John W. Smothers (1869-1925) came to Dallas from Huntsville, Missouri around 1890 to begin his career as a “tinner” working for a family friend/in-law, Frank T. Payne. By 1905, Smothers had married a girl from back home, had a child, and had apparently done well enough in the trade to buy a lot on College Ave. (now N. Hall St., in Old East Dallas) where he built his own tin-manufacturing shop, specializing in various sheet metal work.
1909 city directory ad
It looks like this business lasted until about 1918, when Smothers retired and sold the building to his old friend, F. T. Payne. It became a grocery store in 1919. Smothers died in 1925 at the age of 56 — his death certificate lists the cause of death, somewhat alarmingly, as “exhaustion and malnutrition” following a long illness — an extreme case of St. Vitus Dance.
Originally 212 N. College Ave., the address of Smothers’ tin shop became 912 N. College Ave. in 1911 when new addresses were assigned around the city. (See the location of the shop on a 1921 Sanborn map here.) It sat diagonally across the street from Engine Company No. 3, seen below in a photo from about 1901:
Fire station, Gaston & College, ca. 1901
College Avenue was renamed and became Hall Street around 1946, and the address of the old tin shop building changed again, to 912 N. Hall Street, which is in the area now swallowed up by Baylor Hospital (see what 912 N. Hall looks like now on Google Street View, here).
Sources & Notes
Top photo found on eBay. A copy is also in the George W. Cook Dallas/Texas Image Collection, DeGolyer Library, Southern Methodist University — it can be accessed here. The SMU photo (apparently from the collection of Ralph Smothers, John’s son) has a notation on the back which reads “912 College Ave. <now Hall St.> about 1913 or 14? John Smothers [in car], [James E.] Curly Wilson left, Bob Critcher right.”
Photo of the fire station with the ghostly horse is by Clifton Church and is from the Dallas Fire Department Annual, 1901, which can be viewed in its entirety on the Portal to Texas History, here. (I used this image in my 2016 post “Dallas Fire Stations — 1901.”)
(“Tinner” was not an unusual word to have come across in the early part of the 20th century, but in the 1910 census, the enumerator was either confused or did not understand what was being said, because Smothers’ trade is listed as “tuner” — it looks like the enumerator then just made a weird leap to attempt to explain this and added “piano” under “General Nature of Business,” which Ancestry.com then repeats in its OCR-generated records. That “piano tuner” profession caused me a lot of confusion! To add insult to injury, OCR tells us that his occupation in 1900 was “turner,” and an illegible entry in the 1920 census transforms him into a “retired farmer”! Always approach census record information with a grain of salt — for many, many reasons!)
There has been some heavy-duty editing to this post!
Here’s an interesting photo I stumbled across last night on the City of Dallas website. There wasn’t any information about it, but it appears to be a view to the east, taken from the 1400 block of Elm Street (where Exchange Place — originally Scollard Court — intersects). See what it looks like today on Google Street View here.
The main landmarks are what I call the Wilson Building Jr. (the tall dark building in the distance, located on Elm near Ervay), the Praetorian Building (the tall white building at the right, at Main and Stone), and L. W. Gentry’s photography studio in the middle of the photo at the right.
Gentry’s was upstairs at 1304 Elm from about 1904 until about 1911. In 1912, Gentry moved a block down the street to 1502 Elm, at Akard, where he took over the upstairs studio of photographer J. C. Deane. (I wrote about Deane and this building here.)
There is a sign reading “Empress” at the left. That was the Empress Theatre, which was at 1409 Elm from about 1912 to 1915. Directly across the street is a 3-story building with a sign for the Spirella Corset Parlors at 1410 Elm.
Back to the left, across the street, is the hard-to-read sign for Studebaker Bros. of Texas at 1405 Elm. Directly across the street is the new Kress Building (you can see part of the distinctive “K” from the company’s logo at the top right). Kress was at 1404-8 Elm — the building was erected in 1911 and opened that same year in November.
The “new Wilson Building” was also built in 1911, and Gentry’s took over the space above T. J. Britton’s store at Elm and Akard in 1912. And all these places appeared in the 1912 directory (except for the Empress, which was open in 1912 but might not have made the listing deadline). So I’m going to guess that this photo is from 1912 or 1913.
1912 Dallas directory, Elm Street
But this photo looks older than 1912. So many horses! The only vehicle not pulled by a horse in this photo is the streetcar. Where are the cars? In 1911, Dallas was pretty car-crazy — you’d expect to see at least ONE horseless carriage in there somewhere. It doesn’t sound like a lot, but in 1911, there were about one thousand automobiles registered in Dallas County, and the city was quickly becoming a major distribution hub for car companies (“Dallas Automobile Center of the Southwest,” Dallas Morning News, Dec. 31, 1911). (Check out this photo from 1911 taken a couple of blocks away. The only animals seen are actually riding IN an automobile!) Were cars banned from Elm Street? Seems unlikely. …I’m pretty sure I’m overthinking this.
(Ironically enough, the full entry for Studebaker Bros. which appears in the 1912 directory reads: “Carriages, wagons, buggies, street sprinklers, harness.” Nary a mention of an automobile. That arrived the following year.)
It might just be that I’ve had a very stressful couple of weeks, and it was really late when I originally wrote this. But I’ve had a refreshing night’s sleep, and I’m still fixating on this car thing. (Shouldn’t there be cars on Elm Street in 1912?) So I’m just going to stop looking at this photo, assume that it was snapped when all cars in the area were just out of frame, and wrap this thing up.
Photo found on the City of Dallas website, here (banner photo).
I have edited this after seeing the reader comment below. I realized that I was basing the original location on Lemuel W. Gentry’s first studio, which was a block or two west from the one seen in the photo. (I kept saying to myself, “That building looks so much like the one the Deane studio was in.” Because… it was theexact same building!) Thanks, NotBob.
Here’s a closer shot of Gentry’s studio around 1915 — on the southeast corner of Elm and Akard, right across the street from the new Queen Theatre. (This photo originally appeared in this post.)
Out for a leisurely ride through the park. Have derby, will travel.
Sources & Notes
This real-photo postcard from January, 1907 was addressed to 19-year-old Gussie Holland, then studying in Maryland. Gussie was the daughter of the Dallas publisher and former mayor, Franklin Pierce Holland. Found on eBay.
And, lastly, my favorite of these miscellaneous images: the 2200 block of 2nd Avenue (from about Metropolitan — a couple of blocks south of Fair Park). This part of town used to be really interesting. Unfortunately, it looks nothing like this now (see it on Google Street View here). This is a screenshot from the KERA-produced documentary “South Dallas Pop” (which you can watch in its entirety here).
Sources & Notes
All images found on eBay except for the following: Preston-Royal Mobil station, from Coltera’s Flickr stream; LBJ photo from Red Oak Kid’s Flickr stream; and the photo of 2nd Avenue, which might be from the collection of the Dallas Public Library.
Lordy, it was hot today. At one point I looked at my phone and it told me it was 112° (but thanks to the chill factor, it felt like a refreshing 110°). It’s 10:00 p.m. and it’s 100°. That’s too many degrees.
Above is a photo of a horse-drawn Dallas Ice Factory wagon and its driver. There was probably ice in there.
Here’s an ad from 1888 showing the factory:
1888 Dallas directory
Here’s an ad from 1894 not showing the factory:
1894 Dallas directory
Here’s a link to an 1899 Sanborn map showing you where the Dallas Ice Factory was located (in Old East Dallas, at Swiss and Hall): link.
That’s about all I can muster. It’s too dang hot.
Sources & Notes
Photo from a 2011 eBay listing, reproduced in The Dallas Observer by Robert Wilonsky; now owned by Peter Kurilecz.
Ads from Dallas directories.
Heat from the sun.
And here’s an ice-factory-related post I actually did some work on, when I wasn’t feeling like a sweaty, limp dishrag (…a long, long time ago…): “Oak Lawn Ice & Fuel Co.”
The fleet… (click to see larger image) / Photo: Krystal Morris
by Paula Bosse
Above, another great Dallas photo shared by a reader — this one shows the Oak Lawn Ice & Fuel Co., which sold ice to independent dealers and to retail customers. Krystal Morris sent in the family photo — her great-great-grandfather J. F. Finney is standing next to the horse-drawn wagon.
The first mention I found of the Oak Lawn Ice & Fuel Co. was in a notice of “New Texas Charters” in Dec., 1912 (there was a classified ad from Dec., 1909, but that appears to be either another company with the same name or an earlier incarnation of the business seen above). Below, an ad from 1913:
The company was located at 3307 Lemmon Avenue, at the MKT railroad track (now the Katy Trail) — on Lemmon between the railroad tracks and Travis Street (see the location on a map composed of two badly-cobbled-together Sanborn maps from 1921 here). The location is marked on a present-day Google map below (click to see a larger image):
In 1917, the City of Dallas, in partnership with the Missouri, Kansas & Texas Railroad began to eliminate grade crossings in the Oak Lawn area — one of those crossings was at Lemmon Avenue: Lemmon was to be lowered and the MKT tracks were to be raised. Oak Lawn Ice & Fuel Co. General Manager Clarence E. Kennemer (who, along with his brothers, operated something of an ice empire in Texas) was concerned about the negative impact of this construction on his business. (All images are larger when clicked.)
Dallas Morning News, Jan. 31, 1917
To the surprise of many, the ice company was awarded damages by the city.
DMN, Dec. 6, 1917
Things apparently continued fairly well until 1920 when the company began to experience tensions with its residential neighbors. Early in the year, city building inspectors responded to nuisance complaints and ordered the company to move its horse stables as they were too close to adjoining residences (ice delivery even into the 1940s and possibly 1950s was often done via horse-drawn wagons). Later the same year, still-unhappy neighbors filed suit to “force the company to remove its plant from the thickly settled residence district” (DMN, Dec. 1, 1920). The ice company appears to have won the lawsuit, since the company (under various names) was at 3307 Lemmon until at least 1939 or ’40, but these problems might have led them to build a new plant at Cole and what is now Monticello in 1922 (as with the Lemmon location, this new plant was also built alongside the MKT tracks). The mere prospect of this new icehouse was met with loud protests by the new neighborhood — before construction even began — but a judge ruled in favor of the ice people. Construction went ahead, and the plant was a neighborhood fixture for many years. (See the location on a 1921 Sanborn map here; “Gertrude” — near the top edge — was the original name of Monticello Avenue.)
In 1923, ads for the Oak Lawn Ice & Fuel Co. began displaying both addresses: the original location, 3307 Lemmon, was now being referred to as “Plant No. 2,” and the new location, 4901 Cole, was being referred to as the “Main Office/Plant No. 1.”
1923 Dallas city directory
By 1924 the company expanded as it absorbed other ice companies.
By 1925, “Oak Lawn Ice & Fuel Company” had become “American Ice Co.” (another C. E. Kennemer enterprise).
By 1933, American Ice Co. was swallowed up by City Ice Delivery Co.
1934 Dallas city directory
In the late 1930s or early 1940s City Ice Delivery Co. was acquired by Southland Ice (the forerunner of the Southland Corp., owners of 7-Eleven convenience stores). The Lemmon Avenue location became a meat-packing plant sometime in the mid-’40s (if neighbors were bent out of shape by an ice company, imagine how they felt about a meat-packing plant!); the Cole location became a 7-Eleven store and later a Southland Corp. division office.
But back to Jonathan F. Finney, the man standing next to the ice wagon in the top photo. He came to Dallas from Alabama around 1916 and bought a house at 3001 Carlisle Street, where he lived for most of his life in Dallas. His occupation was “ice dealer,” and he seems to have worked in both the wholesale and retail areas, as a driver, a salesman, and even for a while the owner of his own company. His great-great-granddaughter Krystal Morris (supplier of these wonderful family photos) says she believes he was the manager of the Oak Lawn Ice & Fuel Co. The 1932 directory lists him as foreman of the City Ice Delivery Co., and as he lived at 3001 Carlisle, it seems to make more sense he was working at the Lemmon Ave. location (which was less than half a mile away from his home) rather the Cole Ave. location. The actual address of the photo at the top is unknown, but it may show the Lemmon Ave. location when Finney was working as an independent ice dealer, standing beside his own wagon.
Below, the Finney family around 1920 (J. F., daughters Thelma and Viva Sue, and wife Wenona), and below that, their house at 3001 Carlisle (which was at the corner of Carlisle and Sneed — seen in a 1921 Sanborn map here).
Finney family, circa 1920 / Photo: Krystal Morris
3001 Carlisle, Finney family home / Photo: Krystal Morris
J. F. Finney, born in 1885, died in Dallas in 1962, long after the era of necessary daily ice deliveries to residences and businesses. The occupation listed on his death certificate was “painter” but I have a feeling “once an iceman, always an iceman.”
Sources & Notes
All photographs are from the family photos of Krystal Morris and are used with her permission. Thank you, Krystal!
The history of ice delivery is very interesting, especially to those of us who have never lived in a house without an electric refrigerator. Here are links-a-plenty on the subject:
“Icehouses — Vintage Spaces with a Cool History” by Randy Mallory (Texas Highways, Aug., 2000) here (additional photos can be found in the scanned issue on the Portal to Texas History site, here)
“Keeping Your (Food) Cool: From Ice Harvesting to Electric Refrigeration” by Emma Grahn on the Smithsonian National Museum of American History blog, here
“Delivering the Ice: Ice Wagons” — from an online exhibit based on an exhibit that was on display at the Woods Hole Historical Museum in Woods Hole, Massachusetts during the summer of 2015, here
“Portals to the Past: Golden Days of Home Delivery (ice, as well as bread, milk, groceries, etc.) by Waco historian Claire Masters, here
“The Iceman Cometh” by Dick Sheaff from the Ephemera Society of America blog, here
Here’s a fantastic little clip of a woman ice deliverer manning the tongs (and wearing heels):
And, lastly, the Southland Corp. to the rescue with an ad from Dec., 1948 with news of the arrival in Dallas of “genuine” ice cubes! “Now for the first time in Dallas: Genuine Taste-Free, Hard Frozen, Crystal Clear Ice Cubes delivered to your home!”
Munger Place, the beginning… (click for larger image)
by Paula Bosse
Here are a few photos from a great item found in the collection of SMU’s DeGolyer Library: a promotional booklet on the wonders to be found at the new East Dallas development called Munger Place. The photos show the construction of what would become one of the most exclusive neighborhoods in Dallas, developed by Robert S. Munger (of Continental Gin Co. fame) and his son C. H. Munger. (His son’s first name was “Collett” — as in “Collett Avenue,” which I had always thought was named after one of the elder Munger’s daughters. But it turns out that “Collett” was the maiden name of C. H.’s mother. I’ve only ever heard the street name pronounced like the woman’s name “Colette,” but I have a feeling it might have originally been pronounced as rhyming with “wallet.”) (UPDATE: According to a Munger relative, the street name *should* actually be pronounced to rhyme with “wallet.”)
Location, location, location. Not quite within the city limits at this time, but close. (All images are larger when clicked.)
Caption: “At work.”
Caption: “Building street railroad.” (This appears to be Collett Avenue.)
Caption: “At work at intersection of Collett Avenue and Junius Street.”
Caption: “Collett Avenue, looking toward St. Mary’s from Junius Street.”
Caption: “Gaston Avenue — looking toward the city at intersection of Collett Avenue.” (Today this intersection looks like this.)
Caption: “Swiss Avenue — this was a corn field, with barb wire fences and hedges, about a year ago.”
Map of Dallas, circa 1905, with Munger Place highlighted.
Think you might want to live in “The Place”? Here’s who you need to contact (interesting that the Walter Caruth house is mentioned here…):
Collett Henry Munger — who lived in Munger Place, at 5400 Swiss — died from a heart attack at the young age of 48.
C. H. Munger (1879-1928)
The earliest mention of “Munger Place” I found in The Dallas Morning News was this classified from May 21, 1905:
May 21, 1905
Work was well underway by 1906:
DMN, Sept. 1, 1906
A call for “an expert landscape gardener” went out that same year:
Oct. 14, 1906
Not yet ready for lots to go on sale, the public was invited to head to East Dallas to take a look at the progress (“bring your friends and visitors to the Fair”).
Oct. 21, 1906
This rendering of the Swiss Avenue entrance was, interestingly, prepared by the architectural firm of Sanguinet, Staats & Hill, who designed several Munger Place residences (including Collett Munger’s).
DMN, Jan. 1, 1907
A sort of “teaser” ad (with a great photo of the intersection of Swiss and Munger) appeared in March, 1907:
March 24, 1907
In April, 1907, it was announced that finally lots would be available for purchase (but only 40…), with big discounts for those who promised to build immediately.
April 14, 1907
“Let it rain…. NO MUD IN MUNGER PLACE at any time.” Apparently a big selling point in 1907!
May 3, 1907
By 1909 things were really starting to come together for what quickly became one of the most exclusive (and highly restricted…) neighborhoods in the entire city.
Worley’s Dallas directory, 1909 ad
Sources & Notes
Photos of Munger Place under construction, map, and text on yellow background are from the promotional booklet “Munger Place: Dallas, Texas,” from the collection of the DeGolyer Library, Central University Libraries, Southern Methodist University; the entire booklet has been scanned by SMU and is available for free download here.
The last image is an ad from the 1909 Worley’s Dallas directory.
Read “Munger Place: Report of Nomination for Landmark Designation as a City Historic District” prepared by the City of Dallas Department of Urban Planning (1980), here.
More on Munger Place and the Munger family can be found is these Flashback Dallas posts:
Here’s another great photo from the George W. Cook collection at SMU. This one shows Main Street sometime between 1899 and 1902 (the year asphalt was laid on Main and the year that Sanger Bros. expanded their building from two stories to six); we’re looking east from Market Street. (The aesthetically challenging view as seen today on Google is here.)
On the north side of Main (at the left), we can see horse-drawn wagons parked in front of a group of businesses including Konantz Saddlery Co., Ben F. Wolfe & Co. (machinery), a banner across the sidewalk for the Southwestern Electrical Engineering & Construction Co., Swope & Mangold wholesale and retail liquor company; then past Austin Street, on the corner, is the Trust Building, with the then-two-story Sanger Bros. building right next door (Sanger’s would build that up to six floors in 1902 and would eventually take over the Trust Building); across Lamar is the North Texas Building, with Charles L. Dexter’s insurance company advertised on the side; and, beyond, the Scollard Building, etc. The Windsor Hotel can be seen on the south side of the street in the foreground. And in the middle, an almost empty little streetcar with “Swiss Av.” on it, moving down Main underneath a canopy of hundreds of ugly electric wires zig-zagging overhead. Let’s zoom in around the photo to see a few closeups (all images are much larger when clicked).
Wagons parked at the curb:
Is that someone in the window looking down the street?
Swope & Mangold was one of the oldest “liquor concerns” in turn-of-the-century North Texas.
The electric streetcar shared the roadway with horses, buggies, and wagons.
I can’t quite make out the writing on the umbrella or on the sign posted on the pole. Part of the old Windsor Hotel can be seen at the right. At the bottom corner is a shop that sold “notions” and household goods, and just out of frame were a fish market and a meat market.
And the little Swiss Avenue car 234. Lotsa free seats.
Here’s another view of Main Street looking east, taken around the same time. There’s even a streetcar in about the same spot.
See the 1899 Sanborn map for this general area here (note that Record Street was once Jefferson Street).
Sources & Notes
Top photo — titled “Main Street between Austin and Market Streets” — is from the George W. Cook Dallas/Texas Image Collection, DeGolyer Library, Central University Libraries, Southern Methodist University; more information on this photo is here.
The circa-1900 bird’s-eye view photo at the bottom is from the collection of the Dallas Historical Society, found in the book Dallas Rediscovered by William L. McDonald (p. 42).
Powered by oats, electricity, and gasoline… (click for larger image)
by Paula Bosse
Here’s Main Street, looking east, from about Field. This is another of those odd photos showing streets shared by horse-drawn buggies and automobiles. And an electric streetcar. The days of those horses clip-clopping down Main Street were limited. (And I’m sure the horses were much-relieved.)
This photo was taken sometime between 1909, when the Praetorian Building opened (it’s the tall white building in the background, with the Wilson Building behind it at the other end of the block), and 1911, when the street numbers changed (you can see the address of “303” next to the words “Santa Fe” — the Gulf, Colorado & Santa Fe Railway offices were at 303 Main Street in the 1909 city directory).
Also seen in this photo are the tall Scollard Building (the one with the advertising painted on its side) and, one building away, the Imperial Hotel.
Photo from a pamphlet for the Texas State Historical Association’s annual meeting in Dallas in 1977, found on the Portal to Texas History, here. Sadly, the photo was printed in sepia ink, which, argh. As always, if you know of a sharper image, please let me know!
Giant horses at the ready… (click for larger image)
by Paula Bosse
I came across this undated photo a couple of years ago on eBay, and it took a little bit of digging to come up with just what was going on here.
The Wilson & Co. meat packing and processing business began in Chicago in 1916 and quickly became one of the nation’s largest meatpackers, right up there with Armour and Swift. It expanded across the country, and one of its plants was in Dallas — in Unit 3 of the Santa Fe complex of buildings, located on Wood Street, between Field and what is now Griffin. (This building was later known as the Ingram Freezer Building and was demolished in 1988.) The Wilson company was acquired by Dallas-based LTV in 1967, and was later “spun off” from LTV in 1981
The Wilson company had owned a prize-winning “six-horse hitch” of Clydesdale horses since 1917, and they were sent around the country to promote the company and its line of processed meats. Not only were the horses prize-winners at livestock shows, they were also incredibly popular with the public. (They had made a huge splash at the Chicago World’s Fair in 1933, and it seems Budweiser took note of the promotional possibilities of the impressive animals, as the Anheuser-Busch Co. ended up buying the original team from Wilson that same year. So there were at least two competing Clydesdale teams clomping along the downtown streets of America, through at least the late ’60s.)
The photo above was taken when Wilson & Co.’s horse celebs visited Dallas in May, 1951. During their time in Big D they paraded through downtown at noontime and entertained workers on lunch breaks; at night they bunked in temporary stables in the service department of a Pacific Avenue car dealership. The photo at the top shows a public service event in which the Dallas Junior Chamber of Commerce promoted traffic safety in conjunction with the visiting horses. In the photo, the Wilson company employees (who have somehow managed to block the view of several thousand pounds of horseflesh and the huge 1890s wagon behind them) look happy during their little photo-op break from work. And in the background, we see the Adolphus Hotel (…built by the man behind Budweiser beer…), the Magnolia Building, and the Baker Hotel.
All this kind of makes me want a ham sandwich and a bottle of beer….
Below, a postcard advertising the appearance of the Wilson “Champion Six-Horse Team” at the 1936 Texas Centennial:
Sources & Notes
Photo found on eBay in 2014; on the back is the stamp of photographer Denny Hayes.
Texas Centennial postcard from eBay.
See an unimpeded view of the famous six-horse team of Clydesdales (each of which weighed, on average, two thousand pounds) in a 1954 Cedar Rapids Gazette photo, here.
A couple of interesting tidbits about the Wilson company and about the horses:
Thomas E. Wilson, the founder of the meatpacking company also founded Wilson Sporting Goods
As a celebratory nod to the end of Prohibition, the famed Budweiser Clydesdales were purchased from Wilson in 1933 — this was Wilson’s original team from 1917. (Clydesdale horses generally live for 20-25 years.)