The Sunday Gazetteer, a newspaper in Denison that was published as it says “only on Sunday,” included a column in 1936 called “Denison Happenings 25 (or sometimes 50) Years Ago.” It was a summary of interesting events that took place in the Gate City as reported by the newspaper.
Through the years, I have acquired a stack of Sunday Gazetteer newspapers and love reading through the happenings of newspapers up to 1926 and possibly beyond.
In the Nov. 7, 1926 edition, the column led with the fact that in November 1901, Sherman and Denison newspapers were having a heated discussion over the question of “farmers making a fortune in Texas.” The Sherman paper maintained that farmers were selling cotton at seven cents a pound, citing a few instances. But the Denison paper stated that the lucky ones were so far apart that they couldn’t be rounded up in a good size bunch in under 12 months. The column said that 25 years later the question still was being discussed. And if the Sherman editor could be resurrected and asked if he still stood by his argument, the police probably would have to be called to quell the racket.
J.W. Emerson had filed suit against the Katy Railroad for a damage of $50,000, saying that he and his wife were driving along the railway track and the horse drawing the buggy became frightened at a passing train, ran away and upturned with the occupants inside. It said that both he and his wife were painfully injured.
One of the Denison newspapers, in describing the wedding of a prominent couple in the city announced that the couple “entered the church door.” Another newspaper turned loose his weapon of criticism saying “of course the couple entered the church door, for the hole in the roof was not big enough for the groom to crawl through.” The column explained that the editors of the local newspapers didn’t have very good opinions of one another in those days and that they took delight in firing sarcastic words at each other. But today they are one.
George and Thomas Powers met each other in Denison recently. They hadn’t seen each other for the past 35 years and each believed the other was dead, presuming both had lost their lives in the Civil War. One happened to arrive in Denison from Tennessee and the other from Oregon. One was getting ready to board a passenger train as the other was getting off the train at the railroad station. They recognized each other and neither left on the train but went to a Denison hotel where they stayed for two days talking over their experiences after their long separation.
Fire Chief Joe Euper owned a dog named “Jeff” that was the pride of the fire department. “Some ungrateful fellow somehow incurred the ill will of Jeff and the later kept an eye out for the fellow and showed a rather mean disposition when the occasion demanded.” Suddenly the dog appeared one day at the fire house with indications that it had been poisoned. Dr. Booth was a member of the council and was called to save the dog’s life, if possible. (I’m wondering if this Joe Euper was the Joseph A. Euper, who had a confectionary shop on Main Street and was said to have invented the ice cream soda.)
Jeff was having fits, so the physician had the firemen catch the dog and hold him securely while he gave him a hypodermic injection of morphine. When the dog fell over in a stupor, the doctor washed the stomach of the dog and Jeff finally recovered.
Dr. Booth maintained that Jeff had more sense than the fire chief, saying he did more for the dog than he would for the chief under similar circumstances. Jeff then lived a long and eventful life going to every fire, leading the way, incessantly barking ahead of the team, seemingly in an effort to scare people out of the way of the oncoming fire truck.
Skipping from the 50 years ago column to the news of the day — 1926, a story told of 42 mail trains entering Denison every 24 hours and that many of the trains were carrying large consignments of money. Anyone who attempted to rob one of those trains would not meet with a warm reception and should they attempt a holdup near the north or south end of the Union Station platform others in addition to the participants would be killed. It seemed that Uncle Sam now had a consignment of marines traveling on the coaches that contained large sums of money and that they were armed with small machine guns that meant death if the trigger was pulled in a community.
The armed guards were placed in the mail coaches in Kansas City when they were leaving for Texas to protect the contents. There were 4,000 of these guards caring for Uncle Sam’s mail throughout the Union and plans were to increase the force. There were 10 operating in and out of Denison.
In the early days when I worked for the Denison Herald, one of my jobs was going through the old newspapers and writing a column every day on items of interest. I’ll admit that I did more reading than I did writing many days because they were so interesting. These in this column are just a sample of the fun or interesting reads in at least one of those pages that I enjoyed. Most of those old newspapers have been digitized and now can be found on the Portals of Texas History.
Donna Hunt is former editor of The Denison Herald. She lives in Denison and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.