Old Photo Leads to Research
of Motor Company
May 26, 2013
by Donna Hunt
Hollingsworth of Sherman purchased this picture in 1971 for $5 at a
I feel sure that I'm
not the only one who watches Antique Road Show on
PBS and marvels at the valuable finds that some of the participants
have purchased at garage sales for practically nothing. I
glance my living room to see if I have anything that might have such a
value. I'm still looking.
Vic Hollingsworth of Sherman
picked up a picture for $5 in about 1971 at a garage sale. It
might not have monetary value, but it sure has sentimental value to
history lovers like me and I'm sure others in Denison.
Vic grew up in Denison and
was to graduate with the class of 1960, but a few months before then,
he quit school and joined the Army. He has an interest in
Denison's early history, and during "Spring Fling" this year at Loy
Park he told me about the picture and said he was trying to decide when
and where it was taken. Any ideas would be welcome.
Vic was so proud of his find
that he framed it himself in a very nice wooden frame.
In trying to determine the
year the photo may have been taken (possibly the mid-1920s), I
pulled a file on Davis Motor Company and learned more than I really
wanted to know about Mr. Davis. Elmer E. Davis and his father
operated the E.E. Livery Stable and Wagon yard in the late 1800s at the
corner of West Chestnut & South Rusk.
Davis was credited with
making the transition from horse to horse drawn carriage to horseless
carriage in Denison and was among the earliest in North Texas to become
interested in the automobile.
He was born in Maine and
packed up his family in the late 1890s and headed to Texas where his
father, Charles, had come soon after 1873. He established a
livery stable, then later a car dealership on the site of a wagon yard
that his father operated before his death. His business
prospered and his stable was stocked with fine animals.
E. E. Davis Stable
Chestnut Street at corner of South Rusk Avenue, view
looking southeast from 331 West Main (Leeper/Security Building).
Work of Grayson County (1895)
Then on the night of Dec.
13, 1908, the livery stable caught fire and within minutes the entire
frame building was blazing. The loss was estimated at
$25,000, which was a pretty high sum in those days.
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
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.
A Herald story the
next day said that between 65 and 70 animals were killed.
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
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
Davis reopened immediately
in temporary quarters across the street and began building a new two
story brick building on the site of the destroyed barn. The building
was 100-by-120 feet attached to another 75-by-120 feet to be used as a
feed room. The main building contained stalls for 85 horses.
A second story that was reached by an elevator and stairway
was used as a buggy, carriage and storage room. The entire
building cost $12,000 and another $12,000 was invested in horses and
Sunday, March 28, 1999
- Thirty horses died in a fire at the Davis Livery Stable, located at
the corner of Rusk and Chestnut, on the evening of Dec. 13, 1908.
An early report for The Denison Herald referred to the horses being "cremated in their stalls."
stable owner was E.E. Davis, who later operated a car dealership in the
city. Before that, however, he rebuilt the livery stable.
was lost in the fire except several undertaker's vehicles, which were
stored in an adjoining building. When rebuilt, the new stable opened
across the street from the original."
By 1915 Davis' Livery and
Motor Car Co. was providing vehicles for North Texas and Southern
Oklahoma residents, giving them a choice of a Cole, Studebaker, Metz,
Reo and Dart automobile and Chase trucks. Chalmers, Okland and Maxwell
autos also made their way onto his showroom.
But it was a double-seated
Pope-Hartford that was propelled by a 15-horsepower gasoline motor that
almost did David in before he had begun in the automobile business.
He, Dr. H.W. James and J.T.
Suggs and wives, along with an infant Tommy Suggs, who grew up to
become president of the Texas & Pacific Railroad, were all
injured when Dr. James' vehicle plunged off an eight-foot embankment
The accident took place on
the road to the Rod and Gun Club and Davis, Dr. James and Mrs. James
were trapped under the car while the others jumped to safety.
Davis suffered a back and hip injury.
A newspaper reported noted
that "Dr. James displayed the presence of mind while on his back, with
his legs and body fastened under the machine, when he cut off the
connections and stopped the engine, making it utterly impossible for
the gasoline to catch fire."
It was a coincidence that
the county registration number on the vehicle was No. 13.
Davis ended his career as
street commissioner in fine form with the announcement that the city's
streets and fire eq equipment, including
a new hook and ladder truck had arrived in the city. A parade
was held in his honor on April 4, 1916, with all the equipment on
I really got carried with
the information I found in my file about Davis. I feel sure
he had something to do with all five of the vehicles in this little
caravan that possibly lined up in the 200 block of South Rusk, between
Chestnut and Crawford streets. The small sign "Hotel" on the
far left of the picture possibly was the Parks Hotel that burned here a
few months ago, and the two-story brick building on the right could
possibly be Davis' $12,000 two-story brick building that he built after
From left to right, Vic and
I determined that it was a Davis motor vehicle in the back with a
funeral hearse next, possibly an ambulance in the middle with the
attendant's dog by his side, then firemen in a convertible and the
police chief in front leading the caravan.
Corner of West Chestnut Street at South Rusk Avenue, looking west.
You can see Mosse & Company in the building they took over in
1920 when the Rialto took over their historic site.
No doubt they were to
participate in a parade, but there are a lot of questions here that
are answered only with assumptions. I know a
reporter isn't supposed to assume anything, but what's to do when
people don't put information on the back of pictures.
Near the southeast corner of South Rusk Avenue at West Chestnut
Formerly Davis Auto