We're all, as Colquitt
Countians, proud of Spence Field. As someone who is not a Moultrie native,
I've often wondered about how Moultrie would become an aviation city. Now,
in my package of old newspapers, I find an article that will explain.
It was November 13, 1913 when the first
"mechanical bird" came to Moultrie. Aviator A. C. Beech, known then as
"just a plain darned fool," soared his flying contraption from a takeoff
on a baseball field. He amazed the crowd of more than 5,000 persons who
had come by car, wagon and train to witness the "flight of man in air."
Since that time, according to the old article, Moultrie has become known
throughout the nation as somewhat of an aviation center, thanks to Spence
Field training activities and to newspaper publicity in connection with
the landing here of President Dwight D. Eisenhower. The President's plane
was The Columbine.
way of providing air transportation between Moultrie and all parts of the
nation, the city became fully "air minded" in May of 1930 when City
Council purchased a tract of land in northwest Moultrie from Mrs. Z. H.
Clark. Known as Clark Field, the airport was built jointly by the city and
FERA (later the SPA). It was formally dedicated October 9, 1934. Several
noted speakers, including Senators Walter F. George of Georgia and William
H. Bankhead of Alabama delivered addresses. A 45-minute air show completed
1940, a city-county committee pronounced the airport "inadequate for
present day needs." Similarly, federal authorities termed Clark Field "too
small and confining to be of real value for transport and army planes."
Finally, in 1941, the City of Moultrie purchased a 1,597 tract of land and
leased it to the federal government for $1 a year. With America's entry
into World War II, cadet trainees began arriving. The potential young
airmen were trained under the supervision of the Hawthorne School of
official count, 5,583 pilots received their wings at graduation exercises
during World War II at Spence Field. In addition, 2,337 pilots received
transition training in P-39's and P-40's and a contingent of French cadets
were sent through flight courses before the field was placed on inactive
status in December of 1945. With the closing of the field, commercial
aviation in Moultrie was dormant for several years.
In March of 1951, Hawthorne Flying Service was
extended a contract to train Air Force cadets at Spence Field in Moultrie,
Georgia. This reactivated Spence field and added another chapter to
Moultrie's air service story.
Flames completely destroyed
a Doerun school building the night of February 7, 1917. The fire was not
discovered until it had gained such headway that nothing could be saved.
The building was valued at $12,500 but was insured for just $7,000.
Defective wiring was blamed for the catastrophe.
Visiting Moultrie in the fall of 1916, J. E.
Martin, a New York cotton executive, attended a Georgia Products dinner.
Asked what he liked best, he said "possum." He admitted it was the first
he had ever tasted, but said that all other meals "were flimsy imitations
of something good." Mmmmm.
The Women's Civic League petitioned the
Moultrie City Council to make poultry owners keep their chickens cooped up
in December of 1914. City Attorney, L. L. Moore, was asked to draw up a
It wasn't until December 1, 1910 that cows were finally banned from the
streets of Moultrie. The cow retained her freedom overtime, according to
civic groups of the time. Numerous efforts to prevent animals from
roaming free on the streets were made by citizens, starting as early as
1895, when visiting farmers argued that "goats and cows are eating the hay
off our wagons." The hay was brought along to feed the horses and oxen
hitched to various conveyances in which the farmers traveled.
By the turn of the century, Moultrie had more
than 2,200 citizens and the general public showed a growing sentiment
toward ridding the streets of cows. Leading merchants said they were
"becoming embarrassed" to admit on trips to other parts of the country
that "cows still harass the merchants and scare the ladies after dark in
the downtown area."