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E.E. Davis Livery Stable & Davis Wagon Yard

The Herald Democrat
May 26, 2013

Elmer E. Davis, born in Maine, moved to Texas in 1880 where his father had moved in 18873. He and his father, Charles, operated the E.E. Livery Stable and Wagon yard in the late 1800s at the corner of West Chestnut & South Rusk.

The Herald Democrat
May 26, 2013

The Denison Press

Wednesday, July 27, 1938

The story of transportation from ox wagon to streamlined limousine can be told by Earl Wood, owner of the Wood Motor Company, Denison Dodge and Plymouth dealer.  As a young man Mr. Wood started to work for the E.E. Davis wagon yard at $15 a month.  That was over forty years ago.  Ox teams plodded through the streets and "prairie schooners" stopped at "the only covered wagon yard in North Texas" as the road signs advertised.
Caravans from the North, South and East all came through Denison.  Visitors came from Indian Territory to the Davis Wagon Yard, and sometimes they stayed for a week to trade.
Each camp house at the wagon yard was equipped with a cook room, and 15 or 20 beds built one above the other.  In times of an overflow crowd some would sleep under their wagons.  Gates were locked at bedtime and, to prevent thefts, the only egress of entrance was through a hole cut in the gate that would just allow a man to crawl through.
Starting with "Shorty", first harness horse owned by the stable, the Davis Livery followed the wagon yard.  "Shorty" knew where home was and sometimes in the mornings would be found standing outside the gate with the passenger asleep in the buggy.
The livery grew and Mr. Davis became know for his fine horses, some of which were shipped by carload lots from Kansas City.  Rates were $1.50 for an afternoon or evening on week days and double that amount on Sundays.  The stable ran 30 horses with open and closed buggies, surreys and closed carriages.

Fire brought disaster when it hit the stable Decrmber 13, 1908, about 9 o'clock in the evening; within minutes the entire fram building was in flames.  The stable foreman Earl Woods told a Herald reporter the next day that he and some of the boys were sitting in the stable office and smelled smoke, then saw a blaze at the rear of the barn.  They began cutting the horses loose but the fire was faster than they were and before long they were chased from the building.

The frame building, 120 by 125 feet, with a hayloft, burned rapidly.  Everything was destroyed except the funeral equipment stored in another building.  Many fine horses being "boarded" at the livery were also lost.  
Sixty-seventy head of fine horses were burned, several carloads of new and uncrated buggies as well as the operating equipment were destroyed.  About 20 were being boarded by residents in Denison, including eight doctors who lost horses, buggies, saddles and medical and surgical equipment.  Wells Fargo Express Co., American Express Co., and Grayson County Telephone Company also lost horse and wagons.  Everything was lost in the fire except several undertaker's vehicles, which were stored in an adjoining building
The loss was estimated at $25,000  
Wind was strong from the south and the stable was too far gone by the time firemen arrived.  The house next door to the stable was partially destroyed and a a nearby feed store owned by C.J. O'Malley was damaged.

23 April 1902

The Herald Democrat
May 26, 2013

Thirty buggies being used in the trade and another 20 in the loft that hadn't been assembled were also destroyed.The article said that only
$4,000 was covered by insurance.
The Columbus (Ohio) Buggy Company wired Mr. Davis to order what he needed.  A local bank gave credit, for he had little insurance.
A few horses and buggies were gotten together and the firm opened across the street in temporary quarters and operated there until a year later when a modern livery was completed.  The new quarters was a two-story building on the site of the destroyed bar.  It was 100' by 120" and attached to another 75' by 120' feed room.  The main building contained stalls for 85 horses and had concrete aisles that could be flushed with water.  The second story was reached by an elevator and stairway and was used as a buggy, carriage and storage room.  The building cost $12,000 and another $12,00 was invested in horses and equipment.
Then came the motor car in 1910.  A row of stalls was removed and the firm became the Davis Livery and Motor Car Company, agents for the Firestone-Columbus car.  As automobiles gained wider use more stalls were removed with the space given to cars until the last horse was sold and the firm became the Davis Motor Car Company.
The front of the building was changed and other improvements made and the company continued to operate at the corner of Rusk and Chestnut.  The company had the first telephone on the south side of town.
Mr. Wood, who was secretary and treasurer of the Davis Motor Car Company, purchased the company in 1930, and moved to the present location at 508-10 West Main, changing the name to Wood Motor Company.
Besides his garage which has a large display room for new cars, well equipped repair shop, body and fender and painting shop, Mr. Wood has a Used Car department and lot on Main street.

Elaine Nall Bay


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