By: Tom Gooch
(Dallas Times Herald,
9 February 1936)
Editor's Note: The following
is a verbatim transcription from That's All For Today - Selected
Writings of Tom Gooch, edited by Decherd Turner and published
by Southern Methodist University Press Dallas, TX, 1955.
(See copyright fair use notice at bottom of page).
Tom Gooch, the longtime cartoonist,
reporter, editor and publisher of the Dallas Times Herald, wrote
a daily column in the 1930's and 1940's. He was the great-grandson
of Charity Gilbert, who gave birth to the first white child in
the first cabin John Neely Bryan built, and even Barrot Sanders
agrees it was built for and first occupied by Captain Mabel Gilbert
and his family soon after
their arrival by way of the Trinity River from Bird's Fort in
Light hearted, tongue in cheek,
and sometimes irreverent, Tom Gooch himself explains,
"Every column must have
a policy and it is only fair that we be frank with our enduring
friends. We will stand unalterably for the profit system and
a higher standard of living. We do not care particularly who
pays the bill, just so it is not us. If that be rugged individualism,
make the most of it.
"In this location, or another
somewhere between here and the want ads, from time to time we
will defend and violate the traditions of our Fathers. We will
not be hide bound, even though ours is thick. There will be latitude
in our attempts to be both serious and funny. Wives have a way
of intimating that the latter can be accomplished by husbands
who just act natural. But we must not bring family into business.
"There are plenty of things to
write about in this world and that, perhaps, is the reason there
is a shortage of writers. If we can do our little bit at this
late date to help make up that deficiency we will have at last
found a useful place in the cosmos of things.
"From time to time we will ask
suggestions and advice from our readers. We expect no avalanche
of letters, just a few kindly and perhaps charitable criticisms
from patiently loyal friends."
The First Cabin
that it is the duty-we know it is the duty-of every loyal Dallas
citizen to prepare himself as a competent guide of the thousands
of visitors who will be here during the Centennial Exposition.
We are willing to do our bit. This is the day of specialists,
and we have decided to specialize on the John Neely Bryan cabin,
which now occupies the Court House Square--rather it has always
been there if we are going to stick to our story. Our readers
will pardon us if we rehearse in advance what we expect to say
to the curious-eyed strangers when they call for our assistance
as a guide next summer. We shall be waiting at the train for
them and our first visit, of course, will be the rude but picturesque
replica of the first home in Dallas County. We know what the
visitor will say, first of all-"So this is the first house
in Dallas County."
"Uh huh," we shall reply.
And then the conversation will continue about as follows:
course it is the real thing," says the visitor, and if that
is his belief, why should we start an argument?
To ease our conscience we shall
probably remark, "Of course you know we have to renew the
hand-wrought shingles from time to time on account of the weather
and the decay that naturally comes from exposure to our gentle
summer sun. However, the entire roof has been rebuilt only once
since John Neely Bryan died."
is a remarkable relic," will say the visitor, "and
I am sure that every stick of wood in it was put there by the
hand of that famous old pioneer. Just look how the door sill
is worn, and see this beautiful hooked rug. Mrs. Bryan probably
made it when she wasn't loading guns for her husband to use in
"Uh huh," we shall say,
and then hastily add, "right on this river bank John Neely
Bryan saw Capt. Mabel Gilbert, with his wife and family come
around the bend to help him start the great city of Dallas."
"Where is the river?"
asks the inquisitive stranger. "We had to move it,"
is our prompt reply, "because we feared the Trinity when
it got turbulent."
"Yes," says the visitor,
"it might have washed away this priceless relic."
"Yep," we reply.
"Why is it?" asks the
knowledge-seeking delegate from elsewhere, "why is it that
the Bryan cabin is built exactly parallel to this great court
be nonplused we answer quickly, "Mr. Bryan was a far-seeing
man; he dedicated this very ground to the public. And it was
only fair that we constructed our public building in harmony
with the first home in Dallas County."
We feel that if we can get that
far with the curious strangers, everything else will be easy,
unless those who have charge of furnishing the cabin are careless
enough to leave manufacturers labels on the bedsteads, or dumb
enough to put a modernistic commode in the northeast corner.
What we have been driving at is
this: During our years of building and money-grabbing we forgot
to preserve the precious relics of the fathers. Much has been
destroyed of historic value in Dallas that can never be replaced.
History has no beginning so far as anyone can definitely assert.
And, of course, it has no ending. It is never too late for us
to start gathering and preserving relics of our sturdy pioneers
(someday we too shall be classed among them) to inspire future
generations. We have a Dallas Historical Society, whose members
devote themselves to that happy and unselfish task. Every Dallas
citizen is eligible to membership. A hint to the wise and loyal
COPYRIGHT FAIR USE
In accordance with Title 17 U. S. C. Section 107, any copyrighted
work in this publication is distributed under fair use without
or payment to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving
the included information for nonprofit research and educational
disseminating and/or posting of this publication
for any other use than described above is prohibited. Any authorized
use shall include all these notices.
This publication was compiled, edited and transcribed by M C
12 February 2001.
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED