"B. J. Lindsay, The Insurance Man"
Brainard J. Lindsay, with his pride and joy, nicknamed "Redwing."
Jacob Lowe's grandmother told him it was one of the first cars in Grayson County.
Brainard J. Lindsay (1865–1934)
Brainard J. Lindsay was the eldest of ten children of George Fry Lindsay Sr. (1844–1913) and Sarah Angeline Smith Lindsay (1850–1928). George was born in Bates County, Missouri, but moved with his family to McKinney, Texas, where he married Sarah on December 28, 1864. Brainard was born nine months later and was named for his father's older brother. The Census of 1870 found the family in Sherman, Texas, where George spent his working life as a saddle maker and sometime blacksmith. In addition, as a Sherman newspaper once observed, "For years Mr. Lindsay was a second hand dealer in this city ... Mr. Lindsay has perhaps the finest miscellaneous collection of curios to be found in North Texas and is very fond of the collection and preservation of valuable specimens."
According to family obituaries posted on Ancestry.com, B. J.'s grandfather, Francis H. Lindsay (1808–1880), came to Sherman after the Civil War and taught at Captain Letellier's School for Boys, an early private academy. It is likely that B. J. attended that school. At age 20, in 1885, Brainard married his first wife, Anna Louisa L. Fritch (1862-1927). Born in 1862, she was older than he and may have been married previously, as the 1900 Census listed a daughter, Fay A. Lindsay, born in August 1884.
The only "second-hand dealer" in Fannin County, came to Bonham and opened a large second-hand store on South Main street, in the fall of 1884. He has, in connection with his business of selling and buying second-hand-goods of every description, a mattress factory, and a line of furniture. This is a new departure in the business world of Fannin, and its success is attracting some attention.
B. J. Lindsay's Store
Young Lindsay was born and raised in the state. At the early age of eighteen he contracted marriage with a young lady of Sherman, Texas, and moved to Bonham. Although young, the rough western life of a boy without parents to depend on and go to for advice and solid assistance, has posted him in the ways of men and of the world. His business judgment, energy and close application, are evidence of his future success in business and value as a citizen. The sooner the average young men of the county become convinced that a course like his is the proper one to pursue, the better for them and the county.
[Source: W. A. Carter, History of Fannin County, Texas: History, Statistics and Biographies; Business Cards, etc. (Bonahm, Texas: 1855]
In 1887, the couple had a daughter, Birdie, who died as an infant. By 1887, Brainard, Louisa, and Fay were living in Denison. The 1887 City Directory showed "Braynard" working for Henry Mayer, agent of W. J. Lemp's Western Brewery, St. Louis, Missouri. Mayer also sold ice and had beer vaults and an ice house at the corner where East Woodard Street met the railroad lines. His office was at 111 West Woodard Street, just west of Houston Avenue. "Braynard" oversaw deliveries made within the city by the ice wagons, as well as seeing that other purchases arrived at their destinations. He lived at 608 West Sears Street.
In 1888, Brainard partnered with John Simon Knaur and his brother Schuyler Knaur to form the Knaur-Lindsay Grain Company on the east side of South Houston Avenue, between Chestnut and Crawford streets, southeast of the Waples-Platter buildings.
Meanwhile, in addition to his other enterprises, by 1891 Brainard had become a butcher. The Denison City Directory listed his residence at 430 West Johnson Street at the corner of North Fannin Avenue. In 1896, he was listed as a wholesale butcher and was living at 430 West Morgan Street. By 1900, B. J. (still a butcher), Louisa, and Fay had moved to an elegant Victorian cottage at 527 West Gandy Street. The 1901 City Directory listed Brainard as a wholesale butcher with an office at 401 West Main Street. In 1903, he was a "cattle dyr" (a term of unclear meaning, perhaps dealer or drover). Then in 1905, he was again listed as a wholesale butcher, with office at 405 West Main.
By 1907, Brainard appears to have turned his energies away from the butcher business and devoted them to the grain enterprise. Knaur-Lindsay had a feed and grain store at 401 West Main Street. The company expanded, building a tall grain elevator and a new structure to house operations. John Simon Knaur soon took over the Lindsay interest, and the company became Knaur Grain.
Around 1912, Brainard was advertising himself as a real estate agent. Judging from City Directory listings, around 1913, he decided to simplify his life, defining himself primarily as an insurance agent. He did business as "B. J. Lindsay, the Insurance Man." The 425 West Main Street address, across the street from the Rialto Theater, now became known as "The Lindsay Building."
The insurance firm had its offices upstairs. B. J. and Louisa still lived at 527 West Gandy. Around 1920 they moved to 902 West Morton Street.
Brainard's prominence on the local scene is suggested by the fact that he was president of the Denison School Board at the time a new school was constructed near his home on Gandy Street. In 1917, the new Central Ward Elementary School was built in the 700 block of West Sears and West Morton Streets. Though the building was in deteriorated condition in 2013, a plaque could still be seen there, bearing Lindsay's name and marking the event.
Louisa passed away in September 1927, and was buried in Fairview Cemetery. Then B. J.'s mother Sarah died on February 21, 1928, and was buried in West Hill Cemetery in Sherman.
Over a year later, on June 7, 1929, Brainard remarried. His new wife was Mary Veronica McInerney, called "Vernie." She had been a fixture in his insurance office for at least eighteen years.
Elaine Nall Bay