In the news lately has been the elaborate escape of two inmates from a New York prison. One died, and the other was wounded while trying to reach the Canadian border and is now back in custody.
Canada, too, was the destination for a Union County prisoner when he escaped in 1922. Ed Butt was in the jail in Blairsville while his attorneys filed for a new trial after he had been sentenced to death for murder. He made his way to Canada, didn’t like the place and returned to Oregon.
But after a while, he got sick of whatever work he was doing there and wrote the Union County sheriff to come get him. “I’d rather be hanged in Georgia than live in Oregon or Canada,” he is reported to have written. He further asked that the county pay his expenses back to Union County.
County officials refused to pay his way, telling him he got himself out there and he would have to get his way back to Union County. He did, paying his own way, and his attorneys still petitioned for a new trial, which attorney B.P. Gaillard of Gainesville accomplished.
It couldn’t be determined what his eventual fate turned out to be.
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Micajah Clark Dyer preceded the famous Wright Brothers in attempting to fly what at the time was called a flying machine. He is said to have glided his aircraft off the side of Rattlesnake Mountain near the Choestoe Community in Union County, where he lived.
Dyer patented his plane in 1875. Paddle wheels and wings that flapped like an eagle, from which he modeled the craft, were to keep it in the air.
The Gainesville Eagle newspaper reported on Dyer’s invention in 1875. David McCullough’s recent book, “The Wright Brothers,” credits Dyer as one of the air navigation experimenters who preceded the Wright Brothers by more than a quarter century.
Now Wally Averett, a retired mountain newsman, has written a novel based on Dyer’s escapades. “Coosa Flyer” is a work of fiction, but is based on the true story of Dyer and his pioneering aircraft. The story includes humor, a love story and the hero’s dream of powered flight.
It is available in mountain area shops and on Amazon.com.
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Louis Wisdom was a Ford car and Fordson tractor dealer in Gainesville in the 1920s. He advertised heavily in the Gainesville News and felt like he deserved a front page ad because he spent so much money with the newspaper.
Many newspapers for years discouraged ads on Page 1, although some relented occasionally.
The publisher of the News explained his policy against ads on the front page to Mr. Wisdom, but said if he would present a “snappy” ad, it would be considered for Page 1.
So after taking in a traded-in car, Mr. Wisdom sent this ad in:
“For sale: one Ford car with piston rings; two rear wheels, one front spring.
“Has no fenders, seat or plank. Burns lots of gas, hard to crank.
“Carburetor busted halfway through; engine missing, hits on two.
“Three years old, four in the spring. Has shock absorbers and everything.
“Radiator busted, sure does leak. Differentials dry, you can hear it squeak.
“Ten spokes missing, front all bent; tires blown out, ain’t worth a cent.
“Got lots of speed, will run like the deuce; burns either gas or tobacco juice.
“Tires all off, been run on the rim. A damn good Ford for the shape it’s in.”
The ad, although right snappy, didn’t make the front page, but got a lot of attention from the publisher on a prominent inside page.
Mr. Wisdom didn’t advertise the price, it isn’t known if he was able to sell the car, even if there was one in such a condition, but he surely won points for his poetry.
Johnny Vardeman is retired editor of The Times.