Miscellaneous Articles, Part 4, Dallas County, Texas

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Miscellaneous Articles, Part 1
Miscellaneous Articles, Part 2
Miscellanous Articles, Part 3
Miscellaneous Articles, Part 5
Miscellaneous Articles, Part 6

(Updated June 23, 2003)




How the Mails Were Handled
Half a Century Ago.








Charles Durgan Left Them in the Old
Canvas Pockets -- Politics, Business
and Town Lots Discussed.
Survey of the Trinity.

     The TIMES-HERALD, diving into the musty past, herewith presents its readers with some information in regard to the origin of the postoffice in Dallas.
     Mrs. Elizabeth Durgan, widow of Charles H. Durgan, the first postmaster of Dallas, is still living in Dallas and makes her home with Dr. A. M. Cochran, 216 Griffin street. She is nearly 70 years old, but still in the enjoyment of fine health and apparently good for many years to come. Her father, John Thomas, immigrated to Texas from Illinois in 1842 and lived at Jefferson, the then metropolis of the southwest, for two years, when he removed to Dallas and became the first county judge of this county. Mrs. Durgan says that there were but two log houses in Dallas at that time, and they were located between the Cockrell homestead on Commerce street and the river. There was, however, a number of families living in tents. Texas was then


     Everything in the way of merchandise, provisions, supplies, etc., was brought in wagons from Jefferson. In 1845, when Dallas had reached such a degree of importance that her citizens wished to correspond with the outside world, they chipped in and raised a purse of sufficient size to tempt a man to ride to Bonham once a month and inquire if there was any mail for anybody at Dallas.
     Some time before this, Miss Elizabeth Thomas married Charles H. Durgan, and he agreed to keep the letters brought from Bonham until they were called for. For a postoffice, Mrs. Durgan took a piece of drilling, much like heavy canvas, about three feet by two and one-half feet in dimensions, and made two rows of pockets of six each in one side of it, about large enough to admit an ordinary sized letter or paper. Mr. Durgan hung this against the wall of a small cabin he built, in which he carried on a general merchandise business.
     The following year, Texas was admitted to the union, and Mr. Durgan was duly appointed postmaster by Uncle Sam and continued to discharge the duties of the office for a long time.



     Mrs. Durgan still has the original postoffice above described. It is in a fine state of preservation and apparently none the worse for the wear of nearly half a century. From 1850, until about three weeks ago, it hung in a closet at the old Thomas place on White Rock creek, when Mrs. Durgan brought it to town to exhibit to her grand-nephew, Willie Cochran, who works in the postoffice, and it was through this young man that the TIMES HERALD heard of the ancient postoffice.
     Mrs. Durgan's husband died in New Haven, Conn., in 1852, while traveling in the East for his health, he being a native of Connecticut. Mrs. Durgan never married again, and she says, that while she is not the oldest woman in the county, she is a widow of the longest standing.
     Mrs. Durgan has a fine memory, and she is full of reminiscences of early times in Dallas. She has seen the town grow from a hamlet of two cabins in a wilderness teeming with Indians, Mexicans and wild beasts, to a grand city. She helped to fix up two brothers to go to the Mexican war, and two more later on, to go to the civil war, one getting killed in each war, John, in the former and Ellis in the latter.
     The pockets of the old postoffice contain numerous letters and documents left in them by Mr. Durgan.


     One of the letters is from P. G. Washington, auditor of the treasury of the United States, reminding Mr. Durgan, that as postmaster, he was behind with the government, $19.92, and urging him to settle up.
     In the same pocket, is a deed from John N. Bryan, conveying to Charles H. Durgan, two lots in Dallas for $100 each.
     A letter from Ellis Thomas at Jonstone's [Johnston's] station, June 5, 1864, says they are expecting to break up camp and go to Fort Smith and join Price's command.
     Two state permits to Charles H. Durgan to carry on a general merchandise business and sell liquor in any quantity, not less than a quart.
     A document from Gov. George T. Wood in 1848, appointing Mr. Durgan notary public in Dallas county.
     A general passport, signed by the federal secretary of state, W. S. Legare, dated May 11, 1843.
     A bill of fare of the Syracuse House, of Syracuse, N. Y., July 21, 1852, is in a fine state of preservation, and is gotten up in much the style of the present day and with no changes in the dishes.


     The following letter from Hon. John H. Reagan, which will sufficiently explain itself, shows that even at that early day, Judge Reagan understood practical politics:
EPRESENTATIVE HALL, AUSTIN, Dec. 15, 1847. -- Dear friend: I will send you a regular file of the Austin Democrat, which will be the readiest means of communicating to my fellow citizens of Dallas county of knowledge of what is going on here. You will do me a great favor by filing in a conspicuous place in your office for public inspection, such papers and documents as I may be able to send you. You will receive, as fast as they are published, journals of both houses and all the public documents that may be printed. This will be a source of gratifying information to my friends of Dallas county and your compliance with my request will place men under renewed and lasting obligations to you.
     Both houses of the legislature are now organized. My colleagues, Messrs. Stearne and Lott, are at their post. Senator Parker is present. Senator Gage has not yet arrived. Everything is smoothe yet, and I hope we may be able to meet the expectations of our constituents by the faithful and prompt discharge of our duties. This evening, we received the governor's message, which, in my humble judgment, is a document of superlative merit.
     The election of our United States senator came off this evening, which resulted, as follows:


For Sam Houston ............69
For Antonio Navarro ..........3
For James Webb.................2
For Edward Burleson...........1
For J. Pinckney Henderson...1
For Timothy Pillsbury............1
For John C. Hays..................1

     To-morrow, the voters for Governor and Lieutenant-governor, Governor elect will be counted out. We suppose Wood and Greer elected.
     Tender my respect to Judge Thomas, Col. Hewit and my friends and acquaintances, generally.
     With much respect, I subscribe myself your friend and obedient servant, J

     P. S. -- Please inform Col. John Hewit that I will also send him a regular file of the Austin Democrat and other printed public documents to Cedar Springs to be filed at his store for public inspection. I adopt this course in order to keep my fellow citizens fully and regularly advised of all that is done here, and in order to account fully for my stewardship, as possible at the earliest possible period.
                                                               Yours, J. H. R.


     The following letter from the father of Hon. Thomas Ochiltree, is also of a public character and will throw some light upon the scramble for office at that day:
ACOGDOCHES, Tex., 12th Aug., 1847. -- My Dear Charley -- I received your two notes with great pleasure. I have caused J. C. McCoy, Esq., of Dallas, to be announced in the Nacogdoches Times. I have been so very busy of late, that I have not had opporunity to mix much with the sovereigns. So far as I am able to learn, Edwards is running decidedly ahead for the senate and, to my great surprise, I think Reagan will be the foremost man in this county. Cherokee and Smith, I am told, will not run so well as those above; Sterne, next best, and will be ahead in Angelina county. I hope that you will give Sterne a lift in your diggins. He is a wholesouled fellow, an old resident, strong Democrat and very sensible man. Van Zant and Wood are deicdely the most pronounced candidates for governor. In the contest between them, I am like the woman who saw her husband fighting the bear -- no preference. I shall vote for Robinson, who, I think, is quite as honest and capable as either of them. Give my best respects to my kind friends in Dallas. I assure you there is no place in my whole circuit for whose inhabitants I cherish a warmer feeling. Very truly yours,
                                                         W. B. O


     A part of the poll book of an election to locate the county seat of Dallas county, held in 1848, gives the names of the voters from 24 to 33, as follows: John R. Bell, C. C. Overton, John Henderson, Timothy Carpenter, Crawford Freese, Philips Kunel, Benjamin Keefer, M. Goodwin, John Horton and James Shareck. The first page of the poll book was missing, and it did not, therefore, appear what the opposition to Dallas was. There were, however, two other places in nomination. One of them got 1 vote, and the other, 5, Dallas receiving 27.
     The following is the return:
     To the Chief Justice of Dallas county - We, the undersigned judges and clerks of an election held at Carpenter, in precinct No. 2, on the 13th day of May, 1848, for to locate the county seat of Dallas county, do hereby certify that the above is a correct return of the polls of said precinct. Given under our hand, this 13th day of May, 1848.

} Clerks

} Clerks


     The following is a characteristic letter from Judge Nat M. Buford to Mr. Durgan:
ALLAS, Tex., Dec. 17, 1850. -- Dear Charley -- If you have not presented the transcript I sent you to W. P. Hill, do not do so until I write you again. Thinking, perhaps, that Col. Hill might endeavor to excuse himself from the payment of the money by saying that it had not been collected, I have written to the clerk of the district court of Nacogdoches on the subject, and shall get an answer from him by next mail. I have every reason to think that Hill has long since collected the money. With a letter from the clerk to that effect, he will, of necessity, fork over the cash. Knowing him to be rather tricky, I have taken this precaution, and should he not promptly pay over the money, I shall forthwith instruct Mosely to move against him in the district court, which will dismiss him from the bar for not paying over money collected as an attorney. But, I wish you first to have the letter from the clerk, and that will pin the basket on him."
     Business of every description is flourishing in Dallas. Allen says his sales this fall have more than tripled any previous period. Several immigrants with large negro property have lately settled in Dallas county. Crutchfield sold his place on Five Mile at $2 per acre, cash. Narbo and several others have sold their places for high prices for cash. On White Rock creek, several land sales have been made. A. G. Walker sold his home place for $2 cash.
     Town lots in Dallas are commanding very high prices. Crutchfield paid Smith & Patterson $275 for the lot upon which the old ball alley stands. Crutchfield is now building upon this lot, a fine tavern. Crockett has moved into his fine house. Dokan's new house is nearly finished. The building of a jail and two clerks offices are now under contract. Money is said to be more abundant here than at any former time. The whole country is flooded with emigrants. Corn is worth 6 bits per bushel. Large preparations are being made for cotton planting next year. Kelly is getting well. Bunyan is still at work on the river. He will reach the raft about Christmas. Amos McComas has undertaken to remove the raft. He begins the work to-day with ten hands. Arkansaw has entirely quit drinking liquor. Your friend,
O C. H. DURGAN, Jefferson, Tex.


     There are, in the postoffice, a number of letters from Mr. Durgan's father, addressed to him from California, containing interesting matter in regard to the gold fever, which was raging on the slope at that time.
     Among the papers, are some deeds recorded by Alex Harwood, deputy county clerk, as far back as 1850.
     Several letters from Mr. Rainey, of Jefferson, to Mr. Durgan, incidentally, refer to the business then done at Jefferson, which was the entrepot for all this section of country, clean to Mexico. Jefferson, for years, enjoyed a boom and was the most important point in the southwest.
     A statement of the business of the postoffice, for the year ending March 31, 1848, showed the receipts to amount to $150.38.


     A noteworthy circumstance in connection with these old letters is the excellent quality of the paper on which they are written, as compared with the shoddy quality of that manufactured at the present day. The writing is, for the most part, as distinct as if it had been written last week and the paper would last 100 years longer.
     There were no envelopes in vogue in those days, and the letters were simply folded and sealed with wax.

- January 3, 1894, Dallas Daily Times Herald, p. 2, col. 1-4.
- o o o -




The Stalks Sixteen to Twenty-
seven Feet High.


Ears a Foot Long with Thirty Rows of
Plump Grain -- Commissioner Jim
Smith Will Have to Cut and
Come Again.

     When the TIMES HERALD of Friday reached Mr. Jeff Hill, of Egypt, on White Rock creek, he read about County Commissioner Smith bringing to town, a stalk of corn sixteen feet high, and to himself said: "Pshaw! I can beat that, myself," and so saying, he went to his field and took the first stalk he came to, which measured twenty-one and one-half feet in length.
     This morning, Mr. Hill called the attention of his neighbor, Mr. P. A. Howell, to the stalk, and Mr. Howell brought it to town, and it may be seen at the court house.
     Mr. Howell states that this corn is of the "Mexican June" variety. It averages two ears to the stalk, and the ears run from eight to eleven inches in length. The ears are large in diameter and have plump, full grains. The black waxy land about Egypt, Mr. Howell says, is even better adapted to growing corn than the Nile lands of the old Egypt.
     Mr. Howell suggest that a fine lot [of] ties for the Terminal railroad could be made out of the corn stalks in Mr. Hill's field.

-- --

     Dr. Ryan, of Garland, to-day inspected the two stalks of corn at the courthouse, which were brought in by County Commissioner Jim Smith and Mr. Hill, and which measure 16 and 21 1/2 feet in height, respectively.
     Dr. Ryan says both stalks are low and spindling, compared to the average stalks in the field. In his field are many stalks 24 feet high and with two to four big ears of corn on them.

- August 19, 1895, Dallas Daily Times Herald, p. 6, col. 4.
- o o o -



Is Being Arranged in the Su-
burbs of Dallas.


Boating, Bathing and Fishing, With all
Modern Accessories, Will be Had at
the Famous Kidd Springs. A
Visit to the Grounds.

     When the work planned by the recently organized Kidd Springs Fishing and Boating Club is completed, there will be one of the prettiest pleasure resorts in the state of Texas, or the southwest, almost within the city limits of Dallas.
     This organization, which is arranged on the plan of a stock company, with each shareholder on pleasure bent, has bought nineteen acres of land, including the famous Kidd Springs, which have, for years, poured forth an inexhaustible supply of water, in the suburbs of Oak Cliff, and only a short ride or drive from Dallas.
     The stock of the organization is divided into seventy-five shares at the value of $200 per share. To be a member, the person must hold one share, and no one man is allowed more than two shares. This is done in order to regulate the number of members.
     Accompanied by a member of the club, a T
IMES HERALD reporter paid a visit to the grounds a few days ago. Crossing the mighty Trinity on board an Oak Cliff car, and being whirled through that prosperous suburb with only a glimpse of the points of interest. the end of the line was gained. Turning to a right angle in a northward direction, a ten minute walk brought to view the famous springs, surrounded by a thick grove of pecan trees, interspersed with walnut, persimmon, plum and other trees. Here, a contractor with eighteen teams was at work, making the excavations and building the dam to form a lake. In this work, Nature has assisted greatly, a natural ravine, which, when properly dammed and some excavations made, will form a lake of remarkable size, being about 500 yards long, and about 200 yards wide, with an average depth of 25 feet. At the head of the lake will be a miniature island, which will be graced with a pagoda in the center, gainable by rustic bridges, and complete in other appointments.
     Among the pecan trees above the lake will be built a club house, plans of which will hereafter be decided on. On the lake, a number of boats will placed and probably a steam launch for pleasure purposes. Bathing will be arranged for, the adults at a point seemingly designed for the purpose near the dam, and the younger element at the head of the lake, where the water deepens gradually.
     The work of excavating and building the dam is rapidly nearing completion. The springs will furnish sufficient water the year around to keep the lake supplied, and an overflow is arranged at one part of the dam where the waste water can escape. It is intended that the arrangements will be complete by next summer, with the exception of the fishing feature, which will take a year or so to develop. As soon as the lake is finished, it will be supplied with all the choice finny tribes.
     Every arrangement will look to the pleasure of the members, their families and friends. The rules in this regard will be just strict enough to accord every one equal rights.

- December 10, 1895, Dallas Daily Times Herald, p. 5, col. 1.
- o o o -



The Life Work of a
Dallas Woman Who
Labors for Love.

     "Nearly everybody is kind to a dog, few people are kind to a cat. The cat has fewer friends and is least understood among all animals."
     The words came from a little motherly-looking woman whose eyes sparkled brightly behind a pair of glasses as she spoke. It was Mrs. G. E. Cornwell, just an average Dallas housewife, who lays no particular claim to fame, but a woman whose very life reads like a story book.


     It's a pretty little cottage home on Haskell avenue, at the corner of Main street. Street cars rumble by every few minutes, carrying scores to and from the city, and people in automobiles and other vehicles, and pedestrians by the hundred, daily, pass the door. Few engrossed in the daily toil of city life, observe little, and care less, about this little cottage on the corner, neatly hid among the cedars.

Cats of All Kinds.
     But, step inside the swinging picket gate and ask Mrs. Cornwell to show you the cats -- and then this little cottage home on the corner will seem one of the most wonderful places you have ever visited.
     There are cats of all kinds and conditions, large and small, blue-eyed and blind, Maltese, Angora, white, black, gray, tortoise shell, and every combination of colors imaginable. To count them would be a task impossible, an estimate of the number would be foolish, indeed. But, just ask Mrs. Cornwell about her cats, and she will tell you more about these furry domestic animals in a few minutes, than you could learn from an encyclopedia in a week.

Cats -- Her Life-Work.
     For cats have been the life-work of this pleasant little woman, and she knows them as a mother knows her child. Twenty-six years ago, Mrs. Cornwell began to care for cats. That was a long time ago, and many are the tales of human interest that she can relate, all of them woven about -- the wee little cats. During that time, Mrs. Cornwell has seen on her premises, cats to the number of -- not a hundred or five hundred, a thousand or two thousand, but think of it -- cats to the number of 5,000. Mrs. Cornwell is the wife of G. E. Cornwell, formerly humane officer of this city, and at present, city detective. Mr. Cornwell, while humane officer, came in touch with many cats that needed the kindly attention of Mrs. Cornwell, and the services of Mrs. Cornwell were never slow in being offered.

Knows History of Each.
     One would not think, as he gazed on the scores of cats at the Cornwell home, that so much human interest was centered back of these little felines. Mrs. Cornwell can tell the history of every cat on her place and dozens of fascinating stories that figured in the lives of those who owned them. For, Mrs. Cornwell is not the owner of all in this wonderful collection. Many of them she owns, but others are merely left in her charge for a day, a week, a year or a lifetime, as the case may be, to be cared for, cured or killed, for many are the chicken-hearted who, rather than kill their own cats, bring them to Mrs. Cornwell to chloroform.

Oldest and Youngest.
     A representative of The Dallas Times Herald asked Mrs. Cornwell what was the age of the oldest cat in the collection. She darted around the house to the back yard and presently returned with "Lonely," a pure white cat without a tooth in his head. "Lonely" is eighteen years of age. Just that number of years ago, Mrs. Cornwell found this cat in a vacant house on Ross avenue and took it home. It was a lonely little kitten found crouching in the corner of the vacant house, giving vent to its only method of attracting attention, and "Lonely" is its name today. Every cat on the Cornwell place has a name.
     The visitor grew curious to see the youngest cat, and sure enough, Mrs. Ed Elitson, who is Mrs. Cornwell's constant companion and helpmate, produced the youngest. She held in her two hands, a mite of a little kitten, but a few days old. "Halloween," it had already been named. It was born but a few nights before, on the very night when the goblins are supposed to be about.


Cat and Dog "Chums."
     Near the gate to the Cornwell home, lies "June," a one-time stray dog, who, sentry-like, watches over the scores of cats about the place. "Blue Bell," a large Blue Persian cat, was lazily rubbing herself against the fore legs of the dog. Mrs. Cornwell said that the two were great chums and never fell out like other dogs and cats. Inside the house, Mrs. Cornwell found one of the pups buried in the midst of a group of cats, fast asleep.

"Ruby St. Valentine."
     In a big arm chair on the front porch of the Cornwell home, lay a beautiful white Angora cat, her bright blue eyes watching over three pure white kittens. "Ruby St. Valentine" is the pretty name of this beautiful feline specimen. "Ruby St. Valentine" was sent to Mrs. Cornwell, on the death of a young wife in Enid, Oklahoma. The cat was the pet of the young woman. Traveling men who came through Enid, told of Mrs. Cornwell's care of cats, and on her deathbed, this young wife asked that the cat be sent here. The three little white kittens will soon find new homes. Mrs. W. P. Treadwell, 4802 Columbia avenue, will get "Little Blossom." Mrs. E. B. Keeling, 2712 Routh street, will soon secure "Little Prince," while "Romeo Jr." will be sent to Mrs. Keeling's brother in Mississippi.


"Billie Patterson."
     Cats are there named after dignitaries, local and foreign. One particularly good-looking fellow is called "Billie Patterson," having been named after Gen. W. H. Patterson, of this city, when the cat formerly belonged to a friend of Gen. Patterson. Being asked what the two shaved places on the tail of the cat were for, Mrs. Cornwell stated that the places where the fur had been sheared were marks of identification on all of the cats to the boys in the neighborhood, who immediately knew where to return those that strayed away.
     "Zu Zu," a big yellow-and-white, is the favorite of Mr. Cornwell. The big cat meets him when he returns home at night and follows his master around like a dog.

Blue-Eyed Are Deaf.
     There are many things not generally known about cats. A number of deaf cats are at Mrs. Cornwell's home. Inquiry brought the answer that nearly all blue-eyed cats are deaf. "Bob White," a big blue-eyed specimen, is one of these, belonging to a well-known North Dallas family.
     "Tony" is the property of a little Italian boy, Iscara Baratini, who left the cat in charge of Mrs. Cornwell, while he is being educated in Europe.
     A number of cats are turned over to Mrs. Cornwell by old maids who have finally succeeded in getting husbands and no longer require the company of cats. "Spooks" is one of these. "Spooks" was left at the Cornwell home by a Spiritualist. Hence, its name.
     "Suzanne" is the name of another left by a French maid once employed in one of the wealthy Dallas households. Fourteen years ago, "Suzanne" was left with Mrs. Cornwell when the maid returned from France. The cat is still there.

Of Wild-Cat Ancestry.
     "Chula," an Indian word meaning something akin to "Dear Heart," is the picturesque name of a striped feline. The mother of "Chula" was a wild cat, and this animal still retains some of the wild spirit of her ancestry, keeping away from the others, and showing her bad temper occasionally.
     A fine Angora, weighing 19 3/4 pounds, is the property of Miss Laura Hughes of this city. This large, pure white specimen is having its eyes undergo treatment by Mrs. Cornwell.

The Children's Playmate.
     Little girls have shed many tears when forced to become separated from their kitten playmates. Witness the case of little five-year-old Stella Kohn. The little girl was an invalid who lived in Dallas several years ago. Mrs. Cornwell had often told her how to take care of her kitten. The little invalid died with the kitten in her arms. Her parents afterwards sent the kitten to Mrs. Cornwell.
     "Rickety" is a cat, the victim of paralysis, as a result of wearing doll clothes playfully kept on the cat's body day after day, by a little boy.
     "Miranda" was rescued by Mr. Cornwell from the top of a telephone pole after having occupied that lofty position without food for two days and nights, and was brought to the home for cats.

"Miss Ross" Her Name.
     "Miss Ross" owes her name and her life to the fact that she was saved from starvation in the bottom of an empty well on Ross avenue several years ago.
     Iska Waurika, a pretty Creek Indian girl, who is attending a seminary in San Antonio, has her Blue Maltese "Bo Peep" in the keeping of Mrs. Cornwell.
     So great is the devotion of Mrs. Cornwell to cats, that she has been known to purchase outright from the owners, animals that were abused.

Element of Human Interest.
     One could listen hour after hour to this interesting cat fancier and never grow tired. The tales of human interest never grow weary; stories of love and pathos, of happy and unhappy home life, of joy and sorrow, life and death, are reflected in the ordinary house cat. For what is home without a cat? Can one picture the family circle seated before the glare of the flaming fireplace on a winter night, with including in the scene, the domestic cat cuddled up in front of the home circle?

"Mrs. Cornwell Is Coming."
     It would have been impossible for Mrs. Cornwell to devote all these years to her cats without the gossips getting out stories and the superstitious discovering weird things. Mrs. Cornwell admits, laughingly, that often when walking past the homes of children, she has seen little girls gather kittens in their arms and run for their mothers in fear, with the words, "Mrs. Cornwell is coming!" Children have seen so many cats at the Cornwell home, that many think she gets everybody's cats she can.

Helping the Unfortunate.
     But, there are others who know only too well, that Mrs. Cornwell's only desire is to make "life more worth the living for these poor unfortunate of God's creatures." There are those who know that they have but to call Mrs. Cornwell's telephone, Haskel 2333, and she will be only too glad to tell them how to treat cats or dogs suffering from illness or injury, for despite the old saying that cats have nine lives, like human beings, they have but one.
     The one thing that is most interesting, however, and that which speaks volumes of praise for this motherly little woman, is the fact, that during all the twenty-six years that she has cared for cats, not a single penny has she charged anyone.

Has Not Charged a Cent.
     Only on several occasions during that long period of years, has she even accepted contributions, and then only in the form of presents, such as little bells for the cats. Mrs. Cornwell has cared for the cats of people from all parts of the Southwest, has kept them and fed them from year to year and returned them to their owners when desired, has treated them as a physician treats a patient, has cured them often at considerable expense to herself, when the money could have been well expended elsewhere, but not once has Mrs. Cornwell charged for her services.
     Mrs. Cornwell is a character found rare, indeed, in these days of commercialism, when the ambition of nearly all seems to be an accumulation of dollars. Ask this unassuming little woman why she does it, and she will answer in a matter-of-course way, "There are more cats than good homes," and the whole story will then have been told."

- November 5, 1911, Dallas Daily Times Herald,
Magazine Section, p. 2, col. 1-7.
- o o o -

[Note: The 1910 Worley's Dallas city directory lists a George E. Cornwell, special officer with the Dallas Humane Society, residing at [old number] 100 N. Haskell Avenue, which was changed to 102 N. Haskell, when the street numbering was changed in 1911. The 1933 Worley's directory lists a Gulf gas station (#10) at the address. Mrs. Cornwell (Lula M.) is listed as widow of Geo. E., and resided at 4010 Travis, near its intersection with N. Carroll ave.]

Widening of East Elm Street Is Now Actually In Progress --- Scene of First Work Started

(click on image for enlarged view)

-Photo by Staff Photographer Frank Rogers

     The above picture shows the first step in the Elm street widening work following the tearing down of the Junction building. The Hatcher Construction Company, under the supervision of W. R. Hatcher, have the contract for the stretch of work shown in the picture. Men are now engaged in tearing out the fronts of the buildings occupied by the Hunt Grocery Company. Peterman's Market, Criswell Furniture Company and the Hardie Seed Company. Plans for the improved store fronts were drawn by Lang & Wichell.
     As shown in the picture, Mr. Hatcher has adopted a novel plan for the erection of a sidewalk guard. Instead of building a board fence, he has purchased two bales of cotton from farmers sent him by The Times Herald. The other bale was bought by the Hunt Grocery Company. By stretching ropes from these bales, after they had been mounted on slightly raised platforms on the street, Mr. Hatcher obtained a barricade to keep people out of the possible line of danger from falling bricks and other material.
     All of this property, for which Mr. Hatcher has the alteration contracts, is owned by J. Wildy Gibbs. The work is being pushed with all haste, day and night shifts being engaged in the work. A feature of the alteration work is that the business firms in these buildings have not been shut off from the Elm street front. Mr. Hatcher was the first contractor having any of this work to begin on the big undertaking. Work in the next block east is expected to start this week. Mr. Hatcher is shown standing by one of his bales of cotton.

- September 20, 1914, Dallas Daily Times Herald, p. 6, col. 2-4.
- o o o -
[Note: The Junction Building was located at 1703
1/2 Elm in 1911,
the block being located on the north side of Elm, just east of its
intersection with N. Ervay; Hunt Grocery Company was located
at 1709-11 Elm in 1911]

Pioneers See First Showing of
"The Covered Wagon"

-- Staff Photo by Rogers.

     Texas pioneers, who know by actual experience the hardships and the thrills of the old-time wagon trails, were enthusiastic spectators Saturday at the first showing of "The Covered Wagon" at the Majestic, as the guests of Karl Hoblitzelle.

(click here for enlarged view)

- August 12, 1923, The Dallas Morning News, Sec. IV, p. 7, col. 6-8.
- o o o -

Pioneers Unable to Restrain
Cheers as Own Adventures Are
Re-enacted on Majestic Screen


Attend Showing of "The
Covered Wagon" as
Guests of Hoblitzelle.

     Men and women who came to Texas more than fifty years ago in covered wagons, joined out again with another wagon train Saturday afternoon. Since they are pioneers who know the dangers, hardships and pleasures of the long trail, they actually lived them all over again with those hardy men and women who made the Oregon trail in '48, as pictured in "The Covered Wagon," at the Majestic.
     The great theater was filled with these early settlers of Texas. They came from Dallas and many adjoining counties at the invitation of Karl Hoblitzelle, who turned the occasion into another demonstration of the Majestic's mission as an institution of pleasure. It is doubtful if he has had before, such an opportunity for bestowing pleasure in the intense degree exhibited by these pioneers as the historic story unfolded in dramatic situation, and they were permitted to link their own experiences with those on the Oregon trail depicted on the screen. In the boxes, where the early settlers were grouped, and out in the auditorium, where they constituted, the major portion of the audience excitement in waves, rose and fell in unison with that of the characters on the silver sheet.
     An audience of this kind could scarcely be expected to observe, without emotion, the greatest wagon train in history, swimming the North Fork of the River Platte. Nor, would it be reasonable to suppose that men who participated in person in the gold rush of '49, or whose parents joined the great caravan that crossed the continent that year, could restrain the impulse to yell when that rush is vividly re-enacted in minute detail for their especial entertainment. At any rate, natural impulses were obeyed by the pioneers. Massed cheers and personal yells punctuated the picture at frequent intervals during the afternoon.

Grizzled Pioneers.
     In one of the boxes, sat a group of grizzled veterans who, even today, are not unlike those in the picture in physique and facial character lines. Among these was Frank Jackson, who came over from Devonshire, England, with Peters' colonists in '48, landing at New Orleans, ascending the river in a small boat to Shreveport, and then making the journey overland in a covered wagon to Carrollton, Texas, where he still operates his farm. He was heaving visibly with suppressed excitement as he emerged from the spell of the picture into the sunshine and activity of Elm street. He declared the hardships of the pioneers on the Oregon trail, as revealed by the picture, coincided with those of Peters' colonists, who were nine weeks and three days out of sight of land in crossing the Atlantic, and who were on the wagon trail from the 19th of June to the 22nd of October, making Carrollton. He is quite sure he recognized in the picture, "Dick" and "Darb," leaders in the ox team that brought him through.
     Another pioneer who was greatly moved by the incidents in the picture, was W. D. Richardson, 40 years a resident of Dallas, after making a journey from Woodville, Miss., in a six-horse stagecoach in 1857.
     W. B. Taylor, another Dallas pioneer who observed "The Covered Wagon" with intense emotion, came here in 1866 from Spartanburg, S., C., most of the journey having been made in a wagon similar to those shown on the screen.
     W. D. Scherer made the trip to Texas overland in __, as an 8-year-old boy, coming in from Roanoke, Va. His cheers for the boy, Jed, in the picture, who chewed tobacco, but saved the wagon train from the Indians, were plainly audible above those of his comrades.

Ring From Days of '49.
     One of the observers in the audience who, perhaps, felt deeper thrills than anyone, was George Pfouts, of Dallas. He wore on his finger, a ring made from a nugget panned by his father in a river bed in California, in the "Days of '49." This ring was made for the pioneer, P. S. Pfouts, in St. Joe, Mo., after he had come from the coast, and he gave it to his bride as a wedding ring. When their son looked at the scene in the picture where the gold hunters are washing nuggets from the river bottom, in the midst of the drama of life and death about them, he realized for the first time in his life, he said afterward, what were the ordeals through which the pioneers fought their courageous way.
     Mrs. Violet Bowen, who came in from Roswell, Ga., in '72, was an intensely interested observer of the scenes and incidents on the Oregon trail. It was Mrs. Bowen, with several other women pioneers about her, who led the cheering when Mrs. Wingate, a leading figure in the picture, won out over the men in her contention to have "mother's walnut bureau" put back in the wagon when it was being lightened to ford the River Platte. Mrs. H. Stricker, a member of the younger pioneer element, joined vigorously in this demonstration.
     J. M. Cochran, 3315 Oak Lawn avenue, came to Dallas in 1846 with his parents, who were from South Carolina and Tennessee. He declared the picture realistic in every detail.

Meeting of the Scouts.
     The climax to the demonstrations in the audience came when the two old scouts, Bill Jackson and Jim Bridger, met on the long trail after years of separation. The Texas pioneers could not control the impulse to yell at this reminiscence of their own experience, and they yelled their approval of the cordial greeting each scout bestowed upon the other.
     Another high point in the narrative for the hardy men and women in the audience came when Jim Bridger, unable while sober to recall the good news of Will Banion's reinstatement, is given a jug of "likker" by Molly, and promptly tells her the glorious tidings. The audience cheered this scene uproariously.
     Much can be said of the deep sentiment aroused among the pioneers of Texas by the exhibition of this picture, but probably it may all be summed up in the statement that it made them see again, with the broad vision of the old days on the trail, when the civilization of the west was in the making. More than one declared after the first episode was thrown on the screen, that "The Covered Wagon" sheared away all little things of the daily routine and left the mind clear and free to grasp, once again, the essentials, such as the ax, the plow, the planting of seed in a virgin soil.
     That was the real verdict at the end of Mr. Hoblitzelle's party to the Texas pioneers.

- August 12, 1923, Dallas Daily Times Herald, Sec. I, p. 6, col. 1-5.
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     The initial presentation of "The Covered Wagon," at the Majestic Theater Saturday afternoon, was witnessed by more than 300 pioneers, who were the guests of Manager W. W. Watkins. They occupied the boxes and the front seats, and judging from their demonstrations of approval, they enjoyed the picture from beginning to end. Probably, three-fourths of them came to Texas in wagons, and in the hardships, privations, hope and fears depicted, they lived over again their experiences of long ago.
     "It is a very vividly realistic reproduction of the 'Westward-Ho days,' " said Epps G. Knight, president of the Dallas County Pioneers' Association. "Most of the pioneers present came to Texas just as the pictures show. It was a hard life. It took pluck to plunge into the wilderness, and, moreover, pluck to fight the battle after arriving. The pictures show the westward movement over the northern route to Oregon and California, but the experiences of the immigrant were the same, whether by the northern or the southern route. The immigrant always makes the picture of the region to which he is going, too rosy. It is poetry when he starts, and very lame prose when he arrives.

"Covered Wagon" Praised.
     "But, 'The Covered Wagon' is a very wonderful production, and the pioneers are under lasting obligations to Manager Watkins for a most delightful entertainment."
     Capt. W. H. Gaston, who occupied a seat near the front, declared the pictures to be the very thing, just as true as photography can make objects, a case of holding the mirror up to nature. "Besides," he said, "a very pleasing drama is unfolded as the wagons slowly make their way across the continent, recalling the rush to the gold fields of California, fights with the Indians and the rough frontier life. Everybody ought to see 'The Covered Wagon' pictures."
     W. W. Glover, the first child born in Dallas county, after the county was organized, now living at Scyene, declared that he enjoyed the pictures very much. Joe Cole, 706 North Ervay street, who was born here before the county was organized, eighty years ago, was profuse in his praises of the pictures. Judge E. C. Heath of Rockwall, one of the oldest pioneers of North Texas, was one of the most interested of the old-timers present. Frank Jackson, J. M. Cochran, W. C. and John McKamy were among others who gave the production their hearty approval.
     But, "The Covered Wagon" does not appeal exclusively to old persons left over from past generations. The pioneers present constituted a small part of the spectators, who comfortably filled the theater, and who seemed to enjoy the entertainment as much as those who once actually experienced life in the covered wagon. It is an excellent wild west show, combined with all the sunshine and tears of every-day family life.

- August 12, 1923, The Dallas Morning News, Sec. I, p. 4, col. 3.
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     For more than twenty years, Edward J. Davis, 30, of New Orleans, has conducted a fruitless search for the grave of his father, former First Deputy Sheriff James Pritchard Davis of Jefferson Parish, Louisiana, who was killed in a railroad accident in Dallas and buried in an unidentified grave.
     Davis, a telegraph operator, employed by the Postal Telegraph - Cable company in Dallas, and other members of his family, have expended a small fortune in their attempt to locate the grave in which the well known peace officer was buried. Hundreds of clues have been run to earth, but apparently, there is no record of his burial, although Davis was told by his mother, now dead, that his father was buried here by an unidentified undertaker.
     Young Davis returned to Dallas two weeks ago to again take up the search for his father's resting place and appealed to The Times Herald for aid.
     "My father was well known in Dallas," he said. "From what I can understand, there must be many who will remember the railroad wreck in which he lost both legs. He dragged himself into a nearby lumber yard, where he was found bleeding to death by a night watchman, who called an ambulance.
     "My father died a week later, and what they did with the body is a problem that my mother pleaded with me as her dying wish to solve. My father was a Texas Ranger, and was known in this district as a 'two-gun' man. He was drafted by Sheriff Merrero of Jefferson Parish, Louisiana, to clean out a lawless element there, and it was while he was in Dallas to return a desperate criminal there for trial, that he met his death in the railroad yards here.
     "I have searched the records here, but so far, have failed to find the spot where my father is buried. I would appreciate any information that might aid me."

- December 23, 1928, Dallas Daily Times Herald,
Sec. III, p. 4, col. 5-6.
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     E. T. Jones, 606 West Clarendon Drive, has converted his scenic back yard into a children's playground. Last year, the P. T. A. named it "A Child Paradise." The yard contains a wealth of home-made playground equipment. In the top photo a group of youngsters are starting to "chain slide" down the 125-foot metal slide. Jones and his wife, behind counter in lower photo, are passing out tickets to the miniature railway. This railway is 600 feet long and has a sixty foot tunnel. The playground is Jones' hobby and it has made scores of neighborhood children happy.


     E. T. Jones, 606 West Clarendon drive, has used his spare time in the past two years to create a "child paradise" in his own backyard. Every day, from the crack of dawn, until 9 p. m., children from all over Oak Cliff congregate in the backyard to enjoy the many amusement devices that Jones has built for them.
     In 1937, Jones realized that his backyard was fast becoming the most popular spot in the neighborhood as a playground for the little friends of his two children, Jimmy and Lavina Mae. The kids had a reason for coming to the yard, because it covers on-half an acre. There is a small stream that winds through, it and there are many huge shade trees. The yard is filled with small valleys cut by the stream.
     Jones had already constructed swings and a few small pieces of play equipment for the children, but he decided to really give the children a top-notch playground.
     He started a new hobby, making unusual playground equipment for the use of the neighborhood kids. One of the first things that he constructed was a miniature scenic railway. This railway is 600 feet long and has its own tunnel, 60 feet long.

Scenic Railway.
     The engine on the small railway was constructed with pieces of an old automobile, a threshing machine, a washing machine and a phonograph. The track was made from odd bits of lumber and metal. The engine has two seats and will carry four children. This engine operates under its own power and carried the kids up and down the scenic railway track, which runs around the playgrounds. A realistic touch is added by a miniature ticket office.
     Last year, the backyard won first prize as being the best backyard playground in the city. The Dallas P. T. A. named the playground "A Child Paradise."
     The most popular thing on the grounds besides the train is a 125-foot slide. The kids scoot down the slide on wax paper. Now and then, a youngster seeking a thrill will sneak in a piece of screen and will go sailing down the metal-sheathed incline at a rapid clip.
     There is a picnic ground for the children, complete with stone tables and benches, on the bank of the creek. Many children have their mothers fix lunches so they won't have to go home to eat. Swings are scattered throughout the yard and these are always filled with happy youngsters.
     Jones has built every piece of equipment on the grounds from odds and ends, including a radio and large loudspeaker system that furnish the children with music and entertainment. He and his wife spend all of their spare time watching after the scores of kids who visit the yard each day.
     The kids are not the only ones who get a kick out of the playground. Often, neighbors come over at night and practically take the park over from the children. Youngsters from all over the city come to visit the playground. Jones has had visitors this summer from 21 states. No charge is made for using the playground and Jones welcomes all children.
     Jones, engineer for the Oak Cliff Medical-Dental Building, says that he gets more enjoyment from his hobby than the children themselves, and that he plans to continue adding improvements.

- July 17, 1938, Dallas Daily Times Herald, Sec. I, p. 8, col. 2-4.
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