Note: The following is one of a series of columns looking at the origins and growth of the agriculture industry in Southeast Georgia and Bulloch County.
In 1906, L.F. Davis’ chauffeur Mahoney, driving Dr. Semple’s shiny new machine, sped by Prof. J.E. Brannen’s house and in doing so ran over the family dog.
Brannen promptly chased down the offending “autoists.” After chastising them and then demanded immediate reparations for the damage this “devil-wagon” (to use his words) had visited upon his family dog.
Brannen cited Mahoney for driving at the unheard-of speed of at least 8 miles per hour past his house, which was the legal limit for these “autoists” within city limits.
He then claimed that they may have been going as fast as 15 miles per hour down the street, which drew gasps from some of the assembled citizenry. Mahoney didn’t deny this, and was in response fined $10 for speeding.
Mayor Moore’s response, after some thought, was to declare these new-fangled automobiles dangerous, and state that their drivers should not feel free to run over whatever dogs they came across.
Then, the Bulloch Times of Oct. 24, 1906 reported “Stop for dogs. Automobilist not licensed to run over them on streets…Mayor Moore (stated) automobilists (can’t) run over a dog on the streets of Statesboro.”
He declared it especially must not happen “if the dog has an owner that appreciates him (and) the automobile happens to be exceeding the speed limit when the dog is run over.”
Why even talk about this? Well, “Chauffer Mahoney and L.F. Davis were out in Dr. Sample’s new machine (and) in passing the residence of Prof. J.E. Brannen at a lively speed, ran over Brannen’s dog”
It happened in front of the house where “The dog was with Brannen’s children and attacked the devil-wagon when it came snorting up. Before he could get out of the way, the puppy was run over…It died an hour later.”
“Mr. Brannen, (at home), called the fast riders down for the dangerous and careless way in which they had passed his gate, and incidentally demanded satisfaction for the damage of his dog.”
In Mayor’s court, Mr. Brannen testified that the machine was being run at a speed of more than eight miles an hour (the speed limit), and in his opinion, not less than 15 miles (per hour.)
The dog was one which Brannen valued very much, and for which he had recently refused an offer of $25.
Local resident Frank Alderman traveled to the Pasteur Institute for rabies treatment, and Walter McDougald was bitten by a dog in Clito, and had to go to Atlanta for three weeks of intensive treatment.
Therefore, in June of 1908, the city council passed a new law stating that all dogs must be muzzled between April and October of each year. Anyone letting their dog(s) run loose unmuzzled was fined between $1 and $10.
On Oct. 5, 1908, Statesboro City Clerk Blitch pled guilty to letting his dog run unmuzzled, and was fined by the judge, who along with the mayor chided him because pet dogs were as likely as wild dogs to contract rabies.
Roger Allen is a local lover of history. Allen provides a brief look each week at the area’s past. E-mail Roger at email@example.com.