The concert was to have been capped with a live performance by talented songbird and Christian evangelist Helen Morgan of the most famous song written in Haralson County, her original interpretation of the enduring gospel classic Row Us Over The Tide. Penned no later than 1910 by native son Homer Franklin Morris, this touching and tragic tune was supposedly inspired by the grievous medical epidemics sadly common in early 20th century Georgia. Read more about the song and its place in county history here.
While the rest of the concert was cancelled, happily Helen Morgan's act was redirected to the main stage of the fair and came off well. The photo below shows her in costume after the performance with one of her grateful fans.
Helen Morgan (right) with friend
Poor health due to epidemic and endemic disease was probably both a cause and effect of persistent poverty in Georgia a century ago. But other issues had profound economic import, too.
One of the most dramatic ways in which today's Georgia differs from what it was a century ago is the enormously higher average level of material wealth. Real per capita income throughout the United States has grown markedly over the decades - more than six-fold nationwide between 1930 and 2004.
But the most dramatic gains have been amongst the federal states which were the poorest in the early twentieth century - of which Georgia was one. The differences between various states has shrunk dramatically through convergence, illustrated in the graphic immediately below.
Specifically, as the following graphic reveals, as late as 1929, Georgia (yellow bar) was the sixth poorest state in the union, but by 2003 it sat amongst the states in the middle of the pack.
The general explanation for convergence is the Solow growth model, through preferential capital intensification in lagging states, which is potentiated by the substantial essential commonalities between states, like language, currency, culture and laws. A frequently cited paper laying out the evidence is Convergence across States and Regions by Robert J. Barro and Xavier X. Sala-i-Martin (Brookings Papers on Economic Activity; n1 1991, pp. 107-58.) This paper writes:
"An important economic question is whether poor countries or regions tend to converge toward rich ones. We want to know, for example... how the American South became nearly as well off as the North... For the U.S. states, we estimate the rate of convergence of per capita personal income from 1880 to 1988 to be around 2 percent per year whether we look within or across four geographical regions. In Tallapoosa, the late Victorian boom - or the recent establishment of a Honda transmission assembly plant - are microeconomic details of such macroeconomic phenomena.
But that's not to say that people can't work to frustrate such developments. Various sources from around the twilight of the 19th century reported 5,000 or even 13,000 acres of Haralson County were planted in grapes. Yearly harvests approaching a thousand tons made possible wine production exceeding 64 thousand gallons annually. Then alcohol prohibition began in Georgia January 1, 1908; wine-making and its allied local industries were destroyed. By 1910 not even 12 tons of grapes were harvested and this engine of Haralson County's former prosperity was quieted for a century. ________________________________________________________________
A crude 23-minute documentary video of the building as it appeared in December 2005, is available online here. ___________________________________________________________________________
The original editorial material on this page was authored by Ron Feigenblatt, while Mary Tolleson kindly provided information on the streetcars of Tallapoosa's boom years.