Wednesday, July 17, 2013 1:00 AM
On July 17, 1936, the Neshoba County Fair Association Board met and finalized several matters for the Fair only a few weeks away, before auctioning the concession stands.
High bidders were: 4-Minute Photo Stand, George Day, $25, one-third paid in cash; Barber Shop/Shoe-Shine Stand, Norvel Johnson, $10; Two Beer Stands, James Grady White*, $125 cash; Two Coca-Cola and One Soda Water Stand, Oliver B. Fox, $150, $50 in cash; Hamburger Stand #2 - R.R. Richardson, $38, $13 in cash; Lemonade Stand #1, Walter Barrett, $15 in cash; Lemonade Stand #2, R.R. Richardson, $15, $5 in cash; and Parking Lot, A.J. Kennedy, $31.
The Directors deferred the sale of several others stands that received insufficient bids, and retained the rights for private sale.
Weeks later, the Board members passed a motion allowing the sale of slot machine rights for $50.00 each, provided that they are placed next to the race track.
Just three weeks after the sale of the beer concession stands, a group of about 35 citizens met at the Methodist Church in Philadelphia to organize the Neshoba County Repeal Association for the purpose of securing repeal of the law permitting the sale of beer and light wine in the county.
F.M. Wiggins served as temporary leader of the meeting until the election of a slate of officers.
After the Reverend C. C. Clark, pastor of the Methodist Church, explained the purpose of the meeting, a committee nominated as chairman, Wilbur Davis "W.D." Cole; as vice chairman, George W. Mars and as treasurer, William Ervin "Bill" Hamill, all easily elected.
The organizers elected a steering committee composed of W.R. Moore of Union, Mrs. Ruth Sumrall Lofton and Mrs. Bobbie Jasper Johnson of the city to prepare a petition to obtain the signatures of the necessary twenty percent of registered voters to call an election on the repeal issue.
The Committee quickly obtained the needed names and delivered the petition to the Neshoba County Board of Supervisors.
After receipt of the prohibition petition from the Repeal Association, the Supervisors declared the list valid, and set November 3, 1936, as the day to "determine the will of the people as to whether or not the transportation, storage, sale, distribution, receipt and or manufacture of light wines and beer shall be prohibited in Neshoba County."
Immediately thereafter, the Association began placing advertisements in the local newspapers that appealed to voters to cast their ballots in favor of prohibition, and linked beer and wine consumption to increased drunkenness. The most effective tool, however, was the work of the many ministers and preachers, who, Sunday after Sunday, railed about the evils of alcohol, and the sins of the people who consume those liquids.
By the election date, the outcome was never in doubt - Neshoba County would be bone dry again. On Friday, November 12, 1936, Sheriff Marvin Adam Posey published the vote: For prohibition 3,114, against 394.
Almost one year later, on October 9, 1937, Supreme Court Justice George H. Ethridge ruled that the 1936 election was invalid, because election officials gave only a 26-day notice of election rather than 30 days as required under the act. The Neshoba Supervisors then set a new special election date of December 14, 1937.
The vote on that day mirrored the 1936 vote-for probation 1,460 to 144 against, a ten to one margin. The boxes of Hickory Springs, Coy, Herbert, Golden Grove, Woodland, Vendetta, Union, Stallo, Mt. Pisgah and Coglan recorded not a single vote against prohibition.
The almost eight to one and ten to one victory margins for the prohibitionists sent a strong message to the voters, as nearly 76 years later, the sale and distribution of both beer and wine remain illegal outside the city limits of Philadelphia in Neshoba County.
*James Grady White was the first, only and last person to win a liquor concession at the Neshoba County Fair. Five years later, honky-tonk owner Grady White added another asterisk to his lurid biography by becoming the first, only and last person to die in the electric chair in Neshoba County.
Civil War Veterans
Birmingham, John - Private; enlisted March 1, 1862, at Philadelphia, Mississippi, in Company D, 11th Mississippi Infantry Regiment; age thirty-four; farmer.
Hospitalized with acute diarrhea at the General Hospital at Charlottesville, Virginia, June 24, 1862 to July 8, 1862; received $63.62 for pay and clothing less due, September 15, 1862.
Wounded at Gettysburg, July 3, 1863; initially treated at Heth's division hospital on Samuel Lohr's farm; captured at Gettysburg, probably, July 5, 1863.
Died with pyemia (an infection caused by the presence in blood of pus-producing micro-organisms that are carried to parts of the body, producing abscesses, fever and chills) at the U.S.A. DeCamp General Hospital, David's Island, New York, July 25, 1863; buried in grave #686, Cypress Hills Cemetery, Long Island, New York.
World War II Veterans
White, James Henry - Apprentice Seaman to Ship's Fitter First Class; enlisted in 1933 in the United States Navy; age 17.
Served and trained in the American Theatre of Operations; served also in the Asiatic-Pacific Theatre of Operations at Cavite, Luzon, Philippine Islands, December 1941.
Captured after the U.S.S. Houston (heavy cruiser) sank in the Java Sea, February 28, 1942; reported missing in action, March 16, 1942.
Died in a Japanese prisoner of war center in Thailand, January 13, 1943.
Buried in the Holy Rosary Church Cemetery, Neshoba County, Mississippi.
Philadelphia-Neshoba County Historical Museum
Steven H. Stubbs, Curator
303 Water Avenue South Philadelphia, Mississippi 39350 (601) 656-1284
10 a.m. - 3 p.m.;
Monday thru Friday