Brief, one paragraph bits of information were often used as "fillers" in newspapers in the "olden days" before I was working full time at The Denison Herald. Some of them were very interesting, but left you wanting more information about the subject.

Brief, one paragraph bits of information were often used as "fillers" in newspapers in the "olden days" before I was working full time at The Denison Herald. Some of them were very interesting, but left you wanting more information about the subject.


There is no doubt that Claud Easterly wrote many of them because he never forgot interesting things about Denison. I would really like to ask him questions every time I start to write a column.


Some time ago I came across a "Great Moments in Denison’s First 100 years" section that contained stories about schools and churches. As I thumbed through the paper a story that caught my eye first was headlined "Katy Not Named for Pretty Girl."


Fortunately this was more than a "filler" story. The story said it would have made a pretty story if the Katy had been named for "some bewitching belle of the early Southwest." The story said for years it was thought that the name was for the daughter of an early construction worker on the road here.


Actually, the name was attached to the M-K-T through the slanguage of railroad men. "K-T" was much easier to use in reference to this particular road and eventually and inevitably, it became "Katy."


Another of the short stories involved Sherman. The story, headlined "Pecan Tree Bank" continues that the tradition was that the first bank in Sherman was an old pecan tree in 1848. In 1972 the tree still was standing on what now is the Grayson County Courthouse lawn. I don’t know, but I doubt that the tree still is alive.


Livestock traders would hang their gold-filled saddle bags from the tree’s lower branches while they were in town. The story said there never was a case of any of the gold being taken while the saddlebags were under the tree. The giant tree became known as the "Pecan Tree Bank."


A one-column drawing accompanied a caption headlined "From Scotland," saying that John McDougall was a native of Glengarry, Scotland, and became one of Denison’s most substantial citizens. He was identified with the city from the start and served on the city council. He invested largely in real estate, and his investments were profitable. He owned a two-story, brick storehouse in which he carried liquor and tobacco.


No doubt John McDougall was the man Denison came to known as J.B. McDougall, and he did have his fingers in almost every pie in town. McDougall’s Steam Laundry was located at 224 West Woodard. His liquor store was called the Bank Exchange Saloon, and it was located at 227 West Main. He was in the hotel business with McDougall Hotel that was a part of the MK&T Railroad Depot. He also was proprietor of the Albany Hotel and Bar at 324 West Main. He became vice president of the Denison Light and Power Co. and owned the McDougall Opera House.


He even was president of the Denison Bank and Trust that was located at 229 West Main and incorporated in 1905. No doubt he was the bank’s largest customer.


Another "filler" story was headlined, "Dusty Ledger Recorded Birth." An Associated Press note came to the Herald office advising that Tex O’Riley, then a medium famous soldier of fortune and writer, was born in Denison 50 years ago that day, which would have been in the late 1800s.


A reporter was assigned to dig into Denison’s records and find out if the tip was true. He went to Dr. Alexander Acheson’s office in the old Security building. The article said the good doctor sat in his office late in the day. He was sitting at a roll-top desk that was stacked high with papers, books and other disorganized material. The reporter asked if he had ever heard of a Tex O’Riley.


Without getting up from his chair, Dr. Acheson reached to the top of the desk, fumbled a day book from the heap of books and other papers and blew away thick dust with one big puff. Leafing through the yellowed pages, he stopped at a page and showed the reporter an entry recording his visit to the O’Riley home to deliver a baby boy exactly 50 years earlier.


A short story from another section in the same newspaper tells about "First Denison Fire Recorded." The first blaze in the city occurred at midnight on Sept. 2, 1873. The story said, "The first fire in Denison was hoarsely whispered as the crowd gathered." The fire was in the north part of town.


It seems that Jerry Nolen’s haystack had caught fire in his yard. Evidently there was no fire protection available at midnight that night, and Nolen’s haystack finally burned itself out.


Later in 1877 Denison was better prepared for such an occurrence. The city directory for 1878-79 reported that a fire company had been organized with 50 members who were furnished with one of Babcock’s trucks that was completely outfitted costing $950. Two large wells had been sunk on Main Street and at the intersection Austin and Burnett avenues, where an ample supply of water was found at a depth of 20 feet.


Early residents found a way to save electricity if the headline on another short story was true. "Moon Replaced Street Lights" told the story that the street lights were turned off when the moon was up under an 1876 contract for the first public illumination.


City Council records contained a record of a contract with the Denison City Gas Co., for 20 street lights. The lamps were to be lighted an hour after sunset and extinguished after moonrise, lighted at moonset and extinguished at daylight.


According to the story, any extra time that the lights burned would require extra pay above the $4 a month flat rate charged for the system. However, if the city paid within 15 days when billed, the fee was only $3. I know a lot of people who would love to have an agreement like that.


A really short filler told of a Denison Daily News article on March 2, 1876 that recorded that the wife of William Rice, who lived east of Denison, became the mother of what was believed to be the first set of twins born here. The duo was a boy and a girl. The story didn’t say if Dr. Acheson was the attending physician.


Donna Hunt is former editor of The Denison Herald. She lives in Denison and can be contacted at d.hunt_903@yahoo.com.