of Bitter Fight
of Early Days
Duck Creek and Embree
Feud in '80s.
Few of Pioneer Doctors
and Lawyers Left
BY W. S. ADAIR
have witnessed the entire development of all this part of the
country," said Dr. K. H. Embree, 932 North Winnetka avenue.
"I began the practice of medicine at Celina, Tenn.,
but, soon thereafter, came to Texas, arriving at Sherman in February,
1873. My mother, who preceded me, had settled at Kentuckytown,
Collin County. She wrote me that Dr. Head, the leading
physician there, had died, leaving an extensive practice, and
that by coming at once, I might get some of it. On the
trip, I found the country covered with snow, all the way from
Nashville to Red River. I came by trail as far as Sherman,
and there, took the stage for Kentuckytown.
"But, I arrived at Kentuckytown
too late. Three doctors had got there ahead of me, crowding
me out. I decided to visit relatives in the Duck Creek
community in Dallas County, and then go back to Tennessee. The
outcome of that visit, was that I became a resident of Dallas
The first store at Duck Creek was
opened soon after I arrived there, but the name of the merchant
has slipped my memory. In no long time, the store passed
into the hands of Judge W. M. Alexander, who was afterward a
prominent lawyer of Dallas, and who died at Los Angeles. Later,
I became a silent partner in the establishment. Judge Alexander,
bestirring himself, got Duck Creek made a postoffice, and I was
made postmaster. The next year, we bought the Clark stock
of bankrupt goods in Dallas, in a building on the north side
of Elm street, opposite Sanger Bros. Judge Alexander came
to Dallas to run the store, while I took charge of our business
at Duck Creek.
Duck Creek in Early Days.
"We bought cotton at Duck
Creek. Sometimes, we had as many as 500 bales in the compress
at the same time. Business grew until we were carrying
a $10,000 stock of goods. Other business houses opened
at Duck Creek, and the place looked so much like a rising town
by the time the Santa Fe reached it, that in order to hasten
developments, I established a newspaper, the Weekly Rustler.
On a trip East, I met J. Roland Day, a brilliant orator
and newspaper man, who had stumped West Virginia for Grover Cleveland,
but who had failed to get any of the spoils due the victors.
He was run down in health and finances, and was glad to
come to Texas and go to work on the Rustler. He easily
made the Rustler the best weekly in the country. He helped
elect Judge Thomas F. Nash to the Legislature from Dallas County,
and was rewarded with a clerkship in the House. He went
from Austin to Galveston, where he opened a school of elocution,
and a few years later, died in New Orleans. All the old-timers
knew J. Roland Day.
"In the '80's, farmers got
all the way from 7¢ to 10¢ for cotton. Ten cents
was the top price, and farmers made money, for the cost of production
was low. Raw land was to be had for $20 and acre or less,
and nobody paid farm hands more than $10 or $15 a month. But,
the great drawback was the scarcity of money and the high rate
of interest. The early settlers were all poor, and the
only money to be had was at the banks, and the banks made no
long loans, such as farmers wanted. Nor, could you buy
land on long time. The conditions compelled newcomers to
become renters until they could make money enough to buy land
of their own. Many who began as tenants in time became
substantial farmers in the county. The rate of interest
was all the way from 12 to 18 per cent a year.
Paid 18 Per Cent.
"When I first went to Duck
Creek, I borrowed $200 at 18 per cent. I kept the money
four years and paid $152 interest. The man from whom I
borrowed it wanted compound interest, but as the note stipulated
for nothing of the kind, I refused to pay it, and, as the Legislature
had just passed what was called the usury law, limiting the legal
rate to 12 per cent, the man did not press his claim. Before
that law was enacted, any rate to which a man had bound himself
was legal, and, I think, held collectible by the courts.
"When the Santa Fe made Duck
Creek a station, it got the name of the postoffice changed to
Embree. A few months later, the Katy, building out that
way, crossed the Santa Fe half a mile north of town, and there
started a town, calling it Duck Creek, the name we had abandoned.
"Then began a fight for business.
Judge Nash, who had been appointed manager of the Farmers'
Co-operative Store at Duck Creek, took the lead on the side of
that town. At the solicitation of friends, I opened a store
at Duck Creek and placed it in the hands of a manager. What
worried the Duck Creek men was that the postoffice was at Embree.
Judge Nash started a newspaper at Duck Creek, the Duck
Creek News, and placed it in the hands of John H. Cullom, now
District Court Clerk of Dallas County. Embree was represented
by my newspaper, the name of which I had changed to the Embree
Enterprise, and which was under the management of George Crossman.
Contest is Acrimonious.
"The contest reached such
a pitch of animosity, that the cooler heads saw that something
would have to be done to avert bloodshed. It was Judge
Nash who saw a way to settle the trouble. He had been a power
in the convention that nominated Joe Abbott of Hillsboro for
Congress, and had thereby made a friend of Judge Abbott. He
suggested that the two towns ask Judge Abbott to arbitrate their
quarrel. Both agreed. It is a fact that some pieces
of mail intended for Embree had gone to Emory, in Rains County,
and some Emory mail had strayed into the Embree postoffice. From
this, it was clear to Judge Abbott that the name of the postoffice
should be changed. It was further clear that the good people
of Duck Creek ought not to be made to walk any farther than the
equally good people of Embree for their mail. In other
words, the postoffice should be midway between the two communities.
And, in order to leave neither of the towns anything to
crow over, it would be well to select a new name for the postoffice,
and the first name that occurred to him was that of Attorney
General Garland. The business men of the warring towns
moved their establishments to the new town site, forgot the past,
and can now show one of the best towns in the country. I
suspended my newspaper, leaving the field to John H. Cullom,
who thereafter called his paper, the Garland News, and made it
a credit to the town. I traded my old Washington hand press
to Col. Colp for half a block in the town of Iowa Park, which
he was then booming. Later, I traded the lots in Iowa Park
for a house and lot in Garland.
Few Old-Timers Left.
- April 25, 1926, The
Dallas Morning News, Sec. 4, p. 6.
"I knew all the physicians
in Dallas. I was an honorary member of their local organization,
and attended their weekly meetings. Dr. Graham is the only
one of them now living, and he has been out of the practice for
many years. The same may be said of the lawyers. I
think Judge Robert B. Seay and Judge Charles F. Clint, alone,
are left of all those who were here in the early '80s. The
early-day merchants have also passed away. As far as I
know, Leon Kahn is the only one of them who still goes to his
place of business. I have kept up pretty well with the
growth of the city. The streets and buildings are familiar
enough, but as for the people on the streets, I might as well
be in Constantinople.
"I retired from the practice
of medicine in 1897, on account of failing health, and have since
spent the summers with my daughter, Mrs. S. E. Hughes, on a ranch
at Narra Viso, three miles south of Tucumcari, N. M., and the
winters, in Dallas. I come back to Dallas in November and
stay till June 1.
"Dallas has grown so far beyond
my expectations, that I long ago ceased to make any predictions
regarding it. It was plain to me, as far back as 1873,
that it would be something of a city after my time. But, I suppose
I was not more lacking in foresight than others of that time.
I think the city has doubled in every way within the last
twenty years. Even Garland is a little city, and the face
of the surrounding country has changed. The timber has
been cleared, the fences, except those inclosing pastures, have
been removed, and paved highways have taken the place of muddy
or dusty roads. And, the farmers and their families, who
once rode in covered wagons, now dressed up, spin around in automobiles,
and seem to be in a kind of paradise.
"I can not see into the future,
but it seems to me the young men of this day are not looking
ahead, but are too much devoted to having a good time now. The
young men among the early settlers were driven, by circumstances,
to the soil. They made little, it is true, but they were
so far in the wilderness that they had no temptations or opportunities
to spend what they did make, and so, invested it in land, which,
in time, made them rich or well off. Now, there is no limit
to the amount a young man may spend, and still fall far short
of enjoying all the pleasures of life."
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