Hucksters, Elevator Operators and Itinerant Scandinavian Pastors: A Sampling of Tidbits from the Waco City Directories

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Title page of the 1919-1920 Waco City Directory.

Last week, we unveiled a multimedia project we created wherein we mapped the home addresses of Baylor students from 1913-1914. The info we used to plot those addresses came from the Waco City Directories, an invaluable reference for Waco researchers that includes addresses, phone numbers and other information about early Wacoans.

Today, we’re offering a smorgasbord of fun finds from the directories as a way to entice users into a deeper exploration of this illuminating collection.

Nice Work If You Can Get It: Jobs In The Directories

1907Though we probably don’t give it a second thought anymore, there was a time when “elevator operator” was a viable career option in the United States.

1921-1922_03When people hear the word “huckster,” they tend to think of someone who’s trying to rip them off. In 1919, however, a huckster was a peddler of small items, especially fruits or vegetables.

1904The reasons for the Scandinavian Evangelical Lutheran Church’s unfilled pastorship are unclear, but it indicates a job opportunity for an enterprising Swede with a desire to live in Central Texas.

Ads For Everything and Everyone

Screen Shot 2014-01-16 at 1.57.27 PMEvery business needs a “hook” to differentiate itself from the competition. For Graham-Jarrell’s – “The Woman’s Department Store” – it was the fact that every month, the owners gave a bonus to their employees.

1921-1922This ad for Baylor University comes from the 1921-1922 directory and trumpets a university that had grown tremendously from its founding in Independence, TX in 1845. It ran just a year after the university celebrated its diamond anniversary, an event captured in a photo we blogged about back in 2012.

Screen Shot 2014-01-16 at 1.54.49 PMBased on the text for this ad for Park Lawn Cemetery (located adjacent to Oakwood Cemetery, one of the oldest and largest in the city), the funerary industry has been trading on the ephemeral nature of human life since at least 1919.

1921-1922_04Once a major manufacturing concern – and now an empty field, as we’ll see below – the Mailander company specialized in fixtures for businesses, including showcases and other furniture. Note the profusion of smokestacks depicted in the advertisement; far from being an example of an unsafe environment, it is meant to symbolize Waco as a center for business and industry.

mailander_map copyThe site of the Mailander factory is now an empty city block at 6th St. and Jackson. The railroad line depicted in the ad is still there, however, and the site is just a block West of a major Waco landmark – the silos of the Brazos Valley Cotton Oil Co.

1921-1922_02By 1922, the directory had grown so inclusive it required a full-page list of abbreviations for everything from occupation (undtkr for undertaker) and location (opp for opposite).

What’s In A Name?

To conclude our trip through the directories, I wanted to include some of my favorite names from the 1919 directory, in alphabetical order. And we thought names like BrookLynn were innovative – 2014’s got nothing on 1919!

Rilda Aerl
Euphemia Ashburn
Larkin Barker
Unity Mae Cardwell
Pate Darwin
Lyphus F. Easterwood
Mordis Falkner
Troupe E. Gammage
Sophronia Holliday
Pet Ish
Myrtice Jinright
Floy Kelly
Attalee Lumbley
Cebron Megarity
Orville Oates
Nero Pruitt
Alleyne Quicksall
Elmer Robideaux
Jeptha W. Simpson
Francis Thwing
Alf T. Usher
Joab Vestal
Coma Waldrop
Jahtee Yeager
Hattie Zurfluh

To see the digital copies of the Waco City Directories, visit our Digital Collections homepage. To arrange access to physical copies, or to see more resources related to Baylor and Waco history, contact The Texas Collection.

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