Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Cock Fight Disrupted

Waco Times-Herald
April 11, 1935

(From the "It Happened Yesterday" column)

While Lions Club members were watching a cock fight at their luncheon in the Raleigh hotel, Sheriff W.B. Mobley made a false "raid" on the fight, threatening to "pinch" those responsible for the fight, but he was calmed down and stayed to watch the remainder of the battle.

The cocks had padded gloves on their spurs so they could not hurt each other. Capt. O.J. Neundoerfer, national guard instructor, was speaker on the program.

Fake Violence Gets Real Response

Waco Times-Herald
October 6, 1951

Movie Shot Causes Fatal Heart Attack

When John Carradine, as Ford, shot Tyrone Power, as Jessie James, on the screen at the Circle Drive-In Theatre last night, the excitement caused Mrs. Eva Pearl Mitchell, 41, of 2701 Primrose Street, to have a heart attack, of which she died a short time later.

"Oh, my heart!" exclaimed Mrs. Mitchell to her husband, sitting with her in their car, as the shot rang out on the screen.

Mitchell drove her at once to the family physician, Dr. W.F. Shipp, at Lorena, who took remedial measures and sent her to Hillcrest Hospital in (a) Waco Funeral Home ambulance. She was dead on arrival at the hospital.

Mrs. Mitchell had been subject to heart attacks for some time. Both she and her husband worked for the Circle Goat Dairy.

Surviving Mrs. Mitchell are her husband, Dennis C. Mitchell, her mother, Mrs. Maudie Camp of Lorena; a sister, Mrs. Lizzie Sharp.

Funeral services will be in Bruceville Sunday [Oct. 7].

Saturday, May 28, 2005

Lightning Brings Up Artesian Water

Dallas Morning News
June 8, 1887

Artesian Well Near Lorena

Mr. N.C. Williams, who owns one of the largest farms in [McLennan] county, near Lorena, is authority for the following story:

He says on or about May 25, 1887, one of the severest thunder storms ever known in his section came up. As soon as the storm cleared away, one of his sons had occasion to visit a pasture a short distance from the house. In one part of this pasture, on a small knoll or hillock, on the bank of Cow Bayou, he found the earth torn up as if a keg of giant powder or enough dynamite to blow up a half dozen Russian czars had been touched off under it.

The hole was about four feet in diameter and fully as many feet deep. After examining the spot with wonder and astonishment, he proceeded to cross a branch of Cow Bayou, about fifty yards from where the lightning struck, came upon a stream of clear, cool and delightful water about four inches in diameter flowing out of the ground, where water was never known to flow before. This flow of water started the creek to running for one-half mile below where the spring originated.

Mr. Williams can only account for this most singular phenomenon by the severity of the shock of lightning causing a fissure or rent in the earth, thereby allowing the water to reach the surface. Mr. Williams says this flow of water is worth $5,000 to him, and if it continues in as strong a stream as at present does it will enable him to irrigate fifteen or twenty acres of land on his farm.

Volleyball a Pastoral Sport

Waco Times-Herald
October 6, 1924

Pastors Like to Play Ball Just Like Other Folks

Proof that pastors sometimes enjoy a let-down from their serious duties just like other folks, was seen Monday [Oct. 6] about 11 o'clock when four members of the Waco pastors association indulged in a game of volley ball at the Y.M.C.A. rooms while waiting for that organization to hold its weekly session.

A movement is on foot to organize teams composed of pastors from all denominations, who will hold semi-weekly practice at the Y.M.C.A.

Rev. W.T. Turner, Rev. A.E. Hill, Rev. M.W. Clark and Rev. E.F. White were among those who played Monday.

Friday, May 27, 2005

Food Fight Ends in Court

Waco Times-Herald
March 17, 1909


Two white men, R.G. Brown and John Hermosen, were fined $5 each in the city court this morning on charges of assault and battery, Louis Santikos, a Greek, being the complaining witness.

It is claimed that Brown and Hermosen went into the eating house of Santikos, near the Katy depot, last night, ordered some things, and became angered about something, making an attack on the Greek and bombarding him fast and furiously with four dozen eggs which were sitting handy, besides hot catfish, catsup, pieces of bread and butter, fortified with other edibles which had sufficient weight about them to cleave the air.

The shirt of Santikos was exhibited this morning as evidence of the bombardment, and it was enough to convince a blind man that there was something doing in the vicinity of his place of business; the wall of the eating house is said to have resembled a war map of Europe.

Santikos was asked how many eggs were thrown at him and replied that he "No could tell; come too fast to count." It is understood, though, that there were four or five dozen in the bucket when hostilities commenced, and at the close of the scrap there was nothing in the bucket except the tin bottom.

Spanish-American War Store Displays

Soon after the United States declared war on Spain in 1898, Wacoans showed their patriotic spirit in a number of creative ways. Some downtown merchants decorated store windows with war-related displays that served both to announce the owners' patriotism and attract customers. Here are accounts of two such decorated windows from May 1898.

Waco Times-Herald
May 12, 1898

Goldstein & Migel Have a Very Attractive Window

In the west window of Goldstein & Migel is one of the most real pictures seen in Waco for many years. It is a representation of the Spanish fort and Morro castle, fortifications at Havana harbor, the harbor being also protected by Spanish warships supposed to be the Pedro and Alphonso.

Approaching these fortifications is the American battleship Texas, being manned with miniature "middys," and the big threatening guns all in position inspires a feeling of pity for the poor Dons, until one "remembers the Maine," and then turns around a buys a badge, which has become very popular with the boys, bearing the inscription "To h--l with Spain."

The Texas is operated by an unseen power, and kept in motion, making the representation of sea waves most realistic. The genius who originated this idea deserves much credit, and we will place the responsibility upon Harry Caldwell until we are better informed.

A Display Which Attracts the Attention of Pedestrians

Anyone interested in the kind of weapons used in our navy -- and of course all Americans are -- will be much interested in a display in the Eikel-Breustedt company's east window. It contains samples of the cartridges used in our rapid-firing guns, which has a capacity or twenty shots per minutes, embracing one, three and six-pounders. These cartridges are manufactured by the Winchester Repeating Arms company, and as their agents in Waco, the Eikel-Breustedt company have these samples in exhibition.

The ball of the cartridge is of most wonderful construction. The shell of the six-pounder throws the ball a distance of about five miles and will penetrate a four-inch armored ship, and when it has made its way into the hull, the ball, which contains gun cotton and a cap, explodes by concussion and plays sad havoc with that portion of the vessel.

These cartridges are facsimilies of the ammunition used by [American Admiral] Dewey's rapid-fire guns in his glorious victory in Manila bay. This display is attracting much attention.

Another article that same day praises the Goldstein & Migel window:

Again Goldstein & Migel have a big show window, which was crowded all day long and late in the night by the curious. This window is a scene of the United States navy in Havana waters before Morro castle. The scene is made natural by a huge canvas in the back upon which is painted the land scene, and with mechanical devices several ships are sailing the waters, one of which in the foreground is the Brooklyn, magestically riding the waves and as the sea surges the Brooklyn rolls upon the waves with her guns ready for action, and her "jackies" in right ready to do battle.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Conscientious Objectors in Court

In the winter of 1943, two brothers from Marquez were brought to trial on charges of violating the selective service act. The Maji brothers were Jehovah's Witnesses, a sect whose members sought religious exemptions to war service.

Waco News-Tribune
February 26, 1943

Jehovah Witnesses Being Tried Here

Two Jehovah's Witnesses, Jim and John William Maji, brothers from Marquez, appeared before Judge Charles A. Boynton in federal district court here Thursday [Feb. 25] to plead not guilty to charges of violating the selective service act. They told Judge Boynton they did not want an attorney but Judge Boynton appointed lawyers to represent them anyhow -- Willard McLaughlin for one brother and Orville Jobe for the other. They will be tried before a jury Monday.


The brothers appeared in court again on March 1 and were tried and sentenced.

Waco News-Tribune
March 2, 1943

Sect Members Get Lecture, Sentence on Draft Evasion

Judge, Handing Out 30 Months Hitches, Tells Witnesses U.S. Fights for Religious Freedom

Jim and John William Maji of Marquez, members of the Jehovah's Witnesses religious sect claiming conscientious objections to military service, were reminded Monday afternoon [March 1] by Judge Charles A. Boynton of federal district court that the United States is fighting for the right of religious freedom.

"Not only have you taken the attitude of letting the neighborhood boys on adjoining farms do your fighting for you," Judge Boynton declared, "but, not asked to render military service, you even refused to labor for your country and yourselves in non-combat service."

The brothers were convicted by juries of failure to report for physical examinations preliminary to being sent to a labor camp at Magnolia, Ark., as conscientious objectors.

"You are defying the laws of the land in which you live," Judge Boynton declared.

"No, sir," chimed the Majis.

"The court says you are," came the judge's flat statement.

This is a Christian country, he said; the congressmen who passed the selective service act are members of Christian churches.

'Taking Innocent Blood'

Asked if they had any statement to make, John William Maji, 22, the oldest brother, told Judge Boynton that "in sentencing us, you are taking innocent blood on your shoulders."

"That is an extreme statement," said the veteran jurist, who reminded the defendants that he has had such a responsibility for a long number of years.

He called attention to three-year sentences imposed on two men from the Marquez community during the November term of court and stated he had hoped that this action, and his remarks at that time, might influence others to change their views.

He sentenced the Maji brothers to 30 months in a federal correctional institution and, he said, the sentences would be heavier but for their ages.

First Woman Deputy Sheriff

Waco Times-Herald
October 29, 1920


Sheriff Bob Buchanan has appointed Mrs. Fannie Baldwin, police matron here for a year and a half, as one of his deputies, and she has assumed her duties. Her office will be on the second floor of the court house, adjoining the space assigned to the sheriff.

Mrs. Baldwin is the first woman deputy sheriff ever named in McLennan County. While no special duties have been assigned her, according to Sheriff Buchanan, Mrs. Baldwin will give much of her time to cases involving women and girls, this feature having received her attention while she was police matron. Mrs. Baldwin, who is known to many here, filled the office of police matron with great credit to herself, and those who were instrumental in having her named for the position she now occupies predict for her the greatest measure of success.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Whistles Begin the Day's Work

Dallas Morning News
October 4, 1890

When 7 o'clock strikes the many whistles of the manufacturing establishments announce the beginning of another day's labor in a way that is gratifying to the ears of the Wacoite, for it means that every one of these whistles is at a center for disbursing funds, in the aggregate in large amounts to laborers or skilled employees, contributing much to the local trade of the city.

A curious coincidence is that all the cottonworking establishments use a deep bass or steamboat whistle, and when all these, the three cotton compresses, the cotton mills, the cotton seed oil mill, turn loose, it recalls steamboating days on the Mississippi. There are about a score of different whistles that have distinguishable tones.

Rubber Tires a Hazard

With every technological advancement, there are risks to take and adjustments to make.

Waco Times-Herald
August 27, 1898


Pedestrians Complain of the Noiseless Vehicles Now in Use in Waco

The Times-Herald has been asked the question, "Do the city ordinances provide for lights on vehicles when not employed for public hire?"

The answer to this is readily given. The ordinance provides only for a light or lights on vehicles which are used for public hire and for the transportation of persons for a fee. The question has been called up by the rubber tires which are in use in this city.

Waco is in the lead of all cities in Texas when it comes to up-to-date things, and the rubber tired vehicle is the latest. The livery stables own them, and so do many citizens of the town. The vehicle makes little or no noise, and when an accumulation of mud on the hoofs of a horse causes the animal to step so lightly that his approach is not heard, citizens complain that there is danger to pedestrians.

A few nights since a gentleman was slightly injured by a collision with a vehicle which had a rubber tire and could not be heard. The suggestion has been made that the city council provide for lights on vehicles of this character.

It is a question of law whether a regulation of this kind could be enforced. After September 15, however, the street lights will burn all night, and on every night, and possibly the danger will in this way be reduced.

Gold Discovered Near Crawford

Dallas Morning News
April 16, 1887


McLennan County Has Gold Mines Producing Ready-Coined Metal of the Largest Lawful Denomination

WACO, Tex., April 15 -- The following story reaches this city from the Crawford Yeoman. Crawford is in this county about twenty miles west of Waco, and the parties named in the article are well known in this city:

"On last Sunday morning two men drove up to the residence of Mr. William Tubbs, Sr., living four miles north of Crawford, and asked Mrs. Tubbs if that was the Bibles' old place. Being answered in the affirmative they wished to see the man of the house. Upon being told that he was at the corn crib they repaired thither and made to him the following astonishing disclosure:

In 1865 an Indian woman, fearing that she would be plundered by Yankee raiders, buried in an iron vessel $1,000 in gold under a certain corner of the house now occupied by Mr. Tubbs. Upon moving away she concluded it was safest hid where it was, and she comforted herself that nobody would ever find it and that she could reclaim it when she wanted it. Upon her deathbed a short time ago, she revealed these facts to the two men just spoken of, and in return for kindness shown her by these parties she bequeathed to them the aforesaid buried treasure. And requesting Mr. Tubbs' permission to dig under his house, they all proceeded to the house and commenced to dig at the spot indicated by the Indian woman.

In a short while the iron pot was unearthed, and, strange to relate, in the vessel was found, in a canvas sack, a large amount of gold coin, exactly how much Mr. Tubbs is unable to state -- possibly $1,000 or $1,500. The men casually remarked that they had unearthed in Bosque County $2,000. After securing the treasure the two men left Mr. Tubbs without any more ado.

After the above facts had become generally known, Capt. Bewley, who lives near Mr. Tubbs, said on last Monday afternoon [April 11] while he (Bewley) was plowing a field near his house, and was cleaning off his plow with a small paddle, he perceived sticking in the dirt adhering to the plow a shining substance. Upon investigation it proved to be a $20 gold piece.

He thought nothing strange of this, since it was common for him to have his pockets filled with this kind of stuff; he thought it not unnatural that he might lose one occasionally. But as he plowed on he found more gold pieces upturned, and he was so aroused on the subject that he called his hired help, Mr. Ed Carpenter, from another part of the field, and with his assistance he commenced to work systematically and by nightfall they succeeded altogether in picking up 282 twenty-dollar gold pieces, which amounts to $5,640.

This startling discovery has set the country afire, so to speak, and every fellow that owns as much as ten acres of ground has gone to digging for gold. Zack Henson, who was in town Monday, says that he found $85 in Confederate money in an old Bois d'Arc stump on his place. The next day he was offered $100 an acre for his place, but he refused to sell.

Capt. Bewley, after corresponding with Major John Henry Brown, of Dallas, upon the subject says that that gentleman accounts for finding of the gold upon Capt. Bewley's premises upon the following hypothesis. Major Brown says in 1849 the Tonkawa Indians sold to the Texas government a part of their reservation for $40,000 in gold, and as the tribe was encamped for nine months about where Capt. Bewley's farm is, he thinks it is probable that the tribe hid a part or all this money where they then were.

At any rate Bewley thinks there is more gold hidden in his field so he has posted his entire farm and warns any and all persons upon pain of death not to come on his place with a pick. We do hope people will respect Capt. Bewley's injunction."

Indian Skeletons Unearthed

Waco Times-Herald
February 29, 1936


Relics of Battle or Massacre 100 Years Ago Being Dug Up at City Disposal Plant Saturday

Relics of a battle or massacre approximately 100 years ago, the bones of 15 Indians were being unearthed at the sewage disposal plant Saturday morning [Feb. 29] by Dr. W.P. Meroney, Prof. Guy Harrison, and a group of Baylor university students interested in archaeology.

WPA workmen at the plant found them Friday, and notified experts. Dr. Meroney says if the bones had been there much longer than 100 years they would be more decomposed than they are now; and that no battles of the magnitude indicated by the mass burial are recorded in that locality since.

One infant's skeleton was dug up; the rest seem to be men, but one may be that of a woman. The shallowest bones were 21 inches down; the deepest 49 inches. The excavators think they may find more during the day. The bodies were apparently piled in pell-mell, without any order, one on top of the other. So far the bones have given no indication of how they died.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

City Hall Cannons Moved

Waco Times-Herald
October 1, 1929

The two cannon which have stood guard on the city hall lawn for the past years will soon be moved away to resume their watchful vigil at a more suitable place, city authorities announced yesterday.

In fact, one of the cannon has already been transferred to the courthouse lawn, where it may be seen now. The other will be moved there this week, City Manager McAdams said yesterday. The guns were donated to the city by the American legion and individuals of Waco and are in the safekeeping of the city.

As soon as the new city hall is completed they will be moved back to their proper place to stand guard before the new structure. One of the guns was captur(ed) during the late war and the other is an old Confederate gun donated several years ago.

A Mysterious Shanty

Dallas Morning News
October 10, 1897

A Mysterious Shanty

Waco, Tex, Oct. 9 -- A mysterious shanty has been discovered in a cedar thicket on the north side of Waco near the city boundary. Walter Weaver, a school boy, while after rabbits discovered the hut.

Next day C.C. Johnson, Jack Smart and Oriville Work, guided by Walter, visited the spot and were amazed at the discoveries they made. The floor of the old dilapidated shanty was littered with various articles, denoting experiments in molding metal and in the manufacture of molds. Lumps of babbitt and copper were scattered about and a considerable lot of plaster of paris was in a heap in one corner.

Among the articles in the vacant hut was a treatise on amalgamating metals. The book was moldy, as if it had been neglected for a long time and had been in all sorts of weather. Some evidences were found of experiments in plating by the use of a battery.

The young men reported the find to Mr. John H. Finks, the federal commissioner, who visited the place, accompanied by Deputy United States Marshal W.L. Burke. All the articles left in and near the hut were collected and will be kept by the federal officers for further developments.

The officers suspect that the parties intended the manufacture of counterfeit coin and were frightened away before they got fairly to work. The shanty in which the articles described were found is located in a dense growth of cedar near a place which used to be called "Dead Man's hollow," owing to frequent lynchings there in the early days before law and order were established.

Persons residing nearest the hut remember hearing explosions there two months ago during the night. One man says he saw three men working in the hut in August. They told him they were getting ready to drill for oil, and as oil prospectors were in the neighborhood no further inquiry was made at the time.

Rabbit Raids

Dallas Morning News
January 4, 1896

WACO, Tex., Jan. 3 -- The fruit growers are troubled this year with rabbit raids on the peach, plum and pear trees. The bunnies come into the orchards in great droves and belt the trees for the sake of the tender bark. All sorts of rabbits attack the fruit trees. In the traps set to catch them the cotton tails are the most numerous. Swamp rabbits and mule-ears are occasionally caught. The brown prairies at this season of the year, with no herbage to offer for winter food, are deserted and the rabbits have crowded into the timber-lands and cedar brakes. Cold nights they become desperate from hunger and enter the city, attacking the trees in the nurseries and the shrubbery on the lawns.

The comment is made by the horticulturists that the boys and men who carry shotguns and slaughter birds indiscriminately neglect the rabbits and allow them to multiply to a pestiferous extent, while exterminating the insect-eating birds.

Some of the fruit growers have found that a bunch of bottles hung six inches up the trunk in such a way that they will clink together a little when the wind shakes them will protect the trees from the nibbling teeth of the hungry bunnies, which is sure death to the trees, as the rabbits when undisturbed take off the bark all around.

Grasshoppers in Waco

Dallas Morning News
July 24, 1887

WACO, Tex. July 23 -- Thousands of grasshoppers were found on the streets this morning. Where the "hoppers" came from is a puzzle to everyone. They were more numerous around the electric light towers, but large numbers were to be found in every part of town. The pests are different from the species which infested this country in years gone by, by being at least three times as large as the Kansas variety, the former visitors.

Monday, May 23, 2005

What is The Geyser City Gazette?

Hello, and welcome to the inaugural posting of The Geyser City Gazette. If you don't already know, "Geyser City" was one of a number of historic nicknames for the city of Waco, established back when the city's water supply came from what seemed to be an inexhaustible supply of artesian water underground.

I have had an interest in Waco history for more than 15 years, and have spent a lot of hours in libraries in Waco doing my own research. Up till now, I've not had a venue to share some of this research with others, so I'm hoping this blog will allow me to do that.

Most of the entries here, due to the small amount of time I have available now, will be either short summaries of Waco history events, or reprints of articles from old newspapers I've found. Eventually, I'd like to begin writing longer essays and articles based on my research, as well as posting photos and graphics.

But for now, please enjoy the postings of The Geyser City Gazette.