Almost as soon as Denison was established it had a newspaper to report the town’s birth and earliest activities as it organized and grew. Fact of the matter is, in those earliest days, there were several newspapers keeping the citizens informed.

Almost as soon as Denison was established it had a newspaper to report the town’s birth and earliest activities as it organized and grew. Fact of the matter is, in those earliest days, there were several newspapers keeping the citizens informed.

Yet, the event that brought Denison wider fame than anything else from the later part of the 1800s wasn’t reported in any of the newspapers. Denisonians were not aware of its happening until many years later.

The event took place on Oct. 14, 1890, and that should be the hint that tells many readers what occurred. On that date a son was born to David and Ida Eisenhower, a young couple who came here from Abilene, Kan. for David to work as an engine wiper in the car shops of the Missouri, Kansas & Texas Railroad.

The baby was born in the white gabled house at the corner of Lamar Avenue and Day Street. His birth was significant at that time only to the Eisenhower family. It wasn’t until World War II, 50-plus years later, that notice was taken of the event. Dwight David was just another baby born in a city of some 16,000, and vital statistics were hardly collected and often were incomplete. Ida Eisenhower kept a record of the birth, and when questioned about it said, "Yes, Ike was born in Denison on Oct. 14, 1890."

But there were some other things happening in Denison that did make the newspaper, even if Ike didn’t.

There was a reported gold rush in the Chickasaw Nation’s territory near Ardmore where "great discoveries of gold and silver" in the Arbuckle Mountains were supposed to have taken place.

Henry Mitchell, who lived nine miles east of Denison, had his hand mangled in a cotton gin accident the day before Ike’s birth. To obtain first class plumbing work, Denison was advised to go to Pettit and Waltz’s place on Main Street.

The opening dance of the season, as scheduled for Exposition Hall south of town, was to be given by the Bachelor’s Club.

On the day that Ike was born, a Tuesday, Miss Agnes Frizzell of the First Ward Public School, who lost her wardrobe in a fire the previous summer and who had not been reimbursed by her insurers, filed suit to recover damages allegedly suffered.

City Engineer Rhamey was surveying in the east section of town to make the streets conform to those already constructed. Hamp Burch, who was 10 years old, fell and broke his arm while playing near the Fourth Ward School.

That same day, a hunting party of 11 well-equipped men passed through Denison, heading for the Arbuckle Mountains where it was believed by the editor of the Sunday Gazetteer that they intended to prospect for some of the gold reported there in abundance. No report followed, however, explaining what the hunters found.

Construction work on the Denison Cotton Mill’s third floor was begun the day Ike was born, making the building exactly his age until it burned a number of years ago.

The fine new residence being built by William Muller at the corner of Chandler and Morton was nearly completed and a carload of white sandstone had just that day arrived from Lehigh, Indian Territory, to be used in the construction of the Munson-Nagle block on Woodard Street.

Beirne and Stenson, 219 West Main, were offering custom made suits of 100 percent wool for $8. At the same time, they were selling union suits for the giveaway price of $4 a pair.

Politics was rearing its ugly head about the same time. Two of the city fathers, both aldermen (or city council members), met on a city street a few days before Eisenhower’s birth and freely engaged in a battle whose main weapon was words. But somehow during the heated argument a blow or two was struck. The editor said that "one got the other down and was apparently trying to gouge out his optics" but then allowed him to get up, after which the battle continued with words. Both paid fines.

The worse thing about the fight was that it took place shortly after the press time for the Gazetteer and the editor asked the battlers to do him the courtesy to consult the time card of the paper before colliding again.

A side of the Dollarhide and Harris hardware building on Main Street caved in, injuring one person slightly. However the activity caused a "percentagable reduction in the prices of goods only faintly damaged."

But the day after Ike was born was really a day!

The circus was in town, with its trumpeting elephants and its carloads of other animals, one of which got out and had to be shot. Nonetheless the circus acts were hailed as being stupendous.

Chances are that the older brothers of Dwight David Eisenhower talked their father out of admission money to take in the big show. If they didn’t, they are bound to have watched the caravan unload. They probably were too young to watch the pre-dawn unloading of the animals and witness a lioness get loose from her cage. She scared the daylights out of everybody around and finally "necessitating hasty action on the part of a quick-thinking man who fired the contents of a Winchester into her, stretching her cold."

Two flat cars, one of which had the lion’s cage on it, bumped together and sprung loose the door of the cage allowing the animal to escape. The Winchester finished off the lioness, and the circus management immediately sued the gunman for $1,000, the cost of the animal.

Nothing like a circus or a lion escaping into the neighborhood took place this Saturday when Ike’s 123rd birthday was observed in Denison a couple of days early with an open house at his birthplace and lots of other fun things for citizens to remember one of its favorite sons. Yesterday’s event WAS covered by the local press.

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