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Old news sparks interest with city workers

By Ed Brock

More than 25 years ago Lucy Huie discovered a hidden treasure.

It wasn't gold in the literal sense, but for history buffs like Jonesboro City Clerk Joanie Jones and some others at Jonesboro City Hall the original, bound copies of "The Jonesboro News" from the late 1800s are just as valuable.

"We're really excited," Jones said, referring to the visit she will make to Huie's Jonesboro house today to peruse the old papers.

Huie and her husband Arthur Huie discovered the old editions of the paper, running from May 22, 1880 to April 7, 1881, in their friend Carolyn Blalock's house in Jonesboro in 1975. Blalock was about to go into a retirement home and the Huies were helping to clean up her house.

"She had a lot of this laid out to throw away," Huie said.

"Her grandfather (Aaron Ezekiel Cloud) was the editor."

The Huies brought the newspapers home and kept them in good order since. Jones, Jonesboro City Manager Jon Walker and fellow city employee Joel Logan found out about the papers when they were asking Huie about other artifacts she could contribute to the "Jonesboro Days" event celebrated last month.

"We finally coordinated a time to come over and see them," Jones said.

Retired City Clerk Katherine Smith, whose family the Robertses have lived in the area for some time, will also join them.

"There's a good chance that there might be something about the Robertses in the paper," Smith said.

Huie, whose family is also one of the oldest in the county, said she's seen a few references to her ancestors in the pages of the old publications. Some of the stories, like the public hanging of a black man convicted of killing a local judge, came close to Huie's personal life.

"My husband's dad told him that one of his earliest memories was going to that hanging," Huie said. "It was supposed to be a moral lesson."

Each edition is only three to four pages long and they scarcely resemble a modern newspaper. Along with the story and commentaries on the hanging there are also ads and poetry on the front page.

Prohibition was a major issue of the day.

"Notice has been given of an application to the next General Assembly of Georgia for the passage of an act to submit to the legal voters of Spalding County the question of prohibiting the sale of spirituous and malt liquors ?"

"On yesterday the last bar room in Conyers closed. No more ?red eye' by the drink and we presume that jugs and demijohns will now be in demand."

Middle Georgia College advertised 20 days of primary instruction for $2. There are also ads for Perry Davis' Vegetable Pain Killer, Eggleston's Sensible Trusses and the Voltaic Belt Company.

"The Voltaic Belt Company of Marshall, Michigan will send their celebrated Electro-Voltaic Belts to the afflicted upon 30 days trial. Speedy cures guaranteed. They mean what they say. Write to them without delay."

Huie said she's not sure what she will eventually do with the old newspapers. The city may eventually have an option for her, Jones said.

"One day we really would like to have a museum," Jones said. "We don't want all this to go to waste."