Hico, Texas:

The Business Emporium

A Chronological History

by Michael Leamons
(Page 6, 1900-1908)

Campbell Bros.

"Ladies and Gentlemen....Let the Show Begin"

For years, the Campbell Brothers Circus rolled into Hico as it made its way across western and southern portions of the nation. Hervey Edgar Chesley, Jr., of Hamilton, in his memoirs, wrote how at age 6 (he was born in 1894), he had gone with his father to Hico to see the circus. On the trip, he remembered eating dinner at the two-story, wood-frame Fuller Hotel, where the biscuits were good and the girls waiting tables were pretty.[10] According to surviving schedules from 1905 and 1911, in early November of both those years, the Campbell Bros Circus came to Hico.[324] The circus travelled by rail, requiring 24 cars in 1904 and 27 in 1906. Two cars would go 4 days in advance, to herald the circus' coming. In 1906, 310 people were part of the organization.[325] At its peak, Campbell Bros Circus was billed as the second largest circus in the world. Admission was 20 cents for adults and 10 cents for children.[326] Each show began with a parade from the railroad to wherever the big top had been erected.

"The circus included parade wagons, several trained, exotic animals and equipment. Old Charlie, a big brown bear, was one of the main attractions. He was a wrestling bear who could drink from a bottle with his paws. There were also several beautiful draft horses to pull the parade wagons and steam calliope. At the height of their success, they had eleven elephants, four camels, two tigers, two lions, a zebra, a water buffalo, ten small cages containing birds and monkeys and six large cages, fancy horses and ponies, three band wagons, a 25-piece concert band and the steam calliope with six white horses and fancy harness. Their tent was 130 to 140 feet in diameter with four to six center poles, contained three rings and two stages."[326]

Mayor Pingree's Legacy

On December 25, 1900, with the passing of Dr. Daniel Pingree, Mayor from 1890 until his death, the City of Hico lost a very gifted leader. He was succeeded by J. P. Rodgers. Under Pingree's leadership, the City had made enormous strides. Most notably, after a series of blazes, the downtown had been reconstructed; the town had transitioned to the status of a City; its ordinances had been codified; the City had assumed control of the schools and a new two-story, brick school building had been constructed; a college had been founded; V. F. Wiesers various enterprises such as the installation of electric and telephone systems had been encouraged, a public water works system was installed; City Park had been purchased; a volunteer Fire Department had been established; and, an oil mill had been persuaded to set up shop in the City. In addition to the foregoing, the following assessment of the town's businesses testifies to Pingree's success.

A Multitude of Local Businesses

The following businesses were operating in Hico at the turn of the century: "Roller mill with capacity of 200 barrels of flour, 1000 sacks of chops and 100 barrels of meal per day. One oil mill, the largest in this section of Texas. One ice factory with a capacity of 20 tons per day. A cotton compress with a capacity of 150 bales per day. Three cotton gins with a capacity of 200 bales per day. One modern steam laundry. One candy factory. One ice cream factory. One modern electric light plant with 24 hour circuit all the year. One modern telephone system covering city and trade territory with a network of wires. One bottling works with capacity of 150 cases per day. One broom factory with a capacity of twenty dozen brooms daily. One marble works employing several men. The best printing plant and newspaper in Central Texas. The best photographer in Texas. One Farmers Union warehouse. Three cotton yards. One tin shop giving employment to several workmen. Four barber shops employing 12 barbers. Two national banks with combined capital and surplus of $226,000 and combined deposits of $345,000. Ten grocery stores. Five vehicle establishments. Two drug stores. Two saddle and harness shops. One variety store. Five clothing stores. One modern meat market. Three confectionaries and fruit stands. One wholesale fruit house. One wholesale grocery house. Four millinery establishments. Five real estate dealers and insurance agents. Four blacksmith and woodwork shops. Two news stands. Three modern soda fountains. Two large lumber yards. Two large wagon yards. Four hardware stores. One large opera house. Four furniture stores. Five restaurants. Six hotels. Two jewelers. One wholesale produce house."[327]

The Grubbs Addition

The City continued to grow. On August 5, 1901, the Grubbs Addition was taken in.[28]

Alcohol by Another Name

Evidently, some in Hico tried to skirt the prohibition against alcohol by selling "Hop Ale". The matter was taken up in District Court in Hamilton during the first week of November, 1901: "the first two cases tried resulted in conviction and a fine of $75 and 20 days in jail...The rest seeing the jig was up began to work for a compromise and finally an agreement was reached wherein each Hop Ale dealer and their clerks signed an agreement to close their joints and never as long as the town was Pro sell any more hop..."[328]

The Cox Case

The anti-prohibition forces must have won a round in 1902, because at least one of the town's saloons was open for business. In September, 1902, a case involving the sale of whiskey to a minor at Cox's Saloon that May provided the basis for the Supreme Court Case handled by Dewey Langford, alluded to earlier in our narrative:[329]

Hico, Tex: In district court the jury gave W. B. Thompson $1500 damages against P. O. Cox of this town, whom he sued for selling whisky to his son on the ground that he is a minor.

After different aspects of the case had worked their way through both the Texas Court of Civil Appeals [330] and the Texas Supreme Court, [331] in 1906 the matter came before the United States Supreme Court as COX v. STATE OF TEXAS, 202 U.S. 446. Defense claimed Cox was denied equal protection under the law as guaranteed by the 14th Amendment, a claim which the Court rejected.[332]

Tragedy at Blue Hole

On May 25, 1903 at about 3:00 p.m., D. C. Hendrix and his daughter Annie started for their home in Lanham from Hico, having secured a wagon-load of "salt, flour and dry goods." A neighbor, Nathan Beaver, following about a mile behind them, upon reaching Blue Hole "...discovered a horse struggling in the water...he immediately sent a runner back to Hico for aid. About 200 people responded to the call and as soon as the wagon and the two dead horses could be gotten out of the way" a search was made for the bodies, which were located between 16' and 18' below the surface. The drowning perplexed the locals, because Hendrix, one of the county's oldest settlers, often traveled that road and was well acquainted with the dangers posed by Blue Hole's depths.[34]

Advances in Education

In 1903, Professor Ben Randals started the Hico Advance-School, which continued through 1919. The school was geared toward preparing students for careers in public education. In 1909, the tuition was $3 per month. That year, a teacher had been hired to provide instruction in "...bookkeeping, shorthand, typewriting and commercial law."[333] The school's library contained numerous Greek and Latin books. "A graduate of Peabody College, Randals was noted for the thorough instructions he gave his students. By limiting the enrollment in the school, Randals was able to devote extra time to each pupil daily...Randals wrote both the music and the plays, which his students performed."[76] In 1909, 35 were enrolled in classes and "in the (preceding) 5 years, 35 of his pupils have gone out to teach in public schools."[30] Randals, a native of Tennessee, had been a Captain in the Confederate Army . He moved to Texas in the 1886, originally locating in Sipe (pronounced "seep") Springs in Comanche County, then, in Fairy before coming to Hico.[16] A Methodist, Ben authored two Bible commentaries[FN1] as well as the textbook, The Physical Laws Revealed in the Sacred Scriptures .[334] His sons opened Randals Bros. Grocery and one of them, Hord, later served as president of the First National Bank.[64]

Professor Ben Randals[334]
Professor Ben Randals

Randals Bros Store 1915
Randals Bros. Store, 1915

Although the particulars have been lost with time, it is recorded that, "Dr. Wysong, who was known as a man of 'cultural and scholarly demeanor,' taught at another private school in Hico."[FN2][35] Hico's public school was also doing well as evidenced by the 1904-1905 Hico Public Schools Ninth Annual Announcement . What's more, "By 1908, the school had eleven grades and fifteen units of study affiliated with the University of Texas. The science laboratory was well equipped and students were given instruction in wireless telegraphy."[76] Because of the prosperity enjoyed by Hico during this period, "...the schools in Hico ranked first in the county and were so considered for a number of years."[35]

Dr. Wysong (bottom row, 2nd from left) and the Hico Orchestra
Dr. Wysong and the Hico Orchestra

HISD Physics Laboratory

Homecoming for Author Lewis B. Miller

While on the topic of education and culture, during the early 1900's, Lewis B. Miller, at that time a well known author, returned to the Hico area to care for his aging parents.[335] Circa 1876 when Lewis was about fifteen years old, the Miller family had settled just outside of Hico, in what later became known as Millerville. A cemetery is all that now remains of the community.[336] Lewis left the family farm to attend Add- Ran college (later becoming TCU), while it was in Thorp Springs, just outside of Granbury. He then pursued a career which led him from Texas, to Iowa, to Ohio, to St. Louis, Missouri. In 1894, while in Ohio, he began writing adventure stories for magazines and continued to do so until his death in 1933, ultimately penning 120 of them. He also wrote some twenty novels, most notably, The White River Raft (1910) , A Crooked Trail (1911), Saddles and Lariats (1912), Fort Blocker Boys (1917), The Branded Oak (1918), Pike's Peak or Bust (1922), and Big Smoke Mountain (1929). Many of his stories had a Cross Timbers setting and were semi-autobiographical. In recent years, some have been republished. Miller corresponded with J. Frank Dobie, an admirer of Miller's writing.[337] In his forward to Saddles and Lariats, Miller reflected on the time period that provided the setting for most of his stories:

"For three hundred years the Anglo-American, strong son of the Anglo-Saxon, has been engaged in conquering his three thousand miles of wilderness. But at last his giant's task is ended. No more remains any region between the two oceans that deserves the name of wilderness. And with that conquest has ended the pioneer life---such a life as the world never saw before. And certainly the world shall not look upon its like again. Already the explorer, the Indian trader, the hunter and trapper, the cowboy, the settler with an axe in one hand and a rifle in the other, have followed the war-painted savage into the dimming, shadowy past."[338]

Lewis Miller books
Two of Lewis Miller's Books

Another Downtown Fire

Hico, Tex., Oct. 13 [1903]---Fire this morning at 3:30 destroyed the immense Carlton stores, yet there were structures within ten feet of the Carlton buildings that were untouched...The origin of the fire is unknown. The buildings were of stone and now at present a total wreck. The night watchman reports that he saw some one in the Carlton store, and that he attempted to catch him, but the man escaped. It is strongly believed the fire was of incendiary origin.[339][FN3]

An Evangelistic Crusade

Also, in Hico in 1903, Baptist Evangelist Mordecai Ham, under whose ministry Billy Graham was later converted, launched his first Texas crusade. Locally, 150 decisions were made for Christ. Ham's ministry overlapped that of Mary Billings. Like Billings, Ham was a staunch prohibitionist.[340]

M. Ham at desk
Evangelist Mordecai Ham

City Hall is Built

Although the residents of Hico had voted to incorporate in 1883, maps suggest there wasn't a City Hall during the early years.[139] Perhaps that's why minutes of City Council Meetings prior to April, 1902 aren't included in the City's archives.[FN4] Evidently, the impetus to construct a City Hall was provided when on January 22, 1904, Mayor J. P. Rodgers (formerly the teacher at Old Hico) advised the Council "...the building where the fire co. was located had been sold..." It was proposed a 25' x 100' two story masonry building be constructed to serve as a City Hall and to house the Fire Co. That February, a $3,786.75 contract for the project was awarded to Alsey Alford, nephew of the former postmaster, and construction was completed in June.[341] Since then, the structure has been in continuous use as Hico's City Hall.

City Hall
Left Half was the Original City Hall, Shown As Renovated in 2010

The "Antis" Win a Round

Anti-prohibition forces won a round in the ongoing tug-of-war in a 1904 election concerning the matter.[342]

Mary Billings' Passing

On March 21, 1904, in her home at Hico, Mary Billings passed away. The Hico News offered these words of tribute: "Too much can never be said or written of this grand, noble and christian lady. She scattered seeds of love and kindness all along lifes pathway. In deeds of charity her liberality knew no bounds, for it was a great part of her lifes work, to hunt up, care for and comfort the poor and destitute. If there was a home darkened by sorrow in our city you would be sure to find this godly woman there, gently whispering words of consolation and cheer. If the hungry stranger came within her gates she fed him. If he was destitute and far away from home and friends she supplied his wants and sent him on his way rejoicing...In her religion she was fearless and outspoken, and never failed either in or out of the pulpit to denounce the devil and his works in the strongest language."[343]

More Patents and a New Bank

During the early 1900s, six more patents were filed by residents. "The volume of business had so increased in the Hico area by 1904 that in February of that year, William Connolly, a local merchant, with help from officers of the Cage and Crow Bank of Stephenville took steps to organize a second bank for Hico...the Hico National Bank was organized on March 7, 1904...The first officers elected were William Connolly, president; John Hill, vice-president; John M. Cage [son of Jane Boykin Cage] cashier; and W. Pitt Barnes, assistant cashier."[76] Within a few months, local businessmen M.O. Gleason, the Wiesers and the Pettys had bought-out the Cage and Crow interests.[344]

Batter Up!

For years, Hico had been seriously engaged in baseball. Though its team didn't win this one, per this May 19, 1904 report in the San Angelo Press, Hico's players made a good showing in a 3 game tournament against San Angelo:

Three Good Games Between Angelo and Hico

"Hico has a good ball team. Gage is a good pitcher, McDonald is a good catcher,---in fact the team is above average...Baseball is looking up. The crowds this week demonstrate that much interest is being taken by the people and then the games are getting better. When a team like Hico's comes and plays clean, gentlemanly ball like they do, people are interested in their work. They get good crowds and deserve them."[345]

Abilene Daily Reporter, 1905 Ad
Hico vs Abilene

1913 Hico Baseball Team
1913 Hico Baseball Team[FN5]

The Reunion of 1904

Hico, Texas: More than 5,000 people participated in the first day's exercises at the reunion under the auspices of Pat Cleburne Camp, U. C. V. [United Confederate Veterans], at Hico city park Wednesday. Veterans were in the parade from Comanche, Hamilton, Erath, Eastland and other counties. The city is beautifully decorated and a three day's program of band concerts, choruses, addresses and feasting will be carried out.. [346]

Hico Confederate Reunion
Confederate Reunion Photo, SE Corner 1st & Pecan

Looking back at the reunions of this era from 1990, a soon-to-be 98-year-old, Zora McAnelly Fiedler, remembered how Mr. Waller (whose two sons had been killed) carried the flag and led the parade.[347] He can be seen holding the flag in the above group photo, in the photo on page 4 of a "Bunch of Johnny Rebs" and in the photo below.

John M. Waller
John M. Waller with the "Stars and Bars"

The City Grows in Size and Population

In October, 1904, the City Council voted to annex the Clark Addition.[348] Then, in the spring of 1905, the Council decided to pay the scholastic census worker to also take a census of the general population. It was determined there were 444 families and a total population of 2,036 within the City.[349] In August, the Council agreed to annex the Morrison Addition (on the south side of the Hico-Iredell Road) into the City. [350]

Advent of the Automobile

In 1904, J. C. Rodgers, purchased an Orient Buckboard, presumably, making him the first owner of an automobile in Hamilton County. The vehicle is said to have caused a good deal of confusion. Rodgers sold the Buckboard in 1905 and, then, purchased a single cylinder Cadillac.[76] When U. S. Senator Joseph Weldon Bailey (Senator from 1901 to 1913), who was running for re-election, visited Hico in 1906, J. C.'s son, Ernest, escorted the Senator and local merchant, G. M. Carlton, in the Cadillac from the depot to the hotel, a distance of one block.[64] In 1905 or 1906, Hico's Dr. C. M. Hall became the second county resident to own an automobile when he purchased a Haynes Apperson. He "...astounded everyone when he drove this car from Fairy to Hico in thirty minutes."[76]

Orient Buckboard

Another Round of Tug-of-War

Not long after Ham's rally, in March of 1906, Hamilton County Precinct 3 (encompassing Hico and Fairy) held another election on prohibition. The Commissioners Court, alleging the election hadn't been conducted correctly, refused to count the ballots, the majority of which were against prohibition. The Commissioners ordered another election in April, in which prohibition carried. In April, 1907 barkeep Charlie Malone decided to mount a challenge to the results of the above proceedings:

The saloon that opened at Hico recently to test the validity of the last local option election in the Hico precinct, was unceremoniously raided and closed by the Hamilton county officers late last Saturday afternoon and the stock of beer, whiskey and other refreshments appropriated by the officers, packed into wagons and carried into the county capitol at Hamilton where the presence of intoxicants is not objectionable to a majority of the people and where the district court will have possession as well as jurisdiction over the soured juice of the corn and hops which the officers so heedlessly carried away from a throng of citizens with parching throats and money in their pockets which they were anxious to exchange. The proprietor of the saloon, Chas. Malone, was not present when the raid occurred...[351]

A couple of months later, on June 28th, the State Court of Criminal Appeals ruled the April, 1906 election invalid, reasoning the Commissioners Court had no authority to invalidate the March election.[351] Chalk-up another one for the antis.

Hico Bar
Inside One of Hico's Bars

The Cossacks Are Coming!

In October of 1906, the Campbell Brothers Circus featured a special attraction as it made its way through Texas: a band of Russian Cossacks..."the tried and true mounted troops of the Czar. They are the flower of the Russian army and acknowledged to be the best drilled and most expert horsemen in all Europe...Noted as they are for their rapidity of movement, they perform feats on the backs of their running horses that are not equaled by any body of men in the world. These troopers are on the years leave of absence from the army, and by the Czar's special permission allowed to travel and give their wonderful exhibitions daily with Campbell Bros. Circus..."[352] The circus was traveling down the Texas Central Railroad and stopped in Cisco on October 15th, but it's unclear whether or not any performances were given in Hico on that circuit.

The Universalists Are Departing

Mary Billing's death in 1904 (James had passed away in 1898), presented a major set-back to the Universalist presence in both Hico and Texas. The local congregation dis-banded[183,184] and the building was sold to William Hancock. Since their arrival in Hico, the Catholic Wiesers had been denied the convenience of a local Catholic Church. To remedy this, the Wiesers purchased the Universalist building, moved it onto a lot adjacent to their home and, on August 18, 1907, dedicated it to divine service as St. Mary's Catholic Church. One Sunday a month, a priest would travel by train to Hico to conduct services.[352] Years later, when the local congregation became inactive, the building was torn down by Roy French, and much of the wood was used in constructing the garage apartment behind the funeral home. The curved window that had been located above the church's main entry is located on north side of the garage apartment.[353] The church's bell, presumably the same one used in the Universalist building, was said to have a history dating back to 14th century England. The bell was shipped to Massachusetts in 1834 where it was recast in the city of Midway by C. H. Holbrook, with the following inscription, "Gott is die Liebe," which translates as, "God is Love".[354]

St. Mary's
All Souls Universalist and St. Mary's Catholic Church.

Cotton Was King!

As was reported in this retrospective, a lot of grain was being produced around Hico: "In 1908 there was more grain bought and shipped from Hico than from all other towns located on the Texas Central Railroad."[123] Nevertheless, according to another retrospective, cotton was king:

"While Hico was the leading market in its section in many lines, its greatest reputation was made as a cotton market. The town had a reputation that extended all over the country as a cotton market, the buyers here at that time were among the largest in Texas. During the season of 1906-1907 Hico shipped forty-two thousand bales of cotton...In 1906-1907 Hico bought more cotton from the wagons on the streets than any other city its size in the world."[355]

A Busy Day in Old Hico
A Big Day at Wm. Connolly & Co.

Cotton was grown throughout the area. It was hand picked and collected in tow sacks; then, hauled by wagon to the gin where, after the hulls and seeds were removed, the cotton was baled. The farmer then sold it to one of several brokers in a street market. Then, it was compressed and shipped by rail to a remote warehouse. The farmer could sell the seed or use it as feed for his livestock. Generally, the sales price of the seed would cover the ginning costs.[356] The following pictures of Hico and some of the surrounding farm country were taken during the first decade of the 20th century.

J. J. Leeth family picking cotton near Fairy.
J. J. Leeth Family Picking Cotton near Fairy

Weighing Cotton in the Field

Tall Cotton Gosdin Farm Iredell
High, easier to pick cotton on Gosdin Farm, Iredell.

Cotton Gin 1910

Hico Street Cotton Market

Compress and Freight Yards

Industrial Hico
Industrial Activity in 1908

The Dreaded Boll Weevil

Cotton's reign was to be short lived. Even during the boom years, the seeds for its destruction were already present. As early as December, 1903, the dreaded boll weevil had been found in Hamilton County.[357] It had crossed the border from Mexico into Texas around 1893, making its way northward at a pace of about 60 miles per year. The pest, which at one time was said to have inflicted economic damage on the South second only to the War Between the States, was small, with a mature weevil measuring between 1/8th and 1/3rd inch in length. It's impact was so significant, a song was written about it. Enterprise, Alabama erected a monument to the boll weevil because its arrival prompted them to grow peanuts, a move which brought great prosperity to their community. Ultimately, its presence was felt in Hico, as area production began declining.

Boll Weevil

Tex Ritter and Mantan Moreland's Rendition of the "Boll Weevil."

Hog Fight

In 1906 the City Council instructed "the City Attorney to prepare an ordinance declaring the hogs in the City a nuisance and same to be removed from the City by January 1, 1907."[358] Less than a year after the prohibition went into effect, the Council was presented with a petition "signed by 212 citizens of the town asking that the Council repeal the ordinance...and allowing every family be allowed to keep one or two hogs." At the same time, the Council was presented with "a counter petition signed by over 100 citizens asking the Council not to repeal the Hog law."[359] The Council asked that the City Attorney write to the Attorney General about the matter. Shortly thereafter, the old Hog Ordinance was replaced with one allowing hogs provided they were kept in a 25 square foot or larger enclosure kept at least 100' away from any adjoining residence or place of business.[360]

Those Fickle Rails of Steel

This 1908 article recorded an event which was cause for jubilation in Hamilton, and consternation in Hico:.[361]

Hamilton, Tex, Jan. 4 --- Hamilton celebrated yesterday...the arrival of the first train over the Stephenville, North and South Texas Railway...The citizens of Hamilton have endeavored for years to get a railroad...Twelve thousand bales of cotton were marketed here last year, but teamsters hauled all of it by wagon to Hico.

In 1889, the Fort Worth and Rio Grande Railroad had extended a line into Stephenville,[362] depriving the Hico Depot of some of its market area. This new line into Hamilton, which linked into the Fort Worth and Rio Grande, took away an even greater share. Oh, those fickle steel rails which had given so bounteously to Hico were now taking it away! This loss of market share combined with crop declines due to the boll weevil would eventually have a major impact on Hico's economy.

Beginnings of the City Sewerage System

On February 3, 1908, the City Council granted a 25 year franchise to the Ford Brothers (N. J. and W. B. Ford) to construct and operate a sanitary sewerage system within the City.[363]

Hico and Hamilton Looking to Divorce

In the following series of reports, the Carbon News observed how the cities of Hico and Hamilton were heading toward a divorce, but ultimately kissed and made-up, so to speak:

February 21, 1908: The dissension between the cities of Hico and Hamilton have reached such an acute stage that it now appears quite probable that a divorce will take place. Hico being the largest town in the county, and paying a large percent of the taxes, has never believed that it was treated fairly in distribution of public funds, and now that the county seat town in its jubilation over the new railroad, is losing no opportunity to "rub it in" on its lusty old time rival, the people of Hico are seriously contemplating having the lines rearranged so as to be included in Erath county, in fact a move to that effect is now on.[364]

February 28, 1908: A committee of prominent business men will go to Stephenville in a few days to take up the matter of having the boundary line of Erath county changed so as to place Hico in that county. The suggestion meets with the hearty approval of practically all our people.---Hico News Review.[365]

March 20, 1908: Citizens of Hico and Hamilton have gotten together in mass meeting and made friends. The Hico citizens will now not try to move the county line.[366]

Small Town Politics

For reasons unknown, at an April 2, 1908 meeting of the Hico Fire Company, the organization decided to disband. A special City Council Meeting was called for April 3rd during which Fire Chief Simpson relayed news of the disbanding to the City Council and tendered members' resignations. After accepting the same, the Council appointed a committee to solicit volunteers for a new Fire Department, expressed their "thanks for their efficient services," and directed that a letter to that effect be published in the newspaper.[367] At an April 14th Council Meeting, former Chief Simpson asked for permission to practice racing and use City water. The Council formed a committee to confer with the two fire companies "to adjust matters satisfactory".[368] At a May 4th meeting, the committee "stated that the new fire company would not agree to let the old fire company have the streets and practice their racing." On May 13th, the Council decided to "send a message to the Chief of the Fire Co. at Waco giving the names of the Chief of the Fire Co. and the elected delegates to the state convention and that they are the only recognized fire co. in the City."[369] On July 6th, an ordinance was adopted prohibiting foot racing in the streets, "exempting our present fire company or any fire company they might invite."[370] On May 17, 1909 the Council met in called session to address news that the Central West Texas Racing Association was planning on coming to Hico on June 2nd. The Council voted to send the following letter to the Chief of the Fire Department in each place that was a member of the Association (Comanche, Cisco, Dublin, Granbury and Stephenville)[371]:

Dear Sir:

We understand that the Central West Texas Racing Association has been invited to Hico, Texas on June 2nd, 1909.

In order that you may fully understand the situation as it actually exists here, beg to say that the Hico Racing Team has no connection whatever with the Hico Fire Department. The facts of the matter are the old fire company, of which the Racing team was a part resigned about fifteen months ago and their resignation was accepted by the City Council, since which time the two organizations have been in no way associated.

As you have been invited here, in convention, with the expectation of having the support of the Hico Fire Co., we think it right that you should be fully advised of the true condition of affairs.

Please understand that the City Council has no objection whatever to you holding your convention here but to have races as intended same cannot be done as the City Council has refused to cooperate with the Hico Racing Team since their resignation and refuse to allow them the use of the streets and water.

Yours truly,[371]

Fire Company Race
Fire Company Race in Downtown Hico

Hico VFD Formed

The current Hico Volunteer Fire Department, traces its origins back to that April 3, 1908 meeting when a committee was appointed to secure volunteers for a new fire department. It was originally located immediately behind City Hall in the area occupied by its predecessor, the Fire Company. Later, the department expanded into a portion of the second floor previously owned by the Knights of Pythias. The department consisted of 25 firemen, 2 hose carts, each with 750' of hose, one hand-drawn hook and ladder wagon and a weight activated alarm bell located in a roof-top tower.[372]

Hico Commercial Band
Hico Commercial Band about 1912

Hico Commercial Band Formed

During 1908, the recently chartered Hico Commercial Club formed a band. It invested about $1,800 in instruments and paid the music teacher's monthly salary. A newspaper reporter claimed, "...the people consider it one of the best investments they have made.".[373] The Hico Commercial Club Band would play at special functions in Hico and was available for hire to play in other localities. In a report about the band's scheduled appearance at the City of Hamilton's 1910 Annual Picnic, the editor of the Hamilton Herald touted, "...this attraction alone is worth coming miles to see" and dubbed the band "one of the best in Texas." At the time it had 16 members, two of whom were women, and was under the direction of Fred Hancock, who had committed murder at the depot a decade before.[374]

First Street Scene
Bell Tower, Top Center.

[FN1]Nahum's Prophecy, June 14, 1914 and The Woman Arrayed in Purple and Scarlet; or the rise and fall of the Temporal Power of Papacy, August 17, 1914.[110]

[FN2]"In addition to his many duties, the doctor [J. H. Wysong] found time to devote to his musical studies and became known for his signal ability as a musician, the Wysong Orchestra of Hico stood for years a living monument to his rare talent and loving care. Members of his orchestra were Ira Eakins, Murry Cole, Cecil Segrest, Mrs. Charles Keffer, I. K. Booth, Miss Minnie Clark and Mrs. E. K. Booth. They served the church, schools and private parties..."[375]

[FN3]Losses from the Oct. 13, 1903 fire: G. M. Carlton loss on building and goods, $40,000; Mrs. A. F. Sellers building, $4,000; T. S. DeArmen building, $2,500; R. A. Cox building, $3,000; and, Utterback, Harris & Kendrick goods, $4,000.[339]

[FN3]Newspaper clippings in the City's archives of several Ordinances published in the early 1900's reference pages in Book 4 of the Minutes, page numbers which correspond to the earliest book of minutes now in the City's possession. Books 1 through 3 are missing.

[FN5]From the left, front row, Bob Slaughter, Scott Ross, Buddie Hudson, mascot, Mack Medford and Hob Hooper. Second row, Herman Lester, Felix Shaffer, Will Hudson, Manager; Owen Lester and Watt Ross. Back row, left to right, Walter Scott, Kal Segrist, Higgins, Watt Petty and Herbert Sellers. "Kal Segrist, Sr. [in the photo] played on Hico's early baseball teams and was Hico's first professional baseball player. He played for the Dallas Steers from 1920 - 1927 and was known as the 'Hico Kid'."[327] Kal, Jr.'s professional 76baseball career is touched on later in this history.

Continued on Page 7

Page 1, Intro........
Page 2, 1854-1869
Page 3, 1870-1882
Page 4, 1882-1889
Page 5, 1890-1899
Page 6, 1900-1908
Page 7, 1908-1932
Page 8, 1933-2011



Upcoming Events