Back in 1989, I was preparing for the 100th anniversary of the Denison Herald and searching through a lot of old envelopes when I found folded into one filled with historical articles about Denison was a four-page extra edition published on July 25 1922.
I doubt that any old-timers that remember what happened that date still are around to remember that summer when the extra was to announce that Governor Neff had declared martial law in Denison due to the railroad strike that was under way at the car shops on Mirick Avenue.
The special edition was filled with stories, large and small, concerning the strike and what was going on.
Five companies of the 142nd regiment of infantry, 36th Division of the Texas National Guard had left Austin on a special train headed for Denison to replace Texas Rangers who had been on duty in town and were being shifted to Childress and Sherman under the “open port” law.
The martial law zone in Denison extended from the Red River to a point 5,000 feet south of Ray Yards, taking in the MK&T, the Houston and Texas Central Railroads and the St. Louis and San Francisco of Texas property and extending 1,000 feet beyond.
Troops were expected to stand guard from Red River to 1,000 feet south of Ray Yards.
According to the article, Denison was to be the military base for North Texas when more troops were expected in the near future. Greenville, Sherman, Dallas, Fort Worth and Wichita Falls, where railroads had complained of considerable trouble, were targeted for the soldiers.
President Warren G. Harding was in contact with all action being taken by the railroad labor board, the only agency through which the government could and would deal with the railroad strike situation.
Twelve Texas Rangers had arrived in Denison that day at noon and 25 more were expected to arrive in the afternoon. They would camp in Forest Park, where breakfast also would be served the soldiers. Camp was to be in the southeast corner of Forest Park near the baseball field,would have been where Munson Stadium now stands.
Commander of the Third Battalion of the l42nd Infantry was Col. Charles W. Nimon of Gainesville, one of the oldest officers in the National Guard. He had served in the Spanish American War as first lieutenant of Company K, Third Texas Volunteers known as the Denison Rifles.
Other stories told of another special train consisting of a baggage car and three coaches due to arrive from the north bringing 143 men who had accepted job with the Katy in the shops here from northern cities. The workers were being brought in on the strength of soldiers being enroute to Denison.
Once the train arrived, a company of Rangers was expected to board the train, while another company remained at the Union Station and a third company would do picket duty at the shops. The train was to run close to the shops where the men were to be classified and given jobs according to their experience and ability.
In Greenville a volley of gunshots had been fired into the bunk houses in the Katy yards used by men who had accepted jobs in place of the striking shop workers. Window panes were broken and the electric light globes were shot out, but no one was injured.
One story related, “Denison is the capital of Texas right now and is shoving other big news items off the front pages of the large and small dailies. Yet everything in Denison is quiet and the residents of the Gate City are going about their daily lives as usual while they hear rumors of this and that on the streets or receive letters from friends over the country asking if it is safe to visit Denison.”
One story suggested that after the strike was all over the city might offer excursions to Denison similar to those to war-ton Europe so visitors could see what the town looked like. Even in 1922 Denisonians were tourist minded and looking for ways to get visitors to come to town.
Donna Hunt is former editor of The Denison Herald. She lives in Denison and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org. The views and opinions expressed here are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of the Herald Democrat.