Wednesday, December 11, 2013
Dresden Enterprise Apr 24 1896 - The Illustrated Edition Part 23 "Sharon and Gleason Communities"
This is the twenty-third and final (unless I come across the rest of the paper) in a multi-part series featuring the April 24 1896 edition of the Dresden Enterprise. If you missed the previous posts you can find them here: part one, part two, part three, part four, part five, part six, part seven, part eight, part nine, part ten, part eleven, part twelve, part thirteen, part fourteen, part fifteen, part sixteen, part seventeen, part eighteen, part nineteen, part twenty, part twenty-one, part twenty-two.
There is not a better community in all of Weakley county than Sharon, and the country surrounding it. Twenty-three years ago there was no town there-only a house here and there- a closely built neighborhood. the editor's first visit there was when the Illinois Central railroad, then called the Mississippi Central, was being surveyed. Today it is one of the most enterprising towns in the county, and has a growing population and business. Today the population is said to be from 800 to 1,000 which we consider a reasonable estimate. There are five dry goods houses, some of these buildings handsome bricks; two drug stores, eight groceries, two hotels, one livery stable, two planing mills, one cotton gin, two barber shops, four leaf tobacco houses doing a good business, one newspaper, one roller mill, two brick churches, Methodist and Cumberland Presbyterian, and one brick school house. The people of Sharon are a moral, religious, industrious, progressive people, and never allow an opportunity to pass they may have to further the moral and material interests of their community. Sharon for years has had no saloons, and, like Dresden and other places in the county, has found their absence to be a blessing, both morally and financially. By their removal they have never lost any trade that they would have been bettered by keeping.
Our first recollection of Gleason was thirty years ago. It was then called Oakwood, situated on the N.C. & St. L. Ry., running between McKenzie and Dresden, and surrounded by very fertile lands, but rather sparsely settled. A large portion of the country was in woods at that time. There were only about two or three small store houses here, no churches, no schools and no society. During the next ten years several small business houses were built, the most of which were used for saloons. There were very few residences and a small church house. The moral status of the town was very low, there being at one time as many an nine saloons in town, all doing a thriving business. Very little attention was paid to the Sabbath. We had religious services only once a month, and but little attention was paid to education. Drinking, gambling, horse-racing, fighting and brawling were the order of the day, and Gleason thus very deservedly earned an unsavory reputation away from home.
While our growth has not been phenominal (sic), so far as numbers go, as some other towns, it has been substantial. But from the standpoint of morality, we claim it is unsurpassed by any town in the county. We have between 400 and 500 inhabitants; 8 general stores, all of which carry good stocks and do a good business; 2 blacksmiths and wood-working shops; livery stable, grist and saw mill, stave factory, three good church buildings, and a two-story brick school building, and no saloons. A large percent of our people are members of the various churches, and seem to be making a united effort to elevate the standard of Christianity. We have two good Sunday schools, with an enrollment of about 100 each and a good average attendance. It is nothing uncommon to see 150 or more children and young people attending the Sunday schools. Gleason is proud of her churches and Sunday schools.
Our school was chartered as the Masonic Male and Female Institute, early in the '70's, since which time we have had, nearly all the time, a good school interest. We call especial attention to the work done by this institution while under the presidency of Prof. J.W. Huey, now president of Springfield Male and Female college.
And that is where our paper comes to an end. We know there is another section. It may be among the papers we've not yet uncovered or it may just be all we have. It's been entertaining and enlightening to see what was of interest to the community in 1896.