Title: Standard History of Houston Texas From a study of the Original Sources [Electronic Edition]

Editor: Carroll, B. H. (Benajah Harvey), 1873-1922, ed.
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Title: Standard History of Houston Texas From a study of the Original Sources

Editor: Carroll, B. H. (Benajah Harvey), 1873-1922, ed.
Publisher: H. W. Crew & Co.
Place of publication: Knoxville, Tennessee
Publication date: 1912
Note: "This edition ... was printed for subscribers only. The edition was limited to the subscription list and the type has been distributed."
Note: "A number of the chapters were written by Dr. S. O. Young."
Description of the project: This electronic text is part of the Woodson Research Center, Fondren Library, Rice University and the Museum of Houston project, developed by Rice University and the Greater Houston Preservation Alliance.
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The text has been encoded using the recommendations for Level 4 of the TEI in Libraries Guidelines. All electronic texts have been spell-checked and verified against printed text. Quotation marks have been retained. Original grammar, punctuation, and spelling have been preserved. No corrections or normalizations have been made, except that hyphenated, non-compound words that appear at the end of lines have been closed up to facilitate searching and retrieval. Footnotes have been moved to the end of the paragraph in which they are referenced. Images exist as archived TIFF images, one or more JPEG versions for general use, and thumbnail GIFs.
Classification system(s)
Taxonomy LCSH Library of Congress Subject Headings
Origin/composition of the text: 1912
Languages used in the text:
  • English (eng)
Text classification
Keywords: (Library of Congress Subject Headings)( Library of Congress Subject Headings )
  • Houston (Tex.)--History.
  • Young, Samuel Oliver, 1848-

Standard History of Houston Texas From a study of the Original Sources [Electronic Edition]


[Front Cover Image]

Standard History
Houston Texas

From a Study of the Original Sources

Edited by
B. H. CARROLL, Jr., LL. B., M. A., Ph. D.
Author of “Die Annexion von Texas, ein Beitrag zur Geschichte der
Monore-Doctrin,” and “The Political History of
Europe from 1815 to 1848.”
Knoxville, Tennessee Published by H. W. Crew & Co. 1912


The Story of Houston has not proved an easy one to write.
A city is in many respects a conglomeration of units rather
than an aggregate of unities. the units are of character so
varying that it is hard to reduce them to a common denominator.
Municipal consciousness is vague and much that happens in the
development of a city seems to be fortuitous rather than
teleological. Yet Houston has in many respects grown to
formula and plan and has often responded heartily to conscious
effort made at improvement of conditions. The foundations of
the past have been used and effort has been often cumulative in
results. Undeniably there is a municipal spirit, an esprit du
of the citizens that argues well for the future of the town.
The plan followed in writing this history has been to outline
the beginnings of things, especially in the days of the Republic,
in a manner that in so far as possible follows the order in which
the events occurred. After Texas entered the Union the growth
of the city is incidentally shown in tracing the growth of the
several institutions the aggregate of whose history is the history
of the city. The last chapter of the book hinges in a manner
directly on to the last chapter on the days of the Republic and
outlines the various periods in the municipal life, gives pen
pictures of the city at intervals of years, and recapitulates
briefly the latest era of greatest achievement.
The volume is true history in that an appeal has been
made directly to the sources of history. These have been three;
newspapers, there have been newspapers in Houston from the
earliest times and it began with a newspaper advertisement;
the observations of eye-witnesses as they were recounted in
books, especially those of travel and adventure, as to conditions
in Houston; and the recollections of the citizens themselves. A

number of manuscript letters of Sam Houston and others were
also used.
Every extant number of the files of the Telegraph, the
Morning Star, the Houston Post and the Houston Chronicle
was carefully searched for data, an expert spending four months
in going over the newspaper files alone. Matter sufficient for
the writing of five volumes the size of this one was obtained
and the question of the selection of data assumed importance.
Many facts and incidents are given as they are recalled in the
memories of old citizens who had personal knowledge of the
facts or who participated in the events.
A number of the chapters were written by Dr. S. O. Young,
whose family belongs to the earliest settlers and who often
writes from personal recollections of events occurring within the
last half century. Dr. Young was at one time the editor of
the Houston Post, was later the managing editor of the Galveston
News and has a wide acquaintance with both local and Texas
history and is famed as a raconteur.
A number of chapters, including all those of the period of
the Republic and the chapter on the Wm. M. Rice Institute,
were written entirely by the editor.
Such statistics as are given without reference to their
source are those current in the newspapers of their respective
dates or such as are given by those in position to possess true
This work may fairly lay claim to the following negative
There is not one line of its text that is advertising. Such
mention as is made of firms, persons or corporations is absolutely
gratuitous and is made because the editor believed that the
person, firm or corporation deserved such mention in fairly
telling the story of Houston.
There is no conscious or deliberate padding of facts and
figures or exaggeration of statement. The editor feels great
pride in Houston, but he has made no attempt to show the city
in a rosy glow.
There has been a careful avoidance of the valley of dry

bones of municipal politics. Dead issues have been left in their
moribund condition fully wrapped in their shrouds and
vestments. Only when such important matters as the beginning
or ending of the carpet bag government or the change from the
old ward system of politics to the commission form of government
were to be noted have the issues of municipal campaigns been
noticed. Much more has there been an avoidance of state and
national politics.
In writing this history special prominence has been given
to the Rice Institute because this institution seems certain
to play a tremendous part in the city's future history. The
sketch of William M. Rice is the only one ever written and in
preparing it the men who had known him in his lifetime and
his business activities were consulted for information in their
possession. It is believed to be a faithful portrayal of the man
who takes rank as Houston's greatest benefactor.
Growth in the future will be so rapid that unless some
measures are taken to preserve the city's early story it might
easily be lost.
Such a volume as the present one, despite the care and
trouble necessary to prepare it, necessarily appeals to a circle
of readers found within the list of the citizens of Houston
itself, together with a few outside students of economic or
municipal conditions. It is believed, however, that this book
will be of interest and value to all lovers of Houston and
the editor chiefly deplores that he has found it impossible to
even name all the worthy men and women who have contributed
to the growth and prosperity of the city, and will be the first
to admit that the services of many here unnamed are worthy to
take rank along with the highest and best of those capitulated.
The editor cordially acknowledges the aid and assistance
rendered by newspaper writers, by musicians, by architects and
by others who have given counsel or advice on matters relating
to their professions or callings.
The work is submitted as a record of the achievements of
a city that is just three quarters of a century old. The record
is carried to a date that varies between February 28, 1911 and

November 1, 1911, as the chapters went to press at varying
dates. It is the wish of the editor that it may prove to be
worthy of the friendly consideration of those who love Houston
and believe in her future.
Nov. 21, 1911.


This edition of the Standard History of Houston was
printed for subscribers only. The edition was limited to the
subscription list and the type has been distributed.


Protrait Illustrations

RICE, WM. M. Frontispiece
RICE, J. S. Facing 313
JONES, JESSE H. Facing 336
CARTER, W. T. Facing 369
JONES, FRED. A. Facing 403


Settlement and Pioneer Life
HOUSTON, a Monument to Real Estate Promoters' Art. First
Built on Paper and Advertised all over America. Prohibitive
Prices of Land at Harrisburg Caused Choice of
Houston's Site. Foresight of A. C. and J. K. Allen. The
First Steamer up the Bayou. City Mapped and Plotted.
Rivalry with Harrisburg. Founding of Harrisburg. Geological
Formation of Harris County. Early Social Conditions.
Fights and Murders. Civil Officers, Laws and
Justice. Building Court House and Jail. First Court
Trials, First Wedding, First Divorce. City's Mayors under
the Republic. Much Litigation and Many Land Frauds.
Early Day Amusements
Hunting, Fishing and Poker. The Jockey Club and Horse
Racing. Notable Dances, the San Jacinto Anniversary
Ball and Description of Sam Houston and Other Participants.
A Festival Meal at Houston's First Hotel. City's
First Theatres and their Performances.
Houston and the Red Men
Sam Houston and the Cherokees. An Indian Dance. Letters
from Chiefs John Jolly and Bowles. Houston's Indian
Talk. Fate of Cherokees and Comanches.
Capital Days and Annexation
Houston Chosen as Capital City of New Nation. Erection of
Capitol Building. First Newspaper. British Representative,
present at Sam Houston's Inaugural Address. Second
Congress Meets in Houston—Its Activities. Visit of
Admiral Baudin of France. Mirabeau B. Lamar and His
Policies as President. England's Refusal to Recognize
Independence. Slaves in Houston. Removal of Capital
to Austin. Causes of Annexation. The Vote in Harris
Early Religious Organizations
Houston's Pioneer Churches. Methodists, Presbyterians, Baptists
and Catholics Early Founded Congregations.
Early Growth and the Bayou
City of Houston's Early Progress and Poverty. Arrival of
Schooner “Rolla.” Financial Panic and Yellow Fever
Epidemic of 1839. First Book Published in City. Building
of Wharves and Organization of Chamber of Commerce.
Early Descriptions of the Buffalo River and its Steamboat
Life. British Consul Ikin's Description of Houston. Civic
Prosperity. Houston Enters Union as Commercial Emporium
and Business Capital of the State.
The City Government
Early City Limits. First Market House. “Reconstruction”
Administration. First Bridge Across Buffalo Bayou. The

First Fire Company. Houston Hook and Ladder Company.
The Fire Department of Today. Early Police Officers. Some
Old Police Notes. The Police Department Today. City
Water Works. Houston Gas Company. Contending with
a Big Debt. What Mayor D. C. Smith Accomplished.
Mayor Rice and the Commission Form of Government.
What the Commission Has Done for Houston.
The Bench and Bar
High Character of Early Lawyers. First District Court. Early
Legal Documents. Great Criminal Lawyers. Ex-Governor
Henderson's Butcher Knife. Members of Early Bar. Criminal
and District Court Judges. The County Court and
Its Judges. Judge Hamblen's Reminiscences. Harris
County Bar Association. Houston as a Source of Legal
Medical History
Pioneer Physicians and Their Labors. First Houston Medical
Association. Organization of the State Medical Association.
Railroad Surgeons Association. Harris County Medical
Association. Houston's Modern Hospitals. Story of Early
Epidemics. The Doctors and the Newspapers.
Church History
Founding of the Evangelical Churches in Houston. Organization
of the Baptists, Methodists, Presbyterians, and
Episcopalians. German Lutheran Churches, Disciples and
Christian Scientists. The Roman Catholic Institutions in

Houston. Congregation Beth Israel and Hebrew Synagogues.
The Houston Y. M. C. A.
Education and Free Schools
Houston's Earliest Schools were Private Enterprises. Lack of
Proper School Facilities. The Houston Academy. Congressional
Appropriations for Public Schools. Free Schools
Flourished only after Civil War. Arguments Against the
System. Houston First City to Take Control of Her Schools.
City School Superintendents. Opening of Public Schools
in October, 1877. Comparative Growth from 1877 to 1909.
Scientific Features in City's Schools. Superintendent
Horn's Summary of Decade from 1901 to 1911. Private
School Enterprises.
The Rice Institute
Houston's Inheritance Through a Tragedy. The Story of a
Famous Crime. A Princely Gift. A Biography of William
M. Rice. The Initial Donation. A Continuating Benevolence.
The Monument to the Childless Man. William M.
Rice as Philanthropist and Business Man. Dr. Edgar Odell
Lovett elected President of the Institute. Laying the Corner
Stone. The City's Dominant Institution.
Houston Newspapers
Story of First Newspaper in Texas and its Removal to Houston.
The Telegraph and Register. The Morning Star. Flood of
Newspaper Enterprises Following Civil War. Special Interest
and Trade Periodicals in Houston. The Houston Telegram.

The Houston Post Organized and Suspended. The
New Post. The Houston Herald. The Chronicle and Its
Makers. Some Famous Newspaper Men. Some Early and
Late Authors and Writers. Organization of Texas State
Press Association.
Transportation and Communication
Early Transportation Difficulties. An Early Monopoly Proposed.
The First Railroad. Other Early Roads. The G.
H. & H. Road. Beginning of Texas and New Orleans Line.
Railroads During War and Reconstruction Days. Systems
Center in Houston. The Plank Road Company. The Ox-Wagon
Trade. Paul Bremond's Enterprise. Growing Need
for Roads. Houston as Terminus for Seventeen Roads.
Houston's Railroad Trackage, Trains and Headquarters.
Sunset Central System. Katy and Sap Terminals. Santa
Fe and Frisco Lines. Bayou Navigation. The Wharfage
Fight. Charles Morgan and the Ship Channel. The Government
and the Channel. Deepening the Channel. Bayou
Traffic. Houston Terminal Company. First Street Car
Company. Extending Street Railways. Operation Under
Stone-Webster Syndicate. Trackage and Pay Roll. Houston
Galveston Interurban. Earliest Telegraph Service. Beginnings
of Telephone Service. Present Telegraph Service in
Houston. Southwestern Telegraph and Telephone Company.
Automatic Telephone Company. Wireless Telegraphy.
Societies and Clubs
Free Masonry in Texas. Holland Lodge and Texas Grand Lodge
Organized. First Lodge of Odd Fellows. Knights of
Pythias and Elks. The Houston Turn Verein. The Volks-Fests.
Societies of War Veterans. Terry's Texas Rangers.
Second Texas Infantry and Waul's Legion. Hood's Texas
Brigade. The Bayou City Guards. Dick Dowling Camp U.

C. V. and Post McLennan No. 9, G. A. R. Houston Militia
Companies. The Light Guard. Troop A. First Texas
Cavalry. Jeff Miller Rifles. The Annual No-Tsu-Oh Carnival.
Z. Z. and Thalian Clubs. Country Club. Houston
Club. Charitable Societies. Organized Charities, Faith
Home, Wesley House, Florence Crittenden Home, Star of
Hope Mission. Houston Settlement Association.
Societies and Clubs—Continued
First Literary Society. Organization of Houston Lyceum.
Early Efforts to Establish a Library. The Houston Lyceum
and Carnegie Library. The Ladies Reading Club. Ladies
Shakespeare Club. The Two other Shakespeare Clubs.
Current Literature Club. Houston Pen Women's Association.
Houston Branch of Dickens Fellowship. Lady Washington
Chapter. Daughters of the American Revolution.
San Jacinto Chapter No. 2, Daughters of the Republic of
Texas. Robert E. Lee Chapter 186, United Daughters of the
Confederacy. Oran M. Roberts Chapter 440, U. D. C.
Organized Labor
Organized Labor is Prosperous in Houston. Houston Labor
Council's Full Report Showing Numbers and Conditions
in all the Organized Crafts. Good Wages are Paid and
Sweating System is not in Vogue.
Board of Trade and Banks
Organization of Board of Trade and Cotton Exchange. The
Cotton Exchange Building. Officers of Exchange. Cotton

as King. Cotton Compresses and Warehouses. The Houston
Business League. The Chamber of Commerce. Houston's
Early Banks. Growth Shown by Bank Clearings.
Houston's Modern Banks. City's Big Trust Companies.
The Houston Clearing House.
Houston's Manufacturers
Primitive Beginnings. Natural Advantages Offered. The
First Mills. Advent of Cotton Compress. Coming of Iron
Foundries. Revival of Manufacturing Following the Civil
War. First Ice Plants. Packing Plants. Conditions from
1880 to 1890. Car Wheel Shops. Electric Lights. Cotton
Seed Products. Textile Mills. Furniture and Other Wood-working
Plants. Manufacturing in 1905. Coffee Roasting.
Launch Building. Manufacturing Statistics. Fuel and
Water. Home Products Banquet.
Wholesale Trade and Big Business
Pioneer Conditions of Trade. Steamboat Element in Houston's
Business Prosperity. Natural Advantages Built up Great
Industries. Water Competition Gives Advantageous Railroad
Tariffs. Houston's Trade Territory. How Annual
Wholesale Business of $90,000,000 is pro rated. City's 376
Incorporated Companies. Growth of Produce Business.
Importation of Fruits. Sugar Jobbing Trade. Packing
House Business. Changes in Methods of Marketing Cotton. How Houston was Made a Cotton Buyers' Market. Houston,
the Great Selling Market for Lumber. Results of Lumber
Panic Prices of 1907, in Concentrated Selling Agencies in
Houston. Manufacturing Capacity of Big Lumber Firms.
Movement of Curtail Manufacture. Facts and Figures on
Lumber Industry. Turpentine Trade. The J. R. Morris
Plan for Rice Culture. Houston's Rice Mills. Rice Production
and Food Value. Houston's Retail Trade and Wage
Earners. Capital Invested in Retail Trade.
Music and Art
Houston's Early Development as Musical Center Due to Cultured
German Citizens. High Capacity Demanded by Thursday
Morning Club. City's Record on Symphony Concerts. The
Treble Clef Club. The Womans Choral Club. The Houston
Quartette Society. Federation of English Singing Societies
of Texas. The Houston Saengerbund. The Houston
Music Festival Association. Symphony Orchestras and
Grand Operas. The Japanese Maid. Bands and Orchestras.
Co-operative Work. Musical Critics. The Future in Music.
But Few Local Artists. Hugo Schoppman. Work of Thusetan
Donnellen and Edgar Mitchell. Boris Gordon's Famous
Portrait. The Art League.
Houston's Public Buildings
City's Early Court-Houses and Jails. The New County Court
House. Present County and City Jails. A Peripatetic Post
Office. The New Federal Building. The Viaduct. The City
Market House. The New Auditorium. The City Fire
Architecture and Building
Tents and Log Huts Were First Buildings. Primitive American
Architecture. The First Brick Houses. The First Three-Story
House. The First Four-Story Hotel. The Latin
Influence. The First Six-Story Office Building. Effect of
Introducing the New Building Materials. Restrictions
Placed by Climate on Architecture. First Eleven-Story
Building. South Texas National Bank Building. The
Carter Building. First National Bank Building. The Union
National Bank Building. The Chronicle Building. South-western

Telephone Building. New Union Station. Southern
Pacific Office Building. The Court House and the Federal
Building. Apartment Houses. The Bender Hotel. The
New Rice Hotel. Architecture of the Churches. Y. M. C.
A. Building. Suburban and Country Homes. The Wm.
M. Rice Institute. Houston Residences. Building Permits.
Houston Gets Lowest Rate of Fire Insurance Premium. Fire
Fighting Apparatus. Early Fire Insurance. Planters Fire
Insurance Company. Purchase of Bogus Bonds Destroyed
Houston Fire and Marine Insurance Company. Guarantee
Life Insurance Company. Remarkable Prosperity of the
Great Southern Company.
Santa Anna Broke up First Theatre Project. The Thompson
and Buckley Theatres. The Gray Opera House. Early
Amateur Dramatic Clubs. Academy of Music First Local
Home of Vaudeville. The Beautiful New Majestic Theatre.
The Prince Theatre. The Old Majestic. The New Cozy.
Moving Picture Shows and Stock Companies.
Parks and Cemeteries
Purchase and Development of Sam Houston Park. Highland
Park. Cleveland Park. Elizabeth Baldwin Park. City's need
of Plaza Parks. Ruined Condition of City's Earliest Cemeteries.
Episcopal Church and Holland Lodge Cemetery.
Glenwood and Catholic Cemeteries. List of other Cemeteries.

Sylvan Beauties of Burying Ground. Land Tenure of Cemetery
Old Landmarks
The Old Indian Trading Post. The Old City Hotel and Hutchins
House. Site of Capitol and Land Office Buildings. Houston's
Mansion. Where the First Store Stood. Two Historic
Bridges. Sites of Early Railroad Construction. The Old
City Wharf. Reminiscences on Destruction of Houston's
First Hotel.
Houston's Growth and Progress
The Several Periods of Houston's History. The Plan Followed
in Writing the City's Story. A Chapter of Recapitulation.
Characteristics of the Pioneer Builders. Trade Revival
Following Annexation. The Days of Ox-Wagon Traffic.
Benefits from the First Railroad. The Destructive Early
Fires and their Results. A Pen Picture of the City in 1857.
Houston During the Civil War. Blockade Running and Trade
Conditions. Houston as Military Headquarters. Feverish
Gaiety of the War Period. A Dearth of Food and Clothes.
Confederate Money and Shin Plasters. Rapid Business
Revival When War Closed. Texas on Gold and Silver Basis.
City Looted Under Carpet Bag Rule. A Pen Picture of
Houston in 1879. A Period of Lethargy and Stagnation.
The Years of Growth and Expansion. Rapid Increase in
Property Values. City's Population Doubles Each Decade.
The Great Skyscraper Era. Synopsis of City's Relation to
Big Business Taken from City Directory of 1911. What
Houston has Accomplished in the 75 Years of its Life.
The Promise of the Future.

Settlement and Pioneer Life

HOUSTON, a Monument to Real Estate Promoters' Art. First
Built on Paper and Advertised all over America. Prohibitive
Prices of Land at Harrisburg Caused Choice of
Houston's Site. Foresight of A. C. and J. K. Allen. The
First Steamer up the Bayou. City Mapped and Plotted.
Rivalry with Harrisburg. Founding of Harrisburg. Geological
Formation of Harris County. Early Social Conditions.
Fights and Murders. Civil Officers, Laws and
Justice. Building Court House and Jail. First Court
Trials, First Wedding, First Divorce. City's Mayors under
the Republic. Much Litigation and Many Land Frauds.

Houston is a splendid monument to the success of the
real estate promoter's art. Other cities have prospered Topsy
wise. They just grew. A lucky place at a cross roads, a river
bend or a mountain pass where they might catch the drift from
the tides of travel and by the simple process of accretion or
the fortuitous concourse of human atoms a city came into being.
Not so Houston. Its site was selected by promoters, it was
mapped and planned ere ever a house was built, its advantages
were touted in the national press and it has performed
the singular feat of growing largely according to the plans
and specifications originally laid out for its development and
has surpassed the most “whopping” predictions as to its growth
and prosperity.
All the stage wits and travelling vaudeville artists use
Harrisburg as the target for their country village jokes and
yet curiously enough it was the prohibitive price of land in
Harrisburg that caused Houston to be chosen and built. The
promoters recognized the obvious fact that Harrisburg is a

better place for a city than Houston and tried to buy there
but the owners of the proposed townsite were greedy and
hence a site farther up the river was chosen.
By a deed of the date of August 26, 1836, and for a recited
consideration of $5,000, two New York speculators, the brothers
A. C. and J. K. Allen, purchased of Mrs. T. F. L. Parrott the
south half of the lower of the two leagues of land granted
to John Austin, near the head of tide water on Buffalo Bayou.
It was immediately put on the market as a townsite. The
first formal announcement is an advertisement published in the
“Columbia Telegraph” of the date of August 30, 1836. It

“The Town of Houston,
“Situated at the head of navigation on the west bank of
Buffalo river is now for the first time brought to public notice,
because, until now, the properties were not ready to offer to
the public, with the advantages of capital and improvements.
“The town of Houston is located at a point on the river
which must ever command the trade of the largest and richest
portion of Texas. By reference to the map it will be seen that
the trade of San Jacinto, Spring Creek, New Kentucky, and
the Brazos, above and below Fort Bend, must necessarily come
to this place, and will at this time warrant the employment
of at least $1,000,000 of capital, and when the rich lands of
this country shall be settled, a trade will flow to it, making it,
beyond all doubt, the great interior commercial emporium
of Texas.
“The town of Houston is distant 15 miles from the Brazos
river, 30 miles a little north of east from the San Felipe, 60 miles
from Washington, 40 miles from Lake Creek, 30 miles south-west
from New Kentucky and 15 miles by water and 8 or 10
by land above Harrisburg.
“Tide water runs to this place and the lowest depth of
water is about 6 feet. Vessels from New Orleans to New York
can sail without obstacle to this place, and steamboats of the
largest class can run down to Galveston Island in 8 or 10
hours in all seasons of the year.
“It is but a few hours sail down the bay, where one may
make excursions of pleasure and enjoy the luxuries of fish,
fowl, oysters and sea bathing.
“Galveston Harbor, being the only one in which vessels
drawing a large draft of water can navigate, must necessarily
render the island the great naval and commercial depot of the
“The town of Houston must be the place where arms, ammunitions
and provisions for the government will be stored,
because, situated in the very heart of the country, it combines
security and means of easy distribution, and a national armory
will no doubt very soon be at this point.
“There is no place in Texas more healthy, having an abundance
of excellent spring water, and enjoying the sea breeze
in all its freshness.
“No place in Texas possesses so many advantages for
building, having fine ash, cedar and oak in inexhaustible quantities,
also the tall and beautiful magnolia grows in abundance.
In the vicinity are fine quarries of stone.
“Nature appears to have designated this place for the
future seat of government. It is handsome and beautifully
elevated, salubrious and well watered and now in the very heart
or center of population, and will be so for a length of time to
“It combines two important advantages—a communication
with the coast and foreign countries and with the different
portions of the Republic. As the country shall improve, railroads
will become in use and will be extended from this point
to the Brazos and up the same, and also from this up to the
headwaters of San Jacinto, embracing that rich country, and in
a few years the whole trade of the upper Brazos will make
its way into Galveston Bay through this channel.
“Preparations are now making to erect a water saw mill
and a large public house for accommodation will soon be
opened. Steamboats now run in this river and will in a short
time commence running regularly to the island.
“The proprietors offer the lots for sale on moderate terms

to those who desire to improve them, and invite the public to
examine for themselves.

Signed A. C. ALLEN, for
A. C. & J. K. Allen.

August 30, 1836, 6 m.

[Back to top]

“The Commercial Bulletin of New Orleans, Mobile Advertiser,
The Globe at Washington, Morning Courier and New
York Enquirer, New York Herald and Louisville Public Advertiser
are requested to make 3 insertions of this advertisement
and forward their bills to this office for payment.”
How familiar it all sounds. Houston boosters ever since
then have been consciously or unconsciously plagiarizing that
model and brilliantly worded advertisement of the unborn city.
Land in Texas was inexhaustible and cheap, and it is startling
only to think of the sheer nerve of the Allen Brothers in
buying a large segment of a virgin wilderness on the banks
of a brush grown bayou and deliberately starting out to make
a great city there and to make it the capital of a new nation
and then to advertise it all over a foreign country, for the
United States was then a foreign country. Not only did the
Allen Brothers start out to work this miracle but they actually
accomplished it. Within a year's time this city of paper and
tents was the capital of Texas and was entertaining distinguished
men from many parts of the world.
Like most promoters, the Allens strained the facts a bit, but
the facts could stand the strain. Communication with the
coast and foreign countries was not of the best. It took four
days to traverse the distance from Harrisburg to Houston by
boat and only a bridle path traversed the jungle that intervened
between the two points by land.
When the new city was first announced, Dr. Pleasant W.
Rose of a neighboring town with a party visited the site of the
city. They found “one dug out canoe, a bottle gourd of whiskey,
a surveyors chain and compass and a grove inhabited by
four men camping in tents.”
Low hanging trees and snags in the bayou made progress
slow by water. Francis R. Lubbock, one of the earliest and

most prominent citizens, who was later Governor of Texas,
“discovered Houston,” in January, 1837. The little steamer
on which he came up the bayou required three days to make
the trip from Harrisburg, a distance of 12 miles by water.
He says: “The slow time was in consequence of the obstructions
we were obliged to remove as we progressed. We had to
rig what were called Spanish windlasses on the shore, to heave
the logs and snags out of our way, the passengers all working
faithfully. All hands on board would get out on the shore,
and cutting down a tree would make a windlass by boring
holes in it and placing it upon a support and throwing a
bight of rope around it, secure one end to a tree in the rear,
and the other to the snags or fallen trees in the water. Then
by means of the capstan bars we would turn the improvised
capstan on land and draw from the track of the steamer the
The saddest part of it was that even then the passengers
came very near not finding the city. A party of them took the
yawl to try and find the landing but missed it and passed on
until they stuck in the brush in White Oak Bayou and then
backed down until they found wagon wheels and footprints in
the mud bank at the waters edge and then saw the stakes driven
in the ground that indicated that Houston was there.
This steamer was the “Laura” and was the first to ever
reach the wharfless landing.
The Allen Brothers had the germ of faith. It could not
move mountains and hence the feature of beautiful elevation
in the advertisement was a trifle difficult to find, but it could and
did build cities.
The original plan of the city and the map of it contemplated
only 62 blocks, all on the south side of Buffalo Bayou.
Gail Borden, the man who subsequently discovered or invented
condensed milk, and T. H. Borden made the survey and map
in 1836. The streets were given the names they now hold except
that Austin Street was then Homer Street and LaBranch
Street was then Milton Street. Homer Street had its name
changed within a short time in honor of Stephen F. Austin

and Milton Street in honor of Alcee LaBranch Charge d' Affairs
from the United States and the first minister to announce the
recognition of Texas among the nations of the world. Epic
poets of Greece and England were thus forced to give place to
American heroes and statesmen:
Another map, made by Girard, of the Texas Army, is now
in the possession of John S. Stewart of Houston.
On the original map, block 31, the present site of the
court house, was set aside and marked court house, and block
34, the present market square, was marked Congress Square.
John Allen, who selected the site of Houston immediately
following the Battle of San Jacinto, called the street now traversed
by the Houston and Texas Central Road, Railroad Street,
saying, “This is the street which the great Texas railroad will
traverse. His foresight was correct and his prophecy came
true, but he died before the first locomotive blew its whistle
over the right of way. His death occurred in 1838.
On April 7, 1837, the townsite was enlarged and a new
map was drawn, extending one tier of blocks beyond Rusk
Street on the south, one tier beyond Crawford Street on the east
and one tier beyond Clay Street on the west. The square west
of the Rice Hotel square on Main Street was originally designated
as Capitol Square but when the Capitol building was erected
in 1837 it occupied the site now occupied by the Rice Hotel and
soon to be occupied by the new 18-story Rice Hotel.
A little group of settlers, among them the promoters of the
town, settled in Houston during the year 1836. They lived in
tents. On January 1, 1837, the city was still one of tents
although Henry Allen had a small log house and several small
houses were in course of erection. Logs were being hauled in
from the forest for a hotel on Franklin Street at the corner
of Travis, now occupied by the Southern Pacific building, where
the old Hutchins House stood for many years. Col. Benjamin
Fort Smith built the first hotel. He had been Inspector General
at the Battle of San Jacinto. All lumber was them sawed
by hand and cost from $150 to $200 per thousand feet. There
was a saw mill at Harrisburg but some of the earliest houses

were built out of lumber that was shipped from Maine by water.
Most of those who came to the new town stayed, possibly
because it was practically impossible to get away. The forests
that surrounded Houston on every side were filled with abundance
of wild game. Bear, deer, antelope, buffalo, wild turkeys in
great flocks, and large herds of wild mustang horses
roamed within a few miles. On the opposite side of Buffalo
Bayou several tribes of wild Indians were accustomed to camp
in the splendid forest, a custom which they kept up for several
years after the founding of the town.
The streets were broad paths cleared by the axe, and bottomless
with mud in wet weather. There were no sidewalks.
The tents and huts clustered on the banks of the steam or a
few blocks away. The town was still without a hotel, a court
house, a jail or a church in December, 1836. Even the saloons
occupied large tents. The battle of San Jacinto had been
fought and won, but in Houston as elsewhere the inhabitants
were without money, without revenue, without credit and
without many of the most ordinary necessities of life. Cane
brakes were burnt down and corn planted on the charred
ground brought forth good crops. Some of the inhabitants had
slaves, and cotton was early planted. Harrisburg was still
the metropolis because it had a saw mill and its saloons were
housed in wood instead of canvas. By December, 1836, the
rivalry between the two places was keen, but Houston was
pulling for the honor of being selected as the seat of government
and aspired to be the capital of the new nation and the
city destined to become a nest of sky-scrapers and the most
populous city of Texas was fairly launched. One somehow
wishes that its valiant yankee promoters could have seen a
vision of even the Houston of today with bird men soaring in
aeroplanes around the lofty buildings that serrate the city's
skyline and give to it for the first time that beautiful elevation
of which the initial advertisement spoke.
Under the Mexican government, a short time before the
commencement of the Texas revolution in 1833 there had been
created the municipality of Harrisburg as a political subdivision.

This included the entire district of which Harris county
is only a part. For a short time the island of Galveston also
formed a part of Harrisburg County as the municipality was
called under the Republic after the Declaration of Independence
in march, 1836, and continued to be called for several
When Houston was founded this section was sprinkled
with settlers in all directions. A Mr. Knight and Mr. Walter
C. White at the time of Long's expedition in 1820 had burnt
off a canebrake and raised a crop of corn on the San Jacinto
near its month, but subsequently moved to Brazoria.
John Henry Brown in an article in the Houston Post of
December 17, 1891, gives a detailed account of the first settlers
largely from information from Mary J. Briscoe, of Houston, a
daughter of the John B. Harris who founded Harrisburg. He
settled there in 1824, laid out the town in 1826 and built the
first steam saw mill in Texas for which he received as a bounty
two leagues of land. He was a merchant, a tanner and the
owner of a schooner whose name—“The Rights of Man,” reveals
something of his religious and political views. This
schooner plied between Harrisburg and New Orleans. In 1828,
David, a brother of John B., arrived in Harrisburg and in 1830
William P. Harris and “Honest Bob” Wilson arrived, who
were followed in 1832 by Samuel Harris, a fourth brother, all
coming from Cayuga County, New York.
Mary Jane Harris, a daughter of the first settler, married
Captain Andrew Briscoe, a colleague of the great Mexican
patriot, Don Lorenzo De Zavala, and was one of the early
settlers in Houston. Her daughter. Mrs. Adele B. Looscan, lives
in Houston.
Perhaps the honor of being the first settler in Houston
should go to a Mrs. Wilkins, who, with her two daughters and
a son-in-law, Dr. Phelps, settled, in 1822, in territory now within
the city limits of Houston.
Harrisburg was the seat of justice of the new Republic
from March 22 to April 13, 1836. On the approach of the Mexican
Army it was abandoned and Santa Anna put it to the

torch. The first lone star flag made in Texas was improvised
at Harrisburg in September, 1835, by a Mrs. Dobson and other
ladies. A Miss Troutman, of Georgia, gave a lone star flag to
Captain (later Colonel) William Ward, near the same time.
Following the battle of San Jacinto the First Congress
of the Republic met in Columbia and on December 15, 1836,
selected the new town of Houston as the seat of government
to continue until 1840. The seat of government was moved to
Houston just prior to May 1, 1837, and soon after—an event
that proved to be even more important—the county seat was
moved from Harrisburg to Houston. Since that time Harrisburg
has been in a state of arrested development, a sleepy little
town on the bayou, while Houston has steadily grown until its
city limits have been thrust into the very heart of old Harrisburg
and the turning basin and ship channel bid fair to give
back to that town, now de facto a part of Houston, the dignity
and prosperity it enjoyed three quarters of a century ago.
Harris County, in which Houston and Harrisburg are now
located has an elevation of from 50 to 75 feet above sea level.
Its surface is almost level with an almost imperceptible slope
toward the south. One-fifth of the surface is slightly undulating.
A scientific writer in an early newspaper, who appears to
know what he is talking about, says that the geological formation
is past tertiary and that below the surface there is a layer
of clay with streaks of calcareous nodules varying in color
from white to gray and yellow to red. In the northern part
of the county below the clay there is a stratum of sand, and
in the southern part a moderately hard calcareous sandstone
in which springs originate. Water is found from a depth of
15 feet upward and contains small quantities of lime, magnesia,
chloride of sodium, and other minerals with a trace of organic
matter. The surface soil in the north is a sandy earth and in
the south a black waxy loam enriched with decomposed organic
matter. It is probable that there are large deposits of oil at a
considerable depth as oil has been found on nearly all sides of
the county.


Most of the stirring events of early Texas history center
elsewhere than in Houston, although the actors in those events
were often residents of and visitors to the little new town on
the bayou. Where these events relate to Texas rather than
to Houston history they can not even be categoried. San
Jacinto had been fought before Houston was founded, and the
events of the following years were mainly those of frontier
growth all over Texas although the country was causing one of
the prettiest diplomatic webs to be woven in the history of the
American continent and England, France, Germany and other
countries soon east covetous eyes upon the new republic. The
important years for the new town were from the middle of April,
1837, to the latter part of 1839, during which time it was the
seat of government.
The years 1837 and 1838 were the fat years of growth
and prosperity for Houston and the year 1839 the lean year of
famine, pestilence and backset in Houston as elsewhere.
Government and the administration of justice, occupied
much of the time of the settlers in their isolated forest town
and, in a community where the key note was independence and
where the population was of the rough, hardy, self reliant,
courageous and opinionated sort, neither government nor the
administration of justice was easy. Every man had
infinite confidence in his own judgment and was always ready
to back his opinion with pistol or bowie knife if anybody
doubted its correctness. The duello was still an institution and
quarrels and fights among the prominent citizens were
thoroughly a matter of course.
The army and the legal profession and the government
had made titles super-abundant and one could not fire a load
of buckshot into any group without crippling a few judges,
colonels and majors and as likely as not a general or a member
of Congress or some cabinet dignitary.
The cooped up condition, the utter lack of news facilities
and outside objects of interest, the sense of military importance
and the undeniable fact that a goodly per cent of the population
had left its former home moved by other motives than

undiluted enthusiasm for Texas and that another portion was
far better at a fight than at plowing corn, made for fractiousness
and trouble. Government was largely personal, the statesmen
all quarrelled with each other outrageously and often
without adequate cause and partisanship ran high. All offices,
both civil and military, were elective and there was an active
demand for rotation in office so that everybody got honored
with a few titles sooner or later. The multitude of personal
difficulties is illustrated in the following story by Governor
Lubbock which recounts conditions that have not entirely
ceased in Houston even at this day. “An occurrence at an
early day shows how Houston failed to get a carriage factory
and lost at least one good immigrant. Charles Hedenberg, of
the firm of Hedenberg & Vedder, commission merchants, had
induced an uncle of his to come out from New Jersey with
the view of establishing a carriage manufactory. Arriving very
early in the morning his trunks were taken to the business
house. About ten o'clock that day Hedenberg suggested to
his uncle that the Congress of the Republic was in session and
that if he would go up to the Capitol he might be entertained,
and after a while they would go to the house. While the
Jersey man was seated in the Senate Chamber rapid firing
took place in the hall of the building which caused every one
to rush out to see what had occurred. The uncle was just in
time to see the body of Senate Clerk Thompson being borne
away after having been badly shot up by Senate Clerk Brashear.
He had never seen a man shot before and rushed out of the
building going down Main Street on the west side. After
walking several blocks he was passing the Round Tent saloon
when a soldier, who had just been shot by a man named Seevy,
rushed out and nearly fell upon him. Now thoroughly
frightened he dashed across to the other side of the street and
just as he got over in front of John Carlos' saloon, a man
rushed out of the saloon door with his bowels protruding from
an immense gash inflicted on him by the bowie knife of a
discharged soldier. The visitor rushed to the commission store
and gasped out an order for his trunks to be put on a dray

and sent to the boat for Galveston at once. The nephew remonstrated.
‘Why Uncle, you have not had time to look at the
town.’ The old man replied, ‘Charley, I have seen all I ever
want to of Texas. Get my trunks.”’
Government, as has been pointed out, was the chief concern
of the Texans. Harrisburg County was created by the General
Council at San Felice, but was not fully organized until 1837.
Captain Andrew Briscoe, elected chief justice by the first
Congress, held elections for precinct and county officers who
had their offices at the county seat at Harrisburg. Those
elected were: sheriff, John W. Moore; coroner, William Little;
clerk of the district court, James S. Holman; clerk of the
county court. Dewitt Clinton Harris. By the middle of 1837
Houston had captured the county seat from Harrisburg and
the county offices and most of the officials moved there.
The first court house and jail, necessitated by the removal
of the county seat, were built in 1837. The jail was a log
structure with a kind of upright log palisade as a part of it,
but the new court house was a two story frame building. They
were built by Dr. Morris S. Birdsall, the contractor with the
county. The course of law did not wait for their completion.
The first instrument in writing in the Harrisburg or Harris
County records is a bond for title from Zadoc Hubbard to
Lorenzo Brown to make good and sufficient title to one-half of
lot 10, block 21. The instrument is dated February 22, 1837
and is recorded February 27. The site is that of the store
later occupied by W. D. Cleveland.
The first grand jury, which met in the shade of some lopped
off branches of trees on court house square, had B. F. Smith
as foreman and the following members: Edward Ray, B.
Stencil, Abraham Roberts, P. W. Rose, William Goodman, M.
H. Bundic, William Burnett, John Goodman, Sr., Freeman
Wilkerson, Gilbert Brooks, Thomas Hancock, Allen Vince,
John Dunnam, John Earls, Elijah Henning, Andrew II. Long
and James House, Sr.
Three indictments were brought in at its first session: one
against Whitney Britton for assault and battery, one against

John T. Beall for murder and a third against James Adams for
larceny. The results of the trials suggest with a grim sort of
humor the mental attitude of the people toward the several
classes of offences. Whitney Britton's case was dismissed as
a triviality, the petit jury decided that John T. Beall had done
no more than they would have done under the circumstances
and brought in a verdict of justifiable homicide, but when the
scoundrel James Adams, who had stolen property instead of
battering up the human form divine or taking human life,
came to trial, he met the full vigor of an outraged justice. He
was found guilty of theft, was ordered to make restitution to
Lawrence Ramey of $295, and the notes he was charged with
having abstracted, and was further sentenced to get 39 lashes
on the bare back and be branded with the letter “T” in the
right hand. He would thus carry, graven in his palm the
insignia that he was a thief, as long as he lived.
The 39 lashes were to be laid on by the sheriff in a public
place on Friday, March 31, 1837, and it was so done.
In extenuation of the high value attached to property
and the low value set on life it should be remembered that
every man went armed and was supposed to be able to take
care of himself and that the citizens were living in an almost
unproductive wilderness where poverty was attended with
great hardships.
The cases cited above were tried at the first district court
held in Houston which was presided over by Hon. Benjamin
C. Franklin.
All killers did not escape punishment even at that early
day however, and the first years of Harris County might show
a better record for legal executions for homicide than the last
decade. While the courts were yet young, two men were tried
for murder. One, a gambler named Quick, had killed a man
with whom he was gambling, and the other, named Jones, had
killed a fellow soldier, Mandrid Wood, of the New Orleans
Grays. Judge J. W. Robinson, who had been lieutenant governor
under the provisional government in 1835–6, was on the
bench and overruled all motions for a new trial and thwarted

all efforts for delay after the men had been tried and convicted
of murder. Everything had been done to prevent the sentence
and it was finally represented to the court that the jail was
very insecure, the weather quite cold and the men forced to
wear irons for greater security because of the weakness of
the palisade jail. The judge was so touched by the recital
that he pronounced sentence that “the prisoners, in consequence
of the insecurity of the jail, the extreme cold weather
and their uncomfortable situation,” be hung on the Friday
following, which was done in a clump of timber that long bore
the name of hangman's grove.
During 1837, Houston, which had become both the seat of
the county government and of the national government became
ambitious for yet more government as, counting citizens, state
officials and congressmen, there were nearly a thousand people
in her environs, and so early in June, Congress was persuaded
to incorporate Houston as a city. Organization was delayed
several weeks which gave an opportunity for mass meetings
and protests which were greatly enjoyed by the citizens.
The first mayor was Francis Moore, Jr., who did not
assume office until the first Monday in January, 1838. George
W. Lively was mayor in 1839 and George H. Bringhurst was
surveyor, an office of importance where land titles and head
were rights beginning to assume importance. John D. Andrews
became mayor in 1841 and in 1842 was re-elected. In 1843
Francis Moore was re-elected. Horace Baldwin succeeded him
in 1844, and in 1845 W. W. Swain assumed the office which he
held at the time of annexation.
Among the names of early aldermen are found Captain
R. P. Boyce, J. De Cordova, author of the First Handbook of
Texas, and Alexander McLewen.
Dr. Moore, the first mayor, was for a long time the editor
of the Telegraph, he and his partner, Jacob W. Cruger, having
established the first newspaper in Houston by the removal,
early in 1837 of the “Telegraph” from Columbia, the newspaper
following the seat of Government to Houston. Dr. Moore

was afterwards state geologist and held many prominent positions.
The first marriage license signed under the law of
the Republic was issued at Houston on July 22, 1837, signed
by DeWitt C. Harris, county clerk. It authorized Hugh
McCrory to wed Miss Mary Smith. The ceremoney was performed
the following day by Rev. H. Matthews, a Methodist
minister. Mr. McCrory died within a few months and in 1840,
his widow married Dr. Anson Jones, afterwards the last president
of the Republic of Texas and perhaps the greatest diplomat
of any man who ever held that office.
Mrs. Jones survived for many years, dying on December
31, 1907, in Houston, and holding at the time of her death the
office of President of the Daughters of the Republic of Texas.
In 1905, the writer visited her in Houston and heard from
her lips many stories of the early history of Texas. Her son,
Judge Anson C. Jones was county judge for a number of
years and many relatives of note still live in Houston, among
them Judge Charles E. Ashe, of the 11th district court, a
Not until the 24th of March, 1838, was the first divorce
granted at which time the gallant court relieved Susan
Williams from the matrimonial fetters that chained her to
John Williams.
The court house was the center of city life. At least one
of the four pages of the early editions of the newspapers in
Houston was entirely given up to advertising sheriffs sales,
and other matters that centered around the court house.
On August 6, 1844, the two story frame court house was
sold to make room for what was described as a “palatial structure,”
the second of the seven buildings which have occupied
court house square. All of them have been palatial structures
however, the last, recently dedicated, costing about a half million
By December 4, 1839, there were 400 suits on the docket
and a bell had been placed on the court house to summons
the citizens. Disputed land titles caused most of the suits.

All kinds of frauds were practiced by sharpers upon strangers
and one green horn, fresh from the States, purchased in good
faith a head right to had alleged to have been issued to Peter
Ourang Outang. The papers were full of warnings but the
sharp practices flourished.

[Back to top]

Early Day Amusements

Hunting, Fishing and Poker. The Jockey Club and Horse
Racing. Notable Dances, the San Jacinto Anniversary
Ball and Description of Sam Houston and Other Participants.
A Festival Meal at Houston's First Hotel. City's
First Theatres and their Performances.

Hunting, fishing and fighting were occupations so ordinary
among the early inhabitants of Houston that one does not
know whether to rank them as amusements or ordinary matters
of daily routine.
Worlds of fish and game were to be had and every man
was an expert with shot gun and rifle. Wild turkey and prairie
chickens were in great favor as game birds but there were so
many varieties of the feathered tribe in the forests, including
even gaudy paroquets, that the great French naturalist Audobon,
the most famous of ornithologists was a visitor to Houston
before the town was a year old. An unflattering description
of the town in his diary bears the date of May 4, 1837.
The Round Tent and other saloons, mostly under canvas,
provided abundance of cheap whiskey and furnished a congregating
place for the thirsty and the fractious. Poker,
twenty deck poker, faro, stud poker, and several Mexican
card games were in full blast. At elections the candidates
would each have his open barrel of whiskey, and during the
campaign to open up a whiskey barrel and distribute tobacco
was the accepted popular method of electioneering.
One of the most wholesome influences of the genesis of
Houston was that of Masonry. Holland Lodge No. 1, the

mother of Texas lodges was organized in 1837. And by the
middle of 1839 Temple Lodge No. 4, was in existence.
Masonry preceded the building of churches in Houston
for as late as October 14, 1839, the Morning Star complains
editorially that “In a city of 3,000 inhabitants and so much
wealth there is no place for public worship and not one resident
minister.” There had been preaching services prior to
that time however and even congregations organized.
Nicholas Nickleby, which was running as a serial in
English papers and magazines was attracting wide attention
and being eagerly read in Texas, in 1839.
The Jockey Club was established early and held spring
and fall meetings at which racing flourished. Jack and Shelby
Smith and General Tom Green were breeders of racing stock
and were known as sporting men although the most of the
horses that contested were the wiry mustang ponies. At one
of the meets, in a close finish, General Houston is said to have
cheered one of Colonel Green's mustangs on to victory and leaning
over the railing cried as the mare swept into the stretch:
“A million on the mare.” He was never called “Bet-you-a-million
Houston” on that account however, and so the title
was left for another Texan by adoption, John W. Gates.
Dancing was in vogue and one of the most memorable
balls that was ever given occurred at Houston on April 21,
1837, the first anniversary of the battle of San Jacinto, when
General Houston, just elected president, and just returned
from New Orleans, where he had gone after the battle of San
Jacinto that his wound might heal, was the leading figure.
Other distinguished guests were present in Houston and
were doubtless present at that festivity which was held just
on the eve of the Second Session of the Congress of the Republic
and the first that was to be held in Houston.
The day had been made memorable by the arrival of the
first sailing vessel that ever reached Houston, the schooner
“Rolla,” which had taken four days to make the trip from
Harrisburg and had brought a crowd of visitors and guests,

and by an Indian war dance around the flag pole at the capitol.
General Houston was then a widower, clothed about with
all the romance that made him leave his young wife and the
governorship of Tennessee for some mysterious reason, and
newly crowned with the laurels of San Jacinto. He had a
habit of whittling out of bits of soft pine, little hearts, crosses
and other emblems and giving them to the ladies as souvenirs.
Some of these whittled souvenirs are still cherished in Houston
today by descendents of some fair belle of the pioneer days
of Texas.
The wierd contrast between the primitive, crude surroundings
and the fine apparal and culture of many of the participants
gave to the occasion a genre touch that has perhaps
never been surpassed. The scene of the festivities was on Main
Street. Houston was still a camp in the woods, its dwellers
living mostly in white tents or shanties of clapboards and pine
poles. A large two story building, half finished, as yet without
a floor and without anything to cover the rafters between the
first and second story was the place selected for the dance.
Pine boughs, vines, creeping plants and clustered foliage were
used to conceal the nakedness of the house and give it a roof.
This building stood on ground now occupied by the new wing
of the First National Bank and that was for many years occupied
by the T. W. House bank.
The following account of the ball is signed “Texan,” and
appears in many early publications including the Ladies' Messenger,
the Post, during the first year of its existance, and, in
Governor Lubbock's memoirs. It was written by Mrs. Adele B.
Loosean, the daughter of Mary Jane Briscoe, nee Harris.
“Chandeliers were suspended from the beams overhead
but they resembled the glittering ornaments of today in naught
save the use for which they were intended. Made of wood,
with sockets to hold the sperm candles and distributed at
regular distances, each pendant comprised five or six lights, which
shed a dim radiance, but alas, also a liberal splattering of
sperm upon the dancers beneath. The floor being twenty feet

wide by fifty feet in length, could easily accommodate several
cotillions, and although the citizens of Houston were very few,
all the space was required for the large number who came
from Brazoria, Columbia, San Felipe, Harrisburg, and all the
adjacent country. Ladies and gentlemen came in parties on
horseback distances of fifty and sixty miles, accompanied by
men servants and ladies' maids, who had in charge the elegant
ball costumes for the important occasion. From Harrisburg
they came in large row boats, that mode of conveyance being
preferable to a horseback ride through the thick undergrowth,
for at that time there was nothing more than a bridle path to
guide the traveller between the two places.
“General Mosely Baker, one of Houston's first citizens
was living with his wife and child (now Mrs. Fannie Darden)
in a small house built of clapboards. The house comprised one
large room, designed to serve as parlor, bedroom and dining
room, and a small shedroom at the back. The floor, or rather
the lack of floor in the large apartment, was concealed by a
carpet, which gave an air of comfort contrasting strangely
with the surroundings.
“As the time for going to the ball drew near, which was
as soon as convenient after dark, several persons assembled
at General Baker's for the purpose of going together. There
were General Houston, Frank R. Lubbock, and his wife, John
Birdsall, (soon after attorney-general) and Mary Jane Harris,
(now the surviving widow of Andrew Briscoe), General Houston
was Mrs. Baker's escort, General Baker having gone to see that
some lady friends were provided for. When this party
approached the ball room, where dancing had already begun, the
music, which was rendered by violin, bass viol and fife, immediately
struck up ‘Hail to the Chief;’ the dancers withdrew
to each side of the hall, and the whole party, General Houston
and Mrs. Baker leading, and maids bringing up the rear,
marched to the upper end of the room. Having here laid aside
wraps and exchanged black slippers for white ones, for there
was no dressing room, they were ready to join in the dance,
which was soon resumed. A new cotillion was formed by

the party which had just entered. General Houston and Mrs.
Baker were partners, Mrs. Lubbock and Mr. George Cruger,
and Mr. Lubbock and Miss Harris. Then were the solemn
figures of the stately cotillion executed with care and precision,
the grave balancing steps, the dos a dos, and others
to test the nimbleness and grace of dancers.
“General Houston had just returned from New Orleans,
where he had been since the battle of San Jacinto for the
purpose of having his wound treated. Being the president-elect,
he was, of course, the hero of the day, and his dress on
this occasion was unique and somewhat striking. His ruffled
shirt, scarlet cassimere waistcoat and suit of black silk velvet,
corded with gold, was admirably adapted to set off his fine,
tall figure; his boots, with short red tops, were laced and folded
down in such a way as to reach but little above the ankles, and
were finished at the heels with silver spurs. The spurs were,
of course, quite a useless adornment, but they were in those
days so commonly worn as to seem almost a part of the boots.
The weakness of General Houston's ankle, resulting from the
wound he had received in the battle of San Jacinto, was his
reason for substituting boots for the slippers then universally
worn by the gentlemen for dancing.
“Mrs. Baker's dress of white satin, with black lace overdress,
corresponded in elegance with that of her escort, and
the dresses of most of the other ladies were likewise rich and
tasteful. Some wore white mull with satin trimmings; others
were dressed in white and colored satins, but naturally in so
large an assembly, gathered from so many different places,
there was a great variety in the quality of the costumes. All,
however, wore their dresses short, cut low in the neck, sleeves
generally short, and all wore ornaments of flowers or feathers
in their hair, some flowers of Mexican manufacture, being particularly
noticeable on account of their beauty and rarity.
“At about midnight the signal for supper was given, and
the dancers marched over to the hotel of Mr. Ben Fort Smith,
which stood near the middle of the block, later for so long a
time occupied by the Hutchins House. This building consisted

of two very large rooms, built of pine poles, laid up like a log
house, with a long shed extending the full length of the rooms.
Under this shed, quite innocent of floor or carpet, the supper
was spread; the tempting turkeys, venison, cakes and other
viands displayed in rich profusion; the excellent coffee and
sparkling wines invited all to partake freely, and soon the
witty toast and hearty laugh went round.
“Returning to the ball room, dancing was resumed with
renewed zest, and continued until the energy of the musicians
began to flag, and the prompter failed to call out the figures
with his accustomed gusto. Then the cotillion gave place to
the time honored Virginia Reel and by the time each couple had
enjoyed the privilege of ‘going down the middle,’ daylight began
to dawn.”
The above description was written some years after the
event, but has reproduced its quaintness, dignity and strange
charm with great effect and contains vastly more of human
interest than the work of the average society editor in writing
up latter-day festivities.
Even that memorable ball, however, was not permitted
to be without a reminder that Houston was on the frontier.
Among the guests present were the Misses Cooper, and while the
dance was in progress news came that their brother had been
killed by Indians on the Colorado River.
A little over a year later, on May 21, 1838, there was a
grand ball at the Jockey Club, at which we are told the ladies'
tickets were printed on white satin and Mrs. Briscoe danced
successively with Generals Sam Houston, Albert Sidney Johnson
and Sidney Sherman.
Before Houston was a year old it had a theatre and before
it was three years old it had two. The first theatre was on
the site now occupied by Henke's store between Louisiana and
Milam Streets on Congress Avenue. One of the early plays
was “The Dumb Girl of Genoa,” which was played so badly
that one of the actors by the name of Carlos was hung in effigy
on the limb of a large pine tree in front of the hall.
Henry Corri was the manager of a company that came

from New Orleans to Houston in 1838. It played the “School
for Scandal,” and other plays. The newspapers at that remote
date were cruel enough to sometimes criticise plays harshly
and not give mere press agent notices and boosts according
to the prevalent custom now. When it was rumored
that one of the actors had been bitten by a mad dog the Morning
Star said the report was too good to be true, but suggested
that in such case the company might produce Hamlet, King
Lear or Othello so as to give room for his newly acquired ability
in madness. The press agent sometimes got in his work however
in thoroughly approved style as witness the following
from the Morning Star: “Engagement of April 29, 1839.
Unprecedented! Unparallelled! Unheard of Attractions!!!!
First night of the ‘Ensanguined Shirt.’ First appearance of
High P. Ranter, who is engaged for six nights only and can
not possibly be re-engaged on account of sickness in the family
(who was sick or the nature of the illness does not appear)
First appearance of Miss F. Ranter since her recovery from the
whooping cough. First night of the real earthquake! Grand
Fancy Dress Breakdown on a Cellar Door by Miss S. Swipes.
This piece has been got up without regard to expense, weather
or anything else. An amount of property has been invested
in properties which frightens the manager and will astonish
the public. Among other things which have been secured especially
for this piece are 400 streaks of lightning with thunder
to match and 300 alligator skin shields with brass knuckles and
The press agent apparently had not, like Miss Ranter,
recovered from the whooping cough, but the appetite for amusements
must be jaded indeed that does not respond with a
gustatory quiver to the delights here promised.
Edwin Booth and other great actors are said to have visited
Houston at an early date and with dancing, horse-back
riding and racing and “swopping,” whittling, romancing in
Leatherstocking wise of Mexicans and “Injins,” and the delights
of the theatre and of electing everybody to office, times were not
hopelessly dull in the Houston of the days of the Republic.

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Houston and the Red Men

Sam Houston and the Cherokees. An Indian Dance. Letters
from Chiefs John Jolly and Bowles. Houston's Indian
Talk. Fate of Cherokees and Comanches.

Untouched by the stain of blood shed in Indian warfare,
Houston stands almost isolated among the cities of Texas. No
savage massacre ever occurred in its environs and the inhabitants
of the town were never in the frontier days startled by
the blood curdling warhoop. Yet Houston, especially that
part now known as the fifth ward, was a favorite camping ground
of the Indians and the complete immunity from attack was
perhaps due first of all to the influence of Sam Houston and
second to the fact that Houston occupied a place near the
center of the several settlements.
Sam Houston, be it remembered, was an Indian chief, an
adopted member of the Cherokee nation. He had won his first
wounds and his earliest laurels in bloody Indian warfare, but
he had also been a member of the Indian tribes, had lived in
the forests and adopted their customs and spoke their tongue.
He had been later a commissioner for their interests at Washington,
D. C., and to this day there exists in Houston the commission
or passport given to “General Sam Houston” by the
United States Government in which he is commended to all
Indian tribes. That was before he came to Texas but even as
president of the new nation he never forgot his friendship for
the Indians and his policy was always one of justice and conciliation
to all the tribes and especially to the Cherokees.
Early in May, 1837, a day or two after the opening of the
Second Congress and within a few days of the time when

General Houston, as president elect, arrived in the city named
in his honor, we find him in conference with a number of
Indians at Houston. The interview is thus reported in the
Philadelphia Morning Chronicle of that time, by its Houston
correspondent: “Several tribes of Indians being encamped in
the splendid forest which covers the undulating ground on the
opposite side of Buffalo Bayou, where the city is situated, a ‘big
talk’ was arranged with the president, General Sam Houston,
and the cabinet of Texas, at which Mr. Crawford (the special
representative of the British Government) was invited to be
“The ‘talk’ was held in the White House of Texas, General
Houston's residence, then a long cabin consisting of a passage
or hall open at both ends, and a room of very moderate dimensions
on each end.
“On the anniversary of the battle of San Jacinto (April
21st, 1837) a lofty flagstaff had been erected on Main street,
and on this occasion a splendid silk flag of the new Republic
was for the first time displayed from it. Around this flag several
hundred Indians and squaws danced a grand war dance.
They began moving around the center like so many radii, as is
done in the flower dance when represented on the stage, accompanying
the movement in a dull and monotonous sort of music
of their own voices, which became quicker and quicker until
they got into a very rapid motion with occasional shouts and
yells, and then all at once stopped and suddenly dispersed.
“After this the chiefs adjourned to the ‘talk.’ These consisted
of some six elderly and very sedate, grave gentlemen,
who were seated around a table and communicated through an
interpreter. The latter appeared a very intelligent, middle-aged
man, and seemed to possess the implicit confidence of
the chiefs.
“General Houston acquitted himself with his usual tact
on such occasions, and aroused a real enthusiasm by his ‘talk’
to the red men. But nothing can be done towards treating
with Indians without presents, so next comes that most important
part of the whole ceremony.


“In the afternoon the presents were delivered and instant
distribution began, each carrying away his share. Tobacco
seemed, of all the articles they received, to be the most
esteemed. Drunkenness then began, and at last General
Houston had to send around to the liquor stores to request
that no more whiskey be sold, which had the effect of inducing
them quietly to retire to their camp, but the woods rang nearly
all night with their yells.”
Some of these Indians were wild Comanches from the West
and on their way back home they killed and scalped several
whites. Not only Mr. Crawford, an agent of the British minister
to Mexico who had come on a secret mission, but probably
also Alcee La Branche, the United States Charge d'affaires,
and R. J. Walker of Mississippi, the first mover of Texas
independence in the United States Senate, saw that Indian war
dance, for both were in Houston at the time.
Among General Houston's private letters the writer found
several documents of great interest including a letter from
John Jolly, chief of Houston's own tribe of Cherokees, a
communication from Chief Bowles, the head of the Texas Cherokees
and addressed to “All my White Friends,” and one of
Houston's famous Indian talks in his own handwriting and
with his own signature and written in the stately form of a
ceremonial state paper. As the two latter throw direct light
on Houston's methods of dealing with the Indians and his attitude
toward them, and as they have never, so far as is known,
been published, they are here reproduced from the originals in
the possession of Hon. Frank Williams, General Houston's
grandson in this city. This is an extract from the John Jolly

“Mouth of the Illinoie.
27 March, 1838.
“Dear Friend:
“I wish you would write and give me all the news and
the prospects of your country and what disposition your government
will make towards the Red People, and if the Cherokees

will have a country set apart for them and be supported
in their rights by your government.

Your friend,
(Signed) John Jolly.”

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The “Indian Talk” is dated October, 1838, and is typical
of General Houston's methods. In structure and theme it
smacks of the Old Testament. Here is the full text of the

“My Brothers:
“There is much talk of war. It is useless. There is no
sense in it. I know that my brothers, the Alabamos and Coosatties,
will not deceive me. A few bad men may have gone from
amongst you and been killed with the enemy. This shall not
destroy your band. Remember the words which I have spoken
to you.
“The little chiefs of the Texas nation shall not hurt you.
My words have been spoken and the winds shall not scatter
them. Remember me and be happy with your women and
children. Winter is coming and cold weather and you may
be unhappy unless with your women and children. Stay with
them until the spring comes and you shall receive a talk from
the chief of this nation. You must not take up the tomahawk.
Nor will I allow other men to raise it against you.
“I send to you wise men to give you counsel. Listen to
them and walk in the path they direct. Tell your young men
to stay at home that they may not bring your nation into
trouble. Old men speak wisdom and young men should pursue
their counsel.
“He that stops his ears against instruction is a fool and
the wise men of his nation should punish him.
“There is a light from the countenance of the Great
spirit upon the good man when he walketh in the straight
path. But brush and darkness falleth in the way of him that
walketh the path of crookedness.

(Signed) Sam Houston.”

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The Texas Indians consisted of the wild Indians, the most
warlike of which were the Comanches, yet comprising a score

of other tribes, and the semi-civilized Indians or the Cherokees
and 12 associate tribes who had crossed the Texas border and
occupied the territory lying north of the San Antonio road
and the Neches and west of Sabine and Angelina. These Cherokees
claimed the land they occupied. The Consultation of San
Felipe, in 1835, recognized these claims and a resolution was
signed by the entire body to secure the Cherokees in these
rights and to have their boundaries established.
General Houston, Col. John Forbes and others as commissioners
met the Cherokee chiefs, Bowles, Big Mush and others,
at the Cherokee village on February 23, 1836, and entered into
a boundary treaty with them. This was never ratified by the
Texans. The Cherokees felt that they had been treated in
bad faith and entered into negotiations with the Mexicans
which the Texans discovered and this ultimately led to the
expulsion of the Cherokees, the killing of Bowles and the driving
of 4,000 Indians from the border. The Texans showing perhaps
fully as much cruelty, treachery and bad faith as the Indians.
One of Houston's last acts as president had been to instruct
Colonel Alexander Horton to survey this boundary. This was
in 1838 and the work was done at least in part.
President Lamar distrusted the Cherokees and all Indians
and his policy was one of warfare, a policy that appealed far
more to the fighting Texans than the William Penn policy of
peace and equity pursued by Houston. Many land speculators
coveted the Cherokee lands which Houston tried to save for the
state after the Indians had been driven out.
There were atrocities sufficient to justify the whites and
Indians alike in feeling that the other side was dangerous and
treacherous and the war of extermination was taken up in
earnest after Houston left the presidency for the first time,
with bloody results on both sides. When a short time later
the Comanche chiefs were massacred at San Antonio in the
pocket of Chief Muke-warrah was found a copy of Houston's
treaty of 1838.
The only part played by the City of Houston in the

Indian wars was in furnishing troops, the Milam Guards participating
in more than one hard campaign.
The general sentiment of nearly every early Texan was
that the only good Indian or good Mexican was a dead one,
and they reformed them at every opportunity. These conversions
were lasting. Save those negotiations that were conducted
from Houston as the capital of the Republic from the
spring of 1837 to the fall of 1839, the Indian history of blood
and battle belongs to the history of Texas and not to that of

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Capital Days and Annexation

Houston Chosen as Capital City of New Nation. Erection of
Capitol Building. First Newspaper. British Representative,
present at Sam Houston's Inaugural Address. Second
Congress Meets in Houston—Its Activities. Visit of
Admiral Baudin of France. Mirabeau B. Lamar and His
Policies as President. England's Refusal to Recognize
Independence. Slaves in Houston. Removal of Capital
to Austin. Causes of Annexation. The Vote in Harris

John Allen's trump card in founding Houston was that
he intended to make it the capital of the Republic of Texas.
It would seem a large ambition but the Allen brothers not
only announced this as a purpose but carried it out within a
year from the time the deed was recorded for the site on which
the city was to stand.
They had to catch the capital on the wing, as it were, for
it seemed to be very fugacious in disposition. Santa Anna
had gotten the capital into the habit of jumping and it had
never gotten over the habit. San Felipe de Austin, Washington,
Harrisburg, Galveston, Velasco, and Columbia had all
enjoyed the fleeting honor.
The first Congress of the Republic, on December 15, 1836,
selected the new town of Houston as the seat of government.
It was intended that it should remain here until 1840, but it
only lasted until the fall of 1839.
The capital building was to be erected under the supervision
of Col. Thomas W. Ward and was to contain 22
rooms. He commenced it in April, 1837 and in 14 days had it

ready for occupancy making a record job as a contractor and
About the first of May, the Congress arrived and the second
session of Congress of the Republic was held in Houston. General
Houston made a brilliant inaugural address and the town
was filled with visitors. The site of the capitol building was
that of the Rice Hotel and was then far out on the prairie.
With the capital came, as has been noted, the Telegraph
from Columbia, and the Morning Star and the Intelligencer
soon followed suit. Houston was provided from the beginning
with newspapers enough to represent the several dissonant
views of the ambitious political experts and statesmen who
controlled her destiny.
General Houston's office was a small log house on Franklin
Street and his residence a clapboard house of two rooms
built for him by Captain R. P. Boyce, another noted contractor
and builder of the day.
The recognition of the independence of Texas by the
United States, news of which had recently arrived; the unsatisfactory
condition of the finances of the land law; the information
that Northern Indians had visited Matamoras and offered
Mexico 3,000 warriors if it would resume the war; praise for
the army and its general, Albert Sidney Johnston; the need
of a navy; and the resources of Texas and her ability to maintain
her independence; were emphasized in the inaugural
Perhaps in deference to Mr. Crawford, the British representative,
who occupied an honored position in the hall, the
president commented on the iniquity of the African slave
trade and its prohibition by Texas.
In the session that followed, the government of the republic
and its various departments were organized and their power
defined, a general land office was established, the public debt
was consolidated and funded, and all the islands of the Republic,
including Galveston, were offered for sale. The western
boundary of the Republic was fixed definitely at the Rio
Grande and the Cordova rebellion of Mexicans and Indians

was suppressed. The Texas Railroad Navigation and Banking
Company was incorporated with a capital of $5,000,000 but
never went into existence because of the inability to pay into
the treasury $25,000 in gold or silver.
Houston pursued a policy of peaceful negotiations with the
Indians wherever possible and of diplomatic handling of negotiations
to secure recognition from foreign countries. A commercial
treaty with England was announced on January 4,
1838, by General Henderson, who had gone to England and
France, in 1837, as Envoy Extraordinary with powers pleni-potentiary.
M. de Saligny, as the representative of the French government,
visited Houston in the spring of 1838, and on May 13,
of that year Admiral Baudin with a French fleet, stopped at
the ports of Galveston and Velasco. At Galveston, Baudin
returned the salute gun for gun until 22 guns, the national
salute, had been fired. The Admiral visited Houston and was
received with great ceremonies and it was on his report that
France soon after acknowledged by treaty the new Republic.
Mirabeau B. Lamar, himself a hero of San Jacinto and a
man of brilliant personal traits and no mean degree of statesmanship,
succeeded Houston as president, and was installed
in office in December, 1838. He was an anti-annexationist and
favored close relationships with Great Britain. The failure
of the United States to grant annexation when it was first
sought had roused the pride of Texas and thenceforth the
annexationists had to fight to a certain extent under cover. This
pride was so strong that within two years' time Texas ceased all
attempts to secure recognition and from then on the overtures
came from the United States. Lamar, in his first annual message,
said, that “To Great Britain the independence of Texas
could not be an indifferent event.”
Lamar favored pressing the war against Mexico and a
drastic policy toward the Indians. Texas was in a position
where Mexico could not successfully attack her and could not
hope to regain her lost province but Texas was still less in condition
to successfully attack Mexico. Under Lamar the

Comanches were severely punished and the Cherokees were
expelled from the state.
By an act approved January 4, 1839, actual settlers coming
to Texas, under appropriate conditions, were to receive
grants of 640 acres each. This offer was to hold until January
1, 1840. It encouraged imigration to Houston as well as elsewhere
in Texas.
England refused to acknowledge Texas' independence in
1839, owing somewhat to O'Connell's attack on Texas as a
country where slavery was permitted. This inflamed sentiment
in Texas against England and the Houston papers fulminated
against O'Connell. The Morning Star said editorially: “We
shall always oppose any foreign protection or assistance that
may be predicated upon the slightest interference with our
domestic institutions as they now are.”
By an ordinance of April 12, 1839, passed by the city
council of Houston slaves found on the streets after 8 o'clock
in the evening, were to receive from 10 to 30 lashes. No free
negroes were allowed to live in Houston. The government
passed rigid laws forbidding any intermarriage between white
people and those of African descent, a law which was especially
praised by the British consul to Texas, Mr. Ikin, in a booklet
called “Texas,” published in London in 1841, in which the
purity of the Anglo Saxon race is contrasted with that of the
Latin races which have become mongrelized in America by
intermarriage with negroes and Indians.
On September 25, 1839, Marshal Soult for France, signed
with Mr. Henderson the treaty of amity, navigation and commerce,
Marshal Soult, who was also Duke of Dalmatia, saying
he was proud to be the European god-father of the new Republic.
This was the last event of international importance that
occurred while the capital remained in Houston for in the
fall of 1839 the archives were loaded on thirty wagons and
removed to Austin, the new capital. Houston was greatly
aggrieved at the change and President Lamar, who was supposed
to favor it, came in for a large share of local criticism. Sam

Houston also opposed the change as Austin was then on the
Indian frontier and some stirring chapters of Texas history
were made by the old General's subsequent attempt to move
the archives and the capital away from Austin.
On November 16, 1840, Lord Palmerston, at London, signed
with General Henderson, the treaty by which England recognized
the independence of Texas and a similar treaty was signed at
the Hague about that time.
The Santa Fe expedition in 1841, was participated in by
many Houstonians and Mr. Kendall of the New Orleans Picayune,
who was one of those making the trip, has a vivid
chapter on Houston and her horse market, in which the Milam
Guards are greatly praised. Kendall's book was published in
1845. Houstonians also participated in the Mier expedition
that followed, but the fate of neither of these can be considered
local history.
Whenever there was a threat of a Mexican invasion,
Houston promptly supplied her quota of soldiers, furnishing
on one occasion two companies of mounted infantry equipped
by local merchants.
Great Britain evinced a lively interest in Texas from the
first and had planned to control this country either as a colony,
a protectorate, or by close treaties. Between 1840 and 1845
England's plans were enlarged to purchase California, and press
England's claims to Oregon that would bring that boundary
down to within 45 miles of territory claimed by Texas and thus
control the entire Pacific slope of the United States.
Some wise men in Texas and in the United States understood
her diplomacy. She prevented Mexico's acknowledging
the independence of Texas until it was offered as the price
of Texas staying out of the American Union. The United
States also waked up to the fact that the Monroe doctrine was
in danger and the great presidential campaign of 1844 was waged
on the democratic platform of “Polk and Dallas, Texas and
Oregon 54°, 40′ or fight.”
With the United States as the suitor, Texas agreed to come
into the Union rejecting, at the same convention, the counter

proposition from Great Britian of English friendship, and Mexican
recognition of her independence.
George Fisher, one of Houston's most noted citizens, diplomats
and soldiers, a Hungarian by birth, saw England's plan
most clearly and in a letter, dated, Houston, January 2, 1844,
and published in the Madisonian at Washington, February 5,
he points out the English menace to the Monroe doctrine.
In a dissertation, written in German and published at the
University of Berlin in 1902, the editor of this history has discussed
at length the plans of England and other countries in
regard to Texas. The title of the book is “Die Annexion von
Texas, ein Beitrag zur Geschichte der Monroe Doctrin.”
As soon as Texas saw that the United States was in deep
earnest at last, sentiment for annexation became strong again.
An annexation mass meeting was held in Houston with Hon.
M. P. Norton, chairman, George H. Bringhurst and A. M.
Gentry, secretaries, and the following committee on resolutions:
J. W. Henderson, Francis Moore, Jr., W. M. McCraven, F. R.
Lubbock, J. Bailey, A. Wynns, J. W. Brashear, T. B. J. Hadley,
T. M. Bagby, William M. Rice, C. M. McAnnelly, M. T.
Rodgers, M. K. Snell, H. Baldwin, S. S. Tompkins and John H.
Brown. The committee resolved: “That in exchanging our
present political position for that of a sovereign state of the
American Union, we shall indeed be merging the beams of our
single star, but only that it may acquire new and increased
splendor from the more full and pervading light of a glorious
constellation, as certain planets are said to withdraw themselves
from view when they become illumined in a group of great
By the time the vote came on annexation and the constitution
which occurred on October 13, 1845, the sentiment was
so certain that many stayed away from the polls in full confidence
as to how the choice would be made. The vote of Harris
County was for annexation, 321, of which number 241 votes
were cast in Houston; against annexation 50, of which number
44 ballots were cast in Houston; for the Constitution 299,
against the Constitution 68. Texas had returned to her father's

house. The Harris County delegates to the Constitutional convention
of 1845 were Isaac W. Brashear, Alexander McGowen
and Francis Moore, Jr. Its first state senator was Isaac W.
Brashear and its first representatives Peter W. Gray and J. N.
O. Smith. The lone star had yielded to the sweet influences of
the Pleides.

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Early Religious Organizations

Houston's Pioneer Churches. Methodists, Presbyterians, Baptists
and Catholics Early Founded Congregations.

The first evangelistic sermon ever preached in Houston,
according to Dr. B. F. Riley, sometime pastor of the First Baptist
church of this city, in his “History of Texas Baptists,” was
by Rev. Z. N. Morrell. Rev. Mr. Morrell and an aged companion,
Rev. R. Marsh, reached Texas in 1835 as Baptist missionaries.
Both came to Houston shortly after it was founded.
In the general rush for Texas many preachers were included
some of whom had come for other reasons than the good of
the cause. To guard against ministerial frauds and imposters
a meeting was held in the office of Dr. Marsh in Houston on
May 8, 1837, while the first Congress to meet here was in
session and a preachers' vigilance committee was organized.
On the committee, besides the two named, were W. W. Hall, a
Kentucky Presbyterian, and three Methodists, W. P. Smith, of
Tennessee; L. I. Allen, of New York, and H. Matthews, of
Louisiana. The committee pledged itself to recognize no
preacher coming from the United States or elsewhere, unless he
brought with him testimonials of good character.
Rev. Littleton Fowler, a Methodist minister of piety and
zeal was among the early ministerial arrivals. He was elected
Chaplain of the Senate in the fall of 1837.
Mr. Fowler obtained as a gift from the Allens the title to
the half block of ground on Texas Avenue between Travis and
Milam Streets formerly occupied by the old Shearn church, but
now occupied by the New Majestic Theatre and the Chronicle
building. It was deeded in 1837.


Rev. William Y. Allen, a Presbyterian minister, acted as
Chaplain of Congress for a time in 1838 and often preached at
the capitol during 1838 and 1839.
Rev. Edward Fountain preached to an unorganized Methodist
congregation in Houston in 1838.
The first Sunday School was established in Houston in
1838. It seems to have been largely interdenominational as
no churches were then organized. This Sunday School had an
average attendance of 100.
David G. Burnett was elected president of the Texas Bible
Society which was organized in 1838. Mr. Burnett had been
the first President of the Republic and was President when
Houston was founded.
The first evangelical church formally organized in Houston
was of the Presbyterian faith and the organization was effected
on the last day of March, 1838, by Rev. William Y. Allen in
the Senate chamber of the capitol building. The following
names were signed to the Presbyterian Confession of Faith, and
church government, that was then adopted: James Burke, who
was the first ruling elder, A. B. Shelby, J. Wilson Copes,
Isabella R. Parker, Ed Belden, Marian Shelby, James Bailey,
Sarah Woodward, Jennett Smith, Harris G. Avery, and Sophia
B. Hodge. Mr. Allen continued as pastor of this church until
1842. The church built by this congregation was not finished
until late in 1840. It was located on Main Street, between
Texas and Capitol Avenues, and was destroyed by fire in 1862.
On March 16, 1839, Christ church of the Episcopal faith
was organized. On April 1, the first board of vestrymen was
selected as follows: William F. Gray, John Birdsall, M. Hunt,
A. F. Woodward, James Webb, William Pierpont, Tod
Robinson, E. S. Perkins, D. W. C. Harris, J. D. Andrews, C.
Kessler and George Allen. The first church edifice on the site
of the present church was consecrated in 1847 by the Right
Reverend George W. Freeman, Missionary Bishop of the West.
The site of the Church was donated by the Allens.
In May, 1839, Bishop Leonidas Polk visited Houston on
a tour of the Republic.


The First Baptist church in Houston was organized on
May 22, 1841, by Rev. James Huckins, who had come to Houston
under the auspices of the Home Mission Society of New York.
The Baptists had no meeting house of their own until 1847,
when the efforts of a few noble women and of Elder Tryon at
last secured one.
Mrs. Nathan Fuller, wife of Col. Nathan Fuller, and Mrs.
P. L. Hadley were prominent in the group of women who
secured the church building.
When Rev. Littleton Fowler, the Methodist minister,
preached in the capitol at Houston in 1837 he found in the
city “gaming and vice and any number of doggeries,” but no
churches. Mr. Fowler was an ardent mason and later helped
to organize the Grand Lodge of Texas in the Capitol building.
Abel Stevens was appointed to the Galveston and Houston
circuit on December 3, 1838, but did not take up the work.
During 1839, Rev. L. G. Hoard and Rev. Jesse Strickland
preached several times in Houston. On December 4, 1839, Rev.
Edward Fountain was appointed preacher in charge for Houston
and Galveston, but worked almost exclusively in Houston
during the year 1840. On Christmas day, 1840, T. O. Summers
was appointed in charge of Houston and Galveston. In Houston
he preached in an upper room, over a store, on Capitol Avenue
between Milam and Louisiana Streets. In 1841, Rev. Mr.
Summer organized the first permanent Methodist church in
Houston, for a long time known as Shearn church, but now
bearing the name of the First Methodist church. Among the
early members were C. Shearn, D. Gregg, A. H. Sharp, Mrs.
Campbell, Mrs. Winn, (a daughter of Dr. Ruter,) Mrs. Mixon,
E. D. Johnson, John H. Walton, Mosely Baker, Dr. John L.
Bryan, Mrs. Bryan, Mr. and Mrs. Andrew McGowan, H. Tracy,
A. Crawford, Francis Moore McCrea, C. Dikeman and G. S.
Hardcastle. The history of this church has been well compiled
by Mrs. I. M. E. Blandin of Houston.
Abbé Domenech, who was in Houston in July, 1848, makes an
ugly little remark in his book, “Missionary Adventures in Texas
and Mexico,” that has become famous. He says: “Houston is

a wretched little town composed of about 20 shops and a hundred
huts dispersed here and there among trunks of felled
trees. It is infested with Methodists and ants.” The only
thing the Abbé tells of Houston besides this statement is the
story of his fight with the ants, these insects causing him
much tribulation.
Many enterprising missionaries and clerics of the Catholic
faith visited Houston during the early days and a congregation
was early formed. It flourished and erected its first building
in 1841. This congregation was and is known as the Church
of the Annunciation and has played a large part in the religious
history of Houston.

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Early Growth and the Bayou

City of Houston's Early Progress and Poverty. Arrival of
Schooner “Rolla.” Financial Panic and Yellow Fever
Epidemic of 1839. First Book Published in City. Building
of Wharves and Organization of Chamber of Commerce.
Early Descriptions of the Buffalo River and its Steamboat
Life. British Consul Ikin's Description of Houston. Civic
Prosperity. Houston Enters Union as Commercial Emporium
and Business Capital of the State.

Such an accumulation of individual cells is a town, so
gradually does it grow, and by such processes of accretion,
and so persistently do the newspapers and periodicals of any
period overlook that which is distinctive and of the deepest
interest to subsequent generations as being a mere matter of
course, that it is difficult to trace the hues of a city's growth.
Here and there however, events are recorded which, if
they will not exactly serve as milestones on the highway of
progress are at least indications of the direction in which
progress was made as the stones and gravel mark the path of
vanished glaciers.
When John Allen cut with his bowie knife the coffee bean
weeds from what he had marked out as Main Street, a mere
muddy pathway that ran down to a muddy bayou's bank, he
was tracing a highway that was one day to be a canyon
between skyscrapers and both his faith and his works speedily
began to be justified.
To his tent town there came, on January 1, 1837, the first
steamer, the “Laura,” commanded by Captain Grayson, with
a full load of settlers and immigrants, some of them men of

fame already and others to achieve it in the new country of
In April, of that year, the capitol was moved and the capitol
building was constructed and a kind of gubernatorial hut was
erected on Travis Street at the spot now occupied by the Trimble
On April 21, the schooner “Rolla,” after spending four
days on the route from Harrisburg to Houston, arrived. This
was the first sailing vessel to reach the new town. She had a
cargo consigned to Allen Brothers, and was chartered by
Messrs Dykeman and Westcott and had made the water voyage
from St. Joseph, Florida. Her numerous passengers attended
the famous anniversary ball in the Carlos building.
The arrival of the Telegraph from Columbia and the
founding of the Morning Star gave Houston two good newspapers.
Jack Eldinge, poet and editor was one of the early
promoters of the Morning Star, which changed hands often
during the first few years of its existence.
In the fall of 1837, the first two-story dwelling house was
built in Houston by Judge A. C. Briscoe on the corner of Main
Street and Prairie Avenue. Later it was for many years the
home of Dr. I. S. Roberts. The only other two-story buildings
that year were the court house and the capitol.
In the spring of 1838, one of the papers says that Houston
has 400 inhabitants and pine stumps on Main Street. During
the year, ice was advertised for sale at the cut rate of fifty
cents a pound.
A petition, signed by many voters, appears in the Telegraph
of October 11, 1837, asking that something be done to
remedy the muddy condition of the streets around the capitol
and the President's house.
The year 1839 was in many respects a hard year. During
that year New Orleans refused credit to the merchants, the
first yellow fever epidemic visited Houston and caused many
deaths, and on September 15, of that year, the moving of the
capital to Austin was begun.
In May of that year the first regular board of health was

appointed by the city council and a short time later a city hospital
was created and the cost and upkeep of this hospital was
a large item of city expenditure for the year. From July 1
to December 31, 1839, there were 240 deaths in Houston,
mostly from yellow fever, out of a population given as 2,000.
Yellow fever raged in New Orleans, Galveston and Houston
and ravaged the Texas coast. Its mosquito origin was not then
known but all early settlers noticed its relation to ditches,
filth and bodies of stagnant water. Dr. Ashbel Smith also
noted that a fall of temperature checked its spread. A norther,
on November 20, when the mercury fell to 40 degrees Farenheit,
put an end to the plague.
The fourth of July, of 1839, was celebrated jointly by the
Sunday School and the new military company, the Milam
Guards. There were 70 in attendance at the Sunday School.
Rev. William Y. Allen read Deuteronomy, sixth chapter; J. R.
Read spoke for the Sabbath School; J. W. Eldridge read the
Declaration of Independence and D. Y. Portiss spoke for the
Guards. It was a curious joint celebration of another nation's
During the year the treasury notes of the Republic, known
as “red backs,” fell to fifty cents on the dollar. They later
fell as low as ten cents on the dollar. Mexico was threatening
an invasion but not much heed was paid to this threat by
Texas although it fulfilled its intention of hurting the credit
of the new nation abroad.
The first flour brought to the new city had sold for $30 a
barrel, in gold, but the price had materially fallen although
all flour was imported, but now in the depreciated currency a
barrel of flour cost $80; a beef, the same; corn meal was $8 a
bushel; corn, $4 per hundred ears; sugar, 42 cents a pound,
and other prices in proportion. Famine and bankruptcy
threatened the town. Some of the early merchants were Dowell
and Adams, F. R. Lubbock, William D. Lee, Tom League, T. W.
House, Cruger and Moon, and Sam Whitney, also proprietor
of the Telegraph. The newspapers published each day
lists of current prices and also of New Orleans rates on money.

All the New Orlenas bank notes sold below par but the bank
notes of McKinney and Williams, bankers at Galveston, remained
at par and furnished a striking tribute to the credit and solidity
of a Texas institution.
On December 24, 1839, the newspapers note with pride that
some brick sidewalks have made their appearance on Main
Street. During the same month they complained of the rotten
wooden city bridges and of the effluvia, arising from the neglected
market place.
Probably the first book ever published in Houston, and certainly
the first book, a copy of which is to be found in the city's
library, was published in Houston in 1839. It is called “General
Regulations for the Government of the Army of the Republic
of Texas,” and contains 187 pages and shows creditable press
work and also well formulated military regulations. It was
published in the office of the Houston Intelligencer. In the next
few years advertisements for printers and bookbinders make
their appearance in the papers.
In 1840 the tide of prosperity again slowly turned Houston-ward
which had suffered severely in temper and resources from
the removal of the capital.
On February 3, of that year, the newspapers advocate a
line of stages to Austin which was soon after inaugurated. During
the month of February a Brazoria man was appointed post
master at Houston. This was regarded as the crowning insult
and the subject furnished a controversy that lasted for months.
Bids were received in February to construct a wharf from
the foot of Main Street to the foot of Fannin Street, and on
February 26, there was a curious organization formed known as
the “Anti-Rat Society,” headed by John W. Eldridge. Its purpose
was not to attack the head ornaments of the women but the
rodents that swarmed everywhere in the town so as to be a pest.
Houston's first Chamber of Commerce was organized on
April 5, with E. S. Perkins as president. An advertisement of
that month, notes that 20 barrels of whiskey have been received
for sale by one firm and others had large consignments of the
same insinuating beverage. The Morning Star complains on

April 20, of the rowdies and black legs who make life intolerable
by their carouses and fights and two days later dragged these
offenders over the coals again in an article beginning “We are
informed that some of the black leg gentry took offense at our
remarks.” The thugs and rowdies were handled without gloves
by the paper and during the year a warm campaign in favor of
temperance and against the use of whiskey in the Houston
climate was waged by it.
A new military company, known as the Dragoons, was
organized in April, 1840. On April 23, one of the papers tells of
a tall lank stranger who visited the city and wrote after his name
the letters P. O. P. S. F. C. The stranger was asked the meaning
of the letters and said they were an abbreviation of his title,
which, on request he gave as “Professor of Psalmody and School-master
from Connecticut.” The professor however did not
participate in the first concert given in Houston on May 1, by
Emil Heerbrugger at which solos were rendered on the piano, the
violin and the French horn.
A gentleman by the name of Louis, of France, opened a
fencing school but found some difficulty in persauding the citizens
to abandon the bowie knife for the rapier as a means of
settling difficulties and smoothing out wrinkles in a sensitive
honor. News of Filisola's invasion and of Burleson's campaign
against the Lipans appeared in the papers.
The papers lament the slow mails. This is a characteristic
complaint of the period: “Pleasant—To have the United States
Mail lay at Galveston two days after its arrival, to have it put
on board the slowest boat that runs on the bayou and to have that
boat lay three days on Red Fish Bar.”
Shallow water on Cloppers Bar delayed passenger traffic
and the mails, and it was suggested that if all the boats would
drop bouys along the line of the channel over this bar that boats
always passing in the same track would rub a channel deep
enough for convenient passage and that the mud thus rubbed up
by the boat bottoms would be washed out of the way. It was
one of the earliest projects for deepening the ship channel.
Henry Stuart Foote traversed the bayou in 1840, and in his

book, published in Philadelphia the following year, tells of a
herd of buffalo on Galveston Bay, of the wonders of water bird
life, the flaming flamingoes, the giant white pelicans, the rice
birds, the white and gray cranes and the eagles. Of the bayou
he says: “In view of navigation only, Buffalo Bayou in connection
with Galveston Bay is among the most important water
courses of Texas. To Houston there is a safe and constant
steamboat navigation every day in the year, and for practical
purposes this city may be considered the most inland point of
navigation of the country. As evidence of this fact the city of
Houston is among the most flourishing towns in Texas.”
A description of the bayou by the Abbé Domenech a few
years later mitigates his offensive description of Houston already
quoted. The Abbé says: “We entered the little Buffalo River
bordered with reeds and bullrushes in the midst of which herons
and cranes and thousands of ducks were disputing. By and by
the banks increased in height, approached so near to each other
and formed so many narrow tortuous windings that at every
instance the boat was caught either by the bow or the stern.
At length the high lands appeared, covered with magnolias with
their large white flowers and delicious perfumes. Gray and red
squirrels leaped from branch to branch, while mocking birds and
cardinals imparted life and language to these wonderful solitudes.”
A vivid picture of steamboat life on Buffalo Bayou at this
period is given by an Englishwoman, Mrs. Houstoun, who accompanied
her husband on a yachting voyage and hunting expedition
to America. Her style is piquant and her comments are
offered without apology. Chapter X of Vol. II of her book,
“Yacht Voyage to Texas,” published in London in 1844, deals
with the trip up the bayou and with the city of Houston. She
“It was about 2 o'clock in the afternoon of a bright frosty
day that we put ourselves on board the Houston steamer—Captain
Kelsey. She was a small vessel, and drew but little water, a
circumstance very necessary in these small rivers. The American
river steamers differ very much in appearance from those to

which an European eye is accustomed. They have the appearance
of wooden houses, built upon a large raft; there is a balcony
or verandah, and on the roof is what is called the hurricane deck,
where gentlemen passengers walk and smoke.
“On the occasion of our taking our passage, both ladies' and
gentlemen's cabins were quite full, and I therefore preferred
spending the evening in the balcony in spite of the cold. I had
kind offers of civility but I could not help being amused at the
terms in which some of them were couched. The question
addressed to me of ‘Do you liquor, ma'am?’ was speedily followed
by the production of a tumbler of egg-noggy, which seemed in
great request, and I cannot deny its excellence. I believe the
British Navy claims the merit of its invention, but this is matter
of dispute.
“We dined soon after our arrival on board and found everybody
very orderly and civil. Certainly there was a strange mixture
of ranks, but this made it more amusing to a stranger. The
supper consisted of alternate dishes of boiled oysters, and beef
steaks, of which there was plenty and the latter disappeared in
marvelously quick time between the strong jaws of the Texan
gentlemen. I confess to preferring meat which has been kept
somewhat more than an hour, especially in frosty weather. On
one occasion our dinner was delayed for some time, while the
cook went on shore and ‘shot a beef.’ There was fortunately
water enough for us to cross Red Fish Bar, and we were fast
steaming up Buffalo River. For a considerable distance from
the mouth the shores are low, flat and swampy, but as the stream
narrowed there were high banks, and the trees were quite beautiful
in spite of the season, which was extremely unfavorable to
foliage and woody scenery. Such magnolias—eighty feet in
height, and with a girth like huge forest trees,—what must they
be when in full blossom! There were also a great number and
variety of evergreens, laurel, bay and firs, rhododendrons, cistus
and arbutus. It seemed one vast shrubbery. The trees and
shrubs grew to a prodigious height, and often met over the
steamer, as she wound through the short reaches of this most
lovely stream.


“My berth opened out of the state cabin, and as the only
partition was a Venetian door, I could not avoid hearing all the
conversation that was carried on by my neighbors. Cards and
drinking constituted no inconsiderable part of the pleasures of
the evening, but with all the excitement of talk, tobacco chewing
and brandy, I never heard people more orderly and reasonable.
There was no private scandal, no wit, no literature, no small
talk; all was hard, dry, calculating business. One rather important
looking gentleman made a stump speech on the expediency
of Texas becoming a colony of Great Britian! I do not
know the orator's name but General or Colonel he must have
been. Military titles are taken and given here with as little
ceremony as the title of Count on the Continent. Mr. Houstoun
sprang into a General at once.
“There was a Baptist preacher on board, a thin, weary looking
man, with a cast in his eye which was very comical. He had
fought for his country and though now a man of peace, delighted
in displaying his knowledge of military matters. He was going
to Houston to establish a school for young gentlemen, while
his wife was to superintend the education of their sisters. This,
he said, he was induced to do that his boys might not mix with
their inferiors. He could not bear, he added, that his sons should
be acquainted with vulgar boys, which they were obliged to do
at Galveston, but he didn't like it, and now at his school, he could
choose the boys! Exclusiveness here! Where shall we look for
a country where the real charitable feelings of equality exist?
I may remark that my maid was obliged to wait until all these
people had done their meals, because, I was told, they did not
like her to eat at the same table. At seven o'clock in the morning
we arrived at the pretty town of Houston. It is built on high
land, and the banks, which are covered with evergreens, rise
abruptly from the river.”
The lady's book has a frontispiece steel engraving of
Houston, evidently made by the artist from the description in
this last sentence. It shows a city on the sloping side of a lofty
hill with a vista of mountains all about. A beautiful arched
viaduct spans the stream just above the wharf where a huge

side wheel steamboat lies at anchor. It is a very flattering
engraving. Later the lady incidentally gives the information that
Houston had only one brick house at this time.
In a newspaper of April 19, 1839, it is stated that a census
shows Houston to have 2,073 people, 1,620 males and 453 females,
and property assessed worth $2,405,865 with the wharves of a
large commercial city and five steamers constantly plying between
Houston and Galveston. These figures seem padded somehow
and the wharves then were only mud banks and plank platforms
at the water's edge, but in 1840, one gets some authoritative information
as to the city in a booklet entitled “Texas,” by Arthur
Ikin, Great Britian's Texas consul, published in London, in 1841.
Mr. Ikin says: “Houston, though scarcely five years old, has
5,000 inhabitants; several religious congregations; shops of every
kind; daily and weekly newspapers; numerous professional men;
a theatre, race course, hotels, cafes, etc., etc., and several steamers
running between Galveston and this city which will always be
a great depot for the retail trade of the interior.”
Mr. Ikin also says that the states which have most largely
contributed to the population of Texas are: Alabama, Georgia,
Tennessee, Kentucky, the Carolinas, and Virginia. “The warm
hearted liberality, intelligence and taste for refinement which
have always distinguished the people of these last mentioned
states, are characteristics that have not been lost by transmigration
across the Sabine.”
There is incidental talk of a railroad again in 1840, and
on June 8, of that year, the announcement is made that the city
schools will again be opened. The early schools of the city were
private schools. Hon. Alcee LaBranche, the United States representative
was shown marked courtesies in Houston during the
W. L. McCalla was in Houston, in 1840, and the next year
published a book, “Adventures in Texas.” Here is his sole reference
to Houston: “I enjoyed for a season the hospitality of
the city of Houston. Here, consulting my moderate purse, I
purchased and mounted a poor, little, ugly, worthless Indian
mare.” It is to be hoped that, had his purse been longer,

Houston could have offered him a better bargain in horse flesh.
After 1840, Houston grew steadily and quietly. Five years
after its foundation the city revenue was, for the year, $4,740,
specie value.
From June 1, 1841, to May 5, 1842, there was exported 2,460
bales of cotton, 72,816 feet of lumber, and 1,803 hides and four
commercial steamers plyed on the bayou. From January, 1842,
to January, 1843, the city consumed, according to the market
reports, 1,124 beeves, 340 hogs, 165 pigs, 128 calves and 36 sheep.
By a city ordinance of June 8, 1841, the city became known
as the port of Houston and put on a wharfmaster and rates of
wharfage. By an act of Congress approved January 29, 1842, the
city was given the right to remove obstructions from the bayou
and to improve navigation.
In the spring of 1844, T. N. Davis brought the first cotton
compress to Houston. The paper announced that Mr. Davis
could compress 500 pounds of cotton into a space 22 inches
square in fifteen minutes by the aid of two hands. The two
hands referred to seem to have been hired assistants.
The Morning Star of December 20, 1845, discusses the prospects
of Houston, saying: “Notwithstanding the bad state of
the roads, large numbers of teams arrive daily from the interior
with cotton. Four or five new stores have been opened here
within the last month, and we are informed that several merchants
expect to open stores as soon as Annexation is consummated.
There is not a house in town to rent and several new
buildings are going up. The hotels are literally crowded with
boarders. The value of real estate in this section of the city has
advanced at least 100 per cent within the last two months.”
On June 2, 1845, the finance committee made a report to the
city council that the amount of assessed and appraised property
in the city was $336,559 and at one-half per cent that it would
bring in taxes a total of $1,632.79, which sum would be sufficient
to make all improvements, pay the debt and leave a surplus in
the treasury. As a matter of fact the city's total debt on January
1, 1846, only aggregated $875. Houston, when Texas entered
the Union, was practically out of debt, and on an assured basis

of prosperity and the highway to growth and influence. There
was published in 1846 a book called “Prairiedom,” a story of
Texas, written by a “A Southron.” Pages 84 and 85 of this
volume, mirror Houston in pleasing fashion as an abode of prosperity.
The author says: “The city of Houston is a place of
active and profitable trade and in its rise and progress is as much
a miracle in town making as Rochester or Chicago. Houston
is the largest and most flourishing town in the interior, second
only to Galveston in commercial importance, and must always
maintain its ascendency over any other rival. It has now a
population of from 4,000 to 5,000 inhabitants, 40 stores, 3 commodious
public houses, several newspapers, a large cotton press,
an iron foundry, two extensive stearine, candle, oil, and beef
packing establishments, a steam saw and grist mill, various
mechanic shops, schools, and four churches, all of which are well
attended by an intelligent, industrious and moral population.
In 1839, only eight bales of cotton were sent from this point,
in 1844, 7,000 bales and in the current year (1845) some twelve
or fifteen thousand bales will probably be shipped.”
Thus it is manifest that during the Republic, Houston
throughly established itself as a seaport, as a commercial manufacturing
and exporting city, and as the home of a cultivated
and substantial people. It had already become the commercial
emporium and the business capital of the state when annexation
was consummated.

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The City Government

Early City Limits. First Market House. “Reconstruction”
Administration. First Bridge Across Buffalo Bayou. The
First Fire Company. Houston Hook and Ladder Company.
The Fire Department of Today. Early Police Officers. Some
Old Police Notes. The Police Department Today. City
Water Works. Houston Gas Company. Contending with
a Big Debt. What Mayor D. C. Smith Accomplished.
Mayor Rice and the Commission Form of Government. What
the Commission Has Done for Houston.

Although Houston was founded in 1836, and soon became
something of a big place, having city boundaries, which were
the bayou on the north, Walker Street on the south, Bagby Street
on the west and Caroline Street on the east; her affairs were
under the control of the county, for the first two years of her
existence. However rapid growth and increased importance soon
demanded a government of its own, and accordingly an election
was held in 1838, and “incorporation” having carried, application
was made and granted, for a charter for the city of
Houston in 1838. Another election was then held and Dr.
Francis Moore was elected the first mayor of the new city. He
served but one year, which was the full term of office in the
beginning. About the first thing done by the new officials was
to extend the city limits, for purposes of taxation, for then, as
now, in certain directions, actual settlement had extended far
beyond the original limits. The limits of the city were extended
so as to form a square, each of the four sides of which should be
three miles in length, thus making the area nine square miles, the
court house being in the center of the square.
Beyond the fact that the city limits were extended, little in the

way of public improvements seems to have been done by the first
or second city administrations. In 1836, when the Allens laid out
the city, they set aside the ground, known as Market Square,
for the purposes for which it has always been used. On a map
published as early as 1839 it is designated as “Congress Square,”
probably because it is skirted by Congress Street, at that time
one of the main thoroughfares of the city. This square was used
as a public gathering place by the people, and later, traveling
circuses pitched their tents there. In 1839, the city had a fine
market square but no market house beyond a big shed that had
been erected for temporary use. Two Frenchmen, known as
the Rosseau Brothers, had a canvas covered frame structure on
Preston Street, near the middle of the block, fronting Market
Square, where they sold vegetables, game and such things. On
the square itself was the big shed spoken of. This was under the
control of the city and had a regular market inspector. This
first inspector was Thomas F. Gravis, who gave his attention to
his duties for one-half the market fees. Afterwards, when he
found that one-half was not enough for his support, he asked for
and was given all the fees.
September 20, 1840, the city council determined to erect
a permanent building, to cost $1,200, and the contract was given
to Thomas Standbury & Sons, who completed the structure at a
cost of $8,000 to the city. That contract for $1,200 and the final
bill for $8,000 read like some of the transactions of the city
fathers when the city was under a “reconstruction” mayor and
board of aldermen after the war. There was no doubt a vast
difference, however, for in 1840, Texas money was far below par
in all money markets of the world.
The old market house was a long, single story, frame structure
that extended from the middle of the block, facing Preston
Street to Congress Street on the other side. At the end facing
Congress Street was a two-story building, the upper story being
used as a city hall and police court and the lower story as a
city jail and in a small structure adjoining, built a few years
later, were quarters for the fire department. When the market
house was completed, an ordinance was passed by which private,

competitive markets were outlawed, and the position of
market master became a valuable one, a fact that is attested by
there having been ten applicants for the place in 1841. Mr. E.
M. Holmes was the successful candidate. In 1845 the duties of
market master and those of city marshall were combined and
the honors and dignity of the place were borne by Mr. William
Smith, better known as “Billy” Smith, for the next three years.
After the late forties. Captain R. P. Boyce filled the position
for several years.
Among other innovations made by the “reconstruction”
administration of Houston, after the war, was one by which the
city surrendered all control over the market, leasing the whole
thing to private individuals. The first lessee was a Mr. McGregor,
who took charge in 1869. In 1871 the old wooden building was
torn down to make place for a new brick structure. This new
building Mr. McGregor also leased and held until it was destroyed
by fire, in 1876. This famous market house should take first
place among the historic buildings of Houston, for it was not
only the first really substantial building of the kind erected here,
but it was the first one, in the construction of which, what has
come to be known as “high finance” methods were employed.
The history of the construction of the market house reads like the
plot for a comic opera. In 1871, Mayor Scanlan signed a contract
with Mr. William Brady and the latter's New York associates,
for the construction of the building at a total cost to the
city of $228,000. To pay for this the city was bonded in the
sum of $250,000 at 8 per cent for 25 years. The work of actual
construction commenced, but had not progressed far when things
began to happen. It was discovered that the plans and specifications
did not call for floors in some rooms, nor for plastering
and windows in others. No blinds or shades were mentioned
at all, and a careful study of the plans and specifications, revealed
the fact that they were scarcely more than in skeleton form. As
so many changes were necessary the city concluded to make some
additional ones, and put in a theatre on the second floor of the
building. There were changes and counter changes until finally,
when the building was completed, its cost was $470,000 instead

of the $228,000 originally counted on. On the morning of July
8, 1876, a fire, which started in the theatre, totally destroyed
the building. It was insured for $100,000, but though it had cost
the city of Houston nearly half a million dollars, the insurance
companies refused to pay even the $100,000, and rebuilt the
market house at a cost to themselves of about $80,000. This
new building was also destroyed by fire in 1901, and the present
magnificent city hall was erected on its site.
Of course it became necessary to issue more bonds to meet
the increased cost of the famous market house, and in order to
do this it became necessary to increase the city limits so as to
have as large a tax area as possible. This was easy and at a
stroke of the pen the area of Houston was increased from nine
square miles to twenty-five square miles and bonds were issued
against the entire territory. Issuing bonds became such a mania
with the “reconstructionists” that by the time the Democrats
secured control of the state and passed a law firing them all out
of office, Houston had a bonded debt approximating $2,000,000
and had, to show for it, an $80,000 market house and a sewer
two or three blocks long on Caroline Street. The new mayor and
aldermen, appointed first by the governor and then elected by
the people, reduced the city limits to the original nine square
miles, but to reduce the bonded debt was not so easy. They
struggled with it for years. Finally part of the debt was paid
on a compromise basis and part by issuing new bonds on the
reduced area. This worked a hardship on some of the citizens, for
today property owners are taxed to pay interest on loans negotiated
against property still a mile beyond the present city limits.
In early days there was little or no necessity for the people
of Houston to cross to the north side of the bayou. There was
nothing over there to attract them except hunting and fishing,
and small foot-bridges answered their purposes for that, so no
bridges were built for many years. Those coming to or going
from Houston, who had to cross the bayou, did so at a ford,
located at a point which is now the foot of Texas Avenue. But
the trade of Houston with the interior began to increase, so a
suitable bridge became an absolute necessity. In 1843, such a

bridge, the first to span the bayou, was completed. In its issue
for December 21, 1843, the Morning Star said:—
“The bridge over Buffalo Bayou in this city was completed
on Monday. It is 100 feet long and 16 feet wide. The distance
between the two piers is 50 feet. The piers are 26 feet high, consisting
of four upright posts resting on a mud sill 40 feet long,
and supporting a beam 18 feet long. The two outside beams
resting on the pier are supported by king posts eight feet high
with braces 25 feet long. This bridge, though insignificant in
comparison with most of the bridges of the United States, is
doubtless the longest and most substantial bridge that has ever
been erected in Texas.”
The bridge was located on Preston Avenue and stood for
ten years, being swept away in 1853, when a great rise in the
bayou occurred. It was replaced by a new bridge, known for
years as the “Long Bridge.” It was in fact a long bridge, for
its constructors, bearing in mind the fate of the first one, took
steps to guard against a repetition of that disaster, by placing
the two ends far beyond the reach of possible high water and
elevating the main part of the bridge to what they considered
a safe altitude. No definite figures are obtainable, but as the
bridge began at a point a little over half way between Smith
Street where it crosses Preston Avenue, and the top of the banks
of the bayou on the south side, and extended to a point on the
north side about half way up the block on that side, it is evident
that the bridge was very appropriately named “Long Bridge.”
This bridge stood for years, and while it was more or less damaged
by several floods, it was never swept away. After a great
flood in the late seventies it was remodeled. The approaches on
both sides were filled in and the present bridge was constructed
and has stood there ever since.
There should be a tablet, or monument placed on this Preston
Avenue bridge, to mark the place, for while it is not the original
structure, it occupies the point over which, for many years,
almost the entire commerce of the state passed. Before the
Houston and Texas Central Railway was built, the entire cotton
crops east of Texas came to Houston in wagons drawn by from

eight to twelve pairs of oxen, and all entered the city over
that bridge, and all goods shipped to the interior went out the
same way. It was no unusual thing as late as 1858–59, to see
wagons on the streets of Houston from as far north as Waco. The
Houston merchants bought all the crops from and sold all the
goods to the interior planters and merchants.
Even before Houston became a city, in name at least, by
obtaining a charter, steps were taken to organize a fire company.
In 1836, Protection Fire Company No. 1 was organized. That
was perhaps the first organization of the kind in Texas. They
had no engine nor anything with which to fight fire, except
buckets, and their method was a primitive one of forming a
line and passing the buckets from hand to hand. As crude as
this method was, much good was accomplished, because executed
by an organized force rather than an excited mob. Protection
Company No. 1 preserved its organization and identity, until
the old volunteer department was absorbed by the city and
became the present pay department. In the early fifties this
company bought its first engine. It was an old fashioned hand
engine, but at that day was looked upon as a grand affair. It
was a vast improvement on buckets, at any rate, and did a
great deal of good work. Houston was growing rapidly at that
time and the demand for better fire protection was becoming
more apparent each day. The whole city being constructed of
wood, and the houses, in the business part of the town, being
jumbled close together, the fire risk became very great. The
imperative need of better protection was accentuated in 1858–59
by the occurrence of two great fires, one sweeping
away the block bounded by Main, Franklin, Travis and
Congress Streets and the other, the block bounded by Main,
Congress, Travis and Preston Streets. In addition to these there
was another big fire that destroyed a number of buildings on
both sides of Main Street between Texas Avenue and Capitol
Avenue. In 1860, the warehouse of T. W. Whitmarsh, containing
2,100 bales of cotton, was burned. When the first of these great
fires occurred, a number of young men met and formed Houston
Hook and Ladder Company No. 1. This company was organized

April 17, 1858. Its first officers were: Foreman, Frank Fabj; 1st
assistant, E. L. Bremond; 2nd assistant, O. J. Conklin; president,
Henry Sampson; vice-president, Fred A. Rice; secretary,
Wm. M. Thompson; treasurer, S. H. Skiff. The charter members
were: J. C. Baldwin, C. A. Darling, Frank H. Bailey,
I. C. Stafford, Ed. Riodan, R. W. Dowling, Pete Schwander,
Paul Schwander, George A. Peek, W. S. Owens, Charles Nordhausen,
John S. Hirshfield, J. L. Talman, R. B. Wilson, J. D.
McNulty and John W. Clark.
The company entered at once into active service and accomplished
great good through their well directed and intelligent
When the great Civil War broke out in 1861, the company
became badly disorganized because nearly all of its members
entered the Confederate Army. In later years it was the proud
boast of the surviving members that there was not a great battle
fought from the Potomac to the Rio Grande, that did not have
an old member of Hook and Ladder on the field. A great many
of them lost their lives during the four bloody years, and, these
noble fellows had their names recorded in mourning and filed
in the archives of the company, as a slight tribute to their great
worth. During the war the organization of Hook and Ladder No.
1 was kept up by those members who, for one reason or another,
did not go to the front. The actual work of fire fighting was done
by negroes under the direction of white officers. After the war
was over the returning members took up the work where they
had left it, new blood was incorporated, and the company became
as active and efficient as ever. The original idea of having
none but gentlemen in the company was adhered to. A rigidly
enforced set of by-laws demanded character and standing of all
applicants for membership. No one being admitted until he had
passed a searching investigation, the company preserved its early
reputation, and it became known as the best organized and most
thoroughly drilled truck company in the South.
Four years after the war, April 17, 1869, the company
celebrated the eleventh anniversary of its organization and elected
officers. The following roster shows the character of men who

formed the membership at that time: Foreman, Frank Bailey; 1st
assistant, C. C. Beavens; 2nd assistant, J. W. McAshan; president,
S. T. Timpson; vice-president, F. A. G. Gearing; secretary,
Jesse C. Wagner; assistant secretary, L. F. DeLesDenier;
treasurer, C. A. Darling; steward, J. D. Johnson. Members:—J.
C. Baldwin, H. P. Roberts, O. L. Cochran, C. S. Marston,
R.W. Shaw, P. E. Dowling, J. A. Bailey, George W. Gazley, E.
L. Bremond, Will Lambert, Isaac Siegel, G. A. Gibbons, H. M.
Phillips, Jules Albert, A. Levy, J. M. Tryan, C. Lachman, H.
C. McClure, W. B. Bonner, A. J. Rogers, J. B. Cato, R. Cotter,
A. Ewing, Taylor McRear and John House. Total, 34.
Soon after the formation of Hook and Ladder, there was
another fire company organized, called Liberty Fire Company
No. 2. This gave Houston three fire companies and in order to
make them all more efficient and useful, Mr. T. W. House, who
was mayor in 1862, determined to organize a regular fire department.
He combined the three companies into one organization,
known as the Houston Fire Department. Mr. E. L.
Bremond was made chief engineer, with H. F. Hurd and R.
Burns as assistants. The R. Burns mentioned in the foregoing
was not Major Robert Burns at one time prominent in the
Houston fire department, but who at that time, 1862, was in
Virginia with the Texas Troops under Lee. This Houston Fire
Department flourished for a little time and then dropped out as
a department leaving the individual companies to act as they
saw fit. Twelve years later Mr. J. H. B. House, under more
favorable conditions, took up the work begun by his father, in
1862, and organized a thoroughly efficient fire department. The
department was reorganized in May, 1874. Mr. J. H. B. House
was made chief; Mr. Z. T. Hogan, assistant chief and Mr. C. C.
Beavens, second assistant.
The following companies composed the department: Protection
Fire Company No. 1, engine house on Texas Avenue,
between Fannin and San Jacinto Streets; Hook and Ladder
Company No. 1, on Prairie and San Jacinto Streets; Liberty
Fire Company No. 2, on Franklin, between Milam and Louisiana
Streets; Stonewall Fire Company No. 3, on Travis Street,

between Prairie and Texas Avenues; Lee Fire Company No. 4;
Brooks Fire Company No. 5, engine house near the corner of
Liberty and MeKee Streets; Mechanics Fire Company No. 6.
Engine house on Washington and Preston Streets. The department,
thus organized in 1874, constituted the nucleus of Houseton's
capable department of today.
Although the Houston Fire Department was not quite one
year old on April 21st, 1875; a point was stretched and the
department celebrated its first anniversary on San Jacinto Day,
that year, in grand style. There was a great procession, in
which, besides the local companies, the fire departments of Dallas,
Waco, Calvert, Bryan, Brenham and Hempstead were represented
by strong delegations. Col. J. P. Likens was orator of
the day. The following local companies were in line:
Protection No. 1. the oldest fire company in the state, organized
in 1836. Houston Hook and Ladder No. 1, organized April
17, 1858. Liberty No. 2, Stonewall No. 3, and Brooks No. 5, all
organized in the late sixties. Mechanics No. 6, organized October
28, 1873. Houston's Futures, a company of boys, had been
organized but a short time, but appeared in the procession draging
their little hand engine. The following were the officers of
the various companies of the department:
Protection No. 1, Charles Wichman, foreman; L. Ollre, first
assistant; S. M. McAshan, president; Robert Brewster, secretary;
R. Cohen, treasurer. Hook and Ladder No. 1, H. P. Roberts,
president; T. L. Blanton, vice-president; William Cameron, secretary;
O. L. Cochran, treasurer; Dr. T. Robinson, foreman;
J. C. Hart, first assistant; G. W. Gazley, second assistant. Stonewall
No. 3, Joseph F. Meyer, foreman; L. M. Jones, first assistant;
F. J. Frank, second assistant; W. Long, president; F.
Ludke, vice-president; W. E. Smith, secretary. Brooks No. 5,
I. C. Lord, foreman; William Alexander, first assistant; J. C.
Thomas, Jr., second assistant; J. C. Thomas, Sr., president; I.
Snowball, vice-president; S. L. Mateer, secretary; Thomas Milner,
treasurer. Eagle No. 7, John Shearn, Jr., foreman; Willie Van
Alstyne, first assistant; Ed Mather, second assistant.
During the year Mr. J. H. B. House had resigned as chief

of the department but continued to take an active interest in all
that concerned it. On his retirement the department heads were
arranged as follows: W. Williams, chief; C. C. Beavens, first
assistant; Fred Harvey, second assistant. In the parade that
day the Silsby, steamer of Protection No. 1, was drawn by four
black horses, driven by Mr. J. H. B. House.
In 1876, the Houston fire department had two steamers, one
extinguisher engine, two hand wagons and one hook and ladder
company. The annual operating expense for the entire department
was about $9,000. Its membership was composed of
the best and most prominent citizens, all volunteers, and all well
trained and effective firemen.
In 1893, the volunteer department was disbanded and the
paid fire department was inaugurated. At first it was only a
partial pay department, being composed of paid experts, and
others who had to be on duty all the time, and of volunteer firemen
who gave their services free, whenever a fire was actually
burning. However, in 1895, this halfway system proving unsatisfactory,
the city took over the whole department and placed
it on the pay basis. Its success was assured from the start, and
the Houston Fire Department entered at once on its career of
usefulness. One or two things have contributed to its success.
One is that the department has always been as far removed from
politics as possible, even under the old administration conducted
under the mayor and board of aldermen. Another is that the
chiefs of the department have always been chosen because of
their fitness to administer the affairs of their important office;
for their executive ability as practical firemen, rather than for
their “pull” as practical politicians and popularity among the
voters of the city. But perhaps a thing that has contributed
most to its success, is the fact that in the performance of its
duties it has received the unanimous support and encouragement
of the citizens of all classes. Unlike the police department, it
has never had to perform duties that created strong animosity
in certain quarters. Its progress has been smooth and unobstructed,
and today Houston has a good and well organized fire
department. In January, 1903, Houston had 59 firemen on the

regular list and a number of others on the waiting list. There
were at that time 20 pieces of fire fighting apparatus. Today
their are 104 officers and men employed in the Fire Department
of Houston, and there are 30 pieces of fire fighting apparatus,
of which 9 are modern steamers having a combined capacity of
5,900 gallons of water per minute, and two are chemical engines
of the latest design. The Department has 51 horses in active
service. The actual cost of maintaining and operating the
Department for the year ending February 28, 1911, was
In early days, when a man's reputation for personal courage,
honesty of purpose and a bulldog determination to do his duty
was established, he was recognized as fit material out of which
to make a peace officer. It was the man's personality, rather
than his ability as a business man, or his ability as an executive
officer that counted. The only executive ability demanded of
him was that he be “quick on the draw” and expert in the use
of his pistol. The early peace officer had no regular deputies
nor had he a “force.” He was the whole thing himself, and
on occasions when he needed assistance, he could, and did call
on any citizen or citizens to help him. In a newly settled place
like Houston in the early days, there were a number of rough
and desperate characters. Against such men as these, a weakling
or a man who did not have a reputation for coolness and for a
bravery vastly superior to their own, would have been worse
than useless and would have really added to the criminal record
by offering himself up as a sacrifice to the outlaws.
In the very early days police affairs were in the hands of
the sheriff, and this condition prevailed for sometime after
Houston had become a chartered city. In 1840 or 1841, Captain
Newt. Smith, one of the heroes of San Jacinto, was elected city
marshal and served as such until 1844, when Captain Billy
Williams was elected to succeed him. In the late forties Captain
R. C. Boyce was elected city marshal and held office for a number
of years. The city marshal's office was no sinecure. From 1840
to 1860, Houston was at times, particularly about election times

and on days of public gatherings, what one might call in the
vernacular a little “wild and woolly.”
On such occasions both the sheriff and marshal had their
hands full. There were numerous desperate characters here,
whiskey was cheap and plentiful and the wonder is that there
were so few tragedies. It is a remarkable fact that none of the
three men who served as marshal during that troublesome period
ever had to kill a man. It was not because they were not perfectly
prepared and willing to do so should occasion arise, and it
was possibly a knowledge of that fact, on the part of the desperadoes,
that caused them not to offer resistance when the officers
went after them. At the close of the war, Mr. I. C. Lord was
city marshal and his administration was far more strenuous
than any that preceded it. This was due to the generally disrupted
condition of society; to the fact that the town was full
of returned Confederate soldiers, Federal soldiers, newly freed
negroes and worthless white men, known as “scalawags” and
“carpet-baggers,” who did all in their power to stir up strife
between the white people and the negroes. Killings were of
frequent occurrence, and the police figured in the large majority
of them.
As bits of police history are always interesting the following
are given here as characteristic. They are taken from an
old book at police headquarters, called the “Time Book,” dated
1882. A record on the first page reveals the fact that the police
force in 1882, consisted of a chief, a deputy chief and six patrolmen,
the latter divided into a night and a day relief. Charles
Wichman was chief, or city marshal, and W. W. Glass was deputy
chief. W. H. Smith and F. W. McCutchin were the day force,
while B. F. Archer, Jack White, James Daily and Nat Davis
were the night force. All of these old officers are dead.
From December 23 to 27, 1882, six special policemen were
added to the force to guard against trouble during Christmas
times. These special officers were Bill Paris, Fred Merald,
Louis Williams, Bud Butler, John Kelley, and John Donahue.
On November 1, 1885, officers described as “cow catchers”
are spoken of for the first time in the old record book. These

were two in number, J. E. Jemison and George W. Penticost.
Items of personal interest are: “W. W. Glass, resigned Feb.
19th, 1886.” Another “J. Fitzgerald, clerk, June 1, 1886.”
According to the book, Alex. Erickson was city marshal and
B. W. McCarty, clerk, in April, 1892. James H. Pruett was
marshal and A. R. Anderson, deputy in 1894. Deputy Chief
J. M. Ray filled the same position in January, 1895. Among
the old tragedies fatal to peace officers, recorded in the old
book is this: “Richard Snow, killed in the fifth ward.” Snow
was a policeman, but beyond the brief record of the fact that
he was killed nothing is said of the tragedy which occurred
March 17, 1882.
Under date of February 8, 1886, appears: “Henry Williams
killed by Kyle Terry at Market Square.”
“March 14, 1891, J. E. Fenn was killed by Henry MeGee.”
Fenn went into a negro dance hall to make an arrest and was
shot down by MeGee, a negro tough.
Captain Jack White, one of the Sabine Pass heroes, and for
many years a police officer of Houston, died in 1896 and is thus
referred to in the “time book;” “Jack White died September 15,
buried with military honors.”
Under date September 17, 1893, it was recorded that officer
Pat Walsh, alighting from a street car, fell on his revolver discharging
it and inflicting a wound from which he died later.
In another old book at police headquarters, is recorded the
killing of W. A. Weiss by J. T. Vaughn, on the night of July
29, 1901. Vaughn killed Weiss at Congress Avenue and San
Jacinto Street and was himself killed the same night. On December
11, 1901, is recorded the killing of J. C. James by Sid
Preacher, a gambler. Preacher used a shot gun. No sooner was
James down than Preacher turned and killed Herman Youngst,
another policeman. While James was dying he managed to get
his pistol out and kill Preacher, just as the latter was starting
to run away. James died at almost the same moment that his
finger pressed the trigger. Every year has seen its tragedy in
the police force. In 1910, Assistant Chief Murphy was killed
by McFarlane, a discharged officer.


Instead of the chief, deputy chief and six policemen that
constituted the police force in 1882, Houston now has a chief and
assistant chief and a police force of 103 policemen. In place of
the two mounted policemen, described as “cow catchers” in
1885, there are now 18 mounted officers and four motorcycle
officers. Chief of Police J. M. Ray, for the year ending February
28, 1911, reports the total number of arrests made by his department
during the year to have been 5,928, classified as follows:
Violating State Laws 4,525
Violating City Ordinances 716
United States Deserters 2
Suspicious Characters 668
Lunacy 17
Total 5928
During the year there were 1,753 runs, covering 2, 691 miles,
made by the patrol wagon during the day, and 1,960 runs,
covering 3,690 miles, made during the night.
Chief Ray says, in his report: “It gives me great pleasure
to report that there has been less crime committed in the city
during the past few months than ever before in the history of
the city, which is not only gratifying to the public at large but
to the officers of the department. Earlier in the year, before
Chief Ray and his assistants took charge of the department,
conditions quite the reverse of those spoken of by the Chief had
prevailed in Houston, and it was this, no doubt, that led Mayor
Rice in his annual message to say:
“During the past year, at different times, there has arisen
sharp criticism of the police force, on account of crime committed
in this city, and as I am the head of the department, I have been
censured by some. All crime is deplorable, and no police force
is perfect. Whenever I can find any weakness in this or any
other department, I shall weed it out; but I want to serve notice
in this, my annual message, that I not only stand for law and
order; that I am not only going to enforce the law, but that
the ‘gun toter’ and perjured criminal witness in the city, are
going to be eradicated, if I have to call upon every law-abiding
citizen in the community to assist me.”


During the year ending February 28, 1911, the total cost
for maintaining the Police Department, was $109,200, while the
revenue from fines, costs of court, etc., was $25,202.60.
Duff Voss, who made a record for efficiency and courage as
deputy sheriff, is now the Chief of Police of Houston, and conditions
have continued to improve. They are not perfect as a
policeman was killed by a negro in August, 1911, and earlier in
the year, two policemen engaged in a pistol duel on Main Street
to settle a private grudge and crimes against life are alarmingly
frequent in Harris County, which has one of the bloodiest records
in the United States.
A lax public sentiment and sharp criminal practice have
made it almost impossible to convict for any kind of homicide.
With this exception the laws are well enforced. No public
gambling place exists in the city of Houston, the Sunday closing
laws are rigidly executed, the social evil is segregated almost
entirely and immoral houses are not tolerated in the business
and residence sections of the city. All city ordinances are well
enforced, property is well protected, and there is a growing
sentiment to back the mayor's energetic campaign against “gun
toters” and gun users. Citizens are determined that harmless
bystanding shall be made a less dangerous occupation and hope to
see the time come when ladies may go upon the streets without
any risk of being perforated by stay bullets fired in impromptu
pistol duels of citizens and officers on crowded thoroughfares.
Until about 1878–79, Houston had but little need for waterworks.
To that time water for drinking purposes was obtained
from under-ground cisterns and that for fire protection
purposes from similar cisterns located at convenient points along Main
Street. When a fire occurred in the resident part of town,
private cisterns were pressed into service. These cisterns, both
public and private, were from twelve to twenty feet deep and
from eight to fifteen feet in diameter, and held many thousand
gallons of water each. Their construction was simple. A large
cistern was first dug of the desired dimensions and its bottom
and sides lined with brick, as carefully placed as though a house
were being constructed. When the brick work was completed

the inner surface, sides and bottom, was plastered over with
water-proof cement. As only the water that fell in the winter
was caught and preserved, the water was delightfully cool and
no one ever needed ice water. But by 1878 Houston had grown
beyond the stage of cisterns and the citizens began to realize
that they would have to look elsewhere for their water supply.
On January 15, 1878, Mayor James T. Wilson, in a message
to the council, drew attention to the growing need for water-works
and sewers. On November 30, 1878, the city entered into
a contract with Mr. J. M. Loweree and his associates, to supply
the city with water. January 11, 1879, an ordinance was passed
to amend the ordinance of November 30, 1878, authorizing
Loweree and his associates to organize themselves into a corporation
to be known as the Houston Waterworks Company.
On April 15, 1879, the Houston Waterworks Company was
organized, with Joseph Richardson, of New York, president; T.
F. White, of Houston secretary; William Runkle, of New York,
treasurer; and Joseph Richardson, Daniel Runkle, William
Runkle and W. Steiger, of New York, and E. Pillot and T. F.
White, of Houston, as directors. J. M. Loweree was named as
superintendent. Books for subscription to the capital stock of
the company, were opened at the City Bank.
The company lost no time in getting to work, and the water
works were completed in July of that same year. In August,
the water committee reported to the city council that the test
of the system made by them was satisfactory and recommended
that the contract be finally signed. The system was a make-shift
affair, and no effort was made to supply the city with suitable
drinking water. The water supply was pumped direct from
the bayou, and the only use it could possibly be put to was for
fire purposes. Still for this it was a great improvement on the
old cisterns. In the early nineties it was discovered that an
abundant supply of pure artesian water could be obtained anywhere
in or near Houston, and the Waterworks Company sank
several wells. This gave an abundance of pure drinking water,
as well as water for other purposes. However, the company persisted
from time to time in pumping bayou water into the mains,

which made the whole system very unpopular. The city authorities
and the waterworks management were constantly at war.
This continued until 1906, when the city of Houston purchased
the water plant from its owners, paying $901,000 for it. The
city at once increased the water supply from artesian wells
and cut out the bayou water entirely. At the time of the purchase,
the private corporation was charging 50 cents per thousand,
meter rate, and, as already noted, was pumping from the
bayou whenever it suited their convenience to do so. The city,
so soon as it got control, reduced the rate, and today charges
only 15c per thousand gallons, and it is all wholesome artesian
Since the waterworks is the only public utility owned and
operated by the city it is interesting to compare its administration
with that of its predecessor, the private corporation. During
the first five months of the commission's management, the
city saved in salaries alone, $2,307.88, notwithstanding the fact
that the pay of all operatives had been materially increased.
During the same period, the city showed a gain in earnings,
including hydrant rentals formerly paid by the city, of $10,575.35
and all this with a decreased charge to the consumer for the service.
With a decreased consumption of fuel, the average
monthly pressure was increased from 53.5 pounds in September,
1906 to 62 pounds in February, 1907. All other public utilities
are owned by private corporations, yet they have all put themselves
into hearty co-operation with the commission and usually
respond promptly to definite popular demands for better and
more extended service.
The Houston Gas Company was organized in 1866, by Mr. T.
W. House, Sr., captain; N. P. Turner, governor; J. W. Henderson,
Robert Brewster and one or two others. This was the first
of Houston's public utilities, and while it did not meet with
actual opposition of any kind, it did meet with something harder
to overcome—an almost fatal indifference on the part of the
public. A plant was erected, mains were laid, and then the
company had to take up a campaign of education, and, to actually
drum for customers. The hotels, restaurants and public

places that open at night were the first, and for some time, the
only customers. The gradually the merits of the “new” light
became apparent and homes and other places became customers.
Then the company made a contract with the city to light the
streets, and the use of gas became general.
In 1869, the company was well on its feet and was doing a
large business. That year Mr. T. W. House, Sr., was elected
president; J. W. Henderson, vice-president; S. M. McAshan, secretary
and treasurer; and N. P. Turner, superintendent. The
company's stock was commanding a premium and it was evident
that Houston could and would support such a concern. Perhaps
the secret of the success of the company lies in the fact that from
the very beginning it has been its aim to give the public fair
treatment and to give value received for every dollar collected.
Unlike most corporations, the Houston Gas Company has been
run in the interest of the public from the day of its organization,
hence it has met with no opposition and its course has been free
and unobstructed.
When the company first began manufacturing gas it fixed
the price at $1.50, and this was never changed, not even when
the strong competition of electric lights came about, until in
1910, the price was reduced to $1.10, and on January 1, 1912,
it will be reduced to $1.00.
Since 1905 the company has increased its capacity in every
way. The mileage of gas mains has been increased from 51
miles, in 1905, to 120 miles in 1911, and during that time the
company has spent $528,000 on extensions and mains alone. In
1907 the company purchased three additional lots on Crawford
and Magnolia Streets, and made a contract with a Philadelphia
concern to build a mammoth gas-holder on this property. This
holder is the largest in Texas. It is 100 feet in diameter, 150
feet high and has a capacity of one million cubic feet. It cost
about $100,000 to build it. The use of gas for heating and cooking
has vastly increased the demand for it.
On January 1, 1846, the city of Houston had a debt of $875,
and had to show for this debt, in the way of public improvements,
a fine bridge over Buffalo Bayou, a good wooden market house,

a block long, and a well-built wooden two-story city hall and
city jail combined.
On January 1, 1875, when the “reconstruction” mayor and
aldermen had been turned out of office and the people of Houston
had been given the management of their own affairs, the city of
Houston had a debt of about two million dollars and had, to show
for it, an $80,000 brick market house and a sewer about two
blocks long on Caroline Street.
Of course it was out of the question to hope for any
growth or advancement of Houston with such a debt as it had,
hanging over it. With the last possible cent squeezed out of the
taxpayers it was impossible to pay the interest on the debt and
to pay the necessary, current expenses of the city. There was but
one thing to do, compromise the debt that had been so unjustly
saddled on the people, and if this could be done, make a new
start in life. The very best business men of Houston were placed
in office, with the sole purpose of using their business talent and
experience in an attempt to solve the trouble. Repeated and
varied offers were made to the bondholders but to all of them
a deaf ear was turned.
Administration after administration took up the burden, but
all were forced to lay it down again. Suits were brought and
judgments were obtained against the city, thus increasing the
debt all the time. Finally the people became absolutely desperate
and began, not only to speak of the repudiation among themselves
but to advocate it in the newspapers and advance arguments
to prove the justice of taking such a radical step. If
the bondholders were frightened by such talk they gave no
signs of being so, but remained obdurate, quietly demanding
their money. They made it quite plain, too, that it was hard
cash and no new bonds that they wanted.
Such were the conditions when, in 1880, after consulting
among themselves, a committee of the most prominent business
men of Houston, waited on Mr. Wm. R. Baker, one of the great
men and successful financiers of Houston, and told him that he
had to become mayor of the city and settle that debt. He objected
strenuously, but when told that he would be allowed to select

his own board of aldermen and that there would be no opposition
to the ticket, he consented. He and those whom he had
chosen to serve with him were elected by practically a unanimous
vote of the people. At the end of the first two years they had
accomplished no more than had their predecessors. They were
given another trial. When their second term expired, the city
debt, so far from being settled was actually about $200,000
greater than when they went into office. The cause of this was
quite apparent. Had the bondholders had the framing of the
slate, they would have chosen the very men that the people chose,
for, with such leading and prominent business men in office, all
talk of repudiating any debt of the city became impossible.
Then the people did what proved to be the wisest thing they
ever did. They had seen that the great financiers could do nothing
so they went to the other extreme and turned the affairs over
to what was facetiously called “the short hair” element. This
might have proven a fatal error had the people selected another
man than Mr. Dan. C. Smith for mayor. At that time he was
practically unknown to most of the people, for he had never
taken part in public affairs and had never sought office of any
kind. He was the right man for the place, as results showed. His
co-workers were known as the labor crowd and it was said that
the city had been turned over to the labor element. This caused
the bond holders to sit up and take notice at once, for they
could imagine “repudiation and ruin” written everywhere on the
wall. They became both willing and anxious to listen to reason
and before Mayor Smith's first term had expired, he had the
city debt well under way toward settlement, by compromise; and
at the end of his second term, the entire debt was either wiped
out or settled on a most advantageous basis.
It must not be presumed that the settlement was made
entirely through fear on the part of the bond holders. They
sent their representatives here and discovered, what the people
of Houston had also discovered, that Mayor Smith was a man
possessed of executive ability of the highest order, that he was
honest and capable and that it was his intention to do what was
just and right and nothing more. They realized that it would

be folly to try to “dicker and dillydally” with such a man and
they did not try to do so. At the end of four years, Mayor
Smith turned the city over to his successor with its affairs in
admirable shape. The big debt had been compromised on a
basis that was fair and just to both creditor and debtor, and
had been placed in such form that the city could pay off the
bonds as they fell due and could pay interest on them without
cripling itself to such an extent as to interfere with current
expenses and needed improvements. He also turned over the
city on a cash basis, with little or no floating debt. Succeeding
administrations served with more or less credit.
In 1896, H. B. Rice was elected mayor. He was young, and
a well-trained business man. As mayor he had brought to his
attention, in a practical way, the many defects in a system by
which the affairs of a great corporation, such as a city were often
turned over to the management of men, many of whom were
unfitted through lack of education and training to manage any
business at all. He recognized that honesty without ability was
quite as harmful, as actual rascality, and that the affairs of the
city suffered through the absence of business methods in their
management. There was offered no remedy, however. He served
for two terms and while his administration was marked by
improvements in many departments, there was room for a great
many more, which could not be made under the form of government
then in vogue.
Government was through a mayor and board of aldermen.
Each alderman was elected, not by the whole city, but only
by small numbers of voters living in wards and they necessarily
represented many local and conflicting interests to the prejudice
of the wisest and most economical administration for the city as
a whole. Then, too, each alderman was, in a measure, independent
of the mayor or of his other fellow aldermen. Having
obtained his authority from the votes of his ward only, he recognized
no higher authority than the ward and placed its interests
above those of the community as a whole. With such methods
it was not surprising that but little public good was ever accomplished,
even when, as was often the case, honorable and capable

men were placed in power. Yet, such were the conditions that
existed in every city in this country in 1900.
The great disaster in Galveston, September 8, 1900, forced
a change in the form of government in that city, which seems
destined to be far-reaching and wide spread in its effects. In
their great distress and seemingly hopeless condition, the people
abandoned the old mayor and board of aldermen form of government,
and the governor, by popular request, appointed
a board of commissioners, consisting of five business
men to take control of the city's affairs. The form
of government was permanently changed, and though
the people later elected their commissioners, instead of having
them appointed by the state governor, the commission form of
government in Galveston is today the same as when it was first
inaugurated. Only a few unimportant changes and modifications
have been made. The immediate, beneficial effects of the Galveston
commission form of government became so apparent that
other cities began to study it and soon realized that in it lay
the secret of successful municipal government. It seems paradoxical
to say that the most dangerous form of government that
could possibly be devised, is the safest and best, and yet this so
far has proved true. With such power as is given under the commission
form of government, bad and dishonest men could ruin
and destroy a city in much less time and far more effectually than
good and honest men could build it up. But in this self-apparent
weakness lies its strength, for while the public is constantly on
its guard, there is only the remotest chance of the reins of power
falling into undesirable hands.
Four years after its inauguration in Galveston the commission
idea was submitted to a vote of the people of Houston, and,
on the tenth day of December, 1904, was adopted. A charter,
to suit the needs of the new plan, was prepared by a committee
composed of members of the city council and leading citizens,
and became the present city charter. It was granted by the
legislature on March 18, 1905.
The following synopsis of an address delivered by Mayor
Rice before the Chicago Commercial Club, December 10, 1910,

gives not only the leading features of the commission, but also
some of the things that have been accomplished through it.
Mr. Rice said: “The essential differences between the commission
form and the old form of municipal government are three:
“The substitution of a smaller number of aldermen, elected
from the city at large, in place of a large number of aldermen,
elected from different wards or subdivisions of the city; vesting of
a co-ordinate power in the mayor as in the city council to dismiss
any officer of the city government, except the controller,
at any time, without cause, and, the essential provisions safeguarding
the granting of municipal franchises. Instead of a
body of twelve aldermen, elected from different wards or subdivisions
of the city, under the Houston system, four aldermen
are elected from the body of the city by the votes of all the
citizens, in the same way in which the mayor is elected. These
four aldermen, together with the mayor, constitute the city
council or legislative department of the city government. The
executive power is vested in the mayor, but by an ordinance, for
the administration of the city's affairs, a large part of executive
or administrative power is subdivided into different departments,
and a committee is placed over each department, and one of the
four aldermen, nominated by the mayor, is what is known as the
active chairman.
“The mayor and all four aldermen are members of each committee.
The active chairman of the committee practically has
control of the administration of the department, unless his views
are overruled by the whole committee but by the organization
of the committees the active chairman does his work, to a certain
extent, under the supervision and direction of the mayor, who
is, in the last analysis, the head of each committee and the person
in whom the executive power of municipal government ultimately
“Under the old system of government, by which twelve
aldermen were elected from as many different precincts of the
city, it frequently happened that unfit men came to represent
certain wards in the city council. Now, unless a man has sufficient
standing and reputation throughout the body of the city as

a fit man for the office of alderman, he will not be elected. Again,
each alderman under the present system represents the whole
city. Under the old system the conduct of public business was
continually obstructed by a system of petty log-rolling going on
among and between the representatives of the numerous sub-divisions
of the city. Then, too, the smallness of the number
of aldermen now affords opportunity for the transaction of
“An executive session is held previous to each meeting of the
city council, at which matters to come before the council are
discussed and action determined on. The small number of aldermen
enables the city administration to act on all matters of
importance as a unit. In other words, the system makes it possible
to administer the affairs of the city in a prompt and business-like
“This is one of the strongest arguments in favor of the
present commission form of government, for with a majority of
the aldermen always in session, public business can be, and is,
promptly attended to. It is no longer necessary to go before the
city council with petitions to have something done. Any citizen
who desires to have a street paved, taxes adjusted, a nuisance
abated, or anything else, has only to call at the mayor's office and
have the matter promptly adjusted. After a hearing, the matter
is decided by the council in the presence of the applicant. To
illustrate the great difference between this method and the old
one the following comparison is made. By the old method a
petition was addressed to the council. This was referred to a
committee, which acted when convenient. Then a report to the
council was made by the committee. After the action of the
council it went to the mayor and from him to someone else for
execution. The people do not pay their taxes for such treatment.
They want their business attended to promptly and that is what
is being done under the commission.”
Mayor Rice illustrated the promptness with which the public
business it attended to by relating the following story:
“A gentleman, a non-resident of Houston, whose home was
in a Western state, owned some property in our city and the

property had been recently taken into the city limits. Investigating
his assessment he found that his property had been placed
at a much higher valuation than that of his neighbor. Being a
stranger, he called upon one of Houston's leading attorneys and
asked his advice how to proceed for relief. The attorney suggested
that they step over to the mayor's office and have the matter
corrected. The owner of the property thought it would be wiser
for the lawyer to get some of his friends to sign a petition to the
council so that it would have some weight with the authorities.
The attorney replied that this mode of procedure was entirely
unnecessary, as Houston now had a business-like government.
They called at my office and stated their mission. I sent for the
tax collector, and in an hour the stranger had his tax receipt in
his pocket. The owner of the land said that if the case had
been in his city it would have taken weeks for adjustment, on
account of the red tape in existence.”
One of the most striking features of the commission charter
is the power that it confers on the mayor. Under its provisions
any officer of the city except the aldermen, who are elected for
two years, and the controller, who is appointed for a term of
two years and subject to removal by the council only for cause,
may be removed by the mayor or may be removed from office
at any time at the will of the council.
This feature of the charter has been subjected to more
adverse criticism than all the others combined, and yet it has
proven in practice to be one of the best and most fruitful for
good. Because of it, the city attorney does not refuse to collect
taxes and say to the city government that he was elected by the
people and is responsible to them and that he does not favor collecting
taxes. Because of it, the chief of police does not refuse
to enforce the criminal ordinances of the city and give the same
excuse for declining to do so. Because of it, the tax collector can
not arbitrarily select what persons he is to exempt from the
payment of taxes, and inform the government that the people
elected him and that he is responsible to the people. The mayor,
under the charter is the responsible head of the government. If
things are permitted to go wrong, it is his fault, and if any officer

of the city refuses to enforce the law, the mayor can remove him
in five minutes time. Of course it is imperatively necessary for
the people to select a man of good sense and character to be
mayor, but when they have done so, they will know that he will
not be, as under the old system, a dummy and figure head and a
helpless spectator to wanton disregard of law and mal-administration.
This so-called, “one-man” feature of the commission
embodies its whole aim and intention—a responsible head to the
city government, chosen by the people themselves.
When the commission form of government went into effect,
July, 1905, the various departments were organized and at the
head of each was placed a commissioner. The school board under
the commission has been kept out of politics. On this board are
democrats, republicans, Israelites and Christians, all working
without compensation, for the best interest of the public schools of
the city. The labor question has been eliminated also; union
labor and non-union labor both work for the city. The only
point insisted on is that the laborer shall understand that the
city of Houston comes first and his organization second, when he
works for the city. If a commissioner discharges an employe
in his department, the action is final. An appeal to the mayor
will do no good, for so long as the head of the department manages
and works conscientiously for the city, the mayor will sustain
him and leave him with absolute authority. No alderman can
appoint a man on the police force. The mayor selects a chief
of police and holds him responsible for the conduct of his men,
who are all selected by the chief himself.
The school board is nominated by the mayor and confirmed
by the council. It in turn selects a school superintendent. The
teachers are selected for their fitness. No commissioner can even
suggest the name of a teacher to the board. All the commissioners
have to do is to supply the money to support the schools. Their
connection with the administration of the schools, begins and
ends there.
Another most important change that was made when the
commission charter was adopted was that relating to the matter
of franchises. Under the new charter no franchise can be granted

for a longer period than thirty years unless it be submitted to a
vote of the legally qualified voters of the city and approved
by them. The expense of this election must be borne by the
person applying for the franchise. If a majority of the votes
is favorable, the franchise may be granted in the form as submitted,
but cannot, in any case, be granted for a period longer
than fifty years.
The council may, on its own motion, submit an ordinance
granting a franchise to the vote of people of the city.
If a franchise be granted for a period of thirty years or less,
the proposed franchise shall be published in the form in which it
is finally passed and shall not thereafter be changed, once a week
for three consecutive weeks, at the expense of the applicant.
And, if at any time within thirty days after its final passage, a
written petition is presented to the council, signed by at least 500
legally qualified voters of the city, then such franchise must be
submitted to an election of the people to determine whether or
not it shall be granted. No franchise in the streets, highways,
thoroughfares or property of the city can ever be granted until
it has been read at three regular meetings of the council.
No franchise can be granted unless the ordinance granting
the same provides for adequate compensation or consideration
to be paid to the city, and in addition to any other form
of compensation, the grantees shall pay annually such a fixed
charge as may be prescribed in the franchise.
Every grant of a franchise shall provide that on the termination
of the grant, the property of the grantee in the streets,
avenues or other public places, shall thereupon, without compensation,
or upon the payment of a fair valuation therefor,
become the property of the city, and in estimating such value, the
value derived from the franchise, or the fact that it is or may
be a going concern, shall not be considered in determining the
value. Every grant of a franchise shall provide, by forfeiture
of the grant or otherwise, for efficiency of public service at
reasonable rates, and to maintain the property in good order.
The city reserves the right to inspect the books and accounts of
the grantee of a franchise, which books and accounts shall be

kept and reports made in accordance with the forms prescribed
by the city council.
The charter reserves the right in the city of Houston to regulate
the rates of all public utility corporations. The charter
contains a referendum feature by which 500 citizens on petition
can secure a vote on any municipal measure or utility.
The foregoing brief summary shows the means placed in the
hands of the commissioners by the charter and their methods
of enforcing its provisions. Now let us see what have been the
results accomplished.
The commission has now been in active control of the city's
affairs a little over six years. Inaugurated in July, 1905, the
commission found a floating debt of a little over $400,000, an
empty treasury and the city without credit. The work of
retrenchment and economy was begun at once. Useless and
expensive offices were abolished, while others were consolidated.
A national bank was made treasurer, allowing a salary of $50
per month for clerk hire, and the bank agreed to pay interest
on all balances to the credit of the city.
The city attorney was instructed to file suits against all
delinquent tax payers. This alone resulted in the collection of
nearly $100,000 in the first eight months and during those first
eight months of the commission's life, by the strictest economy,
$306,202.47 of the old floating debt was redeemed, besides paying
all current expenses promptly at the end of each month.
Since the inauguration of the commission rule the city has
wiped out its entire floating debt, and the taxpayers have been
given, out of the treasury, without the issuance of a single bond,
the following permanent improvements:

City Attorney, Law Library $ 974.10
Assessor and Collector, Block Book System 10,000.00
City Hall, Furniture and Fixtures 1,123.67
Police Department 4,096.03
Fire Department, Buildings and Equipment 66,150.45
Electrical Department 26,551.21
Health Department 6,168.26
Parks 52,007.53
Streets and Bridges 65,714.10
Asphalt Plant 3,000.00
Auditorium 332,276.02
Ship Channel 98,027.40
Sewers 85,212.18
Paving Streets 179,261.96
Water Department, Extension of Mains
and Improvements
Wharves and Ships 33,109.89
School Buildings 340,323.65
Total Improvements $1,865,757.17
Storrie Certificates $ 73,300.00
Refund Paving Certificates 120,308.70
Sinking Fund 120,220.00
Making a Grand Total of $2,179,585.87
All of this was paid out of current revenues, besides the
elimination of the floating debt of more than $400,000.
All this has created business confidence in the city as a
government, and has given it a credit that it never had before.
Assessments have been increased in a just and equitable way,
while the tax levy has been reduced 30c on the $100 valuation.
The tax levy is $1.70 on the $100. The tax roll for 1912 will
carry a valuation of $80,000,000.
Moral accomplishments have been in keeping with material
feats. Gambling houses have been cleaned out; variety shows
have been abolished, pool rooms have been closed, and the saloons
have been closed after 12 o'clock every night and all day on
Houston's experience demonstrates to the world that the
commission form of city government is decidedly a success. The
city owns the water works but all other public utilities are under
private management and control. They, however, willingly and
cheerfully cooperate with the commissioners in all efforts made
to extend their usefulness and to increase public comfort and

safety. In 1905, when the commission came in power, the price
of gas was $1.50, Jan. 1, 1912, it becomes $1.00. The electric light
plant has also made a material reduction in its charges, the city
having set the example by reducing the cost of water from 50c per
thousand gallons to 15c per thousand. City water is supplied
from 44 artesian wells with a daily capacity of 16,000,000 gallons.
The average daily consumption is 7,800,000 gallons. Fire protection
is annually increased—three and one-third per cent in
1910–11. The street car company has reduced its fare for children
under 12 years of age to two and one-half cents, and pays
annually one per cent on its gross receipts to the city. The salaries
of firemen, policemen, and of some of the employes who
have worked for years and been faithful and efficient, have been
increased. These wonders have been wrought in the short period
of six years and it is worthy of attention that most of them were
assured facts before the expiration of the first three years of the
commission's life. The people have grown to have large confidence
in the commission, give it their heartiest support and
unite with it in its efforts to build up Houston.
Under the commission the mayor is practically an autocrat.
The commissioners are largely secretaries in charge of their functions.
In one case a commissioner, who displeased the mayor
was deprived of all participation in the city government during
the remainder of his term. Not a speech has ever been made in
the city council under the commission form of government.
In 1911, the office of Superintendent of Complaints was
created as a buffer between the city council and the public
service corporations. Any citizen can at once register complaint
against any public service or utility corporation and
attention is at once paid to them. This office is filled by J. Z. Gaston,
formerly city commissioner, who first advocated the commission
form of government in a public speech in Houston and
who is called here “the father of the commission form of government.”
The roster of the present city commission officials, committees
department heads and boards is, August, 1911, as follows:




Board of Liquidation: F. A. Reichardt, Ed. H. Harrell,
O. T. Holt, B. F. Bonner, H. W. Garrow.
Board of Health: Dr. Joe Stuart, President; Dr. W. A.
Archer, Dr. J. W. Scott, Dr. Sidney J. Smith, Dr. J. D. Duckett.
Dr. S. H. Hillen.


President, Rufus Cage; vice-president, B. B. Gilmer; secretary,
A. S. Cleveland. Finance Committee: G. H. Pendarvis,
Sam Swinford, B. B. Gilmer. Teachers Committee: A. S.
Cleveland, J. D. Duckett, B. B. Gilmer. Course of Study and
Text Books:
S. McNeill, A. S. Cleveland, Sam Swinford. School
Property, Purchase and Repairs:
B. B. Gilmer, G. H. Pendarvis,
S. McNeill. Hygiene: J. D. Duckett, G. H. Pendarvis, S.
McNeill. School Medical Inspector: Dr. W. W. Ralston. Grievances
and Complaints:
Sam Swinford, J. D. Duckett, A. S.
Cleveland. W. Peine, Business Representative of the Board.
Owing to the fact that the city hall has been destroyed by
fire, twice, there are very few official documents in existence
relating to the early history of the city. Major Ingham S.
Roberts, whose family was a pioneer in Houston, gives a list of
the mayors of Houston, compiled from various sources which
differs from other lists and the recollections of the “oldest inhabitants”
by claiming that Dr. Francis Moore was not the first
mayor of Houston, as all historians and writers have given him
credit for being. In the Telegraph of September 29, 1837,
Major Roberts found a notice of a special election to fill vacancies
left by aldermen Hugh McCrory and Leman Kelcy, deceased,
which notice was signed by James S. Holman, mayor. On this
evidence he transfers to Mr. Holman the honor of having been
the first mayor of Houston. Major Roberts may be correct or
it may be that in the case of a delayed election, Mr. Holman
was an appointed mayor pro tem. The complete list, as prepared
by Major Roberts and published by him in The Historical
Review, of southeast Texas, of which he was one of the editors,
is followed as to order of names here:
1837, James S. Holman; 1838, Francis Moore, Jr.; 1839,
George W. Lively; 1840, Charles Biglow; 1841–42, John D.
Andrews; 1843, Francis Moore, Jr.; 1844, Horace Baldwin; 1845,
W. W. Swain; 1846, James Baily; 1847–48, B. P. Buckner; 1849–52,
Francis Moore; 1853–54, Col. Nathan Fuller; 1855–56, James
H. Stevens; 1857, Cornelius Ennis; 1858, Alexander McGowan;
1859, W. H. King; 1860, T. W. Whitmarsh; 1861, W. J.

Hutchins; 1862, T. W. House, Sr.; 1863–4–5, William Andrews;
1866, H. D. Taylor.
In 1867, Alexander McGowan was elected mayor, but on
December 5, of that year, General J. T. Reynolds, commander
of this military district, took semi-military control of the city's
affairs and left the mayor with only nominal authority. This
state of affairs continued until August 8, 1868, when Governor
E. J. Davis turned McGowan out of office and appointed J. R.
Morris in his place. At the same time he appointed T. H.
Scanlan an alderman from the Third ward. In September,
Judge B. P. Fuller, the recorder and I. C. Lord, the city marshal,
were removed by Davis and their places filled by J. G. Tracy,
as recorder, and Capt. A. K. Taylor, as marshal. Captain Taylor
became disgusted and quit and was succeeded by Capt. M. E.
But the governor grew tired of taking merely cherry-bites
and, in 1870, made a clean sweep, turning everybody out who
had been elected by the people and putting in his own henchmen.
He appointed T. H. Scanlan mayor, and made four
negro aldermen. That was the beginning of scallawag and
carpet-bag rule in Houston.
In 1872, a so-called election was held, and, by importing
negroes from the adjoining counties to vote the republican ticket,
and obstructing the white voters in every way, Scanlan and
his negro associates were declared elected.
At the state election, held in November, 1873, the democrats
secured control of the state. In January, 1874, the charter of
Houston was amended and under its provisions Governor Richard
Coke appointed all the city officials of Houston. T. H.
Scanlan and his negroes were ousted and J. T. D. Wilson
was appointed mayor and a board of aldermen, consisting of
representative citizens, was put in. Soon after that an election
was held and Mr. Wilson was elected mayor in regular form.
His successors have been:
1875–76, I. C. Lord; 1877–78, J. T. D. Wilson; 1879, A. J.
Burke; 1880–84, W. R. Baker; 1886–88, D. C. Smith; 1890, Henry
Scherffius; 1892–94, John T. Browne; 1896, H. Baldwin Rice;
1898–1900, Sam H. Brashear; 1902, O. T. Holt; 1904, Andrew L.
Jackson; 1905–1911, H. Baldwin Rice, who is still in office.

[Back to top]

The Bench and Bar

High Character of Early Lawyers. First District Court. Early
Legal Documents. Great Criminal Lawyers. Ex-Governor
Henderson's Butcher Knife. Members of Early Bar. Criminal
and District Court Judges. The County Court and
Its Judges. Judge Hamblen's Reminiscences. Harris
County Bar Association. Houston as a Source of Legal

It is true of every nation's pioneer history that “there were
giants in those days.” Such names as Campbell, Tankersley,
Gray, Palmer, Henderson, Manley, Riley, Thompson, Tompkins
and a number of others, who established the high standard for the
Houston Bar at the very beginning, are sufficient to prove this
true of the Bench and Bar of this city. In the beginning Harris
County was known as Harrisburg County, and court has been
held here since 1837.
The first record entry of proceedings of the Harrisburg
(Harris) County Court shows that the court was thus constituted:
Hon. Andrew Briscoe, chief justice; C. C. Dyre, M. Battle,
John Denton, Joel Wheatin, Isaac Batterson, Abram Roberts,
and John S. McGahey, commissioners. D. W. Clinton Harris,
county clerk. The chief business of the term was granting
ferry privileges, but public roads were promoted to some extent.
On petition of B. Fort Smith, commissioners were appointed
to lay off a road to the county line, towards Washington; others
to survey a line for a road to Liberty, via Harrisburg and
D. W. Clinton Harris belonged to the family that gave the
county its name. Judge Andrew Briscoe was the father of

Mrs. M. Looscan and of Mrs. M. G. Howe. His widow, Mrs.
Marry Briscoe, long survived him.
Several incidents of early justice and the founding of the
courts have been recounted in an earlier chapter. The members
of the first petit jury were: Berry Beasley, Sam M. Harris, Archie
Hodges, J. James Perchouse, D. S. Harbert, Edward Dickinson,
John Woodruff, Marsh McKever, Elliot Hodges, Lemar Celcey,
John O'Brien and Joseph A. Harris. The jury rendered a verdict
of justifiable homicide in the case of Joseph T. Bell, and the
prisoner was discharged.
The first judicial act in the municipality of Harrisburg, as
Harris County was first called, was in the probate court. Hon.
A. Briscoe, judge of that court, on petition of Richard Vince,
by the latter's attorney, Thomas J. Gazley, appointed Vince
administrator of the estate of Robert Vince, deceased.
The first licenses to practice law in Harris County were
issued to N. Bassett, Swift Austin, Francis W. Thornton, Robert
Page, Henry Humphrey and James Brown on March 19, 1838,
these gentlemen having successfully passed an examination conducted
by David G. Burnett, John Birdsall and A. M. Tompkins,
a committee of examiners appointed by the court.
One of the earliest cases was that against David S. Kerkernot,
who was indicted March 2, 1837, for filching a mule belonging
to the Republic of Texas, which act was declared to be
“against the peace and dignity of said Republic.” Another
indictment was returned by the grand jury against the same
man in December, 1838, and seems to refer to the same case, for
the indictment declares that he took the mule “with force and
arms.” This man Kerkernot appears to have occupied much
of the time of the courts, for in the September term of 1837 he
was plaintiff and William Scott, defendant, in a suit where the
title to 177 acres of land on the San Jacinto, granted to Stephen
F. Austin, was in controversy. One of the early documents
relates to a suit brought by the city of Houston against Henry
R. and Samuel J. Allen for taxes, amounting to $1,943. The
suit was filed in 1839.
There were many able and brilliant members of the early

Houston Bar. The large majority of these confined themselves
to the practice of civil law but one or two won name and fame
as criminal lawyers. This latter field was very exacting, for
legal ethics were on a high plane and the lawyer who attempted
to win a case by chicanery or doubtful methods was generally
reduced to the level of the police court where such men properly
belong. In the days of Manley, Henderson, Barziza, Riley,
Cook and one or two others, the criminal lawyer used no convenient
witness, or fixed juries, but depended entirely on his
knowledge of law and his eloquence as a pleader, to win his
cases. For a man to have fame as a great criminal lawyer in
those days was looked upon as an honor.
Col. John H. Manley was one of the greatest criminal
lawyers who has ever practiced at the Houston Bar. His methods
were strictly ethical and no man was better equipped mentally
than he for the difficult tasks he undertook. He had a thorough
and profound knowledge of criminal law and combined with all
this he was an eloquent orator and pleader. Members of the bar
refer to him as a perfect type for a model lawyer.
In the same category with Colonel Manley, was Captain D.
U. Barziza. His history is remarkable in many respects and
will bear telling briefly. His father was an Italian nobleman,
who had the good, or bad fortune of thinking for himself on
many subjects, among them being religion and forms of government.
He was a protestant, a Baptist, and a republican. He
longed for a freedom that Italy could not offer, so he gave up
his estate and title and came to America. Finally he settled
in Texas. Captain D. U. Barziza, his youngest son was educated
at Baylor University, at Independence, and had just completed
his course when the Civil War broke out. He volunteered at
once and was made captain of one of the companies that afterwards
formed part of Hood's Texas Brigade in the Army of
Northern Virginia. His army record was a brilliant one. After
the surrender, he came to Houston, and in order to support himself
he secured a place as night clerk at the old Rusk Hotel.
Here he studied law and looked after the comfort of belated
travelers for several months. He had no law practice and, as

it seemed, no way of ever getting any. But his opportunity came.
Captain John Steel killed Colonel Kirby, apparently in cold
blood, in the office of the military commander of the post here.
Steel shot Kirby down on sight, without a word. As a matter of
fact Steel's provocation had been great and a bitter feud had
existed between the two men for years. On its face the case was
one of cold-blooded murder. Steel was a prominent and well-known
gambler, while Kirby was a man of wealth and great
power and influence. Barziza recognized his opportunity and
promptly volunteered to defend Steel. His services were
accepted. Able and prominent lawyers were employed by
Kirby's friends to assist the state's attorney in the
prosecution of Steel. Barziza refused all proffers of
assistance. The trial lasted for two or three days and
by the time it had gotten under way, the lawyers for the
prosecution realized that they had a giant to contend against.
Barziza's handling of the case excited the admiration of other
members of the bar, but his great triumph came when he went
before the jury to plead the case. The speech he made that
day was spoken of for years afterwards as the most eloquent that
had ever been delivered in the Harris County court house. It
was so eloquent and his arguments were so convincing that
the jury, after the briefest deliberation, returned a verdict of
“not guilty,” and Steel walked out a free man. Barziza's
reputation as a criminal lawyer was established at once.
Another of the great criminal lawyers of Houston was the
Hon. Charles Stewart. He was a man of unsullied character
and too big in every way for little things. He was of splendid
physique and personal appearance and is described one of the
most superb orators that ever faced a jury. He handled many
of the most famous criminal cases tried in Harris County in
the late seventies and eighties, one of the most famous being that
of a young man named Grisom, who had killed a doctor for
reproving him for swearing in the presence of ladies. The case
was a desperate one, and at the first trial Grisom had been sentenced
to death, but was granted a new trial because of irregularity
on the part of the jury that had condemned him. At the

second trial the prosecution was powerful and it is said that but
for the eloquence of Colonel Stewart, Grisom would have undoubtedly
been hanged. As it was he escaped with a verdict of man-slaughter
and a short term in the penitentiary.
The man to whom was assigned the difficult task of facing
these grants, was Major Frank Spencer, who for years was the
criminal district attorney for the Houston-Galveston district,
and who died in Galveston in 1907. He was very eloquent,
very bitter and very aggressive. He attacked unceasingly and
when a lawyer won a victory over him he deserved all he got.
A connecting link between the famous criminal and civil
lawyers of the early days was Governor J. W. Henderson. He
did a large and very lucrative practice in both branches and
appeared to be as much at home in the one as in the other. Perhaps,
though, he was more distinguished as a civil lawyer than
as a criminal one. He was a man of fine personal appearance
and to some extent a self-made man. He cultivated a brusqueness
of manner and was extremely democratic, counting among his
friends and adherents people of all conditions and walks of life.
He was a natural orator, a deep thinker, and had, what was of
the greatest value, good hard common sense and the ability
to put it to the best use at the proper moment. His success at
the bar was great. Before a jury he was almost irresistable. The
Governor was a secessionist and died an unreconstructed rebel.
During reconstruction days he was a power of strength to the
home people in their struggle for self government, and never
lost an opportunity to strike a blow at the usurpers. His zeal
and energy in that respect were so well known that he was
watched and feared by the republican leaders, more than any
other man in Houston. One night, entirely unintentionally on
his part, he came near precipitating a riot on Preston Street.
The Governor had gone into one of the stores on Main Street
and purchased a long carving knife to take home. It was
wrapped in brown paper, and being too long to put in his pocket,
he carried it under his arm. On his way home he heard that
Jack Hamilton was to speak from the balcony of the Dissen
House that evening, so the Governor concluded to remain down

town and hear him. He arrived rather late, but becoming interested
in what Hamilton was saying, he kept getting closer and
closer until he was within a few feet of the speaker. Then the
Governor and the spectators were amazed and startled, for four
or five men jumped on the Governor and held him firmly. There
was a terrible uproar and the affair was becoming serious, when
someone found the cause of the trouble. In getting through
the crowd the paper cover of the carving knife had been torn
off, and some of the watchful friends of Hamilton concluded that
the Governor was slipping up on the speaker to annihilate him
with the carving knife, had seized the Governor and disarmed
him. The Governor was furious, but when the crowd learned
the cause of the trouble, the laughter broke up the speaking.
Governor Jack Hamilton, who, though a republican, was a
warm personal friend of Governor Henderson was about as indignant
as the latter, when he found what had been done.
Among those who confined their practice to civil law Judges
Peter Gray and W. P. Hamblen, both through ability and long
service, deserve to be placed at the head of the list. Both were
men of the greatest integrity and each had marked ability as a
lawyer. Neither was peculiarly remarkable for oratorical power
but each was a profound scholar and well versed in the intricacies
of the law. They are classed together in this way because they
were the nestors of the Harris County Bar and their careers
were very similar. Judge Hamblen died in 1911 as judge of
the 55th district court, which office he had held for many years.
Among the other distinguished, members of the Bar in early
days were: Benjamin Tankersly, E. A. Palmer, A. N. Jordan,
S. S. Tompkins, A. P. Thompson, A. S. Richardson, Charles
Jordan and Archibal Wynne. For some years, later, C. B.
Sabine was a member of the Harris County Bar. He was after-wards
Judge of the U. S. Federal Court in Galveston.
Among the prominent members of the Bar after the war,
were: Major W. H. Crank, Captain E. P. Turner, George Golthwaite,
the attorney for the Houston and Texas Central Railroad,
and known as the “Supreme Court lawyer” of that road, Judge
Wilson, Judge James Masterson, Judge C. Anson Jones, youngest

son of the last president of the republic of Texas, a brilliant
young man who was cut off in the prime of life, W. A. Carrington,
J. C. Hutchinson, Judge James Baker, father of Captain
James A. Baker and Col. W. B. Botts, all men of probity and honor,
of skill and power, of learning and eloquence, of old fashioned
courtesy and chivalrous consideration, of chaste diction and
faultless bearing, who gave the Bar of Harris County its
high standards, its legal ambitions and its lofty ethics and who
have preserved the good name of the bar without shame and
without reproach.
When the first amended constitution of Texas was adopted
by the people, it created a criminal district court for Harris and
Galveston Counties and Judge Gustave Cook was appointed
Judge and occupied that position for 14 years. In addition to his
great learning as a lawyer he had attributes of character that
rendered him a most lovable person and enjoyable companion.
He was light-hearted, a lover of jokes and pranks, was famous
as a raconteur, and so free and generous with his money that
he was always “broke,” and was finally driven to resign from
the bench and go back to the practice of law to make a living.
His successors on the bench have been, in the order named:
C. L. Cleveland, E. D. Cavin, J. K. P. Gillespie, E. R. Campbell
and C. W. Robinson. R. G. Maury is the present criminal
district attorney.
The following were the officers of the Eleventh District
Court from its organization to the present day:
For the period from 1866 to 1869, there were no elections

held and the Bar selected the following named to act as judge of
the court: Geo. R. Scott, C. B. Sabin and P. W. Gray.
The Fifty-first District Court was organized in 1897, and
since that time, has had but three presiding judges, as follows:
The Sixty-first District Court was organized in February,
1903, and has had only one presiding judge since it organization,
Judge Norman G. Kittrell.
The act creating Harris County Court was passed by the
Legislature in February, 1867. Judge John Brashear was
elected judge and served until 1869. Judge M. N. Brewster
succeeded Judge Brashear and served until 1876, or during the
time the republicans had control of the county. Judge C. Anson
Jones was elected, and took charge of the office at the July term
of the court in 1876. He served until 1882, when, on his death,
Judge E. P. Hamblen was elected and took office November 24,
1882. After rather a sharp campaign, Judge W. C. Andrews
was elected and assumed the duties of his office at the November
term in 1884. Judge Andrews was a candidate for re-election,
but just before the election he died (November 1, 1892) and
Judge John G. Tod was elected and took office at the November
term of the court, 1892. Judge Tod remained in office for two
terms and was succeeded by Judge W. N. Shaw at the November
term in 1896. Judge E. H. Vasmer was elected in 1898, and held
office for four years, being succeeded by Judge Blake Dupree in
1902. Judge Dupree also held office for two terms and was followed
by the popular present incumbent, Judge A. E. Amerman

in 1906, who is now filling his third term. George Jones has
been County Clerk for many years.
The act creating the Corporation Court for Houston was
passed by the Legislature in 1899. Before then the duties of the
judge of this court, or rather of its predecessor, the city court,
were performed, sometimes by the mayor, sometimes by a city
recorder and sometimes by a justice of the peace. It was more
or less haphazard and methods were undergoing constant change.
At the first election, Judge A. R. Railey was elected and served
until 1902, when he was defeated after a sharp contest, by
Judge Marmion. Judge Marmion was elected one of the city
commissioners when the form of city government was changed,
and Judge John H. Kirlicks was appointed to fill his unexpired
term, and has held office ever since.
This is one of the busiest courts in the city and may be said
to be in session every day in the year, except Sundays and
holidays. A morning session of the court is held at 9 a. m., and
an afternoon session at 4 p. m. It has jurisdiction over city and
police cases only.
An idea of the character of men that laid the foundation of
the Harris County Bar, can be formed from reading the following
extracts from an address delivered by Judge W. P. Hamblen
at a banquet of the Houston Bar Association, held January 20,
1910. Judge Hamblen, as the oldest member of the Bar, was the
best source for its history. He said:
“I came to the Bar when Judge Peter W. Gray was judge
of the court. He was the distinguished uncle of Judge W. G.
Sears, whose nephew is now a member of this Bar, and he
admitted me to the rights of our profession. He was one of the
chiefest among the intelligencers of that day. He was accomplished,
educated in all the refinements as well as in all the substantials
of the profession; so discriminating, so penetrating, that
no proposition of law was presented to him that he did not seize;
so absolutely honest that his reputation could stand among a million
without a scar. And moreover I was fortunate enough to be a
favorite of his and was appointed by him district attorney of this
district at that very term of his court, because of the absence of

the district attorney. My relations with him were, I might say,
those of a child and its father. In those days an admission to
the bar was not as it is today, the formal appearance before a
committee almost as a school boy at a spelling match, but it was
a procession of young men to the Bar of the court, summoned
by a committee appointed by the judge who participated in the
examination. When the examination was through the judge
descended from the bench and taking the hand of each applicant
spoke words of encouragement.
“I remember when some youngsters from the country on
Cypress were brought before him because they had gone to the
house of a poor old German and his wife and made the old couple
cook a supper and dance for them. They were presented before
Judge Gray and a fine was imposed, and the boys asked for
mercy. One of them was the son of his most particular friend,
one of all others whom it would have been his pleasure to please.
His lecture to these young men from the bench can never be
forgotten by anyone who heard it. That lecture to those young
men and especially to the son of his friend was so touching that
no heart could be unmoved, and every youngster who received the
admonition went away feeling that he had done a wrong which
was not expiated by the punishment.
“I can briefly mention men who were honorable members of
our Bar at the time I was admitted in 1855. There was E. A.
Palmer who was afterwards Judge of the District Court of
Harris County, and A. N. Jordan, both from Virginia, ranking
high in their profession. The former died in 1864, and in 1866,
the eyes of the latter I closed in death. Governor J. W. Henderson,
from Tennessee, once lieutenant governor of our state and
for six years its governor. He was the author of the verse:
‘Here is our old friend, John Doe;
We have laid him down to sleep,
Together with his companion, Richard Roe,
In one common, lonely heap,
With none so bold as dare a vigil keep.’
“He passed away in 1886. Judge Algernon P. Thompson, an
Englishman, a most scholarly gentleman, who once declared

that the author of the phrase ‘to-wit’ should be burned alive.
Benjamin F. Tankersley, from Mississippi, I believe, father of
our distinguished townsman, Marshal Tankersley, a most highly
esteemed and worthy lawyer who died during the Civil War.
C. B. Sabin, long a practitioner in this city, who died in 1890,
while occuping the bench of the United States district court.
Judge George Goldthwaite, so widely known for his erudition
and legal acumen that he was considered competent to write a
book on continuations without a ground. He died about 1886.
Col. J. T. Brady, from Maryland, once prominent and foremost
in all that upbuilds a state, once a senator from this district in
our state legislature, died about 1891. * * * Hon. James H.
Masterson, for more than twenty years distinguished on the
bench of the district court; Judge E. P. Hamblen, my worthy
relative, who once graced the county court bench—the two latter
being now dwellers with us. Judge A. R. Masterson, who has
the proud distinction of having surrendered with Lee at Appomattox.
* * * We will not forget that old commoner, Charles
Stewart, so long your representative in Congress, a powerful
democratic expounder and able advocate. He located in Marlin
and returned here after the war. His ‘praises have been sung
by loftier harps than mine.’
“Those who have gone before stood in the front of the
battle for judicial propriety and integrity, and for a construction
of laws that preserved the constitutional liberties without flaw
or blemish. R. K. Cage, father of our worthy citizen, Rufus Cage,
and grand-father of Elliott Cage, died a few years ago. That
soul of wit, John Manley, a son of North Carolina, died in 1874.”
The Houston Bar Association was organized in November,
1870. Judge Peter W. Gray was president, George Golthwaite,
vice-president; J. T. Whitfield, recording secretary; N. P.
Turner, corresponding secretary, and W. C. Watson, treasurer.
The objects of the association were the elevation of the legal
profession in Houston and to take proper steps looking towards
the purchase of a law library. As its organization the association
was not strong numerically but it was composed of some
of the best men in the legal profession. Today the association

will compare favorably, numerically, mentally, or in any other
way with like associations found anywhere in this country. The
following named gentlemen compose the association today:
L. R. Bryan, president; Thomas H. Botts, secretary; Chester
H. Bryan, treasurer.


Amerman, C. A.; Anderson, W. W.; Andrews, Jesse; Ayres,
L. C.; Amerman, C. H. C.; Autrey, James L.; Andrews, Frank;
Ashe, Chas. E.; Baker, James A.; Barbee, Will S.; Botts, Thos.
H.; Bryan, Chester H.; Beatty, L.; Burns, Waller, T.; Breaker,
George H.; Beard, Stanley A.; Britton, Thos. G.; Branch, E. T.;
Baldwin, J. C.; Ball, Thos. H.; Borden, Henry L.; Brashear, S.
H.; Bryan, L.; Lewis, R.; Bailey, Edward H.; Breeding, Jas. A.;
Barkley, K. C.; Burns, Coke K.; Bailey, W. S.; Blankenbecker,
L. E.; Campbell, E. R.; Campbell, J. W.; Carter, C. L.; Cage,
Elliott; Colgin, J. F.; Cole, J. F.; Cole, Robert L.; Chew, E. T.;
Dannenbaum, H. J.; Dabney, S. B.; Dupree, Blake; Dunn, T.
L.; Dickson, Raymond; Eagle, Joe H.; Ewing, Presley K.; Ford,
T. W.; Ford, T. C.; Fisher, Henry F.; Franklin, R. W.; Graves,
Geo. W.; Garwood, H. M.; Green, Jno. E.; Garrett, D. E.;
Garrison, John T.; Guynes, Chas. O.; Gill, W. H.; Hamblen,
E. P.; Hamblen, W. P., Jr.; Hamblen, Otis K.; Hamblen, A. R.;
Harris, John Charles; Holt, O. T.; Hume, F. Charles; Harralson,
E. M.; Hardy, D. H.; Hutcheson, J. C., Jr.; Hume, D. E.;
Highsmith, C. C.; Hume, F. Charles, Jr.; Huggins, W. O.;
Holmes, H.; Hunt, W. S.; John, Robert A.; Johnson, W. T.;
Jones, Frank C.; Jones, Murray B.; Jones, Homer. (San Antonio);
Kittrell, Norman G.; Kittrell, Norman G., Jr.; Kirlicks,
John A.; Kelley, R. H.; Kennerly, T. M.; Lane, Jonathan; Louis,
B. F.; Lockett, J. W; Lewis, T. B.; Logue, John G.; Lewis,
John W.; Love, W. G.; Matthews, J. C.; Monteith, W. E.;
Myer, Sewall F.; Maury, R. C.; Montgomery, H. F.; McRae,
Chas. C.; McCarthy, Ed., Jr.; McLeans, John L.; Niday, J. E.;
Parker, E. B.; Phelps, Ed. S.; Peterson, Samuel; Price, J. A.;
Pleasants, A. W.; Pendarvis, G. H.; Phelps, Lewis C.; Parker,
J. W.; Read, John Archer; Robertson, Robert L.; Robinson,

C. W.; Roberts, I. S.; Sewall, Cleveland; Standifer, I. M.;
Streetman, Sam; Stewart, John S.; Simmons, D. E.; Stewart,
Minor; Storey, Jas. L.; Stone, T. H.; Sears, G. D.;
Shands, H. A.; Smith, Lamar; Tarver, W. F.; Taylor, C. H.;
Townes, J. C., Jr.; Townes, E. W., Jr.; Taub, Otto; Tallichet,
J. H.; Tharp, G. W.; Tod, John G.; Teat, G. L.; Teagle, C. A.;
Taliaferro, S.; Vann, Andral; Van Velzer, A. C.; Warnken, C.
A.; Wharton, C. R.; Wilson, A. B.; Wilson, Earl; Wolters,
Jake F.; Wagner, Meyer C.; Ward, W. H.; Whitehead, R. L.;
Wilson, W. H.; Wood, Chas. B.; Wrenn, Clerk C.; Warren,
John B.; Wharton, Earl.
Owing to the vast business interests, lumber, cotton, rice,
oil, manufacturing, railroad and lands, represented in Houston
there has arisen a demand for high-grade, highly-paid lawyers
and the city's brilliant bar has always responded to this demand,
which has also caused many eminent lawyers to move to Houston.
The largest law firm south of New York is located in Houston,
that of Baker, Botts, Parker & Garwood. A former member
of this firm, Judge R. S. Lovett, is at the head of Southern
Pacific and Union Pacific, and those roads generally known as
the Harriman system. Hon. Tom Ball resigned his position
in Congress to practice law in Houston and is a member of the
noted firm of Andrews, Ball & Streetman.
Governor Stephen S. Hogg, after his two terms of office
had expired, moved to Houston and practiced law here until
his death. Judge W. H. Gill, chief justice of the court
of criminal appeals at Galveston, resigned his position to
practice law in Houston as a member of the same firm to which
Governor Hogg had belonged. Judge Gill is recognized as one
of the most brilliant lawyers in the state. More recent acquisitions
are Hon. John M. Duncan, of Tyler, and Hon. Monta
Moore, of Cameron.
The list of men who have achieved notable success at the
Houston bar is a long one and would be in many respects identical
with that of the Bar Association.
Two members of the Houston Bar were chosen to head the
respective forces of the prohibitionists and anti-prohibitionists

in the great campaign for a change in the Texas constitution that
was fought out in the summer of 1911 and resulted in a scant
and Phyrric victory for the antis. One of the two is Hon. Tom
Ball, already referred to; the other is the Hon. Jake Wolters,
formerly an officer of the First Texas Volunteer Cavalry in the
War with Spain and at present a member of the law firm of
Lane, Wolters and Storey. Both leaders rendered brilliant service
and both are talked of by their admirers as desirable candidates
for United States Senator.

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Medical History

Pioneer Physicians and Their Labors. First Houston Medical
Association. Organization of the State Medical Association.
Railroad Surgeons Association. Harris County Medical
Association. Houston's Modern Hospitals. Story of Early
Epidemics. The Doctors and the Newspapers.

The most casual reader of these pages must be impressed
by the fact that the history of the growth and development of
Houston is in many respects, the history of the growth and
development of Texas. This could scarcely have been otherwise,
since the men who laid the foundation for the future metropolis
of Texas were the same whose wisdom, power and influence were
directed toward the upbuilding of the state. Under such conditions
as these it is not strange that many movements, commercial,
financial, scientific, and educational, that tended towards intelligent
growth and expansion, should have either originated in
Houston or originated through Houston influence.
Perhaps the most lasting and beneficial work done by the
early settlers, aside from that of those whose efforts were directly
in the interest of purely material enterprises, was that of the
medical men. Their labor was scientific and largely unselfish,
since it aimed at the prevention of disease rather than at its
cure, and therefore had about it elements, antagonistic to their
selfish interests. Texas was new, Houston was new and society
was much disorganized.
Fortunately the practice of medicine was placed in safe
hands at the very beginning and as early as 1836 a standard
was fixed by such men as Ashbel Smith, who was physician, surgeon,
scientist, statesman and scholar; by Alexander Ewing, who

was chief surgeon of the Texas army, a skilled physician and
a profound student; by Phillip Anderson, chief surgeon of the
Texas Navy who was, with the exception of Dr. Ashbel Smith,
the most learned man in Texas at that time, and by Dr. McAnally,
who, in addition to his skill as a physician and surgeon, was a
great scientist. Merely calling over these names is sufficient to
show on what a high plane the practice of medicine was placed
at the very outset in Houston.
During the period from 1840 to 1850 the medical profession
in Houston was much strengthened by the addition of several
young physicians who came from the older states. These young
men were graduates from the best literary and medical colleges
in the land and were all men of culture and refinement. Among
them were Dr. S. O. Young, Sr., Dr. Wm. McCraven, Dr. W. D.
Robinson, Dr. Wm. H. Howard, and Dr. L. A. Bryan.
No effort looking towards an organization of the medical
profession seems to have been made prior to March 11, 1857, at
which time the Houston Medical Association was organized by
Dr. J. S. Duval, Dr. Wm. H. Howard, Dr. Greenville Dowell,
Dr. R. H. Boxley, and Dr. H. W. Waters. Dr. Duval was elected
president, Dr. Waters, vice-president, and Dr. Boxley, secretary.
The avowed objects of the association were: “To cultivate the
science of medicine and all its collateral branches; to cherish and
sustain medical character; to encourage medical etiquette and to
promote mutual improvement, social intercourse and good feeling
among members of the medical profession.” At that day Osteopaths,
Electro-Magnetic, and Christian Science healers were
unknown. There were but two schools of medicine, the allopaths,
or regulars, and the homeopaths.
There was as much feeling against the Homeopaths on the
part of the regular physicians at that time, as there is today,
as the following shows. It is the first resolution adopted by the
Houston Medical Association after its organization, and is presented
as characteristic of the feelings of that body at the time:
“Whereas—The scientific medical world has proven Homeopathy
to be a species of empiricism, too flagrant to merit the
confidence of rational men, and too fabulous to deserve even the

passing notice of an educated physician, and as we are convinced
that it is a delusion, far surpassing any other ism known to the
world, witch-craft not excepted, therefore we will not recognize,
professionally or privately, any man who professes to cure diseases
through the agency of Hahnemanic teachings.
“Be it Resolved—That as a diploma from a regularly organized
medical school is the only evidence of qualification which
our community can obtain in regard to the doctors in their
midst, we respectfully recommend to the citizens of this flourishing
city that they demand of every man who assumes the responsibility
of a physician to their families, their diplomas as certificates
of their worthiness of patronage, and that they see to
it that they are not imposed on by a diploma from a medical
society or a certificate of qualification as a dresser in a hospital.”
Notwithstanding this opposition, qualified Homeopaths came
to Houston and flourished. It is probable that the Houston
Medical Association continued in active operation for some time,
for two years later, in 1859, a call was issued by Houston physicians
inviting the physicians from other points in the state to
assemble in Houston for the purpose of organizing a State
Medical Association. Unfortunately there is no local record
of this meeting, but that it was held, and an organization perfected,
is attested by the fact that when the Houston physicians,
in 1869, issued another call for the purpose of forming the
present State Association, it was spoken of as the “re-organization”
of the State Association.
Some time in March, 1869, the physicians of Houston issued
a circular letter addressed to the physicians of Texas requesting
them to assemble in Houston on April 15, for the purpose of
re-organizing the State Medical Association. This letter was
not only sent through the mails, but was published in the papers
of the state, so it had a wide distribution. In response to this
call twenty-eight physicians, mostly from Houston, Galveston
and nearby-points, assembled in the west parlor of the Hutchins
House on April 15, and organized, or re-organized The Texas
State Medical Association. The first officers elected were:
Dr. T. J. Heard, of Galveston, president; Dr. R. H. Jones,

of Washington County, first vice-president; Dr. D. R. Wallace,
of Waco, second vice-president; Dr. A. A. Connell, Jr., of Houston,
recording secretary; Dr. W. P. Riddell, of Houston, corresponding
secretary, and Dr. F. Hassenberg, of Houston, treasurer.
A two days' session was held, but beyond perfecting a
thorough organization, little was done.
The second meeting of the association was also held in
Houston. At that meeting the following officers were elected:
Dr. R. T. Flewellen, of Houston, president; Dr. D. R. Wallace,
of Waco, first vice-president; Dr. A. A. Connell, of Houston,
recording secretary; Dr. S. O. Young, of Houston, corresponding
secretary, and Dr. W. P. Riddell, of Houston, treasurer.
The attendance was rather disappointing, being practically
the same as at the first meeting. Only one or two new members,
all from near-by points, were admitted.
On April 15, 1871, the association held its third session in
Houston. There was a better attendance and increased interest
was shown. At the election, Dr. D. R. Wallace, of Waco, was
elected president and all the other officers were re-elected. Doctor
Wallace was a man of fine executive ability and his influence for
good was felt at once. At his suggestion the State Association
was brought into closer relation with the American Medical
Association and Dr. S. O. Young was chosen as the first delegate
from Texas to that association. Various committees on special
subjects were appointed to whom were assigned topics to be
reported on for discussion at the next meeting.
The fourth annual meeting was held in Houston, April 15,
1872. At the election of officers, Dr. D. F. Stuart, of Houston,
was elected president. Doctors Connell and Riddell having
died, some changes in other offices were necessary. Dr. S. O.
Young was elected recording secretary, and Dr. J. Larendon,
also of Houston, was elected treasurer, an office he held for over
a quarter of a century.
At that meeting it was determined to abandon the idea of
making Houston the permanent headquarters of the association,
and to hold future meetings at various points in the state, so
Waco was chosen as the next meeting place.


The organization of the Texas Medical Association has been
dwelt on at some length for a twofold reason. First, because
it was a Houston idea, conceived and carried out by Houston
men, and next, because this Association has been instrumental
in accomplishing much good for the people of Texas, that could
have been accomplished by no other means. Before the Texas
Medical Association came into being the state was literally
overrun by medical quacks and imposters of every character.
There were no laws to restrain these people and none to protect
the public against them. Among the first acts of the Texas
Medical Association were those looking to the curbing and
restraint of frauds and the protection of reputable physicians.
As early as 1871 the Association began the crusade for the
regulation by law of the practice of medicine in Texas. Results
were rather meager at first. The opening wedge was placed when
the Legislature passed a law requiring all physicians to file a
statement of where, when and at what schools they had been
graduated, and to also register their diplomas. This shut out
some of the imposters but not all, for there are bogus medical
schools as well as bogus graduates. The work was continued,
however, and has resulted in such laws as that requiring a state
board of medical examiners before which every physician who
desires to practice medicine in Texas has to appear and stand an
examination, even though he be a recent graduate from the
Texas Medical College. Another great thing accomplished was
the passage of a law creating the State Board of Health.
In all these movements Houston physicians were prominent
and either conceived the original idea or were largely instrumental
in putting it into execution. From the first they were
leaders in all that promised for uplifting the medical profession,
or for safeguarding their fellow citizens against preventable
diseases and epidemics and quack cure-alls and fake panaceas.
Today the medical profession in Texas is well organized. The
state is divided into divisions, such as the East Texas Medical
Association, and the West Texas Medical Association, and each
of these has sub-divisions. Nearly every county in the state has
its County Association. Then, too, special interests have their

own organizations, a notable one being the Railroad Surgeons
Association, which had its inception in Houston. An idea of its
strength and importance may be formed from the following:
On January 21, 1896, the Railroad Surgeons of Texas held a
meeting at Houston. The following were elected officers: Dr.
M. D. Knox, president; Dr. T. J. Wagley, first vice-president;
Dr. J. C. King, second vice-president; Dr. W. H. Monday, third
vice-president; Dr. Clay Johnson, secretary, and Dr. A. A.
Bailey, treasurer.
The following named surgeons were present and took part in
the deliberations: Drs. J. M. Richmond, J. H. Reuss, A. B.
Gardner, M. D. Knox, W. W. Lum, C. C. Nash, J. H. Jenkins,
C. T. Hughes, P. M. Raynor, F. O. Norris, Van. B. Thornton, A.
D. Epperson, A. A. Thompson, W. T. Harris, T. A. Pope, A. L.
O'Brien, W. H. Monday, J. C. Mayfield, F. B. Seyman, J. W.
Cox, Sam B. McLeary, W. M. Garrett, James Byars, H. L. Fountain,
J. C. Loggins, C. A. Smith, Clay Johnson, A. C. Scott, A.
A. Bailey, J. M. Blair, S. C. Red, R. T. Morris, L. H. Lamkin,
D. F. Steuart, Joseph R. Steuart, T. J. Boyles, F. B. King, G. D.
Parker, O. C. Norsworthy, W. E. Drisdale, N. J. Phoenix, T. M.
Reeves, and M. J. T. Jones.
Although there were a number of able and prominent members
of the medical profession in Houston and Harris County,
no attempt was ever made to form a county medical association
until in December, 1868.
In 1868, several Houston physicians met and organized the
Harris County Medical Association. There were not many
present at that meeting, and, with the exception of Dr. Ashbel
Smith, who resided in the lower part of the county on Galveston
Bay, they were all residents of Houston.
Before then the formation of both a city and county medical
association had been discussed, but neither had ever advanced
beyond the stage of suggestion and talk, and it is doubtful if the
organization of the association of 1868 could have been accomplished
had it not been for the fact that it was considered imperatively
necessary to have a local medical association to form
the nucleus for the State Medical Association.


On December 8th, 1868, the following named physicians met
in the parlors of the Hutchins House, for the purpose of forming
a county medical association: L. A. Bryan, W. H. Howard,
J. Larendon, D. C. Stuart, T. J. Poulson, R. W. Lunday, Alva
Connell, Sr., Alva Connell, Jr., G. H. McDonald, W. D. Robinson,
T. J. Devereaux, J. M. Morris, and W. P. Riddell.
Aside from issuing an address to the physicians of Texas,
inviting them to meet in Houston on April 15th, for the purpose
of organizing a State Medical Association, the Harris County
Association, after that first meeting never held another, and was
allowed to die a natural death. In late years, however, physicians
have been more active and since 1904 have a county association
that compares favorably with any similar association in
the country. It has a large membership and has accomplished
much for the advancement of medical science, and for the creation
of closer fraternal and professional relations between its members.
The association holds weekly meetings, and the attendance
is always large, and interest in its aims and objects is never
allowed to flag. The following named are its officers and members:
President, Dr. E. F. Cooke; vice-president, Dr. J. H. Hulen;
secretary, Dr. L. Allen. The members of the board of censors
are J. E. Hodges, H. C. Moore and E. M. Arnold. The committee
on public health and legislation is: W. M. Wier, J. A. Kyle and
J. H. Foster. The delegates to the State Association in 1911
were O. L. Norsworthy and J. H. Foster. A full list of the members
is as follows: L. Allen, N. N. Allen, W. C. Archer, W. A.
Archer, E. M. Armstrong, E. M. Arnold, D. L. Akehurst, C. M.
Aves, J. M. Blair, C. C. Barrell, F. M. Bourland, J. G. Boyd,
J. M. Boyles, I. Braun, H. E. Brown, C. E. Bruhl, W. M.
Brumby, San Antonio, J. M. Burditt, E. F. Cooke, I. E. Cottingham,
R. L. Cox, P. H. Cronin, E. P. Daviss, J. B. DuBose,
Humble, J. D. Duckett, J. C. A. Eckhardt, Austin, W. R. Eckhardt,
Wm. Ehrhardt, Westfield, F. G. Eidman, B. V. Ellis, Houston
Heights, H. A. Englehardt, B. C. Eskridge, H. C. Feagan, J. H.
Florence, F. C. Ford, J. H. Foster, W. A. Garrett, J. P. Gibbs, C.
E. Gray, E. E. Grant, Cypress, E. N. Gray, A. E. Greer, C. C.

Green, E. L. Goar, H. R. Gilliam, G. W. Griffith, LaPorte, W. A.
Haley, G. P. Hall, Gavin Hamilton, E. G. Hamilton, J. A. Hill,
C. W. Hoeflich, J. E. Hodges, A. P. Howard, R. H. Harrison, J.
A. James, F. B. King, R. W. Knox, A. Krause, J. A. Kyle, G.
W. Larendon, J. W. Lane, E. H. Lancaster, Z. F. Lillard, S. M.
Lister, W. H. Martin, G. H. Meyer, K. N. Miller, G. S. Milnes,
R. H. Moers, H. C. Moore, J. T. Moore, S. H. Moore, R. T.
Morris, J. A. Mullen, E. C. Murray, A. J. Mynatt, C. W. Nelson,
F. H. Neuhaus, O. L. Norsworthy, S. G. Northrup, C. F. Payne,
G. D. Parker, W. G. Priester, I. E. Pritchett, Wallace
Ralston, S. C. Red, G. J. Robinson, W. L. Rogers, F. R. Ross,
J. W. Sandlin, Humble, P. H. Scardino, J. W. Scott, R. T. Scott,
W. N. Shaw, T. W. Shearer, J. L. Short, E. S. Silbernagel, F. B.
Smith, P. L. Smith, S. J. Smith, F. J. Slataper, J. R. Stuart,
M. B. Stokes, C. O. Terrell, W. B. Thorning, R. H. Towles, Houston
Heights, S. V. Wagner, C. A. Wallace, C. D. Warren, A. E.
White, R. D. Wilson, M. A. Wood, W. M. Wier, E. A. Wright, F.
B. Wilkes and J. B. York.
All of the physicians live in Houston except those whose residence
is designated. The association has been very active and
has favored preventive measures against disease. Among the men
who have been prominent as its presidents have been Drs. E. N.
Gray, J. P. Gibbs, W. M. Wier, W. W. Ralston, J. H. Foster,
J. T. Moore, and E. F. Cooke.
In 1911 the association began the publication of a bulletin
containing the discussions at the meetings and giving matters
of medical news to the physicians.
The city of Houston has a thoroughly organized health
department. The city administration has taken especial
pains to guard the public health, and while the indigent sick are
carefully treated and nursed, the principal efforts of the health
department are directed towards the prevention, rather than
the cure of disease. In this great work the department has
been materially aided by the wisdom of the commission in
obtaining an abundant supply of pure water and in extending
the water main, so as to furnish the citizens pure and wholesome
water for all purposes. The great benefit of this is shown by the

decreased death rate from year to year, which decrease keeps
pace with the extension of the water mains. Then, too, the
department retains the services of a skilled pathologist and
bacteriologist, who carries on investigations relating to the purity
of milk, water, foods, etc., as well as diagnosing and locating
transmissible diseases.
An idea of the extent of the work carried on by the health
department may be formed from the statement that during the
municipal year ending February 28th, last, there were 4,000
patients treated at the city dispensary, 550 at the hospital and
36 at the pest camp. The department also vaccinated 2,000
school children; fumigated 783 rooms, 2 automobiles and 7 box
cars for the following diseases:
Tuberculosis 349 rooms
Diphtheria 157 rooms
Smallpox 147 rooms
Scarlet Fever 54 rooms
Typhoid Fever 49 rooms
Pneumonia 5 rooms
Scabes 2 rooms
Causes not specified 100 rooms
Cerebro-spinal Meningitis 16 rooms
Smallpox 7 Box Cars
Scarlet Fever 2 automobiles
During the year 1910 there occurred in the city of Houston
1,386 deaths, of which 822 were whites and 564 negroes. The
death rate was 13.5 per thousand, that for the whites being 10.7
per thousand and for the negroes 22.1 per thousand. There
were 1,654 births reported; 1,312 white and 342 negro.
The pathological laboratory under the management of Dr.
F. J. Slataper, has been no less busily engaged. During the year
1,781 chemical and microscopical examinations were made. These
cover a wide range from the simple testing of milk to the most
complicated investigation of disease germs. The list of examinations
shows the scope of the department activity.

Cultures examined for diptheria 45
Specimens of sputum examined for tuberculosis 209
Tuberculin test in human 1
Specimens of blood examined for typhoid fever 48
Specimens of blood smear examined for malaria 38
Feces examined for ova of intestinal parasites 23
Specimens of urine examined—chemically 316
Specimens of urine examined—microscopically 168
Samples of food examined 53
Samples of milk collected and examined 322
Samples of milk brought to the laboratory and examined 113
Total samples of milk examined 435
Samples of city water collected and examined 9
Stomach contents examined 4
A city hospital was established in 1838 but only lasted a
few years. About 1868, the city having obtained ownership of
the block between McKinney and Lamar Avenues and Carolina
and Austin Streets, decided to establish a city hospital there. An
arrangement was made, whereby the county should have the
right to use the hospital also, by paying a fixed amount for each
patient sent there, but should have nothing to do with
the control or management of the institution. Houston
had a regular city physician and the county had its
physician also, but neither of these had anything to
do with the hospital, which was under the control of a physician
who took it under contract, receiving a fixed amount, based
on the number of patients under treatment, and paying all the
expenses of the institution himself. Dr. Charles Owens was the
first physician to take charge of the hospital under the contract
system and continued at the head of the institution, until his
death in 1874. Soon after that a new lease or contract was made
with Dr. T. J. Boyles and Dr. D. F. Stuart and the location of
the hospital was changed. The McKinney property was disposed
of and the hospital was removed to the old Brashear home,
located on the, then, city limit line, on the Houston and Texas
Central Railroad opposite Glenwood Cemetery. The hospital
remained at that location for several years and Drs. Stuart and
Boyles introduced many new methods and improvements.
Prosperity necessitated the purchasing of a site near where

the Grand Central depot stands, and erecting a commodious hospital
building on it. They still retained their contract with the
city and county, but established pay wards and private rooms,
possibly the first thing of the kind in Texas. They also contracted
with the Houston and Texas Central Railroad to treat
the sick and injured employes of that road and also with other
railroads for similar service. This hospital was known as the
railroad hospital until the erection of the Southern Pacific Hospital
began in 1910. It is still in operation as a private hospital.
Not barring even the famed Charity Hospital of New
Orleans it is safe to claim that in the Southern Pacific Hospital,
completed in 1911, Houston has the finest railroad hospital in the
South and the equal of any in the country. No expense has been
spared in constructing the building and its equipment is all that
scientific knowledge could make it. As every one familiar with
the subject knows, the building and equipping of a hospital is
only one item of cost, for the successful and proper conducting
of such an institution costs far more than all else. This money
comes from the voluntary contributions of the employees of the
various roads of that great system. These contributions are
very small for each individual but in the aggregate, amount to
a large sum monthly.
The location of the hospital is ideal. It is far removed
from the noise and bustle of the city, and though
within easy reach of the heart of the city, is as far as possible
in the country. It is in the Fifth ward, on the
sloping bank of White Oak Bayou and the site, being somewhat
elevated, gives a good view of the woods and stream
on the one side and of the city on the other side. On the
staff of the hospital are: Dr. R. W. Knox, chief surgeon; Dr. E.
J. Hamilton, assistant surgeon; Dr. O. S. Moore, interne; Dr.
J. E. Greene, interne; Miss M. F. McMasters, superintendent.
The building is steam heated, cleaned by vacuum cleaners,
lighted by electricity and gas, has numerous bathrooms on each
floor but only one or two bath tubs in the whole building, these
being done away with as far as possible and the shower and
needle baths substituted. There is an abundant supply of both

hot and cold water at all times, and on each floor is a good
supply of sterilized water for use in special cases. The
wards are large and each is furnished plainly but very
attractively and comfortably. The beds are the ordinary hospital
iron frames with absolutely luxurious mattresses and
snow white linen. The chairs and tables are dark oak and rose
wood, while on the walls are attractive pictures. One of the
most striking features of each ward and private room is the
lighting. No electric light is visible, the lighting being done
by reflection and diffusion. This does away with all glare and
makes the light very pleasing to the eye.
There are several operating rooms, each completely furnished
with operating tables and equipped with all aseptic accessories
and a complete equipment of instruments. On the ground,
or basement floor there is an emergency operating room, equipped
in every way as the others are and always ready for instant use.
The X-ray laboratory is complete in every way and is constantly
used in determining the extent of injury to bones. One
feature of its use that has been very beneficial to the men who
have gone there for treatment for supposed fractures, has been
the demonstration through the X-ray that the injuries have
been to the ligaments and sinews and not to the bones, thus
enabling them to avoid long delays for observation and consequent
loss of time on their part.
The laboratory of clinical pathology is very complete. Every
facility for making a rapid and proper diagnosis of obscure
diseases is furnished the surgeons. Only graduated trained
nurses are employed in the hospital.
The Baptist Sanitarium, located on the corner of Lamar
Avenue and Smith Street, is one of the most complete institutions
of its kind in the South. Every arrangement has been made
for the treatment and comfort of its patrons and its fixtures and
appliances are all modern and of the latest models. The building
is steam heated and both electricity and gas are used in lighting.
It is four stories high and has a capacity for fifty patients. The
wards and private rooms are arranged so as to secure the greatest
comfort, and everything is done for the welfare of the

patients. The operating room is located on the fourth floor and
is modern in every way. It is large, well lighted and thoroughly
equipped with everything that goes with a first-class operating
Graduated trained nurses are employed and there is also
a school for nurses in connection with the sanitarium. Dr. D.
R. Pevato is the superintendant in charge and is personally
responsible for many of the modern improvements installed.
Today no city of its size in the United States is better
equipped with hospitals and private infirmaries than Houston.
These are modern and up-to-date in every way, the strictest
aseptic rules having been adhered to in their construction and
every precaution taken against contagion and infection. Before
the discoveries of modern medicine and surgery, hospitals were
regarded, with much truth and justice, as hot-beds of contagion
and infection, particularly the latter. Today it can be truthfully
asserted that the modern hospital is freer from the danger
of contracting disease than any other place in a community, for
contagious and infectious diseases are not only intelligently
treated, but their spread and propagation are effectually stamped
out by scientific methods. Houston has a number of such institutions,
which measure up to the highest standard of usefulness
and comfort.
The best known of the private hospitals is the Norsworthy
The Norsworthy hospital is located on the northeast corner
of San Jacinto Street and Rosalie Avenue and is in the quietest
and most attractive resident part of the city. It is a large three-story
brick building with a spacious over-ground basement. The
top floor is arranged for an operating room and its accessories
and adjuncts, and on this floor are the rooms for the nurses.
The second and third floors are for patients alone, and these
rooms are so arranged that one can have a ward bed, a single
room with or without a private bath or two connecting rooms
with or without a private bath.
The whole building is heated by hot water radiation;
cleaned by automatic electric vacuum cleaners; plumbed for

gas and wired for electric lights, call buzzers, private telephones
and fans. An electric elevator and dumb waiter are parts of
the equipment.
All the floors are doubled with deadening felt between them.
The exposed flooring is of especially selected rift lumber. The
entire building is plastered. The walls are in various oil tints,
so as to add cheerfulness to each room. The interior finish is
according to strict aseptic rules throughout, rounded corners
and smooth wood with enamel finish. The operating room has
all the accessories of a modern aseptic hospital. The floor and
wainscoating are of Terrazo, and the walls and ceiling are white
enamel. It has a complete equipment of instruments and an
aseptic operating table. The room is excellently lighted for both
day and night work. Adjoining the operating room is a sterilizing
room for instruments and dressings, a dressing and sterilizing
room for surgeons, and an anæsthetic room.
The X-ray laboratory is equipped with the Scheidel Western
X-ray Company's special hospital outfit, complete for radiograph
work, and a dark room equipped with photographic apparatus
for quick developing. The laboratory of clinical pathology has
a complete equipment of instruments and apparatus necessary
for all bacteriological and pathological work; embracing blood,
urine, stomach contents, sputum, feces, tumors, tissues, vaccine
therapy, milk and water analysis. This laboratory is under the
direct charge of Dr. E. H. Lancaster, the house surgeon and
pathologist, who was formerly pathologist for the State Board of
Health. Only graduated nurses are employed in this hospital.
Dr. O. L. Norsworthy is surgeon-in-chief and is assisted by two
house surgeons, Dr. J. P. Gibbs and Dr. E. H. Lancaster.
With little or no knowledge of the laws of sanitation or
hygiene it is not surprising that the early settlers were the victims
of frequent and fatal epidemics. Their mode of life and
surroundings were conducive to disease, and being, necessarily,
ignorant of the causes of many of the most fatal diseases, a
statement which applies with equal force to the physicians of
that day in spite of their great learning, proper preventive
measures were seldom ever adopted and all that was done, or

could be done, was to cope with the disease after it had developed
and secured a foothold.
The result was that Houston was frequently swept by
epidemics of cholera and yellow fever. In 1839 there was a
severe epidemic of yellow fever. A number of planters and
farmers from the older states had settled in or near Houston,
bringing their slaves with them, thus supplying abundant material
for the ravages of the fever when it appeared. It is a well
known fact that negroes are more or less immune from yellow
fever, but the epidemic of 1838 seems to have been an exception
to this rule for the mortality among the negroes was very great.
It is interesting to note the fact that the fever appeared in Galveston
before coming to Houston and that its appearance here
followed the arrival of a man who had been sick in Galveston,
but had recovered and come here.
In 1843 there was another great epidemic of yellow fever
during which the mortality was very great. There was lack of
proper food, and but few nurses and physicians to care for the
sick so that the mortality that year was spoken of ever after when
making comparison with subsequent epidemics. The disease
appears to have been peculiarly fatal that year, whole families
being swept away.
In 1845 or 1846 Houston had its first epidemic of cholera.
The negroes seem to have been the principal victims, though
many whites were attacked also. There is no record of the mortality
although, according to tradition, it was rather heavy and
confined almost exclusively to the negroes.
From 1843 to 1847 there was no yellow fever in Houston.
During these four years the population had increased and the
town had taken on quite respectable proportions. Thus there
was an abundance of new material for the disease when it
made its appearance late in the summer of 1847. That year
resembled 1843 in the number of fatal cases, and a great number
of physicians were among the very first victims. It is said
that in proportion to the population, more physicians lost their
lives during the epidemic of 1847 than in any other of those that

followed. This fact may in a measure account for the great mortality
among the people.
In 1853 and again in 1858 and 1859 Houston was scourged
by yellow fever. The epidemic of 1858 was marked by great
mortality. Houston's population at that time was between
8,000 and 10,000, and while there is no official record of the
fact, it was estimated that the deaths that year were close to
From 1859 to 1863, Houston appears to have escaped the
visitations of yellow-fever, but in 1863 there was an epidemic
though by no means a severe one compared with those which had
preceded it. This is all the more remarkable when it is remembered
that at that time there were thousands of soldiers here,
very few of whom had ever been exposed to the fever.
In 1866, Houston had its second epidemic of cholera. The
disease was confined exclusively to the negro population. Conditions
were very favorable among them for its propagation.
They had only recently been freed and had not yet learned even
the first principles of how to care for themselves. They were
congregated in huts and hovels and made not even a pretence
of living clean and sanitary lives. There were not so many fatal
cases as might be supposed and after a month or so of intelligent
effort on the part of the health authorities, the disease
stamped out.
The next year, 1867, occurred one of the greatest yellow
fever epidemics that ever cursed Houston. The first cases
occurred early in August and the plague lasted until late in
December, the last deaths occurring two days after Christmas.
Everything was very favorable for the spread of the disease.
The town was full of strangers, new comers, and in addition
to these, there was the army of occupation, consisting of several
thousand Federal troops, few of whom had ever been exposed
to the fever. When the presence of the fever was announced
there was something of a panic, and as many as could do so got
away from the city. There were a number of physicians here,
including some army surgeons. With the exception of some of
the older physicians none of these doctors had ever seen yellow

fever, but, be it said to their glory, not one deserted; every
man remained at his post, though a great many of them paid
the penalty of their lives by doing so. The mortality was frightful,
due in a large measure to lack of proper nourishment, proper
nursing and medical attention. The physicians were absolutely
worked down and while they did all that they could, it was
physically impossible for them to attend to hundreds who might
have been saved could they have reached them. The Federal
soldiers died like sheep. There were about 2,500 of them and of
these over 700 men and officers died.
The mortality among the citizens, while not so great, was
very heavy. On one day alone, September 26, there were 29
deaths in the city exclusive of those which occurred among the
The epidemic of 1867 was the last that Houston has had,
for though from time to time there have been epidemics of
yellow fever at other Texas cities, notably that at Calvert in
1873, Houston has escaped. In 1897 it was reported that there
was yellow fever in Houston and Dr. Guiteras, a government
expert was sent here to investigate. He pronounced it yellow
fever and Houston was promptly quarantined against by all Texas
towns. The cases were then investigated by such yellow fever
experts as Dr. D. F. Steuart and Dr. R. H. Harrison, who had
gone through a number of yellow fever epidemics, and they,
without hesitation, pronounced the disease dengue fever and all
quarantine was promptly raised. The people knew them and
had perfect confidence in their judgment and experience.
Before closing this brief history of the medical profession
in Houston and of some of the things that have been accomplished
by it, it may not be inappropriate to speak of the attitude
the doctors have always maintained towards quacks and those
who adopt the methods of the charlatan. They have always
been consistent in this and their antagonism at times has been so
bitter that it has almost defeated itself by creating sympathy
for those whom they have attacked. This has been particularly
true in those cases where the attacks have been based only on the
fact that the sinning doctor advertised in the newspapers. The

attitude of the Houston physicians and also that of the Houston
newspapers towards the advertising doctor is well shown in the
following instance:
During January, 1910, the South Texas District Medical
Association held a session in Houston. During the session a
banquet was given which was attended by all the doctors and
some of the Houston editors. Speeches were made, the principal
topic discussed being “Quackery in Houston.” Dr. John T.
Moore, president of the Harris County Medical Association, spoke
at some length saying that Houston was a hot-bed for quacks
and charlatans. He described them as “criminals” posing as
physicians for the people. Many such, he declared, had been
run out of Dallas, San Antonio and other Texas cities, but
Houston was still their Mecca. Here they established resplendent
suites of offices and extorted from the ignorant, large sums of
money for which they gave no legitimate professional return.
He denounced them as “swindlers” and “confidence men” and
declared that the newspapers were solely responsible for
their criminal success. The newspapers were the intermediary
between them and their dupes, whose money they sought. The
newspapers by opening their advertising columns to them became
not only their solicitors but their sponsors. If the newspapers
would close their columns to these men and refuse to print their
glowing and deceptive advertisements, these fellows would be
forced to seek other fields. Doctors Norsworthy and Parker indorsed
all that Doctor Moore had said and declared that if the
newspapers would assist the doctors these monsters who prey on
the sick and afflicted would soon be run out of town.
Mr. M. E. Foster, president of the Houston Chronicle Publishing
Company, entered a strong protest against the attitude
taken by the physicians towards the press. He admitted that
fraudulent and deceptive advertisements, claiming to cure incurable
diseases, should be rigidly excluded from the newspapers.
But he claimed it was difficult, if not impossible for a layman
to determine just what was fraudulent and what was legitimate.
He cited the fact that the mosquito theory of the propagation
of yellow fever had been denounced as a fraud by the medical

profession and that many other discoveries of real merit now
accepted universally had been at first ridiculed by the doctors.
He also pointed out that the newspapers were always ready to
co-operate in measures for the public health. Thousands of
columns of space have been freely given by the newspapers in
the campaign of education against tuberculosis, the typhoid fly,
the yellow fever and malarial fever mosquito, small-pox, cholera
and other diseases although the physicians still retain an antiquated
and inexcusable prejudice against publicity and advertising.

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Church History

Founding of the Evangelical Churches in Houston. Organization
of the Baptists, Methodists, Presbyterians, and
Episcopalians. German Lutheran Churches, Disciples and
Christian Scientists. The Roman Catholic Institutions in
Houston. Congregation Beth Israel and Hebrew Synagogues.
The Houston Y. M. C. A.

Under the spreading branches of a large oak tree, that
stood on Market Square, was held the first religious service
in Houston. The minister was a transient Methodist preacher,
whose name, unfortunately, has not been handed down to
posterity. Thus in the open air, seated on planks laid over
convenient logs, the early Houstonians, in 1837, hears the
gospel. The good man's audience was composed of christians
of all denominations and beliefs, for at that time the Baptists,
Methodists, Presbyterians and Episcopalians, had not formed
themselves into local church organizations, as they did soon
In 1838 or 1839, the Allens donated two or three lots, on
the northwest corner of Main and Capitol Streets, to the
churches of Houston. It was a gift specified to no denomination,
but was for the use of all. There was a small house
erected on this property and it was used by all donominations
except the Methodist, who used the Capitol, a block further
down Main Street. The Presbyterians finally fell heirs to this
property, when the other denominations secured locations of
their own.
On April 10, 1841, the first church meeting of what
is now the First Baptist Church, was held and is thus recorded
in the old minutes:


“Convened at the usual place of worship, April 10, A.
D., 1841, in the City of Houston, County of Harris, Republic
of Texas, members of Baptist churches from different parts
of the United States and of the Republic, for the purpose of
forming an Evangelical Church of Christ of the regular
Baptist order.
“On motion of Brother S. P. Andrews, Brother Huckins
was called to the chair, and Brother Gardner Smith was chosen
secretary of the meeting * * * *. On motion of
Brother Bigalow, Brother S. P. Andrews was elected to serve
as deacon.
Constituent Members: Barnabas Hascall, Martha
Mulryne, Obedience Smith, Gardner Smith, Benjamin M.
George, Abigail Hascall, Louisa Jane Schroder, Charlotte M.
Fuller, Israel B. Bigalow, Elizabeth C. Wilson, S. P. Andrews,
Elizabeth Anisworth, Mary George, Mary H. Bigalow, John
Lawrence, Mary A. Andrews, Piety L. Hadley, Sarah L. Robinson,
Hannah Town, Charlotte Beach, Kitty Mulryne, (colored),
Melvina Gray, (colored), Grace League, (colored), Inda
Schroder, (colored).”
The usual place of worship spoken of in the minutes, was
the general meeting house, corner of Main and Capitol Streets.
Reverend James Huckins, of Galveston, who presided at the
organization of the church became its first pastor and continued
as such until the latter part of 1845.
After the organization of the church, two devoted and
zealous christian women, Mrs. Piety L. Hadley and Mrs.
Charlotte M. Fuller determined through their own exertions,
to build a church edifice. They did not meet with much encouragement,
not even from members of their own families but
they were not discouraged. Some one, as a joke, made them
a present of a mule. They fattened this animal up and sold
it, thus securing the nucleus for the church fund. They
organized a sewing society, made useful things, gave a church
fair and sold them. The sale of the mule and the goods at the
fair netted the ladies $450. They gave another fair which
earned $900. With this money they purchased the lots, corner

of Travis Street and Texas Avenue, where the first church
stood for so many years. In all their labors and trials these
ladies had the untiring aid and support of a good old christian,
“Brother Pilgrim.”
After the purchase of the lots the ladies wrote to Rev.
William M. Tryan, then a missionary in Washington County,
asking him to come to Houston and take charge of the church.
Dr. Tryan accepted the call, and, on February 1, 1846, took
charge of the First Baptist Church then numbering 17 members.
He was reputed to be a highly educated gentleman, a sincere
christian and an earnest worker, and soon commanded the
respect and love of the whole community. Under his charge
the membership grew rapidly, many of the best and leading
citizens joining the church.
He at once began securing funds to erect a suitable church
building. Owing to the financial weakness of his church and
the community at large, he had to look elsewhere for assistance,
and obtained the greater part of the money from those
of the faith in other states. He received material assistance
in his good work from Mr. W. R. Baker, Mr. T. W. House
and Mr. B. A. Shepard, none of whom was a member of the
Baptist Church, but all except Mr. House being inclined
towards that denomination. The building was completed and
dedicated by Dr. Tryan, just four months before his death
from yellow fever in November, 1847. Before the building
was completed, Mrs. Hadley and other ladies had organized
a Sunday School.
According to the minutes dated June 6, 1846, “on motion
of Brother E. B. Noble, it was resolved that Elder William
M. Tryan, Brother T. B. J. Hadley, Messrs B. A. Shepard, C.
W., Buckley, N. Fuller and William R. Baker be appointed
a board of trustees for the First Baptist Church of Houston,
and that Brothers Tryan and Hadley be authorized and
requested to take the legal steps for the incorporation of said
At another conference meeting about that time, Brother
Bowers was authorized to buy a box of candles for the church

and it was arranged that each member should pay his or her
share of the expense of the transaction. The church building
stood on the corner of Travis Street and Texas Avenue,
and was quite an imposing structure for that day. It had
gothic windows and a high steeple and was considered by
some of the old fashioned members to be too gaudy for the
purposes to which it was dedicated. The indignation of these
good brothers over the gothic windows and steeple was as
nothing to that which was shown when a melodeon was
installed and a choir was organized. One of the most zealous
of the objectors went to the length of slipping into the church
one night, stealing the melodeon and throwing it into the
bayou, where it remained for a long time until scooped out
by a dredge-boat.
A fine bell was presented to the church in November,
1850, and for years was hung in the steeple, that a few years
before had excited so much antagonism. The donor was Mr.
William McMahan, one of the members, who had been one
of the principal objectors to the style put on by the builders
of the church, but who seems to have changed his views. Mr.
B. A. Shepard generously assisted the church in a financial
way all through its early experience as did also Mr. W. R.
Baker. Later, when the gas works were built, Mr. T. W. House
presented the church with gas fixtures.
On the death of Dr. Tryan, the church called Rev. R. C.
Burleson, then of Kentucky, as pastor of the church. He
proved to be a worthy successor of the lamented Tryan, and
under his charge the church grew and prospered. He remained
with the church for a little more than three years, and was
succeeded by Rev. Thomas Chilton of Alabama. Mr. Chilton
had been a prominent lawyer and a member of the United
States Congress for some years but had relinquished all earthly
honors and glory to take up the work of a humble minister
of Christ. He was a fine orator, a thorough christian and
a zealous worker and many accessions to the church marked
his pastorate.
Of Mr. Chilton's immediate successors the church records

furnish little definite information. The frequent removals
together with the Civil War troubles greatly damaged the
church work. Rev. Mr. Tucker was pastor when the war
broke out and promptly laid down the cross and took up
the sword. He raised a company, was elected its captain,
and commanded it during the war. Then came Rev. F. M.
Law, followed by Rev. J. B. Link, who had also been a
Confederate soldier during the war but who took charge of
the church after the war was over. Rev. J. T. Zealy became
pastor September 16, 1869, and served the church for six
years. During his ministry two chapels, one in the Fourth
and the other in the Fifth ward, were built and mission Sunday
schools were established. In addition to that the property
at the corner of Rusk Avenue and Fannin Street was
purchased. Following Mr. Zealy, Rev. Dr. Horace Clark
occupied the pulpit until April 1, 1877, when Rev. Dr. J. M.
C. Breaker assumed charge. In 1883, the church property on
Texas Avenue and Travis Street was sold and it was determined
to erect a new building on the property owned by
the church, on Rusk Avenue and Fannin Street. The cornerstone
of the new church was laid July 23, 1883, with imposing
ceremony, and the new church, though not quite completed,
was opened the first time for services, Sunday, January 27,
1884, Dr. Breaker, the pastor, preaching an appropriate sermon
to a large congregation.
When the great storm of 1900, swept over the gulf coast
the Baptist church on Rusk and Fannin was so badly damaged
that it had to be torn down. It was then determined to
abandon that site and erect a new church one block further
south on the corner of Fannin Street and Walker Avenue.
The new building was completed in 1903, and is one of the
handsomest churches of Houston. It is of gothic architecture
and the materials used in its construction are stone, brick,
and concrete. It extends 75 feet on Fannin Street and 111
feet on Walker Avenue. At the corner is a tower of moderate
height which adds much to the beauty of the building. The

windows are all of stained glass. Dr. J. B. Riley an eminent
scholar and historian, was pastor at the time.
Rev. Dr. J. L. Gross became pastor of the First Baptist
Church, November 1, 1905, and has remained with the church
ever since. He had come to Houston a few weeks before and
had delivered one or two sermons which so pleased the members
that they made a successful effort to retain him permanently
as their pastor, and they have never had reason
to regret doing so. He was called to take charge by a
unanimous vote of the church. He is recognized as one of
the strong men of the Baptist church and his influence for
good has been very great. Like the Rev. Dr. Chilton, Rev. Dr.
Gross was engaged in the practice of law before entering
the ministry. Born in Georgia, he was graduated from the
University of Georgia, with the degree of Bachelor of Arts
and Bachelor of Law, and later took a course in the Southern
Baptist Theological Seminary at Louisville, Ky. His first
church work was at Washington, Ga. He then accepted a call
to Griffin, Ga., and from there went to Selma. Alabama,
whence he came to Houston.
In 1905, Rev. H. C. Smith organized the First Baptist
Church of Houston Heights and under his ministry a beautiful
house of worship was built.
The Baptist Temple was organized June 21st, 1908, in
Houston Heights, with a constituent membership of 20. The
Rev. F. Huhns presided at the organization and was elected
pastor. He is a graduate of the Rochester Theological
Seminary and of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
at Louisville, Ky. He had been engaged in missionary work
in Philadelphia, Chicago and other large Eastern and Northern
cities, and, for three years before coming to Houston, had
been missionary evangelist of the Union Baptist Association,
Rev. Evander Ammons is now in charge, Mr. Huhns having
resigned to take charge of a church in Pittsburg, Pa.
The following are some of the Baptist churches and
Baptist missions in Houston, today: First German Baptist
Church, Rev. F. Severs, pastor: First Baptist Church, Houston

Heights, Yale Street, between Ninth and Tenth Streets, Rev.
C. A. Earl, pastor; Lee Avenue Baptist Church, Houston
Heights; Brunner Baptist Church, Rev. W. P. Grow, pastor;
Liberty Avenue Baptist Church, Rev. Robert Carrol, pastor;
Calvary Baptist Church, Preston Avenue and Sampson Street,
Rev. J. E. Treloar, pastor; Tuam Avenue Baptist Church,
corner Tuam Avenue and Fannin Street, Rev. J. W. Loving,
pastor. This is the South End Church.
Bishop Street Baptist Church, corner Bishop and Fletcher
Streets, Fifth ward, Rev. Thornton A. Payne, pastor; The
Emanuel Baptist Church, Brook Smith Addition, Rev. George
H. Lee, pastor; Tabernacle Baptist, Rev. D. C. Freeman,
All of these churches have church homes, some of them
very handsome. They have been served by capable and
consecrated pastors.
There are many negro Baptist churches in Houston, the
number of negro Baptist in the city being greater than that
of the whites. They have several handsome churches.
The organization of the Methodist church in Houston
was unique in one way. While the preliminary steps in the
formation of each of the other denominations were taken by
at least two or three zealous christian men and women, the
foundation of the Methodist church was the act of a single
individual,—Mr. Charles Shearn. Mr. Shearn was an Englishman,
having been born in England, October 30, 1794. He died
in Houston, November 12, 1871. He came to Texas in 1834,
and settled in west Texas. When General Urrea marched
from San Patricio to Goliad, he captured Mr. Shearn, who
was a member of a small company of Texans, and would have
shot him but for the fact that Mr. Shearn was an Englishman
and claimed to be an English subject. Mexico respected
and feared England too much to ill-treat one of her subjects,
and that fact saved Charles Shearn.
He removed to Houston in 1837, the year following San
Jacinto, and spent his life here, leaving behind him the
respect, love and admiration of the whole community. Mr.

Shearn began life in Houston as a merchant and prospered.
The first year of his residence here he induced a Methodist
missionary to come here from the states, and took him to his
home, as his personal guest. This was a Mr. Sommers, and
it was perhaps he who held the first religious service in
Houston, under the old tree on Market Square, referred to
elsewhere. Mr. Shearn kept Mr. Sommers as his guest and
together they succeeded in gathering a sufficient number of
sympathizers, to form a Methodist class. In 1842, they determined
to build a church, and Mr. Shearn was made chairman
of the building committee. The Morning Star, in 1843, had
this notice of the proposed church:
“The Morning Star has been informed that the Methodist
Society of this city has obtained, chiefly through the liberality
of the brethren in the United States, sufficient funds to erect
a large and commodious church. It has been planned to lay
the corner-stone of the building, March 2, the anniversary
of Texas independence. The building is to be of brick, about
60 feet by 35 feet. Most of the material has been bought and
paid for and the construction of the building will be hastened
as rapidly as possible.”
The corner-stone of the brick building was laid, March 2,
1843, according to program, local Masons, Odd Fellows and a
military company assisting at the ceremonies. Col. James
Riley, one of the most eloquent members of the Houston Bar,
delivered an address that was long remembered. Mr. Shearn
was superintendent of construction and had the building
completed and ready for occupancy, the following May.

On May 7, 1844, the following notice was published:
“The new Methodist Episcopal Church in this city will
be open for Divine service on next Saturday evening. On
Sunday morning the dedication sermon will be preached by
the Rev. Mr. Richardson, president of Ruterville College.
Several clergymen from the county will be in attendance.

A. Applewhite,
C. Shearn, Building Committee.”

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Among those citizens who contributed largely towards
the success of the church, were Mr. T. W. House, Sr., who
was Mr. Shearn's son-in-law, Mr. Gregg, Mr. McGowan and
Mr. Hardcastle. The church was in constant use from 1844,
until 1861, when it was blown down by a storm.
A large wooden building, unceiled, and but crudely finished,
was constructed on the site at Milam Street and Texas
Avenue, and in this building for several years the Methodists
held their meetings. The war, lasting from 1861 to 1865,
followed by political troubles and the terrible epidemic of
yellow-fever in 1867, caused much delay in building a new
church. Then, too, there was great poverty among the members
and as these seemed satisfied with the old wooden church,
it was not until 1871, that a serious effort was made to erect
a suitable building. That year Mr. Shearn saw the possibilities
of building a new church, and Messrs. House, Gregg,
McGowan and Hardcastle again came to his assistance, with
the result that what was known as Shearn Church was erected
on the old site of the first building. Credit for building
Shearn Church is due almost entirely to Mr. Shearn who
paid the greater part of the cost of constructing it. The
Methodists clung to the old location on Texas Avenue and
Milam Street until 1907, when it was abandoned and a new
church, which was called the First Methodist Church, was
erected at Clay Avenue and Main Street. The new church
fronts 125 feet on Main and runs back 175 feet on Clay
Avenue. It is constructed of Bedford gray granite, Powhatan
pressed gray brick and pearl-tint terra cotta. It is one of the
finest and most costly structures of its kind in the South.
Rev. Dr. W. P. Packard is the present pastor.
St. Paul's Methodist Episcopal Church was organized,
January 1, 1906, with a membership of 130, seventy-six from
other churches, fifty-four by letter and profession of faith.
In 1907, it had 475 members and a Sunday school of 450
pupils, a Home Missionary Society of forty members and a
Young Ladies' Society of sixty-five members.
Before the contract for the erection of its house of worship

had been let, $130,000 was raised. Bishop Seth Ward
turned the first spade-full of earth. Bishop Key named the
building and selected an organizer and builder to take charge
of the whole matter. The plans called for an expenditure
of $175,000. The corner-stone was laid with religious and
Masonic ceremonies June 24, 1907, and until the building was
ready for occupancy, the congregation met in a small chapel
near by. The lot on the corner of McGowan Avenue and
Milam Street, was the gift of Mrs. J. O. Ross, and the official
board of the church, the Women's Societies and other auxiliaries
were organized at her nearby residence.
The first pastor was Rev. Dr. George S. Sexton, formerly
chaplain of the First Texas Infantry, U. S. V. Dr. Sexton
has held many important charges and was a remarkably
gifted man to whom the greatest credit for the classic
edifice is due. A set of chimes was given by Mrs. M. T.
Jones. The church has art windows, the subjects of which
are: Portraits of John and Charles Wesley; “Christ the
Consoler”; “Christ and the Doctors”; “Ruth, the Gleaner”;
“Christ in Gethsemane”; “Mary at the Tomb”; “The
Ascension”; “Moses and the Law”. In the Sunday School
room special windows represent the flight of angels through
the heavens on the night of the birth of Christ, proclaiming
“Peace on earth, Good Will towards men.” This is one of
the most artistic and beautifully finished buildings to be found
anywhere in this country. Its exterior is of classic and
Byzantine lines, the building being in an architectural class
all its own. The method of getting plans for the building
was novel. No competitive plans were submitted, the
architects simply developing plans to meet the requirements of
the building committee. A committee visited the notable
churches in the larger cities of America and adopted the best
features of some and rejected the bad features of all of them.
The result was the present building. Rev. Dr. Sam. R. Hay
is at present pastor of St. Paul's, and under his charge the
church continues to grow and extend its good influence.
In addition to Shearn Church, now called the First M.

E. Church, South, and St. Paul's, there are several churches
and chapels of the denomination doing good work in various
parts of Houston. The following is a list of them: First
Methodist Episcopal Church, Tenth and Harvard Streets,
Houston Heights, Rev. C. L. Elliott, pastor; Trinity Methodist
Church, corner Loraine and Gano Streets, Rev. F. G. Clark,
pastor; Tabernacle Methodist Church, corner Polk and Caroline
Streets, Rev. W. W. Watts, pastor; Epworth Methodist
Church; Brunner Avenue Methodist Church, Rev. W. W.
Sherill, pastor; Grace Methodist Church, Houston Heights,
Rev. T. M. Brownlee, pastor; Harrisburg Methodist Episcopal
Church, South, Rev. R. C. George, pastor; McAsham
Methodist Church, Rev. A. P. Bradford, pastor; Washington
Avenue Methodist Church, Washington Avenue between
Houston Avenue and Trinity Street, Rev. H. M. Timmons,
pastor; McKee Street Methodist Church, corner Conti and
McKee Streets, Rev. H. M. Walling, pastor; Ebenezer Methodist
Church, corner Harrington and Chestnut Streets, C. H.
Beneke, pastor; Bering Memorial Church, corner Milam Street
and McKinney Avenue, Rev. E. A. Konken, pastor.
There are many colored Methodists in Houston and the
negroes have several substantial churches with large congregations.
The Methodists are the strongest in number and influence
of the Evangelical churches in Houston and have exerted from
the earliest days a wide influence for good.
Of all the early Houston churches the Presbyterians had
the easiest time establishing themselves. They did not have
to worry about a building site and then about a building
to put on it. They had all these at the very beginning, for
the city founders, the Allens, being members of the Presbyterian
Church themselves, set aside two or three lots on Main Street
and Capitol Avenue, for church purposes and gave it to the
Presbyterians, stipulating only that all denominations should
have the use of the small building, they placed on it, until
they could secure churches or meeting places of their own.
This was faithfully carried out, and for several years Baptist,

Methodist, and other denominations made as free use of the
building as did the Presbyterians themselves. In the early
part of 1843, several members of the church began an active
canvass for funds with which to erect a suitable church building.
They were successful and a large building was erected
near the northwest corner of Capitol Avenue and Main Street,
facing Main Street. The building was completed in 1842, and
services were held in it regularly. This structure had a church
bell, the first one ever rung in Houston. In its issue of
February 11th, 1843, the Morning Star, said:
“We are requested to mention that the bell of the Presbyterian
church will be rung regularly on Sunday mornings
at 9 o'clock for Sunday School and again half an hour before
meeting, and will be tolled ten minutes before service begins.”
Many of the leading and most influential citizens of
Houston were members of the Presbyterian church, among
them being Mr. M. D. Conklin, Mr. A. S. Burke, Mr. T. M.
Bagby, Mr. Horace Taylor, Mr. E. H. Cushing, Mr. Geo. W.
Kidd, Sr., Mr. Lillie, and Dr. Cowling, all men of the highest
standing. All these were not Houstonians at the very earliest
stages of the city's beginning, but all were so early on the scene
that it is not unjust to class them all together. At whatever
stage they enlisted they did such valiant work in the cause
of religion in Houston that no discrimination should be made
in awarding credit for what has been accomplished. They
have all, long ago passed to their rewards from a higher than
earthly court.
The large wooden edifice stood for many years on its
original site, and was destroyed by fire one September night
in 1859. The fire started in Baker and Thompson's saw-mill,
which stood on the southwest corner of Texas Avenue and
Main Street. The fire consumed all the buildings facing Main
Street, on both sides of the street between Texas Avenue and
Capitol Avenue.
The years 1858 and 1859, were sorrowful ones for the
Presbyterian church in Houston. In September, 1858, one of
their most beloved and universally popular pastors, Rev. Mr.

Ruthvan, was lost at sea. He took passage from Galveston
for New Orleans on the ill-fated steamer Nautilus, which
went down during a great hurricane which swept over the
gulf. Only one person, a negro, who clung to some wreckage,
was saved, of all the passengers and crew. By a singular
coincidence, another pastor of that church was lost at sea,
eight years later. This was Rev. Dr. Castelton, who with his
wife, sailed out of Galveston harbor on a sailing vessel in
1866. Not a trace of the vessel nor of any of her passengers
or crew has ever been found.
The wooden church which had been burned, was replaced
by a brick building, which was placed further back on the
property, facing Capitol Avenue. Services were held in this
house for many years, until, in 1879, it began to crack and
was comdemned as unsafe. The building was practically torn
down and made safe. While this was being done services
were held in Pillott's Opera House. In May, 1880, the congregation
moved back to their own church and the first sermon
was preached by Rev. Dr. E. D. Junkin, who had just accepted
a call to the church. Dr. Junkin was a very able man and
a profound scholar, but above even these he had qualities of
heart that soon endeared him, not only to his own congregation,
but to the citizens of Houston at large, so that his
influence for good was very great. He was the son of Rev.
George Junkin, the founder of Lafayette College at Easton,
Pennsylvania, and was born at Miller, Pennsylvania, February
3, 1829. He was graduated from Lafayette College and
received his D. D. degree from Washington and Jefferson
College. In 1854, he was graduated from Princeton College,
and in 1855, was licensed to preach. After pastoral service
in North Carolina and Virginia he came to Houston and
remained in charge of the First Presbyterian Church until
his death which occurred at Johnson City, Tenn., on July
31, 1891, while on his way to Virginia to visit old friends.
Dr. Junkin's successor was Rev. Dr. Wm. Hayne Leavell,
who was also a great scholar and pulpit orator. The church
was fortunate in getting such a man as he to follow Dr.

Junkin. Under his administration some of the best work
of the church was done. He remained with the church until
February, 1906, when he resigned and was succeeded by Rev.
Dr. William States Jacobs, the present pastor, who took charge
and preached his first sermon March 4, 1906.
Dr. Jacobs is easily one of the most popular men and
preachers Houston has ever known. He always commands
large congregations and has taken a virile part in the city's
vital and material development. The Chamber of Commerce,
the real estate men and the music lovers of Houston have
found a great helper in Dr. Jacobs and he has brought many
high grade lyceum entertainments to Houston as well as the
Russian Symphony Orchestra. Dr. Jacobs is the author of the
great descriptive phrase that is Houston's motto “Where
17 railroads meet the sea.” He holds many scholarly degrees
and is a popular platform orator.
At a congregational meeting, October 30, 1893, it was
resolved that “the building committee be, and they are hereby,
authorized to negotiate the sale, and the trustees to execute
the necessary papers, for the transfer of the property now
owned by the First Presbyterian Church of Houston, on the
corner of Main Street and Capitol Avenue; provided that there
can be realized a sufficient amount to secure the half block on
Main Street and McKinney Avenue, known as the House
property, and, in addition, not less than $20,000 in cash.”
The building committee was thus constituted: Rev. Dr.
W. M. Hayne Leavell, pastor; R. F. George, representing the
board of elders; O. C. Drew, representing the board of deacons;
Dr. D. F. Steuart, representing the members of the church;
and Charles Dillingham, representing those members of the
congregation not members of the church.
The church property brought $45,000 and the committee
paid $22,500, and the cost of paving for the other property,
bringing the cost to between $24,000 and $25,000.
Work on the new church was begun at once, and when
completed it was pronounced by competent judges, to be very
nearly architecturally perfect. Its exterior is strikingly beautiful

and its interior finish is fully in keeping with the exterior.
The Presbyterian Church in Houston long ago outgrew
the capacity of the mother church and also that of its strongest
off-shoots, and now there are nearly a dozen Presbyterian
congregations in and near the city, all flourishing and prospering.
The following of these all have their own houses of
Woodland Heights Presbyterian Church, Beauchamp
Avenue and Hooker Street, Rev. George W. Martin, pastor;
First Presbyterian Church of Houston Heights, corner of
Rutland and Eighteenth Street, Rev. R. D. Wear, pastor; Oak
Lawn Presbyterian Church, corner of Stiles and Sherman
Streets, Rev. A. N. Wylie, pastor; Hardy Street Presbyterian
Church, Rev. Granville T. Story, pastor; Second Presbyterian
Church, Main Street and Denis Avenue, Rev. Frank E. Fincher,
pastor. This is one of the handsomest churches in the city.
Third Presbyterian Chruch, corner of Bingham and Johnson
Streets, Rev. J. M. Gaul, pastor; Central Presbyterian Church,
corner of Fannin Street and Pease Avenue, Rev. A. B.
Buchanan, pastor; Westminster Presbyterian Church, Washington
and Boulevard, Rev. E. Sinclair Smith, pastor. The
new edifice of this congregation is very modern, and Dr. Smith,
one of the most highly honored of the city's pastors.
The chapels of the Second Presbyterian Church, are Park
Street Chapel, Market Street Chapel, Hutchins Street Chapel,
Hyde Park Chapel, and Blodgett Mission Sunday School. Rev.
Stanley White is superintendent in charge of missions.
On March 16, 1839, while the city of Houston was still
in its swaddling clothes, 39 earnest churchmen met and
organized “the Protestant Episcopal Church of Houston,
Republic of Texas.” Isolated from the older parts of the
country, with no means of communication, save by water or
by ox or horse-drawn vehicles, over almost impassable roads,
this handful of earnest Christians laid the foundation for a
church which was destined to become the first in wealth,
influence and power of its denomination in Texas. At the
beginning they had only such services as itinerant ministers

and missionaries could give them. Bishop George W. Freeman,
Missionary Bishop of Louisiana took great interest in
the struggling church, and in all ways in his power contributed
to its advancement.
The church adopted a constitution and took the name
of Christ Church, May 12, 1845. Measures were taken to build
a chapel to cost $2,500. Its corner-stone was laid in 1846,
and it was consecrated by Bishop Freeman, May 9, 1847.
Houston was then a most uninviting field for clergymen and
for some years there was no regular minister in charge.
However, the membership increased so rapidly that before
the first ten years had elapsed a large house of worship
was demanded. The corner-stone of a new building was laid in
1859, and within two years the building was completed at a
cost of $16,000. This building was used for years, but in 1876,
a third church was erected, and in 1893, the corner-stone of
the present beautiful building was laid.
Of the fifteen rectors of Christ Church before 1892, few
remained longer than two or three years, while others remained
but a short time. In 1892, Rev. Henry V. Aves, then in
charge of St. John's Church at Cleveland, Ohio, where he had
served seven years, accepted a call here. He was confronted
with a church debt of $30,000, and found only one society
for work connected with the church, that of the Ladies'
Parish Association. In less than ten years the debt had been
wiped out and several helping societies had been organized
and were working effectually. The Sheltering Arms, a home
for indigent women; the Woman's Auxiliary, a power in the
missionary field; a sewing school; the Girls' Friendly Society,
the Altar Society, the Choir Chapter, the Young Women's
Guild, Christ Church Grammar School and several working
bodies connected with the three mission chapels, were all
the results of Rev. Dr. Aves' personal efforts. The building
used for the Sheltering Arms had been erected and paid for
and an infirmary and operating room were projected, before
his first ten years expired.
Rev. Dr. Aves received most valuable support and assistance

in all he did from R. M. Elgin, father of the Vestry,
who had grown gray in the service of the church before the
arrival of Dr. Aves, and also from A. S. Richardson, W. D.
Cleveland, W. V. R. Watson, Presley K. Ewing, William M.
Mitchell and Sam McIlhenny.
Christ Church building is one of the handsomest and most
imposing churches in Houston. A rectory which cost $10,000,
was erected in 1902, and a parish school was opened the
same year as a memorial to Judge Peter Gray and his wife.
When Dr. Aves was elected Bishop of Mexico, and decided
to accept the position, he communicated his decision to the
rectory of Christ Church. The regret of that body is embodied
in a letter and accompanying resolutions from which the
following is a quotation:
“We admire, love and esteem you, and some of us
lean on you as the strong staff of our religious life. Your
beautiful Christian character has been, through these many
years, a beacon for us in God's watch-tower. You have
never, during this long time, preached a sermon, though some
have necessarily been better than others, that would not have
honored any pulpit; not one that would not have been a means
of grace to any Christian. You have here, at the baptismal
fount, tenderly held our little ones and signed them with the
sign of the cross. You have here, at the marriage altar,
pronounced the words of holy wedlock and blessed with your
benediction the plighted troth. You have here, at the open
grave and in the hidden sanctuaries of sorrow, ministered
comfort with a heart as boundless as human love and as tender.
It is hard, recalling your ministry, to give you up. We feel
that in your departure ‘a beacon light will be blown out above
us, a buoy bell stilled upon the sea.’ We feel that taking you
all in all, we shall long wait to look upon your like again.
But we cannot, will not speak to you words of parting. Adieu—to
God—there safe we leave you. Our trembling lips do
speak, but ah, how faintly do they shadow forth the tremor
of our hearts. Precious memories of your past, prayerful hope
for your future—let this be our sentiment.


Faithfully and Affectionately, Your Rectory: Robert M.
Elgin, Senior Warden; W. D. Cleveland, Junior Warden; Wm.
V. Watson; Presley K. Ewing; Sam McNeil; M. H. Westcott;
R. T. Morris; Frank Cargill; Joseph Towlis.”
After the departure of Rev. Henry Aves, who is still
Bishop of Mexico, Rev. Dr. Peter Gray Sears was called to the
pastorate of Christ Church, and has proven himself a worthy
successor. Dr. Sears is one of the most profound scholars
and pulpit orators in the South, and, like Bishop Aves, he is
a tireless worker. He has not only continued the work, but
has added to the usefulness of Christ Church in the moral
upbuilding of the city and community.
In addition to the mother church, there are the following
Episcopal churches and chapels in Houston today: Trinity
Church, corner Main Street and Holman Avenue, Rev. Robert
Lee Craig, rector; St. John's Church, corner Leeland Avenue
and Velasco Street, O. M. Longnecker, superintendent; St.
Marry's Episcopal Church, Rev. G. W. R. Cadman, rector;
Clemens Memorial Church, corner Bingham and Sabine Streets,
Rev. T. J. Windham, minister in charge; St. Andrew's Mission,
230 West Seventeenth Street, Houston Heights, Rev. Mr.
Cadman, minister in charge.
The first German Lutheran Church erected in Houston was
quite an imposing wooden structure that for years stood on
the southwest corner of the block of which The Daily Post
now stands. The church owned a quarter of the block, but
utilized only the corner on Texas Avenue and Milam Street.
Rev. Mr. Braun was the first and only pastor of the church
while it occupied that location. In connection with the church
was a school patronized by the German citizens of Houston
and by many of the Americans who desired to have their
children taught the German language, hence it was generally
crowded to its full capacity. There were a number of
Lutherans in Houston, and as the city grew the needs of their
church grew also, and soon it became necessary to build other
houses of worship. The first of these was one on Louisiana
Street between Preston and Prairie Avenues. But the demands

of commerce seem to have been greater than those of the
church, and both the Texas Avenue and the Louisiana Street
properties were sold and the churches moved elsewhere. At
present the Lutherans have two large and flourishing churches,
one on Caroline and Texas Avenue and the other on Washington
Avenue and Young Street. In both churches the sermons
are in the German language, but both English and German
are used in their Sunday Schools.
The Christians in the past fifteen years have come to
prominence and the Central Christian Church, on the corner of
Main Street and Bell Avenue is one of the handsomest of
Houston's many handsome churches. It was completed in 1907.
The Second Christian Church is located at the corner of Hogan
and Common Streets.
In the last ten years, the Christian Scientists have made
great gains in Houston. There are now two churches of this
faith and the first church of the city is erecting a beautiful
classic church building with a Greek front, on Main Street.
All church statistics are difficult to get, but the many
beautiful buildings erected by the various denominations
within the past decade is evidence of their flourishing condition.
The first Catholic church in Houston was built on three
lots on the northeast corner of the block on Franklin Avenue
and Caroline Street. There was a large gully running up
Caroline Street and the little church was built on the very
edge of this. Behind the church, and running east and west,
was a long, single-story building used as a home for the priest
and also as a parish school. Both the church and the school
house were wooden structures. Father Querat had charge
of both the church and school for many years, and was one
of the best known and universally respected men in the city.
He was a Frenchman, as his name implies, and was an accomplished
scholar, and was almost as popular with the Protestants
as he was with the members of his own faith. For
about a quarter of a century that little church was the only
place of worship the Catholics had in Houston. In 1868 or

1869, the church sold the old church property and purchased
the block on Texas Avenue and Crawford Street, and in 1870,
began the erection of a large brick building on it. This building,
the Church of the Annunciation, was completed in 1871,
and remains today one of the handsomest church edifices
in the city. It occupies about one quarter of the block, the
remainder being occupied by a handsome home for the priests
and a large and commodious school, all constructed of brick,
and of attractive architectural design. Father Hennessy has
had pastoral charge of this church for over thirty years, and,
is looked up to with love and veneration by the members of
his congregation, and by all Houstonians who know the sterling
and lovable qualities of the man.
The growth of the church exceeded that of the city and
became necessary early in the eighties to build other edifices.
One was built on Washington Avenue, another in the Fifth
ward and others steadily followed, until Houston has a
number of Catholic Churches, a number of them handsome
and imposing buildings.
In addition to what may be called the parent church. The
Annunciation, the following are prominent: St. Joseph's
Church, Father Banfield, pastor; Church of the Blessed
Sacrament, on Sherman Avenue, Brady addition; St. Patrick's
Church, Father Haughran, pastor; and Sacred Heart Church,
on Pierce Avenue and San Jacinto Street. The parishes are
large and growing so rapidly that constant additions to the
number of churches and chapels have to be made.
The Roman Catholic Church in Houston has among its
institutions, seven churches, four of them fine structures that
would be ornaments to a city twice the size of Houston, a
fine infirmary and several first-class schools. The infirmary
and the schools are not under the church control except
spiritual and are managed by the sisters of religious orders
who have devoted their lives to that work. They have absolute
control of all temporal matters. The hospital is the St.
Joseph's Infirmary, one of the oldest and best patronized
institutions of its kind in the state. St. Agnes' Academy is

one of the schools and it is one of the leading educational
institutions of the city. Its patronage is large, and though
only five years old it is already placed in the front ranks
of denominational institutions of learning in Texas.
The picturesque school building, located in the south end
on Fannin Street, combines beauty and comfort in its ample
There are, in round numbers, 10,000 communicants of
the Catholic church in Houston, and the property of the
church is valued at very nearly half a million dollars.
Houston will soon be known as the city of churches for
every creed and variation of a creed seems to have its
representatives here. In addition to the leading denominations
enumerated in the foregoing pages there are the following
named churches and religious associations in Houston:
Clark Street Mission, Apostolic Faith; Brunner Tabernacle,
Apostolic Faith; Houston Heights Assembly, Apostolic Faith;
International Bible Students Association; Congregational
Church, corner Caroline Street and McKinney Avenue;
Unitarian Church, Carnegie Library; Theosophical Society,
Odd Fellows Hall; Oriental Textile Chapel, corner of Twenty-fourth
and Lawrence Streets, Houston Heights; Balfour
Mission, 210 San Jacinto Street; and the Star of Hope Mission,
714 Franklin Avenue, which holds services every night in
the year.
In the very early days the leading representative of the
Hebrews in Houston, was the venerable Rabbi Levy. No man
stood higher in this community than he and none enjoyed
the respect and esteem of all classes of citizens more than
he. He was known among the people as “Father” Levy and his
whole life was such as to warrant this love and confidence.
He was an old man, had a long white beard and was the living
picture of an old Patriarch. For many years he administered
to the spiritual needs of his people and when he passed away,
in the late fifties, he was mourned by the whole community.
During the war the Hebrew congregation in Houston
preserved its organization.


That the congregation was kept in existence was due to
the fact that in April, 1860, there came to Houston a family
that has played a prominent part in its history. Its head
was the Rev. Samuel Raphael, and the voyage from England
took 10 weeks and was made in a full rigged ship, “The
National Guard.” Captain Gates, embarking at Liverpool and
landing at Galveston. The ship was a merchantman and not
a passenger vessel, and the Raphael family which included the
Rabbi, his wife, Hannah, and six children, Joseph, Rebecca,
Emanuel, Moses, Sarah and Julia, were the only passengers.
Three members of this family still survive, E. Raphael, Mrs.
Rebecca Nussbaum and Miss Julia Raphael.
Rabbi Raphael, took charge of the Congregation Beth
Israel whose membership was only fifteen or twenty. Among
them were Sam Meyer, Sol. Hohenthal, Isaac Elsasser, Joe
Rosenfield, G. Gerson, Henry S. Fox, Sr., and Isaac Colman.
Only one member of the original congregation still survives,
Henry S. Fox, Sr., president of the Houston National Exchange
Rabbi Raphael labored faithfully, and it was mainly
through his efforts that the Congregation Beth Israel was
held together, and in the end converted into a virile force. He
was a man of great scholarship, an eloquent speaker and
possessed of much personal magnetism.
Owing to the troubled and disquieting days following the
close of the war, nothing was done towards erecting a suitable
house of worship by the members of Congregation Beth
Israel, until about 1869. That year, however, Benjamin and
Mose Raphael, sons of the Rabbi, I. Elsassor, A. Harris, A.
S. Fox, J. Harris, M. E. Stern and some others, went quietly
to work, raised sufficient funds, purchased a building site
on Franklin Avenue, and announced that they would erect
a suitable temple. On June 11, 1870, the Telegraph
announced that everything was in readiness and that the
corner-stone would be laid in a few days by Rev. Henry
S. Jacobs, chief Rabbi of the New Orleans Portugese Synagogue.
About 4 o'clock, Thursday, June 16, a procession of

fully 1,000 persons, consisting of Civil and Jewish organizations,
formed on Main Street, near the Masonic Temple, and
led by Schmidt's Band, marched to the site of the synagogue.
The corner-stone, a large block of marble, was swinging on
a tripod. A Divine blessing was asked by Rabbi Jacobs,
after which he informed the Grand Master of one of
Houston's Masonic organizations, the he was deputed by the
Congregation Beth Israel to request that the corner-stone of
its temple of worship should be laid with Masonic honors.
The stone, set in the northeast corner of the foundation,
was made the receptacle of the following articles: A record
of the corner-stone itself; some coins of different countries
of different denominations; some currency of different values
and countries; a roll of members of the congregation of Beth
Israel; a scroll of the Hebrew law; copies of the local newspapers;
a photograph and souvenir of Gerson Kursheedt, a
member of the congregation who had gone from Texas on a
mission to Palestine and had died there.
This Hebrew congregation in 1908, completed a handsome
new temple building that is one of the most modern church
structures in Houston. It was dedicated with elaborate
ceremonies. Dr. Henry Barnstein is Rabbi and has won fame
in musical as well as religious circles. The new temple Beth
Israel is located at the corner of Crawford and Lamar Street.
The Congregation Adath Geshurun worships in a handsome
synagogue located at the corner of Jackson Street and
Walker Avenue.
The first public meeting, in the interest of the Young
Men's Christian Association, in Houston was held one Sunday
afternoon, April, 1886, in Pillott's Opera House. There was
a large attendance of members of all the various denominations
in Houston, thus giving evidence that the people of Houston
were willing and ready to support such an institution. Many
pledges of support and membership were promptly given in
response to an invitation.
The following named gentlemen were chosen as a board
of directors: Col. Charles Stewart, Capt. W. D. Cleveland,

E. L. Dennis, John Kay, J. F. Dumble, Conrad Bering, Ed.
Smallwood, W. V. R. Watson, C. W. Alsworth, Dr. J. M.
Arnold, Rufus Cage, Y. M. Langdon.
The sum of $2,000, was raised easily within a few days,
and a permanent organization was effected and rooms were
secured in the Brown Building, corner of Main Street and
Texas Avenue, which were opened to the public on May 13,
1886. There was a reading room and a gymnasium, the latter
under the direction of Captain E. B. H. Schnider. It was
also announced that the parlor and lecture room would soon
be ready for occupancy and that members' tickets were being
prepared by the treasurer, Mr. J. F. Dumble.
The following named representative men were chosen as
officers to serve for the first two years: William D. Cleveland,
president; Y. M. Langdon, vice-president; James F. Dumble,
treasurer; Rufus Cage, recording secretary; J. W. Goodhue,
general secretary.
The following were chosen as a board of Directors:
Charles Stewart, Dr. James M. Arnold, Conrad Bering,
William Christian, W. V. R. Watson, E. L. Dennis, John
Kay, C. W. Alsworth, Ed Smallwood.
It was made the duty of the General Secretary, under
the direction of the board, to plan and carry out the objects
of the association.
The association occupied very humble and very inadequate
quarters for about twenty years, but in the latter part of
1906, the needs of the association for larger and more convenient
quarters became so apparent, that an organized
movement was inaugurated to raise $200,000, with which to
build the association a home of its own. The movement met
with popular favor at once. The city was aroused and
subscriptions poured in from citizens of every class until
the full amount was in hand. A site was purchased at the
corner of Fannin Street and McKinney Avenue, and the
following building committee was appointed: W. A. Wilson,
chairman; S. F. Carter, treasurer; E. W. Taylor, secretary;

Capt. James A. Baker, Jr., W. D. Cleveland, Sr., J. V. Dealy,
and J. B. Bowles.
Work was begun at once, and on October 17, 1907, the
corner-stone of the edifice was laid with impressive ceremony.
Secretary Scott, acting for the directors, arranged a programme
for the event.
First there was held a meeting at the old hall, after
which a procession was formed and the march taken up to
the new building, along Fannin Street. The ceremonies were
semi-religious but non-sectarian. The main feature was the
laying of the corner-stone by Captain Richmond Pearson
Hobson. The members of the building committee had actual
charge of the exercises. Mayor Rice represented the city,
while Captain W. D. Cleveland, who was the first president
of the association, acted as chairman.
On the evening of June 21, 1908, the formal opening
exercises of the Young Men's Christian Association took place
in the gymnasium of their new building. There was prayer,
scripture reading, music and eloquent addresses. The speakers
were: Hon. H. M. Garwood and Rev. Peter Gray Sears.
The building is five stories high and is beautifully finished
throughout. On the first floor are located the loby, or
reception room, a spacious reading room, the gymnasium,
swimming pool, hand ball court, bowling alley, dressing rooms,
each equipped with rockers and every arrangement for the
convenience and comfort of the members.
The assembly room, the lecture rooms, the study and class
rooms are on the second and part of the third floors, while
the rest of the building is devoted to apartments for roomers.
There are ninety-one rooms in all. All are of uniform size, and
neatly furnished.

[Back to top]

Education and Free Schools

Houston's Earliest Schools were Private Enterprises. Lack of
Proper School Facilities. The Houston Academy. Congressional
Appropriations for Public Schools. Free Schools
Flourished only after Civil War. Arguments Against the
System. Houston First City to Take Control of Her Schools.
City School Superintendents. Opening of Public Schools
in October, 1877. Comparative Growth from 1877 to 1909.
Scientific Features in City's Schools. Superintendent
Horn's Summary of Decade from 1901 to 1911. Private
School Enterprises.

The early Texans, and those of Houston particularly, placed
the cause of education far to the fore while planning for the
upbuilding of the new republic. Scarcely a public meeting was
held, where questions of public policy were discussed, that the
cause of education was not brought prominently forward. After
San Jacinto, and while the new Republic was largely in the formative
stages, nothing very tangible nor practical in the way of
concerted action by the people could be accomplished, but, even
at that time, successful efforts were being made to establish private
schools in Houston.
Unfortunately there is no record preserved of these very
early pioneers in the cause of education. Only a stray remark
or a chance allusion, here and there, go to show that soon after
Texas independence had been won, the school-master had taken
up the task of preserving and perpetuating it. The first reference
to a school in Houston is that of Mrs. Dilne Harris, who
says, in her reminiscences: “The second anniversary of the
battle of San Jacinto ad come and gone and mother said she
hoped there would be nothing else to distract us from our studies,
as the school would close in June. But there was another sensation.

One Monday morning in May, on our arrival at the school
house, we found the town covered with bills. A theatrical
company had arrived and would give the first performance Friday
night, June 11. This was the first theatrical company to
come to Texas. It not only ran the young people wild, but old
people were not much better.”
Professor H. F. Gillett announced in the Morning Star in
1844 that he had opened his Houston Academy, in the building
of the Telegraph, at Main and Preston Streets. Terms per
month for tuition in reading, writing and orthography, $2, par
funds; arithmetic, grammar and geography, $3; Latin, Greek,
mathematics, science and the higher branches of English education,
$4. He promised to teach all branches necessary to enter
any college in the United States.
The same year Professor W. J. Thurbur announced that he
had opened a school in the front room, second story, of Mr.
Dibble's building, corner of Main and Franklin Streets, where
he would teach geography, arithmetic, English grammar, natural
philosophy, ortheopy, orthography, history and composition and
that he would open in the same room a night school in which
English grammar would receive especial attention.
These two schools are the only early ones of which definite
information is obtainable. They were, as their advertisements
indicate, private schools. Two years later, however, something
more definite in the way of public action was taken. In pursuance
to notices in the public prints, there assembled in the Methodist
church in Houston, January 2, 1846, a number of teachers
and friends of education. The meeting was opened by prayer,
by Rev. C. Gillett. Rev. C. Richardson was chosen president of
the convention and Peter W. Gray, secretary. Rev. C. Gillett,
Rev. C. Richardson, Gen. Hugh McLeod, John H. Walton, John
Sayles and James Bailey were constituted a committee to consider
and report to the convention, means to further its ends and
promote the cause of education.
A few evenings later another meeting was held at which
this committee made its report. It favored the adoption of uniform
text-books by the private and public schools of Texas a

memorial to be addressed to the legislature of the state at its
first session; the establishment of a monthly journal to be devoted
to the cause of education; the appointment of a standing committee
to which persons desiring to make teaching their business
might apply for positions and to which committee communities
needing teachers might look for supplies; the appointment
of six committees to report at the next meeting; measures for a
permanent organization and to make suggestions along different
lines on subjects of interest to the body; and the appointment
of suitable persons to deliver addresses on the subject of education
at the next meeting. Many of these ideas have been
since carried out but little was accomplished at the time.
In March, 1853, the Houston Academy was opened by Messrs.
A. W. Boyd and H. Moore, A. B., who brought to Houston high
testimonials as to their character and ability as teachers. They
announced that in the academy, pupils would be “instructed
in all the branches of science that are taught in the first academies
in the Union.”
The annual examination and exhibition of the Houston Male
and Female Academy was held about the middle of September,
1857, by James Alexander Bolinger, principal. The Scholastic
year for 1858 began February 1. Early in that year Professor
M. B. Franklin and Mrs. Franklin, from Kentucky, became
associated with Professor Bolinger in the management of the
In October, 1857, there were ten schools in successful operation
in Houston. They were those of Mr. Bolinger, Mrs. Styles,
Mrs. Green, Miss Maher, Mr. and Mrs. Cunningham. Rev. C.
Braun, Professor Ruter and sister, Miss Kate Van Alstyne, Miss
K. Payne and Mrs. H. X. Cotton. Yet in spite of the large number
of schools there was not sufficient room for the children of the
city. Most of the schools were very small affairs, the pupils
being huddled together in one small room. The citizens of Houston
long suffered for schools adequate to the needs of the community
and for this reason alone many children were sent away
to obtain an education that should have been obtained at home.
Perhaps the greatest disadvantage was the lack of suitable

quarters adapted to the requirements of different departments
of educational work. There was no building capable of accommodating
not only the primary schools, but advanced schools as
well—schools in which everything from the rudiments to the
higher branches could be taught. Attempts were made from
time to time to meet this demand. In 1857 there were a number
of good schools, all well patronized, but all of them in rooms
not at all adapted to their needs. The best of these was in
Masonic Hall, corner of Main and Capitol Streets and while
there were fewer than 100 pupils in attendance it was crowded.
All the other rooms in Houston, devoted to school purposes, would
accommodate less than 200 pupils and it was estimated that there
were 600 children of school age in Houston at that time. Mr.
James H. Stevens had willed to the city $5,000 to be devoted to
the building of an academy, whenever $10,000 should be contributed
by the citizens for that purpose. Including this amount
$17,000 was available at the end of 1856, for the establishment
of such a school, which sum it was proposed to increase to $20,000.
Some time before this the block on which the present High
School Stands, had been purchased, and some steps toward the
erection of a building had been taken. It had been planned that
the proposed building should cost perhaps $15,000 and that the
remaining $5,000 of the proposed fund should be held available
for a library and for astronomical apparatus.
A meeting of prominent citizens was held; the necessary
funds to complete the amount needed were subscribed at once
and on September 17, 1857, the corner stone of the Houston
Academy was laid. It was made a big event by the people of
The Houston Academy was completed early in the summer
of 1858. It was a brick structure, 64 x 84 feet, of composite
architecture, with a large open cupola with Ionic columns, which
was surmounted by a gilded globe. Its height from base to
cornice was 45 feet. The entire cost of the building was $21,000.
The Houston Academy was not a public school, though it
was under the management of a board of directors, consisting of
several leading citizens interested in the cause of education. Col.

Wm. J. Hutchins was chairman of this board and it was through
his influence that Dr. Asbel Smith was induced to act as principal
of the school when it began its first session.
When Professor Partridge expressed a willingness to take
charge of the school, Doctor Smith retired. Professor Partridge
resigned as principal of the Academy about 1859 and was succeeded
by Reverend Doctor Hutcherson who had been professor
of Latin and Greek at the Oxford University in Mississippi.
Doctor Hutcherson remained in charge of the Academy until
about 1863 or '64, when owing to failing health, he resigned, and
his work was taken up by Prof. W. J. Hancock, a ripe scholar
and an experienced educator. Professor Hancock remained in
charge of the school for several years. He was succeeded by Professor
Fitzgerald, who had formerly occupied a chair in Baylor
University, when that institution was located at Independence,
Washington County. Under Professor Fitzgerald's management
the Academy grew in popular favor and the attendance became
very large. However the Academy was a pay institution, so,
when, in the early seventies, the first free-schools were opened,
the attendance dropped off to such an extent that the Academy,
after a desultory existence, was forced to the wall. Then the
Academy association got in financial difficulties and the school
was closed until, when the city took charge of its own schools,
its doors were thrown open and it became the High School.
The constitution adopted by Mexico, in 1824, made it the
imperative duty of the government to educate the masses. When
Texas and Coahuila became a state of the Mexican Republic, its
constitution declared that public schools were necessary to the
life and development of a free people. Yet, under Mexico, little
was actually done towards the advancement of public education,
beyond the enactment of school laws and setting aside portions
of land for the support of schools that were not established, and
when Texas declared her independence, one of the most serious
of her many grievances was that the mother country had failed
to establish a system of public education for the people.
In 1839, the Texas Congress set aside three leagues (13,284
acres) of public land as school lands, in each county, the proceeds

to be devoted to the establishment of a permanent school
fund. In 1840, another league for each county was added to
this appropriation, but the population was so sparse and public
money so searce that nothing practical was accomplished. In
1845, when Texas was admitted to the Union, her state constitution
set aside one-tenth of the revenue derived from taxation for
a permanent school fund. In five years Texas had 349 public
schools, 360 teachers and 7,964 pupils. In 1854 the state system
was improved and the school fund received a donation of two
million dollars in United States bonds. The school revenue in
1860 was $80,984.
It was not until after the Civil War that free schools became
active and vital forces. Being so admirably equipped and having
such material resources for the successful inauguration of a
permanent school system, it is amazing that the state should have
delayed so long in adopting a plan. The true explanation of the
delay probably lies in the fact that conditions existing in Texas
before the war, were such as existed nowhere else. While there
was no aristocracy in one sense of the word, yet there was an
aristocracy in another sense. The people were divided into two
classes, the rich and the poor, just as they are today, with this
difference, that the rich were slave owners and were either planters,
lawyers, doctors, or professional men, while the poor were
small farmers, tradesmen, laborers, or men of no calling whatever.
Social lines were not tightly drawn, it is true, still they
were drawn, with the result that there was no unity of purpose
or opinion on any subject that involved such close social intercourse
as it was thought the public school would bring about.
The well-to-do were able and did educate their own children,
and thought it unfair, having done this duty to themselves and
state, that they should be taxed further for the education of the
children of others. On the other side, the poorer classes resented
the idea of having their children educated at a charitable institution
as they believed the public school to be. Thus it is seen
that there was much work in the way of educating the people,
of both classes, to a proper understanding of the real meaning
and scope of a public school, before the wishes and intentions

of the founders of the Republic could be put in practical operation.
During the continuation of the great war, all public schools
were practically suspended and the school fund was expended
for other purposes than education. In 1866, the office of State
Superintendent of Education was created and a State Board of
Education, consisting of the Governor, the Comptroller and the
State Superintendent of Education was established. Those were
“reconstruction days” however. The Governor and other State
officials were outsiders who had been appointed to their offices
by the United States Government, and were considered interlopers.
They were all what was known as “Black Republicans”
and necessarily had but little influence with the great mass of
Texans, who regarded their every act with suspicion and distrust.
Under conditions such as these it is not surprising that
very little was accomplished in the way of establishing schools
on a safe and proper basis until nearly a decade later.
The constitution of the state required that the public schools
should be open for six months each year. As this was impossible
with no other funds than that derived from the school fund, provision
was made for levying a special school tax in each school
district. Such school districts were given authority, in addition
to levying the special school tax, to build school houses, employ
competent instructors and to put the schools under professional
superintendents who were held responsible for their good conduct
and advancement. In 1876 only two districts in the state had taken
advantage of this law and assumed control of their schools, but
in 1906 their were 389 independent districts and 2217 common
school districts levying local taxes. These results were obtained
largely through assistance given by the Peabody fund, by the
aid of which also the Sam Houston State Normal School was
Houston was practically the first city to take charge of its
public schools. At a public meeting, held March 1, 1870, after
some discussion, a petition and bill, prepared by the School Committee,
were voted on and adopted, and it was determined to
submit a memorial to the voters of the city for signatures. If

this memorial were well indorsed, as it was believed it would be,
it was hoped that when the legislature convened Houston would
have the management of her public educational institutions
placed in her own hands.
The committee having the matter in hand, were surprised
to meet with the strongest opposition when they circulated the
petition for signatures. This opposition came from several
sources. The opposition used the old argument that a public
school must necessarily be a charity school. This idea being dispelled
they claimed that such institutions were undesirable because
of the mixed social conditions they would bring about. Such arguments
as these were easily refuted but there were others not so
easily overcome.
At that time strong sectional and political feeling existed.
Not only the people who opposed the schools but the politicians,
who cared little or nothing about the schools themselves, as
schools, but who saw in their proposed establishment a powerful
political weapon, attacked the idea vigorously. These gentlemen
argued that books, many of them of undesirable political complexion,
would be forced on the public; that teachers, all chosen
from one political party, would conduct the schools for partisan
ends, and that a large part of the taxes levied would go for the
support of some hungry politician as superintendent. In reply
to these arguments it was pointed out that suitable books could
be selected by a convention of experienced and reputable educators,
and that a good board of school directors would select
teachers, not because of their political beliefs but because of their
qualifications as educators and their ability to teach. It was
shown that if a board of school directors so far forgot themselves
as to select ignoramuses or political hacks for teachers, such
directors could be easily kicked out and good men put in their
Those on both sides of the question were sincere in the
position they took, and both were united on one thing, which
was a desire and determination to remove the schools and the
cause of education out of polities. The friends of the measure
believed that the only thing to do was to establish the schools.

Mistakes and blunders could be corrected as they were discovered.
If for any reason the system should fail, wholly or in part, then
the people, having had experience in such matters, would be in
position to put in operation a better system; under a republican
form of government public education was imperative and no
obstacle should be placed in the way of any movement looking
to its establishment.
The petition received the indorsement of the people, was forwarded
to Austin, and the authority was given Houston to
assume the management and control of her public schools. But
there was too much opposition to the plan and nothing practical
was accomplished. There were public schools here but they
were controlled and largely managed by the State Superintendent
at Austin, who, it was claimed, furnished the local opposition
with a strong argument, by appointing his political friends
to the better positions.
The public schools of Houston thus remained in an unorganized
condition until December 5, 1877, when by a vote of the
people, the city took charge of the schools. The schools were
thoroughly organized the following year. The first superintendent
of the public schools of Houston was Professor H. H. Smith,
who served from 1877 to 1879, when he resigned to take charge
of the State Normal School at Huntsville. Professor E. N.
Clopper was elected superintendent, when Professor Smith
retired, and died while in office in 1880. The Board selected
Professor F. E. Burnet as Professor Clopper's successor, but
difficulties arose and Professor Burnet resigned. He was followed
by Professor Foute, who served from 1882 until 1884 when he
was forced to resign on account of failing health, dying soon
after. Professor J. E. Dow then became superintendent, serving
from 1885 until 1887. Professor W. S. Sutton, a noted
educator, served from 1887 until 1902. In 1903, Professor P.
W. Horn was elected superintendent and has held the office
ever since.
There have been many chairmen of the school board since
the organization of the Houston schools, but perhaps the greatest
credit for the success of the schools belongs to the first chairman,

Captain E. W. Taylor, who served from 1876 to 1886, and who
was superintendent, pro tem, several times. Doctor Sears, agent
for the Peabody trustees, was largely instrumental in getting the
people of Houston to take charge of their public schools and
secured from that fund a yearly appropriation of $2,000 for
the schools. Mr. Charles E. Shearn, during his service as alderman
inaugurated the movement to build better school buildings
and in other ways further the cause of education.
The public schools opened October 1st, 1877, under the
present system and the following extract from the Houston Age,
of October 2, describes the occasion under the heading. “Opening
of the Houston Public Schools.” The Age says: “Yesterday
morning might have been seen bright eyed little boys and
girls, satchels and baskets in hand, wending their way through
every portion of the city, seeking different routes to their respectively
assigned schools. At an early hour an Age reporter sought
Professor Smith, and with him made the rounds. There are fourteen
public schools in different parts of the city, which, adapted to
different wards, are necessarily situated some distance apart,
consequently want of time prevented us from visiting the entire
number. Eight, however, were visited and we found the teachers
of these highly elated with their most promising beginning, and
speaking in the most flattering terms of their newly formed
young acquaintances.
“We can candidly say that, despite all that has been urged
to the contrary, we have never witnessed a more refined and
intelligent-looking class of pupils than we found yesterday in
our public schools.
“The schools are patronized by our best and most prominent
citizens and are conducted by some of the most intelligent ladies
in Houston. In short, the public schools of Houston are pervaded
throughout with a spirit of refinement seldom found in institutions
of a like character.
“In our most pleasant journey with Professor Smith, we
found that gentleman fully alive to the onerous labors attending
his highly responsible position. * * * * *
“Our first visit was paid to the white school of the Third

ward, where we found Miss C. G. Forshey, who as principal,
was assisted by Mrs. M. T. Reddish. They were busily engaged
in assigning the many pupils to the various grades and classes.
Miss Forshey was much pleased with her school. She had under
her charge fifty girls and fifty boys, ranging from the first to the
sixth grades. In cleanliness, good appearance and polite deportment
Miss Forshey's school would be hard to surpass. We
may here mention that the pupils are graded according to their
mathematical proficiency, the first grades being most primary.
“After leaving the Third we visited the Fourth ward, in
which, confining ourselves to this side of the bayou, we found five
public schools. The first on our way was that conducted by Mrs.
Z. M. Noble, as principal, assisted by Miss Becky Hillyard. In this
Noble, as principal, assisted by Miss Becky Hillyard. In this
school were 63 pupils, 39 in the second grade and 24 in the first
grade. This school house is beautifully situated on Dallas Street,
with a large play-ground and other modern school conveniences.
The pupils are bright, intelligent children who gave marked
attention to the preliminary instruction of Professor Smith,
who greeted all the teachers and pupils with encouraging
“The school of Mrs. M. H. Wynne, in the same ward, numbered
21 pupils, all in the sixth grade and taught by Mrs. Wynne
herself. This is the only school confined to one grade and that
an advanced one. Here Professor Smith made an examination
which reflected great credit on Mrs. Wynne.
“Mrs. Kate de Pelchin, also in the Fourth ward, has under
her efficient charge 13 boys and 18 girls, in the fourth and fifth
“In the Second ward, near the Union Depot, is situated the
school for that district. It is under the able supervision of
Miss Annie Jones, assisted by Mrs. W. M. Roper. These ladies
have a new building for their school which has 50 in the first
grade and 24 in the second.
“In the same neighborhood is the colored school for the
Second ward. There are 72 pupils in this school, ranging from the

first to the fourth grade. Mrs. C. E. Johnson is principal. She
is assisted by Mrs. J. T. McGee.
“The Third ward colored school is taught by Mrs. L. C.
Fisher and H. Dibble, both colored, the former acting as principal
and the latter as assistant. They have 89 pupils ranging
from the first to the fourth grades.
“Gregory Institute is the colored school for the Fourth ward,
the largest school in the city. H. C. Hardy, principal; A. Osborn
and Miss Brinkley, assistants; all colored. The pupils number
170, ranging from the first to the seventh grades.”
No details of the teachers or enrollment for the other schools
were given by the Age, but at a meeting of the teachers and
school officials, held October the 13th, Professor Smith made the
following report:
“First ward—whites attending, 78; Second ward, 110;
Third ward, 118; Fourth ward, 146; Fourth ward south of the
bayou—195, making the total of white pupils 617. The number
last Saturday was a total of 512, thus showing an increase of
more than 100 during the week. The total number of pupils
attending the colored schools is 618, an increase of one over the
whites. This makes the grand total 1,235 attending our public
schools, increasing the number nearly 300 since the opening.”
At that meeting Superintendent Smith expressed himself
as greatly pleased with such results and expressed confidence in
the successful future of the great work that had been placed in
his hands. At that meeting the Board of School Trustees issued
the following notice:
“Editors of the Age:—The public schools of Houston are
now in operation and working in a satisfactory manner, and the
Board of Trustees report with pleasure that the number of
pupils is daily increasing.
“In view of the fact that there is a large number of children
in attendance who are under eight years of age and over fourteen
years, the trustees would call the attention of parents and guardians
to section 7 of an ordinance to establish and provide for
public schools in Houston, which reads as follows: ‘All children
between the ages of eight and fourteen years, living in the

city, shall be entitled to the benefits of the available school fund
of the city under this ordinance, without regard to race or color.
No child shall be admitted to the public schools of the city who
does not reside in the city, and white and colored children shall,
in all cases, be taught in separate schools.’ signed, E. W. Taylor,
B. C. Simpson, R. Cotter, Board of Trustees.”
The public schools having been successfully inaugurated,
and the people having perfect confidence in the gentlemen who
had control of them, all opposition ceased and since then the
course of the schools has ever been upward. Many changes have
been made and improvements introduced, but the fundamental
basis of the system is today the same as that adopted in 1877.
The growth of the schools has kept pace with the growth of the
city of Houston. In 1877 the schools opened with an attendance
of 1,235. During the first week of the session 1885–86, there
was an enrollment of 1,725, and this enrollment had grown to
3,604 in 1891. The following facts, taken from an address made
by Prof. P. W. Horn, superintendent of the Houston Schools,
shows how phenomenal had been the growth of the scholastic
population of Houston and of the schools under his charge up to
the close of 1909:
“The city schools furnish perhaps the best means of indicating
the real growth of the city. While the United States
Government takes a census of all the people every ten years, the
state of Texas counts her school children every year. In this
way the school census, most of the time, furnishes later information
than the government census. For instance the government
census of 1900 made Houston the second city in the state, the
school census of 1909 indicated that Houston was the first city
in the state, though she was surpassed a year later by San
Antonio, according to the government count. Houston had
17,115 children of the school age, while no other city in the state
had as much as 17,000. If you would trace the growth of the
city it may be done by reference to the school census of different
years. For instance, in 1900 the school census was 8,492, or
less than half of what it was in 1909. This shows that our population
had more than doubled in nine years. In 1891, on the

other hand, we had 6,330 children of school age. In eighteen
years the population had almost multiplied by 3. Back in 1881
there were 2,861 children of school age on the census roll. This
means that in 28 years to 1909 Houston's school population was
more than multiplied by six. In 1880 the government census
gave the total population of Houston as 16,664. In other words
there were in 1880 fewer people, of all ages in Houston than
there were school children in 1909. In 1881 there were actually
enrolled in school 1,010 white and 786 colored children, 1,796 in
all. In 1908 there were actually enrolled in school 10,631 children.
There were in 1909 more children in the high school
building and the Fannin building together, than there were,
white and colored, in all the schools in Houston in 1881. In 1881
there were 19 white and 11 colored teachers—30 in all—employed
in the city schools. In 1909 there were more than 30 employed
in the high school alone. The session of that year employed 202
white and 62 colored teachers, 264 in all. The next session demanded
the services of approximately 300 teachers. Of the
teachers employed in 1881, only one. Professor G. Duvernoy,
remained with the faculty in 1909.
“In 1881 the entire expenditure of the city school system
for maintenance was $15,369.24. In 1909 it amounted to $231,636.56.
In 1881 the average salary of teachers was $43.53 a
month. In 1909 it approximated $65. In 1881, there were 7
school buildings for whites and 5 for colored children. In 1909
there were 16 for whites and 10 for colored children. The
average number of rooms to the building had greatly increased
also. In 1903–04 there were 8,811 children enrolled; in the
session of 1908–09, there were 10,651. The actual increase in
enrollment was 1,840. In 1903–04, there were 147 white and 53
colored teachers employed, making 200 in all. The 266 teachers
of 1908 showed a growth of the teaching force of nearly one-third.
In the matter of school buildings there was even a greater
degree of progress within the five years ending 1909. Within
that period the city had erected 5 new brick buildings, for
white children—the Allen, Reagan, Lubbock, Lamar and Travis
school buildings—and 3 substantial frame buildings for colored

children—those of the Douglass, Luckie and Dunbar schools.
It gave in the same period, additional rooms at the Jones, Dow,
Taylor, Hawthorne, Austin and Longfellow schools for white,
and at the Gregory school for colored children. At the end of
the period there was in course of erection an annex to the high
school building that would add 30 per cent to its capacity. The
high school annex was completed in 1910 and the additional
enrollment for that year was about 1,200 pupils.
“Without entering upon the discussion of a political question,
it is but justice to call attention to the dates given in the
foregoing, which show that all these great improvements have
been made since the adoption of the commission form of government.
For some years previous to the adoption of that form
of government, the schools had received only perfunctory attention;
had, in a measure, been permitted to languish, and but
little or no advance had been made. So soon as the commission
form was adopted, the schools were given that intelligent attention
their great importance demanded and wonderful changes
were wrought. In carrying out their liberal and progressive
policy towards the schools, the commissioners have frequently
had to discount the future and anticipate the growth of the city.
This has not always met with the approval and indorsement of
even some of the best friends of the schools, but results have
shown the wisdom of the city fathers. A notable example of this
was when the Fannin school was located on its present site. It
was considered to be away out in the suburbs and some of the
best citizens asked the school board why they did not locate the
school in Galveston at once and be done with it. The school
was located as originally planned, however, and by 1909, it was
one of the most crowded schools in the city. The Allen school
now divides the district which the Fannin at first had to serve,
and there is a growing demand for a third school in the same
district. In 1896 there were only six rooms in the Sidney Sherman
school in the Fifth ward. In 1909 there was a 12-room building
and another 12-room building and an 8-room building in
the same old district.
“The opposition spoken of did not spring from enmity to

the schools or to those in charge of them, but was due entirely to
a failure on the part of a large number of the most intelligent
citizens, to realize the phenomenal growth and expansion of
Houston. They desired to be conservative, that was all. As
already noted they objected to the Fannin school, but that objection
was as peaceful acquiescence compared to the storm of indignation
that broke out when the present high school was erected.
The school board was accused of stupendous extravagance in
erecting a high school building larger than the city would need
in a hundred years. In fourteen years the building was not only
full, but an annex had to be added increasing its capacity one-third,
despite which, it is now painfully crowded An idea of the
rapid growth of the school population of Houston may be
formed from the statement that the schools opened with 1,300
pupils more in 1908–9 than on the opening day of the previous
session. This indicates that the later growth is the larger
growth in the city schools.
“All that has been said in the foregoing refers solely to what
may be termed the material side of the schools. The real value
of an educational system cannot be shown by an array of figures
nor estimated by the outlay of dollars and cents. There is a
higher and better standard of measurement—the intellectual
and practical development of the system. In this regard the
people of Houston have every reason to take pride in their
schools, for it has been the constant aim of those schools to
minister more and more largely to the practical necessities as
well as to the intellectual development of the pupils who attend
them. It is aimed to give to each boy and girl that which will
best fit him or her to meet the actual duties of practical life.
With this end in view manual training and domestic science have
been installed in the schools. The boys are taught to use their
hands, for most of them will have to use their hands when it
comes to a question of earning a living, and all of them will
have to use their hands to some extent. The boys are taught
practical work in regular work shops. Wood work, carpentry,
blacksmith and machine work; in fact everything that will tend
to make them practical workers when the time comes for them

to face the serious problems of life. The girls are taught domestic
science. The teaching is not theoretical but intensely practical.
Classes of girls are actually at work learning not only
the value of food, but how to prepare and cook it. Sewing is
also taught and thus the girls turned out by the Houston schools
are more thoroughly equipped for life's duties. The business
course at the high school is another feature of great practical
value. It affords boys and girls an opportunity to obtain
a knowledge of bookkeeping, stenography and typewriting. Many
who have taken that course are holding responsible positions and
filling them well. The night school is another valuable feature
of the Houston schools. This, too, is a development of recent
years. Every pupil enrolled has to furnish evidence that he is
employed in the daytime. No pupil under twelve years of age is
admitted. Many pupils over school age have been admitted, some
grown men in business. Most of the latter are foreigners anxious
to learn the English language. Young women, employed in the
daytime, have been taught to cook and sew. Young men, at
work in shops in the daytime, have been taught mechanical
drawing and other technical things essential to their progress
as artisans. Many boys and girls employed in stores come at
night for education that will add to their efficiency as workers.
“At the Rusk school in the Second ward, particular effort
is made to adopt the work to special needs. At this school there
is manual training work, domestic science work and kindergarten
work. There is a special room for exceptional and subnormal
pupils, one of the few in the Southern States.
“In 1909 there were four kindergartens connected with the
Houston public school system; one each at the following schools;
Allen, Rusk, Reagan and Travis. The expense of maintaining
these kindergarten schools is borne by organizations outside the
regular schools.
“The organization of ‘a mothers' club’ for active work at
each school has been of inestimable assistance and benefit. Most
of these clubs have been in existence only since 1907 and in 1908
and 1909, they expended in money, $21,548.18, besides the great

amount of personal attention and work given by the members.
These sums and efforts increase in amounts each year.”
The Mothers Clubs and the Art League have aided the progressive
scientific movements in the Houston schools. Hygenic
lunches, at all the schools, trained nurses at some of them, the
examination of the eyes of all the children by the school oculist
Dr. W. W. Ralston and medical lectures by specialists and
physicians, all of these things have marked the distinctive progressive
spirit of the Houston schools under Superintendent
Horn, the ablest public school educator in the state, who combines
scholarship with rare executive and practical ability.
The teachers and principals of the schools are still miserably
underpaid and that fact constitutes the shame of the city in connection
with its public schools. That so capable a corps of educators
can be recruited for so ridiculously small a remuneration as
is paid them, is one of the civic mysteries. Visitors and committees
from many cities are wont to come to Houston to study the
advanced methods and equipment of the public schools here.
Professor P. W. Horn, superintendent of Houston's public
schools, thus summarizes the history of the schools for the decade
ending October 1, 1911:
“Ten years ago Houston had just heard the returns from the
federal census and was proud to know that her population was
given as 44,633. Now she has just learned that the census gives
her 78,800 people, and she is disappointed even at that figure.
“At that time the streets of Houston were practically all
unpaved and the highest business buildings were only a few
stories high. Now she has miles of paving of various kinds, with
numbers of office buildings from 10 to 16 stories high.
“The schools have grown as much in the ten years as has the
city itself. At that time the scholastic census said that there
were 8,492 children of school age. Now the census says that we
have 19,112. It is a fact that the former census was based on
the ages from 8 to 17 and that the present census has added a
year and counts children from 7 to 17. The addition of this year
accounts for the fact that the school census has grown so much
more rapidly than the federal census indicates.


“Ten years ago there were actually in school 7,253 children.
Last year there were 12,868.
“Ten years ago we had 16 school buildings, with 107 school
rooms. Last year we had 26 school buildings and 299 school
“Ten years ago we had 147 teachers. Now we have 325.
“The enrollment in the high school has increased even more
rapidly than that in the school systems as a whole. Ten years
ago there were 544 pupils enrolled in the white high school building.
Last year there were 1,018. While the schools as a whole
have increased 77 per cent, the pupils in the high school have
increased 87 per cent.
“Ten years ago the total value of all the school property of
the city was $430,250. Last year it was $1,000,000.
“Ten years ago, of the ten buildings for white children, five
were brick and five were frame. Of the six buildings for colored
pupils, one was brick and five were frame.
“Probably the most striking of the things that have been
added to the schools during the past ten years are the subjects
of manual training and domestic science. These departments
are the growth of the last five years and are probably among the
most popular features of the schools.
“In the domestic science department work of similar practical
value is done for girls. They are taught to cook and to
sew. Their cooking is not confined to desserts, or to fancy dishes
but includes those things which the average girl is likely to
need to know how to cook in the home of her parents, or in her
own. The sewing which the girls learn is the kind which they
will need in their actual every-day lives.
“Ten years ago there was little or no special attention given
to the physical development or welfare of the school children.
Now we have a physical director who looks after the physical
development of all the school children, and also a woman who
gives all of her time to the physical development of the girls of
the high school. Not only is there formal gymnastic training in
the gymnasium of the high school, and in the outdoor gymnasiums

at a number of the ward schools, but there are schedules
of games and of contests between the various schools.
“Ten years ago all the children in the schools were using the
community drinking cups. Now in most of the buildings, hygienic
drinking fountains have been installed so that the children
drink without touching their lips to a vessel of any kind, and
thus avoid one fruitful source of the transmission of germs of
contageous diseases.
“Even up to three years ago there was no medical inspection
for the school children. If a teacher thought that a child had
measles or smallpox, or that his eyes looked as if they might be
contagiously sore, she acted on her own judgment and sent the
pupil home. Now we have a paid medical inspector who examines
all of the children once a year, and examines special cases at any
time they may be sent to him. He excludes from school, children
whose physical condition is such that their presence in the
room might endanger the health of the other children. There
is also a school nurse who goes into the homes of the people
when it may be necessary and assists with her advice, seeing to
it that the suggestions of the doctor are carried out. This work
has done at great deal. Not only for the welfare of the children
who were directly affected, but also for the others, by keeping
them from the danger of contagion.
“In most of our buildings today there are rest rooms, or
emergency hospital rooms fitted up for use by teacher or pupil in
case of sickness or accident. Many of them are of such nature that
they would be a credit even in a modern hospital.
“Ten years ago it is probable that there was not a piano in
any one of the public school buildings of Houston. Now there
is at least one in every school building for white children. Some
buildings have two or three pianos. A number of the colored
schools possess pianos. The influence of the piano in giving
instruction to the pupils and in the more matter of coming into
and out of the building is greater than one would at first suppose.
“At several of the school buildings now there are also graphophones,
with records of classical music for the benefit of the
children. At a number of these same buildings there are stereopticons

and stereoscopes with views to be used in illustrating
the work in history and geography. The stereopticon is one of
the strong factors in the work of a good modern school. In
many instances the stereopticon, the phonograph and the piano
have not cost the board anything, but were purchased by the
Mothers' Club at the building.
“This brings us to one of the most vital of all the improvements
made in the past ten years, namely, the Mothers' Clubs.
Ten years ago there were no mothers' clubs in our schools. Now
there is one at every building for white children and at several
of the buildings for colored children. During the past five years
these clubs have raised and have expended for the schools the sum
of $38,070.67. This has, for the most part, been expended for
things the board could not at the time have secured.
“However, this sum of money gives only a faint idea of the
real greatness of the work of the Mothers' Club.
“Ten years ago there were no night schools connected with
our city system. During last year there were such schools with an
enrollment of 524 boys and girls, men and women. There is no
age limit in the night schools. In some instances men of 40 to
50 years of age attend. The schools are intended for people who
must work during the daytime, but who still are desirous of
obtaining more education. An effort is made to teach the simplest
and most practical things, which the students will put to the greatest
use in actual life. For instance, there are classes in reading,
writing, arithmetic and spelling. There are also classes
in cabinet making, mechanical drawing and forging for the boys. There
are classes in cooking and sewing for the girls. There are classes
in bookkeeping, in typewriting and in stenography. There are
special classes for foreigners who desire to learn to speak and
read and write the English language. These classes are held
three nights in the week, on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
They are making it possible for the man or woman past school
age, or for the child of school age who must help support the
family, to obtain the education that will be of the greatest practical
“In recent years also there has been a marked movement in

favor of the socialization of our school buildings and the widest
possible use of our school plants. The present idea is that the
schools are for the education not of the children alone, but of
the community as a whole. Organizations that have for their
object the betterment of the community are welcomed to the
use of the building. Improvement clubs hold meetings and lectures
are given in the school building. The health of the community
is considered and lectures on matters of hygiene are
given from time to time.
“There has also been a distinct change in the standards of
school buildings to be erected. Years ago, the city stopped puting
up frame buildings for the white school children. During
the past year it has been definitely adopted as a policy that no
school buildings will in the future be erected that are not fire-proof.
It was also decided that all school buildings to be erected
in the future should be constructed along the most modern ideas
as to heating, lighting and ventilation; should have auditoriums
and should be so constructed as to be capable of the widest possible
use by the community.
“The first of these new buildings to be built will doubtless be
the one to take the place of the old Rusk school, which burned
last year. The plans that have been drawn for this building are
such as to mark a new epoch in the history of school house construction
in Texas. When the proceeds of the bond issue of
$500,000 voted by the people last May, shall become available,
all of the wooden buildings for white school children in the city
will be torn down and will be replaced with modern buildings of
the kind indicated above. This will mark the last of the old
regime, so far as school buildings in Houston are concerned.
“The handling of the financial details of the schools has also
been revolutionized in recent years. They are now in the hands
of the business representatives of the school board. He looks
after such matters as the purchase of supplies, the making of
repairs, the keeping of accounts. By giving all his time to the
work, he is able, with the help of an assistant, to keep matters
in systematic order. He can tell at a moment's notice how much
has been spent for a given purpose up to a given time and how

much of the year's appropriation for that purpose remains
“It may be interesting in conclusion to speculate as to the
progress of the next ten years. If the same ratio of increase
is kept up, which prevailed during the past ten years, Houston
will have a population of 138,688, without making any allowance
for territorial expansions. There will be 22,776 pupils enrolled
in the schools, which is 10,000 more than we have today. There
will be 42 school buildings instead of 26. There will be 2,083
pupils in the white high school alone.”
1900–01 1910–11
Total population, census 1900 44,633 78,800
Children in scholastic census 8,492 19,112
Children enrolled in city schools 7,253 12,868
Number of school buildings 16 26
Number of school rooms 107 299
Number of teachers 147 325
Pupils in white high school 544 1,018
Value of all school property $430,250 $1,000,000
In addition to its splendid public schools Houston has a
number of denominational and private schools. The Academy
of the Sacred Heart and St. Agnes Academy, both owned and
controlled by the Catholics are high-grade preparatory schools
and have been mentioned elsewhere in this volume. The Barnett
school is a first-class academy for boys, and the Misses Waldo
have built up in Westmoreland a select school for girls that is
in high repute. There are other private schools of repute and
the Y. M. C. A. teaches night classes in many subjects that are
giving valuable training to those unable or unqualified to attend
the public schools. Two business colleges, Draughan's and
Massey's colleges do a flourishing business and there is a dental
school that gives special training in dental surgery and confers
the degree of D. D. S., on its graduates.
At the several hospitals and the bacteriological department
of the city hall laboratory work and studies in microscopy are

carried on. Nothing more is attempted in this work in regard to
the private schools than to mention several of the more prominent
of them. The greatest educational enterprise in Houston, the
Rice Institute is unique in history and character and will be
treated in a separate chapter.
The district schools of Harris County were organized in
1884 under the jurisdiction and management of the county judge
and commissioners court, composed of Hon. E. P. Hamblen,
Frank S. Burke, Robert Blalock, H. C. Throckmorton and George
Ellis. The county was divided into 30 school districts which
number has been increased to 52.
L. F. Smith was the first superintendent. Henry B. Cline
and B. L. James also served prior to the election of Professor L.
L. Pugh, who has served for the past nine years, and under his
jurisdiction the county schools have reached their present high
plane as indicated by the following statistics taken from his
annual report of August 3, 1911:
There were then 161 teachers employed, 10 male and 151
female, and the scholastic population was 6,177. There were
82 school buildings for white schools and 31 for colored, of which
18 were brick and 95 frame, with a total valuation of $262,000.
The amount paid to teachers was $60,530. W. G. Smiley, J. S.
Deady, R. L. Robinson, Dr. L. C. Hanna and Dr. E. E. Grant
compose the present Harris County Board of Education.

[Back to top]

The Rice Institute

Houston's Inheritance Through a Tragedy. The Story of a
Famous Crime. A Princely Gift. A Biography of William
M. Rice. The Initial Donation. A Continuating Benevolence.
The Monument to the Childless Man. William M.
Rice as Philanthropist and Business Man. Dr. Edgar Odell
Lovett elected President of the Institute. Laying the Corner
Stone. The City's Dominant Institution.

Inheriting through a tragedy, on Sunday evening, September
23, 1900, at 7:30 o'clock, the people of the city of Houston became
the legal heir of a kind, old man, and as the beneficiaries of his
bounty became rightfully entitled to about $4,000,000 which had
been set aside for educational purposes, to be administered by
trustees in behalf of Houston's white citizens and their children.
The donor, dying at that hour at the hand of his trusted
body servant, was truly the victim of his generosity to the
people of Houston and sealed his gift with his own blood, for the
knowledge that the gift had been made, led, according to
testimony credited by the highest courts, to one of the most
gigantic conspiracies in modern criminology's annals, having as
its purpose the spoilation of the city of its inheritance and of the
aged man of his life.
The life of the giver was lost, and that the gift was not lost
to its beneficiaries was due to one of those strange chapters of
coincidences that form the romance of the history of crime and
appal the stoutest hearts with the conviction that there is some
strange mechanism of fate, providence or chance that uncovers
the skillfully concealed traces of felony and by the seeming accident
of insignificant detail exposes one of the joined links of the

chain of crime by which its whole buried length is dragged out to
the garish light of day.
The omission of a single letter in a proper name written on
a check, cost the owner of that name a fortune of millions,
branded him as a murderer, and incarcerated him under sentence
of death in a grim New York penitentiary. Because the letter
“I” was left out of the given name of Albert T. Patrick, a suspicion
was aroused that developed into a legal certainty and put
the owner of that name behind the bars, under sentence for murder,
and, as a corollary, permitted Houston to inherit a school
endowment whose assets are now nearly ten million dollars.
The man who died under a chloroform soaked sponge, held
in a towel cone over his sleeping face, was William M. Rice, and
he was 84 years old when he was murdered in his bed at the
Berkshire apartments at 500 Madison Avenue, New York City
by his only companion, his valet, Charles Jones. While the aged
man was dying two old ladies, his friends, were ringing the bell
at the door of his apartments where they had come with gifts of
cake and wine for their sick friend. Inside the ante-room the
murderer crouched, uncertain in his own mind whether it was
the door bell that was clamoring or whether it was the loud
alarm of his frightened conscience that called him to remove
the death dealing cone from the face of his dying master.
It is not the purpose to tell here the story of that crime.
Its details make it one of the causes celebre of criminal history.
With the possible exception of the Thaw case the crime has
attracted more publicity and been given more newspaper space
than any other that ever happened in America where the victim
was only a private citizen. The valet, Jones, who actually committed
the act of murder according to his own tale, was allowed
to go free of justice, and the lawyer, Albert T. Patrick, accused
of planning it, after a sensational trial and a brilliant defense
conducted before the higher courts by himself, was convicted of
murder and is today a life prisoner at Sing-Sing, the death
penalty having been commuted by executive clemency. There
is hardly a detail of that trial that is not in dispute, but the
jury that convicted and the courts that affirmed accepted the
following as true facts:


That Patrick was personally unknown to W. M. Rice, and
that he was hated by the latter because of hostile litigation in
which Patrick had been engaged.
That Patrick met and corrupted Jones, and through Jones
learned of the habits of the old man, of his few friends, of his
break with his relatives, and of the fact that he had by a will
of 1896 donated the bulk of his property to the William M. Rice
Institute of Houston, Texas.
That Patrick conspired with Jones to forge a will of later
date increasing the legacies to all the beneficiaries of the old will,
and leaving legacies to every person with a claim on the estate
but leaving the bulk of the fortune to Patrick instead of the
Houston Institute. The old will was to be left in existence to
prevent relatives trying to break the new one as all inherited
more largely under the bogus than the true will. Patrick was
made administrator of the will and forged a power of attorney,
bogus checks for sums in banks aggregating some $250,000, and
all papers necessary to enable him to enter into complete and
immediate possession of the fortune of William M. Rice on the
death of the latter. All these papers together with a series of
letters from Rice to Patrick in which Patrick was made to appear
as a trusted legal counsellor, were in evidence to show motive for
the crime.
Particularly damning in its effect was a letter purporting to
be from Rice to Patrick asking that the body of the writer be
cremated immediately on death and expressing a horror of
burial and embalming. This letter gave opportunity for immediate
disposition of the body.
On Sunday, September 16, 1900, the plant of the merchants
and Planters Oil Company at Houston was destroyed by fire.
W. M. Rice owned 75 per cent of the stock and letters came during
the week asking that he furnish $250,000 to rebuild. This
would utilize the supply of ready cash in the banks and the
expressed intention of W. M. Rice to send all or a part of this
money on Monday, September 24, is believed to have forced his
death on Sunday.
Following that death, and before announcing it, Patrick and

Jones took possession of all the papers of the dead man including
both wills, the alleged forgery bearing date of June 3, 1900. Some
of the checks were cashed and attempts to cash another caused
the discovery of the misspelled name. By chance, if chance it
be, this check was shown to Walter H. Wetherbee, a clerk in
Swensen's private bank and the man who was one of the witnesses
to the will of 1896. Wetherbee remembered that Patrick had
suggested to him, in tentative fashion at least, a proposition for
a bogus will, signed by the original witnesses, and at once suspected
that W. M. Rice was dead. Jones, on being telephoned
to, said that the check, which was for $25,000, was all right, but
admitted that Mr. Rice was dead and that he had notified the
doctor and Mr. Patrick.
Telegrams from Houston, signed by Attorney James A.
Baker and Mr. F. A. Rice, a brother to the dead man, forced a
delay in the cremation of the body which Patrick then ordered
embalmed. Later an autopsy was held and a congested condition
of the lungs discovered such as would result from chloroform.
When Messrs. Baker and Rice arrived from Texas, Patrick
weakened gradually and finally, after offering to give the Rice
Institute $3,000,000 or $5,000,000 or any sum Mr. Baker might
name, relinquished all control of the papers of William M. Rice
and agreed to the probate of the will of 1896. Later he was tried
and convicted of murder, on the corroborative circumstantial
evidence and the confession of Jones who swore the crime was
instigated by Patrick.
In the American Magazine of May, 1907, Hon. Arthur Train,
then assistant district attorney of New York County, tells in
strikingly dramatic fashion the story of the discovery of the
links of circumstantial evidence and graphically presents the
case of the state in narrative form.
Patrick has constantly maintained his innocence and insists
that a thrice perjured, self-confessed murderer such as valet
Jones, is unworthy of any credence. The conviction of Patrick
and the setting aside as forgeries of the alleged will of June 30,
1900, giving the estate to Patrick, left the Rice estate to the people
of Houston.


The manner of the death of William M. Rice and the dramatic
litigation that followed it, have absorbed public attention
to the exclusion of the study of the character of the reserved,
quiet and solitary man whose generosity is to bear such rich
and abundant fruit.
William Marsh Rice, as the donor of a fund for the establishment
of an institute for the advancement of literature, science
and art, for a public library and a great polytechnic school, stands
without a rival as Houston's greatest philanthropist. The institute
now being built will take the form of a great university with
emphasis on the practical arts and sciences. The endowment
gifts of William Marsh Rice aggregate at present $9,450,000 at
cautious and conservative estimates made in September, 1911, by
the board of trustees. The great, distinctive school the endowment
will create will be without alliance with or dependence on
either church or state.
The man who gave this princely gift in perpetuity to the
white citizens of Houston and their children, was one of the
earliest inhabitants of the city.
Family records would indicate that he came to Houston in
1838, when the city was little more than a year old. He was a
native of Springfield, Massachusetts, and was born in 1819, coming
from Springfield to Texas as a young man with a load of
merchandise on a sailing vessel. He was defrauded of most of his
stock by a sharper on reaching Galveston and wrote to his father
about the occurrence. The father urged him to come home but the
young man proudly replied that he would never return until he
brought back with him more money than he took away.
In Houston he conducted a merchandise business on Main
Street near the site of the Houston Land and Trust Company's
office building. His first store was a tent. His early stock of
goods is said to have been largely brogan shoes and bandana
handkerchiefs. When he had built a little store he was accustomed
to cook his own meals, work all day in the store and sleep
on the counter at night. Constantly he invested his earnings
and savings in Houston and Texas property.
When the Civil War broke out his sympathies were with the

North and he went to Mexico, remaining there until the conclusion
of the struggle, when he returned to Houston where his
opinions were known and respected. After the war he became
a director and the financial agent of the H. & T. C. Railroad,
with headquarters in New York City for convenience in making
purchases. Thereafter his home was in the North but it was his
habit to come to Houston every year and spend the winter
months here. He was always deeply interested in Houston affairs
and invested in its enterprises, being one of the stockholders in
the first electric light company ever formed here, but he did not
like to hold corporate offices of any kind. Those living who knew
him, knew him as young men know old men. They describe him
as a man very quiet, dignified and reserved, chary of speech but
stimulating deep interest by the remarks he made, a close student
of men whom he sometimes embarrassed by his pointed scrutiny,
but making few friends and few acquaintances.
In manner he was cold, icy, unapproachable, but the few
men to whom he gave his friendship discovered that he would
go his full length in their behalf and that there was no exhausting
his friendship. One of these friends was Sam Houston. On
the occasion of a political campaign in which Houston was interested
he was shown the list of subscribers and said: “Billy Rice's
name ought to be here.”
“General, he will not give anything.”
“Oh, yes he will; he will give $100.” General Houston then
went to see his friend, finding him in the store. The conversation
was very stately: “Good morning, William, good morning; are
you very busy this morning?”
“Well, General, we always find something to do, always find
something to do.”
“William, we are going to have a very interesting campaign
this fall and we shall need some money.”
“Well, General, you know business has been very dull, and
collections have been very bad, quite bad, General.”
“Yes, William, but I have put you down on the list for
“Well, General, I could not possibly pay any more than that,

certainly not any more than that; but, General, if you feel you
need that much I shall have to spare it to you.”
Owing to Houston's friendship Mr. Rice is said to have
secured a contract to carry the mails between Houston and
Austin, which mail route was one of his early enterprises.
So unapproachable was the manner of Wm. M. Rice that men
were often afraid to solicit contributions from him. On one
occasion a carpet was needed for a church and the committee
asked him for a contribution to help buy the carpet. He refused
to help, but after the committee had gone, sent a clerk, had the
church measured and as his own gift sent a beautiful carpet
and one more costly than they had hoped to buy.
The first intimation of an intention to give Houston a library
and school was made in similar fashion. In 1890 Houston was
in great need of school facilities. Some of the citizens conceived
the plan of securing subscriptions to aggregate $100,000 to build
a high school.
Mr. E. Raphael, then a member of the city school board, who
had known Mr. Rice since 1868, approached him for a subscription.
He told him the Houston Academy was falling down, that
the city had no money and that a school was needed. In a manner
almost curt Mr. Rice said abruptly: “I will not give a cent.
It is the city's business to build its schools, not that of private
individuals. But I am going to establish an educational institute
to be built after my death. I will give my note for $200,000 to
start it and I want you to be one of the trustees.” This bolt from
the blue was the first intimation to anyone that Mr. Rice had
any such idea. He asked Mr. Raphael to notify other trustees.
They were not selected all at once but one name at a time with
an interval of perhaps a week or a month between each selection.
The original board of trustees was William M. Rice of New York
City, and F. A. Rice, James A. Baker, Jr., E. Raphael, C. Lombardi,
J. E. McAshan and A. S. Richardson, all of Houston.
Of this number William M. Rice, F. A. Rice and A. S.
Richardson are dead and have been succeeded by William M. Rice,
Jr., B. B. Rice, and Dr. E. O. Lovett.
The initial gift of $200,000 was made in the form of a note,

dated May 13, 1891, bearing interest at the rate of 2 1/2 per cent
annually, and payable at the death of the donor. This was
given to the trustees who were selected for life and given power
to elect members to fill vacancies as they might occur. These
trustees were given plenary power over the fund with such additions
as might be made to it, with instructions to do nothing
except care for the money so long as Mr. Rice himself might be
alive. He was himself one of the trustees and his dietum as to an
investment of the fund or disposition of it in a business way was
It became the habit of Mr. Rice to make some additional
donation to this endowment fund each year. In 1892 he gave
10,000 acres of agricultural land in Jones County, and the following
year he gave 50,000 acres of pine timber lands in Louisiana.
The timber rights on these pine lands were sold by the
trustees in 1911 for a sum aggregating over $4,000,000, while
the title to the land itself was retained.
In 1894, Mr. Rice deeded to the fund the Rice Hotel property
and a tract of land on Louisiana Street of about 12 acres, known
as the Rice Institute tract. At that time both the donor and the
trustees expected that the buildings of the institute would be
erected on this tract of land. Other gifts followed, so that at
the time of his death property then estimated in value at
$1,500,000, had been donated to the institute.
By bequest of his true will the institute was named as residuary
legatee of his entire fortune although bequests to his relatives
and others aggregated several hundred thousand dollars.
The property going to his estate at his death was variously estimated
at from $3,000,000 to $4,000,000. This endowment, according
to the estimate made by the trustees in the fall of 1911, is
now worth $9,450,000. These figures are regarded as being very
To Mr. Raphael and to other members of the trustees and
to relatives, Mr. Rice several times remarked that he had made
his fortune in Houston and that he wanted to leave the institution
as a monument, the endowment to go on for all time to come as a
perpetual supply fund for its needs. At one time he thought

of making the gift to Dunellen, New Jersey, where he owned a
home, but patriotism and memories of the early days in Houston,
the days of hardship and struggle, the days of his youth and
his ambition and his hope, fixed his choice on the town to which
he had come as a pioneer in almost the first year of its existence.
When the announcement was first made in Houston that the
institute was to be given, the citizens were enthusiastic in their
praise. J. S. Rice, a nephew, then a young man, said: “Uncle
William, the people are saying lots of nice things about you and
your gift.” The old man hesitated, then said “Jo, your father
has a monument in his boys. I have no children.” It was the
warm yearning in the heart of the childless man that men called
cold, to be remembered in his home town, and the children of
his fellow citizens will, for countless generations, perchance,
drink at the fountain of learning that the childless man left
as a monument.
William M. Rice was not himself a well educated man, but
he was profoundly imbued with a sense of education's value
and desired that the children of the brave pioneer generation
should not lack the best and most effective sort of education.
He had very decided ideas as to what constituted an education
and wanted those things taught most that would not leave
the graduate with a feeling of being helpless and stranded with
no trade, occupation or craft. He believed in educating the
hand as much as the head and wanted the students at the school
he gave to be in position to exploit the resources of their state,
and to stand at the head of its crafts as well as professions, to
be able to get, with capable, trained hands and heads, the treasures
from mines, forests and prairies, and hence the polytechnic feature
of the school will always be emphasized in accordance with
the wish of its founder, although its scope has already grown
beyond the fondest dreams of the founder, and its character and
work will give it full university rank among the educational
institutions of America.
So the heart of William M. Rice remained in Houston until
his death, yes and will remain here in active benevolence for as

long as one may dare to look into the future or to prophesy as to
its happenings.
Among other gifts to the institute was an art collection, now
insured for $50,000, which was made by Mr. Rice and by friends
at his instance. Art, it will be noted, was one of the things that
was to be “advanced” by the institute. The pictures in the collection
are well chosen and some of them are of rare artistic
merit. William M. Rice had an eye for the beautiful, and the
charter, that sets out the scope of the institution on which he
collaborated when it was drawn up, mentions Art together with
Literature and Science as one of the things in which education is
to be given.
To the personal characteristics of William M. Rice, that have
been noted should be added the fact that he enjoyed exceptionally
good health, was a student of hygenics, advocated open air
exercises and a careful diet, drank nothing alcoholic and
abstained even from tea and coffee, as well as from all greasy foods.
He lived largely on cereals and fruit, ate very little meat and did
not use tobacco in any form. He was a close trader and did not
take undue advantage but made close contracts in good faith, was
scrupulous to live up to them, and rigidly demanded that others
do the same. Mr. Rice was regarded as a hard man but Mr.
Arthur B. Cohn, who was his secretary for many years, and has
been the business manager of the Rice Institute since Mr. Rice's
death, says that Mr. Rice gave much to poor people where it was
found they merited it, and that he never refused to furnish the
amount necessary to erect independent school houses in the
county, and that he often helped young men of ambition to secure
an education. He detested notoriety in connection with any
charity and absolute secrecy was enjoined on his secretary and on
the recipients of all his gifts. He was not a society man, and
only in business developed any sociability. He was not a church
member but was a subscriber to the Christ Church and to other
congregations. The story of his early business life is one of
struggle during which he occupied humble positions. He never
squadered money and never sold property that came into his
possession, save under extraordinary circumstances. After he

made a business success he financed the H. E. & W. T. Railroad
and was one of its largest stockholders. He was one of the
organizers of the H. & T. C. stage line to Hempstead that preceded
the railroad. He was one of the original organizers of
the Townsite Development Company that built and developed
towns along the line of the H. & T. C. road between Houston and
Dallas. He financed various lumber mills and was one of the
first promoters of brick manufacturing in Houston. He was the
partner of H. B. Rice in the ownership of the Rice ranch of
9,500 acres about 6 to 9 miles west of Houston, today known as
Westmoreland Farms and Bellaire. He engaged in soap manufacturing
in Houston in the early 90's. He was one of the main
stockholders and largely financed the Merchants and Planters
Oil Mill and was a heavy stockholder in Houston's early banks.
His estate is one of the largest individual stockholders in the
South Texas National Bank, this stock being one of the assets of
the institute. It is also a stockholder in the Houston Land and
Trust Company. In 1881 and 1882, Mr. Rice financed the building
of the Rice Hotel which he described as “a wild pig” of an
enterprise. Mr. Rice's early residence was located in the present
postoffice block.
Having once invested he never looked backward. If any
investment he made proved to be a loss, he never complained,
never even referred to the matter. He had great personal
courage and a high sense of honor and admired these traits
in other men. It was his courage that caused him to live alone
in New York with his valet, against the remonstrances his
friends. During the latter years of his life the reticence and
self sufficiency of William Marsh Rice had caused, to some extent,
an estrangement with relatives, but it was an estrangement almost
without bitterness.
The first wife of W. M. Rice was Maggie Bremond, eldest
daughter of Paul Bremond and his second wife was Elizabeth
Baldwin of the famous family of first settlers. His brother,
F. A. Rice, married Charlotte Baldwin of the same family. W.
M. Rice had several sisters and other relatives in his birthplace
in Springfield, Massachusetts. One of these sisters, Mrs. McKee,
survived him, but died a few years ago.


The ashes of William M. Rice are in Houston in the vault of
the Institute in the Commercial Bank Building. They will be
transferred to a place of honor in the Administration Building
of the Institute when it is completed.
Portraits of William M. Rice and of Elizabeth Baldwin
Rice, painted by Boris Bernhardt Gordon, will also occupy places
of honor in the institute he founded.
In 1907, Edgar Odell Lovett, M.A., Ph.D., LL.D., a professor
of astronomy at Princeton was chosen president of the
institute. Doctor Lovett, who is a noted scholar, toured the
world studying the educational institutions in all lands preparatory
to making plans for the Rice Institute.
Work on the Administration Building and two laboratories
was begun in 1910. The site of the institute is on the Main
Street road about three miles from the city. The tract chosen
covers more than 300 acres and will be greatly beautified.
The corner-stone of the Administration Building was laid
by the trustees at noon on March 2, 1911, the 75th anniversary
of Texas independence. The seven members of the board were
present. The ceremonies were of the simplest kind. Captain
James Baker, president of the board, set the huge stone in place,
using a silver trowel made in Houston, and thus inscribed:
“With this trowel the trustees of the William M. Rice Institute
laid the corner-stone of the institute on the second day of
March, 1911. J. A. Baker, W. M. Rice, Jr., J. E. McAshan,
B. B. Rice, C. Lombardi, E. Raphael, and E. O. Lovett.”
E. Raphael, secretary of the board, deposited in the receptacle
in the stone certain records of interest to Houston and to
the institute. These records were sealed in a copper box, on the
face of which was the following legend engraved in script:
“This box was deposited in the corner-stone of the Administration
Building of the William M. Rice Institute on the
second day of March, 1911, the day of the laying of the stone.”
Within the box were placed a copy of the Old and New
Testament Scriptures of the King James translation; the charter
of the Institute, transcribed on parchment, and a brief biography
of William M. Rice, the founder of the Institute and short

sketches of the careers of the several gentlemen who have served
as trustees of the foundation; a photograph, mounted on linen,
of the plans for developing the site and buildings of the institute,
prepared by the architects; a copy of the Houston Chronicle
of January 12, 1911, and a copy of the Houston Daily Post of
January 18, 1911. The several sketches referred to include
notices of the late F. A. Rice and A. S. Richardson, who, with
the founder and Messrs. Baker, McAshan, Lombardi and Raphael,
were charter members of the board of trustees of the institute.
The carving of the inscription on the stone was deferred until
after the settling of the stone in its place. It is a quotation from
the Praeparatio Evangelica of Enselbius Pamphili, the earliest
historian of the church. Rendered into English, it reads:
“‘Rather,’ said Demeritus, ‘would I discover the causes of one
fact than become king of the Persians.’” A declaration made
by the Greek philosopher at a time when to be king of the
Persians was to rule the world.
In appropriating this expression of the spirit of science
from a representative philosopher of that people who originated
the highest standards in letters and in art, the trustees of the
institute sought to express that devotion to both science and
humanism which the founder desired when he dedicated this
institute to the advancement of literature, science and art.
A description of the architecture of the proposed institute
will be found in the chapter on Architecture and Building. Dr.
Lovett and the trustees have not yet announced the personnel
of the faculty of the new university but it is announced that it
will be open for students at the beginning of the fall term of
1912. The cost of the first group of buildings will be about
$1,000,000 and about half of that amount has been spent in
further beautifying the grounds by landscape architecture and
The future of Houston will be dominated to a great degree
by the Rice Institute and it will give to the city the academic
charm and tone that is greatly needed to relieve the strident
commercialism that is now its chief characteristic.

[Back to top]

Houston Newspapers

Story of First Newspaper in Texas and its Removal to Houston.
The Telegraph and Register. The Morning Star. Flood of
Newspaper Enterprises Following Civil War. Special Interest
and Trade Periodicals in Houston. The Houston
Telegram. The Houston Post Organized and Suspended. The
New Post. The Houston Herald. The Chronicle and Its
Makers. Some Famous Newspaper Men. Some Early and
Late Authors and Writers. Organization of Texas State
Press Association.

In the winter of 1834, Launcelott Abbotts, a young Englishman,
who was a printer, stopping in New Orleans, became
acquainted with Mr. T. F. McKinney, a merchant of Valasco
and a Mr. Fletcher, a merchant of San Felipe, who advised him
to locate in Texas. They praised the climate and soil and dwelt
on the generosity of the government in giving to each immigrant
a good lot of land. Those portions of Mexico then known as
Coahuila and Texas constituted, for governmental purposes, one
state, having one legislature and its citizens were called Coahuila-Texanos.
Mr. Abbotts having superintended the printing of
Mrs. Holley's small book on Texas, published in Baltimore, had
a pretty good knowledge of the territory, its people, its resources
and of its possibilities, so he took their advice and embarked
on a small schooner for the mouth of the Brazos where he
arrived about Christmas. He was prevented from landing for
a day or two by adverse winds that kept the schooner from crossing
the bar at the mouth of the river. Having landed he at once
made his way to San Felipe, then the capital of the state. Here
he made the acquaintance of two men who were destined to
have great influence over his career. One of these was

Gail Borden, then known as Gail Borden, Jr., who afterwards
became famous as the inventor and manufacturer of
condensed milk and as the head of the great Borden Dairy Company.
The other was Joseph Baker, who afterwards also became
prominent and influential in Texas. These men were contemplating
the establishment of a newspaper in San Felipe, and,
so soon as they learned that Mr. Abbotts was a practical printer,
they made a contract with him to assist in its production. At
that time there were no mails or postoffices in Texas, so Mr.
Abbotts was forced to return to Velasco, a hundred miles distant,
to dispatch an order to New York for a mechanical outfit for the
proposed paper. On his way back he stopped at Brazoria, then
a small village on the bank of the Brazos, where there was a
small printing plant of doubtful value owned by a Mr. Gray.
This plant was nearly useless, but was capable of being used
in a pinch. There was a well-worn press with a sheep skin ink-ball
(composition rollers being unknown at that time) a few
fonts of old type, some leads and some wood “furniture,” and
that was all. Mr. Abbotts wanted the proprietor of this outfit
to print him 100 copies of a prospectus for the paper he proposed
issuing and which it had been decided was to be called
the “Telegraph and Register.” This the proprietor refused to
do, but finally allowed Mr. Abbotts to do the work himself, using
the material at hand, for a consideration of ten dollars. There
was also an extra charge for the paper used in printing the circulars.
Before the press and type arrived from New York the prospectus
had been circulated and a small list of subscribers had
been secured. J. L. Hill, of Fayette County was, perhaps, the
first subscriber. He has a place in Texas history as the husband
of the woman who plotted the escape of Santa Anna when
he was a prisoner of war in the hands of the Texans at Columbia.
The first number of the Telegraph and Register appeared October
10, 1836, the same day on which the Texans stormed and took
the fort at Goliad. It should be noted that no other newspaper
was published in Texas at that time or at any time during the
Texans' struggle for independence. Before then Mr. Gray, already

spoken of, had published a paper spasmodically, and a
little sheet had been published for a short time at Nacogdoches.
The appearance of The Telegraph and Register was of the greatest
value and assistance to those engaged in the work of establishing
and maintaining the new republic, since it enabled them
to create and concentrate public thought and opinion, which
could have been done in no other way than through the medium
of a newspaper.
The pathway of the new paper was not strewn with flowers,
however, and it had many obstacles to overcome. Soon after its
establishment, Mr. Baker, the senior editor, left to join Sam
Houston's army. Then Mr. Abbotts grew patriotic and did the
same thing. This left the entire responsibility of getting out
the paper on the shoulders of a printer from Philadelphia. Probably
22 numbers of the paper had been issued when the Mexicans
invaded Texas. Then the printer, alarmed by the approach
of Santa Anna and his army, abandoned his post, and, not having
the patriotism of Mr. Baker and Mr. Abbotts, instead of
joining the Texas army, fled to the United States.
When General Houston retreated from the Colorado River,
Thomas H. Borden and his father, Gail Borden, Sr., put the
printing material across the Brazos at San Felipe with much
difficulty, for it was heavy and transportation facilities were
poor, and conveyed it to Harrisburg. There they secured the
help of a Frenchman, named Bertrand, and a printer from New
York who set up an issue of the paper and had it on the press
ready to publish, when Santa Anna's men surprised and captured
them. The Mexicans threw the press, forms, type and
everything else movable, into the bayou and then proceeded to
burn the town, the printing office included. In the general conflagration
the homes of Gail and Thos. Borden were destroyed.
Instead of being discouraged and disheartened, the Bordens at
once ordered new material for their paper from Cincinnati, and
some time in August, 1836, the first number of the paper printed
after the war was issued at Columbia, where the first Congress of
the Republic of Texas met. The paper bore at its mast head the
names of Gail and Thomas Borden, editors and proprietors.

Congress decided to locate the capitol of Texas at Houston and
the Bordens moved their printing plant here also, in the spring
of 1837.
Houston at that time was only a city in name for there were
only a few wooden shanties and most of these were incomplete.
Gail Borden having been appointed collector of customs at
Galveston and Thomas Borden wishing to retire from the newspaper
field, they concluded to dispose of their newspaper plant
and sold it to Mr. Jacob Cruger and Dr. Francis Moore. These
gentlemen at once revived the Telegraph, publishing it at Houston,
first as a weekly, then as a tri-weekly and then as a daily.
In the first issue of the Telegraph and Texas Register, published
in Houston, May 2, 1837, was the following: “The City
of Houston.—This place is as yet merely a city in embryo, but
the industry, enterprise and amount of capital which are now
ministering to its greatness, will soon elevate it to a prominent
rank among the cities of the older countries. Its situation is
remarkably healthy, being upon an elevated and dry prairie,
partly in the skirts of the timbered margin of Buffalo Bayou.
The principal objection to the place is the difficulty of access by
water, the bayou above Harrisburg being so narrow, so serpentine
and so blocked with snags and overhanging trees that
immense improvements will be required to render navigation
convenient for large steamboats.”
Though the Telegraph was the first newspaper published
in Houston of which definite record has been left, a gentleman
named Thomas Wilson announced through the columns of the
Telegraph, while that paper was still published at Columbia, that
he would begin the publication of a paper at Houston to be
known as the Texian, on April 21, the anniversary of the battle
of San Jacinto. If the Texian was ever published no record of
that fact is now preserved. Probably it never passed the stage
of the prospective.
“The history of the Telegraph and Register is intimately
connected with the history of Texas,” declared the Texas Wesleyan
Banner in 1858. “Dr. Francis Moore has been its editor
and part proprietor ever since its establishment in Houston. It

is the oldest paper in Texas and for years has nobly battled
with the various popular vices peculiar to a new country, such
as dueling, gambling and drinking. Dr. Moore, its veteran editor,
is now its independent proprietor, and intends devoting its
columns in future principally to commercial and agricultural
intelligence. His past eminent service in the cause of Texan
liberty and his intimate alliance with all the various interests
of the state, together with his long experience in the chair editorial,
entitle him to a liberal patronage.”
In 1853, Mr. Harry H. Allen became the editor and proprietor
of the Telegraph and continued as such until 1856, when
the plant was sold to Mr. E. H. Cushing, one of the best and
most gifted newspaper men in the country. He managed and
edited the Telegraph for ten years. Mr. Cushing had exceptional
opportunity for the exercise of his executive ability and the
display of his talent as an editor, for during his administration
the great Civil War occurred, which taxed to the limit the
resources at hand. Two great difficulties confronted Mr. Cushing.
One was to get the news, for there were no mails or telegraph
lines to transmit it; the other was to get the paper on which to
print the news when it was gathered. The first was overcome by
establishing a pony express between Houston and points on the
Mississippi River, and the second by using common wrapping
paper, wall paper or any other paper that could be precured.
One issue of the Telegraph would be brown, another green, to
be followed in turn by others representing all the colors of the
rainbow. Sometimes the paper could be printed on one side only,
because the flowers and vines of the wall-paper on the other side
precluded its being used.
Until they were destroyed by fire in the early 80's, Mr. E.
B. Cushing, of Houston, son of Mr. E. H. Cushing, had in his
possession complete files of the Telegraph for the four years of
the war. These were probably the most valuable newspaper files
ever owned in the South. Those files contained historical matter
and news items of inestimable value. Mr. Cushing loaned these
files to President Jefferson Davis to use in the compilation of his
history of the Lost Cause. Mr. Davis found in them many

things that were new and important to him, and when he
returned the files to their owner he said that they contained many
things that would have been of great value to him had he known
them while he was president of the Confederate States.
In 1866, Mr. Cushing sold the Telegraph to Col. C. C.
Gillespie, who was a man of great ability as a writer. He secured
the services of James E. Carnes as editorial writer, and
between the two the Telegraph was soon made one of the best
literary papers in the land. However, too much attention was
paid to fine writing and too little to news, and general interest
soon waned and the paper was almost dead when Colonel Gillespie
sold it to General Webb. General Webb continued to issue the
paper regularly until the great financial panic of 1873 occurred,
when it was forced to suspend. The old paper was not to
remain dead, however. The next year Mr. A. C. Gray revived
it. In an editorial of April 16, 1874, Mr. Gray, the new editor
and proprietor, said: “The Houston Telegraph is an old and
familiar friend to very many in and out of Texas who will hail
its reappearance as the return of a much loved and greatly
lamented companion. Founded in the days of the Republic, it
was true to the government and to the people, and by its efforts
accomplished, perhaps, as much as any other instrumentality in
calling attention to and developing the resources of this great
commonwealth. Under the control and guidance of such men
as Gail Borden, Dr. Francis Moore, Harry Allen, E. H. Cushing
and others, it has reared for itself an imperishable monument,
by its fidelity to law, good government and general progress.
Its pages contain an epitome of the history of the Lone
Star State, and reflect the progress she has made in her march
to greatness * * * * It is with no ordinary satisfaction and, we
trust, a pardonable pride, that the present managing editor and
proprietor refers to his past connection with and present relation
to the office of the Telegraph. Twenty-eight years ago, when a
mere boy, he entered it as an apprentice. By patient toil and
proper pride in his chosen profession he became its business manager
during its most prosperous period. And when, under the
financial panic of 1873, it was forced to suspend and ceased to

make its daily appearance he mourned as if a friend had fallen.
Since then it has been his ambition to call the slumbering Ajax
to the field again and bid it battle with renewed energy for constitutional
government, Democratic principles and the general
Mr. Gray made good his promises for under his administration
and guidance the Telegraph soon became one of the most
influential papers in Texas as well as in Houston. It continued
to be the leading paper in Houston until 1878. At that time the
method of gathering news had become so expensive that a much
larger sum than the Telegraph could hope to earn without the
most extensive and costly improvements and expansion, was an
absolute necessity, and the Telegraph was forced to a final suspension
of publication.
In the foregoing pages much space has been given to the
Telegraph, because of its long and remarkable record. It must
not be supposed that Houston had no other papers during the
existence of the Telegraph. There were many others and some
quite good ones, too.
In 1891, Mr. J. R. Irion, of Denton, gave the Houston Post
a copy of the National Banner for July 13, 1838 and a copy of
the Daily Times for April 16, 1840. Mr. Irion was the son of
Hon. R. A. Irion, who was secretary of state of the Republic of
Texas, under President Houston.
The Banner was a four column paper but the columns were
wide. The first page was devoted to miscellany and poetry, the
second page was an editorial, strongly urging the Republic to
declare war against Mexico. The other pages were filled with
interesting news items and advertisements. President Houston
published a proclamation offering a reward of $200 for the capture
of James Aldridge, accused of killing “Billy,” a Choctaw
Indian, late of Nacogdoches, and Thomas M. League, postmaster
of Houston, published a two-column list of unclaimed letters.
Niles & Company were proprietors of the National Banner.
The Daily Times was edited by A. M. Lampkins. An early
item of police court news told of the fining of an Indian for riding
his horse violently through the streets, and another was the recital

of the “cussedness” and the consequent trouble of one “Jawbone”
Morris, who had to pay $5 for indulging in disorderly
The Morning Star, was a tri-weekly paper, first edited by
James F. Cruger. It was very influential in the days of the
Republic but changed editors often. A valuable but incomplete
file of this paper is in the Carnegie City Library. It was extensively
used in preparing the earlier chapters of this book.
In the early fifties the fight between the Democrats and
Know-Nothings was very bitter. Lines were drawn sharply and
city and county campaigns were lively affairs. The Democrats
had the great advantage of having the Telegraph on their side,
while the Know-Nothings had to disseminate their doctrine by
word of mouth alone. The following communication to the
Telegraph, published October 19th, 1855, incidentally refers to
the strife between the two parties, while it gives, in a nut shell,
the whole local history of one journalistic venture in Houston:
“A New Way to Start a Newspaper.—Messrs. Editors—A
few short weeks ago there was ushered into and circulated about
our city, a sheet bearing the respectable name of the ‘Bayou City
News,’ and on the front in bold letters the motto ‘Open to All—Controlled
by None.’ There being but one secular paper in our
city, it was well received and many of our citizens congratulated
themselves upon its appearance, expecting of course, from the
promises and inducements held out, that it would be a source
of pleasure to its readers and reflect credit on its publishers. It
was a neutral paper in politics and religion and would advance
the great commercial and agricultural interests of our country.
It puffed every calling, trade and profession in our midst; pro-pounded
more interrogations in one of its issues than could have
been answered in half a dozen; and lo and behold! we got up
one morning inquiring how the Bayou City News was getting
along, and were shocked by the intelligence that, without waiting
long enough to have their interrogations answered, they had sold
themselves to Know-Nothingism and were about to move up to
Washington on the Brazos, where, it is said, an association of
gentlemen will christen it the ‘Washington American,’ and advocate

Know-Nothingism in a dignified manner, that is, more dignified
than the other Know-Nothing papers. Verily, Messrs.
Editors, that was an artful dodge. Gentlemen get up in our city
a newspaper, solicit subscriptions among our merchants, mechanics,
etc.,—they subscribe, looking on it as an enterprise likely
to benefit our city and people; and lo and behold! in about
three weeks they find themselves all transferred to an association
of Know-Nothings away up in Washington on the Brazos and
are very respectfully asked to allow their names and advertisements
to be retained. As an inducement for the retention of
the latter, we are told that the paper already has a circulation
of 1,500, a number which could have been easily increased to
5,000 with the same dash of the pen. I have known, Messrs. Editors,
papers like other property, to change hands, and the subscribers
to receive the paper for the period subscribed for, but
this is the first time I have known of a paper changing owners,
location, name, politics and religion and calling on its subscribers,
after an existence of three weeks, to sustain it; and I really
believe that nothing but the anxiety to get up a Know-Nothing
paper could have induced the gentlemen to make so modest a
request. —(Signed) Houstonian.”
At the close of the Civil War there appears to have been a
perfect mania for starting newspapers in Houston. Quite a number
were established and there was something like rapid fire
change in editors. The following papers were established after
1865 and had all become defunct by 1880:
Daily Evening Star—Editors: R. H. Purdom, W. H. Crank,
and W. P. Cole; Daily and Weekly Journal—Editors: R. H.
Purdom, Dudley W. Jones, J. J. Diamond, George W. Diamond,
and J. W. Diamond; Daily Tri-Weekly and Weekly Union—Editors:
J. G. Tracy, E. H. Quick, C. C. Gillespie, James E. Carnes,
J. H. Baker, Will Lambert, and J. H. Caldwell; Sunday Gazette—Editors:
Charles Bickley, Will Lambert; Gillespies Daily Telegraph—Editors:
C. C. Gillespie, Jr., Crawford Gillespie, and H.
P. Gillespie; Ku Klux Vidette—Editors and Proprietors: H. P.
Gillespie and B. F. King; Daily and Weekly Times—Editors:
Sommers Kinney, E. P. Claudon, W. F. Schott, F. Fauntleroy,

J. W. Colvin, N. A. Taylor, W. Duesenberry, and Will Lambert;
Daily Courier—Hon. Ashbel Smith, Editor; Daily Commercial—Editors:
H. Lehman, and N. A. Taylor; Daily Mercury—Editors:
J. H. Baker, Sam W. Small, and C. L. Martin; Masonic Mirror
and Family Visitor
—Editor: B. T. Kavanaugh; Houston Weekly
and The Houston Weekly Chronicle also enjoyed a brief
existence in this period; The Houston Telegraph—established in
1836, suspended publication during the financial panic of 1873,
revived by Mr. A. C. Gray in 1874, and died in 1878.
During its long and brilliant career it was edited by the
following named gentlemen: Gail Borden, Dr. Francis Moore, C.
J. Cruger, Harry H. Allen, C. J. Cruger, E. H. Cushing, C. C.
Gillespie, General Webb, A. C. Gray, J. Noble, W. P. Doran, H.
P. Gillespie, W. P. Hamblin, N. P. Turner, Charles Bickley,
Horace Cone, Sr., T. E. Davis, George W. Kidd, Will Lambert,
and C. L. Martin; Houston Nut-Shell—Bottler and Brown, editors
and proprietors; Monthly Union Land Register—C. C. Vogel,
editor and proprietor; Texas Sun (removed to San Antonio)—A.
W. Gifford, editor; Evening News— Editors: D. D. Bryan,
and J. P. Farrell; Houston Evening Age—Editors: D. L.
McGarey, Charles Bickley, Gustave Cook, F. F. Chew, C. L. Martin,
Sam W. Small, Judge J. K. P. Gallaspie, B. F. Hardcastle,
A. A. McBride, R. D. Westcott, Ed Smallwood, George King and
H. C. Stevens.
The initial number of the Texas Staats Zeitung, a German
newspaper, Berger and Leonhardt, publishers, appeared December
11, 1868. The first number of the Texas Gazette, a small
daily, appeared December 31, 1875. At that date the Zeitung
was merged with the Gazette. The Peoples Advocate, a Greenback
organ, C. B. Kitteringham, publisher, appeared in 1878.
Many publications in Houston are designed to foster special
commercial interests. Most of these are issued weekly, but several
are monthly and of magazine rank.
The Texas Bankers Journal, owned and edited by W. W.
Dexter, is a monthly magazine devoted to the interest of banks
and bankers, that reflects credit on its editor and the city. It is
well gotten up and presents a neat appearance. The Texas

published by the Texas Magazine Publishing Company,
under the management of Mr. Nelson F. Johnson, and edited
by Harry Van DeMark, is now safely launched on the magazine
sea. Its aim is to exploit the natural, commercial and literary
resources of Texas and to develop home talent in magazine writing,
though its field for contributions is not restricted to Houston
or Texas by any means.
The Vagabond, a monthly, owned, edited and published by
Everett Lloyd, was recently resurrected in Houston. It jousts
a tilt at everything that “is.” The editor calls it “The Diamond
of Free-lance Journalism,” “A Literary Melting Pot,” and says
“It skins Vesuvius for size and spunk.” The Vagabond bristles
with interest and bids fair to prove a success.
The Deutsche Zeitung, is edited and published by Mr. A.
Haxthausen, and appears as a weekly. The Houston Labor
is a weekly devoted to the interests of labor and of
working men. It is neat in appearance and is well edited by
its proprietor, Mr. Max Andrews, whose sanity, fairness and
conservatism have put it on a firm basis. The Jewish Herald, a
weekly publication, devoted to matters of interest to the Hebrew
citizens of Houston, is edited and published by Mr. E. Goldberg.
The Texas Realty Journal, a monthly publication as its name
implies in the interest of real estate, is published by Mr. C. C.
Buckingham, as is also The Texas Tradesman, a journal devoted
largely to the lumber interest. The Texas Word is a weekly publication
owned and edited by Mrs. R. B. Palmer.
The Houston Telegram, published by the Houston Telegram
Publishing Company, made it appearance in 1878, and continued
publication as a daily paper for about two years. This was
really the old Telegraph under a slightly changed name.
In 1880, Mr. Gail Johnson, grandson of Gail Borden, the
founder of the old Telegraph, announced that he would establish
a daily newspaper in Houston, to be known as the Houston
Post. There was some delay in receiving the press, type, and
other material from New York and, Mr. Johnson, having a
thoroughly organized editorial staff, grew impatient and determined
to issue the Post for a short time as an afternoon paper,

having it printed by Mr. W. H. Coyle. This he did and the
Post made its appearance on February 19, 1880. Colonel Bartow
was leading editor; Dr. S. O. Young, associate editor; Mr. D. D.
Bryan, city editor and Mr. Joe Abbey was paragrapher and
writer of special articles and humorous sketches. He was the
first newspaper man in the South to engage exclusively in such
special work. He afterwards gained something of a national
reputation as a humorist. Mr. Johnson was general manager and
had supervision over both the editorial and business departments.
The Post was first edited in an office on the second floor at 61
Main Street, but on March 11, it moved into new quarters, over
the old Cushing Book Store on Franklin Street, opposite the
Hutchins House. The press and printing material having arrived,
the Post was issued as a morning paper on March 30, 1880,
under the new heading, “The Houston Daily Post.”
On February 21, 1881, the paper was moved to the Larendon
Building on Commerce Street, opposite the Court House, where
the Telegram had been located before its suspension. The Post
was favorably received by the people of Houston and had quite
a good circulation throughout the state. Colonel Bartow had
resigned as editor and his place had been filled by Prof. T. J.
Girardeau, a polished writer, and the paper was gaining ground
rapidly in popular favor when the political campaign of 1882
began. Judge J. W. Johnson, the father of Mr. Gail Johnson,
was a staunch Republican, and insisted on having the Post support
Hon. Wash Jones, a brave Confederate soldier, for governor
against Hon. John Ireland, the regular Democratic nominee.
This was done against the protest of Mr. Gail Johnson. The campaign
was a very bitter one and resulted not only in the election
of Ireland but in the obliteration of the Post. The paper lost
ground so rapidly that Judge Johnson who had become sole
owner through the retirement of Mr. Gail Johnson in 1883, was
glad to dispose of it to a number of Houston capitalists who
wanted to have a real Democratic paper. These gentlemen started
with the intention of making the Post a first-class paper and
they did so. They secured the services of Mr. Hardenbrook, an
experienced newspaper man, and gave him free hand to do as he

thought best, and, what was more to the point, they gave him
practically an unlimited supply of money. The paper had
superb backing and loyal support. The Post advanced rapidly in
public favor and became at once one of the leading state papers.
Mr. Tobe Mitchel was brought here from St. Louis and placed
in charge of the editorial department. Hardenbrook gave Mitchel
as free a hand as the backers of the paper had given him.
No expense was spared in gathering the news and the Post soon
became the best and newsiest paper published in the South. This
continued for eight or ten months. Then the capitalists realized
that while it had cost a small fortune to put the Post in first
place among newspapers, it was going to cost another to keep it
there, and they threw up the sponge and quit. The Post collapsed.
The suspension of the Post left Houston without a morning
paper, but this was not to be for long. When the Post suspended,
in addition to the first-class printing plant, there was a large
supply of white paper on hand. Mr. Wm. R. Baker turned over
all this to Dr. S. O. Young, allowed him the free use of the plant
and allowed him to use the paper, paying for what was used and
when it was used, at actual cost. Dr. Young at once organized
a company and on March 14, the first copy of the Houston Chronicle
was issued. The Chronicle was run strictly on the pay-as-you-go
principle. It was not a brilliant newspaper, judged by
the standard of today, but it was a clean, newsy sheet and while
its existence was largely a hand-to-mouth business, it ended its
first year with a fair patronage and not a dollar of debt.
Mr. J. W. Watson and Prof. T. J. Girardeau were at that
time publishing an afternoon paper called the Herald. After
some negotiation these gentlemen and Doctor Young, who had
now secured sole control of the Chronicle, determined to merge
the two papers. This was done and on April 5, 1885, the Chronicle
and Herald were consolidated under the name of the Houston
Post. In its first issue the Post said editorially: “Thousands
throughout Texas will be surprised to see the above caption,
which looks like the materialization of a great but moral enterprise.
The revival of the Post is not to be regarded as an

assumption of the obligations of that paper, but an authorized
use of a name made honorable throughout the state, and the
parties, who have adopted the name after mature deliberation,
feel an assurance of popular sympathy on that point. The late
Post made a brilliant record for itself. * * * * The proprietors
of the new Post emphatically announce as the keynote of their
enterprise the principle of restricting all expenditures within the
limits of income. This may be laughed at, but solid business
men will understand and appreciate this honest position assumed
by the proprietors of the Post.”
The proprietors, Messrs. Girardeau, Young and Watson, the
latter being Mr. J. W. Watson, the business manager of the Post,
“felt a natural confidence in appealing to the community for its
support. They took up the enterprise, not as capitalists nor as
adventurers, but as men known and sized up by their fellow
citizens in a fair and honorable business which must stand or
fall according to the ability displayed and patronage extended.”
The proprietors of the Post had a hard fight to keep their heads
above water. First, Professor Girardeau became discouraged and
disposed of his interest to his two partners. However, they were so
fortunate as to get Col. R. M. Johnson, one of the best and most
practical newspaper men in the country, to take his place. In September,
Doctor Young accepted a flattering offer to become one
of the editorial writers on the Galveston News. This left as sole
proprietors of the Post, Mr. Watson, who was great as a business
manager and Colonel Johnson a most capable editor. They
were dreadfully hampered by the want of money, so in 1886,
they reorganized the Post, turning it into a stock company. The
company became “The Houston Post, Houston Printing Company,
proprietors.” Its officers were: E. P. Hill, president; T.
W. House, vice-president; A. F. Sittig, secretary; R. M. Johnson,
managing editor; J. W. Watson, business manager. The
following named gentlemen were chosen as the first executive
committee of the Company: E. P. Hill, T. W. House, W. R.
Baker, Z. T. Hogan, H. F. Macgregor, and S. Taliaferro. For
a few years the fight was all uphill, but finally the ability of
Colonel Johnson as an editorial writer and manager, backed by

the genius of Mr. Watson as a business manager, told and the
Post became what it is today, a paper which has the admiration
of many people in Texas and a source of pride to Houston. It
won its greatest state popularity by espousing the cause of J. S.
Hogg, in the great Hogg-Clark campaign.
In 1882, on November 1, the Houston Daily Sun made its
appearance. It was a small afternoon paper and had but a short
In April, 1883, The Texas Journal of Education was
removed from San Antonio to Houston. This was a monthly publication
devoted, as its name indicates, to educational matters.
It was in charge of the Public School Superintendents and was
edited through a directory, of which Mr. Wilkens was president.
The great bulk of its contents was supplied by the superintendents
of the different public schools of the State.
The Texas Scrap Book, an eight page, 48 column weekly
began publication March 10, 1886, H. R. Zintgraff & Co., publishers.
It soon suspended publication, but was revived, February
1887, by Spencer Hutchins & Co., who had bought the title and
subscription list, and who assumed all liabilities.
Mr. W. E. Bailey, in 1884, began the publication of the
Houston Herald, an afternoon paper. Mr. Bailey, though
quite a young man, was a good and experienced newspaper
worker and a forcible writer. He had ideas of
his own, among them being that no man's financial or
social position should shield him from publicity if he deviated in
the slightest from the straight and narrow path. The Herald soon
began creating almost daily sensations. It claimed that it told
nothing but the truth, and intimated that all those who felt
aggrieved could obtain satisfaction either through the courts
or by calling at the Herald office and interviewing the editor personally.
One or two adopted the latter method but they found
Mr. Bailey as ready with his hardware as he was with his pen,
and in every case the aggrieved ones came off more aggrieved
than ever. Of course, the Herald became immensely popular
and unpopular, but both added to its circulation, and soon this
circulation increased to large proportions. The advertisements

poured in, too, and in a few months the Herald was firmly established.
The Herald continued its live-wire existence for several
years and then, its founder having amassed a small fortune,
became more conservative. The Herald became less caustic and
prosy and the public to some extent lost interest in it. In
1902, the Herald, though still a good paper, had lost ground and
Mr. Bailey was glad to dispose of it to Mr. M. E. Foster, who
had organized the Houston Chronicle, and who offered to buy the
plant and good will of the Herald. On October 14th, 1902, the
publication of the Houston Chronicle was begun as an afternoon
paper. That date marks a red letter day in the history of afternoon
Journalism in Texas, for from its first issue the Chronicle
became the leading and best afternoon paper in the South. Mr.
Foster has rare talent as an organizer and he also has executive
ability of high order. Every detail had been thought out and
arranged in advance, with the result that when the Chronicle
made its appearance, it was on a plane that would have consumed
months to attain, had ordinary, time-worn methods been followed.
The success of the Chronicle has been phenomenal from its first
issue and today it stands a monument to the wisdom and ability
of its founder, Mr. M. E. Foster. On October 16, the Chronicle
began the publication of a Sunday morning edition. The circulation
of both the afternoon daily and the Sunday morning
editions is very large and extends over the whole state. The
paper has made itself very popular by its advocacy of measures
for the suppression of gambling, the “pistol toters,” mob violence,
and, of the officers of the law who shoot fleeing prisoners to prevent
their escape. February 28th, 1910, the Chronicle moved into
its new 10-story skyscraper on Travis Street and Texas Avenue
and celebrated the occasion by coming out in a new dress.
Marcellus E. Foster was an expert newspaper man when he
established the Chronicle. He had risen to the position of managing
editor of the Houston Daily Post and had inaugurated on
that paper some of its most lasting and popular features such as
the Happyhammer Page. It was the policy of the Chronicle to
put a premium on newspaper excellence in newsgathering and
story writing and Mr. Foster surrounded himself with a brilliant

staff of specialists. C. B. Gillespie became managing editor. He
combined brilliance with a genius for hard work and with kindliness
and tact. The men on the Chronicle always do team work.
Among those who have added to their reputation and that of the
paper, are W. S. Gard, Frank Putnam, B. H. Carroll, Jr., C. H.
Abbott, George E. Kepple, O. O. Ballard, Billie Mayfield, John
Regan, Chester Colby and the jolly crew of newsgatherers that
are still connected with the paper.
The Chronicle has the largest sworn circulation of any
paper in the state and with the exception of the Dallas News has
the largest list of subscribers of any daily paper in Texas. Its
home is the best equipped newspaper plant South of New York
and the Chronicle plant is one of the show sites of the city. The
Chronicle has successfully conducted a number of crusades
against social and political evils and has always been on the
side of cleanness and political honesty.
The Galveston News, which has a strong following and a
large circulation in Houston was represented here for many
years by Colonel Hamp Cook, the dean of the newspaper fraternity
of the city. In June, 1907, Mr. J. R. Montgomery took
charge of the news end of the Houston office and has been brilliantly
successful. A. P. Vaughn is the local business manager.
Many men of natural reputation in journalism are now
or have been connected with the Houston press. Besides several
of those just named on the Chronicle, George Bailey of “red-headed
widows” and “heavenly Houston,” fame, of the Post,
and Judd Mortimer Lewis, the sweet singer of the South are here
now. W. C. Brann, the pyrotechnic writer and founder of the
Iconoclast once worked in Houston, and all unrecognized O.
Henry, the most famous American writer of short stories, once
worked as a newsgatherer in Houston for $16 per week. Karl
Crow went to China from Houston; J. C. Dionne has achieved
reputation as a special writer on lumber, and the honor roll of
Houston journalists is a long one and filled with the record of
worthy achievement.
The first Houston author was a Mr. Kerr who wrote a book
of poems, which he published at his own expense, about 1837.

It is doubtful if there is a copy of this wonderful book in existence
today, for forty years ago it was so rare that Judge John
Brashear paid $200 for a copy, part of which was torn off. The
book was made up of personal and descriptive poems and was
on the order of the poem written and dedicated to General Braxton
Bragg by the late Doctor Cooper, the well remembered horse
doctor of Houston, which began:
“There's General Bragg, the noble stag,
Who made the Yankee soldiers wag
At Chic-a-magua.”
Kerr's poems were just that kind and he described Galveston
as follows:
“Galveston Island, long and low,
Devoid of trees and shruberee;
Small vessels there can safely go,
And find safety and securitee.”
The book contained about fifty “poems,” all on the order
of the sample given. The poem is not in any way a representative
sample of the literary efforts of the early Houstonians. It
is given place here merely because it was the earliest effort of
which any record exists.
One of the earliest prose writers who published his books
was Mr. Cyrus S. Oberly. He was a man of education and
considerable literary ability. He published three stories, each
based largely on his own experience as a Texas ranger during
the Cortina raids and during the Comanche and Apachie troubles.
He was for nearly three years with the rangers on the Texas
frontier, and, of course, had a large fund of personal experience
from which to draw in the construction of his stories. He sold
the copyrights to a New York publishing house, and in consequence,
his books had a much wider circulation in the East than
they did at home. He wrote charming newspaper verse and was
a regular contributor to the new Orleans Sunday Picayune which,
at that time, had a regular literary department. But for his
excessive modesty and his proneness to hide his light under a
bushel, Mr. Oberly would have attained a much wider reputation

as a literary man than he had at the time of his death, and to
which he was entitled by his really fine literary productions.
The year 1885 seems to have been one in which the literary
talent of Houston shone with peculiar brilliancy. During that
year, Mrs. Ella Stewart, now Mrs. Seybrook Sydnor, published
“Gems from a Texas Quarry,” a compilation of the writings
of Texas authors, a book which found a safe place in Texas literature.
Mr. James Everett McAshan was brought into prominence
that year by the publication of a paper on “The Jew,”
which was a scholarly production and would have established his
reputation as a thinker and writer had he published nothing
more. He became a regular contributor to Texas Siftings and
wrote many charming short stories, which were widely reproduced.
Mrs. Lee C. Harby was a writer of both prose and verse.
She was a regular contributor to the leading magazines and as
a short story writer, she had few equals.
Miss Claudia M. Girardeau laid the foundation of her literary
reputation in Houston. Many of her earlier poems and
stories appeared in the Post and in other local publications. Her
short stories, won for her a wide reputation. Like Mrs. Harby,
she seemed equally at ease either in prose or verse.
Miss Willa Lloyd was another of the writers of 1885. She
wrote verses but her chief strength lay in writing sketches and
short stories of domestic life.
Mrs. Paul Bremond was the author of a libretto which made
quite a reputation for her, both here and in New York. She
also wrote salable descriptive articles on travel and some meritorious
short stories.
Judge Norman G. Kittrell is one of the most prolific writers
Houston has ever had. His writings have been confined to no
particular field. He is equally at home in law, art, music, literature,
or whatever he chooses to attempt. He has written a novel,
a school text book and essays and special articles on innumerable
subjects. His novel, “Ned Nigger and Gentleman” was dramatized
for a time and had great success. In 1909, he published
a valuable text book called by him “A Primer of the Government
of Texas.”


The Texas State Press Association had its birth in Houston.
In response to a call that had been published in the papers over
the state, a number of Texas editors assembled in the parlors of
the Hutchins House on Franklin Avenue, May 18, 1880, for the
purpose of organizing the Texas Press Association. Major E. W.
Cave, an old printer, but at that time one of the general officers
of the Houston and Texas Central Railroad, welcomed the visitors
in an eloquent address, which was responded to by Hon. Hall
Gosling, of the Castroville Quill. After the speech-making was
over, the editors settled down to work and perfected a complete
organization by the adoption of a constitution and by-laws, and
the election of officers. At night a banquet was given in honor
of the visiting editors by the Houston Cotton Exchange and
Houston merchants. Little beyond organization was done at
that meeting.
The association met in Houston the following year. Col.
Geo. H. Sweet of the Galveston Journal of Commerce, was the
orator and a poem was read by Miss Florence M. Gerald of Waco.
The session lasted for three days and much good work was done
by the association during that time. The association held the
two following annual sessions in Houston and then determined,
as the Medical Association had done, that it would be more conducing
to the growth and health of the association to meet at a
different point in the state each year. Houston has not been forgotten
by the editors, however, and it has had the honor of entertaining
them once or twice since they determined to abandon
this city as their permanent headquarters.

[Back to top]

Transportation and Communication

Early Transportation Difficulties. An Early Monopoly Proposed.
The First Railroad. Other Early Roads. The G.
H. & H. Road. Beginning of Texas and New Orleans Line.
Railroads During War and Reconstruction Days. Systems
Center in Houston. The Plank Road Company. The Ox-Wagon
Trade. Paul Bremond's Enterprise. Growing Need
for Roads. Houston as Terminus for Seventeen Roads.
Houston's Railroad Trackage, Trains and Headquarters.
Sunset Central System. Katy and Sap Terminals. Santa
Fe and Frisco Lines. Bayou Navigation. The Wharfage
Fight. Charles Morgan and the Ship Channel. The Government
and the Channel. Deepening the Channel. Bayou
Traffic. Houston Terminal Company. First Street Car
Company. Extending Street Railways. Operation Under Stone-Webster
Syndicate. Trackage and Pay Roll. Houston
Galveston Interurban. Earliest Telegraph Service. Beginnings
of Telephone Service. Present Telegraph Service in
Houston. Southwestern Telegraph and Telephone Company.
Automatic Telephone Company. Wireless Telegraphy.

In the very early days, the question of transportation was the
most serious that confronted the pioneer. Except at and near
La Bahia, now Goliad; Bexar, now San Antonio, and Nacogodoches,
the whole country was a wilderness. These were small but
very important Spanish settlements. The early settler had difficulties
to overcome in getting into Texas and greater ones in
reaching outside markets for his products, after he established
himself here. His choice of transportation was limited to scarcely
navigable streams, and to the slow and tedious ox-wagons over
dangerous and almost impassable trails.
Under such conditions, it is not surprising that so soon as the
city of Houston was located, its natural advantages were recognized

and it became the center of growth, commerce and trade
of the new Republic. The founders of Houston were not slow in
appreciating their advantageous position as the natural connecting
link between land and water transportation, and as early as
1838 four steamboats were carrying cotton and other Texas products
from Houston to New Orleans.
In 1839, the Republic of Texas appropriated $315,000 for
the improvement of Texas rivers and harbors, but strange to say
no one seems to have been wide awake enough to have attempted
to have any part of the appropriation used for the improvement
of Buffalo Bayou. Doubtless such action was deemed unnecessary,
for the main transportation difficulties were encountered on
land and not on water. Stage-coach lines and freight wagons
were organized and put in operation, and for years, these and
ox-wagons were the only means of communication between Houston
and the interior.
Such means were not only very expensive but were absolutely
dangerous because of the hostile and blood-thirsty Indians and
thieving Mexicans. These difficulties and costs of communication
were thus referred to by President Houston in 1840, when
speaking of the removal of the seat of government from Houston
to Austin: “During the last year the expense to the government
for transportation to Austin, over and above what it would have
been to any point on the seaboard, exceeded $70,000, and the extra
cost of the mails, aside from all other inconveniences attending
its remote and detached situation, amounted to many thousands
of dollars more.” He explained these facts by reference to the
dangers to life and property from attacks by Indians and from
frequent raids on the Mexican frontier.
By the late forties, Houston was recognized not only as the
most important connecting link between the outside world and
the interior of Texas, but as the nexus between the older states
and the Pacific Coast. As a result a great many men entered
the transportation business and it assumed important proportions.
It was expensive to shippers and travelers, but it must not be
supposed that it was all clear profit to its operators. It cost one
passenger $200 to ride 1,400 miles and it took 30 days to make

the trip. It cost a shipper one dollar to ship 100 pounds of
freight 100 miles.
Unquestionably this lack of transportation delayed the settlement
of the state and as late as 1850 only 16 counties in the whole
state had a tax valuation of as much as a million dollars. Harris
County with its water and land transportation had reached a valuation
of more than a million and a half at that time. Houston
at the head of navigation, was the wholesale center and the chief
commercial and financial city in Texas and was, in consequence,
a center of some importance.
There were schemes and schemers even in the very first days
of the Republic. The first of these was the “Texas Railroad and
Navigation Company,” whose promoters sought to have a monopoly
of and control of the transportation facilities and banking
of the new Republic. The charter, dated 1836, authorized the
company to connect the waters of the Sabine and Rio Grande
Rivers by means of railroads, canals and rivers, grouped under
the name of “internal navigation and railroads.” There was
a banking side, too. The promoters had the right of eminent
domain and a gratuity of half a mile of land on either side of
their right-of-way, and they had begun a campaign of education
among the people to teach them how much they were going
to do for them when the whole thing was knocked on the head
by timely legislation, which took all the life out of the enterprise.
The plan, as a whole, was the initial step in the transportation
and navigation question which was put before the people of
Texas year after year for many years. It was revived in improved
form a few years ago by those who desire to incorporate
it in a great national inter-costal waterway.
While the commerce of the state was carried on by such crude
means as wagons drawn by oxen and horses, as late as 1850, it
must not be supposed that the question of railroads was neglected.
As a matter of fact railroad building had actually begun ten
years before then. In 1840 the Harrisburg and Brazos Valley
people let a contract for 3,000 ties and engaged a force of negroes
to do grading. The road, later to become the Galveston, Harrisburg
and San Antonio Railway, was not yet incorporated. Its

directing genius was A. Brisco. The Houston Morning Star in
May, 1840, announced that many laborers were “throwing up the
track and preparing it for the rails at an early season,” and that
more would soon be so employed. In 1841, the men controlling the
enterprise were incorporated under the name of the Harrisburg
Railroad and Trading Company. But they soon abandoned their
enterprise, and nothing was accomplished until some years later.
It was not until 1847 that it again showed signs of life, this time
under the name of the Buffalo Bayou, Brazos and Colorado Railroad.
Columbia and Alleyton were the terminal points first
determined on.
In 1847, General Sidney Sherman acquired control of the
road, bought most of the lots at Harrisburg, gained the assistance
of Northern capitalists and got a charter for the road. His
local fellow incorporators were: Hugh McLeod, John G. Todd,
John Angier, Jonathan F. Barrett, E. A. Allen, W. M. Rice, W.
A. Van Alstyne, James H. Stevens, B. A. Shepherd, and W. J.
Hutchins. These men were all prominently identified with Houston
and Galveston. The spring of 1851 saw the beginning of
the survey westward, and the beginning of actual construction,
though it was not until late in the next year that rails were laid.
At that time the first locomotive ever in Texas arrived. It was
named the “General Sherman.”
The road was finished in 1852 as far as the Brazos, 32 miles
from Harrisburg and in 1860, nine years after it had been begun,
it was constructed to Alleyton, 42 miles farther. The intention
had been to put this line through to Austin, but San Antonio
eventually became its logical objective point.
In 1858 the Columbus, San Antonio and Rio Grande Railroad
Company was incorporated. Its object was to construct a
line from Columbus, via Gonzales to San Antonio. It was
planned to connect this road with the Buffalo Bayou, Brazos and
Colorado road at Alleyton by the Columbus Tap road, but work
was stopped by the war and was not resumed for several years.
But the progressive citizens of Houston were not content with
only one railroad, and it reaching out towards the West. They
recognized the existence of a large and rapidly expanding territory

to the North and Northeast and took steps to provide for its
The Houston and Texas Central Railroad (though not by
that name) was organized in 1848 and was called the Galveston
and Red River Railroad. Under its first charter Galveston was
to have been its Southern terminus. Its charter was amended,
in 1852, and this also was superseded by a new charter, in 1856,
by which the line was given the name it bears today. Grading
was begun at Houston, in 1853. There were only two miles of
road completed when the first locomotive was put on. With the
locomotive came two men, one of whom was destined to become
one of the most progressive and able railroad managers in Texas.
This was C. A. Burton, who was the first engineer and ran the
first locomotive for the Houston and Texas Central Railroad,
and who afterwards became the general superintendent of the
road. The other was a young man named Dawson, who was the
first fireman. He died of yellow fever during the epidemic that
occurred soon after his arrival. Twenty-five miles of road was
completed by 1856 and ten miles more by May, 1857. It was
extended to Hempstead by 1858, and to Millican in 1860. This
was eighty miles of road, just about the same as that of the
Buffalo Bayou, Brazos and Colorado road. By the completion of
these roads Houston established its claim to be considered the
great distributing point.
During the period from 1857 to 1860, the Washington
County Railroad, a branch of the Houston and Texas Central,
was built, as an independent enterprise, from Hempstead to
Brenham, 21 miles. Brenham was then one of the most important
points in Texas.
The Galveston, Houston and Henderson Railroad, built as
an outlet to the Gulf, via Galveston, for lines centering in Houston
was begun at Virginia Point opposite Galveston, in 1854, and
was finished to Houston in 1858. Its length was 42 miles, and in
many respects it was and is one of the most important bits of
railroad ever constructed in Texas. Until the summer of 1859
passengers and freight were ferried from Virginia Point to the

Island, but a bridge across the bay was then constructed and
in 1860 Houston had direct connection with Galveston by rail.
Houston began, in 1856, the construction of the Houston
Tap and Brazoria Railroad, seven miles in length, to connect with
the Buffalo Bayou, Brazos and Colorado Railroad at Pierce
Junction. The Houston Tap and Brazoria Railroad Company
was later organized to take over the Buffalo Bayou, Brazos and
Colorado road, which it did and in 1861, extended it to Columbia,
on the Brazos River, a distance of fifty miles from Houston. That
line is now a part of the International and Great Northern
The Texas and New Orleans road, now of the Southern
Pacific system, was originally chartered under the name of the
Sabine and Galveston Bay Railroad and Lumber Company. It
was intended to build a line from Madison to Orange, via
Beaumont to tide water on Galveston Bay. The Company was
chartered in 1859 as the Texas and New Orleans Railroad, the
plans of its projectors having been changed and a new charter
becoming necessary. By this charter the company was organized
to accept an act passed by the Louisiana legislature legalizing
the construction of the Louisiana part of the line; and that part
in Texas was to be known as the Texas division.
Actual construction of the road was begun at Houston, in
1858, and it was completed to Liberty, 40 miles, by 1860. In
January, 1861, it had been completed to Orange, on the Sabine
River, 111 miles distant from Houston. The strategic importance
of this road became apparent so soon as the Civil War broke out,
for its value would be inestimable in case of the blockade of Texas
ports, and the people of Louisiana were urged to complete the
link between the Texas border and New Orleans. However nothing
was done and the road remained in its unfinished state until
long after the war. The Civil War paralyzed railroad building
as it did other industries. At the close of the war, Houston had
371 miles of railroad centering here.
The Texas railroads suffered more than almost all other
interests combined, during the war. The State Comptroller in a
report after the war, said that the railways had been so crippled
and disorganized as a result of the four years struggle, that
most of the lines had ceased to be anything more than names.
Train service over the Houston Tap and Brazoria Railroad was
abandoned in the early sixties, and at the comptroller's office, in
1865, it was not known definitely if the Texas and New Orleans
road was in operation or not, so meager were the details. It had
been reported as in bad condition and unfit for use. The Buffalo
Bayou, Brazos and Colorado road was without rolling
stock, road bed, bridges or anything else and had been abandoned.
The Houston and Texas Central was in a dilapidated
condition and unsafe.
During the reconstruction period some of the roads were
forced to organize, others to completely reorganize while others
were sold outright by the state. By 1870 practically every road
in the state was in new hands. Then systems of lines began to
take shape. Outside roads began pushing towards the Texas
border and Houston became the center of a system as important
as any in the South, and more pregnant with future greatness
than any other railway center in the South or West.
Today Houston is the center of several great railway systems
in Texas.
The Southern Pacific, usually known as the Harriman lines,
entering Houston, are the Galveston, Harrisburg and San Antonio;
Houston and Texas Central; Texas and New Orleans;
and the Houston East and West Texas. The San Antonio and
Arkansas Pass road, formerly of the system, was separated from

it by the railway commission and is now listed as an independent
Chief of the Gould group is the International and Great
Northern, 1,106 miles in length, with its headquarters in
This is the only line crossing the state from northeast to southwest.
The next in importance is the Galveston, Houston
and Henderson. The Houston Tap and Brazoria road, formerly
an independent line is now part of the International and is
known as the Columbia Tap. The mileage of the Gould group
of roads is 2,923 miles, and there are more roads belonging to
it than to any other system in the state.
In the early eighties it was of relatively more importance
than it is now, and controlled the Missouri Pacific and the Missouri
Kansas and Texas roads. The Missouri Pacific divided the
International and Great Northern into two branches, one from
Longview to Houston via Palestine; the other from St. Louis
to Houston, via the Iron Mountain road to Texarkana, and the
International and Great Northern to Houston, and from the
Texas and Pacific to Longview. By a lease of the track of the
Galveston, Houston and Henderson road for 99 years, an outlet
for the International and Great Northern to Galveston was
Down to June, 1907, the Santa Fe lines in Texas aggregated
1,776 miles. Many miles have been built since, nearly all in
west Texas. The main line to Galveston was not originally the
property of the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Company. Galveston
had suffered so much from having Houston quarantine
against her every time there was a yellow-fever scare that she
determined to build a railroad of her own which would be independent
of Houston and reach the interior without coming to or
through Houston at all. With this object in view the Santa
Fe was built past Houston, but eventually built into Houston
from Alvin.
The Katy, or Missouri, Kansas and Texas system, entering
Houston from the northwest, is one of the most important freight
and passenger lines in Texas. It is made up of numerous small
lines, bought and consolidated to form one strong system. From

1880 to 1888, the Missouri Pacific Company operated under a
lease. For a time, as already noted, the Katy controlled the
International and Great Northern, but now it controls less than
1,000 miles in Texas.
The Rock Island system is generally regarded as being allied
with the Colorado and Southern system. Of this system the Trinity
and Brazos Valley line was formerly the mainstay and the outlet
to Houston and the Gulf. That line maintains general offices
in Houston. The Rock Island people, operating largely in Oklahoma
and Kansas, wanted a direct line for shipment of grain to
the Gulf, and the Trinity and Brazos Valley trackage was the
most desirable of any that was available. When the Frisco separated
from the Rock Island, it built a Gulf connecting line
through Louisiana to Houston, completed in 1909, and absorbed
the Gulf coast line to Brownsville. At the present time it has
no other local connection. The section of country that it seeks
to develop lies south and west of Houston. A traffic manager
makes his headquarters here, and the general offices of the road
are in the Binz Building. Its lines entering Houston are the
St. Louis, Brownsville and Mexican line, the Frisco Lines east
and the line of the Houston Belt and Terminal Co. The B. F.
Yoakum interests are generally considered as controlling these
The Houston Belt and Terminal Railroad Company, owned
and controlled by the Gulf, Colorado and Santa Fe, the Frisco
lines in Texas, the St. Louis, Brownsville and Mexican and the
Trinity and Brazos Valley railroads, was organized in June,
1906. It is strictly a Houston enterprise and all material used
in its construction was bought, so far as possible, in Houston.
Its new depot is one of the handsomest structures of the kind in
the country. It is a three-story, steel-frame building of Doric
architecture. Its exterior is faced with St. Louis red brick and
its interior is finished in Italian marble. The building fronts
on Crawford Street, 250 feet between Texas and Prairie Avenues,
and its covered platforms and its sheds extend back 1,000
feet. Its freight depots are almost equally important.
In the foregoing pages is given a brief summary of the

railroad history of Houston from the earliest date to the present
time, and while it shows in a general way that Houston had
much to do with formulating and perfecting nearly all the earlier
plans, it does not show how vitally important was the work
done by individual Houstonians, nor does it show the clear and
intelligent appreciation of the magnitude of the work undertaken,
possessed by the pioneer railroad builders in Houston.
Even before the movement for the construction of a railroad
towards the North had taken form, and while the whole
question had scarcely advanced beyond the stage of intention,
Houston men were busy devising means to secure more rapid
communication with the interior of the state. On February 7th,
1850, the Brazos Plank Road Company was incorporated. Its
incorporators were: E. B. Nichols, Paul Bremond, Wm. J.
Hutchins, W. M. Rice, A. S. Ruthven, B. A. Shepherd, Thomas
M. Bagby, James H. Stevens, S. L. Allen, William A. Van
Alstyne, A. McGowan, T. W. House, Francis Moore, and C.
On June 23, 1852, a meeting was held at the Capitol Hotel,
for the purpose of appointing delegates to a railroad meeting in
Washington County. Judge H. F. Allen was chairman and
Henry Sampson, secretary, of the Houston meeting. Five delegates,
J. C. Massie, T. M. Bagby, C. Ennis, A. S. Ruthven, and
Judge Allen were appointed to represent Houston at the convention
which was to meet at Chappell Hill on July 3. Paul
Bremond, A. J. Burke, W. M. Rice, Abram Groesbeck, and
Henry Sampson, were appointed a corresponding committee.
The following resolutions were adopted:
“Whereas, the citizens of Houston are duly sensible of
the present importance and growing necessity of greatly increasing
facilities of communication and transportation with those
portions of the state whence the most valuable trade of said city
is derived; and
“Whereas, the growth of population, production and wealth
in the interior already authorized and demand the expenditure
of capital in the attainment of that object; it is, therefore
“Resolved:—That the city of Houston will do its part

toward any system of internal improvement calculated to advance
her interests and facilitate her commerce with the interior, that
may be found practical and expedient.
“Resolved:—That this meeting is fully impressed with the
conviction that the trade of this city and the interests of the
people of the Brazos and Colorado Valleys demand the construction
of a railroad from this city to Austin, the capital of
the state, and that with proper exertion and the aid within our
reach, the construction of such road is entirely practicable.
“Resolved:—That the citizens of Houston will gladly cooperate
with the people of Washington County and of other
counties, in the proposed mass meeting to be held at Chappell
Hill, July 3, proximo, and that delegates be sent to represent
this city at that meeting.”
The day after that meeting the Telegraph, while strongly
advocating the building of a railroad, also urged adhering to
the idea of the plank road. The argument it used was that the
necessity for better facilities for communication with the interior
was a present and pressing need and one that could not be
delayed. It stated that the Plank Road Company, chartered
two years before, already had about 23 miles graded and that
the road could be planked and thus rendered immediately available,
at very small cost. It then pointed out that a charter
could not be obtained for a railroad under three years, and that
the charters then in existence were worse than useless because
they were all loaded down with “tapping” privileges which gave
outsiders the right to tap the road every few miles with lines
only a few miles long, thus enabling them to gain the advantage
of facilities which cost the originators millions of dollars, without
rendering any return benefit.
However neither the plank road nor the Chappell Hill discussed
railroad was ever built, nor advanced further than the
stage of agitation and talk. The graded road was used, just as
it was, and unquestionably did good service, for the trade of
Houston in the early fifties had grown to no mean proportions.
Had the merchants of that day been less unselfish, or rather
less far-seeing, the actual construction of railroads might have

been longer delayed than it was. As to Rome, all roads led to
Houston, and the people of the interior had to come here whether
they cared to do so or not. The difficulties of transportation
were things that concerned those only who had to reach the only
market in the state, and relying on her natural advantages,
Houston could afford to be dilatory about furnishing rapid
transportation to her less fortunate customers. The volume of
trade was very great, and very profitable. An idea of the magnitude
of the ox-wagon trade, and the number of those engaged
in it can be formed from reading the following extract from an
editorial published in the Telegraph, May 2, 1855:
“The editor of the Panoplist says, if he were called on to
say what was the ‘peculiar institution’ of Houston, he would say
it was ox-teams and teamsters. He spoke the truth. Ox-teams
and teamsters have been the pride and glory of this city for
many years. Whatever else might have been dispensed with as
instruments of its prosperity, they are indispensable, for they
form the connecting link between the merchant and the planter,
without which both merchant and planter could do nothing.
They have a position in this great and growing state second to
no other interest, and they stand in the same relation to the
general prosperity that railroads, canals and steamboats do in
New York and Pennsylvania.
“Not less than 4,000 bales of cotton have arrived in this
city in the last two weeks on ox-wagons, giving employment to
4,690 yoke of oxen and 670 wagons and drivers. Besides the
above there have been at least 200 arrivals of wagons freighted
with other produce than cotton. But let us calculate the amount
of capital and industry employed in handling cotton alone.
“Last year, with a short crop, the receipts at this point were
in round numbers 38,000 bales. The loads average from 3 to 10
bales, according to the roads, but, say, an average of 6 bales
to the wagon, which is probably over the mark, then there were
6,333 trips required for last year's business. Many wagons
make from four to six trips per year. At an average of four
trips there were 1,566 wagons, giving employment to an army

of teamsters twice as large as the number of men engaged in
whipping Mexico at San Jacinto.
“Each of these wagons require on an average, seven yoke of
oxen, which, with regular teamsters, are changed for fresh
cattle several times each year. Wagoners tell us that it requires
a fresh team as they are almost exclusively fed by grazing along
the road. At this rate it requires, in round numbers, 25,000
yoke of oxen for the year's business. Oxen are worth an average
of $50 a yoke. Wagons, complete, $150 each. The capital
engaged was as follows:
25,000 yoke of oxen at $50 a yoke $1,250,000
1,566 wagons at $150 each 234,900
Making a total of $1,484,900
The expense of a trip will average $40, and the gross amount
of freight money about $100, giving the result of the business as
Freight, at $100 per trip on 6,333 trips $633,300
Less expense, $40 per trip 253,320
Net profit $380,010
“The cotton transported last year was fully 40 per cent less
than the whole transport engaged in the trade. In fact the upfreight
from this point required much more than 40 per cent
greater transportation than the cotton, to say nothing of the
corn, sugar, and molasses, hides, skins, etc., brought to this market.
There must be considerably more than two million dollars
invested in transportation to and from Houston, two-thirds of
which would be unnecessary if we had about 200 miles of railroad;
or, in other words, here is $1,300,000 that might be invested
in railroads to great advantage.
“We can have no sort of transportation without capital, and
delay investment in railroads as we may, a similar investment
must be made in wagons and oxen, which means that in about
three of four years more instead of 2,000 wagons we will require
8,000, at a cost of about five million dollars. Wagons and oxen
last about five years and when worn out are a total loss. Railroads

can be constantly repaired, and the cost of repairs in
twenty years is only equal to the original investment. These
figures are merely estimates, but they are approximately correct
and they serve to show what large sums of money are being
thrown away each year on present means of transportation.
“We hope the day is near at hand when railroads will be
one of the ‘peculiar institutions’ of this city and of the state,
when the ox shall give way to the iron horse which travels with
twenty times the speed of the ox and carries a thousand times
its burden.”
Notwithstanding the fact that the charter of the Houston
and Texas Central Railroad was fairly bristling with “tapping”
privileges, the handful of live and progressive citizens of Houston
determined not to wait until the old charter could be amended
or a new one obtained, but to go ahead and begin the construction
of the road at once. These pioneer railroad builders were Paul
Bremond, Wm. R. Baker, Wm. M. Rice, Cornelius Ennis, Wm.
J. Hutchins, A. S. Ruthven, B. A. Shepherd, T. W. House, W. A.
Van Alstyne, James H. Stevens, and Dr. Francis Moore. Although
these men were the leading merchants, bankers and
business men of Houston, not one of them was wealthy, measured
by the standard of today, and it is highly improbable that as
much capital was invested in the railroad when the first steps
were taken towards its construction, as would be required for
the construction of a modern skyscraper. They had what proved
to be about as powerful as capital, an unlimited supply of grit
and determination. Once having put their shoulders to the
wheel, all thought of failure or weakness was abandoned.
The first shovel of dirt was thrown up by Mr. Paul Bremond
on January 1, 1853, at a point that would be crossed by a line
continuing Louisiana Street across the bayou, near where
McGowan's Foundry stood. A contract for the construction thus
begun had been made, but before the road reached a point about
where the old city limits were, the contractor threw up his contract
and left town. As soon as he realized the magnitude of his
undertaking, he quit. Mr. Bremond had never had the slightest
experience as a contractor, yet he did not hesitate, but promptly

took the contract himself. It was not long before every dollar
that had been paid into the treasury was gone and Mr. Bremond
had spent his own fortune and stretched his credit almost
to the breaking point, and yet the actual laborers were not paid.
Sub-contractors became disgusted and quit. The laborers became
more than disgusted. They armed themselves with clubs and
hunted for Mr. Bremond, going in gangs on Saturday nights,
and individually on other days of the week. They attacked
his home and carried away his fence when they found they
could not get him to carry away. No railroad builder ever had
so strenuous a time as he. Yet he was not discouraged. He
had made up his mind to build that road and he did it. He was
not an orator; in fact he was no speaker at all, and yet on the few
occasions when he was caught by the outraged laborers, he succeeded
in talking himself out of “a bad fix,” and convinced the
laborers that he was the best friend they had and one who was
acting for their best interest. As an illustration of this peculiar
gift as a conversationalist in that special line the following story
used to be told:
One of the sub-contractors, growing weary of his inability to
get a settlement of his account, went to one of the leading lawyers,
and after explaining all its details placed his claim in his hands
for collection. The lawyer told him he would go over and talk
with Mr. Bremond. “No, you keep away from him, for it will
do no good and he will convince you that I owe him money before
he gets through,” said the client. The lawyer insisted on going
anyway and told the contractor to wait in his office until he
came back. He was gone for quite a time and came back looking
worried. In reply to a question as to what he thought of the
case, the lawyer blurted out: “I think you have treated Bremond
d—–d badly and I'll have nothing to do with your case.”
“It is pleasant to recount that not a man who ever trusted
Mr. Bremond, willingly or through compulsion, ever lost a cent.
He paid everything in the end and paid it willingly. The truth
is he was an enthusiast, he looked ahead and discounted the
future. He knew what he could do if given time and assistance.
He had faith enough to invest all of his own fortune, and a large

part of the fortune of several of his friends, and he asked only
that others should contribute their time and labor to the same end.
It took Paul Bremond five years of actual warfare and concentrated
trouble and discord, to build fifty miles of road. But
when the road had reached Hempstead, the worst of its troubles
were over. The rich and rather densely settled countries near
there became at once tributary to the road and it began to be
something of what its projectors had claimed it would be.
Thirty miles more were built in the next two years, and then
the great Civil War broke out and stopped everything. However,
the Houston and Texas Central road had grown to good
proportions, had reached about to the, then, center of production
and was fairly and safely on its feet.
While the early fifties seem to have brought about a realization
on the part of the people of Houston of the fact that the railroads
were necessary to bring the products of the state here,
railroads were also equally necessary to carry them to tide water.
The fact that the facilities afforded by Buffalo Bayou were inadequate
and that these must be added to become apparent. With
that object in view, a railroad meeting composed of leading
citizens of Galveston and Houston, was held at the Capitol Hotel
in 1852, for the purpose of discussing the construction of a line
of railroad from Houston to Galveston. Hon. Hamilton Stewart,
mayor of Galveston was selected as chairman, Messrs. M. B.
Menard, Willard Richardson and Hiram Close of Galveston; Col.
D. J. Landes, of Washington County; Hon. David G. Burnett,
Frances Moore, Jr., and Hon. Ashbel Smith, of Harris County,
as vice-presidents, and William R. Baker, of Houston, and H.
H. Smith, of Galveston, as secretaries. A committee of thirteen
was appointed to outline a plan of campaign, and to take steps
towards a thorough organization. Immediately after the adjournment,
Houston subscribed $300,000 towards the building of
the road, and Galveston did equally as well. However, it was not
until two years later that actual construction was begun, and
the road was not completed until 1858. This road is now known
as the Galveston, Houston and Henderson Railroad and forms
part of the Gould system of roads. It is one of the best pieces

of railroad in the United States, and one of the best paying railroads
in the country as well.
Houston having thus secured a road to the North, one to the
South and one to the West, Mr. Bremond, (the same man who
built the Houston and Texas Central), conceived the idea of a
great east and west line, one that would traverse the richest
sections of the state. For a long time he tried to interest outside
capitalists as well as those at home, in his plans, but failed.
Then, realizing what he had accomplished before, he determined
to build the road himself with his own resources. His idea was
to build a line from Shreveport to Houston and from Houston
to Santa Fe, New Mexico. He concluded to build the Shreveport
end first, and accordingly, on July 4, 1876, he threw the
first spade of earth for his road at a point near the old Texas
and New Orleans depot, in the Fifth ward. Mr. Paul Bremond
was president of the road, and his son-in-law, Major S. C.
Timpson was secretary and treasurer. Mr. Bremond again had
a strenuous time in railroad building, but profiting by his former
experience, and above all by the reputation he had earned
then of carrying out anything that he undertook, he soon got
everything moving along smoothly and built the road to Shreveport
and constructed about twenty miles of the line to the west
before his death. For some reason the western branch was
never completed.
A fact not generally appreciated is that of the seventeen
railroads centering at Houston, there is not one that does not
make Houston its terminus. There are no through trains entering
or leaving Houston. There are through Pullman coaches
and passenger cars, but no through freight trains, and all trains
leaving here are made up in Houston.
Houston is the greatest railroad center in the Southwest, and
there are more railroad employees paid off in Houston every
month than at any other point in the Southwest. There are 2,843
trainmen and clerks who are paid off here and in addition to
these there are 3,000 men employed in the two great railroad
shops here, which brings the total number of employees to 5,843,

and the amount of salaries and wages paid them is, in round
numbers, $7,000,000 annually.
The International Railroad is preparing to move its general
shops to Houston soon, which will greatly increase these figures,
but at present only the Houston and Texas Central and the
Southern Pacific roads have their shops here. These two roads
have invested $1,042,216 in their plants, pay out $1,349,200 in
wages and do $2,744,722 worth of repair and construction work
each year.
Their shops are equipped with the best and latest machinery,
and can turn out at a moment's notice everything needed in car
or locomotive construction or repairing. They have machines for
making the dainty tacks for the silk curtains in the palace car
and machines for making the iron beams and castings that go
in the frames of such cars and weigh hundreds and
thousands of pounds. As a matter of fact neither shop makes
locomotives and yet each has all the facilities for making them
and could if it were necessary, turn out one locomotive each day.
The railroads own and operate 450 miles of track in Harris
County and the money invested in them is $20,000,000, over
one-half of which is invested in Houstonian terminal facilities,
shops and offices. An idea of the immensity of the
traffic can be formed from the statement that for the
fiscal year closed June 31, 1911, 90,000 trains were
handled in and out of Hosuton, and that the freight handled by
those trains footed up very nearly half a billion tons. Of the
90,000 trains slightly more than one-half were passenger trains,
and, excluding excursions and special occasions, it is estimated
that these trains handled over 400,000 regular passengers during
the year. Seven roads have their headquarters here, while all
the big systems are represented in the city. The newest acquisition
is the International and Great Northern, which has just
moved its general offices here. These offices include the following
departments: General freight and passenger office, auditor's
office, treasurer's office, general claims office, general attorney's
office, and the offices of the several division superintendents.
Judge T. J. Freeman, the new president, during all the time he

was receiver of the road maintained general offices in Houston.
Judge Freeman's ability has rescued the I. & G. N. from bankruptcy
and made it one of the best equipped roads in Texas.
Judge Freeman is in the first rank of railroad officials in America
and is one of the three great builders Texas had given to the
railroad world. The other two are B. F. Yoakum and Judge R.
S. Lovett.
The coming of the I. & G. N. and the Frisco to Houston has
added about six hundred well-paid employees to Houston's railroad
population. The officers of the Frisco that came to Houston
in 1911 were those of the vice-president and general manager,
auditor, treasurer, car service, purchasing agent and stationer.
Even before the International and Great Northern road
moved its general offices to Houston it was doing an immense
business here and this point was to all intent and purpose its
principal point in Texas. Its coming brings about 250 men
and their families and swells the pay roll of the railroads here
an additional half million annually. The company owns several
desirable places in the city, where their own office building
can be constructed for the accommodation of the general offices,
but it is likely the building will be on San Jacinto Street,
where the freight office of the company is now located. This
building was originally constructed with the object in view of
adding other stories. At present the offices are located in rented
The Sunset Central system is the largest railway system
under one management in Texas. Thornwell Fay is vice-president
and general manager. It operates four companies embracing
six lines. These railroad companies have an assessed valuation
in Harris County of $5,611,926, of which $2,424,770
is located in the city of Houston. The receipts from the sale
of tickets to passengers at the Houston station during the fiscal
year closed in June, 1911, were $4,828,053.47. The principal
terminal of the company is the Grand Central passenger station
on Washington Avenue. Thousands of passenger trains are
operated in and out of this depot every year and hundreds of
thousands of people pass through its gates.


The freight terminals are north of the passenger depot, near
the extensive system of shops. These terminals have thirty-two
miles of trackage and enormous sheds and warehouses. Nearly
five hundred yard clerks, switchmen and others are employed
in these yards, working in two shifts, one night and the other
day, in order to keep up with the enormous traffic.
All the Sunset Central general offices are now located in
their new nine-story building, corner of Franklin and Travis
Street. This building has just been completed at a cost of $512,793
and is one of the finest buildings in the city.
The Missouri, Kansas and Texas Railroad Company of
Texas is also making extensive improvements. The company has
already spent hundreds of thousands of dollars improving its
property and has not yet completed its task. Additions have
been made to its terminals in the way of increased warehouse
and track facilities, the latter having been doubled, in order to
care for its large and rapidly increasing business. A building
has been constructed for the locomotive department, another for
the car department, artesian wells have been sunk, so as to give
the company its own water-supply, and many other improvements
have been made. The company now has property in
Harris County assessed at $510,710. During the past year the
pay rolls were: in local shops, $31,081.90; in offices, $21,901.55;
in operating department, $36,963.45.
The San Antonio and Arkansas Pass Railroad runs its trains
into the Grand Central depot. The company owns property in
Harris County amounting to $593,150. It is one of the most
important of Houston's railroads. Its main offices are in San
Antonio, but it keeps a good force here. Its local pay rolls for
1910 were: in freight and passenger departments, $19,927.25;
shops and roundhouses, $11,326.15; in yards and to train men,
$20,312.59; to all others, $9,573.30.
The Gulf, Colorado and Santa Fe road was one of Houston's
largest industries but with the advent of the Houston Belt and
Terminal Company the road leased all its Houston property to
that company and became one of its tenants. The property of
the Santa Fe in Houston is valued at $1,300,000. The only

employees of the company in Houston are freight and passenger
agents. The road has more than a passing interest in the Houston
Belt and Terminal Company, since the vice-president of the
Santa Fe is also president of the Terminal Company. The
Gulf, Colorado and Santa Fe operates about 8,000 passenger
and freight trains in and out of Houston each year.
Col. J. G. Tracey and two or three associates organized a
Houston Belt and Terminal line in 1882. They had surveys
made, obtained some rights of way, and then, for unknown
causes, abandoned the enterprise. Nothing further was ever
done towards constructing such a line, until in June, 1905, the
Houston Belt and Terminal Line was organized. The company
began active operations at once and expended more than $5,000,000
for the completion of a system of railroad terminals for both
freight and passenger business designed to handle all the terminal
business of Houston if necessary.
Four roads, the Santa Fe, the Frisco, the Trinity and Brazos
Valley and the Brownsville are joint owners and are now using
the terminal facilities. The passenger station, described briefly
elsewhere, is very handsome and cost over half a million dollars,
the marble used in its interior decoration costing $45,000. The
whole system is constructed on scientific, and practical lines so
that it is perfectly equipped for the objects for which it was
designed. The depot building was dedicated March 1, 1911, and
has been in active use since that date.
The Frisco has made many improvements during the last
year, the greatest being the establishment of its through line to
New Orleans. This is one of the fastest and most thoroughly
equipped trains in the United States. It has oil-burning locomotives,
steel passenger trains, cars and baggage coaches all
equipped with electric lights, fans, etc. The distance between
Houston and New Orleans, 360 miles is covered in twelve hours.
The Frisco has a network of small and great lines in Texas and
Louisiana, all tributary to Houston. All the traffic of the Frisco
in Houston is handled by the Terminal Company, but the road
has a force of about 300 office employees and their pay roll foots
up about $360,000 per year. Mr. W. C. Conner, Jr., the traffic

manager, is one of the most brilliant and successful of railroad
officers and has shining prospects in the railroad world.
Houston's seventeen railroads are the following: Houston
and Texas Central; Galveston, Harrisburg and San Antonio;
Texas and New Orleans; Beaumont, Sour Lake and Western;
Houston, East and West Texas; International and Great Northern
(Ft. Worth Division); International and Great Northern;
Trinity and Brazos Valley; San Antonio and Arkansas Pass;
Galveston, Harrisburg and San Antonio (Victoria Division);
Gulf, Colorado and Santa Fe; Missouri, Kansas and Texas;
International and Great Northern (Columbia Division); St.
Louis, Brownsville and Mexico; Galveston, Houston and Henderson;
Galveston, Harrisburg and San Antonio (Galveston
Division); Texas Transportation Company.
It is rather remarkable that with all their enterprise and
public spirit the people of Houston made but few efforts to
improve the navigation of Buffalo Bayou in the early days. As
already noted the Republic had made an appropriation for the
improvement of the rivers and harbors of Texas, but no one
seems to have thought of making use of any of this appropriation
for the improvement of the bayou. Newell, in his history
of the Revolution in Texas thus describes the bayou in 1838: “It
is a very singular water-course, without any current except as
caused by the tides of the sea; very deep, and navigable from
its junction with the San Jacinto to its forks at Houston, for
boats of any draft of water, though too narrow to admit those
of the largest class. The soil upon its banks is generally light
and sandy.”
The Cayuga, later called the Branch T. Archer, was the
name of one of the first steamboats to reach Houston. The
Cayuga was brought to Texas by John R. Harris and was under
command of Captain Isaac Batterson. It was intended originally
to run on the Trinity River but was changed to the bayou trade.
Soon after that the Constitution was added to the service. She
came up to Houston but was so long she could not be turned
around, and had to be backed down to Constitution bend in the
bayou. No doubt that is the way this big bend acquired its name.


Another early boat was the San Jacinto, which sank in the
bayou near where Clinton now is, and still another was the
Henry A. Jones which was burned in Galveston Bay in 1839,
with some loss of life. A year or so later the Farmer blew up,
killing Captain Webb and Henry Sylvester. The Star State
plied on the bayou in the early forties and met with several
accidents. Once it caught fire and the passengers escaped with
difficulty. Mrs. Peter W. Gray, of Houston jumped overboard
and was rescued with difficulty.
The Billow, Capt. James Montgomery, brought to Houston
the first locomotive for the Houston and Texas Central Railroad.
It was unloaded at the mouth of White Oak Bayou at the foot
of Main Street and run onto a temporary track. Capt. Charles
Burton, afterwards superintendent of the railroad took charge
of the locomotive.
The Charles Fowler had the first calliope ever heard in
Houston. On her first trip to Houston she stuck at the G. and H.
Railroad bridge over the bayou and some of its piling had to be
cut away to admit of her passage. The Silver Cloud, laden
with fruit, sank at Harrisburg.
At different times there were in the bayou trade, the Ida
Reese, the Desmonia, the Old Reliable, the J. H. Sterrett, the
Erie No. 3, a stern-wheeler, the Erie No. 12, also a stern-wheeler,
the Wren and the Shreveport. The Diana, Captain Pat Christian,
and the Lizzie, Captain A. Connors, two magnificent passenger
boats ceased running in 1877. The Diana and the T. M. Bagby
were built in Ohio for Captain Sterrett, the best known steamboat
man in Texas, in 1870, and arrived here the same year.
The Diana was 170 feet long, 32 feet beam and 5 feet hold. She
had three boilers, two flues and a full length cabin. Her cost
was $33,000 and she and the Bagby were as fine boats as any that
ran on the Mississippi, which river was said to have the finest
in the world.
It is strange, but true, that the first great assistance Houston
had in bringing the question of bayou improvement before
the public came from Galveston, its bitterest commercial rival.
Four or five years after the close of the war, when the railroads

had been reorganized and the commerce of the state had grown
to large proportions, the Houston people, naturally, began agitating
the question of securing better navigation of Buffalo Bayou
so as to add to Houston's facilities for handling the rapidly
increasing trade. At first Houston stood alone in making its
fight. The people of the interior were indifferent, while those
of Galveston ridiculed the idea of Houston ever securing navigation
of its crooked bayou for ocean-going vessels. Unfortunately
for Galveston there was at that time in that city a wharf
company that had an absolute monopoly of the whole city water
front, and that company was short-sighted enough to take full
advantage of the monopoly. It made its rates very high and
acted very arbitrarily. It cost $5 per bale to take cotton from
Houston to Galveston by rail and then the Wharf Company took
a whack at it and there was a big hole knocked in the farmer's
or shipper's profit by the time the cotton got on shipboard after
leaving Houston.
Houston was not slow about seizing this strong argument
placed in her hands by the Wharf Company and began a campaign
of education to teach the people of the interior that they
were far more interested in securing deep water at Houston than
was Houston itself. They were shown that could vessels come
to Houston to discharge their cargoes and take on new ones, the
fifty miles haul to and from Galveston, and the excessive charges
of the Galveston Wharf Company would be things of the past
and millions of dollars would be saved by the interior people
The Houston Direct Navigation Company, for the improvement
and navigation of the bayou had been formed in 1869, but
by 1870 the campaign of education had so far progressed that
the question was no longer a local one, in any sense of the word,
but was state-wide. The Navigation Company continued the
work of deepening the bayou and began the digging of a channel
across Morgan's Point. The city had, through assistance
given the Navigation Company, spent about $230,000 on this
work, when the Galveston Wharf Company again came to its
assistance in the most unexpected way. The assistance was

real and of great value, though it was entirely unintentional on
the part of the Wharf Company.
Charles Morgan, the president and chief owner of the
Morgan Steamship line, that for years controlled the ocean carrying
trade between New Orleans and Texas ports, asked the Galveston
Wharf Company for better facilities and better rates than
were given him at that time. The company turned down his
request and treated him with contempt. He threatened to come
to Houston with his ships unless they treated him more reasonably.
They hooted at the idea and told him to go ahead and do
whatever he pleased. He did go ahead. He purchased Houston's
stock in the Navigation Company, put his engineers and
a big dredging force to work, and completed the canal through
Morgan's Point. The great storm of 1875 destroyed his fleet
of small vessels and a great many workmen were drowned. But
work was resumed within thirty days and continued until the
cut-off through Morgan's Point was completed. A railroad was
built from Houston to Clinton, a point on Buffalo Bayou about
ten miles by land, and for a few years the Morgan steamers gave
Galveston the go-by and came directly to Clinton. Then the
Wharf Company at Galveston realized the error of its way,
repented and gave Morgan whatever he wanted and he discontinued
his Houston steamers. However, he had demonstrated
what could be done and there was a popular demand on Congress
to take charge of and develop this important waterway, which
had such brilliant promise for the future.
In the late seventies a bill was introduced in Congress for
the purchase of the Buffalo Ship Channel by the United States
Government, with the view of opening it as a general highway.
A corps of engineers was sent by the Government to inspect the
work already done. They reported that twelve feet of water, as an
average depth of the channel, to the foot of Main Street in
Houston, could be had. The condition of the proposed sale of
the channel to the Government by Morgan was that the Government
should refund to him the amount expended by him in
the work and carry out the general terms of the undertaking as
accepted by him when he took over the channel from the Buffalo

Bayou Ship Canal Company. One of the conditions of the
transfer was that the work would be completed to the foot of
Main Street as soon as practicable. The Ship Channel was
assumed to extend from Clinton to Red Fish Bar. From Red
Fish Bar to Bolliver, the Government had done work under
various appropriations, the last of which had been $147,000.
From Clinton to Boliver the channel varied in depth from 14
to 30 feet, and an inspection in 1880 showed that the channel
through Morgan's Point and Red Fish Bar had deepened and
widened through natural causes.
On the old channel the Direct Navigation Company
had expended about $200,000 before it had transferred the work
to Morgan. After the transfer, Morgan expended about $700,000
more in bringing the work to Clinton, and had expended
about $125,000 in making improvements at Clinton. There was a
long delay and negotiations were not closed until 1891 and the
money was paid to Morgan and the channel through Morgan's
Point was thrown open to the public on May 4, 1892.
The work of the Government on the Houston Ship Channel
has been continuous since the day it took charge. Each Congress,
with one exception when no river and harbor bill was passed,
has made a liberal appropriation for the work. The bayou has
been made straighter by the removal of sharp curves, the stream
has been widened and deepened by dredging and the bayou,
always naturally deep, has been put in first class condition. If
all the channel were as easy of improvement as the bayou, the
problem would have been solved long ago. The main trouble
exists at one or two points in Galveston Bay. Red Fish and
Morgan's Point, involving a stretch of channel about twelve
miles in extent, are the chief points on which the work must
be concentrated. At these points the sand is shifting and almost
as fast as a channel is deepened it is filled up by the sand. The
proper solution of the problem, so the engineers say, is to confine
the currents and tides that sweep over the channel at these
points, so as to direct them along the channel and thus make
them do the work of keeping the channel clear. To do this long
and expensive bulk-heading will be required. When this is

done there is no reason why the large vessels that enter Galveston
Bay cannot come direct to the Houston Turning Basin.
The whole thing is simply a question of money. The
Government recognized this when, in 1910, Congress passed a
bill appropriating $1,250,000 for the development of the Ship
Channel, on condition that Houston would raise a similar amount.
So soon as this became known, officially, Mayor Rice of Houston,
consulted with the Harris County Commissioners, with the
result that the Houston Navigation District was formed. An
election was held and the proposition to have the Navigation District
issue bonds to the amount of $1,250,000 was carried overwhelmingly
in 1911, and Houston's future as a deep-water port
was assured.
Because the Government engineers have declared that it
will cost two and one-half million dollars to complete
the Ship Channel, there seems to be an impression, even in
Houston, that a vast amount of work yet remains to be done
before ocean-going vessels can make use of the channel regularly.
That is a mistaken idea. A big work will have to be done, but
its magnitude is more in the way of expense than anything else.
There is very little difficulty about it. It is expensive because
about twelve miles of the channel will have to be bulk-headed
to protect the channel from shifting sands at Morgan's Point
and Red Fish Bar, or reef. The bayou itself from Morgan's
Point to the Turning Basin, is wide enough and deep enough to
admit of the safe passage of large steamships of 18 to 20 feet
draught, while the channel in the bay from Red Fish Bar to the
end of the jetties in the gulf is equally safe for the same class
of vessels. One or two large steamers have already made the
trip to the turning basin, safely. The Revenue Cutter Windom,
the Steamship Disa and the Steamship Mercator, the latter
250 feet in length, have made successful trips from the Gulf of
Mexico to the Houston Turning Basin, thus demonstrating that
the Ship Channel is an actual fact and not a theory. It is well
known that steamships are the most timid things in the world.
They take no chances of getting aground or of being detained in
any way, for with them time is literally money. Under these

circumstances and conditions it will be difficult to get regular
lines of steamers established until the channel is placed in such
condition that it will be absolutely safe at all times and under
all conditions, as it will be when approved improvements are
The channel in its present condition is used and has been
used for years, and an immense traffic goes on over its waters.
Numerous small boats ply the channel regularly, while tugdrawn
barges carry thousands of bales of cotton and other produce,
which swell the value of the commerce to millions of dollars
annually. Aside from the actual and tangible profits
derived by Houston people from the bayou trade and commerce,
there is a greater one, in the fact that having this outlet to the
sea gives Houston all the benefits of water rates.
When the S. S. Disa came to the Turning Basin on November
8, 1909, all the newspapers stated that she was the first
ocean-going vessel to come up Buffalo Bayou. Such was not the
case. In the spring of 1863 a good sized steamship ran the
blockade at Galveston and Buffalo Bayou being out of its banks
because of a great spring flood, the steamer came directly to
Houston and discharged her cargo of arms and ammunition at
the foot of Fannin Street. She then took on a cargo of cotton,
shipped by T. W. House, Sr., returned to Galveston and ran
the blockade again. Unfortunately the name of this blockade-runner
has not been preserved.
The first street railroad company to operate in Houston,
was a local concern backed by local capital, which was organized
under a charter granted by the Legislature, August 6, 1870, and
known as the Houston City Street Railway Company. A franchise
was granted to this company in 1873 by the city council.
The stockholders were T. W. House, E. W. Cave, J. T. Brady,
and William Brady. About 5½ miles of track was laid by 1874
and the road was operated continuously until 1883. The company
had the field all to itself for awhile, but in 1881 the Bayou
City Street Car Company was organized and laid a track from
the Capitol Hotel to the Union Depot. In 1883 a controlling
interest in both these companies was bough by Colonel Sinclair

of Galveston who soon sold a half interest in his holdings to H.
F. McGregor. The combined trackage of the two lines was about
six miles. The lines were rebuilt and extended by Messrs. Sinclair
and McGregor until there was a length of about 16 miles all
operated by mule power.
The business was so prosperous that others determined to
take a hand in it and accordingly, in 1890, a second Bayou
City Street Railroad Company was organized. The promoters
of the new company, Wm. Boyd and Brother, constructed ten
miles of track. Soon after that Sinclair and McGregor sold out
their interest to a Chicago syndicate, which had the president of
the Chicago City Railroad at its head. This syndicate, in turn,
sold its Houston interest to an Omaha syndicate. The new syndicate
soon bought a controlling interest in the Boyd Bayou City
Company which had been fairly successful. The Omaha people
prepared to introduce electricity in operating their cars, and the
city council passed an ordinance, October 3, 1890, authorizing
them to do so. At the same time the company was given a new
franchise for a period of 35 years. The two lines were consolidated
and had a total trackage of 28 miles, all being equipped
with electric power. The Houston Heights line was constructed
in 1892–93. It was purchased by the Omaha people and combined
with the other line, thus increasing its mileage to 35 miles.
The great financial panic of 1893 was disastrous to the company
and in 1895 it passed into the hands of John H. Kirby, as
receiver. The company was reorganized in 1896, with A. W.
Parlin as president and H. F. McGregor as manager. In 1901,
H. B. Rice was entrusted as receiver, with the supervision of all
its affairs, and during his control the road passed to the ownership
of the Stone and Webster syndicate of Boston, who purchased
it at a receivers sale, November 12, 1901.
The new owners placed H. K. Payne in charge as manager
and set aside a certain amount of money for rebuilding and
improving the property. One of the provisions of the receivers
sale was that the new owners should assume all liabilities of the
old company. Among these was an indebtedness to the city
of Houston for street paving, variously estimated at from

$30,000 to $85,000. After long negotiation, the details of which
were given to the public, the company agreed to pay to the city
$80,000 in full settlement of all claims, and the city agreed to
extend the franchise of the road for an additional ten years. The
company further agreed to establish a transfer system, vestibule
its cars, to build a certain amount of new track within the city
limits each year for two years, and to pay to the city one per cent
of its gross earnings for 23 years and 2 per cent for the remaining
ten years.
The company immediately set about rebuilding the La Branch,
Houston Heights, South End, Louisiana, Franklin, San Felipe,
Arkansas Pass, Brunner and Washington Street lines, replacing
the old, light rails with the heaviest type of rails and substituting
grounded girders for “T” rails on all paved streets.
The company also began the extension of the Liberty Avenue
line, the Montgomery Avenue line, the La Branch line and the
Houston Avenue line. New and modern cars and other equipments
were supplied, Highland Park was completed, and many
improvements were made. Provision was made for the separation
of white and negro passengers on the cars in accordance
with the provisions of an ordinance of the city, which went into
effect October 28, 1903.
The street railroad system of Houston, while far from perfect,
has done much in developing and building up the city.
The Houston Electric Company now operates 13 lines in
Houston and has a total of 51 miles of track. Several extensions
are under way. On the several lines 191 cars are in service
and the number of employes of the company is 456. It
expends each year on its Houston pay roll $33,839 in salaries
and $230,600 for labor. The company has a capital stock of
$3,000,000 and is not in any sense a local corporation. It pays
large dividends to its Boston owners. David Daly is the local
In September, 1911, the finishing touches were put on the
city part of the track of the Houston-Galveston Interurban
Railroad. This line is 50.5 miles in length, and is said to be
the best piece of track of its kind in the country. It cost

$2,500,000 to construct it. The main power station at Clear
Creek (half way) cost $275,000 and is fitted with two-fifteen
hundred kilowatt generators and three 520-horse power engines.
There are three sub-power stations situated at La Marque,
South Houston and at the main station.
Most of the grading was embankment fill, but on Galveston
Island and the approach to the causeway, there was a hydraulic
fill amounting to about 164,000 cubic yards. Five long bridges
were constructed, the longest 612 feet in length, was that over
Clear Creek. A passenger station, costing $12,000 has been
erected in Galveston and one costing $40,000 is about completed
in Houston.
A viaduct 1,900 feet long, built of reinforced concrete, has
been constructed over the tracks of the Santa Fe and the Leeland
road just beyond the Houston city limits. This road will
use the great Galveston causeway, the longest bridge in the world,
now almost complete. It will span Galveston Bay from Virginia
Point on the mainland to the island. It will be used by all
railroads, and other traffic lines of communication entering Galveston.
On account of their intimate connection with transportation
matters, there is given here a brief account of Houston's first
experience with the telegraph and telephone. The first mention
of the telegraph is found in the Houston Telegraph, March 18,
1853. This is the announcement that L. W. Cady & Co., had
determined to connect the telegraph line at Alexandria, La.,
with the Texas and Red River line. A Mr. Preston, who had
lately passed through Houston, was then on his way to the
eastern counties to arrange for the extension of the line from
Alexandria to Houston.
At that time the construction of a line between Houston and
Galveston was actually under way, but in 1854 work on it was
abandoned, for a time at least, though it was stated that the
“gutta percha wire” which was to have been laid under the
waters of the bay from Virginia Point to Galveston Island, was
in Galveston ready for use. Carelessness in putting up the
wires and subsequent neglect of them had caused them to fall

down in several place between Houston and Virginia Point.
No further effort was made to build the line until in May, 1858.
Then a successful movement was inaugurated and the line was
built. The plan adopted for raising the necessary money was
simple. An appeal was made to the business men, the professional
men and to everybody in general, to take stock in the
company. The expense of construction was placed at $110 per
mile, which made the total cost of the land part $5,500. The
submarine cable, warranted to last one year, was to cost $700,
thus making the total cost of the line $6,200. Houston was
asked to take $3,000 stock which she did. It was stipulated that
the stock was not to be paid for until the line was completed
and in operation.
In the fall of 1878, Mr. Pendarvis, telegraph operator at
Morgan's Transportation Depot, which was over in the Fifth
ward near Bonner's Point, installed a telephone plant between
his office and the office at Clinton, ten miles away. Because the
talking disturbed the clerks in the Clinton office the telephone
was removed. Mr. Pendarvis then strung the wires between his
office, the Direct Navigation office and the Central Depot. It was
found that conversations could be carried on with as much ease
as if the talkers were in one room. “When the great convenience
growing out of these two connections is ascertained by other
railroad men and business men generally,” said the Telegram,
“there will be, no doubt, a system of telephonic wires several
miles in length put up here, connecting not only the depots, but
many of the business houses with each other and with private
Mr. Pendarvis was the first man in Houston to use the
telephone for practical business purposes, though the telephone
had been tested before that, as the following extract from the
Houston Telegram of June 18, 1878, shows: “Mr. J. W. Stacey,
the efficient manager of the Western Union Telegraph office in
this city, has procured a telephone of the latest improved construction
which he will put p for use during the military
encampment of the volunteers of the state next week. The line
will run from the Fair Grounds to Mr. G. W. Baldwin's library

room in the Telegram Building and everybody wishing to have
the pleasure of conversing with a friend a mile distant will have
an opportunity. Our friends from the country and many in
the city who are skeptical about the truthful working of the
wonderful instrument, will have an opportunity to test it to their
satisfaction. To many of them it will be quite a curiosity, and
we expect to see its capacity fully tried. Mr. Stacey will make a
trial test today and will have the apparatus in perfect working
order by the end of the week.”
A thorough and practical test of the telephone was made for
the first time in a general way in Houston on October 18, 1879,
when instruments were established in several railroad offices
and in the Telegram office and the editor of the Teleram conversed
for over an hour, as he tells us, with Major Swanson,
Mr. Dwyer and others at the Central Railway and Sunset depots
and offices.
The accounts of these primitive telegraph lines with their
“gutta percha wires” for use under water and telephones that
enabled one to “talk to a friend a mile away,” seem very strange
to us of today, when a merchant can go on the floor of the Cotton
Exchange and send a message to Liverpool, have it executed
and receive a reply before he can make a cigarette and smoke it.
Or when one can sit in the library at home, take down the
telephone and converse with a friend in Chicago, St. Louis or
El Paso, with as much ease and dispatch as one can converse with
the next door neighbor. In the newspaper offices in Houston
demonstrations have been made of the wireless telephone.
Immediately after the close of the war the “Star State”
telegraph line between Houston and Galveston and between
Houston and Orange, was absorbed by the Southwestern, the
Trans-Mississippi division of the Southwestern Telegraph Company
that covered all of the Southern states east of the Mississippi
River. The new company was placed under the supervision
of Mr. D. P. Shepherd, one of the most expert operators
of that or this day, who, his friends claim, was the first telegraph
operator in the world to receive a message by ear. In addition
to its lines to Galveston and Orange, the company had a line

extending to Crockett, where it connected with a line extending
to Shrevesport. In the latter part of 1867 the Western Union
absorbed the Southwestern and this gave the Western Union
control of all telegraph lines in the United States.
Mr. Merrit Harris was made manager of the Western Union
office in Houston but died soon after of yellow fever, in 1867.
Col. Phil. Fall was appointed manager and served for a short
time, resigning to take charge of the telegraph department of
the Houston and Texas Central Railroad Company.
For over forty years the Western Union remained in full
possession of the telegraph field, and then, a few months ago, it
was in turn absorbed by the Southwestern Telegraph and Telephone
Company, which is the greatest combination of the kind in
the world.
The Houston office is thoroughly equipped. It employs
about sixty operators and has over one hundred wires running
into it, forming connection with every city and village in this
country, Mexico and Canada. It also has connection with deep-sea
cables to all parts of the world. Mr. S. P. Jones is manager,
succeeding Mr. C. W. Gribble, long the capable manager, and
Mr. J. E. Johnson is chief operator. The latter is said to be
one of the most skilled electricians in the telegraph service.
The Postal Telegraph Company, a rival of the Western Union
and its successor, the Southwestern, established its office in Houston,
July 5, 1898. By strict attention to business and prompt
service it soon built up a good business, and is today a substantial
and solid concern. The company employs about thirty operators,
and has wire connection with all points on this continent
and cable connection with the whole world. On the day the
company opened its office here its total receipts were $2.40.
Today the daily receipts average between $400 and $500. Not
only in Houston but in every office of the company all over the
United States, the motto of the Postal is promptness and dispatch,
and by adhering to this motto it has succeeded in gaining
and holding public confidence. The local manager of the Postal
is Mr. John C. Witt.


In 1910, the two telegraph companies handled 3,500,000
messages out of Houston.
The Houston Telephone Exchange was established in Houston
by Mr. James A. Stacey, local manager of the Western
Union Telegraph Company, in 1880. Mr. G. W. Foster succeeded
Mr. Stacey as manager of the telephone company in 1882, the
exchange having ninety-four subscribers and no long distance
lines. The exchange was first located in the old Fox Building,
but Mr. Foster obtained a ten year lease on a room at the top
of the market house tower in exchange for ringing the alarm bell
in case of fire, the alarms to be turned in by telephone. Only one
lineman was employed by the exchange, a negro who divided his
time between his duties and preaching.
The first long distance line was built between Houston and
Galveston in 1883, and Mr. Foster and his wife, who was as
efficient as he, removed to Galveston, where they managed both
the Houston and Galveston offices.
The company has just completed an elegant building of its
own, a skyscraper, on the corner of Capitol Avenue and San
Jacinto Street, which, with its equipments, will cost approximately
The company had on July 31, this year, 13,874 subscribers,
and when it gets in its new quarters it will be able to care for
20,000 subscribers without making further additions to its plant.
The work of putting the wires under ground was begun in
1896 and nearly all are now in conduits.
The company has a very complete system of long distance
wires. There are twelve circuits to Galveston, seven to Beaumont,
three to San Antonio, three to Dallas and one each to Fort
Worth and Corpus Christi. These are direct circuits and all
have branches reaching out over the state in every direction.
It is possible to carry on conversation between Houston
and El Paso, New Orleans, St. Louis and even Chicago, and the
company does a large commercial business. Plans are now being
discussed for the improvement of the service so as to extend it
as far as Los Angeles and San Francisco on the west and New
York and Boston on the east.


The officers of the company in Houston are: E. G. Pike,
division commercial superintendent; G. S. Prentice, district
commercial manager; R. E. Hart, division traffic superintendent;
Gordon Bell, local cashier. The local service of the company
heretofore has been very unsatisfactory and there has
been much private and newspaper complaint.
An Automatic telephone company has been preparing for
several years to open in Houston. Work has been slow and
delays numerous, but there are now several miles of conduit wires
and several thousand subscribers. The success of the automatic
principle remains to be locally demonstrated. Mr. E. G. Ebersole
is the Houston manager. The company is erecting a handsome
office building, but has not yet begun to extent service.
In view of the rapid strides that are made almost daily in
improving and perfecting the means of telegraphic and telephonic
communication, it is but reasonable to presume that
methods which we regard as practically perfect today will be
regarded as obsolete fifty years from now and will excite as much
wonder as the “gutta percha wire” that was used in place of
a cable across Galveston Bay, by the first telegraphic company
fifty or more years ago, does with us today. There may not be
such radical changes in telegraphic methods where wires and
cables are used, but where these are discarded and only the
wireless used, the advance will be revolutionary.
Two wireless companies operate in Houston. One is a private
concern owned and operated by the Texas Company. This
company has 2,700 miles of private telegraph wires in Texas,
Oklahoma and Kansas. These lines are used by the company
only, and the wireless plant is kept always in readiness for
instant use, in case the wires should fail from any cause. The
company has similar outfits at Beaumont and in Oklahoma.
The Texas Wireless Telegraph-Telephone is the only one
engaged in doing a pubic and commercial business. Its location
is admirable, being on the 18th floor of the Carter Building and
having its wire tentacles spread from a tower forty or fifty feet
above the roof of that tall building. This great elevation is very
advantageous for it gives the electric waves free play and wide

range. Another advantage is that it is as far removed from
metal roofs and street wires, which are enemies to the free
transmission of electric waves. The company has now in operation
a station here, one in Victoria and another in San Antonio.
It has thoroughly equipped stations at Fredericksburg, Waco
and Fort Worth, but, for some reason, only the first named are
in commission. Probably it is because of the difficulty of securing
competent operators, these being scarce. The area in which the
Houston plant can do effective work in sending messages is about
500 miles. The instrument is not powerful enough to send
a message further than that except under exceptionally favorable
conditions, but it is delicate and powerful enough to receive them
from an indefinite distance.
The local manager of the company frequently hears the
Norfolk Navy yard operator sending messages, and can get
messages from Washington. Cape Hatteras and from a station on
the southeast coast of Cuba. All these stations are equipped
with powerful machines. Three codes are used. The ordinary
Morse code is the one in general use. All German vessels use
the Continental code, while the United States Navy uses the
Navy code. Of course a wireless operator must have all three
codes at his finger ends.
The Texas Wireless Company is a Texas company. All its
stock is owned in Texas and it is controlled and managed by
Texas people. Mr. G. R. Spielhagen is president and general
manager with headquarters in Houston, while Mr. E. G. Prince
is local manager.

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Societies and Clubs

Free Masonry in Texas. Holland Lodge and Texas Grand Lodge
Organized. First Lodge of Odd Fellows. Knights of
Pythias and Elks. The Houston Turn Verein. The Volks-Fests.
Societies of War Veterans. Terry's Texas Rangers.
Second Texas Infantry and Waul's Legion. Hood's Texas
Brigade. The Bayou City Guards. Dick Dowling Camp U.
C. V. and Post McLennan No. 9, G. A. R. Houston Militia
Companies. The Light Guard. Troop A. First Texas
Cavalry. Jeff Miller Rifles. The Annual No-Tsu-Oh Carnival.
Z. Z. and Thalian Clubs. Country Club. Houston
Club. Charitable Societies. Organized Charities, Faith
Home, Wesley House, Florence Crittenden Home, Star of
Hope Mission. Houston Settlement Association.

It is not generally known that the establishment of Free
Masonry in Texas was accomplished not only through the greatest
difficulty, owing to the isolated and widely separated condition
of those willing to engage in such work, but also that
the act itself was one replete with danger to those engaged in
it. At that time Texas was a part of Mexico and the people
of Mexico looked on all secret societies, and Free Masonry in
particular, as tools of the evil one and punished all those who
had anything to do with them, as heretics and servants of the
Dr. Anson Jones, the last President of the Republic of
Texas, the first master of Holland Lodge No. 1, and also the
first Grand Master of Masons in the Republic of Texas, fortunately
left a manuscript dairy from which the following facts
are taken:
In the winter of 1834–35, five Master Masons, who had
exchanged the signs of their order, resolved to establish Masonry

in Texas. President Jones says that this was not without peril,
for every movement looking towards organization of any kind,
was craftily and censoriously watched by Mexican spies in the
employ of the government for that specific purpose. However,
these very conditions made some kind of organization on the
part of the American population an absolute necessity for self
protection, and personal rights and liberty. Accordingly, Anson
Jones, John A. Wharton, Asa Bringham, A. E. Phelps and
Alexander Russell in association with J. P. Caldwell, banded
together as the first Masonic lodge in Texas. Their first place
of meeting was in a wild-peach grove on the General John
Austin place back of Brazoria. The spot was a family burying
ground, and for that reason, as well as on account of its environment,
was a secluded place, and deemed safe for the work in
hand. Here, at 10 o'clock on a day in March, in 1835, was
held the first formal Masonic meeting in Texas. It was determined
at that meeting to apply to the Grand Lodge of
Louisiana for a dispensation to open and form a lodge to be
called Holland Lodge, in honor of the worshipful grand master
of that body, J. H. Holland. After some delay the dispensation
was granted, and Holland Lodge No. 36 (under dispensation)
was instituted at Brazoria, in the second story of the old court
The activities of the lodge were interfered with by the struggle
for independence by the Texans. At the last meeting of the lodge
in Brazoria, in February, 1836, Anson Jones, presided and
Fannin, the Texas hero, was senior deacon. Brazoria was abandoned
in March, and the Mexicans, under General Urrea
destroyed the Masonic records, jewels and other property. The
few members of Holland Lodge were scattered in every direction.
When, in due time, the Grand Lodge of Louisiana chartered
Holland Lodge No. 36, it sent the charter to Texas by
John Allen, who delivered it, with other papers, to Anson Jones
at a point on the prairie between Groce's and San Jacinto, when
Jones was marching with the Texas army. Dr. Jones put the
documents in his saddle-bag and took them with him to where
the army was camped at Lynchburg on Buffalo Bayou. The

result of the battle of San Jacinto saved not only Texas but the
charter as well for had the Mexicans triumphed the charter would
have shared the fate of the dispensation at Brazoria.
For various reasons, no attempt was made to reëstablish
the lodge at Brazoria, though the charter was eventually taken
to that place, but, in October, 1837, Anson Jones and associates,
reëstablish it at Houston. About the same time Milam Lodge
at Nacogdoches and McFarlane Lodge at San Augustine obtained
charters from the Grand Lodge of Louisiana. Delegates from
these two lodges and from Holland Lodge, convened in Houston
in the winter of 1837–38 and organized the Grand Lodge of
the Republic of Texas, and the connection of these three lodges
was transferred from the Florida jurisdiction to that of Texas.
Holland Lodge No. 36, became Holland Lodge No. 1, of Houston.
For several years the Grand Lodge met at various points
in Texas, but in 1866 its permanent home was established in
Houston. An appropriation of $50,000 was made towards building
a temple and to this the Houston Masons made a handsome
donation, so that when the temple was completed, and dedicated
in 1871, its cost was $113,000. It was erected under the supervision
of Mr. C. J. Grainger, one of the early wealthy citizens of
Houston, a past master of Holland Lodge, of 1854, who gave his
work as a gift to the Grand Lodge. Some years later, when the
population of the state had increased and the center of population
had shifted, it was thought advisable to remove the home of the
Grand Lodge to a more central point, and Waco was chosen.
That city erected a temple at a cost of $150,000 for the lodge.
Perhaps one of the most interesting if not important meetings
of the Grand Lodge, was the 46th communication, which was
convened at Houston, December 8, 1881. Interest was centered
in the visit to the lodge, on that occasion, of General Albert
Pike, of Washington, D. C., Provincial Grand Master of the
Grand Lodge of the Royal order of Scotland in the United States,
and said to have been the highest Mason in America, Sovereign
Grand Commander of the Supreme Council of the Ancient
Accepted Scottish Rite for the Southern Jurisdiction of the United
States. He had been elected to that position twenty years

before. General Prior was also Provincial Grand Prior of the
Great Priory of Canada of the United Military and Religious
Orders of the Temple.
It is rather remarkable that the same man who was so largely
instrumental in introducing Masonry in Texas should also
have played an equally important part in establishing Odd
Fellowship. Anson Jones, who may be termed, with truth and
justice, the father of Masonry in Texas, was also the father of
Odd Fellowship. In 1838, he and four other brothers organized
Lone Star Lodge No. 1, I. O. O. F. in Houston, and he was the
first Grand Master of the organization in Texas. The progress
of Masonry and Odd Fellowship in Houston has always been
side by side. Each has had periods of great prosperity and
periods of depression, but in all instances the prosperity has
predominated, and, today they are two of the most solid and well
established orders in the city. Lone Star Lodge No. 1, I. O. O.
F. has the distinguished honor, shared equally by Holland Lodge
No. 1, of the Masonic order, of having had two of its members
fill the high and exalted office of Grand Master of both the
Grand Lodge of Masons and Grand Lodge of Odd Fellows. These
were President Anson Jones and Henry Perkins, of Houston.
In recent years Masonry in Houston has been most furthered
by the efforts of Hon. Frank C. Jones, a 33° Mason and the
present potentate of El Mina Temple nobles of the mystic shrine.
In 1870 the young men of Houston took great interest in
Odd Fellowship, with the result that Lone Star Lodge No. 1,
grew rapidly in numbers and influence. This influence was not
exerted in Houston alone but extended to other nearby cities.
As a result interest in the order increased and it may be said,
truthfully, that the present great usefulness and influence of
the order in Houston dates from that time. Henry Perkins,
who was Grand Master of the Grand Lodge, was a most enthusiastic
worker. He is one of the few really worthy and distinguished
citizens of Houston of the early days, who has never
been given that place in the history and traditions of the city, to
which his merits entitled him. One reason for this was the
excessive modesty and aversion to publicity, which characterized

his life. He was willing to work for the good of the order and
always kept himself as far from the lime-light as possible. He
was a man of independent means, a great student and lover of
books, and as a consequence was known, really, by but few men.
Next to the Masons and Odd Fellows, the Knights of Pythias
is the oldest secret organization in Houston. Lone Star Lodge
No. 1, was organized in 1872, and is therefore not only the oldest
lodge of the order in Houston, but the oldest in the state. The
order has always been popular here and is very strong, both
numerically and in every other way. There are fourteen primary
lodges and subsidiary organizations of the order here,
and they are all flourishing and each has a full membership.
Strange to say there is only one lodge of the Elks organization
in Houston. It is Houston Lodge No. 151, B. P. O. E. It was
organized in January, 1890, and is in a most flourishing condition,
numerically. The lodge has over 600 members, and plans
for a magnificent building of its own are now under consideration.

The Turn Verein, the first German Society in Houston, was
organized January 14, 1854. In its first minute book is recorded
the following:
“We, the undersigned, assembled this forenoon in Gable's
house, to confer in regard to the institution of a Turn Verein.
It was the wish of all to belong to a society where each feels
as a brother to the other and lives for him and with him as a
brother. We have, therefore, associated ourselves under a
brotherly pressure of hands and promised each other to organize
a Turn Verein with energy and love in the cause and assure
its existence by continued activity.”

(Signed) T. Heitmann, F. Reinmann,—Marschall,
Louis Pless, John F. Thorade, Robert Voight, E. B.
H. Schneider, August Sabath, E. Scheurer, and L.


January 14, 1854.

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The young Verein had scarcely seen seven years when the
great Civil War broke out. The original ten had grown to about
a hundred and almost to a man they volunteered to do battle for

their adopted country. A company was formed, under the leadership
of Captain E. B. H. Schneider, composed of members
of the Turn Verein, and was among the very first troops to leave
for the front. That they were not parade soldiers is attested
by the frayed and shot-torn company flag which is among the
most prized and sacredly guarded treasures of the Verein.
But before the war the Verein had already accomplished a
great deal. Under their auspices a gymnastic school for both
sexes had been established, for the motto of the Verein was:
“only in a healthy body dwells a healthy soul.” One of the
early volunteer fire companies was recruited from the Turners.
When the war closed the Turners were poor in purse, in common
with everybody else, but they were rich in hope and energy and
it was not long before they had new life and vigor instilled in
the Verein. Within two years after the close of the war they
had gotten their affairs so well in hand that they were enabled
to start a semi-public school, which, according to the testimony
of old Houstonians, was the best school of its scope and purpose
of the period. Able teachers were employed. Tuitions were
insufficient to defray expenses and the Turners made up the
deficiency out of the treasury of the association. In the great
yellow fever epidemic of 1867 one of the principal teachers died
and the school was suspended and never again resumed.
At that time foreign immigrants were settling in the North
and West and were avoiding the South because the advantages
of the South had never been properly placed before them. The
Verein undertook to correct this and had printed at its own
expense, pamphlets setting forth the claims of Texas and circulated
them in all the large towns of Germany. This work was
very effective in building up the state and particularly Houston.
The Turn Verein cultivated music and popularized it by means
of vocal and instrumental concerts.
With the view of combining all of Houston's citizens
and harmonizing their work for the common good, it organized,
in 1869, the Volks-fest, which was also aided by other German
associations. For about twelve years the annual Volks-fest was
one of the great events of Houston, but gradually interest died

out, and by 1880, it was evident that something would have to
be done if it were intended to continue the celebration. Then
dissentions arose and the affairs of the Volks-fest association got
into court. At that time (1881) there were 100 members of the
Turn Verein. There was also another German Association,
known as the German Society, about of the same numerical
strength as the Turn Verein. Almost every German citizen of
any note was a member of one of these associations. These two
associations determined to come to the rescue of the Volks-fest
Association, and to assume all responsibility for future celebrations.
Accordingly a meeting was held at the city hall on
Sunday morning, December 4, 1881, for the purpose of adopting
a charter and by-laws for the new association. Hon. E. F.
Schmidt was called to the chair and Professor Stereouwitz was
made secretary. The charter and by-laws were read and adopted
without discussion. By the admission of new members the membership
increased to about 250. It was decided that it would
not be best for the new organization to take further definite
action pending litigation over the Volks-fest fund then in the
District court. Two months later the two factions of the Volks-fest
Association effected a compromise of their differences
whereby the dignity of each was preserved, and it was decided
to give the next festival under the consolidated management.
The announcement was made, March 11, that the charter
of the Volks-fest Associations—amended to admit of the consolidation
of the two associations—had been forwarded to Austin
and that so soon as it was legalized and returned, a new and
enlarged directory would take up the work that was needed to
insure the permanency of the Volks-fest. It was planned to
make the coming festival the grandest that had ever been undertaken.
An interstate military drill was suggested but the idea
was abandoned because there would be no time to arrange for
more than a State drill. It was decided to do away with the decorated
wagons that had always been a feature of previous festivals,
and to apply the money thus saved as a fund to be used as
prizes for the greatest military and firemen's competitions ever

seen in Texas, and to induce the attendance of singing societies
from all parts of the state.
Early on the morning of May 4, 1882, a salute of fourteen
guns was fired by the Texas Old Guard Artillery announcing
the opening of the fourteenth annual Volks-fest. There was a
grand procession. John D. Usner was Grand Marshal, with J.
J. Fant and William Rupersburg as assistants. The Adjutants
were: John Morris, A. R. Jones, S. S. Ashe, H. Kleinicke,
George Bauss and Ben Keagans. The parade and the festivities
that followed were beautiful and enjoyable. Only one or two
subsequent annual Volks-fests were held and then they were
abandoned voluntarily.
Though primarily a child of the Turn Verein the Volks-fest
had really no official connection with the Turners and its fortunes
and misfortunes affected it in no way. The Turners continued
to grow in strength and popularity, until today it is one of the
strongest and most influential organizations of the kind in the
state, and one of which all citizens of Houston are proud. They
have recently sold part of their property on Texas Avenue and
contemplate erecting one of the finest club houses in the South.
Nearly one hundred of the 300 survivors of Terry's Texas
Rangers met in Houston on December 16, 1880, in annual
reunion. A committee composed of local survivors of that
command had made extensive preparation for the event. That
committee was: S. S. Ashe, of Co. B.; W. R. Black, of Co. B.;
P. C. Walker, of Co. K.; J. M. Morin, of Co. D.; T. U. Lubbock,
of Co. K.; W. H. Albertson, of Co. H.; S. H. Jones, of Co. H.;
and M. F. de Bajeligethe, of Co. K.
This was one of the most famous cavalry regiments in the
Confederate Army and was the only Texas regiment of cavalry
that saw active service on the other side of the Mississippi River
during the whole four years of the war. The record it made
has perhaps never been surpassed by any cavalry command
in the history of the world. It was recruited in 1861, in
response to a call made by Benjamin Franklin Terry for recruits
who could come armed and equipped to serve in the Confederate
Army. The response was so prompt that the regiment

was recruited to its full strength at once (1027) and had thirteen
supernumeraries, who enlisted for the war as vacancies
occurred. The following brief summary of the regiment's record
tells better than hundreds of written pages could do, what brilliant
service the command rendered the Confederacy:
Full strength of the regiment at the beginning, 1027 men,
rank and file. Recruits received during the war, 398. Absent
during the war, at times only, 28. Discharged for wounds and
disease, 271. Killed in battle, 377. Absent from wounds or
disease at the close of the war, 79. Present for duty at the surrender,
The command was mustered into the service on June, 1861,
and served until May, 1865, and during that entire time was out
of actual service but 21 days. It was in 38 general engagements
and 160 skirmishes. The regiment, known officially as the Eighth
Texas, had five colonels, seven lieutenant colonels, five majors,
three adjutants, three quartermasters, three commissaries, thirty-one
captains, twenty-nine first lieutenants, twenty-four second
lieutenants and nineteen third lieutenants. The members of the
command, living in Houston, who were present at that reunion
Col. Gustave Cook, Lieutenant Col. B. A. Botts, Maj. A.
L. Steel, Maj. B. F. Weems, Sergeant W. D. Cleveland, Privates
S. S. Ashe, T. U. Lubbock, Sam H. Jones, W. R. Black, J. M.
Morin, P. C. Walker, W. H. Albertson, and M. F. de Bajeligethy.
Of these only four are living today: Major Weems, Sergeant
W. D. Cleveland and Privates S. S. Ashe, and T. U. Lubbock.
The Second Texas Infantry and Wauls Legion held their
first reunion at Houston, July 4, 1882. There was a business
meeting at Gray's Hall during the morning and a banquet at
night. Captain J. C. Hutchison delivered the address of welcome
and General T. N. Waul, the commander of Waul's Legion,
responded with feeling and eloquence. A thorough organization
was effected and the following officers were elected:
President, General T. N. Waul, of Waul's Legion. First
vice-president, Col. Ashbel Smith, of the Second Texas. Second
vice-president, Col. H. P. Timmons, of Waul's Legion. Corresponding

secretary, Col. O. Steele, of Waul's Legion. Recording
secretary, H. P. Roberts, of the Second Texas. Treasurer,
Sam E. Jones, of the Second Texas. Chaplain, Rev. J. J.
The following members were enrolled at the business meeting:
Second Texas—F. W. L. Fly, Major, Company A.—Captain,
William Christian, D. S. Smith, William Cravey, H.
Graves, Tom Ewell, Dave Lynch, D. Mahoney, D. Callahan,
and Joe Smith. Company B.—Philip Huebner, Daniel Smith,
Sam Allen, Henry Hartman, William Harting. Theadore Keller,
A. J. Hurtney, H. P. Roberts, and H. Holteamp. Company C.—Dr.
S. E. Jones. Company D.—Captain, J. E. Foster. Company
G.—A. M. Armstrong, E. S. Parkell, A. J. Horton, P. D.
Ring, G. L. Gee, J. W. Daniel, Jack Jones, J. F. Borden, C. A.
Hope, William Hunt, J. W. Farmer, J. K. Addison, E. T. Cottingham,
P. D. Scott. Company H.—J. B. McArthur, R. E.
McArthur, T. D. Sullivan, R. G. Broaddus, H. C. Broaddus, L.
L. Stuart, M. J. Houston, E. W. Hudson, H. H. Gilber, J. G.
Hill, L. W. Broaddus.
Waul's Legion—E. E. Rice, Sergeant Major; Oliver Steel,
Lieutenant Colonel, Second Battalion; S. P. Allen of Company
E.; Charles Warneche of Company B.; William Burse of
Hogue's Battery; Isaac A. Levy, John Wagner, and Charles
Holdermany of Company B.; Captain F. A. Michels, Captain
L. Hardie, Jacob Koch, of Company B., Second Battalion; P.
Briscoe, A. W. Littig, G. M. Noris, H. G. Hutcheson, S. M.
Williams, B. A. Smalley of Company A., Second Battalion;
Louis Kosse.
These signed the record as members in attendance and in
addition to these names were added the following records which
are of the greatest value since both the Second Texas and Waul's
Legion had so many men from Houston and Harris County in
their ranks.
Second Texas Infantry—Company B.: Captain, W. C. Timmins;
J. W. Mangum, first lieutenant; J. D. McCleary, second
lieutenant; A. S. Mair, third lieutenant; A. J. Hurley, orderly
sergeant; J. B. Cato, second sergeant; D. C. Smith, third sergeant;

S. L. Allen, fourth sergeant; O. J. Conklin, fifth sergeant;
W. H. Tyson, color sergeant; Phil Huebner, first corporal; H. D.
Donnellon, second corporal; privates:—A. F. Amerman, Phil
Angus, T. H. Brooks,—Barrow, T. P. Bryan, Wm. Block,
William Blanton, John Clark, Mike Callahan, Matt Conklin,—Cogkin,
Tom Conway, Tim Grim,—Duncan, N. T. Davis,
Henry Drier, Sterling Fisher, B. Foster, Ames N. Alberts, John
Bouquet, J. Beutcherger, J. T. Bell, Henry Bitner, Nicholas
Castello, George A. Christie, William H. Clark,—Cheeney,
Horace Church, A. Cunningham,—Claspell, Phil Duggin,
C. S. Doty,—Forney, C. F. Gehrman, Charles Finkleman, M.
Gilreath, J. B. Hogan, Henry Hartman, William Hartney, J. C.
Hart, Dan. Huebner, Henry Holcamp, W. E. Jones, Theodore
Keller, John Kirk,—Klein, Joseph Le Due, James Lamber,
William Little, Tom Lillie, Henry Meyer,—McCarthy,—Meeks,
Joe Michaels, James Manuel, M. M. McLean,—Northrup,
Tom Patterson, William Perry, Peter Rhein, H. P. Roberts,
W. G. Spence,—Shaot, Joe Smith, William Tulsen, J. White,
William Wharf,—Williams, A. T. McCorkle, Antone Merkle,
William Miller, George A. Newell, J. C. Potter, E. Rothman,
A. Riter, Alex Senechal, F. D. Shaw, A. B. Seale, E. A. Sprague,
Earnest Trinks, William Worgs, Ed H. Wilson and—Hoffman.
Company C.—This was the famous Bayland Guards, a company
raised and commanded by Dr. Ashbel Smith, who was afterwards
the colonel of the Second Texas Regiment. The roll given
is the original roll of the company at its organization:
Asbel Smith, captain; J. R. Harrill, first lieutenant; S. S.
Ashe, second lieutenant; M. A. Lea, third lieutenant; R. D.
Haden, first sergeant; R. M. Woodhall, second sergeant; W. H.
Bryan, third sergeant; E. M. Wasson, fourth sergeant; R. G.
Ashe, fifth sergeant; Isham Palmer, first corporal; C. M. Owens,
second corporal; J. Hagerman, third corporal; C. E. Jones, fourth
corporal; H. Parnell, surgeon; privates:—W. S. Alger, John
Alfson, Mosley Baker, J. W. Barnes, G. H. Brown, Amos Barron,
Barton Clark, J. V. Dutton, L. J. Ellidge, J. P. Evans, F. M.
Fitzgerald, Amos Fisher, J. G. Haden, S. E. Jones, R. V.
Tompkins, Wm. White, B. F. Lamson, Henry Love, Daniel

Matthews, F. M. Rundill, James A. Rhea, T. J. Armstrong,
G. R. Baker, Hiram Bartlett, C. H. Brooks, T. L. Blagreaves,
Jesse Brooks, D. Dugat, Daniel Duncan, J. T. Elledge, G. W.
Ferrand, Sol Fisher, L. J. Harper, S. A. Hadden, Wm. Evans,
Stanley Brown, W. H. Woodhall, Sol Lawrence, J. Murrell,
Henry Ong, P. L. Reeves, Otis Rush, James A. Stewart, J. W.
Tompkins, A. J. Thomas, A. G. Voortman, Sol Williams, John
Holtz, W. A. Terrell, T. W. Timmins, J. B. Thomas, J. B. Vanhouten,
A. J. Woodall, and Sam Houston, Jr., son of General
Sam Houston.
This company was organized in Harris County April 27,
1861. The Second Texas Infantry was organized August 17,
following. Col. J. C. Moore was its first colonel. When he was
promoted to be a Brigadier General, Lieut. Col. William P. Rogers
became colonel. Colonel Rogers was killed at Corinth and was
succeeded by Col. Ashbel Smith, who commanded it until the
surrender. The regiment saw much active service and distinguished
itself at Corinth, where, through a blunder, it was
ordered to take an impregnable point, and sent to do work that
it would have required two or more brigades to accomplish.
The Second Texas did not falter, but made the attack
and was nearly annihilated, leaving its brave colonel and most of
its officers and men on the field. The regiment also sustained
heavy losses at Vicksburg and was captured there when the
stronghold was surrendered. After its release from the Vicksburg
parole the regiment was transferred to this side of the
Mississippi and was in the Trans-Mississippi department when
the war closed.
Waul's Legion.—This body was organized in Washington
County, in the spring of 1862, and was composed of ten companies
of infantry, one battalion of cavalry and two batteries
of artillery. In the legion was a company of infantry commanded
by Captain Sam Carter, all the members of which were from
Harris County, and another Houston company, commanded by
Captain Otto Natheuesius, who was a trained soldier, having
served in the Prussian army. He was promoted early after
reaching the other side of the river and Captain Frank A.

Michels assumed command of the company. Charles Warnecke,
Charles Warner, Louis Kosse, John and William Kersten and
John W. Stanfield of Houston were members of this company.
Captain Louis Harde of Houston also commanded a company in
the legion. With the exception of Edgars' battery, the legion
was ordered across the Mississippi in August, 1862, and became a
part of Walker's division. Trellis' cavalry battalion was detached
and included in Van Dorn's brigade and Forest's cavalry.
The infantry under command of General Waul, helped defend
Vicksburg, and after the surrender, when that officer was promoted,
was divided into two battalions, one commanded by Colonel
Timmons, and the other by Colonel Wrigley.
Hood's Texas Brigade Association was organized in the
parlor of the Hutchins House, May 24, 1872. At that first
meeting there were sixty-five survivors of that famous command
present. On motion of General J. B. Robertson, an ex-commander
of the Brigade, General J. B. Hood was called to the
chair, and Maj. Robert Burns was requested to act as secretary.
General Hood made a speech and said that the object of the meeting
was to organize the survivors of the old brigade into an
association to be called Hood's Texas Brigade Association of the
army of Northern Virginia.
Col. Winkler moved that there should be chosen a president,
a vice-president, a secretary and a treasurer, who should
serve for one year. Also that there should be an executive
committee of two members from each regiment whose duty it
should be to gather all matter for a correct history of the brigade.
The object of the association, as stated by resolution, is
for friendly and social reunions of the survivors of the brigade,
and to collect all data for rolls and history and to perpetuate all
anecdotes, incidents, and many things connected therewith, and
to succor the needy among its members. It was decided to hold a
reunion once every year. The officers elected at that first
reunion were: president, Col. C. M. Winkler; vice-president,
Gen. J. B. Robertson; secretary and treasurer, Maj. J. H. Littlefield.
Mrs. M. J. Young, of Houston, who, for all the four years
of the war had labored unceasingly for the brigade, and who had

raised and sent to Virginia, early in the war, $35,000 in gold,
for the purpose of establishing a Texas hospital in Richmond,
and who had sent clothing and medicine for them, was present
and received an ovation not second to that given the old leader,
General Hood. The first act of the association, after its organization,
was to elect Mrs. Young “The Mother of Hood's Brigade”
by a standing vote.
Houston is directly interested in Hood's Brigade since it
furnished one of the companies that formed part of the
Fifth Texas Regiment in that famous body of troops. There
were but three Texas regiments in the army of northern Virginia.
The Houston company was the Bayou City Guards, known
officially as Co. A, Fifth Texas Regiment. Nearly every prominent
family in Houston had a representative in its ranks. Capt.
W. D. Cleveland was one of the company, but after arriving in
Virginia he was disabled and incapacitated for the infantry. He
did not come home however, but went to Tennessee, joined Terry's
Texas Rangers, and remained with that command until the close
of the war.
It is a matter of regret that a full roster of the company is
unobtainable. There were one hundred men in the company
when it left Houston in 1861. In 1862 Lieutenant Chute came back
for recruits and secured six. One or two others joined the
company in Virginia. The company was in twenty-four great
engagements and in a number of heavy skirmishes. The only
roster that can be made out is from the partial records in the
war department at Washington, giving the killed and wounded in
thirteen of the great battles they were engaged in. That list, supplemented
by another prepared from memory by one of the
company is given here:
A. Angel, killed at Manassas; John Bell, killed at Manasssas;
Sam Bailey, wounded at Manassas, wounded at Gettysburg and
killed at Spottsylvania; T. P. Bryan, killed at the Wilderness;
Lieut. J. E. Clute, killed at Gaines' Mill; Robt. Campbell, wounded
at Manassas, wounded at Chickamauga, wounded at Darby
Town; S. Cohn, killed at Gettysburg; Joe Cramer, wounded at
Gettysburg; W. H. Clarke, wounded at Gettysburg, wounded at

Chickamauga, wounded at the Wilderness; Louis Coleman, wounded
at Gettysburg; J. DeLesdernier, killed at Manassas; George
DeLesdernier, killed at Gaines' Mill; John DeYoung, killed at
Manassas; B. C. Dyer, wounded at Sharpsburg; C. W. Diggs,
killed at Gettysburg; J. C. Deloch, wounded at the Wilderness;
A. H. Edey, wounded at Gettysburg; Capt. D. C. Farmer,
wounded at Gettysburg; Lieut. B. P. Fuller, wounded at the
Wilderness; T. W. Fitzgerold, wounded at Gettysburg; E.
Fragee, wounded at Gettysburg; J. H. Garrison, wounded at
Gettysburg; C. B. Gardner, wounded at Chickamauga; J. Heffrin,
killed at Manassas; Sam D. Hews, wounded at Manassas; Frank
Kosse, killed at Sharpsburg; J. V. Love, killed at Gettysburg;
John Leverton, wounded at Gettysburg; J. E. Landes, wounded
at the Wilderness; J. R. McMurtry, killed at Manassas; Wm.
McDowell, killed at Gettysburg; J. Massenburg, killed at Manassas;
J. Morris, wounded at Gettysburg and at the Wilderness;
E. A. Nobles, wounded at Manassas; Geo. Onderdonk, wounded
at Gaines' Mill; J. O'Nally, wounded at Manassas; N. Pommery,
wounded at Gettysburg and Chickamauga; F. W. Plummer,
wounded at Chickamauga; W. Reiley, wounded at Manassas; T.
H. Revely, wounded at Gettysburg; G. J. Robinson, wounded at
the Wilderness; J. H. Robbins, wounded at Chickamauga; B. C.
Simpson, wounded at Manassas and Gettysburg; A. Stewart,
wounded at Sharpsburg; H. G. Settle, wounded at Gettysburg,
and killed near Richmond a year later; C. F. Settle, wounded
and captured at Gettysburg. He made a wonderful escape from
Fort Deleware exactly one year after; W. L. Steel, wounded
at Chickamauga; J. H. Shepherd, wounded at the Wilderness;
S. H. Watkins, wounded at Gettysburg; D. W. Walker, killed at
Manassas; A. Wolf, wounded at Seven Pines, killed at Sharpsburg.
The other members were: A. Beasly, Pat Burns, Robt.
Burns, afterwards brigade commissary, T. E. Bigbee, J. A. Cameron,
I. Elesessor, W. B. Ferrell, W. A. George, Wm. McGowan,
afterwards Adjutant of the Fifth Texas Regiment; G. Miller, F.
M. Poland, C. Stevens, H. P. Welch, S. O. Young.
Of the entire company there were known to be living only

the following in 1911: J. A. Cameron, Houston, Texas; B. L.
Dyer, Opelika, Ala.; W. A. George, Houston, Texas; James E.
Landes, Chappel Hill, Texas; F. M. Poland, Houston, Texas; N.
Pommery, Clark Milstret, County Cork, Ireland; Dr. S. O.
Young, Houston, Texas.
As Texas saw but little of the real warfare of the Civil War,
the chief part taken by Houston as by other Texas cities was the
furnishing of troops for the great battlefields on both sides of
the river. The reunions of the larger units have indicated how
heroically Houston did her share, like the rest of the South robbing
the cradle and the grave to send soldiers to the front. Hundreds
were attached to other organizations and thousands of
citizens who came to Houston after the Civil War had participated
in the great conflict. A full list of these is of course impossible.
The heroic achievements are perpetuated not only by the annual
reunions of the commands named but also by the local lodge of
United Confederate Veterans. It is certain that those who have
been or are now citizens of Houston fought for the South in
every battle of the conflict. Also hundreds of Houstonians participated
on the other side, moving to this city after the war.
Camp Dick Dowling No. 197, U. C. V. was organized in 1892.
The late General C. C. Beavens was largely instrumental in
organizing it and creating interest and enthusiasm. The year
before, he had organized Camp Magruder at Galveston and was
a most enthusiastic worker in all that promised to perpetuate
the memory of the Confederate soldier. Camp Dick Dowling is
one of the best organized and hardest working camps in the
South. Its membership is only about 300, but its meetings are
always largely attended and the interest shown today is equal in
every way to that shown when the organization was new. Meetings
are held twice each month, at which lectures and talks by
the comrades are given. The camp looks after the sick and indigent
Confederate soldiers, not only among its own members, but
all others to whom its attention is called. It buries its dead and
no Confederate soldier is ever allowed to occupy a paupers' grave.
The present officers of the Camp are: J. J. Hall, commander;
Geo. H. Herman, 1st lieut. commander; J. T. Clower,

2nd lieut. commander; Al Longnaker, 3rd lieut. commander;
W. C. Kelly, adjutant; Dr. W. A. Haley, surgeon; Rev. S. H.
Blair, chaplain; J. C. Fowler, officer of the day; F. R. Jones,
vidette; M. W. McLeod, flag bearer.
During the year 1910, fourteen members of the Camp died.
Post McLennan No. 9, G. A. R. was organized in 1885, and
has been in active service ever since. Not having such abundant
material from which to draw as the Confederate Veterans had, its
membership has necessarily been limited. Still the organization
has been kept intact and there is quite as much interest shown
today as there was on the day of its organization. It has a
ladies' auxiliary, which does an immense amount of good work
and cares for the sick and needy of the Post. There are about
one hundred active members of the Post and Decoration Day is
faithfully observed by them.
Houston has chapters of the Spanish American War Veterans
and of the Sons of the American Revolution, both of which
are headed by Brigadier General James A. Waties, and has also
organizations of the Sons and Daughters of the Confederacy and
other patriotic societies.
The Houston Light Guard, the military company most
famous in peaceful achievements the country has ever known,
was organized on San Jacinto Day, April 21, 1873. Col. Fairfax
Gray, who had served in the United States Navy before the
war, and who had rendered distinguished service as an officer
in the Confederate Army, was the first captain of the Guard.
Soon after its organization interest began to flag and the company
soon existed in name only.
Late in the fall of the same year some of the most zealous
members got together and determined to reorganize the company.
Interest among the others was revived and a meeting
was called. The attendance was good and a complete reorganization
of the company was effected. Captain J. R. Coffin was
elected captain. The renewed interest was not allowed to wane,
and the new captain put the boys to drilling and did everything
possible to make them soldiers. Uniforms were procured, the color
being cadet gray, better known as Confederate gray. The company

worked so hard and accomplished so much that when
the carnival of King Comus occurred in February, 1874, the
company took part in the parade, the members wearing their
uniforms for the first time. They did even more than that,
for three months later, in May, they entered in a competitive
drill against four outside companies at the Volk-fest celebration.
They did not get the prize but they did get experience
and the next year, at Austin, under command of Captain Joe
Rice, they won a sword valued at $500.
The company acted as a guard of honor and escort to
Ex-President Davis of the Confederacy, and has the distinction
of having been the first guard of honor Mr. Davis had after
the war. The ladies of Houston presented the company with a
beautiful flag, in 1875, and the honorary lady members presented
it with another in 1882.
In the early eighties the martial spirit was very strong
all over the country, particularly in the South. Military
companies became all the rage and competition between them
on the drill ground was very keen. As a rule the members
of these companies bought their own uniforms, paid their
own traveling expenses and everything of that sort. The
only thing the government furnished them was arms. The
Houston Light Guard was ambitious. Its first appearance in
an interstate drill outside of Texas was at New Orleans in
1881. It was beaten by three companies, but got fourth prize,
Next year the boys went to the interstate drill at Nashville,
Tenn. They were again beaten by three companies, coming
out fourth, but had the great satisfaction of beating the
Lawrence Light Infantry, a crack company from Boston, Mass.
The people of Houston stood by them as closely in their
defeats as they did later in their triumphs. From Nashville
they came home more determined than ever. The friends of
the company, the business men of Houston, determined that
they should have another trial. To make the opportunity, they
got together and raised the money to offer handsome prizes
and to meet the cost of entertaining the visiting companies at

an interstate drill in Houston. The fact was advertised far and
wide and invitations were sent to all the prominent military
organizations in the United States. That was in 1884. A
number of the crack companies accepted the invitation. Mr.
H. Baldwin Rice was made manager of the drill. The War
Department at Washington, appointed three army officers to
act as judges and to make an official report of the result to
the government. The drill ground was the old fair grounds
where now stands the south end “Fair Grounds Addition.”
Fannin School now stands within a few feet of where the
stakes and lines defining the drill field were placed. The drill
was the greatest event of the kind that had ever taken place,
and all the famous military organizations in the country were
here. The drill lasted for a week, a certain number of companies
drilling each day in the state or interstate contest. All
companies that had ever taken part in an interstate drill were
barred from the state drill. The first prize for interstate companies
was $5,000. From that the prizes were reduced, so
that the last prize was only about one-fourth of that amount.
The companies competing in the interstate drill were the
Treadway Rifles, of St. Louis; the Columbus Guards, of Columbus,
Ga.; the Montgomery Greys, of Montgomery, Ala.; the
Washington Guards, of Galveston, and the Houston Light
Guard. These were the crack military companies of the United
States and most of them had national reputations, and were
commanded by the best militia officers in the country.
The Houston Light Guard put up one of the most perfect
drills ever witnessed and won the first prize. Omitting the
figures grading the several parts of the drill, the totals are
given here:
Houston Light Guard, 2.66; Treadway Rifles, 2.55; Columbus
Guards, 2.35; Mobile Rifles, 2.29; Montgomery Greys, 2.28;
Washington Guards, 1.95. A perfect drill would have given
3.00, the maximum score.
The following memorandum on the drill was submitted by
the judges:
“Houston Light Guard.—It is observed that the inspection

was nearly perfect. The appearance of the men in their dress,
arms and accountrements, and their neatness, exceeded anything
we have seen anywhere—each man like a color man at the United
States Military Academy at West Point. Captain Scurry had
not proceeded far in the program when, while wheeling his
company from column of twos, improperly, the company was
placed in a position from which it was almost impossible to
extricate it, except as done, exhibiting great presence of mind
on the captain's part.
“Captain Scurry's appreciation of the program and its
requirements was superior to that of the other commanders.
“The ground was laid out with the view to testing the length
and cadence of the step in quick and double time. A company
marching as contemplated in the method applied would take
the following number of steps in quick and double time, and in
the time specified. In quick time, 284 steps in 2 minutes and
35 seconds; in double time, 284 steps in 1 minute and 26 seconds.
The Houston Light Guard made the following record: In quick
time, 283 steps in 2 minutes and 35 seconds; in double time in
1 minute and 27 seconds. Aside from all practice in this particular,
the result was almost phenomenal. Captain Scurry was
the only one who marched upon the flags with guide to the left,
as directed by the judges.”
The Houston Light Guard, having won all it cared for—fame,
offered to divide the money prize among the visiting companies,
all of whom had been at heavy expense. This offer was
refused, with thanks, of course. The next year, 1885, the company,
under Captain Scurry, won three first prizes in interstate
drills, footing up $12,000. The first was at Mobile, Alabama, in
May, and the second, a few days later at New Orleans. The
third was in July, at Fairmount Park, Philadelphia. In this
drill and encampment all sections of the country were represented,
there being seventy-five companies there. Only about one-half
of them entered the competitive drill. The Houston Light Guard
took first prize, which was a purse of $4,000 and a flag valued
at $500.
From Philadelphia the company went to New York, where

they were handsomely entertained at the armories of two of
the famous New York regiments. It is but a matter of justice
to give here the names of the men and officers who made the
Houston Light Guards, “World Beaters.” They are as follows:
Captain, Thomas Scurry; 1st lieutenant, F. A. Reichardt;
2nd lieutenant, T. H. Franklin; 3rd lieutenant, Spencer Hutchins;
quartermaster, W. A. Childress; surgeon, Dr. S. O. Young,
at and after the Philadelphia drill; 1st sergeant, George L.
Price; 2nd sergeant, R. A. Scurry; 1st corporal, H. D. Taylor;
2nd corporal, W. K. Mendenhall; 3rd corporal, George N. Torrey;
privates—Byers, Barnett, Bates, Bull, Byers, Cook, Dealy, Foss,
Golihart, Hodgson, Hutchins, Heyer, Reynaud, Swanson, Johnson,
Journey, Wilson, R. Kattman, E. Kattman, Lewis, Mahoney,
Mitchell, McKeever, Powell, Randolph, Steele, Sawyer, Sharpe,
Tyler, Taft, Taylor, Torrey, Wisby; perpetual drummer, John
Sessums (colored.)
The next great victory of the Light Guard was at Galveston
where it took first prize, a purse of $4,500, over the Montgomery
True Blues, San Antonio Rifles, Branch Guards, (St. Louis),
Company F, Louisville Legion and Belknapp Rifles of San
Antonio. This was perhaps the most perfect drill ever witnessed
in the United States, and excited widespread wonder and admiration
among military men and the public generally.
The company went to Austin in 1888, and again took first
prize, $5,000, in competition with the flower of interstate companies.
The next year Galveston wanted to give a great drill,
and did so, but the Houston Light Guard was barred, so as not to
bluff off other companies from competing. That was the highest
honor the company ever had conferred on it. The people of
Galveston had the Light Guard as their guests and gave them
$500 for an exhibition drill.
The Houston Light Guard showed that they were not
merely fancy soldiers when the war with this country and Spain
began, for they volunteered promptly, and under the command
of Captain George McCormick, went to the front. They served
in Florida and Cuba. When peace negotiations began, Captain
McCormick returned home and the lamented R. A. Scurry became

captain of the company, and in due time returned home with it.
The company owns its armory, the handsomest in the state.
It was erected in part with the money the company earned in
prizes—about $30,000. Some bonds were issued. These will
mature in a few months, but are all provided for.
The names of the Captains of the company since its organization
are as follows: Fairfax Gray, John Coffin, Joe S. Rice,
George Price, James S. Baker, Jr., Thomas Scurry, F. A. Reichardt,
George McCormick, R. A. Scurry, C. Hutchinson, Milby
Porter. Dallas J. Matthews is the present capable commander.
For a long time in the Texas National Guard Houston has
boasted a crack troop of cavalry. This troop served during the
Spanish American war as Troop A, First Texas Cavalry, U. S.
V. Major Towles was then captain and C. C. Beavens first lieutenant.
Towles was made major and Beavens promoted to be
captain. An officer of this troop, James A. Waties, was made
colonel of the regiment and afterwards promoted to be a brigadier
general. He was succeeded by Luther R. Hare, who subsequently
also won a promotion to a brigadiership. Among the
Houston citizens who were officers in this regiment are John A.
Hulen, Jake Wolters, J. Towles, B. H. Carroll, Jr., and C. C.
Troop A. has always been the crack troop of the cavalry
branch of the T. N. G.
The Jeff Miller Rifles, which belong to the Second Infantry
regiment of the T. N. G. is also a noted Houston company. For
some years this company has been commanded by Captain C. C.
The No-Tsu-Oh Association is chartered for the purpose of
giving an annual carnival for the entertainment of the people
of the state. It is not organized for revenue and is sustained
entirely by membership fees and subscriptions made by Houston
business men.
The first carnival was held in 1899 and was such a success
that it was determined to perpetuate the entertainment so that
now it is an incorporated concern and spends about $30,000 each
year for fun and frolic. There is a new president, king and

queen each year, those who have borne those honors in the past
being the following:




A glance at the list of presidents, kings and queens above
will show that the best people of the city have constantly co-operated
in making the No-Tsu-Oh carnival a success. A week
in November of each year is devoted to festivities, parades, and
carnival features modeled on the Mardi Gras carnivals of New
Orleans and European cities. Large crowds are drawn to
Houston during the week. The two great events of the carnival
are the annual foot-ball game played between the University of
Texas and A. & M. College, and the Queen's Coronation Ball.
An attempt is being made to give the carnival more of an
exposition character but so far without great success.
Houston's oldest social organization is the Z. Z. Dancing
Club. This was organized over 40 years ago, and its balls and
cotillions during each year are of rare beauty. The Z. Z. Club
for many years has introduced the debutantes at the opening of

each social season with a debutantes' cotillion preceded by a
reception at the home of the president of the club.
Spencer Hutchins, the former Ward McAllister of Houston,
made the club famous. In recent years Hon. Presley K. Ewing
has served several terms as president. He was succeeded in
1910 by J. M. Cary, the present popular president.
Part of the membership of this club in July, 1901, organized
the Thalian Club—a regular social organization. Its first president
was Major J. F. Dickson. The Thalian Club built a handsome
modern club house at the corner of Rusk Avenue and San
Jacinto Street in 1907, at a cost of $40,000, and its social functions
have been very elaborate. Among its presidents have been
numbered the most prominent men of the city in business and
social life. Its presidents have been, in the following order:
Major John F. Dickson, Mr. R. S. Lovett, Major John F. Dickson,
Hon. Frank Andrews, Col. J. S. Rice, Capt. S. Taliaferro,
Hon. H. M. Garwood, Hon. John Charles Harris, and Mr.
Joseph Hellen.
The present officers of the club are: E. K. Dillingham,
president; J. G. Maillot, vice-president; Murray B. Jones, secretary;
J. F. Dickson, Jr., treasurer, and W. L. Thaxton, manager.
The Houston Country Club was organized in 1904 by a
number of Houston club men and golf enthusiasts. In 1909 the
club purchased grounds near Harrisburg and on Bray's Bayou,
aggregating 158 acres of beautiful woodland and lawns. Extensive
improvements have been made and a club house of the best
bungalow type and containing every modern utility combined
with taste and beauty was erected at a cost of $125,000 for house
and grounds.
The club has the finest golf links in the South. A course of
18 holes exists with fine natural hazards.
Those instrumental in organizing the club were Joe Rice, E.
B. Parker, W. W. Dexter, T. B. Timpson, C. D. Golding and
others. The membership is limited to 500.
Its presidents have been, in the order named: Joe Rice, Wm.
M. Rice, and Edwin B. Parker, the present president.


A down-town business men's club, known as the Houston
Club, was organized in 1894. Most of the business men of the
city belong and the entire top floor of the Chronicle Building
and the beautiful roof garden are utilized by the club. From
1902 until 1910, for some reason, the club ceased to exist as an
active organization, but in 1910, interest was revived, new blood
was infused and the Houston Club takes rank as one of the most
useful social organizations in the city. Its officers, since its organization
have been:
After 1902 the club was not active until its reorganization in
In 1910–11 Mr. C. K. Dunlap was elected president and Mr.
T. H. Stone secretary-treasurer. Soon after his election Mr.
Dunlap resigned and Mr. Stone was chosen to succeed him.
The officers of the club are at present: T. H. Stone, president;
E. A. Peden, vice-president; Arch. MacDonald, secretary and
Houston is fairly well supplied with charitable institutions.
While most of the members of these organizations belong to
some religious body, many of them are members of no church,
but all are influenced by that true spirit of Christianity which
finds expression in aiding the poor, relieving suffering and visiting
the sick and afflicted.


The central organization is the United Charities. This
organization has a modest office in the Binz Building and all its
work is carried on in the field. Its objects are to aid the worthy
poor and to check the impositions of the unworthy to minister to
the sick and destitute, and aid the unemployed to secure work.
The association owns no property and is supported entirely by
voluntary contributions. The annual sale of “red badges,” on
the day before Christmas, by the association is one of its chief
revenue producers. From this source alone it derives between
$3,000 and $4,000 every year.
The ladies of Christ Church established the Sheltering Arms
in 1903, and since its opening it has sheltered 140 old and destitute
women. It owns its own property and, in addition, has a
small endowment. The Catholics maintain St. Anthony's Home.
This is a home for old men and old women. The capacity of the
home is fifty and it is generally full. The oldest charitable
institution is Bayland Orphon's Home. This was originally
intended as a home for the orphaned children of Confederate soldiers.
It was organized in 1867 and was located at Bayland, on
Galveston Bay. In 1888 it was removed to Hereston and now
occupies a 34-acre tract of land adjoining Woodland Heights.
It cares for about 30 children each year.
A school has been maintained ever since the organization
of the home. Since its removal to Houston a teacher has been
employed, the sessions of the school corresponding to those of the
city school. The county paid to it its proportion of the state
tax, but since the extension of the city limits brought the home
within the city limits, the city has appointed and paid for a
teacher, the amount paid by the city being supplemented by the
home. The present managers are: James Bruce, superintendent;
R. M. Elgin, William Christian, R. B. Baer, J. V. Dealy, E. W.
Taylor, J. F. Meyer and H. J. Dannebaum, board of directors.
The Star of Hope is a mission, under the auspices of the
Baptist churches of Houston for the immediate assistance and
help of homeless and destitute men. It was founded by Rev.
Mordecai F. Ham, an evangelist, and Richard Dowling, a brilliant
man who had gone to the gutter through drink and was reclaimed.

The mission is located on Franklin Avenue, near the bayou, and
provides beds and meals for unemployed men and helps them to
secure employment. Daily religious services are held and a
reading room and employment bureau is maintained. It was
organized in 1907.
About the same time the Salvation Army in Houston established
a free relief and dispensory department and by the furnishing
of medicines to the very poor and by the assistance of the
local physicians has done a large work.
The Houston Settlement Association is not a charitable institution,
but is largely a social one. By whatever name it may be
designated it is one of the most useful and helpful organizations
of the kind in the city. Its formal organization dates from February
19, 1907, when about a dozen ladies met at the residence
of Mrs. James A Baker and banded themselves together for the
purpose of extending educational, industrial, social and friendly
aid to all those within their reach. That was the formal organization
of the association of today, though the nucleus for it had
existed for a year or two before then in the sewing class, organized
by Mrs. M. M. Archer and several young lady assistants, among
the pupils of the Rusk School, in January, 1904. This sewing
class met once each week in the Woman's Club free kindergarten
The association is non-sectarian, there being representatives
of all creeds and beliefs on its board of directors. It has a membership
of about two hundred and derives its support from voluntary
The association has in its charge the free kindergarten of
the second ward; a Womans' club; the Alpha club, a social
association of young men, and minor organizations. Its greatest
work is in coöperation with the school authorities, in establishing
and maintaining a domestic science department in the Rusk
The officers of the association are: President, Mrs. James A.
Baker; first vice-president, Mrs. Frank Andrews, second vice-president,
Mrs. John McClelland; treasurer, Mrs. J. E. Crews;

corresponding secretary, Mrs. P. B. Simpson, and recording
secretary, Mrs. D. C. Glenn.
If ever an institution were properly named it is the DePelchin
Faith Home, for it was started entirely on faith, without a
cent in its treasury, if it can be said to have had a treasury,
and with no visible source of income. Faith in the big-hearted
people of Houston was its sole asset. Mrs. E. N. Gray thus tells
its story in “The Key to the City of Houston:”
“This is one of the most appealing benevolences of our city,
for it has to do with the needs of distressed children. And hard
indeed is the heart which is not touched by the cry of a little
“This institution owes its inception to the big-heartedness
of Mrs. Kenzia DePelchin, who was practically aided in her
noble undertaking by some of the ladies of our city.
“Mrs. Kenzia DePelchin's life is an interesting as a story.
She spent many years in Houston, an angel of mercy to the sick
and destitute. The home which she founded for homeless children
stands today as a significant monument to her life of service
and devotion to the cause of helpless humanity.
“Born in the Maderia Islands, of English parents, she was
left an orphan when very young, but under the care of an aunt
she came to Texas, while yet a girl, and then her life of ministry
began. She was first a music teacher, and later she was in Drs.
Stuart & Boyle's sanitarium as one of its most capable nurses.
During the dreadful yellow fever scourge of 1878 she went
to Memphis, Tenn., and gave heroic service. When urged to
accept the money donated to pay the nurses, she accepted it only
to turn it over to a worthy charity of that city.
“The last part of her life was spent as matron of the Bayland
Orphans' Home. In the spring of 1892, two homeless little ones
were picked up by her and a notice put in the Post announcing
that a home would be begun at once. She spent the night in
prayer and the next morning a benevolent woman of Houston
went to see her. This was Mrs. W. C. Crane.
“With the aid of this lady a small cottage was rented and a
lady was found who would loan her furniture and act as matron.

Then the home was a fact, without one dollar ahead and only a
crib for possession. On Monday, May 2, Mrs. Crane took out
some ice cream and cake and Mrs. DePelchin took the orphans
from Bayland Home to the cottage, where they sang their little
hymns and with simple ceremony in Mrs. DePelchin's own words,
‘they christened Bayland's little sister Faith Home.’
The orphans enjoyed the ride and the unwonted feast, and the guests
departed with a vivid memory of that May day opening.
“From the small beginning in 1892, the institution has
grown and developed, until today it is one of the best equipped
of the city's charities, with its own handsome brick building and
its many happy-faced little ones, sheltered by its watchful care.
“The Faith Home as it now exists, was organized January
20, 1893, and soon after applied for a charter. It was called
‘Faith Home’ because the heroic founder of that institution
placed her faith in God and the kind hearts of the Houston
“This home is not primarily an orphan asylum, but it is a
comfortable home, situated on the corner of Chenevert Street and
Pierce Avenue, where the father who has lost his wife may place
his little ones until he can provide home care for them again; a
home where the mother may shelter her helpless children while
she earns a living; a home where good care, the best of medical
attention, wholesome food and wise, sanitary surroundings rae
furnished for the helpless children, either orphaned of father's
and mother's care or dependent upon the one parent, too burdened
to meet their need. The parent who places his child there
is supposed to pay three dollars a month, so long as he has work.
This is of necessity an uncertain and very limited source of
income. Therefore it is incumbent on the general public to see
that this institution is fitly supported. There are always some
forty children in the home.
“The board of directors consist of the officers and chairmen
of the various committees. They are: President, Mrs. T. W.
House; vice-president at large, Mrs, M. E. Bryan; treasurer,
Mrs. F. A. Reichardt; secretary, Mrs. Jonathan Lane. Mrs. J. W.
McKee, Miss H. Levy, Mrs. J. W. Parker, Mrs. Carter Walker,

Mrs. Ed. Mackey, Mrs. B. F. Weems, Mrs. W. B. Chew, and Mrs.
G. S. Shannon are heads of committees; Mrs. Kerven is the
The Florence Crittendon Rescue Home for Girls was organized
November 17, 1896, with the following officers and directors:
W. B. Jones, president; I. S. Myer, vice-president; G. W. Heyer,
treasurer: A. G. Howell, secretary; Mesdames Belle Blandin, D.
R. Cunningham, E. S. Tracy, W. H. Peregoy, S. Beaty, Messrs.
E. F. McGowan, W. D. Cleveland, Sr., E. W. Taylor, S. E. Calvitt,
Frank W. Fox and George Henrickson, directors. Two and
one-half lots, on the corner of Elgin Avenue and Caroline Street
were purchased for $700 in February, 1907, and by September,
the same year, the home was built and Mrs. Yates installed as
matron. On September 16, she reported one girl in the home.
Since then the average number of girls in the home has been
about seven per month. These girls come from all parts of the
state and none is ever refused admission.
The home is not altogether a charitable institution, though
it is made as nearly so as possible. So long as a girl is trying to
live a decent life and is out of employment the home is open to
her and the officials assist her in finding employment. She is
charged for board and medical treatment and when she finds
employment she must pay to the home one-fifth of her wages
until the amount reaches $34. These are the rules for out-of-town
girls. During the past 15 years more than 1,000 girls have been
helped by the home.
The home is without endowment and is supported by voluntary
subscriptions. The present officers and directors are:
W. B. Jones, president; Mrs. E. N. Gray, vice-president; A. G.
Howell, treasurer; J. C. Harris, recording secretary; Mrs. L. S.
Hubbell, corresponding secretary; Mrs. Charles Stewart, I. S.
Myer, W. A. Wilson and Rev. Dr. J. L. Gross are directors.
The Wesley House, a christian center for social educational
and religious activities is maintained by the Board of City
Missions, an organization composed of representatives from all
the Methodist churches in the city. Its departments of work are:
A home for self-supporting young women, a kindergarten, night

classes for foreigners, a committee for daily visiting, an industrial
school, athletic classes for young women, a Sunday school,
and preaching in Spanish the first Sunday afternoon of each
month. Miss Mattie Wright is the superintendent and Miss
Audrey Wade is matron. They have six efficient assistant
The Wesley House Board, in 1907, established the Young
Women's Co-operative Home for homeless wage-earning girls.
It cares for about 33 girls at a time and an effort is being made
to secure $40,000 to erect a home that will accommodate 300
working girls who labor for wages lower than the cost of subsistance.
Much good has been accomplished by the home and it
seems to be on the threshold of a wider usefulness.
The Young Women's Christian Association, while it has
never received loyal support from the citizens has accomplished
much for girls and has a comfortable home where many young
women board. Gymnasium work and a downtown lunch for
working girls in a rest room have also been wholesome features.
There is a movement to build a suitable home for the Y. W.
C. A., similar to that occupied by the Y. M. C. A.
Among the Jewish people of the city there has been a good
work done by the Jewish Charity Home.

[Back to top]

Societies and Clubs—Continued

First Literary Society. Organization of Houston Lyceum.
Early Efforts to Establish a Library. The Houston Lyceum
and Carnegie Library. The Ladies Reading Club. Ladies
Shakespeare Club. The Two other Shakespeare Clubs.
Current Literature Club. Houston Pen Women's Association.
Houston Branch of Dickens Fellowship. Lady Washington
Chapter. Daughters of the American Revolution.
San Jacinto Chapter No. 2, Daughters of the Republic of
Texas. Robert E. Lee Chapter 186, United Daughters of the
Confederacy. Oran M. Roberts Chapter 440, U. D. C.

While Houston and Galveston have always been bitterly
opposed to each other commercially, they have ever been the
best friends and have united their efforts to forward and promote
all that contributed to intellectual life. As early as 1845–46
there was a literary club, or lyceum, which, while located in Galveston,
was loyally supported by Houstonians. Dr. Ashbel
Smith, Dr. McCraven and Dr. McAnally were young men at
that time and took great interest in the lyceum and contributed
regularly to the monthly meetings, lectures, debates and papers
on chosen subjects. This was undoubtedly the first literary
society organized in Texas and is mentioned here because of the
fact that Houstonians took such a leading part in its affairs.
The Galveston institution did not ante-date that of Houston
very much, however, for in 1848 the Houston Lyceum was
chartered and has been in existence ever since, though at times
very quiet and inert. It has had several rather long periods of
rest, only to awaken to new life and renewed activity. Soon
after it obtained its charter it lapsed into a period of inertia and
remained so until 1854 when it was revived for a time and it
was thought there would be no further lapses.


The objects and purposes of the Lyceum as outlined in a
statement made in 1854 were: “To diffuse knowledge among
its members, intelligence and information by a library, by lectures
on various subjects and by discussion of such questions as
may elicit useful information and produce improvement in the
art of public speaking.” At that time 382 volumes had been
gotten together and a book case was purchased. The Lyceum
had no income except that derived from dues and an occasional
donation, so its existence was very precarious. During the war
it was, of course, in a comatose state, but in 1865 it again became
Interest was soon allowed to die out and not until 1877 was
an effort made to revive it. In that year its managers raised
funds for it by a series of musical and dramatic entertainments,
and the reading room was thrown open to the public. The city
also came to the assistance of the association and donated the
use of a large room in the city hall, known as “The Banquet
Hall.” A great mistake that the association had made—that
of restricting the membership to males—was corrected in 1888,
and from the moment the ladies were admitted, the association
took on renewed and permanent life.
For a while Mr. Bonner McCraven acted as secretary without
compensation. The ladies made a gallant fight to have the
city take over the library, but failed. After a long stretch of
adversity it was decided to issue check books at $3 each which
would entitle those who bought them to take books from the
library. Mrs. M. H. Foster was employed as librarian at a small
salary and worked faithfully. The small politicians who hung
around the city hall got in the habit of making the library a
loafing place and that so disgusted the ladies that they refused
to go there. Then, in 1895, Mrs. Looscan, president of the Ladies
Reading Club, appealed to that society to come to the assistance
of the Lyceum. Every member of the club became a patron of
the Lyceum and the books were removed to the Mason Building.
The ladies kept up their fight for municipal recognition and, in
1899, they invited the city officials to visit their hall where they
made speeches and showed them the empty shelves. Soon after, the

city gave official recognition by donating $200 each month for
its support. That same year Mr. Carnegie gave $50,000 for a
building fund, providing the city would donate a building site,
and make an appropriation of $4,000 annually for the support
of the institution. A subscription of $7,800 was obtained and
the lot, corner of McKinney Avenue and Travis Street was purchased.
A contract for the building was let, but the building
could not be finished until the city had given $10,000 more for
unforeseen expenses and equipments.
The building was formally thrown open to the public in
March, 1904. In 1900, the Houston Lyceum and Carnegie
Library Association was formed and chartered to take over the
effects of the old Houston Lyceum. Mr. N. S. Meldrum also
endowed the children's department with $6,000 as a memorial
to Norma Meldrum.
The Houston Lyceum had, in 1904, when the transfer was
made, about 4,000 volumes which had all been catalogued before
the new quarters were ready. Before the actual transfer was
made the lyceum library was practically doubled by the gift from
a donor, who desired his name to be unknown, of 4,000 volumes.
N. S. Meldrum also gave $1,000 for the purchase of special books.
This caused a vast amount of work before the library could be
put in perfect condition for the use of the public. There were
over five thousand volumes to be catalogued. The system of
cataloging demanded a complete description of each book, and
for each volume a card index and stock card were necessary.
Among the 4,000 volumes of the unknown donor were books in
Latin and Greek and books that dealt with complicated problems
and technical matters. To examine, describe and record them
required much time. This work was done by Miss Caroline Wandell,
Miss Julia Ideson and Miss Ethel Jones.
It soon became evident that the library needed more books.
The demand exceeded the supply.
“The number of books withdrawn from the library for home
use,” said Miss Julia Ideson, librarian, in her report for 1904,
“was 59,751. This seems fairly good for the first year, yet the

circulation might have been considerably greater had we had a
supply of books anywhere nearly equal to the demand.”
“Estimating the population of Houston at 75,000,” said
Mrs. Henry H. Dickson, president of the board of trustees of
the Houston Lyceum and Carnegie Library Association, in a
report to the mayor and city council made at the same time, “we
are receiving 5½ cents per capita for library purposes. Both
Fort Worth and El Paso do much better than that, while San
Antonio gave, last year, over $6,000 and received, in addition,
gifts from her citizens aggregating over $15,000.”
In the seven years of the library's active existence the
increase in the number of books has been steady and healthy. In
the beginning there were about eight or nine thousand volumes,
while in 1911, there are, approximately, thirty-two thousand.
In 1904, as already stated, 59,751 books were circulated for
home use. According to the report of Miss Ideson, the librarian,
for the year ending Feb. 28, 1911, there were 90,877 volumes
circulated, which, she states, was an increase over the preceding
year. From the same report the following extracts are made:
“The library has shown a substantial growth this year. There
were added, during the year, by purchase, 2,542 volumes; by
purchase, Meldrum fund, 247; by gift, 355, making total accessions,
3,144 volumes.”
“To show the class of people by whom the library is principally
used, statistics of occupations were kept. Of those registering
their occupations, there were: manufacturers, 9; merchants
and business men, 48; bankers and brokers, 4; real estate
and insurance men, 32; mechanics, 31; trades, 68; farmers and
stockmen, 5; railroad employees (no clerks), 19; engineers, 18;
artists and musicians, 15; newspaper men, 8; teachers, 92; physicians,
13; clergymen, 6; lawyers, 9; other professions, 13; stenographers
and clerks, 384; salesmen, 28; collectors, 11; miscellaneous,
“The colored branch, for which an appropriation of $500
was made, has had good use. Over 4,000 books, principally children's
books, have been loaned.”
The “colored branch” spoken of in the report, was the

branch for negroes opened at the negro high school in May, 1909.
A movement was started by the promoters of this branch to
secure for it a permanent building. Mr. Carnegie was asked for
a gift and offered $15,000 on his usual terms and conditions,
but as these have never been complied with, the negro branch
remains as first organized.
The officers of the Houston Lyceum and Carnegie Library
Association are: L. S. Denis, president; Mrs. H. F. Ring, vice-president;
Mrs. I. S. Meyer, secretary; Mrs. E. N. Gray, treasurer;
Mrs. E. Raphael, corresponding secretary; Miss Julia
Ideson, librarian.
It will be seen from the foregoing that the ladies deserve the
lion's share of the credit for establishing the lyceum and library
on a firm basis and the same is true of nearly every literary,
artistic and musical movement that has been inaugurated here.
In 1885, the Ladies Reading Club was organized by Mrs.
M. Looscan and Mrs. C. M. Lombardi. The first meeting was
held at the home of Mrs. Briscoe on Crawford Street and was
for the purpose of organizing a society for pleasure and mutual
improvement. The movement could not have been in better
hands than those of Mrs. Looscan and Mrs. Lombardi.
There were eight ladies at the beginning, namely: Mesdames
Looscan, Lombardi, Hill, Perl, Stone and Briscoe, and
Misses Allen and Wagley. Mrs. Looscan was chosen temporary
chairman and Miss Wagley was chosen secretary. The name
adopted by the ladies was the Ladies History Class. The adoption
of this name was due to the fact that it was the intention to
take up the study of history at once, and to choose the history
of Egypt as the first course of study. Just at that time the fate
of Gordon at Kartum was exciting world-wide interest. It
was six weeks before a constitution and by-laws were ready for
adoption, but during the delay the club was not idle but had
taken up a systematic study of that mysterious country and
prosecuted it zealously and intelligently. During the six weeks
the membership had increased so that it was decided to organize
thoroughly and formally, which was done. The constitution and
by-laws were adopted and the following named officers were

elected: President, Mrs. M. Looscan; first vice-president, Mrs.
C. M. Lombardi; second vice-president, Mrs. E. P. Hill; secretary,
Miss A. E. Wagley; treasurer, Mrs. M. J. Briscoe.
At that meeting the name of the club was changed to the
Ladies Reading Club and plans for future work were outlined.
For the first ten years the club met in the parlors of Mrs.
M. G. Howe; afterwards in rented rooms, then at the parish
house of the Christ Church, then in the Lyceum library room
after that institution had been moved to the Mason Building.
Since the opening of the Houston Lyceum and Carnegie Library,
meetings have been and are being held on the upper floor on the
hall designed for club meetings.
As already noted it was the Ladies' Reading Club that took
the first steps towards saving the Houston Lyceum from oblivion
and which also led to the establishment of the Carnegie Library
here. During the twenty-six years of the club's existence it has
been faithful to the objects which it had in view at its organization,
namely, the creation of interest in intellectual and social
culture and the creation of a common ground on which ladies
having a literary taste might meet. It has used its influence
in bringing celebrated lecturers to the city, and in behalf of
every measure intended to advance educational interest.
A few years ago it was determined to broaden the influence
of the club by admitting associate members, not to exceed ten.
These associate members pay more dues than regular members,
but are excused from contributing to the regular literary exercises.
They are treated as regular members except that they
cannot hold office.
The membership of the club is fifty, exclusive of associate
and honorary members.
The following named ladies have been honored with the
presidency of the club since its organization: Mrs. M. Looscan,
Mrs. C. M. Lombardi, Mrs. M. E. Cage, Mrs. C. A. McKinney,
Mrs. H. F. Ring, Mrs. P. K. Ewing, Mrs. R. M. Hall, Mrs.
W. A. DeLaMatyr, Mrs. William Christian, Mrs. B. A. Randolph.
Those who have filled the post of recording secretary are:
Miss Annie E. Wagley, Mrs. P. H. Goodwyn, Miss Fannie G.

Vincent, Mrs. G. F. Arnold, Mrs. W. B. Slosson, Mrs. H. F.
MacGregor, Mrs. C. R. Cummings, Mrs. P. K. Ewing, Mrs. C.
F. Beutel, Miss Emilia Celestine Bujac, Mrs. G. A. Taft, Miss
Laura Yocum, Mrs. A. L. Metcalf, Mrs. J. P. Carroll and Mrs.
March Culmore.
The broad-minded members of the club are thoroughly alive
to the best interests of the city and state, and certain days of
the year are set aside for discussion of Texas topics.
The officials of the club, in September, 1911, are: President,
Mrs. R. M. Hall; vice-president, Mrs. G. A. Taft; second vice-president,
Mrs. I. S. Mayer; corresponding secretary, Mrs. J. G.
Boyd; recording secretary, Mrs. B. A. Randolph; and treasurer,
Mrs. D. C. Glenn.
The Ladies Shakespeare Club was organized November 29,
1890, with Mesdames E. Raphael, I. G. Gersom, I. Blandin,
Blanche Booker, and Misses C. R. Redwood, Lydia Adkisson and
Mary Light as charter members. The club was formed for the
sole purpose of literary study and during the many years of its
existence nothing has ever been permitted to divert it from the
course marked out by its members at its initial meeting.
The creed of the club has but two articles: First, that
Shakespeare's plays were written by Shakespeare and not by
Bacon; second, that Shakespeare is the crown and chief glory
of English literature.
Until the completion of the Carnegie Library, the club had
no permanent home, but met at private houses, public halls and
other convenient places. This lack of permanent headquarters
was not allowed to interfere in the least with the club work and
the course of study for each year has been conscientiously carried
out. It has been serious work, too. The club placed itself
in close communication with the Chicago University where much
valuable study and research work connected with Shakespeare
have been done and, in addition, on one or two occasions has been
instrumental in having Professor Clark, of that University, come
to Houston for the purpose of delivering his famous lectures on
Of course Shakespeare has been the great trunk of the tree,

but it has had many branches which have invited the members
to deviate occasionally and follow them up. For instance the
study of Henry VI and kindred plays led to historical research
while certain of the romantic plays opened the way towards
dramatic construction. The members have never hesitated to
follow any line that offered to throw light on the hidden mysteries
and profound learning of the great bard. Its labors have
been great, but they have been pleasant at all times for they were
labors of love.
The Study Shakespeare Class is simply a number of ladies
who have banded themselves together without official organization
for the purpose of studying the plays of Shakespeare. Mrs.
Alma McDonnell is the moving spirit and it was through her
efforts that the ladies were brought together. She has the well-deserved
reputation of being a thorough Shakesperean scholar,
and has the ability to impart her knowledge and enthusiasm to
others, so the success of the Study Shakespeare Class has been
very great.
Another Shakespeare Club was organized October 1, 1904,
at the residence of Mrs. A. G. Howell. There were fourteen
ladies present and an organization was perfected at that first meeting
by the election of Mrs. J. W. Lockett, president; Mrs. J. W.
Carter, vice-president, and Mrs. Harry Tyner, recording secretary.
Since most of the members were residents of the south
end of the city, the name South End Shakespeare Club was
chosen, and the membership was limited to twenty-one. As soon
as the club was organized the ladies went to work and began the
study of the tragedy, Othello. The history of the play was given
by Mrs. Howell and why Shakespeare wrote it was explained by
Mrs. Carter. Since that initial meeting, the club has been very
active and its members have studied and discussed many of the
plays and writings of Shakespeare.
One of the most interesting clubs of the city is the Current
Literature Club, which was organized in 1899, by Mrs. Si Packard.
Her idea was to get a number of congenial women together
for the purpose of reading and keeping up with the books of the
day. In response to her call about twenty ladies met at her

house and the club was organized. Mrs. Packard was elected
president and held the office for four years. The character of
work done by the club and its methods of work have been thus
described by Mrs. J. T. Lockman.
“At first, only the novels of the day were read and discussed.
Meetings were held at the different homes and books were carried
from place to place by the librarian. It was lots of work but it
was lots of fun. After the study hour was over, the hostess of
each meeting always had a social feature prepared for us, something
so bright and cheery that the memory of our ‘good old
times’ lingers lovingly with all charter members. No one ever
dreamed they could stay away from a meeting. But the current
novels got to be so trashy that the ladies became disgusted and
threw them aside. The library was completed and the club moved
into permanent quarters and all fun ceased. The club took up
the study of more serious matter and engaged in studying works
on travel, history, art, literature and preserves its original intention,
in part only, by reading and discussing the current magazines
and periodicals. The club has forty active members and
twenty-five associate and honorary members.”
The officers of the club are: President, Mrs. J. T. Lockman;
secretary, Mrs. E. A. Adey; treasurer, Mrs. E. Scheultz.
The first year of the Houston Pen Women's Association was
completed March 23, 1907. At the first annual meeting reports
were made by Mrs. Elizabeth Strong Tracy, the president, and
by Mrs. Florence N. Dancy, the secretary. From those two
reports the following facts are taken. The question of organization
had long been discussed by the women of Houston who
were engaged in writing for the newspapers. Nowhere else in
the state were there so many members of the Texas Woman's
Press Association. Eighteen women responded to a call to
women of the press and to women engaged in literary work, and
attended a preliminary meeting at the residence of Mrs. William
Christian. Mrs. Christian was made the temporary chairman
and Mrs. Dancy, secretary. Mrs. Tracy, Miss Katie Daffan and
Mrs. Dancy were appointed a committee on constitution and bylaws.
A few days later a permanent organization was effected.

Mrs. Tracy was elected president; Mrs. Abbie N. Smith, vice-president;
and Mrs. Dancy, secretary. The membership consists
of historians, poets, writers of prose, authors, journalists
and newspaper writers. The success of the club has been marked.
Its officers are: President, Mrs. J. M. Limbocker; vice-president,
Mrs. M. B. Crowe; second vice-president, Miss Abbie N. Smith;
recording secretary, Mrs. R. R. Dancy; corresponding secretary,
Mrs. Grace Zimmer; treasurer, Mrs. E. S. Tracy.
The Houston Branch of the “Dickens Fellowship” was
organized in 1909, at the home of its president, Mrs. E. Raphael,
with an enthusiastic membership composed of the following
ladies: Mrs. E. W. Luhn, Mrs. A. S. Dyer, Mrs. J. R. Parks,
Mrs. T. C. Dunn, Mrs. W. W. Ralston, Mrs. S. C. Robbins, Mrs.
J. B. Slack, Mrs. W. Southward, Mrs. Jules Hirsch, Mrs. E.
Adey, Mrs. Jas. Breeding, Mrs. E. Raphael. These received the
first certificates of membership from the London Branch of the
Dickens Fellowship.
This branch is the only off-shoot of the London Fellowship
in the South, and the ninth branch of the United States. The
object of this organization is to foster the love of Dickens' writings,
to emulate his genial kindliness, humanitarian impulses
and living interest in all things great and small; and to pass
along the philosophy of life so vividly portrayed by the beloved
The Fellowship is still in its infancy, but as it grows it hopes
to become great in numbers and greater in capacity for betterment
of the mind and spirit of its members and those allied to it by
the brotherhood of man. The present officers are: Mrs. E.
Raphael, president; Mrs. A. S. Dyer, vice-president; Mrs. W. W.
Ralston, secretary and treasurer. The membership numbers about
twenty active workers.
The club members subscribe to the official magazine, “The
Dickensian” published in London, and so keep in touch with
the spirit of Dickens' lovers elsewhere. This branch hopes to
celebrate in a fitting manner the hundredth anniversary of
Dickens' birthday.
A chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution was

organized in Houston, during November, 1899, by Mrs. Seabrook
W. Sydnor, who had been appointed regent at Houston for the
general organization. The chapter took the name of Lady Washington
Chapter and was organized in the parlors of the Rice
Hotel. The following named ladies were charter members: Mrs.
S. W. Sydnor, Mrs. W. C. Crane, Mrs. J. C. Hutcherson, Mrs.
W. L. Lane, Mrs. Thos. Franklin, Mrs. James Journeay, Mrs.
Henry Lummis, Mrs. Paul Timpson, Mrs. M. H. Foster, Mrs.
H. F. Ring, Mrs. Botts Fitzgerald, Mrs. D. F. Stuart, Mrs. W.
R. Robertson, Mrs. C. L. Fitch, Mrs. Susan R. Tempest, Mrs. H.
T. Warner, and Mrs. R. F. Dunbar.
The Chapter has been in active existence since its organization
and its affairs are in excellent condition. Social functions,
in commemoration of national holidays, bazaars and other entertainments,
for the purpose of raising money for special purposes,
historical research and kindred matters have occupied the
attention and interest of the members.
The Chapter has erected a monument to Alexander Hodge
in the Sam Houston Park. Hodge was a Revolutionary soldier
and served with Marion. He came to Texas and served with the
Texas army, thus becoming a veteran of two revolutions, each
among the most successful and far-reaching in the history of the
world. He died and was buried in Texas. Among his descendents
is Mrs. Seybrook Sydnor, who has been State Regent and
most active in promoting the interests of the Daughters' organizations
in Texas.
San Jacinto Chapter No. 2, Daughters of the Republic of
Texas, was organized in 1901. The chapter has accomplished a
great deal in the way of perpetrating the memories of the Texas
heroes who established the independence of Texas, and has collected
many valuable historical data. It has taken under its
care. San Jacinto battlefield and has marked, with suitable monuments
and tablets, historical points and localities associated with
early Texas history.
The chapter has at present fifty active members. Its officers
are: Mrs. J. J. McKeer, president; Mrs. E. T. Dumble, first
vice-president; Mrs. G. A. Fosgard, second vice-president; Mrs.

Geo. Hamman, third vice-president; Mrs. M. B. Urwitz, secretary:
Mrs. C. H. Milby, treasurer; Mrs. Rosine Ryan, historian.
Robert E. Lee Chapter, 186, United Daughters of the Confederacy,
was organized in 1897. The first officers were: Mrs. J.
C. Hutcherson, president; Mrs. M. G. Howe, vice-president; Mrs.
T. R. Franklin, vice-president; Mrs. M. H. Foster, secretary.
There were fifty charter members.
This chapter is one of the largest and hardest working chapters
in the state and has accomplished a great deal since its organization.
Its growth has been rapid from the first year of its
organization. Its members have contributed generously towards
all monument funds, one of the most beautiful of which is that
known as the Spirit of the Confederacy, located in the city park,
and have done much to preserve the memory of the Confederate
soldiers who have passed over the river and to care for and comfort
those who are still on this side.
The present officers of the chapter, October, 1911, are: Mrs.
M. E. Bryan, president; Mrs. J. F. Burton, Mrs. J. L. Bates,
Mrs. Carter Walker, Mrs. G. L. Black, vice-presidents; Mrs. W.
A. Rowan, recording secretary; Mrs. W. H. Bailey, corresponding
secretary; Mrs. P. H. Fall, treasurer; Mrs. A. G. Henry, registrar;
Mrs. J. W. Dittmar, curator.
Oran M. Roberts, Chapter No. 440, United Daughters of the
Confederacy was organized in 1901, with sixty charter members.
Its first officers were: Miss A. A. Dunovant, president; Mrs. S.
F. Carter, first vice-president; Mrs. T. W. House, second vice-president;
Mrs. Wharton Bates, third vice-president; Mrs. W.
B. King, fourth vice-president; Miss Jennie Criswell, recording
secretary; Mrs. Jonathan Lane, corresponding secretary; Mrs.
B. M. Stephens, treasurer.
During the first year of the Chapter's life its membership
increased to 314. The chapter has made donations towards monuments
but its main efforts have been in behalf of indigent and
needy Confederate soldiers.
The officers of this chapter, October, 1911, are: President,
Mrs. Will Hansen; first vice-president, Mrs. J. M. Gibson; second
vice-president, Mrs. Hattie S. Hatch; third vice-president, Mrs.

Uvalde Burns; fourth vice-president, Mrs. Sidney Huston;
recording secretary, Mrs. E. C. Reichardt; corresponding secretary,
Mrs. B. B. Knolle; treasurer, Mrs. W. Worsham; historian,
Mrs. S. T. Steele; librarian, Miss Williams; registrar, Mrs. J.
Hyndman; custodian, Mrs. Kaufhold.
In all matters relating to culture, patriotism, and civic and
municipal improvement, the women of Houston have played a
leading role and the story of their efforts and the list of their
accomplishments has not been and is not now told. A book of
this scope can only indicate the organizations or the principal
ones of them and the directions in which their activities tend.
There has been no great religious, literary, patriotic, charitable
or civic movement in which the noble women of Houston
have not led and in many of these movements they have borne
almost the entire burden and are entitled to the largest measure
of praise for the successes, many times brilliant ones, that have
been achieved along the chosen lines of effort.

[Back to top]

Organized Labor

Organized Labor is Prosperous in Houston. Houston Labor
Council's Full Report Showing Numbers and Conditions
in all the Organized Crafts. Good Wages are Paid and
Sweating System is not in Vogue.

The labor associations of Houston are very numerous and
very well organized. Each branch of labor has its own organization,
and the entire membership of all of them foots up in the
thousands. The Stowers Building, corner of Congress Avenue and
Caroline Street, was formally dedicated to the use and occupancy
of the various labor organizations of Houston on Jan. 14, 1905.
This huge building was transformed into a home for the Houston
Labor Council with imposing ceremonies. Among the prominent
labor organizations taking part were the following:
Amalgamated Sheet Metal Workers' Local No. 54; Bakers'
and Confectioners' Union No. 28; Bed Spring and Mattress
Makers' Union No. 844; Blacksmiths' Union No. 32; Boiler
Makers' Union No. 74; Bookbinders' Union, Local No. 110;
Brewery Workers' Union, Local No. 111; Bricklayers' and
Masons' International Union No. 7; Carpenters' and Joiners'
Union No.—; Carriage and Wagonworkers' International Union
No. 109; Houston Typographical Union No. 87; Icemen's Protective
Union No. 9254; International Alliance Theatrical Stage
Employees', No. 65; International Association of Machinist,
No. 12; International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, No.
66; Iron Moulders' Union of North America, No. 259; Journeymen
Barbers' Union No. 74; Journeyman Tailors' Union No. 247;
Musicians' Protective Union No. 65; Painters' and Decorators'
Union No. 130; Patternmakers' League of America; Plasters'

International Protective Union No. 140; Plumbers' and Gasfitters'
Union No. 68; Bridge and Structural Iron Workers; Building
Laborers International Protective Union; Carriage, Cab and
Delivery Wagon Drivers' Union; Cooks and Waiters' Union;
Theatrical Mechanical Association; Tile Pipe Layers' Protective
Union; Woman's Union Label League; Printing Pressmen's
Union No. 71; Retail Clerk's Protective Association No. 165;
Shirt Waist and Laundry Workers International Union, Local,
No. 38; Soda Water Workers' Union No. 11, 300; Team Drivers
No. 489; Texas Association of Steam Engineers, Houston, No. 1;
Stenographers' and Typewriters' Association; Railroad Employees'
Association. Since then the unions have maintained a common
headquarters and parade in strength each labor day.
The following figures, furnished by Mr. Max Andrews, clerk
of the Harris County Criminal Court and editor of the Labor
Journal, were especially prepared by a committee from the
Houston Labor council. They represent the situation as it
existed in July, 1911.
The total number of industrial workers in Houston is 25,000,
graded as follows: Men, 15,000; women, 6,000; children, 15
years and under, 4,000.
Organized: Men, 55 per cent; women, 2 per cent.
Of the skilled trades, 85 per cent are organized and 15 per
cent unorganized.
During the last ten years the hours of labor have been
decreased all along the line from ten to eight.
During the past ten years there has been an average increase
in wages among the crafts of 25 per cent.
However, during this same period the increased cost of living,
ascertained through government authorities, has increased
40 per cent. Thus it will be seen that the increased cost of living
far exceeds the increase in pay secured.
The total number of organized men and women in Houston
is 8,250.
The best organized crafts are the plumbers, printers, brickmasons,
plasterers, stone cutters and marble cutters, about 100
per cent strong.


All trades limit the number of apprentices. This has not
worked a hardship on the boys and has had much to do with
maintaining a living wage for the journeymen.
The sentiment and general feeling toward union labor in
this city and community is good. All important work is performed
by union men.
The central labor body (the Houston labor council) consists
of delegates from all locals in this jurisdiction that are affiliated
with the American Federation of Labor. Thirty-three are affiliated
at this time. The meetings are not open to the general
The labor council meets over the Hammersmith shoe establishment,
305 ½ Main Street.
Unions care for their sick and dependent and bury their
dead. This is due them through membership.
The federated shop men have a committee on conciliation
and arbitration, which has been recognized by the Harriman system.
The central council has an arbitration committee.
There is no open conflict between the unions of Houston and
the Manufacturers Association, Citizens Alliance or Employes
Association locally.
The Ministerial Association has no fraternal delegate in the
labor council at present.
Some of the working conditions are thus indicated: Packing
House; Number employed (men, women and children), 500.
Wages, for men, $1.50 to $2.00 per day; for women, 75 cents to
$2.00 per day; for children, 50 cents to $1.00 per day. Labor
is seasonal. Approximately 12½ per cent unemployed. Married
men get living wages. Work ten hours per day. No Sunday
work. Wages do not cause dependency. Little opportunity for
training or educational advancement. Conditions sanitary and
healthful. Employes subject to danger from machinery and
occupational diseases. No sweating system exists. Employes are
not organized.
In the railroad shops and yards, there are, approximately,
4,000 employed. Working conditions, fair. Labor seasonal.
Married men receive living wages; however, not commensurate

with the advances in necessities of life. Hours of labor, nine
hours per day. About 25 per cent of laborers work Sundays.
Conditions are very good for training and educational advancement.
Sanitation and health, good. No sweating system exists.
Subject to danger from machinery. Ninety per cent of workers
organized. Average wage for all employees about $2.50 per
In the cotton oil mills and cotton compresses, the number
employed will approximate 1,500. Working conditions, fair.
Wages, for men, $1.50 to $2.50 per day; for women, $1.00 to
$1.25 per day; for children, 50 cents to 75 cents per day. Labor
is casual, a majority of the workers being steadily employed during
the months of September, October, November, December,
January and February, but during the remainder of the year
must seek other means of support. Married men receive living
wages. Hours of labor from 10 to 12. Employes work every
Sunday during operating season. Wages and general conditions
are scarcely removed from dependency. No opportunity for
training or educational advancement; however, conditions are
far in advance of many cities in the Southern States. Sanitary
conditions, fairly good. Workers subject to danger from machinery
and occupational diseases.
In the saw mills and factories, the number of employes is
500. Working conditions, reasonably fair. Wages for skilled
men, $2.50 to $3.00 per day; unskilled men, 75 cents to $1.75 per
day; women, 50 cents to $1.00 per day; children, 25 cents to 75
cents per day. Labor is steady; about 10 per cent are unemployed.
Majority of men make scant living. Hours of labor,
10 per day. Do not work Sundays. Wages paid barely keep
employes above dependency. Little opportunity is afforded for
training or educational advancement. Conditions generally are
sanitary and healthful. Workers subject to danger from machinery
and occupational diseases. No sweating system exists. About
10 per cent are organized.
In the general stores there are approximately 3,000 employed
Working conditions are not good. Wages for men, $5 to $18
per week; women, $3.50 to $10; children, $1.50 to $5. Labor

seasonal. About 12½ per cent unemployed. Married men do
not receive wage consistent with average living conditions. Hours
of labor from 10 to 15 per day. Do not work Sundays. Most
employes do not receive wage sufficient to relieve them of dependency;
especially is this true of the women, girls and children.
Not one out of 1,000 has opportunity of advancement along
training and educational lines. Unless the general public intercedes
conditions in Houston will soon parallel the larger cities
of the country and young womanhood will be sacrificed at the
altar of greed and avarice. Conditions are now deplorable. In
most instances stores and shops are arranged in sanitary condition.
Labor is unorganized.
At the Breweries there are approximately 500 employed.
Working conditions are exceptionally good. General scale of
wages from $2 to $5 per day. Labor seasonal. About 3 per cent
unemployed. Married men receive a living wage. Hours of
labor, eight per day. Operate 24 hours per day, with three
shifts of eight hours. Most of the employes work Sundays. Employes
are independent and most of them are home owners.
Conditions sanitary and healthful. Employes are subject to danger
from machinery and occupational diseases. All are organized.
All workmen in breweries, where steadily employed, must
join the Brewery Workers' Union; most compact and thoroughly
organized of any craft. It pays large sick and death benefits.
As to common labor, there are approximately 5,000 laborers
employed. Wages, for men $1.25 to $2 per day; women, 50
cents to $1.25 per day; children, 25 cents to $1 per day. Labor
is casual. About 25 per cent are unemployed. About 10 per
cent of the workers are organized. Married men do not receive
a living wage. Hours of labor from eight to ten per day. Only
those employed for elevator service, street cars and emergency
men are required to work Sundays. Wages and general conditions
increase dependency. No opportunity for training or educational
advancement. Conditions generally are sanitary. No
sweating system is vogue.
The industrial crafts include carpenters, plumbers, painters,
plasterers, sheetmetal workers, brickmasons, machinists, blacksmiths,

lathers, typographers, printing pressmen, bookbinders,
musicians, electrical workers, bartenders, tailors, coopers, bridge
and structural iron workers, boilermakers, marble workers, journeymen
barbers, elevator constructors, pattern makers, iron
molders, garment workers, horseshoers, stationary engineers.
Of the above crafts there are about 3,000 employed. This
is independent of those working in the railroad shops, mills, compresses,
etc., elsewhere compiled and accounted for.
Carpenters and Joiners—Approximately 75 per cent organized;
wages, union, $4 per day; non-union, $3.50 per day. Conditions
good; all large contracts and buildings employ union
labor; union provides sick and death benefits for its members.
Death benefit grades upward, according to length of membership;
carpenters meet in their own home and are in a most prosperous
condition; work seasonal; union men are independent and
families enjoy training and educational advantages. No Sunday
Plasters—Conditions are good; 90 per cent are organized.
Wages, union men receive $6 per day; non-union men, $3 per
day. Do not work on Sunday.
Sheetmetal Workers—Very good condition; work seasonal,
but rather steady. Wages, union men, $3.50 to $4.50 per day;
non-union labor, lower. About 90 per cent of craft organized.
Brickmasons—Splendid condition; about 95 per cent organized.
Wages, union men receive $6 to $7 per day; non-union
men, $3 to $4. Many home-owners among them.
Machinists—Work steady throughout the year and pretty
well employed. Wages, union men, $3.80 per day; non-union
men, $2.50 per day.
Theatrical Stage Employes—Number about 100; conditions
in large playhouses good and all employed therein are organized;
wages range from $15 to $25 per week; all theatres give Sunday
performances. Picture shows and vaudeville houses are unsafe,
unsanitary and unorganized; much work is needed among them;
in most instances incompetent and child labor is employed and
the general public is subjected to danger through them.
Blacksmiths—Reasonably fair conditions; about 65 per

cent organized and union growing. Wages, union men $3.80 per
day; non-union men, $2.50 per day.
Lathers—Steadily employed at present; work would not
be classed as casual here, but is rather steady throughout the
year. Wages, union men receive from $4 to $6 per day; non-union
men, $2.50 per day.
Following are the statistics for the printing trade:
Printers—About 225 in membership; organized 100 per cent
strong. Wages, from $3.50 to $8 per day, varying according to
men and position. Job offices and ad rooms work time scale,
eight hours per day. Machine men work on a piece scale, and
average from six to seven hours per day. About 75 per cent of
the printers are home owners.
Printing Pressmen—One hundred per cent organized; work
eight hours per day; wages average $3.50 per day; many home
owners among them; sanitary conditions in shops good.
Bookbinders—One hundred per cent organized; hours of
work, eight per day; wages, average $4 per day; sanitary conditions
exceptionally good.
Other crafts are as follows:
Electrical Workers—Eighty per cent organized; union men
work 8 hours; wages from $3.50 to $4.50 per day; all employed.
Bartenders—About 80 per cent organized; hours of labor
eight per day; scale of wages, $15 to $21 per week.
Tailors—Poorly organized at present; hours of labor ten per
day; wages, from $2 to $3, most work is by piece.
Coopers—One hundred per cent organized; work seasonal to
a great extent; hours of work, eight per day; average wages
from $2.85 to $4 per day; conditions sanitary.
Bridge and Structural Iron Workers—Organized 100 per
cent strong; hours of labor, eight per day; wage scale from $3.50
to $4.50 per day, work exceptionally good here for the past two
years and prospects flattering; duties are most hazardous.
Boilermakers—About 90 per cent organized; wages $3.50 to
$5 per day for union men; non-union wages lower; work fair.
Marble Workers—Work eight hours per day; wages $4 to
$6 per day; organized 100 per cent strong; conditions good.


Journeyman Barbers—White and colored unions are organized;
about 80 per cent organized; conditions above the average;
no Sunday work.
Elevator Constructors—Organized 100 per cent; work good;
all employed at present; no Sunday work; wages $4 per day.
Pattern Makers—Well organized; wages, fifty cents per
hour; nine hours; no labor on Sundays.
Garment Workers—Only craft of women organized; have
a union of about 200 members; work eight hours; wages from $9
to $18 per week; no Sunday labor; exceptionally good sanitary
conditions prevail.
Horseshoers—Good conditions; work eight hours; average
wages $2.50 to $3.50 per day; 75 per cent organized.
Stationary Engineers—Work eight hours; conditions good;
about 80 per cent organized; average wages $3 to $4 per day.
Painters, Decorators and Paperhangers—Work eight hours;
wages, for union men, $3.50 to $4 per day; no way to ascertain
wages of non-union men; best mechanics organized; about 80
per cent in union; conditions fairly good and improving.
Plumbers—About 200 in number; 100 per cent organized;
work eight hours per day, half holiday on Saturday; scale of
wages, for union men, $6 per day; sanitary conditions generally
good; union has many educational features to perfect skill of

[Back to top]

Board of Trade and Banks

Organization of Board of Trade and Cotton Exchange. The
Cotton Exchange Building. Officers of Exchange. Cotton
as King. Cotton Compresses and Warehouses. The Houston
Business League. The Chamber of Commerce. Houston's
Early Banks. Growth Shown by Bank Clearings.
Houston's Modern Banks. City's Big Trust Companies.
The Houston Clearing House.

The Houston Board of Trade and Cotton Exchange was
organized May 16, 1874, in the parlors of the Hutchins House.
Captain C. S. Longcope was elected president; Col. W. J.
Hutchins, vice-president; Mr. George W. Kidd, who was really
the originator of the idea, was elected secretary. On the first
board of directors were: B. A. Botts, F. A. Rice, George Porter,
S. K. McIlhenny, W. D. Cleveland, Fred Stanley and A. J.
Perkins Hall, later known as Pillott's Opera House, was
leased for a number of years and equipped with only one small
bulletin board the Exchange was launched on its career. That
single board did duty for a long time and was ample for all the
needs of the Exchange, for the telegraph service was meagre in
the extreme and a good sized slate would have answered quite
as well as the board. Telegraph rates were very high in those
days and the Gold and Stock Exchange, the great collecting
branch of the telegraph company for commercial news and
quotations was in its infancy, so that it cost a great deal of money
to secure even the smallest commercial service. Mr. Kidd, who
was commercial editor of one of the local newspapers, used to
supplement the exchange reports with items that came to his
paper. When the market house burned down, the opera house

that was located in the City Hall above the market house was
destroyed, and Houston was left with only Pillott's Opera House
as a theatre. The place was in constant demand, and the
Exchange, having a lease on it and only its one little bulletin
board to put out of the way, made a nice income by hiring the
hall to theatrical companies. This money was devoted to the
extension of the telegraph service and soon the Exchange was
receiving a fair service, and one that induced other members
to join the organization. At that time the Exchange had very
few inducements to offer outsiders to become members, but that
soon changed. There had been about twenty prominent business
men and merchants who had stood by the Exchange from the day
of its organization, but it was for the purpose of sustaining the
organization and perpetuating it, and not for any immediate
benefit they could derive from it. Now, however, the Exchange
began to receive much more valuable information and its usefulness
became apparent. Quite a number of new members came
in, and while the association was far from a safe and secure basis,
yet it was well on the way. Secretary Kidd did an immense
amount of work and was untiring in his efforts to build up the
Exchange. There was one important branch of the work that
could be carried on independently, and entirely outside of telegraphic
or other sources of information—local statistics could be
compiled, and to that important work Secretary Kidd turned
his attention. He not only compiled all the early statistics, but
laid the ground work for the more elaborate and complicated
system that prevails in the Exchange today.
When through-rail connection was made between Houston,
St. Louis and the great West, Houston sent a strong delegation of
members of the Exchange and other business men, on a missionary
expedition to tell the people up there what we were and to
find out what they had. This delegation did good work, with the
result that a fine trade soon developed between the two sections.
One of its most marked benefits, from a local point of view, was
its effect upon the Cotton Exchange. It brought out the Board
of Trade feature of that organization, and demonstrated how valuable
it could be made. Then for the first time the directors of

the Exchange went seriously to work. In 1877, they obtained
a charter as the Cotton Exchange and Board of Trade. They
framed new rules and regulations, increased the initiation fee
and the annual dues from members, and made provision for a
regular and permanent revenue with which to meet the expenses
of the Exchange. The institution was placed on a firm basis and
from that time until today its course has been upward.
A general meeting of members of the exchange was held
January 15, 1882, for the purpose of discussing the advisability
of the Exchange owning its own building. At that meeting it
was decided that ground should be purchased and a building
should be erected if financial arrangements could be made. Committees
were appointed to look into the details of the question.
Other meetings were held, and on May 29, 1883, the ground for
the building was purchased. The architect's plans were accepted
January 4, 1884, and on March 1, of the same year the Exchange
borrowed $40,000 for ten years, with which to put up the building.
The contract was let March 15, 1884, and the corner-stone was laid
by the Masons on June 5, 1884. The building was completed and
turned over to the Exchange on November 15, 1884. Since then
the building has been completely remodeled to meet the growing
needs of the members. Additional stories have been added and
today, in addition to being one of the handsomest and best
arranged exchanges, the building is one of the most convenient
and useful office buildings in the city. It is located at the corner
of Franklin Avenue and Travis Street. No cotton exchange in
this or any other country gives more information to its members
than does the Houston Exchange. There are long distance telephones
reaching all over this and adjoining states, where a member
can talk to a customer hundreds of miles away with as much
ease and without delay, as if he were in the next room. There
are two telegraph companies that have special wires on the
floor of the exchange, while the Exchange itself is in direct and,
what may be termed instantaneous, communication with all the
great exchanges in this country and across the water as well.
To illustrate the rapidity with which business is transacted
through the exchange, it is said that an order can be sent to

Liverpool, executed and an answer received back here in Houston
in three or four minutes. This is not an extraordinary occurrence.
The Houston Cotton Exchange and Board of Trade has
been of incalculable benefit to Houston and has done an immense
amount of work looking to the upbuilding of the city. Almost
from the day of its formation it has been active in the work of
building the ship channel. It has always had a standing committee
on the ship channel, and the annual report of this committee
has always been one of the leading features of the annual meetings
of the Exchange. It has done work in every way and in
every direction for the advancement of the material interests of
Houston. Today much of that work is in the hands of able, special
organizations, but the initial steps in all of them were taken by
the Houston Cotton Exchange and Board of Trade.
Perhaps the best way in which the importance and growth
of the Exchange may be shown is by calling attention to the
fact that when it was organized, and for some years after, a seat
on the floor could be purchased for five dollars and the annual
dues were twelve dollars, a dollar each month. Today a membership
in the Exchange costs $2,000 and there are so few sellers
at that figure that it is extremely difficult to buy a certificate of
membership. The annual dues are $50, payable in advance.
There are fees and other dues, amounting to thousands of dollars
which furnish funds for the current expenses.
The following have been the officials of the Exchange: