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  • Writer's pictureLawrence Lore

Sell a Subscription; Go to the Fair

These two glass items are from the Essie and James Gillespie Collection. They are labeled Chicago 1900. The curators at first thought they were souvenirs of the Chicago's World Fair. But the date 1900 conflicts with the two events in Chicago considered by some to be a “world’s fair”, one occurring in 1893 and the other in 1933.

The first one, the Columbian Exposition, celebrated the 400th anniversary of Columbus’ arrival in the Americas. It followed the celebrated World’s Fair in Paris, and there was much pressure on Chicago to “outdo” the French. They gave the world the Eiffel Tower, and Chicago countered with the first ever Ferris Wheel. John W. McCleave’s diary in the Society’s collection mentions going to see this Fair several times from Lawrenceville by train.

A free trip to the World’s Fair, in 1893, was given to two of Lawrence County’s charming young ladies. The Sumner Democrat sponsored a contest in which the two young ladies with the greatest number of votes would be given a free trip to Chicago. The girls only had to submit their name, and get their friends to subscribe to the Democrat for one year and have those subscribers vote their twenty-five votes for them. (Ed Note: The girls also had to be unmarried.)

The following gentlemen kindly consented to act as committee and count the votes: Sumner Mayor J. O. McDowell, J. Ed Gould and Frank Westall.

On February 11, 1893, Sumner Democrat published the names of contestants and votes each had received by that date: Anna Burns 17, Cora Sheridan 10, Lena Dunphy 5, Cora Bosart 4, Emma Baird 3, Pearl Bunn 2, Lizzie Carey 2, Sarah Waller 2, Nellie Combs 1, Maggie Burns 1, Edna Gordon 1, Jessie Couchman 1.

New names were added each week; there were apparently quite a number of popular young ladies in this county, and to be considered at the head of the list seemed to be certainly worthy of an effort on the part of all the contestants to gain this position. The subscription rate to the newspaper benefitted greatly.

Contestants as of March 18, 1893, were: Sarah Waller 92, Cora Sheridan 83, Anna Burns 66, Mamie Wickey 46, Lena Dunphy 31, Cleme Morgan 21, Maud Pepple 15, Minnie Lutz 13, Pearl Bunn 6, Emma Baird 5, Cora Bosart 4, Maggie Burns 4, Cordia Morgan, 3, Lizzie Carey 2, Nellie Combs 1, Edna Gordon 1, Stella McGuire 1.

As of April 15, 1893, the contestants and votes each had received to date were: Cora Sheridan 138, Anna Burns 129, Sarah Waller, 121 Mamie Wickey 107, Lena Dunphy 31, Cleme Morgan 21, Maud Pepple 18, Minnie Lutz 14, Cordia Morgan 11, Nellie Combs 9, Pearl Bunn 6, Cora Bosart 4, Hattie Judy 2, Lizzie Carey 2, Edna Gordon 1, Stella McGuire 1, Rosa Elder 1, Rosa Winship 1

On April 22, 1893, the contestants with their respective votes were again published in the paper: Cora Sheridan 175, Mamie Wickey 147, Sarah Waller, 131, Anna Burns 129, Lena Dunphy 31, Jesse Couchman 31, Maud Pepple 22, Cleme Morgan 21, Minnie Lutz 17, Cordia Morgan 11, Nellie Combs 9, Pearl Bunn 6, Cora Bosart 4, Maggie Burns 4, Hattie Judy 2, Lizzie Carey 2, Edna Gordon 1, Stella McGuire 1, Rosa Elder 1, Rosa Winship 1, Della Gordon 1

The researchers failed to find any further information about the contest after this date. It seems highly probable that Cora Sheridan won first place but the second place is harder to predict. Perhaps an account of the girls’ experience will turn up someplace and when it does it will be published here.

All we know at this point in time, is that several years later in 1900, the popular Miss Cora Sheridan married Dr. E. A. Sheridan, both age 30, October 17, at the home of the bride. Dr. E. A. Sheridan was partner in the Dale & Sheridan drug firm of Sumner and Cora was the eldest daughter of Mrs. Mattie Sheridan, proprietress of the popular Sheridan House.

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