AS COUNTRY TOWN
ALBERT K. HURST
CITY AS IT LOOKED
LOOKED FOR INDIANS
Trains of Wagons
falo Meat From West -- Busi-
ness in Early Days.
By W. S. ADAIR
ALBERT K. HURST
was a crude country town when I arrived here, Aug. 24, 1877,"
said Albert K. Hurst, president of Hurst Bros. Company. "I
came from Jackson, Miss., to take a place in the clothing store
of E. M. Kahn, my brother-in-law. I traveled by boat from
Brashear City, now Morgan City, La., to Galveston. The
Tremont Hotel was the swellest thing, in the way of a stopping
place, I had seen. My imagination was incapable of picturing
anything finer. I had understood that the population of
Texas was chiefly made up of wild Indians and white outlaws from
all the corners of the earth. When I took the train for
Dallas, I was attracted by a fantastic figure swaggering through
the coach. He wore buckskin breeches, two six-shooters,
a bowie knife, and a belt of cartridges, and was protected from
everything above, by a white hat as big as an old-time one-ring
circus tent. Here was the beginning of the outlaws, I was
sure, and I felt a hunch that it was time to turn back. But,
I found out in a round-about way that the apparition was a cowboy.
Then, I was to seek a definition of the word 'cowboy,'
which stood for nothing I could find in my head. The floor
of a moving coach on the Houston & Texas Central Railroad,
in 1877, was continually taking new slants and cants in fruitless
efforts to find the lost level. The small iron rails on
the unballasted bed varied in length with the temperature, giving
rise to so many wrecks and derailments, that the road had come
to be known as 'The Angel Maker.' I was learning a lot
Dallas in 1877.
"I reached the Old Union Depot at
Dallas in the afternoon and took passage in W. P. Siler's transfer
for E. M. Kahn's store. The transfer rolled for some time
before we came to the town. I was told the population was
4,500. I, at once, felt at home, for that was exactly the
population of Jackson, Miss. E. M. Kahn occupied 25x100
feet on the southeast corner of Elm and Lamar streets. He
already had two clerks, Sam Fechenbach and John Goetsell, and
was spreading out by taking me as the third. Ervay street
was the end of the town on the east, and Commerce street was
the limit on the south. There, the cedar groves began,
and the territory out that way was known as The Cedars. Dwellings
had begun to appear on Ervay street and other streets or roads
through The Cedars. The swell residence section was what
is now the wholesale district. The high dump thrown up
for the Texas & Pacific Railroad tracks on Pacific avenue
divided, like the barrier of a mountain, the business and the
residence sections of the town. The streets were dusty
in dry weather, and mud holes in wet, for there was not a foot
of paving in town. There was, here and there, a patch of
board sidewalk, which moved and clattered as you walked over
it and scared the rats out. In rainy weather, it was a
long, muddy journey up to Mrs. Thacker's boarding-house at Elm
and St. Paul streets. The summers were just as long and
hot in those days as they now are, but the iceman never tore
down the screen of your back door getting in and out, for there
were neither icemen nor screens. Some lake ice found its
way this far south, in company with shipments of beer, but there
was nothing like a supply, and nobody took ice regularly. There
were three street railway lines, owned by the Keller brothers.
The pleasure resorts were San Jacinto Park, Meisterhan's
Garden and Long's Lake. One of the biggest gatherings at
Long's Lake was the Confederate reunion in 1881 or 1882. Another
was the maifest by Turnverein of Texas. Tivoli Hall, in
the basement of Orr's livery stable, on the Linz corner, and
Apollo Hall, on the northwest corner of Main and Poydras streets,
were popular downtown places, where the fiddling never ceased.
The second floor of Lively's livery stable, on the north
side of Main street, opposite the Linz Building, was at the service
of the public for balls, political meetings, and the meetings
of churchless congregations.
Some Leading Men.
"The department stores were Sanger
Bros., W. G. Randell & Co., Cahn Bros., Levi Kraft and Thompson
Bros. Julius Kahn ran a clothing store. The wholesale
grocers were T. L. Marsalis, at Lamar and Camp streets, and Garlington
& Underwood, on The Dallas News corner. Conner & Walker,
George Atkins and R. F. Eisenlohr were the leading druggists.
Billie Patterson did not come till later. George
Rick ran a furniture house, and Dave Goslin, the China hall.
Jacob Nussbaumer and Samuel Peterman were the butchers.
Nussbaumer's market was at Main and Market streets. Some
of the leading lawyers were Judge Hickerson Barksdale, Col. E.
G. Bower, Robert E. Cowart, John W. Bookout, Charles F. Clint,
Z. E. Coombes, Col. W. L. and Judge M. L. Crawford, Judge Robert
B. Seay, Col. John C. McCoy, the firm of Leake & Henry, Judge
W. L. Williams, Maj. Jerome C. Kearby. Drs. S. E. Eagon,
S. G. Thruston, M. M. Newsom, J. L. Carter, Henry K. Leake and
A. A. Johnson were among the leading physicians. I mention
just a few of each profession, those I happened to know best.
When the Horse Flourished.
"In those days, trains of wagons
brought buffalo hides and meat from the West. You could
buy cured buffalo meat at retail for next to nothing, and prairie
chickens retailed at 15¢ apiece. The old-time merchants
looked principally to the country people for trade. During
the fall and early winter months, the streets were jammed with
wagons that concentrated here, the cotton produced within a radius
of seventy-five miles. The cotton market was Elm street,
from Poydras to the river, where the farmers stopped their wagons,
and where the buyers ran their hooks into the bales and brought
out samples. The wagon-yards flourished, the most popular
of which, was the California wagon-yard on Ross avenue, at Lamar
street. People still traveled largely by wagon, camping
at night. At night, their tents and fires were thick on
all roads just outside the city limits. Even the town people,
most of whom had but recently come from the country, still went
about on horseback or in buggies, and their horses, hitched to
rings along the sidewalks, lined both sides of the streets in
the business district, giving it the appearance and odor of a
Long Working Hours.
"In old times, people worked.
Farmers were in their fields from sun to sun, laborers put in
ten hours, at least, and the stores opened at 7 a. m. and closed
at 11 p. m., except on Sunday, when they closed at 2 p. m., thus
giving the clerks half of an afternoon off every week. Every
merchant feared, that if he were late about opening, or early,
about closing, his competitor might take away some of his trade.
Before closing, a merchant would cast his eye up and down the
street to ascertain whether his rivals were yawning and nodding,
and, it was not a rare thing for him to discover that some of
them had yielded to nature and actually fallen asleep. Knowing
that the stores were open all the time, people were never in
a hurry about shopping. The result was that tired clerks
often had their rush hours late at night, or on Sunday. In
fact, many people made it a rule to do their buying on Sunday,
when they could take their time about it. If a clerk in
those days had heard talk of a town where the stores opened at
8 a. m. and closed at 6 p. m., he would have thought he was listening
to something that had been gleaned from the Arabian Nights, or,
to the recounting of an agreeable hallucination, never to be
realized. Still, it seems to me, that in spite of the long
hours, people had more leisure in those days, than they do now.
We visited, got out to dances and other social entertainments,
went to the theater, and got well acquainted with one another,
whereas, now, with electric street cars, automobiles and airplanes,
we have no time for anything but business. Our shorter
hours and automobiles seem to go for nothing.
Beginning of Advertising.
- January 25, 1925,
The Dallas Morning News, Sec IV, p. 8.
"The art of advertising was hardly
in its rudiments in Dallas fifty years ago. Merchants did
not even have show windows, much less, window dressers. They
hung a few garments out in front, not so much to display their
goods, as to intimate to strangers their particular line. It
was assumed that the local population knew where to go when they
wanted to buy anything. Fashions did not change so often,
as they do now. A man could wear a suit several years without
fear of being out of style. Such changes as there were,
were confined mostly to lines carried by the department stores,
and these were the first to seek publicity in frequently-changed
display advertisements. Every merchant was in competition in
prices with all the rest. Goods were not put on the market
by manufacturers to be sold at uniform prices, and the retailer
was free to knock off a dollar or two to prevent the customer
from going next door. The result was that a man wanting
a suit of clothes, often wore out the clerks in every store in
town and, tried on and priced, a dozen suits, before he made
a selection or decided to wait until next month, in the hope
of catching a declining market. Salesmen having doubting
Thomases on hand when meal time came on, always took them out
to dinner, in order to keep them from escaping. Once, I
took a bunch of cowboys to the Delmonico, then the leading restaurant.
I told them to order what they wanted, and what they wanted made
them drunk. They did not exactly shoot up the restaurant,
but their conduct was such, that I was glad when the dinner was
over. I sold them, and they became my regular customers.
The old-time clerk knew a lot of things about human nature
that do not come to the surface in the intercourse of modern
buyer and seller. It was not until The Dallas News was
started in 1885, that the merchants began to understand advertising,
and to put their money in it. Dallas has been growing and
spreading ever since.
"I was connected with the
store of E. M. Kahn & Co., seven years, when I went with
I. Rheinhardt & Co., but at the end of a month, I left the
latter company to open a clothing store with Girard Dreyfuss,
under the firm name of Hurst & Dreyfuss. That was in
1884. Sixty days after opening, we consolidated with E.
M. Kahn & Co. I became credit man of the consolidated
firm, and served in that capacity, and as salesman, thirteen
years, when, on account of failing health, I resigned and went
North. I returned to Dallas in 1910, and in 1912, I organized
the company of Hurst Brothers, composed of myself and my sons,
Melvin K. and Edgar S. Hurst. We opened on the southeast
corner of Main and Field streets, 1302 Main street. In
1915, we took the entire building, 1300, 1302 and 1304 Main street,
remodeled the house and put in $50,000 worth of fixtures. The
people have been kind to the establishment of Hurst Brothers,
enabling us to present one of the most complete clothing stores
in the Southwest."
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