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Burleson Ledger, Planry Home Ad, May 16, 1919.

This week, we have an invited guest blogger, Tim Gieringer. Here on the Digital Newspaper Team, Tim creates all the metadata for the newspapers we upload.  He’s been doing a lot of research for this guest post, so I hope you enjoy!

 

Thank you for inviting me to do this post! I’ve always had an interest in history, research, and architecture. Since moving to Denton, I have been involved in providing research for historical markers for the county’s Historic Iron Bridges project and researching dozens of homes for City of Denton Historic Landmark designation applications (including my own). This research often involves using historic newspapers on The Portal to Texas History.

Some of the more fascinating and popular items found in historic newspaper collections are the advertisements. Whether for unfamiliar products of the past or for early versions of products that remain household names today, the ads seem to still catch your eye. Of course, that’s what they were designed to do. I have long had an interest in historic homes, so my eyes are naturally drawn to advertisements for houses. When looking through these old house advertisements, some of you may be surprised to learn that buying a house in the early part of the 20th-century often meant first picking up a newspaper. From there, you may have been swayed to send off for a mail-order house catalog or visit a local business to see their house plan catalogs and displays. Indeed, unless you were wealthy enough to hire an architect to design your home, chances are you were building your new home entirely through mail-order or hiring someone to build it based off a set of plans you had purchased.

Mail-Order Homes

4-6-1919 At one point in time, you could pick a house out of a catalog and literally have it shipped in its entirety to you with instructions on how to build it. By “entirety,” I mean from the wood, right down to the sinks and door hinges on the inside. The houses usually came by railroad and could be constructed by a contractor or sometimes even by a handy homeowner. Sears is by far the most famous company to widely offer these mail-order homes. (It’s a fun trivia fact that people like to throw around, and there are a lot of people devoted to identifying Sears homes.) However, Sears had several competitors, one of the largest being a Michigan-based company called Aladdin. As you can see from this 1919 San Antonio Express Aladdin ad, two of their main selling points were the many designs available and monetary savings from cutting lumber and labor cost, with the idea being that the lumber came to you already cut to specifications and thus requiring less time to prepare.

Plan Book Homes

Another popular method for new home owners was picking out a house plan from a catalog and hiring a local company or contractor to build your home based on those plans.  These plans could be ordered through the mail, or you could visit a local company, usually a lumber company, that would also sell you the materials and help you consult their catalogs and displays. SouthwesternHomebuildersHoustonPost1-16-1910

As with mail-order homes, there were several companies of varying sizes offering plans. Perhaps the best-known of these plan book companies was Ye Planry which was founded in California but eventually moved to Dallas, and was a company known for its bungalow plans.

This 1920 Brownwood Bulletin ad shows a typical ad from a lumber company.

Brownwood Bulletin, 1920

 

As I was putting images together for this article, I was surprised to find that there may have been some contempt between the mail-order and plan book home companies. The 1919 ad from the Burleson County Ledger, the title image for this post, states, “Our lumber worked by Ye Planry plans will build a home with an air of individuality and not have that ready-cut look.” I am still watching my mailbox for a reply from the mail-order companies.

This is just a quick look at a couple ways many of the older homes in our communities may have been built. I hope this encourages you to look closer next time you see an old home and try to figure out if it was mail-order, plan book based, or custom built. The fascinating thing about old homes is they all have a story to tell. There’s a chance that you might walk past a Ye Planry Home every day without even knowing it!  For the next time Ana asks me to be a guest blogger, we’ll take some Google Map trips and tour the past as it exists in the present!

Home for Sale, Brownwood, Texas, September 21, 1920. Ye Planry Home, Modern-Day View, from Google Maps.

 

 

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bbqball

Let’s throw a ball for Texas Independence Day, and let’s also do a barbecue, just like the citizens of Rusk County did in 1845, on the ninth anniversary of the celebration.  Samuel Monroe Hyde gave the address, and he also gave permission for the address to be printed in The Texas National Register, where it arrived for publication a month after it had been spoken.  Hyde proclaimed that the Texians of ’36, “a Milam, a Bowie, a Crocket, a Travis, and a Fannin” made Texas “free, sovereign, and independent.”

Hyde served as an agent for another early Texas newspaper, The Red-Lander, published in San Augustine.  The Red-Lander first began publication in 1838 as a Whig party vehicle, showcasing national and international gossip in its first few pages with local news appearing in the last 1-2 pages of the paper (See “San Augustine Red-Lander” at http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/ees24).  Interestingly, the roots of later 19th-century Reconstruction and state politics dominated Whig Party ideology, which relates to why the Red-Lander newspaper covered so much “international” news of the day–with “international” referring to what was then the U.S. according to the Republic of Texas.  The Whig Party itself divided over the issue of slavery and eventually died off, but its ideas remained influential in politics for another half century.

Samuel Monroe Hyde was an early Dallas settler and among the first owners of what is now the northern side of White Rock Lake in Dallas, which adjoined land owned by his father, John H. Hyde.  This land was parceled out to the Hydes in the 1840s by the Texas president Anson Jones, whom S. Monroe Hyde toasts in the independence day speech as, “An accomplished gentleman, an able politician and independent citizen; our foreign relations are safe in his hands, even at this present critical juncture.”

In short, it’s time for some good barbecue and a nice ball.  Just make sure to wear a napkin around your neck to keep your ball gowns and tuxes tidy!

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ntdaily-blog-201502

Have you ever thought to buy a pack of Valentine’s cards to give out to your friends and loved ones?  If you hop into your time machine and set it for January 22, 1866, E. H. Cushing might help you out.  Cushing published the Tri-Weekly Telegraph in Houston for a little over a decade, while on the side he ran a wholesale stationery business.  Cushing, in this 1866 advertisement, offers Valentine cards sold in lots of $5, $10, or $15.  Before you hop in your time machine, be sure you get the correct form of currency, and remember the following conversions:

Currency in 1866* Equivalent Value in 2015
$5.00 $72.45
$10.00 $144.90
$15.00 $217.35

(*These calculations are based on the Dave Manual 2015 Inflation Calculator, which states $1 in 1866 is equivalent to $14.49 now.)

Unfortunately, E. H. Cushing didn’t specify how many Valentines you’d end up with once you paid $72, $144, or $217, but because his stationery business was wholesale, you’d probably wind up with enough to give to your friends and some left over to sell on EBay as time-travel Valentine cards.  (This would help fund the uranium fuel for your time machine.)

As you’re time traveling, it might behoove you to stop next door to visit Galveston, on February 24, 1857, where you will get to observe the peach trees blooming in the approaching spring warmth after a brutal winter.  Valentine’s Day for this newspaper editor represented a return to clement weather and easier agriculture.  Galveston was booming by 1857, with two weekly and one daily newspaper, and plans for another weekly newspaper, to serve the city.

However you choose to celebrate Valentine’s this year, time time out to research how it’s been celebrated in history!

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happynewyear_0

The Digital Newspaper Team is pleased to say farewell to 2014 and welcome 2015 by wishing all our readers a Happy New Year!

For a great article about New Year’s food traditions, see this issue of the Texas Jewish Post, from September 9, 2010.  To see some fun photographs and read about New Year’s traditions from across the world, take a peek at The Denison Press issue from December 14, 1945.  If you could hop into your time machine, you might want to visit Austin for December 31st, 1852, where the South-Western American announced a concert on New Year’s Eve.  But if you’re going to fire up the old time machine, you couldjoin the Bastrop mule race, which got publicity from as far away as Houston, from The Houston Advertiser, on Decmber 31st, 1856.

Mule races, good food, concerts–however you choose to celebrate, we hope you enjoy a great New Year!

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As the Texas Digital Newspaper Program prepares to celebrate 2.5 million pages on November 6, 2014, we welcome multiple new grant awardees and newspaper titles!

  • The Polk County Enterprise: The county seat, Livingston, Texas, has received a grant to digitize its newspaper, beginning in 1892 and moving up to 1965.  This span of years will represent such famous historic figures from Polk County, including former governor of Texas, William P. Hobby, after whom the Houston Hobby International Airport was named. 
  • The Carl and Mary Welhausen Public Library has received a grant to digitize multiple newspaper titles representing Yoakum, Texas, and DeWitt and Lavaca Counties.  Yoakum is also known as the Leather Capital of Texas and the Hub City of South Texas!
  • The Cleveland Journal & Illustrated Paper Boy emerge from Cleveland, Texas, and are being digitized by the Austin Memorial Library.  Cleveland’s first structure was a church built in 1854, around which later settlement began in the 1870s.  In addition, the Illustrated Paper Boy is one of the more unique titles we’ve run across in Texas newspapers.
  • Refugio, Texas, is the home of the Dennis M. O’Connor Public Library, which has received a grant to digitize many of its county newspaper titles.  Refugio, Texas, is near the coast, and it is the birthplace of famed Texas Rangers pitcher, Nolan Ryan. 
  • The Mercedes New Tribune and the Mercedes Enterprise will be digitized through a grant received by the Dr. Hector P. Garcia Memorial Library.  Located in the Rio Grande Valley, Mercedes is the home town of Tejano music singer Elida Reyna, whose family moved to the community when she was eight years old, and who won the Latin Grammy Award in 2010. 

We wish to thank all of the libraries who have contributed to historical preservation in Texas through their hard work in preserving and making these newspapers accessible to the public via the Texas Digital Newspaper Program.

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This past weekend, I had the very great honor to travel to Paducah, Texas, and meet up with their newspaper publisher, Jimmye Taylor, and the Cottle County librarian, Becky Tucker.  Jimmye contacted me last week, out of the blue, asking if we could digitize her newspaper, The Paducah Post.  She was retiring and would soon have to shut down the office after over 100 years of publication–almost half of which she oversaw–and she knew that her newspapers needed to be preserved somehow.   When I arrived in Paducah, the first thing I planned to do was call Jimmye or Becky.  However, my phone didn’t work.  I stepped into a CPA office on the square, just down the corner from the publishing office and across the street from the library.  The very kind lady who loaned me her cell phone asked, hopeful, “Are you meeting with Jimmye to buy the newspaper?”  The other folks in her office nodded their heads, also optimistic.  Although I was disappointed to answer that no, I was only here to pick the newspapers up to archive and digitize them, I told them that we would do our best at UNT to preserve the community’s history by preserving the newspaper both physically and digitally, and by making it openly, freely available on The Portal to Texas History. We all agreed about the significant role of a newspaper in a community, particularly for a county seat.

Paducah is a town of 1,169 people and is the county seat for Cottle County.  The Paducah Post has represented the community’s history for over a century, depicting both daily life of its citizens and historic events of the county and region. 

Near my desk right now is the 1952 bound volume of issues. As I open up the May 22nd, 1952 issue, I see an announcement about evangelist Fred Ross visiting the town; an accolade about the high school’s newspaper, The West Wind, winning a prominent award; an article about 1952 elections being contested; and multiple entries about cattle, cotton, and the weather.  Although one newspaper issue taken out of context only contains so much information, the entire run of a newspaper, representing daily life of a town, just blows my mind.  Paducah’s population in 2000 was nearly 1500.  As of 2012, it was 1169.  This newspaper illustrates this population decline over the past decade.  Tom Abraham, a 1932 graduate of Texas Tech University, was later a philanthropist and civic leader in Canadian, and he found his first job in Paducah, after graduation.  Mr. Abraham was a prominent figure in Canadian civics, and he is an easily-locatable name on The Portal to Texas History.   William “Bill” Heatley, “The Duke of Paducah,” served in the Texas House of Representatives for 28 years, was born and raised in Cottle County. These people and more will be prominent figures in The Paducah Post, and it is due to the work of Jimmye Taylor and Becky Tucker, as well as other citizens of Paducah, that the newspaper will be preserved and easily searchable.  Because these materials will be available on The Portal to Texas History, the names of the prominent citizens and events fom Paducah’s history will be attached, through faceted navigation, to other primary sources objects on the Portal that discuss these same people and happenings.  

It is people like Jimmye and Becky who teach me about how important it is to save newspapers, and to create long-term access to towns’ histories. I am grateful to be able to do what I do–to work on a team of the wonderful people who build The Portal to Texas History.  I’m equally grateful to all the groups across Texas who recognize how important it is to work together, to collaborate toward building something larger than all of us, in a way that ensures long-term access and long-term preservation.  Thank you to the wonderful folks of Paducah, a beautiful community with a rich history! 

Image information: I took the photograph of the present-day courthouse on May 16, 2014.  The original Cottle County Courthouse photograph is available on the Portal:

[Courthouse and Cottle County Officials]. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth38469/. Accessed May 20, 2014.

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Now that warm weather is finally returning in the Northern hemisphere, we can spring into spring.  Here on the Digital Newspaper Team, we’ve been dusting off papers for upload.  Thanks to partners like University of Texas at San Antonio, Southwestern University, the Old Jail Art Center, and newspaper publishers themselves, new titles you’ll see preserved and freely available in the Texas Digital Newspaper Program include The Greensheet, The Albany News, The Hallettsville RebelThe Megaphoneearly Czech newspaper, Obzor, and The San Antonio Register.  

As we spring forward, we on the Newspaper Team especially enjoy the flowers, butterflies, bunny rabbits, and puns, and newspapers serve as windows to the season for us (since our offices don’t have windows).  We share pictures from collections like the beautiful full-color PDFs from the Canadian Record and witticisms about cleaning your spring–or at least your well if you have no spring–as recommended in the San Marcos Free Press.  Such hand-drawn artwork as that which appears in The Meridian Tribune, depicting springtime and life in the 1930s, gives us a window in time.  

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Yesterday, a person stopped by my office to ask if there are copies of the NT Daily at the Willis Library because she had a homework assignment to study information in newspapers.  She got very excited when I showed her the North Texas Daily/Campus Chat Newspaper Collection, which is freely available on The Portal to Texas History.  As with all newspapers on the Portal, the NT Daily/Campus Chat issues are fully text-searchable, with highlighting of search terms, and can be zoomed in for closer reading, which you can see in action on this December, 7, 1966, issue of The Campus Chat, which discusses the mascot name selection process for Scrappy. 

UNT’s student newspaper was first published on November 1, 1916, under the title The Campus Chat. The first editor-in-chief was Mary Watlington, and Ira S. Bradshaw was the assistant editor-in-chief. The paper was published once per month during semesters. By the late 1940s, the paper was distributed on a semi-weekly basis, on Wednesdays and Fridays. In 1970, the newspaper’s name was changed to The North Texas Daily, which is now printed four days a week in the Fall and Spring while classes are in session, and once a week during the Summer.

The NT Daily has had a long history of winning awards, starting in 1937-38, when The Campus Chat entered a competition sponsored by the Associated Collegiate Press. In that year the paper received the second highest honor rating, First Class. In April of 1940, The Campus Chat was awarded its first All-American rating by the National Scholastic Press Association. The editor of the Chat at that time was Ray Edwards. By the time of the name change to The North Texas Daily, the paper had won 53 All-American ratings and five Pacemaker awards from the Associated Collegiate Press.

All issues of the NT Daily and Campus Chat are freely available for anyone–historians, genealogists, students, or anyone who loves reading newspapers!

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Newspapers provide windows into daily life throughout history.  Digital newspapers allow us to easily track how people celebrated the end of the year, across many years and many miles.

The Denison Press article, “Winter Solstice Period of Many Ancient Rituals,” explains, “The Winter Solstice, when the sun swings toward the earth once more, has been celebrated as a festival of some sort by the various peoples of the earth since, and even prior to, the recording of history.”  In Texas, these rituals range from stately and glamorous to community-building to just plain peculiar.

  • Early Texans celebrated Christmas while living in a warmer climate during the winter months. The November 24, 1838, issue of the Telegraph and Texas Register reveals that Velasco celebrated with daytime horse races that concluded with evening masked balls over a series of five days.
  • Soldiers stationed at Fort Hood mulled over their New Year’s resolutions in the December 21, 1973, issue of the Fort Hood Sentinel.  Quitting smoking seemed to be the most frequent resolution for folks that year.
  • Two decades later, from Houston, the Rice Thresher advertises the “Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa celebration for the Second Annual Holiday Festival,” which would be “celebrated with buffet dinner and dessert, along with photos with Santa.”
  • Children from the town of Canadian, in the Texas Panhandle, eagerly write to Santa with their wishes, one of whom  hopes for “a palm pilot and real beagle puppies” in the December 23, 2004 Canadian Reporter
  • And the University of North Texas’ Holidaily 2007 poses the timeless question: Who would win in a battle of the Santas? Santa Claus or Santa Anna?  (You’ll have to read the comic to find out!)

However you celebrate the end of 2013 and beginning of 2014, the Digital Newspaper Team wishes you joy!

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“The Oldest and Best Read County Seat Weekly in the Panhandle,” the Claude News, is now accessible on The Portal to Texas History.  Through the hard work of the Richard S. and Leah Morris Memorial Library, and through the generous support of the Tocker Foundation, newspapers from Armstrong County’s seat, Claude, are available from across six decades.  Originally named Armstrong City, Claude was founded in 1887 by the Ft. Worth and Denver City Railway, and it was very shortly thereafter renamed for Claude Ayers, the engineer who brought the first train through the town.  With ties to Charles Goodnight and to Hollywood, Claude, Texas, has a big past for such an unassuming community!  Three films, The Sundowners, Hud, and Sunshine Christmas were filmed in Claude.  The Claude News was the weekly newspaper produced when the Claude Argus and the Goodnight News merged at the turn of the 20th-century. 

 

Thanks to The Handbook of Texas for its rich biography of Claude!