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OLD LANDMARK IS
BEING DEMOLISHED
_________

HISTORY OF CITY'S EARLIEST
"WHITE WAY" RECALLED BY
RAZING OF BUILDING.

BY W. S. ADAIR

    The razing of the two-story brick building on the northeast corner of Lamar and Camp streets, marks the end of one of the oldest business houses in that locality, and gives the discoverer of these archaeological fragments an opportunity to present a few more glimpses of early times in Dallas.  The building was erected in 1873 or 1874, by J. H. Bryan, and was, for several years thereafter, occupied as a general mercantile store by Mr. Bryan, W. J. Clark and S. D. Blake, under the firm name of Bryan, Clark & Blake.  At that time, the adjoining building on the east was occupied by Ferdinand N. Tucker, as a grocery, while A. T. Grimes ran a grocery farther down the street, opposite the Camp street wagon yard, the site of which, is now occupied by Ben Ablon's produce house.
    A. C. Camp, for whom Camp street was named, owned three or four acres on the east side of Lamar street, south of Camp street, on which, in 1868, he built a dwelling on the ground now occupied by the old Texas & Pacific passenger station, the lumber for which, was hauled from Palestine by John H. Gaston on wagons.  When the Texas & Pacific Railroad was completed to Dallas in 1873, Mr. Camp sold the property to the railroad company for a depot site.

Trend of City's Growth.
    By the time of the advent of the Texas & Pacific Railroad, the residence section had scattered in all directions west of the river from the courthouse square.  Barnett Gibbs, Maj. Jerome C. Kearby, Judge R. D. Coughanhour, J. H. Bryan, W. H. Prather, W. B. Greenlaw, A. C. Camp, Dr. Arch Cochran, John Tenison, and other leading families, had homes north of the Texas & Pacific Railroad, while W. C. Connor, Gen. W. L. Cabell, Seth Shepherd, Dr. J. W. Crowdus, Judge George N. Aldredge, Sawnie Robertson, Col. John J. Eakin, E. M. Browder, Col. R. E. Cowart, Judge Charles Fred Tucker, D. T. Rainwater, Paul F. Erb, Fee Bryan, Alexander and Philip Sanger, and others, settled in what was called The Cedars, comprising that part of the city between Commerce street and the present City Park.
    Judge Nat M. Burford's dwelling was where the St. George now stands, and he owned the block in which he lived.  The block on the opposite side of Main street was the homestead of Jack Smith.  The Episcopal Church was on the northwest corner of Elm and Lamar streets, Dr. Davenport, rector.  The Cumberland Presbyterian Church was on the hill on Cochran street, where the Cumberland Hill School building now stands, the hill taking its name from the church.

Andrew J. Ross.
    Ross avenue was named for Andrew J. Ross, one of the first settlers on the street.  In 1868, Capt. W. H. Gaston bought a tract on Ross avenue, which included the land, which afterward became the homestead of Col. A. H. Belo, at Ross avenue and Pearl street.  The ground was covered with a dense thicket, in clearing which for the erection of a dwelling, rattlesnakes were discovered by hundreds, and some time after Captain Gaston's family moved into the house, a negro servant girl, employed to nurse Robert K. Gaston, then an infant, died from the sight of a rattlesnake in the yard.  She was found by Mrs. Gaston dead in the yard with the infant, Robert, sprawling near her and making ineffectual efforts to crawl to the snake, which had attracted his attention.

Big Realty Deal.
    In 1868, the late Judge T. G. T. Kendall owned the E. M. Kahn block.  He offered to trade the block to John H. Gaston for twelve mules, which were valued at about $900, but as Mr. Gaston was, at the time, making money freighting between Dallas and Jefferson and Palestine, and, as he could not see just how any revenue was to be made out of the block, he declined to consider the proposition.  But, the following year, Judge Kendall found a man who took a different view of the matter, and who paid him $1,000 for the block.

Downtown Corner for $5.
    A short time before this transaction, a couple of itinerant poker players dropped into town and readily found a game.  In the course of the playing one of the local sports, having lost what cash he had, but still retaining confidence in his luck, offered as a wager, the title to the lot on the northeast corner of Lamar and Elm.  He got $5 worth of chips for the title.  The visitors also got this, as well as pretty much everything else the Dallas men had in the way of cash, negotiable paper or pawnable chattels.  The game over, the winners went forth to realize on the things they had won.  But finally, they returned to the man from whom they had won the lot and handed him back his piece of paper, complaining that the lot was worthless and that he had cheated them.

"Doc" Chamberlain's Place.
    When Bryan, Clark & Blake vacated the building at Lamar and Camp streets, "Doc" Chamberlain occupied it as a retail liquor store for the ensuing twenty-five years.  In spite of the fact that Camp street developed into the most disreputable street in Dallas, and carried the banner as such for a long series of years, "Doc" Chamberlain's place had the name of being one of the most orderly saloons in the country. The police never had occasion to visit him professionally, and his was one of the few old-time saloons that had not a single killing to its credit.
    Entering the retail liquor business at a time when it was not considered so disreputable, as it afterwards was regarded, Chamberlain carried into his vocation, the dignity [of] becoming a legitimate business.  For almost the entire period of his connection with the corner, he rode a white horse between his home and the saloon.  Toward the end, he wore a long white beard, which gave him something of the look of a patriarch.  He was noted for the readiness with which he responded to hard-luck stories.  He even contributed to the building funds of many struggling churches.

Trouble Magazine.
    Camp street was known all over the country as the easiest place in the Southwest for a man in search of trouble to find what he was looking for.  The west end of the street became a network of saloons, variety shows and gambling houses, while the east end was the settlement of the worst negroes in the city, who also had their places of amusement, on the model of those on the other end.  Such allurements as Camp street held out, constituted about the only amusement to be found in frontier towns, and those who had any of the spirit of adventure in them, especially those whose acquaintance with the world was limited, felt called upon to explore these retreats, and, it is no exaggeration to say that those who went after nightfall to see the sights on Camp street, paid for the privilege, whatever amount of money they happened to have about their clothes -- in fact, they were lucky if they got out physically whole.
    The street quieted down a little after the variety shows were suppressed, but it was not completely civilized until the property became profitable for business stands.  But, so long as the street made any pretentions to toughness, it was, no doubt, the toughest thoroughfare of its length in the country.

"Stick 'Em Up!"
    People nowadays are divided broadly into rich and poor, or capitalists and laborers, with, of course, a large number between, with some uncertainty as to their classification.  But, in early days, there were no great accumulations of capital, and the division of society was on different lines.  The law-abiding, well-meaning, industrious citizens, those with wholesome ideas and aspirations, made one class, and the rest, terminating at the top, in the desperado, the other.  A sample or two of the latter class will suffice.
At noon, on a fine summer day in 1874, two bandits, Riordon and McGee, rode into the city and hitched their horses in a post-oak grove, where the Gaston Building now stands.  This was in the rear of Kerr & Gruber's Bank, which fronted on Main street.  While McGee remained in the rear, Riordon walked on Lamar street to Main.  The town was very dead at that hour.  In his stroll, Riordon saw no one abroad.  He heard the honest tinkling of a blacksmith's anvil in the uncertain distance, and saw a dog asleep on the board sidewalk on the opposite [side] of the street, now and then, lazily raising his head to snap at a fly that buzzed too close to his ear.
    Six-shooter in his hand, and a handkerchief over the lower part of his face, the bandit entered the front door of the bank, while his companion, similarly accoutered, closed in from the rear.  Mr. Kerr and Mr. Gruber, who were alone in the bank, hastened to comply with the command to "Stick 'em up." According to the best account, the bandits got $6,000.
    James E. Barkley was Sheriff and Bev and Tom Scott were among his deputies.  Hurriedly organizing a posse, the Sheriff pursued the robbers and succeeded, eventually, though, not right away, in apprehending them.  Both were convicted and sent to the penitentiary.

Far-Reaching Decision.
    One night, [in] 1873, a homicide occurred in Bogel's Saloon, on the south side of Main street, between Lamar and Austin, which had an important bearing on criminal proceedings for a long time afterward. Major J. P. Horback shot and killed H. K. Thomas, a railroad man.  The case was tried before Judge Silas Hare, District Judge.  Judge John J. Good and Z. E. Coombes defended.  A verdict of guilty was the result of the trial.  Relying upon the testimony that the deceased reached for his hip-pocket before his slayer drew, although, it was proved conclusively that Thomas was not armed, the defense appealed the case to the State Superior Court.  That court, the "Old Alcalde" himself, handing down the principle, that when in a difficulty, if a man's devil prompts him to reach for his hip pocket, when he knows that pocket is empty, the man he has his eye on can not be expected to stop to canvass the motives of the other, but is justified in acting promptly on appearances.
    This decision became of inestimable value in subsequent murder trials, and slayers were cleared by the score on hip-pocket testimony. In fact, all over the State, unarmed men seemed to seek sudden death by picking quarrels with bad men and reaching for empty hip pockets.  Just what the vice in the reasoning of the upper court was, seemed to baffle the sagacity of prosecuting attorneys to make out, and vicious, it certainly appeared to be, for it [was] subversive of all justice if the guilty might avail themselves of a sound principle of law. Later on, however, it was discovered that the vice was not in the principle itself, but in the application of it.

- January 9, 1921, The Dallas Morning News, Sec. 3, p. 2.
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