Wednesday, July 23, 2014 1:00 AM
Eighty-seven years ago, the Neshoba County Fair Board had tentatively set the first week in August for the 1927 Fair Session, but had to reconsider this issue after learning of the uncertainty of the date for the Democratic primary vote.
Mississippi statutes require that the state cannot hold a primary earlier than the first of August or later than the tenth of August.
Only two days met that criteria, August 2 or August 9, and the Democratic Executive Committee chose the former.
A change to the last week in July caused a new problem, as the Board had tendered the grounds to the Howard S. Williams Revival Team for the last three weeks in July.
This, however, proved to be no problem at all, when the Reverend Williams shortened his Evangelic Revival to two weeks, beginning July 10, 1927.
The Williams' gospel team included Miss Jean B. Lamont of Canada, who conducted Bible studies; Charles Saunders who led a young people's discussion on "The Essentials of a Christian Experience" and the Reverend LeRoy St. John of Columbus, Mississippi, who presented a children's hour beginning each day at 3:30 p.m.
At 7:30 p.m., Howard Williams preached "his messages that have so stirred the hearts of his audiences throughout the country from Jacksonville, Florida, to Herrin, Illinois."
During his earlier years as a partisan political editor with The Hattiesburg America, Williams was part of the very bickering and indulging in bitter criticism that he now railed against.
To a crowd of over 2,000 strong, Williams said, "God is not pleased with the political mess in Mississippi."
Reading from the text, the born-again minister bellowed, "Let this Mind be in You which was also in Christ Jesus.
It is not Christ-like for brother to be arrayed against brother in political strife."
At the close of Williams' last Sunday evening service, one in which he stressed the necessity of restitution to cleanse the soul of a sinner, a young man well-known in the community came forward.
The sorrowful wrongdoer took the podium, "professed faith in Jesus Christ," and confessed to the theft of three turkeys from Williams Brothers General Store.
A staff writer with The Neshoba Democrat wrote that, "This climax in the revival was one of the most dramatic scenes ever witnessed in this section. As soon as the young man had finished his confession, Mr. [Amzi] Williams, from whom the turkeys were stolen, came forward, threw his arms around the man and forgave him."
Over the two weeks of the Revival, there were more than 60 conversions and three young people volunteered for "definite life service as missionaries or ministers."
Two other well-known local men came forward "admitting that they had gambled together with their babies on their knees at the card table."
As penance, both church members offered to "erect altars in their homes as a result of this meeting."
The reporter also noted, "The evening service marked the close of a busy day; four services having been held by the evangelical party. The Fair Grounds, where the meeting is being conducted, was crowded throughout the day, and presented a real camp ground appearance."
As to the political bickering to which Brother Williams alluded, could this be an example?
Super Tuesday, as usual, featured major addresses by three of the four candidates for governor of Mississippi.
Current Governor Dennis Murphree (1927-1928), former Speaker of the House Martin Sennet "Mike" Connor and former Governor Theodore Bilbo (1916-1920), all Democratic candidates running for the state's highest office, spoke to a large, smashing crowd of 12,000 people during the 38th Fair.
Conner opened the debate at 9 a.m. and immediately attacked Bilbo's past positions on several issues, and his record as governor in the late 1910s.
The combative Conner ridiculed Murphree's self-characterization as a barefoot boy until the age of seventeen, which Connor felt was the governor's attempt to appeal to the masses.
Connor also defended his friendship with the late Governor Henry Whitfield.
When Governor Murphree took the podium, he told the thousands of listeners that if Connor qualified for the expected run-off contest against Bilbo, thousands of his North Mississippi's voters would go "straight back to Bilbo, as a martin to his gourd."
At 8 p.m. Thursday night, Bilbo welcomed loud, boisterous yells and shouts from the throng when he filled the air with darts and barbs, directed at his two opponents.
During his fiery address, a group of youngsters, standing in a dark corner of the Pavilion, let out a college cheer for Connor.
After the yell subsided, Bilbo brought the multitudes to their feet when he quipped, "Don't worry - not a single one of them is old enough to vote."
Bilbo won the run-off Democratic primary against Governor Murphree, a contest tantamount to election during this period of Mississippi politics.
Mike Connor succeeded Bilbo as governor, serving the 1932 to 1936 term.
Civil War Veterans
Edwards, James A. - Private; enlisted March 1, 1862, at Philadelphia, Mississippi, in Company D, 11th Mississippi Infantry Regiment; age twenty-six; farmer; Muster Roll, May-June 1862: "Sick at Richmond."
Received $69 for pay and clothing, September 16, 1862; hospitalized with primary syphilis at the General Hospital at Charlottesville, Virginia, March 20, 1864 to May 3, 1864; received $22 for two month's pay, May 3, 1864; Muster Roll, November-December 1864: "Present;" probably captured at Hatcher's Run, April 2, 1865.
Had $57 on person when imprisoned at Point Lookout, Maryland; took Oath of Allegiance at Point Lookout, and released, June 11, 1865; described as six feet four and three-quarters inches tall, fair complexion, brown hair and blue eyes.
World War II Veterans
Jones, Walker Will, Jr.- Private to Sergeant; enlisted November 5, 1942, at Miami Beach, Florida, in the United States Army; age twenty-one; college student.
Nick-named "Sonny;" served and trained in the American Theatre of Operations in flexible gunnery at Kingman Field, Arizona, with the Army Air Corps; stationed as an air crew member at the 331st Base Unit, at Miami, Florida, February 1943, at Nashville, Tennessee, September 1943 and at Union City, Tennessee, February 1944.
Stationed also as an aviation cadet at Newport Army Air Base Field at Newport, Arkansas, March 1944 to May 1944, and as a turret gunner on B-17 Flying Fortress bombers at Gulfport Army Air Field, Mississippi, December 1944 to February 1945.
Served also in the European Theatre of Operations with the 486th Bombardment Group, Eighth Army Air Force, in England, March 1945 to July 1945; initially stationed in Scotland, March 1945; participated in the campaign in Central Europe; awarded the American Campaign Medal, European-African Middle Eastern Campaign Medal, and the World War II Victory Medal; discharged at Barksdale Field, Bossier City, Louisiana, November 26, 1945, demobilization; described as five feet eleven and one-half inches tall, weighing 195 pounds, with brown hair and brown eyes.
Philadelphia-Neshoba County Historical Museum
Steven H. Stubbs, Curator
303 Water Avenue South Philadelphia, Miss., 39350
10 a.m. - 3 p.m.;
Tuesday thru Friday