A Weekly Summary of What
Transpired in the Gate City 19 Years Ago
With Running Commentaries When the Incidents Suggest
[Source: Sunday Gazetteer, Denison TX, July 30, 1893]
Jan. 2, 1874
With this issue, the Gazetteer resumes the publication of
reminiscences and local news items of twenty years ago. In our last article of
this kind, it was Christmas week, 1873. At that time, Denison was one and
one-half years of age, having dated its existence from the summer or early fall
Vast changes have taken place in
Denison since that time. East Crawford and Skiddy streets enjoyed a monopoly of
the business of the city; the post office was located at the corner of Houston
avenue and Skiddy street, and a man by the name of Baker was postmaster. Dr.
Cutler was the editor and publisher of the Denison
Journal. The Denison Journal of
1874 and 1875, it should be remembered, is not the Journal of today. At the beginning of 1875 there were three papers
published in the city: The Morning News,
the Evening Journal and the Southwestern Emigration Journal.
Trade in every line was brisk,
money was plentiful, and prodigality instead of frugality was the ruling
passion of the masses. Quite a number of people who came in 1872 and 1873 are
still here, but in comparison with the whole they are very few. Among them here
today are: A. H. Coffin, H. Tone, Edward Perry, W. J. Scott, B. C. Murray, J.
H. Nolan, W. B. Simpson, A. B. Person, Sam Star, G. G. Randell, John Nevins,
August Knecht, August Uhlig, G. L. Giersa, L. Eppstein, Louis Lebrecht, J. A.
Euper, Charles Hotchkiss, J. C. Feild, W. B. Munson, J. B. McDougall, M. J.
Fitzgerald and W. Woollacott.
There were living in Denison at
that time between 3,000 and 4,000 people, and houses were springing up with
remarkable rapidity. No avenues had been opened west of Fannin, and but few
houses had been erected north of Sears street. On the south, Morgan street was
considered on the extreme outer edge of the city.
Out in what is now the heart of the
third ward, and which is the most densely populated district in the city, was a
dense forest. A little glade had been cleared off, a dance platform had been
erected, and on Sunday afternoons dozens and dozens of hacks ran between it and
the city, carrying passengers at 25 cents each to the summer beer garden, where
people of indiscriminate birth and calling gave themselves over to amusements
of a character that did not admit of social distinctions.
A careful and conservative
estimate of the number of men who had no home of their own but lived about in
boarding houses and hotels, at 1,000 souls. A single church house had not been
completed, and such a thing as a public school building had not entered into
the minds of the people.
The Houston & Texas Central
had established its terminus at Red River City, three miles north of Denison,
and a vast amount of ill convenience was thereby entailed on the general
public. The two roads had not effected a traffic agreement and freight from
Denison to Sherman was often two weeks in transit, and in one instance it is
related where a merchant of McKinney purchased a carload of produce here and it
was just three weeks before the car was delivered at McKinney.
Mr. Edward Perry was mayor of the
city and cashier of the First national bank. No stock law of any kind had been
passed and more, it was very unpopular to advocate anything of the kind. Hogs
and cows deprecated in back yards and in the grocery stores with impunity, but
to say anything against such a system was looked upon as a thrust at the
liberty of the poor man.
The city was thronged daily with
cattlemen, trappers, buffalo hunters, freighters and federal soldiers, officers
and employees going to and from the forts on the frontier. Vast herds of cattle
were held on the range west of the Houston & Texas Central railway, and
Denison was the nucleus for shipments north. Millions of head were sent through
on the trails to the grazing lands of the northwest but the Missouri, Kansas
and Texas north from Denison exhausted its resources in handling all that were
offered for transportation.
At that date the Texas &
Pacific, transcontinental division, had not started, and wagons by the thousand
from Fannin, Lamar, Delta, Franklin, Titus, Hopkins Wood, Rains and Hunt
counties were to be found in the Denison wagon yards and thronging the streets
of the city. Main street had not been graded, nor was there a system of
sidewalks to be found anywhere.
Between Austin and Houston avenues
on Main street, a rude culvert of bois d'arc wood had been constructed across
the deep ravine, and, even in dry weather, it was no small job to go on foot
from the union depot west to the corner of Rusk Avenue. On the spot where now
stands the handsome high school building was an open prairie, which, in its
turn, was beyond and west of it a dense forest which separated it from the
city. The site of the Third ward school building was far out in the country and
the locality afforded good hunting ground for squirrel and quail. The
tri-weekly stage, carrying the United States mail between Sherman and Fort
Washita, stopped for dinner at the Shannon stage stand at Miller's Springs and
between that and Denison were two miles of primitive prairie and forest.
The gas works had not been put in,
and a few struggling oil lamps in front of buildings occupied by enterprising
merchants and thrifty saloon men comprised the system of street lights. Water
for domestic purposes was secured from wells in all parts of the city, and at
three central points the city had established big wells from which water was
pumped by hand in case of fire. The old volunteer hand pump and leather bucket
fire brigade continued in operation until the present water system and hydrants
were ready for service, which was in 1886. The protection against fire was rude
and simple, it is true, but, in comparison with other Texas cities, Denison has
suffered little from the fire fiend.