Presented by Bettye Lessley:
Although Sylacauga was not incorporated until 1838, settlers could claim land and have their deeds recorded as early as January of 1834. The City of Sylacauga chose the earlier date to celebrate the 125th year in 1959. The local newspapers featured many articles and pictures of people who were having fun celebrating their city’s history.
One of the most important things that came from this celebration was the printing of a brief history of the city. It was a yellow soft-back booklet entitled Sylacauga, Alabama. l834 – 1859. Anniversary Celebration, Commemorating 125 Years of Progress. There were fifty-two unnumbered pages, which included many photographs of people, buildings, and brief histories. There were two aerial shots. The cost of this excellent little publication was only $1.00.
Another good keepsake was the Celebration Edition of The Sylacauga News, printed Thursday, May 14, 1959. The headline read, “Progress Celebration is great success.” There were two sections which included sixteen unnumbered pages of pictures and history of Sylacauga. The proper name for a celebration of 125 years is a quasquicentennial.
In 1984, Sylacauga celebrated its Sesquicentennial. The main celebration was held at the J. Craig Smith Community Center on October 15, 1984, during the annual Sylacauga Chamber of Commerce Banquet. Dr. Joe Morton, President of the Chamber of Commerce, welcomed everyone. After a musical blessing, “Doxology,” by J. M. Larkin, saxophonist, accompanied by Eunice Johnson, dinner was served. After remarks, presentation of awards and a tribute to historians, an entertaining and informative slide show entitled “One Hundred Years Of Pride,” was presented. It was narrated by three actors from Sylacauga Community Playhouse, Dan Kilgore, Glenda Kilgore and Jennifer Hethcox. Led by Lois Blake Field, a committee of citizens, had researched the history to go along with the slides which were made from old photos and Sylacauga historical paintings. Everyone who attended received a copy of the program.
Signs indicating the locations of early Sylacauga businesses were placed in front of the buildings. It would be good to know what happened to them.
For the better part of the year during both of these celebrations women wore costumes, and men grew beards and mustaches. Many photos were made, which can be found in the local newspapers.
The next year for a celebration will be 2009.