A History Gal has struck again and has added another wonderful book about Denison’s outstanding past to her growing list of written and edited books. "Little Stories of Frontier Denison" is a collection of short stories published by Bredette C. Murray when he was publisher of his "Sunday Gazetteer" newspaper back in 1910 and 1911.

A History Gal has struck again and has added another wonderful book about Denison’s outstanding past to her growing list of written and edited books. "Little Stories of Frontier Denison" is a collection of short stories published by Bredette C. Murray when he was publisher of his "Sunday Gazetteer" newspaper back in 1910 and 1911.


Dr. Mavis Anne Bryant has put together and edited a collection of 93 of these stories to be released soon. At the time the stories were written, Murray called them a series of two "Little Stories of Denison" and "Little Stories of the Past."


A lot of the information is factual about his subjects, the writings collected here, as a group and show himself as a vigorous adventurous man in his 30s and 40s. The stories did not show titles, so Mavis has added headlines for each one. She said she has made a few editorial comments in the text and a few minor editorial changes to avoid distracting today’s readers.


He talks about his favorite place to shop; The Star Store; the Alamo Hotel; dance halls; the old jail; Forest Park; cattle shipment; ghost stories; fox hunting; Denison "Boomers;" horse thieves; Quanah Parker; Warren Flats; camping in Kiamitia Country (eight episodes); and at least 85 other titles that were headlines of the day. And most would have had even larger headlines if the stories had taken place today.


There are few pictures in the book, but most have been seen before in earlier publications that either Mavis wrote or edited.


I thought readers might like a sampling of Murray’s stories so I have chosen one that was published in the Gazetteer on April 2, 1911.


The Opera Singer and Her Guardian


About 30 years ago, a mother and her little daughter resided on Woodard Street, in the 300 block. The woman was a widow, and she received a small income from an estate in England. The little girl was precocious, bright, intelligent, loveable, and pretty. To help her mother, she used to go on the streets and sell articles that were useful in the household. She had a sweet voice and such a captivating manner that many people purchased who did not need the articles. In the fall and winter she attended school; in summer she was on the street with her commodities. She would sometimes go home at night with as much as five dollars. The street associations did not take the edge off of her maiden modesty. She was pure as the beautiful snow.


In the evening, the mother with her sewing would appear upon the porch, and the little girl, seated at her feet, would read aloud. The neighborhood was not the best, the children were bad and rude, and when they passed the little girl, they would call her ‘stuck up’ and sometimes strike her. Even the boys would torment her. She had beautiful hair, the color of old gold, that streamed down her back and was tied at the end with a ribbon. As she grew older, her beauty increased, and many called her the most beautiful girl in Denison.


A railroad contractor took a fancy to the little girl and used to contribute to the support of the family. He left here and went to Kansas City, where he secured a contract on the Missouri Pacific. He sent for the woman and child and provided them with a comfortable home. The girl was sent to Boston and placed under the care of the Conservatory of Music. Of the thousand pupils there, she soon surpassed them all. She could not only sing divinely, but was a master of the piano.


A golden future opened up before her. People were captivated with her grand figure and beautiful face, and she had many flattering offers to go on the stage, but her guardian turned them all down. To round out her musical education she was sent to the Austrian capital where she remained two years. She attached herself to an opera troupe. Her first appearance was at the capital of Hungary, and she scored a grand success. The manager closed a contract with her guardian at a salary of $300 per week. The aristocracy and nobility were at her feet. She was called the most beautiful woman in Europe, and she spurned many offers of marriage. Her whole life was wrapped up in her guardian.


It is said that in the third year of her career on the stage, she received $500 per night. As is customary, she changed her name to one which had a foreign accent to it, this being a fad with many people. She went to Paris and London, and the two cities were at her feet. In her greatest trials, the child who had lived on Woodard Street never lost her head.


And now this little story of romance must end. The actress left the stage and married her guardian. She had acquired by her profession something like $500,000, and her husband was a very rich man. The guardian was about 40 years her senior, but she was grateful and loved him. They divided their time between Europe and the United States.


When the mother and daughter lived in Denison, they were known by the name of Dixon, and the name appears in the first city directory.


This is the story told us the past week by a lady who has lived here many years and knows the circumstances, partly by correspondence.


——


OK. I know what everyone wants to know and that is who this very talented woman from Denison was. I quickly grabbed a copy of the 1911 Denison City Directory that I have treasured and found no one by the name of Dixon living in the 300 block West Woodard. So her identity remains a mystery — at least to those of us living more than 100 years later.


B.C. Murray was a journalist who came to Texas when he was 22 years old. He operated a newspaper in Mesilla, Arizonia. After serving in a Confederate cavalry during the Civil War he moved to San Antonio and Austin, where he helped found what became the Austin American-Statesman. In 1872, with his friend Lewis S. Owings, first governor of the Arizona Territory, he moved to the new town of Denison and in 1910-1911 published his Sunday Gazetteer. Most of those newspapers can be found on the Portal to Texas History on the Internet.


Mavis has written several book, including "Donald Mayes of Denison, Texas: An Architectural Legacy" and "Lives in Photography: Denison, Texas, 1872-1999;" has co-written two books, "Two Schools on Main Street: The Pride of Denison, Texas, 1873-2007," and "Images of America: Denison," both with this writer; and has edited at least three other books, "Frontier Denison, Texas" and "My Life in Print" by this writer and "Theater Row: Movie Palaces in Denison, Texas" by Billy Holcomb.


The two of us formed the team of "History Gals."


Most of these book about Denison are available at the Main Street Mall and the Denison Chamber of Commerce or by contacting either Mavis or me.


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