Jeff Harvey

We again look at the history of Athens via its buildings and the families which lived/worked in them from the notes of Ella Holroyd as printed in the 1987 Mercer County Historical Society’s “History of Mercer County”.

Athens has been the home of several people, including yours truly, involved in the newspaper business at some point of their lives. One of the earlier ones was W.C. Hedrick, who built a home on Vermillion Street.

Hedrick, who, with his business partner, a Mr. Banks, arrived in Athens from Bland County, Va., prior to 1902 and published a newspaper. His son, Charlie, later worked on an unnamed Princeton newspaper, probably the Observer.

Ella said Hedrick was a good promoter and committee organizer, calling them together and laying out the projects and work.

One of the big events he and Banks were involved with, along with James Holroyd, Professor T.G. Little, Bob Vermillion and others, was the community Christmas celebration at the Methodist Church during the time all the local congregations worshiped there.

Ella wrote that the committee brought in the largest Christmas tree she’d ever seen inside the building. It was tall enough to poke a hole in the ceiling, which didn’t please everyone.

Presents were brought in for the Sunday School students and those joining after Christmas. Everyone lent glass ornaments, made popcorn ropes and red apple strings for the tree which had no lights.

Hedrick and Effie Martin organized the program including the song “Hang Up The Baby’s Stocking, He Hasn’t Seen Christmas Yet.” sung by Ella. Her brother Frank was a baby that year.

Just when the program started, the Easley family, older brothers Jim, Eliot and Bob, along with little sisters Agnes (later Hale) and Maggie and younger brothers Will, French and Andrew, came in from Shumate Valley back of the present Carl Carper home.

Everyone present received at least an orange, two sticks of candy, a package of firecrackers and a pretty handkerchief.

After the Hedricks, the McKenzies who had kept the Girls Dormitory on North State Street moved there. They originally were from Alderson.

Frank McKenzie, an academic rival of Ella’s in college especially where Latin classes were concerned, died young of peritonitis stemming from appendicitis. He was buried in Monroe County.

Later on, the Holbrook family bought the house.

Jeff Harvey is a freelance reporter and columnist for the Princeton Times. Contact him at

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