EARLY DAY CHANCES
IN DALLAS RELATED
M. W. SAMUELS REFUSED
PORTUNITIES TO GET IN "ON
THE GROUND FLOOR."
NIGHT WITH SAM BASS
Outlaw Band Unwelcome
of Dallas Business Men n
BY W. S. ADAIR
it seems only yesterday that all the Western country was full
of Indians in paint," said M. W. Samuels, 102 South Jefferson
street. "I was born at Columbus, Ind., in 1852, and
going to Kansas with my father, Joseph Samuels, in 1858, settled
at Marysville, Marshall County, 110 miles west of St. Joseph,
where father was proprietor of the only mercantile establishment
between St. Joseph and Denver. The country was almost a
moving mass of buffaloes, and the Indians were on the warpath
all around us. Settlers were in constant dread of massacre.
Little children did not have to be told twice to stick
close to the house.
"While I spent my boyhood days on
the frontier, all that was very tame in comparison with what
I saw when I made a trip to the Black Hills in 1869. In
early days, people flocked to newly-discovered gold fields, as
they now flock to a new oil field. Most of them did not
know gold from any other shiny substance, but that did not hold
them back. I hurried to Deadwood with thousands of others
from all parts of the world. I took a stage at Sidney,
Neb. The Black Hills were in the Sioux reservation, and
when white men began to pour into that region, the Indians protested,
and, that doing no good, went on the warpath. The stage,
which charged a fare of ten cents a mile, was guarded every step
of the way by Federal soldiers.
"Deadwood, a collection of tents
and huts in the mountains, was a den of vice. Criminals
and abandoned characters from all the ends of the earth had assembled
there, thinking to profit by the absence of law and order. Men
killed one another at the gaming tables, or killed themselves
when they lost their all. A man considered himself lucky
when he was merely hijacked, for robbers, as a rule, killed their
victim to start with, and then went through his pockets at their
leisure. No man felt safe. The Indians attacked the
first train the Union Pacific attempted to run into Deadwood,
and, among others, killed the engineer. To tell the plain
truth, I was afraid to stay at Deadwood, and I soon found myself
running the gauntlet back to Sidney, and feeling infinitely more
safe on the way, than I had felt in Deadwood.
Up Against It Once More.
"The Southwest began to attract
attention when railroad building was started here, early in the
70s. From what I could hear, Shreveport was the very place
for a rising young man. I arrived there in August, 1873.
I was, at once, arrested and put in a quarantine camp,
where I learned that there was a yellow fever epidemic on. All
the fears and alarms I had experienced at Deadwood, once more
came over me. Early that night, I managed to escape from
the camp. I footed it to Marshall, hiding in the woods
when I saw anybody coming. On reaching Marshall, I made
for the railroad yards, where I found a freight train starting
west. The friendly engineer and the fireman agreed to bring
me to Dallas for $5 each, which I was glad to pay. With
a blanket rolled around me, I rode in the coal tender. The
engineer stopped the train several miles east of Dallas and put
me off, but told me how to find my way into town. He was
afraid to let me come in on the train.
Early Morning Killing.
"Covered with coal dust and half
famished, I strode into the Crutchfield House at night. The
town was quarantined against the world, and a stranger had to
give a circumstantial account of whence he came and how he got
into town. To questions at the Crutchfield House, I replied
that I had been at work for some time in the Texas & Pacific
yards, and, strange to say, got by with that fabrication. When
I emerged from the hotel next morning, I had scarcely time to
note that the courthouse was a small frame structure with trees
around it, and inclosed by a chain which served, at once, as
fence and hitching rack, when my attention was arrested by some
shots on the east side of the square. I saw a man fall
on the sidewalk in front of the Four-Clover saloon, at what is
now 102 South Jefferson street, and another man mount a horse,
and, whooping and yelling like a Comanche, ride for the river,
firing a pistol with each hand as he went. He clattered
across the bridge without saying turkey about the toll, and was
lost to view. The shacks on the east side of the courthouse
were occupied as saloons or gambling halls, or a combination
of the two. Such games as faro and keno were played within
the houses, and monte, chuck-a-luck and the wheel and paddle
games, on the sidewalk in front. There was a 'barker'
for each game, who in eloquent slang, urged the boys to come
forward and try their luck. The shooting affair did not interfere
with the business of the gamblers. Word went down the line
that a man had been killed, and that was all there was to it.
So little was said about the tragedy, in fact, that I never
heard the name of either of the parties to it. So far as
I know, no attempt was made by the officers to arrest the killer.
Took it Out for Trade.
"I went to work for Adam Craft,
on the northeast corner of Main and Jefferson streets. Mr.
Craft had the most extensive general mercantile establishment
in Dallas, and was the largest cotton buyer in North Texas. He
was succeeded in business by his son, Levi Craft, who occupied
the old stand, until along in the '80s. Dallas was the
terminus of the Houston & Texas Central and of the Texas
& Pacific Railroads, and was the market for the cotton produced
in Dallas and adjoining counties. Merchants paid 4 1/2¢
to 5¢ for cotton, not in money, but in dry goods and groceries.
The cotton, some of it grown 150 miles away, was brought
in four and five bales on a wagon, drawn by six yoke of oxen,
the whole family perched on top of the cotton. The farmer
would exchange his cotton for jeans, linsey-woolsey, cowhide
shoes, tobacco and whisky, and then beat it back home without
having seen a cent of money, and, to all appearance, well satisfied.
Every cotton grower had to have whisky and navy tobacco.
Many times, a farmer, after completing his purchases, would
take a hasty inventory and conclude that he had invested too
much in dry goods and groceries and not enough in whisky, and
would ask the merchant to take back part of the groceries and
wearing apparel and give him more whisky and tobacco. In
spite of the fact that farmers got next to nothing for their
cotton, and had to take that in trade, there was considerable
money in circulation, mostly gold, for the people of the South
were afraid of greenbacks. For several years after the
close of the war, the country was flooded with counterfeit bills,
and the people refused to take chances on any kind of paper money.
Town Lot Auction.
"The only two-story building on
the courthouse square in 1873 was the Wagner Building, southeast
corner of Main and Jefferson streets. But, there were several
two-story buildings on Main and Elm streets. Dallas was,
no doubt, a flourishing town, but, it was generally believed
that when the railroads were extended, the trade would go elsewhere.
Waco was spoken of as the coming town, and Fort Worth was
already on something of a boom. The real estate men advertised
a town lot sale at Fort Worth in 1873. Philip Sanger, who
knew that I had about $2,000, came to me and advised me to invest
it in town lots at Fort Worth. I hired a buggy and drove
to Fort Worth to attend the auction sale of lots. Lots
sold from $50 to $150 each, in what is now the business district
of the town, the best corner lots going for the latter figure.
I listened to the auctioneer, but was never once moved
to make a bid. Mr. Sanger was out of patience with me when
I told him that I had not invested. I also looked Waco
over. It was a larger town than Dallas, had more capital,
and had an immense trade. But, I did not take hold. When
I returned to Dallas, a blacksmith who was illuminated with the
name of Bois d'Arc, from the circumstance that he made wagons
of bois d'arc timber, offered me a tract of thirty acres lying
along the river, west of Houston street, and extending from Commerce
street to the brewery plant. He wanted $300 for it. It
did not seem to me that it would even be worth as much as $3,
and so, we made no deal. When I review the past, it appears
to me that I obstinately refused to be shoved or shouldered in
on the ground floor in this part of the country.
Merely a Little to Drink.
"In 1876, Isadore Casper of Casper
Bros., Denison, and I went west with three wagons loaded with
merchandise, which we meant to sell at auction in the various
settlements. I was the auctioneer. With us, were
Perry Saums and a Mexican in charge of the teams. A few
miles east of Denton, we met late in the afternoon, a body of
twenty-five or thirty heavily-armed mounted men. After
halting and questioning us, they ordered us to about face and
conducted us into a deep ravine, where they said we would go
into camp for the night. The leader introduced himself
as Sam Bass, and presented his next friend, Mr. Underwood. These
formalities over, Bass wanted to know if we had any whisky. We
told him that we had only about five gallons. 'We do not
want to swim in it, but merely a little drink,' was his reply.
The outlaws took a drink all around, invited themselves
to be our guests at supper and then played cards, having first
put out guards.
Send Word to the Rangers.
- May 24, 1925, The
Dallas Morning News, Sec. 9, p. 5.
"After breakfast next morning, Bass
and Underwood, acting for the whole band, shook hands with us,
thanked us for our hospitality, praised our fare and whisky,
and requested, that if we met any rangers, we tell them a straight
tale about having spent the night with Sam Bass and his men.
Then, we resumed our journey and our guests went in the
opposite direction. Between our camping place and Denton,
we met a squad of rangers, to whom we gave a circumstantial account
of our night with the outlaws. The rangers went in hot
pursuit, but I never heard that they caught up with the fugitives.
That was two or three years before Bass was killed at Round
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