Presented by Bettye Lessley:
The first newspaper published in Sylacauga was The Sylacauga Argus. On or about Saturday, July 9, 1887, Volume I of the paper was printed. The location of that first edition and the one which was printed the following week is unknown. The editor of this newspaper was H. G. McCall. Argus Publishing Company, Sylacauga, Alabama, was listed as the proprietors. The paper was entered into the Sylacauga Post Office as a second-class matter and was published once a week. The cost was $1.50 per annum.
Following “H. G. McCall, Editor,” was printed, “Railroad Connection Between Sylacauga and Montgomery.”
The Argus was a newsy little paper containing many names of Sylacauga businesses, citizens and what might be called a social section. There was a column entitled “Personals,” a column for ads, some of which were from out-of-town, and a column which was called “Local Jottinns.” After several issues of the newspaper had been published, there were many complimentary notes from other newspapers. The Opelika Times and The Birmingham News had high praise for Mr. McCall’s newspaper.
The words and phrases used by the writers of The Sylacauga Argus, especially in death notices or memorials, were much more beautiful, poetic and complimentary than those of today. There was also humor, but the expressions were different from those which we are accustomed to hearing. Even though they were written many years ago, the funny stories and jokes will make you laugh.
The July 23, 1887 edition of this newspaper, Volume I, number 3, contained a column entitled Personals. From this we learn the following: “Mr. D. B. Oden of Childersburg was in the city Thursday; Mrs. Mary Blackman is visiting relatives in Coosa this week; Mr. Gus Thurman of Sycamore paid our town a visit the past week to Goodwater; Mr. Eugene Smith is in Sylacauga again after a pleasant trip to Goodwater; Miss Nettie Lanning left Wednesday for several weeks visit to Talladega Springs; Dr. W. M. Sorrell and family have returned from an extended visit to relatives near Alexander City; Our young friend, George Douglass, now flourishes the yard stick over the counter of Mr. B. D. French; Several of our “bells and beaus” took in the pleasures and dissipations of Talladega Springs the past week; Mr. L. H. Crumpler and family left Tuesday to spend several weeks enjoying the cool shade and curative properties of Talladega Springs; Our genial friends, J. E. Camp and George T. McElderry, made a flying trip to our place Wednesday. They report a healthy sentiment in the upper portion of the county; Mr. Craddock, the popular clerk of Messrs. Phillips and Trammell, has returned (much to the delight of the young ladies) from visits to his old home and reports fine crop prospects along the line of the Georgia Central; Our popular druggist, Dr. J. C. Hightower, returned this week, bringing with him his lovely bride. We extend to her a cordial welcome to the Marble City, and wish them all the happiness and pleasure of a long and pleasant life.”
Ads included Hill’s Chill Killer and “Our Lee” chewing tobacco; A. Hall, Attorney at Law and Real Estate Agent, Sylacauga, Ala. Land bought and sold on commission and agent for Alabama Mineral Land Company; Lowest Prices, Unequaled Bargains-Phillips & Trammell ; Come to the Bargain House! Sylacauga, Ala. If you want all kinds of goods at Rock Bottom Prices. Cash Bargain House-Remember the old stand of J. M. Lanning, on corner Main and Fort Williams, and be sure and call, etc. We keep a good stock of Drugs and Medicines and will fill physicians’ prescriptions at any hour, day or night, etc. LANNING & MCNEELY; F. S. Hightower, General Merchandise, Sylacauga, Ala. …complete stock of Dry Goods, Groceries, etc. which I am selling low for cash. J. J. Hightower; B. D. FRENCH, Sylacauga, Ala. Dry Goods, Clothing, Boots, Shoes, Hats, Provisions, Drugs, Tobacco and Cigars, which we offer cheap for cash or country produce; Drs. D. C. & W. C. Keller, Physicians and Surgeons, Sylacauga, Ala. Office, Hightower’s Drug Store; Massengale & Co. Restaurant and Ice Cream Saloon, Sylacauga, Ala. Dealers in Fruits, Confections, Fine Cigars and Tobacco. Gillespy & Douglass, Dealers in General Merchandise, Sylacauga, Ala. Dry Goods, Notions, Boots and Shoes, Hats, Caps, Hardware, Crockery, Glassware, Tinware, Furniture, Gents’ and Boys’Ready-made Clothing. In the Grocery Line, Coffee, Sugar, Flour, Meal, Meat, etc. Gillespy & Douglass.; Buy and Be Happy. Go to R. B. Pruitt’s New Store, Sylacauga, Ala. All kinds of Country Produce Wanted; Drug Store, Jesse Hightower, Dealer in Drugs, Medicines, Chemicals, Fancy and Toilet Articles, Soaps, Combs, Brushes, etc. Sylacauga, Ala. Physicians’ Prescriptions carefully and accurately compounded at any hour, day or night, Jessie Hightower; Livery-Sale and Feed-Stables (Picture of fancy conveyance with light on it, pulled by two horses), J. H. Caudle, Proprietor, Sylacauga, Ala. Fine Turnouts and Good Stock, Hacks at all trains, conveyances for commercial travelers and others to Goodwater and other neighboring towns, a Specialty; Dr. W. M. Sorrell, Physician and Surgeon, Sylacauga, Ala. All calls will be promptly attended to. Also ads from other locations in Ala.
Another column, Local Jottinns, offered these observations:
Can our city fathers tell us when the public well will be finished?
Mr. J. A. Peters is building a commodious business house on Main Street.
There were 6 wagons loaded with watermelons on the streets last Tuesday.
Mr. G. W. Massengale is building a stately cottage on the corner of Main and Spring Streets.
Mr. A. Hall has the material on the ground and will commence the building of a neat cottage on Main Street.
The material is already on the ground to build a substantial city prison for the accomodation of the violators of our municipal laws.
Childersburg: Mr. J. W. Langley, first class jeweler and Thomas Coleman, first class jeweler.
Ads: Shelby Iron Co., Calera, Columbiana.