I keep waiting for someone to ask me why I included all the local and regional news in my book on Rabun County’s earliest newspapers, instead of only the obituaries and death notices as many compilers do.
No one’s asked, but I think it’s an important question, and my answer is this: Newspapers are, in and of themselves, an important resource outside of the fact that they can serve as a substitute for vital and court records. To demonstrate this, let’s look at excerpts from early issues of The Clayton Tribune and The Tallulah Falls Spray pertaining to a gentleman named C. J. Crunkleton.
I’ve placed C. J.’s name in bold type in the following excerpts to make his name easier to find.
From the 24 June 1897 issue of The Tallulah Falls Spray:
Messrs. J. C. Howard, C. J. Crunkleton and Miss Texie York are attending the Teachers’ Institute at Tallulah Falls this week.
From the 8 June 1899 issue of The Clayton Tribune:
[Missing] B., Henry and Miss [missing] and C. J. Crunkleton returned[?] home from Cornelia [missing] they[?] have been spending a [missing] months preparing for a more [missing] life. We gladly received them[?] to Sunday-school Sunday.
From the 22 June 1899 issue of The Clayton Tribune:
On last Thursday evening an interesting debate was held at the court house. The question discussed was: Resolved, that expansion is a wise political measure. The speakers were, Prof. A. A. O’Kelley, Hon. R. E. A. Hamby, Prof. L. M. Chastine, Garnett Williams, Luther York, F. D. Singleton, R. C. Ramey, J. M. Bleckley and Jackson Crunkleton.
From the same issue:
A goodly number of the teachers of the county are receiving instructions from Prof. O’Kelley this week. They are preparing for the examination. The following teachers are attending: Amanda Earl, Mary Bynum, Genela Bynum, Maybelle Coffee, Ina Coffee, Ada Green, Beulah Green, Dovie Williams, Ella Ramey, John Holden, J. M. Bleckley, W. F. Holden, Garnett Williams, Virgil Green, James Green, F. D. Singleton, J. M. Hopper, Oscar Powell, Claude Green, Thomas Hamby, Netherland Bynum, Jack Crunkleton.
From the 6 July 1899 issue of The Clayton Tribune:
Below are the names of the applicants for teachers license and grades obtained at the recent examination: First grade: A. A. O’Kelly, James Green, Claude Green, Manda Earl, C. J. Crunkleton. Second grade: F. D. Singleton, J. M. Bleckley, R. N. Dover, Virgil Green, Ada Green, Bulah Green, Maybelle Coffee, Oscar Powell, Luther York, John Holden, W. F. Holden, Lena Bleckley, Paul Kimsey, Nin Ramey, Garnett Williams. Third grade: J. M. Hopper, Mary Bynum, Genela Bynum, Lillie Kimsey, Ina Coffee.
From the 13 July 1899 issue of The Clayton Tribune:
Rabun County Teacher’s Association.
The public teachers of this county met on the 8th inst. for the purpose of organizing a Teachers’ Association. On motion, Prof. A. A. O’Kelly was elected president and Chas. J. Crunkleton secretary…
C. J. Crunkleton, R. N. Dover and Garnett Williams were appointed a committee to see the editor of the Tribune asking him to give to the Teachers Association a column in his paper for the benefit of the association.
From the 3 August 1899 issue of The Clayton Tribune:
For Rabun County Teachers Association, to be held at Clayton, Saturday Sept. 2, 1899…
Methods in teaching arithmetic—by W. T. Daniel and Jackson Crunkleton…
From the 24 August 1899 issue of The Clayton Tribune:
C. J. Crunkleton‘s condition is very serious. We trust he will be able for the schoolroom again soon.
From the 14 September 1899 issue of The Clayton Tribune:
Program for Rabun County Teachers Association to be held at Clayton Oct. 7th 1899…
Teaching reading.—C. J. Crunkleton and Nin Ramey…
From the same issue:
C. J. Crunkleton is confined to his bed again, but we hope he will soon be up.
From the 21 September 1899 issue of The Clayton Tribune:
C. J. Crunkleton is improving some.
From the 30 November 1899 issue of The Clayton Tribune:
C. J. Crunkleton of Persimmon was in town Saturday. Our readers will remember that about August his knife pierced his right arm while catching a falling pencil. He has not done any manual labor since and is far from being well yet.
The following may be the incident to which The Tribune‘s editor refers above, from the 24 August 1899 issue:
Mr. J. N. [sic] Crunkleton, of Persimmon, happened to a painful and what may prove to be a fatal accident a few days ago. He had trimed his pencil and had his knife on his knee and some papers started to drop fro [sic] his hand and making a quick grab for them stuck the blade of the knife into his wrist joint, from which he is suffering greatly.
There are no extant issues of The Clayton Tribune available for the years 1900 and 1901 (that I know of), but there are several available for 1902.
From the 13 February 1902 issue of The Clayton Tribune:
As I have never entered a political campaign before it is necessary for me to make a few remarks in regard to my political principals. Mr. Ritchie said in our contest that I was deprived of the office of C. S. Comm’r1 on account of my being a republican. I made no reply to this because I did not believe any member of the Board knew anything about my political standing. I have never voted a full democratic or republican ticket as I remember of. I would have voted a republican ticket for president if I had gone to the last presidential election. I have often said that we, the people of north Georgia, had more money and could get better prices for our stock under a republican administration. As to the principals of the two parties, I don’t yet thoroughly understand them, therefore am unable to make a permanent decision, but am making this race subject to the action of the democratic party and will appreciate all the help I can get, let it be democratic or republican. Yours truly, C. J. Crunkleton.
From the same issue:
Having been advised by many of my friends to make the race for clerk superior court I hereby announce myself a candidate for clerk subject to the action of the democratic party. If elected will serve you to the best of my ability. Yours truly, C. J. Crunkleton.
From the 20 February 1902 issue of The Clayton Tribune:
Grand Jurors. Jeff D. Beck, James B. Hicks, John H. Dotson, Russell E. Cannon, Elijah B. Philyaw, Cicero C. York, Lafayette Dixon, Isaac P. Coleman, John W. Green, Thos. E. King, Wm. B. Watts, Peter E. Thompson, Pat Coleman, Andrew M. Holden, Henry N. Burrell, A. J. Kell, F. G. Holden, Bailess Nicholson, Chas. J. Crunkleton, John Howard, J. M. Arrendale, E. D. Swofford, Isaac N. Lovell, James M. Bell, Wm. H. York, Marion Jones, Virgil Stonecypher, Eli H. Baker, James F. Smith, James B. Powell.
From the 12 June 1902 issue of The Clayton Tribune:
Georgia—Rabun county. To all whom it may concern: H. V. Murray, having made application to me in due form to be appointed permanent administratrix upon the estate of C. J. Crunkleton, late of said county, notice is hereby given that said application will be heard at the regular term of the Court of Ordinary for said county to be held on the first Monday in July, 1902. Witness my hand and office signature, this 28th day of May, 1902. W. S. Long, Ordinary.
From the 31 July 1902 issue of The Clayton Tribune:
Notice to Debtors and Creditors.
All persons having demands against the estate of C. J. Crunkleton late of Rabun County, deceased are hereby notified to render in their demands to the undersigned according to law; and all persons indebted to said estate are required to make immediate payment. This the 26[?] day of July, 1901 [sic]. J. N. Crunkleton, Administrator C. J. Crunkleton deceased.
What wonderful information, especially considering the scarcity of extant issues for these early newspapers. Just from reading the newspaper we’ve learned:
- That C. J. was a call name for Charles Jackson Crunkleton.
- That he lived in the Persimmon area of Rabun County.
- That he was a teacher who was a founding member of and active in the local teachers’ association.
- That he was intelligent enough to debate leading Rabun County citizens, including two fellow teachers (A. A. O’Kelley, founder of the Rabun Gap Institute, and L. M. Chastain, who served at some point as the County School Commissioner) and the local representative to the state legislature, the Honorable R. E. A. Hamby.
- That he had a serious accident that confined him to his home for several weeks.
- That he served on the Grand Jury and was civic minded enough to run for both County School Commissioner and Clerk of the Superior Court, with the encouragement of friends and family.
- That he was fair-minded. Although a member of the Democratic party, he thought that Rabun County would do well financially under a Republican regime. And he voted for the person he thought would do the best job, whether Republican or Democrat.
- That he died before 28 May 1902.
Unfortunately, the issue or issues that would likely have carried C. J.’s death notice or obituary are missing, but the ones that are extant provide a wonderful snapshot of C. J.’s life. And my list only scratched the surface on the uses of this information for research. These few excerpts also name at least one possible family member as well as several potential friends…I could go on!
The largest limit to the records we use is our imagination. I hope you think of C. J. Crunkleton the next time you’re reading an old newspaper, and remember how versatile these records really can be.
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1. County School Commissioner.