DALLAS ONCE LIKE
BY W. S. ADAIR
Bros.' and L. Wagner's stores are the only mercantile establishments
still in business at their old stands that were here when I landed
in Dallas in November, 1880, and Judge Robert B. Seay and Judge
Charles F. Clint are the only lawyers still in the practice who
were here at that time," said Max Munzesheimer, 3027 Routh
street. "Col. Robert E. Cowart, one of the most brilliant
members of the Dallas bar forty-three years ago or thereafter,
is still here, but has retired from the practice. So far
as I know, not one of the physicians of 1880 is actively connected
with the profession today. The Rt. Rev. Alexander C. Garrett,
the venerated bishop of the Episcopal diocese of Dallas, is the
only remaining minister of the Gospel, to my knowledge. All
overtaking time has dealt more leniently with the newspaper writers:
Col. William Greene Sterrett and Maj. Charles L. Martin are still
scribbling away as they were in 1880, and, in my judgment, doing
better work all the time. Is the average man limited to
far less than forty years of business or professional activity?
"When I disembarked from the overdue
train at the downtown Texas & Pacific depot, forty-three
years ago, I beheld such a town as one sees in a Wild West show
at the movies -- a collection of shacks and wigwams as background
for rows of horses hitched along the sidewalks, and everybody
looking impudently vigorous and well pleased with himself and
his environment. It was a place for anyone with young blood
in his veins to locate and join in the push, just for the fun
of growing up with the town and country. It was not the
promised land, but, what was better, the land of promise, which
holds cut the pleasure of pursuit, which, after all, seems to
be the only thing that gives a zest to life and keeps us going.
Gets Acquainted With the Town.
"I went to work in the carpet department
of Sanger Bros.' store, and made my acquaintance with the town
from that viewpoint. The big dry goods houses were Sanger
Bros., Thompson Bros. and Fee Bros. on the north side of Elm
street, opposite Sanger Bros.', and Henry Kahn & Bros. on
Elm street, near Griffin. Loeb & Friedlander ran a
supply grocery; that is, they advanced supplies to ranchmen and
farmers. Their store was on the present site of Huey &
Philp's wholesale hardware house. Metzler & Oppenheimer's
wholesale grocery was on the northeast corner of Lamar and Camp
streets, afterward Doc Chamberlain's saloon stand for many years.
An old man, named Wolfe, I think, had a hide house at the
place now occupied by N. Nigro & Co., and was succeeded by
Harry Brady. Wallace & Wagner, Bond Bros., Robert Ogden and
L. Wagner were the leading retail grocers. E. M. Tillman
and G. H. Schoellkopf were on the north side of Elm street, between
Lamar and Griffin streets, though Griffin street was then College
street. Dennis & Wagner had a soap factory, not far
from the Dallas Brewery site.
Pioneer Business Men.
"Garlington & Underwood had
a wholesale grocery on the northeast corner of Main and Lamar,
and afterward moved to The News corner, Commerce and Lamar. Charles
Kahn's bakery was on the southwest corner of Main and Lamar.
An Englishman, a Mr. Kent, ran a bakery on the Linz corner.
Harry Bros., who afterward put down the first street paving
in Dallas, had in 1880, a china store. Dave Goslin also
ran a china store, known as Goslin's China Hall. Another
baker, whom I was about to overlook, was Joseph Blakeney, father
of Jo and Hugh Blakeney, whose place of business was up about
the Union Depot. Mr. Blakeney, who was possessed of remarkable
energy, used to stimulate business by peddling cakes from a basket
on the streets, which he proclaimed to be 'fine, very fine; one
for a nickel, two for a dime.' From this, he became to
be known over town as Fine Very Fine, so that many newcomers
who became well-acquainted with him, did not know his real name.
Silberstein & Hirsch had a livery and sales stable
on the northwest corner of Commerce and Poydras streets. Turner
Hall was on part of the lot on which Padgitt Bros. afterward
Sam Jones Revival.
"Col. John C. McCoy, who so lived
that men still kindly remember him almost forty years after his
death, had his residence on the Texas Drug Company's property.
Col. McCoy did not consider the whole block too much for
yard and garden. R. V. Tompkins' agricultural and implement
house was where the Higginbotham-Bailey-Logan dry goods house
now is. His building was overhauled for the State Saengerfest,
a rousing big thing, held here about 1882. Later, in the
same building, that amazing evangelist, Sam Jones, jarred the
sinners of the community in a series of harangues charged with
the thunders of Sinai. The first steam laundry in the town
was put in by G. D. Moffitt, near old Turner Hall. The
laundry passed into the hands of W. L. Logan, who built a plant
near the Santa Fe trestle on Jackson street, adjoining the wagon
yard and stables of S. P. Siler, the pioneer bus line man of
Passing of Two Ancient Crafts.
"In 1880, the postfoffice was on
the south side of Main street, adjoining the present Linz Building
on the east. Next door, J. D. A. Harris kept a book store.
After him, on the east, came W. S. Bryant's pawnshop. The
ground floor of the southwest corner of Main and Murphy was occupied
by the Glen Lea Saloon and the second floor was a gambling hall.
The fashionable tailor the town was Zimmermann, on Main
street, in the Sanger block. In those days, men who made
any pretensions to style had their clothes hand-made by tailors.
Manufacturers had not yet discovered that men, physically,
as well as morally and mentally, fall into very serviceable broad
classes, and that patterns or measurements of clothes may be
devised in advance for each class, in which every individual
of that class may find a fit. This made it possible to
turn out men's suits by machinery, and resulted in crippling
the business of the old-time tailor. Just as a classification
of feet, and the manufacture of shoes by machinery, about the
same time, put the worthy craft of old-time shoemakers on their
"In 1880, Connor & Walker ran
a drug store on the southwest corner of Main and Austin streets.
Hickox & House, on the north side of Main street, just east
of Lamar; Eisenlohr on the southwest corner of Main and Field;
W. H. Patterson on Lamar street, between Main and Elm, and George
Atkins on the north side of Elm, second door west of Lamar. Mr.
Atkins manufactured Rattlesnake Oil, recommended as a cure for
any and all ills of the flesh. Billie Patterson put out
Peachstone Liniment, also a cure-all. The Ananias Club
met in Patterson's drug store. Mr. Atkins was, himself,
the entertainer in his store. The loafers of the town divided
their time between these two apothecary shops. Ice was
scarce and high, but Mr. Atkins, nevertheless, kept for his friends,
a barrel of ice water, or what looked like ice water. The
water was very muddy in those days, but Mr. Atkins cleared with
chemicals what he put in his barrel, and on the surface of it,
he placed an immense square block of glass, hollow within, so
as to make it float. It was funny to see a thirsty man
clear his throat and take out a cup of water, only to find he
was dealing with only the mirage of an iceberg. One cold
night about Christmas time, a dozen or more of us [local] loafers
barred all approaches to Mr. Atkins' red-hot stove. This
remarkable pharmacist opened the stove door, produced from his
pocket, a giant firecracker, about the size of a quart milk bottle,
and remarking, "Boys, we'll all go down together,"
tossed it into the furnace. Such acrobatic feats as we
performed would have amazed even the Ringling Brothers. If
the infernal machine ever exploded, I was so far away, that I
neither heard the detonation, nor saw the flying debris.
Fire and Blood.
"In the early days, Dallas had no
drainage, and many localities were flooded whenever it rained
hard. One night in 1882, something like a small cloudburst
flooded the negro houses in the low grounds in the vicinity of
Ervay and Jackson streets. Shouts of distress from those
caught in the houses attracted groups of persons to the water's
edge, and moved some to go to the rescue, me among them. The
first burst of the storm that had caused the inundation, was
succeeded by a slanting rain that stung like birdshot. In
this, we swam over the fence tops to the houses where we found
women and children standing on chairs, tables, beds anything
to keep above water. The firemen arriving, took things
in hand and soon got everybody to solid ground."
I still carry on my hands, the
scars of burns I received in a fire in 1882. I boarded
with Mrs. Frank, who occupied an apartment house built by Maj.
C. M. Wheat, on the north side of Ross avenue, just east of Lamar.
The house caught fire, and I found Mrs. Frank wringing
her hands and almost beside herself. Her grand baby, she
said, was upstairs. I undertook to rescue the baby. Failing
to find it in the room she indicated, I looked elsewhere and
was caught myself. The staircase collapsed just as I reached
it, and I fell to the first floor.
In permitting me to enter the house,
Mrs. Frank was not aware that some one else had already rescued
the baby. I was laid up more than a month with the burns
Mysterious Double Tragedy.
"Shortly after I came to Dallas,
one of the strangest tragedies that has ever occurred here, took
place in a second-floor room on the north side of Elm street,
a door or two west of Lamar street. Bowie Strange, bookkeeper
in one of the implement and machinery houses, and William H.
Beale, superintendent of the mail order department of Sanger
Bros.' store, had been neighbors, schoolmates and boy chums in
Virginia. They came to Dallas together, and here continued
inseparable friends. They always met a few minutes after
business hours, and one was never seen abroad without the other,
and together they occupied the room referred to. They were
last seen early in the night together, pleasantly chatting, on
the southwest corner of Main and Lamar streets. An hour
later, two pistol shots were heard in their room. The officer
who entered the room found the men dead, lying on opposite sides
of a table, each with a pistol in his hand. What had come
between them, is a secret they took with them; at least, it was
never made public.
Decorates Many Hotels and Theaters.
- October 7, 1923,
The Dallas Morning News,
"My, how I do run on with these
half-faded memories! While I was connected with the carpet
department of Sanger Bros.' store or Charles Eckford's store,
I decorated Craddock's Opera House, and afterward the billiard
hall, into which the opera house was converted when Bennett's
Opera House (the Dallas Opera House) was opened, and then the
latter play house. I also put the decoratings in the Windsor
Hotel, the St. George and the McLeod in Dallas, the Ferguson
House at Tyler, the Huckins at Texarkana, the Capitol at Marshall,
the Lamar & Peterson House at Paris, the Harris House at
Terrell, the Lampasas House at Lampasas, the McGraw House at
Bonham, and many more. After that, I left Dallas and worked
at Kansas City and Memphis, Tenn. Returning to Dallas in
1889, I went in business on my own hook."
Magazine Section, p. 2.
- o o o -