It is awful but true. Lincolnton’s integrity was called into question in August of 1907, resulting in some tongue-in-cheek sabre rattling between neighboring cities.
It began with a story in the August 13 Lincoln County News, when Dr. R.A. Yoder, pastor of Emmanuel Lutheran Church, reported witnessing a comet in the eastern heavens due east of Lincolnton. He reported that the head of the comet was “unusually brilliant” and the tail about four feet long. After Dr. Yoder’s pronoucement, several other citizens including clerk-of-court Alfred Nixon, vouched for the spectacle.
Three days later, Mr. C.C. Hauss of Route 1 delivered a hen egg to the newspaper office. The egg, said to measure 7 inches in circumference and 8.5 inches lengthways, was said to be produced by one of Hauss’ two-year-old Plymouth Rock.
Both unusual and mind-boggling discoveries, to be sure. A week or so later, in an article from the Catawba County News: “We have always known that Lincolnton was a grand place and possessed some people far above the average since we made acquaintance with its pleasant streets. But we never thought that in Lincolnton would be found the discoverer (so far as anybody knows) of a real first class, dyed in the grain, all-wool and a yard wide comet, with a tail covering as much space as the picture of one of the Jones’ Show snakes, and a head like – but pshaw! Continuing: “Then, later on, it appears, arose a number of persons who had seen the comet, but dared not mention it for fear – well, for fear it might be thought they had tarried long – even too long over the cup that inebriates. These fears speak ill for the dryness of Lincolnton.”
Fighting words! How dare they question both our righteous sobriety and sincerity?
In the meantime, the War Department had presented a gift of a small howitzer along with 24 shells which formed a pyramid on the Court House lawn. The Lincoln News editor, W.A. Fair, wrote “Several citizens have expressed disappointment in the size of the gun, but perhaps its history, when written up, will compensate for what it lacks in size. At any rate, we should not “look the gift gun in the mouth.”
“The News,” said Fair, “is glad the gun is here…and if certain contemporaries do not stop monkeying with the tail of our comet, and casting inuendos about the size of our eggs, we will load this engine of war with tomatoes and potatoes, and turn her (described by some as Mr. L.B. Wetmore’s nub of a howitzer – editor) loose in the direction of Shelby and Newton!”
It’s fortunate for all of us that in 1907 cooler heads prevailed before the first potato was lobbed or the first tomato juice was shed.