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The Ellen Payne Odom Genealogy Library Family Tree
Beth's Weekly Moultrie Observer Column - Week 61
(This appears here courtesy of The Moultrie Observer)

   “Never before has there been such a building boom in Moultrie.”

   That was the lead paragraph of a news story in The Moultrie Observer on January 25, 1901 – not much more than a decade after the town was chartered and began to stir from the wiregrass setting.

   The reason for the comment was a building summary which showed more than $200,000 worth of construction either under way or scheduled for an immediate start.

   A listing of structures to be finished by January of 1902 included: cotton factory at $100,000; New Hotel on Peachtree Street (Where was that?); New Hotel on North Broad (And where was that?); Courthouse at #20,000; Residences at $20,000; Wiggs block at $8,000; New warehouse at $2000; Brick stores at $5000; two depots at $4000 total; Miscellaneous construction at $6000 for a total of $200,000. 

   The story noted that “never has there been such a demand for building materials in this area.  Several buildings, the article noted, are being held up for lack of brick.

   In addition to the two new depots being built by Georgia Northern Railroad – one for passenger service and one for freight – work was proceeding rapidly on the Webb Building on East Broad Street, W. S. Humphreys, C.W. Pidcock, D.M. Reaves, A.B. Turner, G.R. Battle and A. Huber homes, with a number of smaller residences also under construction.

   An annex of two rooms also was being built on the two-story academy, which was providing much of the community’s educational activities.  It was already completed enough to allow some 400 persons to enjoy the second-floor auditorium space, rather than requiring it for a classroom study at times.

   Mrs. W.C. McKenzie, a “teacher with experience with strong endorsements,” was elected teacher of the Moultrie school’s fifth grade on November 19, 1902 by the local board of education.

   Mrs. McKenzie was named Moultrie’s first librarian in 1908 and became one of the foremost religious leaders among Colquitt County women.

   There was a scarlet fever epidemic in Colquitt County in the latter half of 1901 causing several deaths.

   The 1940s in Moultrie were a period of exceptional growth.

   When the City of Moultrie got into the defense business at Spence Field during july 1941, the boom began and Moultrie saw a tremendous  physical change through 1942. 

   When Moultrie signed the lease with the Federal Government well before the first planes and pilots began to arrive, an official warned, “You may expect a tremendous impact upon Moultrie and Colquitt County.  Your population will be inflated by some 5,000 persons.”

   J.R. Brennan, field representative for the Public Works Administration, assisted Moultrie in filing July 5, 1941 for $534,000 worth of improvement to help local public facilities to prepare the city for the approaching influx.  These were the principal projects: Water system extensions, $95,000; electric distribution, $100,000; jail improvements, $30,000; fire department expansion, $37,000; Junior High building, $115,000; black school, $30,000, Culbertson school, $35,000, recreation, $50,000 and hospital expansion, $42,000.

   The first priority on the list of projects was the water system.  The city made plans to relocate the old reservoir in the middle of First Avenue SE and open Second Street Southeast, meanwhile drilling new wells to assure an adequate supply of water.

   The PWA came through with 100 percent payment on some of the projects and as much as 50% on some of the others.

   More about early days in Moultrie next time.

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