Last week while on another frequent search in my little home office I uncovered some Denison history that I had forgotten. A couple of these booklets were Denison, Rough and Rowdy First Year 1873 and Denison, Rough and Rowdy but Progressive in 1874. Information for both booklets was compiled by Rose Englutt, who loved history and who I remember as an employee of the Herald Advertising Department. Her column was renamed Backward Glance. The booklets were edited by then-editor, John Crawford.


As John wrote on the cover page, the booklets have two purposes, to preserve history and to produce revenue to maintain the pioneer homes in Grayson County Frontier Village. As I remember, the dates may be a few days off because everyone in those early years didn’t have outstanding information to put in the compilation.


John added a warning in the introduction, “Do not start reading these old columns unless you have some time because it is very hard to put them down.”


I can vouch for John’s statement because many years before Rose joined the newspaper staff and I had become editor of The Herald, one of my assignments was to compile a daily column called Frontier Diary that was found on the editorial pages of The Denison Herald.


Before the first year of Denison’s existence, the city had two daily newspapers, the Denison Journal that was published by George Cutler, then the Denison Daily News put out by B.C. Murray. There was fierce competition between the two dailies that were joined by four weekly newspapers before a year had passed. The weeklies pretty much ignored each other in print, preferring to take potshots at Denison’s neighboring city of Sherman and the ever-popular dens of iniquity on Skiddy Street.


Unfortunately, editions of the Journal were not preserved when it ceased to publish. Fortunately, some years of the Denison Daily News were bound and preserved by the Denison Herald. John heard that the old copies of the Denison Daily News were going to be trashed so he loaded them up and took them to Frontier Village. When I was working with these old newspapers, they were housed at The Herald along with some other early day publications.


A few years ago when Dr. Mavis Bryant and I were on the board at the Village, we became involved in the Portal to Texas History and were able to secure contributions to preserve the newspapers by placing them on the Portal.


All of that said, the two booklets tell the story of early Denison in the colorful, sometimes rough, sometimes humorous manner of B.C. Murray, publisher, editor, City Councilman and public conscience.


I can vouch for the statement that John made saying it was hard to put the old columns down once you start reading them. I worked from the original bound volumes, some of which were in pretty bad shape, but I managed to stay busy in case anyone noticed as I spent every free minute reading, smiling and sometime laughing out loud as I read the local news contained in them.


I thought it might be interesting to read some of the things that Rose picked up for her columns. Let me know if you like them and I’ll try to include some of them in future columns. The following stories were taken from the Feb. 23, 1873, edition of the Denison Daily News.


“This is the title of a very neatly gotten up, well edited daily paper. It is a five column sheet and in regard to typographical neatness and business go-ahead-ativeness, it is quite superior to any. There is so such thing as estimating the value of such a paper to a new town.


“During the day, yesterday, a few persons were overheard to remark that they feared a daily paper would not be sustained in Denison. These individuals were evidently not conversant with the business character of our people. Men who have the determination and will to build up a thriving city in the midst of a forest inside of five months, with a population of three thousand souls, a city that commands the profound astonishment of the whole country from California to Florida, are not made of the material that allows the newspaper press to sicken and die in their midst. From the first issue your patronage has been good and with a steady increase.


“We are happy to state the Denison Daily News has already received sufficient encouragement to secure its financial success beyond preadventure.


“Editing a newspaper is very much like raking a fire, everyone thinks he can perform the operation a great deal better than the one who has hold of the poker.


“We advertise today Dr. Neboes Celebrated Indian Vegetable Tonic Bitters. Mr. A.H. Jackson, a resident of this city, is the manufacturer of these bitters, and has placed them on sale at Dr. Chaney’s Drug Store on Austin Street. We believe this to be an excellent remedy for many of the diseases of mankind.


“The Denison News is issued six days in the week. The Phenix Cocktails are issued every day at the Southern Hotel, Sherman.”


Donna Hunt is former editor of The Denison Herald. She lives in Denison and can be contacted at donnahunt554@gmail.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.