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WONDERED, WHEN HE CAME
TO DALLAS AND SAW THINGS

BY W. S. ADAIR

     "When we arrived in Dallas, all the way from Kalamazoo, Mich., May 15, 1877, I saw several things that I had never seen before," said Charles. H. Potter, Victory Boulevard.  "Among these was the street railway on Main street.  I could not rest until I had acquired a nickel and taken a ride.  The thrills of anticipation and the jolts of the actual going are still part of my conscious existence.  It was to me what I imagine the first trip in an airplane is to a boy in these more favored days.  I rode from the courthouse to the end of the line at Central avenue, and walked back.
     "Scarcely less to wonder at, was a plant on Broadway street, near Main, where ice was made, in spite of the weather.  My father, William Potter, wrote his friend, Mike Finley, an Irishman, at Kalamazoo, about this, and Mike, in reply, told him to "come off."  People in the lake regions in those days, where there are mountains or ice for a good part of the year, believed there was a time for all things, and that winter was the time for ice, and they wondered, even supposing it possible to produce ice artificially, where was the necessity?

Lost Buffalo Hides.
     "A third wonder to me was a wagon loaded with buffalo hides, drawn by six yoke of oxen.  I carefully counted the oxen; there were an even twelve of them.  That one man, merely with a whip, could handle such a herd of cattle, was a case of control that captivated me.  For a long time, I wanted to be an ox driver.  The hides, which came from somewhere in the far West, were done up in bundles, and the bundles piled to the bulk of a load of hay and secured by poles and ropes.  That must have been about the last batch of buffalo hides that came to Dallas; at least, I never saw any after that.  The postoffice was on the north side of the courthouse, and I think Billie Jones was postmaster.  W. M. C. (Billie) Hill, afterward, County Clerk, and still later postmaster, ran a grocery in a rock building on the northwest corner of Main and Jefferson streets.  On the diagonal corner, was L. Wagner's grocery.  On the west side of the courthouse, Riley Bell and C. J. Moore, father of Jennings Moore, secretary of the city water department, had grocery stores.  B. M. Bond & Bros.' grocery was on the south side of Elm street, near the middle of the block, west of Austin street, and Adams and Leonard's Bank occupied the northwest corner of Elm and Austin, with a big printing office over it.  The City National Bank, J. C. O'Connor, president, and E. J. Gannon, cashier, was on the northwest corner of Main and Lamar, and the Exchange National, Capt. W. H. Gaston, president, on the southeast corner of Main and Lamar.  Apollo Hall, a beer saloon, was the big thing in those days, on the nortwest corner of Main and Poydras.  The hotel now known as the St. George was then a three-story and called the Lamar House.  The second floors of several buildings between the hotel and Poydras street had been converted into a single big hall.

Recollections of Lively Hall.
     "Lively Hall, on the second floor of a livery stable on the north side of Main street, nearly opposite the Linz building, was the town auditorium.  It was the place for dances, amateur shows, church-less congregations, and all sorts of social functions.  It was at a Catholic bazaar there I met my wife.  Prof. J. T. Tooley kept a school in a little frame house between Jackson and Young streets, just south of Padgitt Bros' present plant.  Prof. W. H. Scales had a school on Elm street near Griffin.  Other noted teachers of the time were Prof. Waldemar Malcomson and Prof. Aldehoff.  Ursuline Convent was on Bryan street, next door to St. Patrick's Church, on the northwest corner of Bryan and Masten streets.  That was before the public school system of the State was organized, when teachers had to negotiate directly with parents for pupils.  The Jewish Synagogue, which maintained a school, was on the south side of Commerce street, just east of the old Santa Fe passenger station, and St. Matthew's Episcopal Church occupied the adjoining lot.  The city market house was on the southwest corner of Main and Akard streets, and Charlie Rowan's grocery and market across the street.  Capt. W. F. Morton was City Marshall.  The Mardi Gras parade, in 1878, was the biggest thing in the way of a pageant I had ever seen or dreamed of; the weird beauty of it haunted me for months, and at intervals, still breaks in on me as a joy forever.  I was here when the Sam Bass gang hijacked the Texas & Pacific train at Mesquite, shared the public excitement caused by the exploit, and saw Capt. June Peak prepare for, and start in pursuit of, the bandits, and watched the newspapers for the outcome of the chase.

Dallas a Cotton Market.
     "In those days, Dallas was a famous cotton market.  The staple produced within a radius of fifty miles was wagoned to Dallas, and most of it sold on Elm street, west of Poydras.  In rainy weather, it was nothing to see one wagon after another hopelessly bogged to the hubs in the mud, for the soil on Elm street seemed bottomless. Carter & White were the big cotton buyers.  F. C. Callier was their buyer, and afterward succeeded to the business of the firm, and later was prominently connected with the manufacture of cottonseed oil.  For long after, I began to notice things; cotton seed were considered worthless, and planters piled them in heaps and burned them to get rid of them.  The Houston & Texas Central Railroad built a compress near the tracks on South Lamar street, and the Texas & Pacific, a compress on the north side of Pacific avenue, between Lamar and Austin streets.  The latter was destroyed by fire in the early '80s, and along with it, a number of dwellings north of Ross avenue, a strong wind from the south blowing the flames out of reach of the firemen.

First Job He Had.
     "The first job I had was that of cashier in the Famous Dry Goods Store, on the north side of Elm street at the head of Poydras.  A. Adler, who made himself well known, was manager of the store.  Tiny Beard was a clerk in the store.  I next turned up as shipping clerk in Schneider & Davis' wholesale grocery, which had just gone into the new building on the northwest corner of Elm and Austin.  It was the first building in town to have a driveway in the rear, which all the people had to look and wonder at.  W. D. Belt, salesman of the firm in the West, traveled in a buggy or on horseback, and sent in carload orders.  Often, he was out two or three months at a time.  J. S. Van Slyke was sales manager; Wales J. Townsend was bookkeeper; Joe Cougnard, shipping clerk, and Tom S. Holden, city salesman.

Other Pioneer Grocers.
     "T. L. Marsalis' wholesale grocery, previously on Camp street, had been moved to the southeast corner of Murphy and Elm, and Murphy street had been opened through Pink Thomas' wagon yard from Main street to Elm.  In a short time, Mr. Marsalis extended the building through the block to Main street, making it the largest wholesale grocery store in town.  I left Schneider & Davis to become shipping clerk for Mr. Marsalis in 1883.  Two years later, Mr. Marsalis moved to his new building on Commerce and Murphy, next door to Armstrong Bros.' wholeslale grocery, and was burned in 1886.  D. T. Rainwater, Tom Davie and Lucius A. Longley were city salesmen for our house, and Ed Mitchell was city salesman for Armstrong Bros.  Our largest local retail customers were John E. Meyer, on the north side of Elm street, near Scollard Court, and John Potts, on the same side of Elm street, just east of Lamar.  Mr. Rainwater afterward established a retail grocery on Commerce street, opposite [the] courthouse.

First Business Telephone.
     "In the early '80s, T. F. Loughlin ran the Live Oak Grocery, in the angle made by the coming together of Elm and Live Oak streets at Ervay street, then known as the Five Points.  The first business transacted over the telephone in Dallas was between Mr. Loughlin and Schneider & Davis.  Mr. Loughlin ordered a barrel of sugar, and we got it to him in six minutes.  It was a triumph of science and invention, by the side of which, the airplane, wireless telegraphy, moving pictures and even radio, pale into insignificance.  The newspapers used their largest type in broadcasting the sensation, and D. M. Clower, manager of the telephone company, was regarded as a wizard.
     "Another outstanding event of early days was the turning on of the electric lights when Mayer's Garden was opened on the north side of Elm street at the head of Stone street.  Everybody in town went to see what illumination by electricity was like.  It was after 11 o'clock when I got home that night.  About the same time, the first phonographs, or talking machines, as they were called, were exhibited in Dallas.  Many persons were unwilling to believe that the voices they heard when they placed the tubes in their ears really came from the machine.  They suspected some sort of a trick, and insisted on being permitted to examine the thing.  The makers of the first talking machine did not attempt to reproduce music.  The plain conversational tones of the voice were, for some time, sufficiently wonderful.

Sunflower Minstrels.
     "Meine Brothers' Band and Orchestra was the leading musical organization here in the early '80s, and it was one of the finest things of the kind we have ever had.  Meine Brothers went to Los Angeles and became famous there.  Old-timers will recall the Sunflower Minstrels.  Once a year, the Sunflowers, all Dallas boys, gave a series of entertainments, and once, they went to Bryan and gave a performance at a school commencement.  Dick Flanagan is due all the credit for organizing and rehearsing this aggregation.  Members of the company were Will and Walter Mansfield, Hotentot dancers; George Whittaker, song and dance artist; Brother George and I, clog dancers; James Pfouts and Will Gleason, singers; Tom Harris, interlocutor and leader of the orchestra; and Dick Daley and Will Mansfield, end men."

- December 23, 1923, The Dallas Morning News,
Magazine Section, p. 2.
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