C.E. Callahan, manager pf the melodramatic success, “Coon Hollow” sent this attraction to the Opera House for New Year’s day, 1903. The company carried the scenery for the entire production as well as all properties and stage effects and most capable cast of players, a vocal quartette and troupe of plantation singers and dancers that pleased a fine house on this first day of the new year. Dr. A.R. Warden, prominent physician, was appointed by the town council as health officer who ordered a thorough clean-up of conditions to prevent an outbreak of smallpox that threatened when a case was discovered on Luzadder street.
The melodrama, “Wormwood,” depicting the terrible effects produced from the use pf this drink known as “Absinthe” distilled from wormwood plant, came to the Opera House, January 5, 1903, and the moral effect on the audience was sufficient to cause many of them to abstain from the use of this brain deadening draught.
Big-hearted councilman Charles Stozenfels invited the mayor and his fellow members of the town council and his friends generally to partake of a feast of bear meat severed at his place of business in the old Palace Hotel building at the foot of St. John street. The occasion was a merry one for those who were guests and they carried out that age old axiom”
“Eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow is another day.”
Conroy, Mack and Edwards Stock company which seemed almost like a home institution from the number of times this theatrical aggregation appeared on the local stage came to fill the week of January 12 to 17 1903, and, as usual, old friends were on hand to extend them the usual hearty welcoming, which, doubtless, was caused by many of the friends of Robert Bolliger, home-town boy, who was a member of the company that season and did both a high bounding rope and slack wire act, featured as a vaudeville novelty during engagement.
Two lads, William Hesser and Luther Hugill, appeared before the mayor and charged Police Officer J.W. Ray, employed by the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, with obtaining money from persons he arrested and then releasing them on payment of sums he demanded of them, the lads testified they witnessed this extortion on several occasions. The mayor ordered the town clerk to notify Sheriff B.F. Sayre the town of Grafton would not be responsible for board and other expenses of prisoners committed to the county jail by Officer Ray until these charges were thoroughly investigated.
The return date of “The Fatal Wedding,” on January 24,1903, the attraction that made such a great impression on the local theatre patrons the previous season, met with even more enthusiastic welcome at this second showing and the same thrills at tense moments during the action of the drama brought the audience to their feet in appreciation of the work of the members of the cast.
On January 27,1903, Edward McWade producer of a romantic episode of the Civil War in five acts entitled “Winchester” dealing with the struggle between the troops of the North and South in the valley of the Shenandoah in 1863 came to the Opera House on the above date. Among the members of this historic melodrama was Henry A. Walthall, who later had the distinction of being the greatest screen actor of his time. This beautiful production, depicting life among the aristocratic planters of the South was one of the best dramatic offerings on the local stage and the work of author, McWade, as Colonel Eustis of the United States Army; Henry Walthall as Henry Clay Randolph of Stuart’s cavalry; Richard Allen as Major Frank Kearney in command at Winchester; Miss Margaret May as Virginia Randolph, beautiful daughter of the Confederacy, whose thrilling ride on horse to Winchester were the outstanding featured in this magnificent drama, and when the hard-ridden steed with its fair rider leaped the hedge in front of the army headquarters on the stage the applause was deafening and both Miss May and her horse were compelled to appear before the curtain in response to the applause.
The refunding bill for the town of Grafton introduced and sponsored by Senator Ira E. Robinson, was passed and enacted into law February 2,1903.
Mayor George W. Green issued a proclamation asking the citizens to vote their sentiments on the issue of bonds in the sum of $90,000 for various sewer and street paving projects at the next regular town election to be held on Tuesday, March 17,1903. He also called attention t other matter of the citizens on the question of the issuance of licensing the sale of intoxicants which would be voted upon in the election for a period of two years in accordance with the town ordinance providing for an election on this question every two years.