This Month in Athens - February 2017

Welcome to the February 2017 Edition of This Month in Athens.

For more historic Athens newspapers, be sure to visit the Athens Historical Newspapers Archive on Galileo.


 

February 27th, 1914... 

A clipping from a February 27th 1914 edition of the Banner Herald describing the mystery surrounding a man and woman seeking Vaudeville employment in Athens, Ga.

 

There’s trouble at the Theatre! By the early 1900s Athens had gained a bit of a reputation as a launching-point for young entertainers coming from the Atlanta area. Thus, a mystery presented itself in early 1914, when a young woman from Atlanta, Mrs. Ruth Martin, a bride of five months, absconded to Athens to seek employment as a vaudeville pianist. After, presumably, lying to her husband H.J. Martin about her whereabouts, her husband pursued her to Athens to bring her back home. The article gets particularly evocative about the impression vaudeville work left on her husband, “Before the footlights, possibly in abbreviated skirts, associating with the rough and tumble hoi-polloi to which the show crowds must needs get used. The idea was a shock to him.”

 

Uh oh! Hoi-polloi, no less! When the young man finally retrieved his bride he gave her the “choice” to stay in Athens or to come back to their home in Atlanta, where he had initially claimed to be a machinist. Though she agreed to come home with him in front of two witnesses, H.J. Martin then went to the Banner-Herald, accompanied by the manager of the vaudeville house, to put a notice in the paper that his wife Ruth had accepted a position as a pianist in Athens. He also stated that he worked with the Greenwood Company, a vaudeville company connected to Charlotte Greenwood, a popular star of the day.

 

Sounds fishy! I wonder if the Banner-Herald was attempting to drum up rumors with the original story in tandem with Mr. Martin and his wife for mutual benefit. The story is very odd - it seems plausible to me. Check out the original article here.

 

In July 1915 H.J. Martin drowned outside of Atlanta after jumping into a pond to save two drowning boy scouts. His wife, Ruth, attempted suicide with a piston immediately after witnessing his death. The pistol was wrested from her by several scouts on the banks of the pond. These Martins certainly lived a dramatic life.

 

A clipping from the July 29th 1915 edition of the Banner-Herald describing the drowning death of H.J. Martin

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