue to be patient with me, because (even with all the embarrassing mistakes) I’m having a great time!
I’ll mention again this week and next that there will not be a paper on August 4; that’s my vacation week. I’m going to try to ignore my telephone and my computer that week; I’ll be playing catch-up for a couple of weeks after that.
One of the highlights of my more-relaxed week was the opportunity to read all the way through Dana Wright’s wonderful new book, “Saving Stories: Afternoons with Darrell.” I am probably biased, because I consider Dana and Darrell (Llano’s celebrity songwriter Darrell Staedtler) both good friends, but I enjoyed the book tremendously. Not only did I learn a lot more about Darrell’s impressive country music career (and a little more about Dana’s noteworthy “new” career as a writer), but I feel suddenly more motivated to write some books of my own. My research style won’t be the same as Dana’s; I feel much more comfortable with old newspapers than with real people who might not really like what I write, and I’m better at reading than listening, anyway. But I believe that my “history” research shares the goal of Dana’s interviews: saving stories with a lasting value that otherwise might have been lost and forgotten. I hope I can do as well as Dana has done in pursuit of that goal (see a little more about Darrell and the book on page 6).
I have to start this week’s column with a correction. Sea Doo raffle winner Chris Heerlein did NOT buy 3,000 tickets, as I thought I had been told; he actually bought $3,000 worth of tickets. That means that he had just a little more than one tenth of the tickets, so winning the Sea Doo was not at all a sure thing. Still, I’m told that his purchase was the biggest in Aqua Boom history, so I’m glad he won (and if that “fact” turns out to be wrong, I’ll let you know next week!)
I have been very happy with my paper’s circulation lately; I rarely have to pick up even close to ten percent of the papers I put out, and I think that more people are reading the Highland Lakes Weekly than ever before. In addition to the actual printed papers, there is an online flip-through edition posted every weekend, and I’m hearing from more and more people who read it. And this past week, Facebook informed me that I had 42,914 “post engagements” (whatever that means) on my Aqua Boom albums. I want to say “Thank You!” to everyone who pays any attention whatsoever to my efforts; you make me feel that I’m doing something worthwhile, and that thought gives me great satisfaction.
Now that I’ve got so many people paying attention, it really seems like a shame to announce that I am taking my annual vacation in three weeks, and that there will not be a paper on August 4. I don’t count that against my tally of consecutive deadlines met (I’m at 318 now); there just won’t be a deadline that week to miss.
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.
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Highland Lakes Weekly
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Kingsland, TX 78639