“Button, button, who’s got the button,” is a game played by children through the years. But recently I found, in my own possession, some buttons that are from Denison’s early days.
My great-granddaughter, Kinsley Hunt, spent a couple of days with us recently and during that time was digging through my button collection that I have in a large glass container on my living room coffee table. She found a small plastic zipper bag holding a small handful of these buttons. Attached to the bag is a note, “Hayes & Harris buttons, Denison, Texas men’s store, early 20th Century.”
The buttons are metal, about 11/16 inches round and some have a little rust on them. On one side is the word, “Germany,” making me believe that they were imported from that country. Since they were metal, my husband and I believed they were for overalls or some other men’s apparel. This was a new one on me. On the opposite side were the words “Hayes & Harris, Denison Texas.”
This sent me to the internet with just those words and up came quite a bit of information about Thomas W. Dollarhide, Sr., and Overton Harris. That brought me information about at least one of the names on the buttons.
Since the name Dollarhide is familiar to me, let’s begin as far back as 1825 when Thomas C. Dollarhide, who was born that year in Virginia and married Elizabeth Victor in Scioto County, Ohio, in 1848. The couple did a little moving to Indiana two years later then on to Pottawatomie County, Kansas, by 1870. During that period of time, they had seven children, then divorced in 1880. He remarried Susan Richards in Hickory County, Missouri, in May 1880 and had more children with her.
Meanwhile Elizabeth struck out on her own with her four youngest children and headed for Denison. What brought her here isn’t explained in the information I found. The 1880 Census listed her as divorced, but later she was described as “widow of Thomas Dollarhide.” Elizabeth lived for decades at 615 West Woodard here and was known more affectionately as “Mother Dollarhide.”
In 1882, Thomas W. married Cora Lucinda Griffin and they were living in Denison by 1880 at 127 West Monterey. That year, he was working as a fireman on the railroad and after that he worked at establishing himself in business.
In 1887, Tom was selling groceries, produce, hay, feed and grain at 323 West Main in association with Jesse Yocom, who soon would become Denison mayor according to the Sunday Gazetteer on June 21, 1891. That year the City Directory listed Tom and Cora living at 1002 West Nelson, at the corner of Chandler Avenue. A Dollarhide and Harbison Store was in business at 305 West Main selling hardware, stoves, cutlery, tinware, guns, ammunition, sportsmen’s supplies and was agent for Hazzard Powder Co. The new partner was Edward C. Harbison. By 1893, Tom was a clerk at F.E. Shaffer & Co., hardware and Elizabeth has gone into business with Frank E. Shaffer at 321 West Main.
At this point, a man named Overton Harris, who was born in 1857, came to Denison after 1880 from Cedar Boone County, Missouri. By 1887, he was a partner with Hiram Brooks, who was born in 1856, in Brooks & Harris, a firm selling groceries, provisions and feed at 210 West Main. Harris and Overton had possibly been friends back in Cedar, Boone, County, Missouri.
Now we are finally getting to the arrangement on the buttons. In 1891, according to the City Directory, Harris had become a partner with John W. Hayes in the firm, Hayes & Harris, purveyors of clothing and gentle furnishing goods at 105 West Main. Both Hayes and Harris were rooming at 600 West Woodard and eating their meals at the McDougall Hotel. That’s the only mention I found of a Hayes and Harris Company in Denison.
By 1903, Tom had taken over Elizabeth’s interest in the business that had become Dollarhide and Harris, still at 311 West Main. Tom’s son, Jesse, was working there as a clerk by 1905.
Later in 1891, Overton Harris married Elizabeth’s youngest child, Luella. The next year they had a daughter, Sabra Harris, named after Overton’s mother. Elizabeth lived with Luella, Overton and Sabra at 625 West Woodard while Tom and Cora and their four children had their separate home on Monterey Street.
By 1896, Overton Harris had withdrawn from Hayes & Harris. That year Dollarhide, Maynard and Harris were selling hardware and guns at 311 West Main. Tom W. Dollarhide was a salesman in the store.
Around 1909, Tom and Cora moved to 630 West Woodard. Luella, who had been working as a choir director, died in 1926. Overton lived on in the house with Sabra and graduated from the Denison Educational Institute in the class of 1909, then worked as a stenographer in the Katy offices. Overton Harris continued to work at Dollarhide and Harris until near his death in June 1938. The business had operated at the same address, under one family’s ownership for more than 40 years.
The Dollarhide and Harris business was succeeded by H.H. Peterson at Peterson’s Hardware at the same location.
Tom Dollarhide lived until 1941 and his wife, Cora, survived him. She passed away in 1949. Elizabeth had passed away in 1919. All the immediate family members were buried in Fairview Cemetery in Denison.
Many thanks to Elaine Nall Bay for information about the family and businesses in the Grayson County TXGenWeb link.
Donna Hunt is former editor of The Denison Herald. She lives in Denison and can be contacted at email@example.com. She has been a longtime contributor to the Herald Democrat with her bi-weekly column, which appears in the Wednesday and Sunday editions. The views and opinions expressed here are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of the Herald Democrat.