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Moments In Time – June 3, 1869: Joe Harper’s New Bar Room

Moments In Time

June 3, 1869: Joe Harper’s New Bar Room


Covington could certainly never be considered the “Wild West.”  But by the mid 1800’s, we did have – spread around the square – eleven saloons and one general store where you could “belly up to the bar.”

It’s impossible to know how busy the saloons were, but the fact that there were so many suggests that they had plenty of customers – and competition.  So it’s no surprise that Covington businessman Joe Harper wanted to grab all the customers he could when he opened Joe Harper’s New Bar Room in 1869.

During that period, most advertising simply listed a product for sale, and told where you could get it.  But Joe Harper decided to take his advertising a few leaps ahead of his competition.

Harper ran ads in the local newspaper that read,  “If you want any fine old Brandy, Whiskey, Rum, Gin, Wine, or any other man, go to Joe Harper’s New Saloon in the basement under Corley and Dorsett’s.”

“If you want a hot Oyster Stew, go to Joe Harper’s New Bar Room under Corley and Dorsett’s”

“If you need any Pure Liquors for Medicinal purposes, go to Joe Harpers and get it……”

“If you want some fine Cigars and Tobacco….”  etc, etc.

But Harper’s smartest marketing move was on the night he opened Joe Harper’s New Bar Room.  On that night, he decided to send cold beers around the corner to the offices of “The Georgia Enterprise,” Covington’s only local newspaper.

The next day,  an article appeared in the “Enterprise” which read, “The thanks of the entire Enterprise office individually and collectively are due to Mr. Joe C. Harper for the excellent article of Lager, with which he favored us on yesterday evening.  That Saloon under Corley and Dorsett’s store must be a cool place to keep this healthful Teutonic beverage at such a delightful temperature in this warm weather.”

I’m standing on the corner where Joe Harper’s New Bar Room was probably located.  It opened, in the basement of Corley and Dorsett’s general merchandise, on June 3, 1869.  143 years ago today… a Newton County Moment In Time.


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