Buggy Repairs, Flavo Flour and Hotel Rooms with Sewerage:
Clayton Business Advertisements in 1920
By Richard Cinquina
Described as a ramshackle town in the early 1900s, Clayton had attained a degree of prosperity by 1920. Overall conditions had improved significantly from the village’s poverty and neglect at the advent of the twentieth century.
Tourists, courtesy of the Tallulah Falls Railroad, were pumping money into the local economy. The logging industry was putting dollars into the pockets of hundreds of once marginally employed people. And the incomes of many were supplemented by moonshining, Rabun’s County’s largest industry.
In response to an improving economy, a variety of businesses sprang up to cash in on the good times. And each was actively competing for the business of area residents. This is the story that is clearly told by advertising from 100 years ago.
Telephones and Electricity
Clayton was an up and coming town in northeast Georgia. Telephone service and electricity were now available to town residents.
A Rabun Telephone and Electric Company ad asked readers: “If accident or sickness should strike, how far is the Doctor? With a telephone in your home, he is in the next room. Why take chances, the cost is trifling, the service is priceless.”
Clayton Light and Power Company proclaimed it “Will Furnish You Lights.” But that was not all. “Current to run your stove, heat your home, run your sewing machine, wash and iron. Get the electric habit.” Note that electric appliances were available. All that was needed was the electricity to run them.
Anything You Could Ever Need
The ad of Chas. E Cannon, General Merchant, said: “Hundreds Satisfied and Goods Enough Left to Satisfy Hundreds of Others. Unexcelled quality and unexcelled bargains in hats, caps, shoes, all kinds of dry goods, notions. Complete line of men’s clothing, hardware, groceries.” If you couldn’t find it at Cannon’s, you could probably do without it.
In search of a bargain, you need not have looked farther than The Clayton Bargain House. “You will find in our apartment everything up-to-date. Ready-to-wear, Ladies’, Gents’, and Children’s Clothing. Collars, Ties, Laces, Silks, Caps, Rain Coats, Umbrellas, Jewelry, etc.”
If you still could not find what you were looking for, you could go to Hill & Stonecypher, which made no bones about wanting your business. “We are candidates for a portion of your patronage. Our shelves are laden with fresh Fancy Groceries. We carry shirts, shoes, hats, clothing and dress goods.”
Flavo Flour for Wifey
If none of the mercantile stores carried flour, there was the Scruggs & Hamby Mill. The mill’s ad was headed, “The Joy of the Kitchen.” It cheerfully proclaimed, “Like Wifey bakes not like Mother used to make. That what he will say if you bake with Flavo Flour. There’s a difference any man will notice and be quick to say so. Order a sack today. $1.25 for 24 lbs.” That amount of Flavo would keep Wifey in the kitchen for quite a while.
Needed something for your farm? You went to Hamby Hardware Co. “Handles everything you need on the farm. Field fence, barbed wire and wagons. A good line of Chattanooga Plows. Felt roofing and piping.”
Horses and Cars
Clayton in 1920 was on the cusp of a major change. Horses and wagons still abounded, but automobiles were starting drive down Main Street. Ads tell the story of the changing of the transportation guard.
Dawkins & Son Blacksmith and Repair Shop was a garage horses and buggies. Its ad read: “Make and repair wagons, buggies and all kinds of machinery. Horse shoeing and general repair work done in good manner. We do good work and do it promptly. Bring us your work.”
Before Hertz There Was Carver and Burrell
The Carver & Burrell Livery Stables could have been a precursor of Hertz or Avis. The stable offered, “Good horses, Careful drivers, Good Vehicles at reasonable prices.”
The Clayton Harness and Shoe Shop was a full-service shop for everything leather. “We make saddles, harnesses, boots and shoes to order on short notice. We do all kinds of repair work, also dealers in leather and rubber roofing.”
Accessories for Your Model T
Model T’s gradually were finding their way to north Georgia. The Clayton Garage sold “Ford Accessories, gas, grease and oil. All kinds of repair work.”
Derrick’s Garage also sold Ford parts and did repair work but went one step further. “Also autos for hire, Fords and Buick Six’s. Careful Drivers. We know all the roads. Your patronage is solicited.”
Finch & Stovall proudly announced that its “New Ford Sales and Service Building” would be ready soon for business. “One of the best equipped and most modern garages in Northeast Georgia. Ladies rest rooms and conveniences. Make yourself at home at our place.”
Clayton in 1920 also offered a variety of other services.
S.F. McJunkin, Dentist, advertised that his office was “perfectly sanitary and equipped with water works, electric engine and gas. All modern conveniences and do painless work.”
The City Barber Shop and Pressing Club did more than cut your hair. In addition to selling “tailor made clothing,” the shop also provided hot and cold baths.
L.T. Mitchell sold “real estate, summer homes and orchard lands.” But he covered his bases for those times when the real estate market was soft. He offered “auto livery and feed and stabling.” Last but not least, L.T. Mitchell also was a dealer in “chestnut poles.”
Capital of $25,000
The Bank of Clayton advertised that it was financially strong with capital of $25,000. “Five per cent interest paid on time deposits.” Compare that to today’s interest rates.
A Clayton Drug Store ad said, “If you want best results from your Kodak films, developing, printing and engraving, bring or send them to Rufus B. Lee” at the store. Dover & Green City Drug Store sold “Waterman’s Ideal Fountain Pens. Ansco Kodaks and film. Ever Ready Flash Lights. Tires and Gasoline, Automobile Fixtures.” It was the Walmart on Main Street.
Clayton was home to more than a dozen hotels and boarding houses.
No Dancing or Card Playing
Hotel Bynum was “A good place to rest and recuperate, with real good food at a reasonable price.”
The Mountain View House offered “Beautiful scenery. Table unexcelled. Electric lights, hot and cold baths, sewerage, long distance telephones.” Indoor plumbing and toilets obviously were big selling points.
And Earl House offered 30 rooms, “spacious porches and grounds with farm.” Tourists could watch “cows on meadows drink spring water.” But Earl House did not welcome everyone. “Persons suffering from tuberculosis or any contagious trouble cannot be entertained.” And there was no dancing or card playing.”
For dancing and card playing, tourists would have gone to a bar or saloon. But Clayton had none. The town was dry, at least publicly so. The bracing air and mountain views had to suffice.
This article by Society member Richard Cinquina was originally published in The Clayton Tribune on July 2, 2020.