Flashback : Dallas

A Miscellany: History, Ads, Pop Culture

Category: 1880s

Thanksgiving in Dallas — 1883

thanksgiving-greeting

by Paula Bosse

Below, a recap of Thanksgiving Day in Dallas, 1883. “Family dinings and wineings were the order of the day.” And more food. And lots more convivial tippling. And young people escaping from the family for buggy rides out to Eagle Ford with friends. …Not so different from today. Happy Thanksgiving!

thanksgiving_dallas-herald_120683

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Sources & Notes

Newspaper article from the Dallas Weekly Herald, Dec. 6, 1883.

Vintage postcard from the blog 19th-Century Wellington.

Other Flashback Dallas posts on Thanksgiving can be found here.

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Copyright © 2017 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

Oak Cliff, The Beautiful Suburb — 1888

oak-cliff_1888_degolyer_SMU_illus_lgOak Cliff, early days… (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

The above view of Oak Cliff is taken from an 1888 broadside advertising land opportunities in Dallas’ most beautiful, healthful, and picturesque suburb. The text:

OAK CLIFF

This beautiful suburb of Dallas is situated on the south side of the river, on a chain of hills from 200 to 250 feet above and overlooking the city, and about three-fourths of a mile from the MERCHANTS’ EXCHANGE, being from any part of it within ten to twenty minutes’ walk from the business center, or eight to fifteen minutes’ drive, or five to ten minutes’ ride by the suburban cars, which run all the time from the court house, from 6 o’clock in the morning to 11 o’clock at night. Fare, five cents.

Oak Cliff has a first-class water works system, furnishing clear, pure spring water; good schools; broad, macadamized avenues and streets; lovely lakes and parks (from the pavilion, surrounding towns can be seen). Owing to its great altitude and topographical formation, perfect drainage is insured, and it is unexcelled in the Southwest as a healthful and picturesque residence site and educational center. 

Its superior accessibility to business, makes it the most desirable portion of the city to live in for the citizen of Dallas, whether he be poor, rich or of moderate means.

Within the past seven months, residences approximating in value one million dollars, costing from $1,000 to $45,000 each, have been built and contracted for in this popular suburb. A few choice lots remain unsold, and persons desiring a site for a home on easy terms will please call on or address

DALLAS LAND & LOAN COMPANY
Knepfly Building
Dallas, Texas, October 1, 1888

oak-cliff_1888_degolyer_SMU_typog

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Sources & Notes

Images taken from a promotional broadside, which may be seen in full in a downloadable PDF here, from the collection of Texas Promotional Materials held by the DeGolyer Library, Central University Libraries, Southern Methodist University.

This drawing is similar to another Oak Cliff promotional piece (also from SMU’s vast collections) which I wrote about in the post “Thomas Marsalis’ Spectacular Oak Cliff Hotel: 1890-1945,” here.

Top image is much larger when clicked.

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Copyright © 2017 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

The Mosquito Bar

sargent_mosquito-nets_1908Relax without fear of being bitten by mosquitoes…

by Paula Bosse

The “mosquito bar” — the human’s defense against blood-thirsty mosquitoes (and other annoying pests) — had its heyday in the US in the second half of the 19th century and the first couple of decades of the 20th century, before screens for windows and doors were commonplace in American homes. They were particularly necessary in the hot and sweaty Southern US states which were routinely plagued with mosquitoes. A typical mosquito bar ad looked like this one from Dallas merchants Sanger Bros. (click ads and clippings to see larger images):

mosquito-bar_dallas-herald_080285_sanger-bros-ad-det
Dallas Herald, Aug. 2, 1885

(According to the Inflation Calculator, $1.00 in 1885 money would be worth about $27.00 in today’s money, adjusted for inflation.)

The first Dallas ad I found for mosquito bars was from 1877 — like the clipping above, it is also from a Sanger Bros. ad (in fact, Sanger’s seemed to be mosquito-bar-central for 19th-century Dallas).

mosquito-bar_sanger-bros-ad-det_dallas-herald_073177
Dallas Herald, July 31, 1877

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Dallas Herald, May 14, 1878

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Dallas Herald, May 24, 1882

mosquito-bars_southern-mercury_070390Southern Mercury, July 3, 1890

screens_dallas-screen-co_1894
1894

Mosquito bars were usually draped over beds, canopy-style, but the painting above (“Mosquito Nets” by John Singer Sargent, 1908) shows “personal” net-covered armatures, perfect for genteel ladies to relax inside of and read (while trying to keep cool despite being weighed down by what must have been uncomfortably heavy clothing).

The mesh netting or fine muslin used to drape beds (and cover windows and doors) was generally white or pink, sometimes green. Once inside the canopied beds, the netting was tucked under the mattress in order to seal all potential entry points in the mesh-walled fortress and allow the thankful occupants inside to sleep unmolested by mosquitoes (or other biting and stinging insects).

mosquito-netting

These bars became fairly standard in hotels and in many homes of the time, but if one could not afford the luxury of sleeping inside one of these things, the sleeper would often resort to rubbing him- or herself with kerosene if they wished to avoid being bitten throughout the night.

mosquito-bar_dmn_100110_kerosene
Dallas Morning News, Oct. 1, 1910

As much of a godsend as the bars were, they had their problems. The fine material was easily torn, and sometimes the mesh was so tightly knit that ventilation (and breathing!) was not optimal. Also, it was not unusual for them to catch fire — there are numerous newspaper reports of the bars being ignited by candles or gas-burning lamps or by careless or sleepy smokers smoking inside the canopy.

mosquito-bar_dallas-herald_052481_fire
Dallas Herald, May 24, 1881

It was apparently a common precaution against midnight thievery for men who stayed in hotels to keep their money in the pockets of their pants and then fold the pants and place them beneath their pillows. The second line of defense was the mosquito netting tucked resolutely under the mattress of their canopied beds. The feeling was that a burglar would have to be pretty stealthy to breech a man’s mosquito bar and steal his pants from under his pillow without waking him. But never underestimate the Big City burglar (click article to see a larger image):

mosquito-bar_dmn_091088_theft
DMN, Sept. 10, 1888

After doors and windows began to be routinely covered with wire screens, the use of mosquito bars in homes and hotels waned, but their use continued in military encampments and hospitals, in recreational camping, and in swampy or tropical areas where the transmission of diseases like malaria and Dengue fever (transmitted by mosquitoes) posed health risks. Wire screens must have been a godsend.

ad-acme-screen-co_terrill-yrbk_1924Acme Screen Co., 1924

And if you don’t think that the prospect of a night without a mosquito bar (especially in the bayous of Louisiana…) wouldn’t inflame usually calmer heads, here’s a news story from 1910 about a man who shot a co-worker three times at close range because of a heated argument over which of them owned a mosquito bar. And this was in February! Lordy. Talk about your crime of passion. The moral of this story: do not mess with another man’s mosquito bar.

mosquito-bar_town-talk_alexandria-LA_022210_deadly-dispute
Town Talk (Alexandria, LA), Feb. 22, 1910

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mosquito-bar_dmn_052812_couplet
DMN, May 28, 1912

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Sources & Notes

The top painting by John Singer Sargent — titled “Mosquito Nets” (1908) — is from the Detroit Institute of Arts; more on the painting can be found here.

Photo of draped bed is from the “Mosquito Net” Wikipedia page, here.

Other clippings and ads as noted. Dallas Herald and Southern Mercury newspaper scans are part of the huge database of scanned historical Texas newspapers found at the Portal to Texas History (to see newspapers, click this link and filter by “Counties,” “Decades,” “Years,” etc. on the left side of the page, or search by keywords at the top).

This post was adapted from a post I wrote for my other (non-Dallas) blog, High Shrink — that post, “The Mosquito Bar,” can be found here (it includes some great additional photographs and illustrations).

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Copyright © 2017 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

When the Circus Came to Town — 1886

cole-circus_dallas-herald_101586-detI’m exhausted just looking at this…. (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

W. W. Cole brought his unbelievably jam-packed circus to Dallas at the end of October, 1886. That would have been big news all on its own, but also going on at the exact same time were two fairs. TWO! (This was when Dallas had competing state fairs battling each other across town.) I’m not sure how people handled all that entertainment. Circus attendance alone was reported at more than 16,000 for the Dallas engagement. That’s a lot.

One thing the Cole organization knew about was the power of adjectives. I can’t even begin to take apart this ad, so run your eyeballs over the intense, pop-eyed text and imagine what frontier Dallasites thought. Sit back and enjoy the “vast transcendental splendor” that was W. W. Cole’s extravaganza. (Click to see a larger image.)

ad_cole-circus_dallas-herald_101586Dallas Herald, Oct. 15, 1886

The circus appeared in Austin a few days later. This ad is also great.

cole-circus_austin-weekly-statesman_101486
Austin Weekly Statesman, Oct. 14, 1886

coles-circus_dmn_102486
Dallas Morning News, Oct. 24, 1886

circus_fairs_dallas-herald_102586
Dallas Herald, Oct. 25, 1886

The review:

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DMN, Oct. 26, 1886

Not everyone was impressed:

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Dallas Herald, Oct. 26, 1886

And then there was this weird little story. (I think the ending was tacked on by the writer as a joke. …I think.)

circus_somnambulist_dallas-herald_102686
Dallas Herald, Oct. 26, 1886

After all that excitement, it was probably a relief when the circus left town!

coles-circus-in-austin_dmn_110186DMN, Nov. 1, 1886

cole-circus_austin-weekly-statesman_101486_det

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Sources & Notes

W. W. Cole’s Circus lasted forever — up until, apparently, last year! More here.

I’m never sure how much weight to give to the estimates of the Inflation Calculator, but when you plug the numbers into it, a dollar ticket for adults and a fifty-cent ticket for children would today equal somewhere in the neighborhood of twenty-five and thirteen bucks, respectively. That can’t be right, can it? You can’t argue that there was a lot going on in those French waterproof tents, but I can’t imagine people forking over that much when penny-candy was considered extravagant! But apparently 16,000 people happily forked! (W. W. Cole died a very, very, very wealthy man: when he shuffled off his moral coil in 1915, he left an estate of more than five million dollars — or, per the Inflation Calculator, more than 120 million dollars in today’s money.)

Click clippings to see larger images.

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Copyright © 2017 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

Dallas Rapid Transit, Est. 1888

dallas-rapid-transit_cyclone_cook-coll_degolyer_smu-detRide the Cyclone to Fair Park… (click for larger image) 

by Paula Bosse

The Dallas Rapid Transit Railway chugged into town in 1888, going from charter to operation in seven months. And that included laying their own track. The “dummy” steam engine (a locomotive designed to appear more like a friendly little streetcar and less like a hulking locomotive) seen above, carried passengers from the Windsor Hotel at Commerce and Austin through South Dallas (via S. Lamar and Forest Ave., now MLK Blvd.) to Fair Park. It started business just in time to ferry crowds to the State Fair. The fare was 20 cents, which seems pricey, but this might have been “surge” pricing charged only during the “Greatest Fair and Exposition in the World.” (According to the Inflation Calculator, 20¢ in 1888 would be the equivalent to more than $5 in today’s money.)

ad_dallas-rapid_dmn_101488
Dallas Morning News, Oct. 14, 1888

The new street railway was particularly appreciated by developers looking to sell land in southern Dallas, still considered a “suburb” in the 1880s. Residential streetcar service was essential to prospective builders and buyers, and as soon as the Rapid Transit line was up and running, its name was popping up in South Dallas real estate ads for additions with names like Chestnut Hill, Edgewood, and South Park.

chestnut-hill_edgewood_dmn_031689
DMN, March 16, 1889

In March of 1890 — after a year and a half of steady growth — the Dallas Rapid Transit Railway went electric, tossing out their old steam-powered cars (not even 18 months old!) for brand new, ultra-modern cars powered by electricity. (For a bit of perspective, parts of the country were still relying on the really old-fashioned mule-drawn streetcars.) Dallas’ first electric-powered streetcar hit the rails on March 9, 1890.

dallas-rapid_dmn_031090_electric
DMN, March 10, 1890

Understandably, the sight of these newfangled streetcars was quite the topic of fascinated conversation. How exactly did they work, anyway? The Dallas Morning News published an article with helpful information for the Dallasites of 1890 (and 2016!). (Click to see larger image.)

dallas-rapid_dmn_032390_electric
DMN, March 23, 1890

The photo below (which appears in the great book McKinney Avenue Trolleys) is a staged publicity photo with a woman at the helm, showing that the new electric streetcar was so easy to operate that “even a woman” could do it. In tow behind the sparkling new electric streetcar was the old, past-it steam car, with its engineer racing to try to catch up with the new technology. Get with it, man, it’s 1890!

dallas-rapid-transit-railway_mckinney-ave-trolleys-bk_towing-dummySouthern Traction, April 10, 1973 (via McKinney Avenue Trolleys)

dallas-rapid-transit-railway_mckinney-ave-trolleys-bk_dplDallas Public Library photo (via McKinney Avenue Trolleys)

Initially, the track was only 4 miles long, but that had more than doubled soon after the switch to electric cars.

dallas-rapid-transit_dmn_100190
DMN, Oct. 1, 1890

Things seemed to be going well. The company was expanding, speeds were increasing, and … “No dust” !

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DMN, Oct. 27, 1891

But … in 1894 the company went into receivership and was sold in December of that year for $35,000.

dallas-rapid_dmn_120594
DMN, Dec. 5, 1894

It appears that the company struggled on under different owners and slightly different names through at least 1909, but instead of those twilight years being filled with reflective contemplation and bass fishing, they were spent mired in endless lawsuits.

But let’s not dwell on the sputtering end of a business — let’s look back to the beginning, when the H. K. Porter Co. of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania was proud to show off its new light locomotive with the noiseless steam motor which was headed, full of hope and enthusiasm, for the little city that could, Dallas, Texas.

dallas-rapid-transit_cyclone_cook-coll_degolyer_smu

dallas-rapid_dmn_032288
DMN, March 22, 1888

dallas-rapid_dmn_091088
DMN, Sept. 10, 1888

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The steam-powered Cyclone — seen at the top — went on an adventure through the streets of downtown in 1889 when, under a full head of steam, it jumped the tracks and kept on going down paved streets until it crashed into a curb on Main!

cyclone_dmn_043089
DMN, April 30, 1889

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Sources & Notes

Image at the top (and bottom), “Dallas Rapid Transit, ‘Cyclone’ Locomotive No. 1,” from the George W. Cook Dallas/Texas Image Collection, DeGolyer Library, Southern Methodist University; more information here.

Read an interview with J. E. Henderson, president of the Dallas Transit Railway company, commenting on his new street railway (“The New Rapid Transit,” DMN, Oct. 14, 1884) here (yes, it IS difficult to read!).

The two photos of Dallas Rapid Transit electric streetcars are from the book McKinney Avenue Trolleys by Jim Cumbie, Judy Smith Hearst, and Phillip E. Cobb (Charleston: Arcadia Publishing, 2011). If you’re interested in this topic, this book seems pretty essential!

The history of early streetcars in Dallas can be read in the  pages of the WPA Dallas Guide and History here (scroll to the bottom of the page and continue to the following page).

Photos and clippings are larger when clicked.

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Copyright © 2016 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

Belmont & Greenville: From Caruth Farmland to Hub of Lower Greenville

hockaday-campus_aerialHockaday campus — Greenville Ave. at the right (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

If you’ve driven down lower Greenville Avenue lately, you’re probably aware that the buildings that most recently housed a retirement home at the northwest corner of Belmont and Greenville were scheduled to be been torn down. When I drove past that intersection a few weeks ago and saw the entire block leveled, I was shocked. It’s weird suddenly not seeing buildings you’ve seen your entire life. It got me to wondering what had been on that block before. I’d heard that Hockaday had occupied that block for several years, but even though I’d grown up not too far away, I’d only learned of that within the past few years. When I looked into this block’s history, the most surprising thing about it is that it has passed through so few owners’ hands over the past 140 or so years.

As far as I can tell, the first owner or this land was Walter Caruth (1826-1897), a pioneer merchant and farmer who arrived in this area in the 1840s (some sources say the 1850s), along with his brother, William. Over the years the brothers amassed an absolutely staggering amount of land — thousands and thousands of acres which stretched from about Inwood Road to White Rock Lake, and Ross Avenue up to Forest Lane. One of Walter Caruth’s tracts of land consisted of about 900 acres along the eastern edge of the city — this parcel of land included the 8 or 9 acres which is now the block bounded by Greenville, Belmont, Summit, and Richard, and it was where he built his country home (he also had a residence downtown). The magnificent Caruth house was called Bosque Bonita. Here is a picture of it, several years after the Caruths had moved out (the swimming pool was added later).

caruth_bosque-bonita_dallas-rediscovered

Most sources estimate that the house was built around 1885 (although a 1939 newspaper article stated that one of Walter’s children was born in this house in 1876…), but it wasn’t until 1890 that it began to be mentioned in the society pages, most often as the site of lavish parties. (Click pictures and  articles to see larger images.)

bosque-bonita_dmn_020390Dallas  Morning News, Feb. 3, 1890

At the time, the Caruth house was one of the few buildings in this area — and it was surrounded by endless acres of corn and cotton crops. It wasn’t long, though, before Dallas development was on the march eastward and northward. This ad, for the new Belmont Addition, appeared in April of 1890, and it mentioned the Caruth place as a distinguished neighboring landmark.

belmont-addition_dmn_041690
DMN, April 16, 1890

By the turn of the century — after Caruth’s death in 1897 — it was inevitable that this part of town (which was not yet fully incorporated into the City of Dallas) would soon be dotted with homes and businesses.

caruth-farm_dmn_092703
DMN, Sept. 27, 1903

At one time the Caruth family owned land in and around Dallas which would be worth the equivalent of billions of dollars in today’s money. After Walter Caruth’s death, the Caruth family became embroiled in years of litigation, arguing over what land belonged to which part of the family. I‘m not sure when Walter Caruth’s land around his “farmhouse” began to be sold off, but by 1917, the Hardin School for Boys (established in 1910) moved into Bosque Bonita and set up shop. It operated at this location for two years. The Caruth house even appears in an ad.

hardin-school_dmn_071517_bosque-bonita_ad
DMN, July 15, 1917

I’m not sure if the Hardin School owned the land or was merely leasing it and the house, but in 1919, Ela Hockaday announced that she had purchased the land and planned to move her school — Miss Hockaday’s School for Girls (est. 1913) — to this block and build on it a two-story brick school building, a swimming pool (seen in the photo above), tennis courts, basketball courts, hockey fields, and quarters for staff and girls from out of town who boarded.

hockaday_dmn_051119DMN, May 11, 1919

hockaday_dmn_070619
DMN, July 6, 1919

Ground was broken in July of 1919, and the first session at the new campus began on schedule in September. Below, the building under construction. Greenville Avenue is just out of frame to the right.

hockaday_greenville_construction_hockaday100Photo: Hockaday 100

hockaday_greenville-ave_1919_reminiscences

hockaday_greenville-belmont_1920s_horses

The most interesting thing I read about the Hockaday school occupying this block is that very soon after opening, the beautiful Caruth house was moved from its original location at the northwest corner of Belmont and Greenville. It was rolled on logs to the middle and back of the property. “Bosque Bonita” became “Trent House.” Former student (and later teacher) Genevieve Hudson remembered the moving of the house in an oral history contained in the book Reminiscences: A Glimpse of Old East Dallas:

caruth-house_hockaday_reminiscences-bk

You can see the new location of the house in the top aerial photo, and in this one:

hockaday_aerial_dplDallas Public Library

Another interesting little tidbit was mentioned in a 1947 Dallas Morning News article: Caruth’s old hitching post was still on the property — “on Greenville Avenue 100 feet north of the Belmont corner” (DMN, May 2, 1947). I’d love to have seen that.

After 42 years of sustained growth at the Greenville Avenue location (and five years after the passing of Miss Hockaday), the prestigious Hockaday School moved to its current location in North Dallas just after Thanksgiving, 1961. Suddenly, a large and very desirable tract of land between Vickery Place and the M Streets was available to be developed. Neighbors feared the worst: high-rise apartments.

The developer proposed a “low-rise,” “semi-luxury” (?) group of four 5-story apartment buildings, each designed to accommodate specific tenants: one for swinging singles (“where the Patricia Stevens models live”), one for single or married adults, one for families with children, and one for “sedate and reserved adults.” It was to be called … “Hockaday Village.” The architect was A. Warren Morey, the man who went on to design the cool Holiday Inn on Central and, surprisingly, Texas Stadium.

Bosque Bonita — and all of the other school buildings — bit the dust in preparation for the apartment’s construction. Hockaday Village (…what would Miss Hockaday have thought of that name?) opened at the end of 1964.

hockaday-village_dmn_101864
Oct., 1964

hockaday-village_dmn_101864_carpet-of-treetops
Oct., 1964

hockaday-village_dmn_031365
March, 1965

And then before you knew it, it was the ’70s, the era of waterbeds and shag carpeting. (Miss Hockaday would not have tolerated such tackiness, and I seriously doubt that Mr. Caruth would have ever understood why shag carpeting was something anyone would actually want.)

hockaday-village_dmn_052271_waterbeds
1971

Then, in 1973, the insistently hip ads stopped. In April, 1974 this appeared:

hockaday-village_FWST_042874
Fort Worth Star-Telegram, April 28, 1974

The apartments were being offered for public auction by the “Office of Property Disposition” of the Federal Housing Authority and HUD. Doesn’t sound good. So who bit and took the plunge? The First Baptist Church of Dallas, that’s who. The plan was to redevelop the existing apartments into a retirement community called The Criswell Towers, to be named after Dr. W. A. Criswell. But a mere three months later, the Baptists realized they had bitten off more than they could chew — the price to convert the property into a “home for the aged” would be “astronomical.” They let the building go and took a loss of $135,000. It went back on the auction block.

Two years later, in the summer of 1976 … the old Hockaday Village became Belmont Towers — and the new owners must have thought the Baptists’ idea was a good one, because Belmont Towers advertised itself as “mature adult living at its finest” — “perfect for retired or semi-retired individuals.”

hockaday-village_dmn_043083_belmont-towers
April, 1983

It was Belmont Towers for 20-or-so years. In 1998, the buildings were renovated and updated, and it re-opened as Vickery Towers, still a retirement home and assisted living facility. A couple of years ago it was announced that the buildings would be demolished and a new development would be constructed in its place. It took forever for the 52-year-old complex to finally be put out of its misery since that announcement. Those buildings had been there my entire life and, like I said, it was a shock to see nothing at all in that block a few weeks ago.

vickery-towers_050516_danny-linn-photoPhoto: Danny Linn

In the 140-or-so years since Walter Caruth acquired this land in the 1870s or 1880s, it has been occupied by Caruth’s grand house, a boys school, the Hockaday School, and four buildings which have been apartments and a retirement community. And that’s it. That’s pretty unusual for development-crazy Dallas. I’ll miss those familiar old buildings. I hope that whatever is coming to replace them won’t be too bad.

greenville-belmont_bing_aerial
Bing Maps

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Sources & Notes

The top aerial photograph is from the Vickery Place neighborhood website, here. Belmont is the street running diagonally at the left, and Greenville is the street running diagonally at the right. I’m not sure of the date, but the Hockaday Junior College (which I had never heard of before) can be seen at the northwest corner of Belmont and Greenville — the original location of Bosque Bonita before it was rolled across the campus.

That fabulous photo of Bosque Bonita is from the book Dallas Rediscovered by William L. McDonald.

Photo of Hockaday girls playing tennis is from the book Reminiscences: A Glimpse of Old East Dallas.

Photo of girls on horseback … I’m not sure what the source of this photo is.

Photo of the block, post-razing is by Danny Linn who grew up in Vickery Place; used with permission. (Thanks, Danny!)

All other sources as noted.

In case you were confused, the Caruth Homeplace that most of us might know (which is just south of Northwest Highway and west of Central Expressway) was the home of Walter Caruth’s brother William — more on that Caruth house can be found here.

The Hockaday School can be seen on the 1922 Sanborn map here (that block is a trapezoid!).

More on the history of the Hockaday School can be found at the Hockaday 100 site; a page with many more photos is here. Read about the history of the school in the article “Miss Ela Builds a Home” by Patricia Conner Coggan in the Spring, 2002 issue of Legacies, here.

Additional information can be found in these Dallas Morning News articles:

  • “Proposal to Change Hockaday Site to Apartment Zoning Opposed” (DMN, Oct. 29, 1961)
  • “Retirement Home Plans Going Ahead” (regarding the purchase by the First Baptist Church of Dallas) (DMN, June 15, 1974)
  • “Church Takes $135,000 Loss on Property” (DMN, Sept. 10, 1974)

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If you made it all the way through this, thank you! I owe you a W. C. Fields “hearty handclasp.”

Photos and clippings larger when clicked.

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Copyright © 2016 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

Police Blotter — Drunks, Vagrants, Adulterers

jail-cell

by Paula Bosse

Today, a few snippets from the police and court reports about Dallas people doing things they shouldn’t have been doing. (All clippings are larger when clicked.)

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Drunkenness seems to have been the most common reason for arrest in the 1870s and 1880s (and probably still is today). The city “popped it to” a lot of people back in the 1880s.

drunk_dal-herald_021483Dallas Herald, Feb. 14, 1883

A “crazy boy” from Collin County eluded lawmen by running off into the Cedars (back when the area we still call “The Cedars” was actually full of cedar trees).

cedars_dallas-herald_042178Dallas Herald, April 21, 1878

A 14-year-old vagrant was given the scared-straight treatment. (Click for larger image.)

blotter_dallas-notes_FW-morning-register_021601“Dallas Notes” section in The Fort Worth Register, Feb. 16, 1901

But the real jackpot for the city looks like it might have been in ferreting out adulterers and violators of the Sunday Law (which in the 1880s usually meant selling alcohol on a Sunday, although it was a violation to operate any business or place of amusement on a Sunday).

In the adultery case below — in which the cheating couple was actually living together outside the bounds of legally-sanctioned wedlock — both parties were fined: the woman’s fine was a surprisingly high $100 (in today’s money about $2,500!), but the man’s fine was — let me find a chair — an unbelievably exorbitant $500 (equivalent today to over $12,000!!). And those who pooh-poohed the Sunday Law took an equally incredible hit. Sunday Law scofflaws such as Mr. R. F. Eisenlohr (who ran a respected market and pharmacy) (and who was the father of noted artist E. G. Eisenlohr) were punished with more than slaps on the wrists — in 1880, they were getting “popped” to the tune of five hundred bucks. (These fines seem excessive. Perhaps because they’re cases brought by the state rather than the city or county? I know that at this time the state was hell-bent on enforcing the Sunday Law because, basically, it was being flagrantly disregarded everywhere, so I’m wondering if a fine this steep was meant to send a message to others. But the adultery fine still seems outrageously high.)

courts_dallas-herald_022580Dallas Herald, Feb. 25, 1880

And sometimes crime beat reporters (and enterprising undertakers) have something of a slow day and can just kick back and ponder.

corpse_dal-herald_020982Dallas Herald, Feb. 9, 1882

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Sources & Notes

Top photo is from Flickr — as I recall, it is not a Texas jail — it might be one in Missouri. As I understand it, the 19th-century Dallas cell most drunks and vagrants would have been thrown into was nowhere near as luxurious as the one seen in this photo. More on that to come.

Interested in what those court fines of yesteryear would be equivalent to in today’s money? Check out the handy-dandy Inflation Calculator, here.

See the previous police blotter round-up — “Police Blotter — 1880s” — here.

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Copyright © 2016 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

The Volunteer Fire Department’s Early Days

sanger-bros_fire-department_dmn_030836aPumping water from an underground cistern (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

Dallas was constantly catching on fire in its early days. According to this very informative advertisement, Alex Sanger was one of the Dallas businessmen responsible for organizing the city’s first volunteer fire department. Interestingly, the Sanger Bros. department store also had a volunteer fire department which not only protected the store, but also served as a special unit of the Dallas Volunteer Fire Brigade.

The drawing above and the text below are from a 1936 Sanger Bros. advertisement. (Click to see larger images.)

sanger-bros_fire-department_dmn_030836b1936

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Copyright © 2016 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

D. B. Keiper, Cistern and Tank Builder

ad-keiper_cisterns_directory_1884Ad from the 1884 Dallas directory

by Paula Bosse

For all your cistern and tank needs, D. B. Keiper’s your man.

keiper_dallas-herald_061881Dallas Herald, June 18, 1881

keiper_dallas-herald_101384Dallas Herald, Oct. 13, 1884

keiper_dallas-herald_120484Dallas Herald, Dec. 4, 1884

keiper_dmn_091586Dallas Morning News, Sept. 15, 1886

keiper_dmn_093088DMN, Sept. 30, 1888

keiper_dmn-121391DMN, Dec. 13, 1891

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Top ad from the 1884 Dallas directory.

I didn’t find out much about the Pennsylvania-born David Butz Keiper (1827-1895), except that he bought a lot of lumber, sold a lot of cisterns and tanks, and took out a huge number of newspaper ads over the years.

One wonders if he might have built and installed the underground cistern of the Rosenfield house I wrote about in “The Blue House of Browder,” which was built around 1885 — this “for sale” ad appeared in 1887, when Keiper seemed to be Dallas’ king of cisterns:

1887_browder_dmn_050887-FOR-SALEDMN, May 8, 1887

Keiper specialized in underground wooden cisterns (made from cypress lumber) to hold collected rainwater, but there were many different types of cisterns in use around Texas in the nineteenth century. Mark H. Denton wrote an interesting article, “Cisterns in Texas,” for Current Archeology in Texas (April 2011), with illustrations but with little on wooden cisterns; read Denton’s article here (scroll to bottom of p. 4 of the PDF).

Image too small? Click it!

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Copyright © 2016 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

The Blue House on Browder

blue-house_homewardboundinc_2000
The Rosenfield house, in about 2000 (photo courtesy Homeward Bound, Inc.)

by Paula Bosse

Perhaps you’ve been following the recent brouhaha over the plans to demolish one of the last remaining 19th-century residences in the Cedars area, south of downtown — Robert Wilonsky of The Dallas Morning News has been covering the story here and here and here. The house is in terrible disrepair, but it has the beautiful details of the period, and it’s obvious that it was once a lovely house in a well-to-do neighborhood. Preservation Dallas posted this in-better-days photo on their Facebook page:

browder-house_preservation-dallas-FB-page

I thought I’d see what I could find about the history of the house — mainly I wanted to see if I could find who built it and when.

The house currently has the address 1423 Griffin, but before highways were built and streets were moved around, its address was 1015 Browder. Dallas changed almost every address in 1911, so I checked Jim Wheat’s very helpful scan of that year’s directory which tells us both the new and the old addresses of houses and businesses and also shows what cross-streets those addresses are between.

browder-house_1911-directory1911 directory, Browder Street

The original address of the Blue House was 285 Browder Street, between Corsicana and St. Louis. In 1911, P. F. Erb was living there.

Next, I checked the Sanborn maps. The earliest Sanborn map I could find which actually showed this part of Browder was the one from 1892. Here’s a detail showing the two-story frame house on the northwest corer of Browder and St. Louis, with Browder running horizontally along the top. The address is 285 Browder. (The house next to it is 169 St. Louis — more on that house later.)

sanborn_1892_285-browder_nw-corner-st-louis_sanborn-1892_sheet-21

When you look at the full-page map this detail comes from (here), you’ll see larger numbers in the middle of the blocks. The block I’m interested in is block 84. Then I hopped over to the Murphy & Bolanz block book to see what I could find there. (I haven’t actually used this block book much, mostly because my old computer would not work with the plug-in required to view the pages, and it takes a while to figure out what you’re looking at.) When I clicked on “Block 84” in the index, I found this (click for larger image):

murphy-bolanz_block-13_block-84

Here’s the detail of the pertinent block:

murphy-bolanz_det

The names and other assorted scrawls indicate title change (I think). This page was very helpful, because it told me that this block was originally part of Browder/Browder’s Addition, and it was originally classified as Block 13. The lot in question is Lot 5 (and probably Lot 6, because Erb’s name shows up under both. So now I had terms to search on.

And then it was just a tedious slog through the Dallas Herald archives (not to be confused with the Dallas Times Herald archives), the Dallas Morning News archives, and old city directories. Here’s what I found.

First mention of this particular parcel of land was in The Galveston News on March 24, 1883. P. S. Browder, a Browder family executor, transferred a lot of property — including the two lots I was interested in — to Mr. & Mrs. Nathan Godbold as part of a quitclaim deed (I’m probably not using the correct terminology here…). For one dollar.

1883-march_browder_galveston-news_032483_QUIT-CLAIMGalveston News, Mar. 24, 1883

A few inches of print over, the record shows that Godbold immediately sold Lots 5 and 6 to Dallas real estate czar Charles Bolanz (misspelled below). For $1,000.

1883-march_browder_galveston-news_032483_to-bolanzGalveston News, Mar. 24, 1883

A few months later, in July, it was reported that Bolanz had sold the adjoining two lots to T. S. Holden, a young man who worked as a salesman for a wholesale grocery firm but seemed to be engaged in land speculation on the side. (It’s a little odd that Bolanz sold it so quickly for a $200 loss, but I’m sure there was probably more to the story.)

1883-july_browder_galveston-news_070283_HOLDENGalveston News, July 2, 1883

At some point, these two lots were sold to Max Rosenfield, another young man who was buying up land in the hopes that its value would increase. From Dallas Rediscovered by William L. McDonald:

“The year 1884 also saw the opening of a new housing subdivision by two Jewish real estate speculators, Gerson Meyer and Max Rosenfield. Their development, bounded by Akard, Corsicana, Browder, and St. Louis streets, was sold primarily to Jewish families who had begun to arrive as early as 1872 as part of the ‘Corsicana crowd’ — the terminal merchants who followed the construction of the H&TC.”

[I couldn’t find anything else about this block being a “sub-division,” but there definitely was a “Rosenfield & Meyer’s Addition” in East Dallas as early as 1886 — see the bottom of this post for more information on Gerson Meyer and the Murphy & Bolanz map of their East Dallas addition.]

In the 1886 city directory, Max Rosenfield is listed as residing at 1118 Browder, which may well have been an address that lasted for a very, very short time — Browder is a very short street, and I wonder if Rosenfield was renumbering addresses in his new development. It does appear to be Lot 5 of the block he and Meyer were developing, though. (Henrietta Rosenfield, widow of Jonas Rosenfield, was Max’s mother, and she lived with or near Max for several years.)

1886_rosenfield_1886-directory_1118-browder1886 Dallas directory

In early 1887, a For Sale ad appeared in the Herald — real estate agents Ducker  & Dudleigh were offering what appears to be Lots 5 and 6. By this time, houses had been built on both lots. (The  numbers 101 and 102 are confusing here, but the property being offered is the lot at the northwest corner of Browder and St. Louis and the lot adjoining it.) The price for the two-story house on Lot 5 was $6,250, which the Inflation Calculator adjusts to being about $166,000 in today’s money, taking into account inflation (but not taking into account Dallas’ outrageous real estate prices!).

1887_browder_dmn_050887-FOR-SALEDMN, May 8, 1887 (click for larger image)

It doesn’t look like either property sold, because a few months later, the 1888 directory showed Max still living in the Lot 5 house facing Browder and mother Henrietta living in the Lot 6 house at 169 St. Louis.

1888_rosenfield_1888-directory1888 Dallas directory

Rosenfield placed a For Rent ad in the paper in Feb. of 1889, offering his corner house on Browder.

1889_rosenfield_dmn_021389DMN, Feb. 13, 1889

This appears to have been when businessman Milton Dargan moved in. He is listed as moving into the house at about this time in the addenda section of late changes for the 1889 directory (directories were usually compiled in the year before they were actually published).

1889_dargan_1889-addenda-listing1889 Dallas directory

In that same directory, Rosenfield had moved in with his mother in the adjoining property.

1889_rosenfield_1889-directory1889 Dallas directory

At some point Dargan bought the corner house. Henrietta continued to live in the St. Louis-facing house until about 1892, when she moved in with Max at his new home on Akard.

And, finally, the “285” address shows up in a directory, in 1891.

1891_dargan_1891-directory1891 Dallas directory

Paul F. Erb bought the Browder house from Dargan in 1896 (he also bought the adjoining Lot 6 house facing St. Louis in 1910).

1897_erb_1897-directory1897 Dallas directory

And we’re back to Paul Erb, seen in the 1911 directory listing old and new addresses at 1015/285 Browder.

browder-house_1911-directory1911 Dallas directory

Yay!

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That was a long way to go to establish a chain of ownership. (I’m sure it would have been faster and easier to have consulted city records.)

So. Without access to building permits, it looks as if Max Rosenfield (who, by the way, was the father of John Rosenfield — born Max John Rosenfield, Jr. — legendary arts critic for The Dallas Morning News) was the person who built the 130-year-old house now going through the process of probably being torn down soon. It appears to have been built in 1884 or 1885. In a 1935 Dallas Morning News article celebrating the 50th wedding anniversary of Mr. and Mrs. Max Rosenfield, the house is mentioned: “…their first home, a house built by Mr. Rosenfield and still standing on the northwest corner of Browder and St. Louis streets…” (see the article “Mr. and Mrs. M. J. Rosenfield To Observe 50th Anniversary,” DMN, Jan. 6, 1935).

Below is a photo of Max Rosenfield and his new bride, Jenny, probably taken the same year the house was built, 1885-ish, when Max was 26 years old.

rosenfields_ca-1885_ancestry

Thank you for building such a pretty  house, Mr. Rosenfield. Maybe some magnanimous person with deep pockets can have it moved to a new location and restore it to its former loveliness.

rosenfield-max_1935Mr. and Mrs. M. J. Rosenfield, on their 50th anniversary

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Here’s a detail of an 1893 map of the area, with the house in question marked.

browder-house_1893-map

And here’s the lonely little house in its present hemmed-in location.

browder-house_bingBing Maps

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Sources & Notes

Top photo, taken around 2000, from Homeward Bound, Inc., used with permission. Homeward Bound, Inc. took over the house in 1986 (and owned it until October, 2015) for use as Trinity Recovery Center, a substance abuse treatment center. The organization tried hard to save the house, but, according to Homeward Bound, Inc. Executive Director Douglas Denton, when they approached Dallas’ Landmark Commission in the 1990s, “they were not interested in the building.” Thanks to Mr. Denton for allowing me to use this photo, which shows the beauty of the old house better than any other photo of it that I’ve seen. He points to the photo below as an example of what this Cedars neighborhood once looked like. The caption for the photo in McDonald’s Dallas Rediscovered (p. 125): “Looking north toward downtown along Browder Street near the corner of Cadiz, 1895. These homes, built in the early 1890s, began to be razed in the late 1930s and early 1940s for parking space in the expanding business district.” (Photo: Dallas Public Libary)

browder-near-cadiz_ca1895

This would have been about two blocks from the Rosenfield house. Imagine what that neighborhood once looked like!

Watch a news report on the outcry over the possible demolition of this house on the WFAA website, here.

The Dallas Morning News article on the 50th wedding anniversary of Mr. and Mrs. Max Rosenfield in which it is mentioned that Max built the house (“…their first home, a house built by Mr. Rosenfield and still standing on the northwest corner of Browder and St. Louis streets…”) is “Mr. and Mrs. M. J. Rosenfield To Observe 50th Anniversary” (DMN, Jan. 6, 1935).

Photo of the Rosenfields as a newly married couple found on Ancestry.com.

50th anniversary photo of Mr. and Mrs. Rosenfield is from the book John Rosenfield’s Dallas by Ronald L. Davis (Dallas: Three Forks Press, 2002).

All other sources as cited.

Max J. Rosenfield died in 1935 at the age of 76. His very interesting obituary (probably written by his son, John Rosenfield, amusements editor of The Dallas Morning News), can be found in the Dec. 2, 1935 edition of The News: “M. J. Rosenfield, Business Leader Many Years, Dies.”

It’s worth trying to figure out how to use the Murphy & Bolanz block books, courtesy of the Texas/Dallas History and Archives Division of the Dallas Public Library. Background on these very useful books can be found here.

If I’ve made any mistakes or have drawn any incorrect assumptions, please let me know!

browder-house_then-now

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UPDATE: Max Rosenfield developed a real estate partnership with Gerson Meyer, both of whom worked for Sanger Bros. department store. They bought and sold real estate (often to fellow Sanger’s employees), apparently as a lucrative side-business (Rosenfield even conducted his real estate transactions from his Sanger Bros. office). They apparently had acquired enough land by 1886 to have their own “addition” — “Rosenfield and Meyer’s Addition” in East Dallas. The earliest mention I found of it was this ad from May, 1886.

rosenfield-and-meyer-addition_dmn_052786DMN, May 27, 1886

Their addition was in East Dallas. Below, the map from the Murphy & Bolanz block book (click for larger image):

rosenfield-and-meyers-addition_murphy-bolanz

Gerson Meyer (a Jewish German immigrant, just a couple of years older than Rosenfield), moved to St. Paul, Minnesota in 1897 and continued working for several years in men’s clothing.

If something looks too small, click it!

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Copyright © 2016 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

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