December 5, 2004:
|C. E. Gillespie
of Dallas, who compiled one of the first city directories ever
made in Dallas and who lost $250 on the venture.
Lost $250, But Got
In 1881 C. B. Gillespie
Compiled Second City Directory
and Got Little for His Trouble
By Fred Ball
work for a railroad pass and a loss of $250 would be considered
mighty small pay for the average white-collared worker of today.
But, C. B. Gillespie of Dallas took this remuneration for his
work in organizing one of the first city directories of the city
and county of Dallas, way back in 1881, and was glad to get it.
"Well, it wasn't such a hard
job," he said, as he turned the time worn copy of his handiwork
over in his hand and looked at its yellowed pages.
"In those days, I was Assistant
County Tax Collector and had access to the tax rolls of the county.
To make a list of the people who owned property was a simple
matter from these rolls. We worked pretty faithfully for a while,
compiling the material that went into that directory, and had
visions of rich returns from our labor. The sum total of our
recompense amounted to a $250 deficit and a railroad pass over
the H. & T. C. Railroad, that saved my wife from being honeymoonless."
The particular city directory in
question is the property of Charles Rohner Jr., and has, aside
from its age, some interesting history connected with it. Mr.
Rohner found the book in a trash pile in 1892, where it had been
thrown as rubbish. Sensing the possibility of its future value
and interest, he salvaged it, and has kept it carefully in his
personal files. The book shows clearly its age, but not so clearly
as one that came to light sometime after the Rohner directory
of 1877 -- so far as is known the first city directory ever published
in Dallas. It antedated the one published by Mr. Gillespie some
Directory of 1877.
The older book was published in
1877, and is probably the first directory published in the city
of Dallas. It is so old, that its pages can scarcely be handled
for fear that they will crumble into dust. Its leather back has
long ago worn out.
In comparison with a directory
of the city of 1923, the directory of 1877 looks like a child's
story book, being only about one-tenth as thick and containing
only about 15,000 names, as compared with the 116,078 names that
appear in the 1923 edition. In the 1881 directory, it is stated
that there were between 17,000 and 19,000 people in the county
at that time.
The Jones Family.
There is one family in the county
that has showed a surprising growth during the time that has
elapsed between the publication of the 1877 directory and the
1923 directory. That is the Jones family. In 1877, there were
only twenty members of this illustrious family in the entire
county, but this number had increased to thirty-one in 1881,
and by the time that the 1923 directory had been published, there
were 1,178 Joneses in the city of Dallas alone.
And the Smiths.
There is another old family, equally
prominent, that, while it started with a slight advantage over
the Jones family, has kept up the family tradition, and is now
numbered among the largest in the entire city. In 1877, there
were thirty-four Smiths in the entire county. In 1881, there
were forty-six, and in 1923, there were thirty-two and a half
columns in the directory that contained nothing but the names
of the Smith family. Figuring roughly 56 names to the columns,
there should be about 1,720 Smiths in Dallas alone. Not so bad
for a single family.
It is with a little hesitancy that
the writer attempts the next paragraph. For fear that the tears
will gush too freely at the mere mention of a now dead institution,
the news will be broken as gently as possible. Mechanics' Hall,
the Wine Hall, the Morning Star, the New Idea, the Grange, the
Health Office, the Little House Around the Corner, the Texas
Exchange, the Mint, Tivoli Hall, the Centennial Saloon (there,
the cat is out of the bag!) the Senate, the Ocean Sample Room,
Tidal Wave -- the writer must stop. It is too much to ask that
any one read further and still restrain themselves. Simply,
this is a list of saloons that were in existence in Dallas in
1877. The sore spot will be pressed no more.
Apparently, Dallas, even from its
earliest beginnings, has been populated by boosters, for in the
directory of 1877, the publishers go to some length to point
out to prospective citizens the advantages of the city. Going
back even to the first settler, history shows him to have been
one of the biggest boosters of all time. Let the historical
preface of the book speak for itself:
"Every great town must have
its first man -- some original locator. We are content, with
others, not to try to antedate November, 1841, and attribute
the honor to Colonel John Neeley Bryan -- the Nimrod of our little
Babylon. Solitary and alone in that year, the Colonel took up
his abode in what is now the city of Dallas. He was rich and
did not know it -- unconscious, of course, that his name was
to be handed down to posterity as the founder of a great city.
Colonel John Neely Bryan.
"The hardy pioneer came in
advance of his people, endeavoring to persuade civilization to
follow his footsteps. Here he remained, as we are told, for
the space of six months, with no one to share his sorrows and
his confidences, nor to disturb him of his rest. He built for
himself such a cabin as is common to pioneers, and it requires
no great exercise of the imagination for the hardy frontiersman
to picture to himself the Colonel, seated in his cabin, resting
from the labors of the chase, his rifle, ready for instant use,
leaning against the corner of the house, and his trusty watchdog
keeping vigilant guard over a quarter of buffalo that hangs dripping
from the outer corner of his humble hut, and watching the sun
sink to rest in that wonderful West, which seems to have been
the objective of American civilization from the birth of the
Nation, little dreaming, that in the near future, the tide of
immigration, of which he was the "Avant Courier," would
surge up, around and beyond his present location, and substituting,
in their stead, cultivated fields, thriving towns, schools and
churches, and a prosperous and contented population."
There, you see it for yourself
-- Col. Bryan's optimism about the future prospects of the county,
and the spot that he had picked for his home may have been the
start of the move that has made Dallas "The City of the
Hour," but each succeeding generation has kept up his good
work, as is reflected in the words of the writer of this rhapsodical
preface to Dallas' first directory.
Coming of the Railroads.
The preface goes on to recount
the coming of the railroads -- how, in 1870, the Houston &
Texas Central "was approaching;" how Col. Thomas A.
Scott, "the railroad king of the United States," had
decided to make Dallas the point of intersection for the Texas
Pacific, and how a narrow-gauge line would reach from Cleburne,
Southwest to the Rio Grande. Other roads were also mentioned
Following the historical preface
comes a list of the churches of the city. There were, in 1877,
only seven listed as organized congregations. They were: The
First Baptist Church, organized July 30, 1868, "by a presbytery
of ministers composed of Elders W. W. Harris, J. T. Pinson, W.
B. Long and W. J. Brown." The church began its activities
without a church home, holding its meetings in the old Masonic
Hall. In the year 1873, a church building was erected at the
corner of Patterson and Sycamore streets.
The second in the list of churches
was the German Presbyterian Church that was organized Jan. 7,
1877, and held meetings at "the Market House."
The Lamar Street Methodist Church
South, the Rev. H. H. Neeley, pastor, was erected in 1867 and
dedicated by Bishop D. S. Doggett in November, 1876. In 1877,
it had a membership of 342.
The Tabernacle Methodist Church,
the Rev. L. H. Carhart, was organized by the pastor in April,
1874, and held meetings in the Odd Fellows' Hall until June of
that year, when a temporary structure was built on Elm street.
The congregation numbered about 100.
The Cumberland Presbyterian Church,
located on Jefferson street, two blocks north of Pacific avenue
in 1865; the Congregation Emanuel, with its "Temple,"
located on Commerce, near Akard, was founded in 1875; the German
Methodist Episcopal Church, located at the corner of Live Oak
and Divine streets, was organized in 1873 and worshipped in the
Market House until 1874, when a church building was constructed
"on the present site."
Volunteer Fire Department.
The city of Dallas was fairly modern,
even in those "ancient" days, for W. C. Connor, Alex
Sanger, W. J. Allen, and a number of men, whose names have figured
prominently in the development of Dallas, and some of whom have
since gone to their rest, gallantly led the fire "laddies"
in the saving of homes and property.
The Mail, the Dallas Herald and
the Commercial told the people of the community, the happenings
of the day, and were the forerunners of two of the great papers
in Dallas at present.
Population in 1877.
From a table that appears at the
back of the book, it is gathered that there were 15,630 people
living within the city in 1877, divided as follows: Males over
21, 4,097; females over 21 years, 3,299 (old maids were probably
scarce); males over 14 years and under 21 years, 580; females
over 14 years and under 21 years, 586; males over 7 years and
under 14, 729; females over 7 years and under 14 years, 781;
males under 7 years, 1,056; females under 7 years, 1,019. The
remainder of the people were negroes.
Old Beer Gardens.
Many amusing advertisements appear
on the pages of the 1881 directory, and, in this day of national
drouth, some will bring many happy recollections to the minds
of the older citizens who used to enjoy "the largest beer
hall this side of St. Louis, a handsome structure, centrally
located, with best arranged hall in the land, a lovely garden
filled with the choicest flowers and the rarest plants,"
where there were "none but proper characters admitted --
Mayer's beer garden."
"Only Democratic Paper."
The Dallas Times, edited and owned
by the late Col. William G. (Bill) Sterrett, is advertised as
the only Democratic paper published in Dallas. This daily and
weekly publication was the forerunner of The Dallas News, being
absorbed by the A. H. Belo interests shortly after this advertisement
In the entire county of Dallas,
including the city of Dallas, there were recorded, in 1881, between
17,000 and 19,000 inhabitants. The floating debt of the county
was approximately $100,000, which was later reduced to $25,535.
The bonded indebtedness was $36,500, the average annual expenses,
$47,500, the income for the preceding year, $75,000, and the
present assessed value in 1881, was $9,663,000.
Compare this with the 1923 figures:
The population today, 232,156, within the city limits of Dallas,
the bonded indebtedness in excess of $5,000,000, the estimated
expense for 1923-24, $2,263,947.99, appropriated, leaving a balance
unappropriated of $29,280.22; the total tax income of the city,
$4,573,109.34, and the assessed value of Dallas city property,
"The men whose names that
appear in the 1881 directory have, for the most part, passed
on, Mr. Gillespie said. "Their sons and daughters are now
the leading citizens of Dallas and occupy the places of their
fathers with equal ability. Many of the old names recorded there
are prominent, not only in this immediate vicinity, but they
are known throughout the entire Nation.
"I came here with my people
when Dallas was just a village. The town was mostly located
down around what is now the courthouse. Most of the stores were
located on that square, and there was a grove of cedars just
a few blocks up Main street, where I remember, very distinctly,
attending a picnic with my parents.
"Dallas County then had more
than 12,000 acres in school lands yet unsold, with only 4,455
sold. It seems hardly possible that such a change has been affected
in a short forty-two years.
"The town, in 1882, did not
extend much farther east than the H. & T. C. tracks, nor
north, farther than Ross avenue. There was a great colony of
Swiss people who had settled east of town, and many of their
descendants still reside here.
"The directory you have in
your possession is the property of Mr. Rohner?" he asked.
"His father was one of those early Swiss settlers. I remember
Early Building Boom.
"There was always a number
of changes in location being made in the days when this directory
came out. Old established firms were moving up toward what is
now Ervay and Akard streets. The railroads were bringing in
hundreds of homeseekers and building could scarcely keep up with
the demands. We had gas lights that had to be turned on every
night to light the streets, and a horse car line ran from about
the courthouse, east up Main street.
First Electric Car Lines.
"It was about 1882, that the
street railway company decided to lay a cable line up Main street
and dug a great trench right up the middle of it. About this
time, electric street cars made their appearance and the cable
line was abandoned. For many years, the great iron channels,
through which the cable was to have run, lay rusting along Main
street, even after the street had been graded off and the electric
In appearance, the directory of
1882 resembles that of 1923, with the exception of size. It did
not carry any advertising down the side or middle of the page,
but it had a classified advertisers' list in the back and a compilation
of interesting facts about the city and county in the front.
One of the different things about
the 1882 book is that tenant farmers are listed apart from farmers.
The name Duck Creek appears for
a town located fifteen miles northeast of Dallas on the Greenville
Road. This is the present town of Garland. Mr. Gillespie recounts
of how certain citizens of Duck Creek could not agree with certain
others, and they decided that they could not live in peace in
the same community. A new settlement was established along the
railroad and it was called Embry [Embree]. Later, the warring
factions made peace and joined the two settlements into the town
Too Highbrow for Him.
The street numbers running east
and west did not correspond with those of today. For instance,
734 Commerce street was the corner of Commerce and Akard. A
blacksmith shop was located at that number, and Mr. Gillespie
tells that he just escaped a severe quarrel with the owner, one
John Hermann, on account of the wording of the advertisement
that appeared in the directory about his business.
The argument arose over the wording
of the following sentence: "Horseshoeing done scientifically
and in accordance with the conformation of the hoof."
An advertising man of the day,
who wrote the copy for that ad, considered that he had turned
out a piece of work of a very high order, but Hermann thought
that he would lose customers because they would think that he
was trying to "put on airs" and use language that they
did not understand.
The Dallas city directory of 1923
is nearly ten times as thick as that of 1882, and it is hard
to estimate how much larger it is than that of 1877, on account
of the condition of the older book. But, the comparison shows
more clearly than anything else, just how rapid has been the
growth of this city from a village to the largest city in North
- January 18, 1925,
The Dallas Morning News, Part VII, p. 3.
As an outgrowth of the Civil War
and other troubles that had, from time to time, called for more
complete protection, Dallas boasted of three military organizations
in 1877 that were the pride of their home community.
One was the Lamar Rifles, whose
officers were Captain W. S. Odell, First Lieut. G. E. Felton,
Second Lieut. S. D. Thruston and Third Lieut. G. C. Rivers.
The Custer Light Horse, officered
by Captain E. D. Groves, First Lieut. E. C. Ellis, Second Lieut.
W. H. Anderson and Third Lieut. J. C. Bigger, was the second
organization. It was, as the name implies, a mounted organization.
The third and last organization
was the Stonewall Grays, a rifle company, that had for its officer,
E. G. Bowers, Captain; June Peak, First Lieutenant; Alex Scott,
Second Lieutenant, and W. M. C. Hill, Third Lieutenant.
These military organizations competed
among themselves, and other similar companies over the State,
for prizes offered for the best drilled company. Time after
time, Dallas outfits carried off the prizes.
The Lamar Rifles was the only company
to survive until 1881, but there was a new organization that
had made its appearance in the interim. This company was known
as the Queen City Guards, and was organized in 1879, having a
membership, in 1881, of forty-five. Captain George E. Felton
commanded the company, and had for his subordinate officers,
J. B. Marshal, First Lieutenant; S. Y. Trice, Second Lieutenant
and J. H. McCabe, first sergeant.
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