Workers in Dallas
Hope in Lotteries
in Early '80s.
City Thought Dead
Simon Loeb Describes
How Progress Came
With News and Fair.
By W. S. ADAIR.
was buying Dallas property for speculative purposes when I took
up residence here, in 1882," said Simon Loeb, 3415 Colonial
avenue. "My brother, Ben Loeb, and I, were in business in
Cincinnati. Ben came to Dallas to take a position with Sanger
Bros. in 1875, and it was through his urging, that I came seven
years later. He, by that time, had engaged in business on his
own hook. He was doing well, but he contracted the mining fever
and, closing out, went to Leadville, Colo., when the boom in
that camp was at its height, in 1878, and never returned to Dallas
to live. About the same time, several hundred Dallas men and
boys, thinking the life had gone out of Dallas, left for Leadville,
the Black Hills and other points in the mining regions, where,
from this distance, the rainbow seemed to end.
"Dallas, from what I could
gather, within a short time after the railroads came in 1872
and 1873, had changed from a ramshackle ante-bellum village,
to one of the wildest of the frontier railroad towns, but had
suffered a collapse when the railroads moved on, and appearances
abundantly confirmed this account. It was manifest, that while
the boom was on, the people were so exclusively preoccupied with
chasing the dollar, that they had taken no thought of making
the town a more satisfactory place of residence. The buildings,
mostly one-story structures, had evidently been run up in a hurry,
with a lick and a promise, and were as badly in need of paint,
as many of them were of occupants. The streets, which had never
been brought [to grade], much less paved, sloped _____, and presented
all sorts of [abnorm]alities. When it rained, they [became] mudholes,
in which the wagons stuck, and when the sun shone, they sent
up clouds of dust, which, settling on the population, made them
look like millers.
"The town ended at Ervay street,
and the business district extended on Elm street, as far east
as Akard, and on Main, as far as Murphy. The street lights, feeble
gas lamps, were confined to this quarter. The town boasted three
street railway lines, but the mule cars were so slow, and ran
with such irregularity, that persons wishing to be prompt in
meeting their appointments, seldom trusted to them, but set out
afoot. The high places in town were two grain elevators, one
at Pacific and Austin streets, the other at Lamar and Jackson,
and the standpipe of the water works, on the hill at Main and
Harwood streets. The leading hotels were the Grand Windsor and
the Lamar, now the St. George. The municipal building was a two-story
frame building, in need of a coat or two of paint, at Main and
Akard streets. The hall, and two or three small rooms on the
second floor, afforded ample room for all the city offices, the
City Council meetings, police headquarters, and the Corporation
Court. The ground floor spaces were occupied by butchers and
"But, the outstanding piece
of architecture in the eastern quarter of town was the Norton
Building, on the northeast corner of Elm and Akard streets, where
the Queen Theater now is. It was a two-story structure, erected
by Judge A. B. Norton. It was plainly and admittedly, the best
building in town, but Judge Norton was a Republican, and nobody
wanted to have anything to do with a building built or owned
by a Republican. Some old dyed-in-the-wool Democrats said they
would not even stand in the shade of such a building on a hot
day. The upshot was that Judge Norton never derived any revenue
from his enterprise and outlay of capital.
Flies and Mosquitoes.
"The water mains did not extend
much beyond the business district. The people, for the most part,
were still using well water or cistern water, or going to the
river with buckets. Ice was scarce, and had not come into general
consumption. Often, the supply ran out, and there was not a pound
of it to be found in town, even for a sick person. Door and window
screens were unknown, with the result that mosquitoes and flies
flourished. Some people stretched mosquito bars over their beds,
but a mosquito of any enterprise could always find or make a
breach in them. Flies streamed through the doors and windows
of dining rooms and restaurants like bees into and out of the
hives in the clover season.
"It took the average person
about a month to fill to saturation with malaria. But, a course
of sixty to 120 grains of quinine would straighten him out, and
give him another thirty days' lease on life. The fact that most
of us have never had a touch of malaria since we began to sleep
in screened rooms, would seem to establish the theory that mosquitoes
carry, and faithfully deliver, the malarial poison.
"I think the only wholesale
dry goods establishment in town, in 1882, was that of Sanger
Brothers, though there were several wholesale groceries, among
them, Schneider & Davis, T. L. Marsalis and Garlington &
Underwood. Boren & Stewart came later. Major R. V. Tompkins
and Bowser & Lemmon were the leading implement and farm machinery
agents. The saddle and harness houses, Padgitt Brothers, G. H.
Schoellkopf, and several others, were the biggest establishments
of any kind here. Sanger Brothers, Fee Brothers and Thompson
Brothers were the most important retail clothing and dry goods
"The banks were the City National,
the Exchange National, and Adams & Leonards. Dry goods dealers
were Levi Craft, Main and Jefferson, and Israelsky, Elm and Austin,
and Goldsmith Brothers and Jack Friedlander. The farmers brought
their cotton to town on wagons and met the buyers on Elm street,
west of Poydras. I think there was no fixed price from day to
day; producers had the alternative of taking what was offered,
or hauling the staple back home, and this they seldom did.
"In those days, there was
no money here. Five to ten thousand dollars was big capital for
a merchant, and fifty thousand was enough to run a bank on. And,
the banks were putting out no money, except on gilt-edged security.
"Collateral" was a formidable word, with which a man
expected to be knocked down when he went to beg a loan. Work
was slack, and salaries and wages at the verge of starvation.
Employers got along with as little help as possible, and while
they expected one employe to do the work of three, they generously
gave him ample time in which to do it; they kept him busy anywhere
from fourteen to eighteen hours a day. The stores opened at 6:30
or 7 o'clock in the morning, and kept open as late at night,
as they suspected there was a man abroad with a nickel in his
Living Was Cheap.
"But, living was cheap. A
man could get a good suit of clothes for $10, a pair of shoes
for $2.50, and a hat for $2, get table board from $2.50 to $3
a week, and a room for $1 a week. The standard price of a meal
at the ordinary restaurants was 25¢. The gambling houses
were wide open, and the Louisiana lottery was in full blast.
"To the overworked and underpaid
toilers, these institutions appeared as the shadow of a great
rock appears to the traveler in the desert. Though the probabilities
were against them, it was possible for them, any night, after
they finally got off, to go by the gambling hall, and within
a short time, put themselves on easy street. And, it was worth
any man's dollar to buy a lottery ticket a month before the drawing,
and dream all the month about what he could, and would, do with
the $15,000 dollars it was possible for him to win. So, the cloud
was not without the usual decoration.
"So far as I know, all the
physicians who were in the practice in 1882, are dead, not more
than two of the lawyers are living, and not more than one man
who was at the head of a mercantile establishment is still here.
I have in mind, Leon Kahn. But, I can think of two or three barbers
still living, who were shaving and cutting hair in 1882; of four
of five men who were employes in, or were owners of, gambling
houses; and at least twenty of the old barkeepers are still in
"The first theater Dallas
had was the Field Opera House, on Main street, in the middle
of The News block. The building, still standing, viewed from
the front, looks much as it did in 1882. But, it had been closed
as a playhouse, and the shows were given in Craddock's Opera
House, on the second floor of the building, on the northwest
corner of Main and Austin streets, John Moninger, manager. Every
winter, Moninger presented a series of the finest plays in the
world by great actors. We seldom had fewer than six or eight
of Shakespeare's plays during the season.
Newspapers Were Small.
- October 14, 1928,
The Dallas Morning News,
"The morning newspaper, in
1882, was the Herald. Eight pages during the week, and twelve
pages on Sunday, were ample to carry the news of the world and
the advertisements. The afternoon field was snappily filled by
the Times, the late W. G. Sterrett, editor and owner. The editors
and reporters wrote with pencils, instead of typewriters, and,
no doubt, would have laughed at the idea of a writing machine,
just as the printers would have thought a man insane, who spoke
of a typesetting machine. Dallas continued to exist in the humdrum
way I have attempted to indicate, for several years. The settled
air of energy spent, seemed to be on all things.
"Then, we began to notice
a change. New faces appeared on the streets; 'for rent' signs
came down; house painters found work, and the sound of the saw
and the hammer was once more heard.
"The next thing we knew, The
Dallas News had started. That was in 1885. A year later, the
State Fair began, and on a scale that made it necessary to run
it in two sections. By that time, everybody in Texas knew that
Dallas had taken on a new growth. The buds and sprouts were plainly
to be seen, the hum of insects, notes of the birds, and the bleat
of the lambs, came to the ear, and every one felt the balmy breezes.
It would take some one better qualified than I am, to tell what
has happened here since that time. Down to 1885, any person who
was making good wages or a fair salary, could have bought, and
easily paid for, out of his savings, lots almost anywhere in
Automobile Section, p. 12, col. 1.
- o o o -
[Simon Michael Loeb
died in Dallas, on
January 22, 1936, at age 79]