Flashback : Dallas

A Miscellany: History, Ads, Pop Culture

Category: Horse-drawn Conveyances

The Smith Brothers Can Set You Up With a Hearse … Or a Cab — 1888

ad-dallas-cab-undertaker_imm-gd-1889Need a ride? (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

Need a hearse? No? Then how ’bout a cab?

Diversification is the key to success! Ed. C. and G. D. Smith — of the Ed. C. & Bro. Undertakers and Embalmers — branched out from the hum-drum world of mortuary science and entered the exciting world of transportation-for-hire (it really IS only a short jump from hearse to cab). Their Dallas Cab Co. provided the city with something brand new: Gurney cab service.

The “Gurney cab” was the invention of Bostonian J. Theodore Gurney — it was a two-wheeled, horse-drawn cab into which passengers entered through the back and, for a quarter, rode in sleek, well-appointed comfort. This new form of conveyance was an alternative to the larger, clunkier, slower “hacks.” Gurney patented his cab in 1883 and traveled around the country promoting his vehicle to large cities. He visited Dallas in March, 1888:

gurney_dmn_031888Dallas Morning News, March 18, 1888

He must have been pretty persuasive, because the “Gurney cabs” went on the streets less than three weeks later:

gurney_fwdailygazette_040588Fort Worth Daily Gazette, April 5, 1888

Gurney worked his way around Texas. Next stop was Fort Worth:

gurney_fwdailygazette_041488FWDG, April 14, 1888

Then Austin:

gurney_austin-weekly-statesman_042688Austin Weekly Statesman, April 26, 1888

As to whether the more familiar hospital “gurney” (a wheeled stretcher) has any connections, some say yes and some say no (both arguments can be read here). Wouldn’t it be great if those Smith boys went into stretcher manufacturing a few years later? Cabs — stretchers — hearses: they’ve got you covered … coming and going.


Ads from The Immigrant’s Guide to Texas — City of Dallas, 1888. They did, in fact, appear on the same page.


An interesting article — “The Short, Contentious, History of the Gurney Cab Company in San Francisco” by Donald Anderson — can be read here.

The fare for hiring a Gurney cab was 25 cents, which according to the Inflation Calculator, was about $6.00 in today’s money.

Click top ad for larger image.


Copyright © 2014 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Jordan Moore

jordan-moore-buggy_c1905Jordan Moore, about 1905 (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

When wandering around the internet, one often encounters arresting images. Like the one above. There’s something about that photograph that grabs your attention. The stoic man in the buggy, the stiff, straight-standing horse, the child hiding behind the pole, the partial view of the porch of a fancy house, and the horrible, horrible condition of that street. The description reads simply: “Photograph of Jordan Moore seated in a horse-drawn carriage. Houses are visible in the background.” I wondered if I should know who Jordan Moore was, because the name wasn’t familiar. The photograph was in the collection that had been donated to the Dallas Historical Society by J. L. Patton, a prominent African-American educator. I found a few more photos of Mr. Moore in Patton’s collection, but I still had no idea who Jordan Moore was. So I did a little research.

Jordan Moore was born in Virginia in 1863. At some point he made it to Texas, perhaps in the early 1880s, and then to Dallas a few years later. By 1893 he was working for Mrs. Miranda Morrill, who had moved to Dallas in 1886, following the death of her husband, Judge Amos Morrill. Though born in Tennessee, Mrs. Morrill had moved to Texas as a child in 1834 and had strong ties to the state (one of her uncles was a signer of the Texas Declaration of Independence). When she arrived in Dallas, she built an imposing mansion at Ross and Harwood and, as she had no children, she and her servants (as they were listed on census forms) had that huge house to themselves to ramble around in. Mrs. Morrill was a prominent mover-and-shaker in town, devoting her time and money to a host of worthy social causes. In her employ was Jordan Moore, who is listed variously as her coachman and yardman, and who resided on the property. He worked for her until she died in 1906 at the age of 80.

(Mrs. Morrill’s obituary is interesting for many reasons, but particularly because amongst her surviving family members were her half-brothers R. L. Moore and S. J. Moore, sons of Mrs. Morrill’s stepfather. I don’t know if Jordan Moore was born into slavery and was owned by members of Mrs. Morrill’s family, but it’s interesting that he shared a surname with his employer’s family.)

In 1907, after Mrs. Morrill’s death, Mr. Moore had moved to rooms elsewhere and went to work as a porter for the very large, very successful Huey & Philp Hardware Company at Griffin and Elm. Below are a couple of photographs of Moore and co-workers on the loading docks. He does not look very happy. He stayed at the job for 11 years but moved around from rooming house to rooming house — from Ross to Cochran to N. Harwood to Masten. (One of the captions on these photos states that Mr. Moore purchased a house on Cochran St. in 1900. I don’t think that’s correct. If he did buy a house, he doesn’t appear to have ever lived in it.)

Jordan Moore died on January 22, 1918, from complications of  diabetes. He was 54. He never married and had no children, and the friend he had been staying with when he died offered scant and approximate guesses as to dates and places when asked to supply them for the official death certificate.

I wondered why all these photos of a man who apparently left no family and had lived a fairly commonplace life had made their way into the personal collection of J. L. Patton, a principal at Booker T. Washington High School and a pioneer in education for African-American students in Dallas. And then I noticed that the name of the “informant” on the death certificate was Samuel Stanton, a long-time friend with whom Moore had been staying in his last days. Moore was the godfather of Mr. Stanton’s daughter, and Mr. Stanton’s daughter was Mr. Patton’s mother. Patton would have been 12 when Moore died, and he would certainly have remembered him — and one hopes he had fond memories of him.

Jordan Moore was buried in Alpha Cemetery, one of the few “negro” cemeteries of the time, near the old freedmen’s town of Alpha, near present-day Preston and Alpha Road. Below are more photographs of Mr. Moore, now in the collection of the Dallas Historical Society.


moore-loading-dock_c1905Mr. Moore (seated, second from left), Huey & Philp loading dock, ca. 1907


moore-with-box_loading-dock_c1910Mr. Moore (seated, with box), Huey & Philp loading dock, ca. 1910-15


jordan-moore-photo_c1910sca. 1910-15

morrill-house_1898Mrs. Morrill’s house at Ross & Harwood, 1894

morrill-house_lost-dallas_doty_dmnThe Morrill house — next stop: demolition, 1920

huey-philp_19091909 ad

huey-philp_1913_dmn_080212Huey & Philp Hardware Co., at Griffin and Elm — ca. 1913


Sources & Notes

Photos of Jordan Moore from the Dallas Historical Society’s J. L. Patton Collection, once viewable at UNT’s Portal to Texas History website. Top photo, c. 1905.

The first photo of Mrs. Morrill’s house at Ross and Harwood is from Clifton Church’s book Dallas, Texas Through a Camera (Dallas, 1894). (As an interesting aside, Church was married to Morrill’s niece.) In the book Dallas Rediscovered, the house is described thusly: “Mrs. Miranda Morrill’s dark, brooding residence, completed in 1886 by A. B. Bristol at the southwest corner of Harwood, was leveled in 1920 for construction of the First United Methodist Church.”

The second photo of the Morrill house is from Mark Doty’s book Lost Dallas (Charleston: Arcadia Publishing, 2012).

Huey & Philp Hardware Co. ad from Worley’s 1909 Dallas directory.

Lang & Witchell drawing of the Huey & Philp building is from a Dallas Morning News blog post by Steve Brown, here.

More on the accomplishments of J. L. Patton from the Handbook of Texas, here.


Copyright © 2014 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.


A Painterly View of Commerce Street


by Paula Bosse

I could be WAY off, but this MIGHT be approximately Commerce and Poydras, looking … east? For present-day reference, it’s about where the McDonald’s is on Commerce. Possibly. Click it to make it larger. Misinformation is likely.


Copyright © 2014 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Maple North of Wycliff: The Hinterlands — 1900

Looks a little different these days… (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

Here we see Maple Avenue, somewhere north of the Katy Railroad crossing, circa 1900. A. C. Greene, in his book Dallas, The Deciding Years, estimated it shows Maple “just north of where Wycliff now crosses” (see note at bottom of post wondering if this might instead show Maple just north of the railroad crossing). I have to say, the present-day view of that area has nothing going for it over the one depicted above, except maybe asphalt. …If you like asphalt.

Here’s a detail that shows the little horse and buggy, heading out to the hinterlands. (Click to see a larger image.)


Personally, I’d take the “hinterlands” view to the one we’re subjected to today.

An interesting book about early Dallas history that I would highly recommend is Diaper Days of Dallas, Ted Dealey’s entertaining memories of growing up in Dallas. His family had a house on Maple Avenue at about the turn of the century (his father was George Bannerman Dealey, early founder of The Dallas Morning News), and the Maple-McKinney area was his playground. Here is his description of the city limits at the time this photo was taken:

Dallas, in those early days, consisted of about eight square miles of territory. To the south the city limits ended roughly at Grand Avenue; to the east the city limits ended roughly where Fitzhugh Avenue now runs; to the north it went out Cedar Springs across Maple Avenue to a point where Melrose Hotel stands now. North of this there was practically nothing. On the west the city extended to the Trinity River.

So, at the turn on the century, this wonderful vista was the hinterlands — out in the country and well beyond the city limits.


Photo from Dallas, The Deciding Years by A. C. Greene (Austin: Encino Press, 1973), with the caption: “In 1900 Maple Avenue was mainly a rural lane. This photograph was taken just north of where Wycliff now crosses Maple. Courtesy Dallas Public Library.”

Text quoted is from Diaper Days of Dallas by Ted Dealey (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1966), p. 23.

EDIT: I don’t know if this photo does show Maple around what is now Wycliff. The curve is very similar to the one Maple used to make before it was straightened in 1918 or 1919 — right around the railroad crossing, which also included a bridge across Turtle Creek, as seen in this detail from a 1905 map. Just a thought.


Click photos for larger images.


Copyright © 2014 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Downtown Horse-Trading — ca. 1912

by Paula Bosse

This fantastic photo — taken between about 1912 and 1915 — shows a horse-trading day, taking place around S. Houston and Jackson streets.

Chenoweth’s Feed Store and wagon yard at Houston and Commerce was the scene of monthly trades days or First Mondays from the 1880s into the twentieth century. The crowd spilled over into the streets, blocking passage but no one complained. The old red courthouse survived.


Photo from the UT Southwestern Library.

Caption by A. C. Greene from his book Dallas, The Deciding Years (Austin: Encino Press, 1973).

Even though it seems very late to see horses in downtown Dallas, this photo appears to have been taken between 1912 and 1915 when Charles B. Tatum owned a saloon at the corner of Commerce and S. Houston (his sign can be seen painted on the wall facing Houston Street at the left). The MKT Building can be seen at the top right of the photo, indicating that this photo was taken west of S. Houston, almost to Jackson (the old county jail would have been behind the photographer. The same view today can be seen here.

The wagon yard Greene mentions can be seen in the 1905 Sanborn map, here.

Click photo for larger image.


Copyright © 2014 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Dallas to Austin by Stagecoach: Only Three Days! (1854)

by Paula Bosse

T. F. Crutchfield was a busy man who had his hands in a lot of pies in the very early days of Dallas. I’ll have to get back to him one day. Above, an ad of his, dated 1854, from an 1855 issue of the Dallas Herald. Below, an ad from the 1858 Texas Almanac.



An interesting article by Mike Cox on stagecoaching in Texas, from the Texas Almanac, is here.


Copyright © 2014 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

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