Jane Phillips: The spectacular fair of 1915 - Part 2
The day before the fair of 1915 was a busy time for many citizens of Kinston. Two of those citizens were Sim Isler, a merchant, and wife Hattie who had been chosen to host a popular and well-known gentleman that was going to be the chief speaker for the opening day of the fair.
They were occupied throughout the day putting the finishing touches on preparation for their guest. Their splendid home was known far and wide as Edgeworth Place, a ninety-acre estate. It was at the top of Adkins Hill and sat back off Tower Hill Road. The beautiful home, gardens, orchards and fields of various crops was admired for its beauty and grandiose style.
Norfolk Southern Railway sent a private pullman to Goldsboro to pick up the chief speaker for the fair. He was accompanied by Lt. Governor E.L. Daughtridge. On making a brief stop in La Grange William Jennings Bryan made a few comments to the citizens of the village who had come out late in the evening to see this famous man.
At 11:25 pm William Jennings Bryan’s train arrived in Kinston. He was escorted by members of the Fair Committee to Edgeworth Place, the home of Sim and Mrs. Isler. It was here he spent the night.
Lt. Governor E.L. Daughtridge spent the night at the home of F. Clyde Dunn, the president of the Kinston Chamber of Commerce.
Bryan was a famous man of noble character. He was known as America’s foremost magnetic orator as he possessed the gift to captivate an audience. He was a newspaper editor and had three times run for president of the United States. Before coming to Kinston, he had served as an outstanding Secretary of State under President Woodrow Wilson.
The concluding episode of his life was to be the famous Scopes Monkey Trial 10 years later in July 1925. A firm believer in the literal interpretation of the Bible, Bryan went to Dayton, Tennessee, to assist in the prosecution of a schoolteacher accused of Darwinism or the theory of the evolution of man, rather than the doctrine of divine creation.
With Clarence Darrow as chief defense counsel, the trial attracted worldwide attention as a dramatic dual between fundamentalism and modernism. Defendant John T. Scopes was found guilty and fined (later the verdict was over turned). The excesses and passions of the court battle took a toll on the life of William J. Bryan. A short time after the trial Bryan fell ill and died.
Next week first day of the fair…part 3 of the Kinston Fair of 1915.
Numerous articles from the Kinston Daily Free Press of 1914-1915