Miscellaneous Articles, Part 2, Dallas County, Texas

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(Updated November 1, 2002)







A Big Mass Meeting at the City
Hall Denounce Jurors
and Criminals.


A Very Eventful Night in the
History of the Metropolis of
the Lone Star.


The Murderers Indicted and
Will be Given a Trial
at This Term.

     The terrible tragedy of yesterday [the murder of Police Officer W. H. Riddle], as a matter of course, created the greatest excitement in Dallas. The TIMES-HERALD issued an extra at 4 o'clock and 2000 copies were sold by the newsboys. Excitement ran high, and later in the day, hand bills were distributed about the city calling on all law-abiding citizens to assemble at the city hall at 5:30 and take action. It is not known who had the dodgers printed and distributed.


     Fifteen hundred men assembled at the hour appointed. J. Ford House called the meeting to order and made a red-hot speech, saying that the time had come when the people must take a bold stand against lawlessness and punish red-handed murderers. Courts and jurors had failed to protect life and property. A gentleman named White made a few remarks. He was followed by Col. Joe Record, W. H. Kay and Alderman Loonie. Lawlessness was unsparingly denounced, professional jurors and professional perjurors were rousted and it was openly proclaimed that trial by jury in this county had degenerated into a farce.


     Then the temper of the gathering showed itself. There were yells, "go to the jail and hang the murderers."
     "What will you do with the courts and jurors?" thundered a Main street business man.
     "D--n the courts and juries," said his neighbor, "we will attend them later."
     "I want men who will go to the jail and see that the prisoners are not spirited away," said Mr. House, "and I want another detachment to go to Oak Cliff and get a cannon."


     "Do you intend to hang Miller or all four murderers?" asked a well-known labor leader, rising in his seat.
     "Hang 'em all," echoed back the crowd in unison.
     "Then, I am with you," was the reply.
     The couriers were then sent to watch the jail and a squad commanded by an old soldier departed for Oak Cliff to get the six-pounder.
     Mayor Connor and Chief of Police J. C. Arnold entered the hall at this time. There were loud calls for Connor. He mounted the rostrum and denounced mobocracy in strong language. He said that Henry Lewis and Jim Arnold and their men were sworn officers, and blood would flow in rivers before they would give up the prisoners. Two wrongs did not make a right. He regretted the terrible murders, but the law must take its course. If necessary, he would, as chief executive officer of the city, assist officers in defending the prisoner.


     The mayor declared that the prosecution in this county had always been weak. He would subscribe to a fund himself to hire able lawyers to assist in prosecuting the killers. He appealed for the sake of Dallas, for the sake of the women and children of the city, and for God's sake, for the crowd to disperse.
     At this juncture, Mr. Loonie, who had been calmed down by the mayor's remarks, stepped to the rostrum. He had experienced a change of heart and offered resolutions demanding that the courts should give speedy trial to the murderers. The resolutions were voted down. A courier announced that arrangements were made to take the prisoners out of the county.


     "To the jail!" "To the jail"! was the cry.
     "It's a lie. they are not removing the prisoners," said the mayor in a vain effort to stem the tide. But, it was too late. A rush was made for the jail, and from 6:30 until 10 p. m., a great crowd prowled about that sightly structure. Chief Arnold and a detachment of police were there in advance of the crowd. Within was Henry Lewis and his deputies armed with Winchesters. The lynchers were not permitted to enter the jail. The mob was unorganized and unarmed.


     It was a repetition of the fiasco of a few weeks ago, although there were a large number of determined men in the gathering who, at a word from the leaders, would have hurled themselves against the bastille. Speeches were made as a matter of course. Judges Tucker, Burke, Aldredge and Bower talked against mob law and promised speedy trials for the murderers. They were interrupted time and time again. The names of murderers and rapists who have been acquitted were hurled in their teeth as evidence that trial by jury in Dallas county had degenerated into a farce. A long list of ghastly crimes were enumerated, and the fact that it was impossible to obtain a conviction of a murderer in the courts was enlarged upon. Many hard things were said and no mistake.


     Dr. Hayden made a speech, in which he scored juries for liberating murderers; denounced professional jurors and intriguing lawyers. The remedy was for good citizens to take an interest in the enforcement of law. Dr. Hayden appealed to the lynchers to go to their homes.
     Lawyer Etheridge followed in a violent denunciation of the mob. He was jeered uproariously and the small boys hurled sand and mud at him. Mr. Etheridge became enraged. Drawing his knife, he said: "I can whip any son of bitch in the crowd!"
     Order was partially restored, however, and Mr. Etheridge departed.


     Mr. House, at 9:30, announced that a cannon was not get-at-able, and he could not lead his friends against stone walls filled with armed men. He advised the crowd to disperse. A terrific wind and rain storm came up at this time and dispersed the crowd to the intense relief of the anti-mobbers.
     Had a cannon been secured, a demand would have been made for the surrender of Henry Miller, G. F. Bouton, Charles Henry and P. F. Miller. Bloodshed would have been the inevitable result.


     In his speech, Judge Tucker used strong language to Mr. House, saying: "No good citizen would advise mob law." Later in the evening, Mr. House took the Judge to task for his remarks, and struck him in the face, blackening his eyes. Tucker struck House with his cane, and was struck from behind, he claims. Mr. House was slated for disturbing the peace. This morning, he did not appear and a continuance was taken.


     Joe Record was on the jury that turned the Owens' loose. Col. Joe was at the jail last night. A speaker referred to the verdict in the case.
     "Hang the d--n jury," said an unknown man in the crowd.
     "I object," said the Second ward gentleman, and a great laugh went up in his neighborhood.
     There were many amusing incidents and many that were not. A well known lawyer stated that professional jurymen are forever hanging about the courthouse, or in the vicinity. They are known to the criminal lawyers and make a business of serving on the jury. He also stated that evidence was manufactured to order to clear criminals, and that in nearly every important case at the eleventh hour, fellows pop up as witnesses who have never been mentioned in connection with the case.


     The grand jury, this morning, returned true bills against G. F. Bouton, D. Taylor and Franklin P. Miller, all murderers. The trial of Henry Miller, who assassinated Officer C. O. Brewer, will begin June 21 before Judge Burke, County Attorney Williams said today:
     "I am ready to try these cases, if it takes all summer. They should be placed on trial at this term of the court. The verdicts of juries the last four weeks indicate that it is safe to commit cold-blooded murder in this county, but the man who steals a five-cent piece or a yearling is certain to be severely dealt with. I am glad the T
IMES-HERALD has taken a bold stand in this matter. Jurors must be made to do their duty."

- June 18, 1892, Dallas Daily Times Herald, p. 5, col. 3-4.
- o o o




Louis Givens, a Citizen of Pan-
therville, Distinguishes

     Louis Givens hails from Pantherville. He made his first plunge in Dallas society last night and came rather abruptly. It may be good taste to appear before the public of Fort Worth in a costume of one single garment -- a shirt, and a most abbreviated one at that. It shocked the Dallas public, however, and war was at once declared against the startling innovation.
     Last night, while the November winds were whistling through the whiskers of pedestrians and making the blood circulate with a rapidity that smacked of life in the far north, a man clothed in nakedness was driven from under the residence of D. T. Randall by his dogs. A messenger was dispatched for police assistance and the whole neighborhood in the vicinity of Wood and Akard turned out en masse. After being driven from his quarters under the Randall residence, Givens darted into the next house, 312 Wood street, and ran into a room occupied by a little boy, the son of a well-known traveling man. The lad yelled and the intruder growled, "Shut up, or I'll kill you." The boy made a break for liberty, screaming at the top of his voice, "There is a man in my room with only a black shirt on." By this time, the police had arrived and found the man snugly ensconced in the bed of the boy, pretending to be deep in the arms of Morpheus. He was dragged from his downy quarters and marched out of the house and along Akard to the police station. He headed a procession of about 200 astonished citizens and small boys. At the station, he registered and was assigned quarters for the night. He gave his name as Louis Givens and his place of residence, Fort Worth.
     This morning, his name was called in the court room. "Please, your honor," said a big policeman to Judge Foree, "the prisoner has no pants. I can't bring him in." The case was continued until November 21. Givens says the last he remembers, he was in the neighborhood of Logan's laundry. He has no recollection of where and when he became divorced from his wearing apparel. He is about 20 years old, of slight build and not at all communicative.

- November 19, 1892, Dallas Daily Times Herald, p. 5, col. 3.
- o o o -

[No heading]

     The TIMES-HERALD has received a copy of "Home Gallop," by Miss Ella Hudson, a ward of the Buckner Orphans' Home. The author is nearly blind, but the music is excellent. For sale at forty cents post paid. Address orders to R. C. Buckner, Orphans' Home, Dallas county, Texas.

- December 3, 1892, Dallas Daily Times Herald, p. 1, col. 6.
- o o o -


In the Temple of the
Great Master





Rude Hands Tear Him From the
Poisonous and Destructive


And After Hours of Hard Work
Save Him -- A Very Pathetic Story.

     " 'Tis sweet to die for those we love."
     So thought W. S. Browning last night, and he immediately attempted to carry out the sentiment expressed in the above line penned by some long-haired old genius who manufactured poesy and lived in a garret away back in the dusty corridors of time.
     W. S. Browning is young, tall, stately and wears Titian colored hair and mustache of the same hue. He is just of that age when the mind is burdened with love, flowers, poetry and romance. Do not sneer at his misfortune, gentle reader; all men strike that gait between 16 and 24. Like the measles, 'tis the common lot of man. But, the humble scribe digresses from the story he started to dish up in his uncouth way.
     The First Baptist Church was packed with worshippers of the Most High last night. Rev. Seasholes preached a masterly sermon and pointed the way upwards to the promised land. Little did he dream that in a rear pew sat a young man who had made ample preparations to start on the journey to the pearly gates. He did not know that a love-sick youth, whose eyes could not discern one gleam of silver in the clouds of darkness above his horizon, had selected a pew in his church as "a dying bed." 'Twas so, however. How romantic! To die in the temple dedicated to the Lord.
     The sermon was over, benediction had been pronounced, the worshipers prepared to disperse. They did disperse, with the possible exception of C. A. Briggs and several others. Mr. Briggs' attention had been directed to a young man whose head was resting on the rail of the seat before him and who was bowed down as one in deep sorrow. Mr. Briggs hastened to the side of the sufferer.
     "What is the matter?" he queried.
     "I'm so sick," groaned the youth.
     "What have you taken?" asked the startled questioner.
     "Morphine," groaned the youth in graveyard tones.
     "How long since?"
     "About fifteen minutes ago."
     Fortunately, Dr. Mosely was among the limited number present.
     "Come hither, Dr. Mosely. We have a case. Let's get him out of here," whispered Dr. Briggs to the physician. The youth was hustled out of church. He stated that he roomed at Mrs. Croxton's, 311 Pacific avenue, and with the assistance of W. H. Kay, Messrs. Brigg and Mosely began to rush the prisoner to his home.
     By the time they arrived at 190 Pacific avenue, the poison began to trot up and down and in and out of Browning's system, and he became as limber as a rag. He was taken to the residence of Mrs. Westfall. Even then, he knew what was transpiring. He drew a letter from his inside pocket. It was addressed to a charming young lady on Hoard street. He asked that a messenger be dispatched forthwith to the residence of the young lady and that the letter be placed in her hands. The wishes of dying men are always complied with. A swift courier was dispatched instanter.
     Dr. Mosely began operations at once. Powerful antidotes were administered, and for two hours, Browning was trotted up and down the room. He was given exercise that would have knocked out a prize fighter. At 11 o'clock, he was in a fair way to climb the road to rapid recovery. The young lady, in the interim, had arrived and was shown into the parlor by Mrs. Westfall. Browning did not see her, however. When he was pronounced out of danger, he was taken to his own boarding house, where Dr. Mosely and watchers looked after him the greater part of the night. To-day, he is said to be in an improved condition, although very weak. He also said "he was glad he was on earth."
     A cold, cold grave in the cold, cold ground in the cold, cold cemetery may do for a poet to rave about, but there are more inviting places. This is the verdict of Mr. Browning to-day. He made a partial leap last night in the direction of the grave and is competent to give in evidence.
     The young man purchased a ten-cent vial of morphine and swallowed it -- the drug and not the bottle. Prompt and decisive action kept him from falling into that condition described by war historians as "deader than a herring."
     He has resided in Dallas for a number of years, is of irreproachable character, a regular attendant at church and Y. M. C. A. meetings and has never been suspected of harboring hellish designs upon his own life. For a year or more, he was on the road for a cigar house, but lately has been engaged in the sewing machine business.
     It is said by his friends that it is a case of unrequited affection -- that is, he loved a young lady and she failed to reciprocate.
     Rash youth! The sea swarms with shoals of choice fish untangled in the nets of fishermen gay.

- December 19, 1892, Dallas Daily Times Herald, p. 1, col. 5-6.
- o o o -



By Machinery -- The Solution Of
the Question.

     It has long been a question, whether or not cotton, the governing staple of the south, could be picked by machinery; that is, so that a sample could be made that would rank with that picked by hand. The statements of well-known machinery men, and even of those who are prejudiced against cotton pickers, makes it plain that the Wallis-Lispenard cotton picker has solved the problem, and according to the testimony of a negro cotton picker, who saw the machine at work on the Browder farm, near the fair ground: "Thar's nothin' left for the po' niggah to do, but to steal."
     A T
IMES-HERALD reporter gleaned the following expressions from gentlemen who saw the machine at work and put it to rigid tests.
Mr. W. N. Stroud, general agent for Texas, for the William Deering Company, and one of the best authorities on farm machinery in the state, said:
     "I witnessed the working of the Wallis Lispenard cotton picker last Wednesday, December 28, in a field of cotton near the fair grounds. Parties on the ground that day claimed that other pickers had attempted to pick this cotton, failed and left in disgust. The pickings of one row, by my suggestion, was weighed. The row was 210 feet long. The first time the machine went over it, it picked 10 pounds of cotton, second time over, which was the reverse direction for the fist, picked one pound. Two negro boys were then put to work to pick up what cotton was knocked out, or left on the ground. They picked the ground clean and from the stalks, gathered one pound.. There was not left on the stalks. in 210 feet, three locks of cotton, for the stalks were as clean as they possibly could be, and, in my opinion, cleaner than if they had been picked by hand.
     "The principle of a cotton picker is embodied in this machine. It is simple, light draught, easily handled by the operator, and can be handled by any ordinary farm laborer, with no more trouble attached than a cultivator. I was told it weighed about 900 pounds. It certainly did good work, and if it works in green cotton as well as it did last Wednesday, the problem of picking cotton by machinery is solved in the Wallis Lispenard cotton picker."
     Mr. John Hunter, of the well-known machinery firm of Hunter & Booso, said: "I was favorably impressed with the work of the Wallis Lispenard cotton picker and believe its principle to be the solution of the cotton picker question. On a test that I had the machine to make on a give number of very short stalks of cotton, the first time the machine went over, it picked about 75 per cent of the open cotton."
     Mr. W. A. Bonner, of the Dallas Mortgage Company, said: "I had no interest in cotton pickers, but at the solicitation of these gentlemen, I went out to see the machine work, and I feel no hesitancy in saying that their machine is unqualifiedly a success. It does not gather the cotton, but picks it, and that in as clean [a] condition as if by hand at this time of year."
     Mr. J. M. Young, a well known machinery man, gave it as his opinion, that from what he saw of the work of the machine, it is a success.
     Mr. Waltman, a practical machinery man, said that the Wallis Lispenard cotton picker would be on every farm in Texas in less than two seasons.
     Mr. J. D. Mitchell, a widely known machinery man, coincided with the views above given, and said that the advantages offered by the Wallis Lispenard over other pickers are, that it picks, not gathers, the cotton; that it is 1300 pounds lighter than any other attempt made at a cotton picker; that any farm-hand could manage it, on account of it having such few bearings, and, being so simple in construction that a boy can regulate it; on account of its durability and on account of the fact that it picks all the cotton as it goes."
     Mr. Flippen, a well-known farm owner of this city, has rented one of the machines for next year, as has, also, a number of other farmers of this vicinity, which is the best recommendation that could be given the machine.

- January 2, 1893, Dallas Daily Times Herald, p. 5, col. 2.
- o o o -








Penniless and Alone, Mrs. Florence
Murcheson Died in Boarding House
Here Fifteen Years Ago.
Child's Strange Life.

     Little by little, the maze of mysteries and uncertainties that separate Ruth Allegretto Murcheson, the fifteen-year-old girl who has just inherited a West Texas ranch, from her title of actual possession are being cleared away, and the indications today were that the girl would yet be found and the way paved for turning her new fortune over to her. More than fifty residents of Dallas, who knew of the circumstances of the girls' mother dying in the Lancaster hotel here, and leaving her a penniless babe, along in 1896, have called up County Clerk Record during the last few days and supplied missing bits of evidence to be used in the search. One of them--a man--told the clerk that the girl was adopted by a C. W. Wilcox, who is now the head of a big New York school of music, and who lives at 225 Fifth avenue in the metropolis. Mr. Record intends to wire Mr. Wilcox and see what further can be learned.
     C. E. Kain of 214 Clinton street, yesterday [said] that he knew Wilcox well, having studied music under his instruction for fourteen years. Mr. Kain has wired a brother of his in New York to see what he can learn of the whereabouts of the little heiress.
     "The little girl, the last time I saw her, was calling herself Ruth Wilcox," said Mr. Kain, "It is my opinion that she has not been told her real name till this good day."

* * *

Wilcox Was Violinist.
     Wilcox, at the time that Kain studied under him, was head violinist of the orchestra in the old Dallas Opera troupe. At that time, he was a poor man, so far as this world's goods go. Some years after adopting the child, the musician left Dallas and drifted away to New York. Accounts which have come back from there say that he has acquired fame and fortune, being now at the head of the school which is numbering students from musicians all over the country.
     The mother of the little heiress was a Mrs. Florence Murcheson. The circumstances of her early surroundings is not known definitely by Dallas citizens, who profess an acquaintance with the remarkable case, but, it is said that she had been unhappy in her married life, and that for this reason, she had separated from her husband before the birth of their daughter.
     Mrs. Murcheson, it is said, came to Dallas to take a course of treatment with some disease with which she was afflicted. While here, her funds ran short and she wired back to relatives or friends, in the wild West Texas country for more. They were a long time in coming, and the increasing direness of her straits evidently aggravated the woman's illness. Finally, she took up quarters in the Lancaster hotel, which was located on Lamar street, near the Texas & Pacific depot. There she died, when her daughter was only six weeks old. Several Dallas citizens have telephoned Clerk Record of having stood by and watched the suffering woman breathe out her life.

* * *

Babe is Adopted.
     The nameless little waif, thus left to a strange world was taken up and adopted by Mr. Wilcox. the musician was devoted to the child from the first, and after a while, gave it his name.
     When he left Dallas, it is said that Mr. Wilcox had not told the girl her true name. Mr. Kain says that the musician told him that he purposed to let the child continue to believe that her name was "Wilcox." "I couldn't bear to tell her now--it would break her little heart," the musician is quoted as saying.
     For fifteen years, nothing had been heard of the child's relatives, until the letter arrived in Clerk Record's office, the other day, saying that she had inherited West Texas property and inquiring of her whereabouts. The letter was written by a firm of lawyers at Wellington, Texas. The attorneys said that the property had been left through the will of a relative of the girl, and that they were holding it in trust for her. They had heard of the death of the child's mother, and were of the opinion that she might be located in Dallas.

* * *

Times Herald Helps Search.
     Notice of the letter was given in The Times Herald and this led to the supplying of several bits of information in regard to the girl, by citizens of the city, who knew of the circumstances of the mother's tragic death and the daughter's adoption. As the succeeding days have gone by, other informants have rung up Clerk Record's office and supplied more information to be used in the search. Finally, Mr. Kain volunteered a clue that established that Mr. Wilcox had gone to New York, and another resident, who knew the man, said that he was to be found at 225 Fifth avenue, in that city.
     Mr. Record has advised the West Texas lawyers of the new clues that have come to him, and has written a letter to Mr. Wilcox inquiring in regard to the case.
     It is believed that the girl will soon be located, told her real name and given the title to her new inheritance.
     The property is located near Wellington, Texas.

- March 5, 1911, Dallas Daily Times Herald, p. 2, col. 2-4.
- o o o -


     Prof. W. C. Wilcox, the violinist, has offered his own, and the services of a number of his pupils, in a concert for the benefit of the monument fund of the Daughters of the Confederacy.

- August 20, 1894, The Dallas Daily Times Herald, p. 6, col. 2.
- o o o -

Link to images of the sheet music of "Dixie, Fantasie for the Violin," written by C. W. Wilcox, especially for the Confederate Monument Fund Project in 1894. (Link courtesy Jerry Bailey)


H. Y. Field, Clerk   Justice W. M. Edwards   H. N. Fanning
(Photo by Clogenson) 





County Court Clerk, Justices and
Other Officials Whose Offices Date
Forward from July, 1846.

     Justices Edwards and Cullen are kept very busy throughout the winter months uniting couples that would be as one. They are but following the custom established by their early predecessors in the morning of Dallas County's history. For the first couple for which a marriage license was issued after the county was organized were joined in the "holy bonds" by a Justice of the Peace, Aaron Wilson.
     In those days, it seems from the records, the officers required to be shown that all parties were willing before the ceremony was performed. The records show that Crawford Treece and Anna Manervy Kimmel were the initial bride and groom for Dallas County. Mrs. Katherine Kimmel, mother of the young lady, who was first asked, wrote the following note to William M. Cochran, County and District Clerk, dated July 20, 1846:
     "This is to let you know that I am willing that my daughter, Anna Manervy, shall be united in matrimony to Crawford Treece."
     Mr. Cochran, at once, issued a license to the couple, who were married three days later by Mr. Wilson
     The example of these mariners upon the matrimonial sea was followed by others. The mother of the girl was named in a license that was issued on the same day that Miss Anna Manervy was married to Mr. Treece. Mrs. Kimmel was bound into one, with Joseph Graham. On the same day, another license was issued to J. T. Miller, who had won the hand and heart of Sarah Haught.
     But, the first man to marry in the territory of Dallas County was the first settler, John Neely Bryan, who came here in 1841, settling on the bank of the Trinity near what is now Dallas. He built himself a log cabin and had his dog, his gun and some supplies. He was alone, except for an Indian that he would see now and then.
     In the spring of the next year, 1842, there arrived on the bank of the Trinity, two families, that of John Beeman and of Capt. Gilbert. He entertained the newcomers with bear meat and honey, but all the while, he was paying court to Margaret, "the sweet daughter" of Mr. Beeman. He was the only marriageable man in this section of the county then; she was the only marriageable girl. The inevitable happened. One afternoon, perhaps, while he and she were out watching the course of a wild bee on the way to its home, he asked her the momentous question.
     Whether or not she remarked upon the fearful suddenness and the awful unexpectedness of the proposal, is not known, but she accepted the offer of his hand.
     Divorces were not unknown in those early days here. A story of the early forties in Dallas County territory tells of how, one day, a jury granted a lady a divorce. The same afternoon, the foreman of the jury aforesaid married the divorcee.
     The young army of clerks of County Clerk Shanks, which is shown in the accompanying cut, are all needed to handle the great volume of papers that come into the office. Perhaps the average receipts for a week for fees in the County Clerk's office during the busier months of the year is about $1,000. If Mr. Shanks was not limited in salary by the fee bill, he would have one of the best paying offices in the State.
     Though County Clerk Shanks and his men have to handle a great many papers, they are not called on to file and record such a bill of sale as the following, which is found in the records of 1847:
     "Runaway slave, Henry, sold by Sheriff.
     "To all whom it may concern: Know ye that by virtue of the power in me vested by law concerning the sale of runaway slaves in this State, I, John Hewitt, Sheriff of Dallas County, State aforesaid, have this day sold at public outcry, at the court house in the town of Dallas, county aforesaid, a negro man named Henry, a runaway slave, said slave having been in my custody, and due notice given of the fact according to law. Now, this is to say that for the sum of $350, cash in hand to me paid, S. G. Newton and William J. Walker became the purchasers, and they have, according to law and rights to keep, sell or dispose of said Henry, a slave, in any way for their own for their heirs' interest and benefit.
     "Given under hand," etc.
     But, this is not the earliest record of Dallas County. Of course, the marriage license mentioned above was the first thing that the clerk was called on to issue.
     A deed, dated Oct. 7, 1846, conveying from John Neely Bryan and wife, Margaret, to Henry Harter, lots 5 and 6, block 3, of the town of Dallas, was one of the early records.
     June 19, 1847, pre-anniversary of Emancipation Day, the bill of sale to the runaway slave Henry was put on file.
     The first cattle mark recorded was that of William P. Carder in August 7, 1846. His mark was for cattle, hogs and sheep; and was described as "a smooth crop off the right ear and a swallow fork in the left."
     The first patent to land in the country that is now Dallas County, which was included in Nacogdoches County in those days, was one dated Sept. 1, 1846, by which Anson Jones, President of the Republic of Texas, granted to Samuel Monroe Hyde, 640 acres of land on White Rock Creek, near the military road from Austin to Red River.
Many wills have to be filed and recorded by County Clerk Shanks and his deputies. The first recorded will of a man living in what is now Dallas County was that of J. A. Simmons, July 23, 1846, and it runs like this:
     I, J. A. Simmons, considering the uncertainty of this life, and being weak in body, yet of sound mind and memory, do make and publish this, my last will and testament, towit: That is to say, I do give and bequeath to my son, Joseph, choice of my horses, saddle and bridle, one head,. Secondly, I do give and bequeath unto my beloved wife, Hannah S. Simmons, all the rest of my property, both real and personal, and all money that I have on hand or may have coming to me in any way, during her natural life, and at her death, it is my will that after giving to the younger children equal to what I have given the five oldest, that the rest be equally divided amongst all my children; and lastly, I do hereby appoint Hannah S. Simmons my sole executor, to act without giving security in any way and be at liberty to move property where she pleases.
     "Witness my hand and seal," etc.
     Which seems to show that the pioneers had confidence in their better halves.

- June 28, 1903, Dallas Morning News, p. 29, col. 1-2.
- o o o -






Committee Names Some of Those Who
Will Be Awarded Smaller

     Incomplete reports made yesterday to Shearon Bonner, chairman of the Shriners' Clean-Up Day contest, permitted the announcement of some of the district prize winners. Most of the district winners will not be determined until today, and it will be Thursday, in all likelihood, before the grand prize winners of the pony and cart and the diamond ring, offered for the largest and second largest trash piles in all the city, can be announced.
     The principals of all the Dallas schools were asked by Mr. Bonner to appoint a committee of three reliable boys in each district, to inspect the trash piles in that section, and report the location of the largest, and name of the collector. It is requested that all principals who have not done so, phone this information to Mr. Bonner this morning.
     One of the district reports yesterday was of a trash pile nine feet high and fifty-eight feet in circumference, collected by Ward Hinckley, 4705 Victor street. This was in District 17, and was awarded the $1 prize for that district.
     The prize for District 18 was awarded to Edward Burke, 601 South Peak street, who had a pile five feet high and 3x10 feet at the base.
     Other district prizes, size of trash pile not given, were:
     District 3 -- K. C. Canterbury, 506 North Masten.
     District 4 -- Maurice Elkins, 2118 North Masten.
     District 5 -- Etta Conkling, 2701 Flora.
     District 13 - Holgar Fastings, 3301 Hygeia street.
     District 15 -- Katherine Luna, 4219 Ross avenue.
     District 30 -- William Steer, 3201 Trezevant street.
     Honorable mention, with possibility of a district prize to the following:
     Luther Brevans, 724 South Beckley.
     Stanley Trailor, 5538 Tremont.
     Levita Miller, 1617 San Jacinto.
     As soon as all the district reports reach him, today or tomorrow, Mr. Bonner will announce the winners of the remainder of the district prizes, and then will inspect personally, with other members of the committee, the largest trash piles in each district, then determining the winners of the grand prizes, a pony and cart and a diamond ring.

- April 23, 1913, The Dallas Morning News, p. 4, col. 5.
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Dean of Dallas Star Gazers Dead



     The "Professor's chair" at the Dallas Astronomical Society will be vacant at the next monthly meeting at the Y. W. C. A.
     For almost the first time since the society was organized seven years ago, the discussion of celestial current events will proceed without the 78-year-old veteran of star gazers, L. F. Fouts of Trinity Mills, one of the founders, who died March 28 at the home of his son, T. A. Fouts, in Lancaster. It had become routine, the conclusion of the round table with the query of the president, "And what does the Professor say?"
     The title "Professor" was honorarily bestowed upon Mr. Fouts by Dr. A. D. Laugenour, Dallas astronomer, during the conversation which resulted in organization of the society. And the society, before which, Mr. Fouts was the first lecturer, enthusiastically affirmed the tribute which the grizzled watcher of the skies won by his knowledge of heavenly phenomena.
     Despite his near approach to octogenarianism, Mr. Fouts had missed but three meetings since he helped organize the society, one absence due to his being out of the State, and two to serious illness in his family.
     Although he was the oldest of the club group, star gazing had stayed the years for "the Professor." During a half century of neighboring with the stars, he has probably introduced Orion and Andromeda and the mountains of the moon to more seekers after sky lore than any other person in Texas. Although seventy years have been spent in the woods near Carrollton, he had an acquaintance that extends from one end of the State to the other, fostered by his lectures and his personal and newspaper correspondence. As an astronomical observer, he was widely known, and received frequent telegrams and telephone calls for information on phenomena of the heavens. His correspondents were in all parts of the United States, and he had introduced his friends, the stars, to students in a number of colleges. S. M. U. collegiates had their first lecture on astronomy after the establishment of the university from Mr. Fouts, who spoke to an audience on the steps of Dallas Hall and illustrated on the blackboard of the night sky. In Denton, home of the Texas State College for Women and the North Texas State Teachers' College, the sturdy figure, bearded face and twinkling eyes of the man with heaven as his hobby, were hailed joyfully by hundreds of students as he made periodic rounds with his traveling telescope. For his was the magic to lure drowsy youth from the snugness of blankets at 5 o'clock on a winter's morning. Year after year, news that Mr. Fouts and his telescope would be on the C. I. A. campus at 4:30 a. m. was sufficient to attract a group of girls who lined up, shivering, to take turns gazing at celestial wonders.
     Explanation of many lovers of the sky for the origin of their enthusiasm, "I had a friend," is traceable to Mr. Fouts. and his telescope was better than a mouse trap for drawing crowds off the beaten path, as proved during the last approach of Mars to the earth, when more than 700 persons from Dallas visited Mr. Fouts' home observatory at Trinity Mills.

Entertained at Lick.
     Mr. Fouts spoke of "going to the eclipse" as others refer to going to a ball game or the theater. Armed with his telescope, he made the trip across the United States in 1923 to view the total eclipse of the sun from Catalina Island with hundreds of other astronomers. He was entertained in San Jose by the faculty of Lick Observatory.
     The story of a hobby that kept its possessor intellectually alive long past the usual retiring age begins with the plight of a lonely boy, who set up his telescope in the sparsely settled Trinity River bottom, where he had to fight wildcats and panthers off with fire. The story is a romance of vast spaces, that tells the love of a graying, but vigorous man for the suns of other universes, 6,362,500,000,000 miles and more away.

Spying on New Universes.
     Watching the movement of Polaris through a surveyor's instrument in Kentucky first made Mr. Fouts curious about those far-off neighbors of his. And then he was awed by the discovery that, beyond the stars, are more stars, whole universes of them; that his own thumb nail, extended at the length of his arm in any directions, covers an average of four nebulae, cloud-like wisps that are, themselves, universes. Thus, he accounted for a lifetime of spying on those distant enigmas that became his most-loved companions.
     For years, his astronomy was a pleasure to be enjoyed in solitude. His little white house by the side of a long-ago road was really a look-out for all space, for Mr. Fouts had set up four telescope standards in his grassy yard, in order that he might have an unobstructed view of any part of the heavens at any time.

Stars His Companions.
     The days had little to distinguish them in external events, but as the sun declined, the eager-eyed watcher was at one of his four vantage points, waiting for the friends of five decades to flash their vesper greeting. Of human companionship, "the professor" had almost none, and since the death of his wife a few months ago, he had lived alone, but his old, familiar faces, never gone, were of Jupiter and Mars and Venus, and he used to gaze with never-failing joy on the heroic outlines of Orion, and speculate unendingly on the mysteries of the nebulae.

Writings Brought Prominence.
     Yet, he was not a recluse. As one of the very few early students of astronomy in Texas, his newspaper writing and lectures gained him prominence. Due to the former, Mr. Fouts met Dr. Laugenour, and out of that meeting, grew the Dallas Astronomical Society, of which both have since been directors. Nineteen charter members heard the first lecture, delivered by "the professor," which was on Mars, and increasing groups have attended the annual addresses he made since.

Heavenly History.
     His romance with the heavens, at first a hobby, gradually engrossed him more and more, until this year, Mr. Fouts was busy compiling a condensed astronomy and continuing his wide correspondence with astronomical students and the curious about sky happenings. A writer of heavenly history for nearly fifty years, he had log books of the skies, which are accurate accounts of planetary behavior.

Was Telegrapher.
     A retired railroad telegrapher, Mr. Fouts was also distinguished as one of forty men in the entire M. K. T. system with a record of forty years' service. In fact, his exceeded the record of the other thirty-nine, because, although he was entitled to retirement on a pension in 1921, he stayed with his instruments for five more years. When he finally withdrew to his telescopes and his pear orchard, the railway company closed the Trinity Mills Station, for which he was the first and the last agent. His residence at this Dallas County village dates back of the railroad, because seventy years of his life were spent there.

Radio in His Auto.
     Into this quiet retreat, the perpetually inquiring "professor" brought many innovations. His most recent invention was a radio on his automobile, which enabled him, as he drove about the country until a few days before his death, to pull up under a convenient tree and snatch a program out of the air. But, the latest improvement, the dean of star gazers will not enjoy. That is his new 5-inch telescope, purchase of which he looked forward to for a long time, while scanning the sky with the smaller instrument, which served him for thirty years.

Since 1858.
     The Fouts home, known to hundreds of star gazers, was built thirty-nine years ago, near the site of the Trinity Mills store, postoffice and gin, operated by the late A. J. Fouts, father of the astronomer. The smooth gravel road that the celestially-curious motorist followed to reach Mr. Fouts and his telescope bears little resemblance to the rough trail that was wrested from the wilds when the family first moved to their Dallas County home in 1858. Mr. Fouts went to school over the new path made through dense growth by a heavy log pulled four miles by oxen.
     Trinity Mills, settled in 1856, was so named because of the saw mill that was used up to 1887. A boiler from a sunken boat was brought from Houston to supply power for the now forgotten industry.

Had Many Curios.
     In Mr. Fouts' back yard, next to his orchard, he had a museum and workshop, crowded with curios. Here were his microscope, his electrical inventions, weapons dating back 100 years, old school books, 40-year files of popular astronomy and of the American Ephemeris, and specimens of all sorts collected by the astronomer in his terrestrial studies.
     Besides his son, T. A. Fouts, an employe of a local oil company, Mr. Fouts is survived by two other near relatives, his brothers, W. T. Fouts of Denton and H. C. Cicero Fouts of Rhonesboro.

His Last Words.
     The last words of "the professor" to the Astromonical Society, spoken at the February meeting just a month before his death, will long remain in the memory of his fellow-members. The discussion had been on "the stupendous horror of space," and some one asked: "Does religion conflict with astronomy?"
     "There is no conflict between religion and science, but only between theology and science," replied "the professor."

- June 10, 1928, Dallas Morning News, Feature Section, p. 7, col. 1-3.
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This Pencil Had Part
In Stirring Episode
Of Civil War Period

 The pencil held by County Surveyor John R. West Jr., is a present-day reminder of one of the most interesting stories of the Civil War, in which rebel ingenuity triumphed over a Yankee gunboat commander. In front of him are two instruments used in many early day surveys of Dallas County.

Historical Relics
Recall History of
Early Dallas Days


Compass Used 80
Years Ago in This
Section on Display

     Days before the Texas & Pacific came into Dallas and the town was without the honor of being the county seat were recalled Saturday as County Surveyor John R. West Jr., held a showing of several historic relics, one of which, carries a stirring Civil War story.
     Mr. West now owns the transit that was used by Captain Johnson in making the survey to bring the T. & P. westward into Dallas. The same instrument was used fifty years ago by Capt. Jesse Strong, when all county lines were re-surveyed.
     Another compass, more than eighty years old, that was used by Mr. West's grandfather and father before him, in making many surveys in the county and in the section of Dallas around the courthouse square, also is part of his collection. This compass is a duplicate of one used by George Washington.
     Probably the most interesting item in Mr. West's collection, however, is a small, gold-mounted combination mechanical pencil and pen that is the forerunner of present-day gadgets of the same type, and a device with a history that smacks of romanticism.

Back to Indian Days.
     The West family has been identified with Dallas County history from the time Grandfather R. J. West settled two miles east of Farmers Branch and established a tan yard. There, he traded leather that was processed largely by slaves to Indians who were glad to get the finished product in exchange for rawhides. The tan yard brought the name of Rawhide Creek to a near-by stream and the name still stands.
     Mr. West said his grandfather and John Neely Bryan were good friends and many stories of their relations were handed down to him by his father, who died in 1913. R. J. West was appointed by the Governor, along with a few others, including Amon McComas, as a commissioner to hold an election and decide where the county seat would be located.
     This question brought up a controversy between Cedar Springs, Dallas and Hord's Ridge, Mr. West said, but Dallas finally won the designation after more than one election. R. J. West was the county's first treasurer after organization was completed, his grandson recalled.
     When Civil War times came, John R. West Sr., decided to take the side of the Confederacy, and as he went into the strife, he carried a saddle, bridle and hunting knife sheath, all made by his father.
     Young West was made a First Lieutenant and soon started out on what apparently was a scouting expedition with seven or eight men under him, Mr. West said Saturday as he recalled the story leading up to the mechanical pencil.
     "They were on the Mississippi one day, when the small party sighted a Yankee transport with only a single man on deck," Mr. West said. "As quietly as they could, they boarded the vessel and quickly overpowered the lone soldier, meanwhile making all the noise they could by stamping around the deck. This enabled them to trap all the Yankees below deck before they realized they were overpowered by a handful of men.
     "The next thing they did was to beach the ship on the east side of the river to save it, for it was full of provisions, ammunition and guns, which the Confederates needed badly, and the Yankees were made prisoners of war.

Price on His Head.
     "Naturally, all this infuriated the Union forces and a price was put on fathers' head," Mr. West said. "A short time after that , the Yankees learned my father was in Yazoo City, Miss., so William T. Sampson, who later became famous in the Spanish-American War, and who was commanding a Union gunboat, came up after him.
     "Sampson brought the gunboat up the Yazoo River, trained his guns on the city and sent word, that unless West surrendered, he would blow up the town. My father heard about the plan, so he and his orderly got on horseback and rode down to the gunboat.
     "As soon as the conferences started with Sampson, my father told him he had left word with his command in Yazoo City to come and get him unless he returned in a certain time.
     "The bluff worked, apparently, because Sampson and my father wrote out an agreement and signed it, whereby Sampson promised to take his gunboat off the Yazoo River, back to the Mississippi, and not to return.
     "As soon as the agreement had been signed, Sampson presented my father with the pen used in preparing the document," Mr. West said.

- February 20, 1938, The Dallas Morning News,
Sec. II, p. 1, col. 6; cont. on p. 10, col. 1.
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