Sharing Culture through Christmas Cards

Text of "Las Posadas" a song traditionally sung during Christmas time in Mexico
The song “Las Posadas” as sung during the processional seeking shelter for Mary and Joseph. Jose (Joseph) first asks for shelter, el Mesonero (the inn-keeper) denies shelter, and the Coro (choir, peregrinos) is finally granted shelter.

This post was written by Sylvia Hernandez, Archivist at The Texas Collection. 

Mexican culture and Catholicism are very much intertwined. I identify in both traditions and attend a church where my culture is highly visible. I remember going as a child during the Christmas season and participating in several traditional events. My family went to Las Posadas, traversing church grounds singing songs and seeking shelter for Mary and Joseph. The Nacimiento (Nativity Scene) was set up and the manger remained empty until Midnight Mass, as Christmas Eve turned to Christmas Day. It was always a joy watching the padrinos (godparents) rock the baby Jesus in his basket down the aisle and gently placing him with Mary and Joseph. As a kid though, I fondly remember receiving a bag with an apple, orange, and a few pieces of candy at the end of mass. A small treat to celebrate the birth of Christ.

I preface this blog with my own story because memories came tumbling back as I processed the Pan American Round Table of Waco scrapbooks. The Pan American Round Table was established in 1916 as part of a larger movement to promote international relations in the western hemisphere. The Waco Chapter was established in 1957 as a local women’s group that met regularly and discussed culture and politics of the twenty-two countries in North, Central, and South America as well as the Caribbean. The scrapbooks document activities of the group from 1957-1995 through newsletters, photographs, yearbooks, correspondence, and photographs.

 

Black card with traditionally clothed Mexican pilgrims singing las posadas in processional. They are carrying candles and a platform holding Mary and Joseph under the stars.
Los peregrinos carry the likeness of Mary and Joseph on processional through Las Posadas. Mary can be seen sitting atop a burro, los peregrinos are carrying candles to light the way, and the uppermost star is exaggerated in appearance to distinguish it from the others.

As I went through the books, the Christmas cards stood out for their visual content. Several of the cards, mostly from Mexico in the 1960s, depict the imagery I grew up with; Mary and Joseph on their journey to Bethlehem, los peregrinos (pilgrims), burros (donkeys), estrellas (stars), velas (candles), and piñatas. I mentioned these images to my coworkers, and they didn’t quite understand why I was so excited. In response, I have prepared the following as my quick interpretation of these images, what they represent, and why they are important from my point of view as a Mexican American Catholic.

Las Posadas/ Los Peregrinos– Las Posadas is a reenactment of the journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem taken by Mary and Joseph. For nine nights prior to Christmas, los peregrinos visit houses, predetermined by the church, singing traditional songs seeking shelter for Mary and Joseph. They are denied over and over until finally, los peregrinos are granted shelter and celebrate with a large party. Members of the church dress up to represent Mary and Joseph, or a platform with their likenesses is carried throughout the journey.

A child in traditional Mexican clothing sits atop a burro (donkey) carrying a gold chest and wearing a gold crown in front of two trees. The image is in the lower left corner of a Christmas card with well wished written in Spanish.
A child in traditional Mexican clothing sitting atop a burro carrying a small gold chest and wearing a gold crown is representative of the three wise men. He sits below the bright, guiding star.

Burros- Mary is often seen riding atop a donkey led by Joseph. It is unclear whether it happened or not but would make her journey easier at nine months of pregnancy. Burros are also seen ridden by others, usually children, as they reenact the journey by the wise men to bestow gifts upon the newborn king.

Estrellas/ Velas- La estrella is a depiction of the guiding star followed by Mary and Joseph as well as the wise men as they sought out Jesus after his birth. It is recognizable amongst other stars as it is often depicted larger and looks more illuminated than the rest. Velas are carried by los peregrinos on their journey also to guide them to shelter and Jesus.

Piñatas– In celebration of finding shelter Las Posadas ends with a party to celebrate the coming of our savior. There is a piñata broken by children in attendance, often in the shape of a star. Again, a guiding light to Christ.

The impact of the images in the scrapbooks provided a reminder of the true reason for the season, but also an opportunity to share and spread knowledge through alternate approaches. Our understanding of Christmas traditions is unique to our upbringing. Faith and culture were equally present in mine, therefore traditional images take the form of religious symbols heralded by those who look like me. They bring about memories if family lost and traditions upheld, a common thread no matter how you celebrate.

 

 

 

TEXAS OVER TIME: The Sanger Brothers Department Store and Christmas Event, 321 Austin Avenue, Waco, TX.

 

By Geoff Hunt, Audio and Visual Curator, The Texas Collection, Baylor University. 

Texas has changed quite a bit over the years, as is readily seen in our vast photograph and postcard collections. To help bring some of those changes to life, we’ve created a “Texas over Time” blog series that will illustrate the construction and renovations of buildings, street scenes, and more. Our collections are especially strong on Waco and Baylor images, but look for some views beyond the Heart of Texas, too.


Waco was once home to Sanger Brother’s Department Store, the city’s largest and most prestigious retail establishment. Outside of the store’s building on 321 Austin Avenue the business hosted Christmas events such as the one held in December 1913, when Santa Clause arrived via a Southern Traction Company railway car accompanied by the Alessandro Band. Santa’s arrival was sponsored by the railway company and Sanger Brothers, bringing in crowds of people numbering in the hundreds. It was a yearly tradition that filled the streets of downtown Waco with citizens trying to catch a glimpse of Jolly Old Saint Nicholas and listen to the band playing Christmas music.  

Waco’s Sanger Brothers Department Sore was founded by Sam Sanger and first opened for business on March 4, 1873. Sanger arrived in the U.S. from Germany in 1866, moving to Cincinnati, where he served as a Rabbi. He was then a teacher in Philadelphia from 1869 to 1872. He then went into the retail industry in 1872, opening a shoe store in New York City. Four of Sanger’s brothers, Isaac, Lehman, Philip, and Alexander, had also emigrated from Germany to the U.S., and were already in Texas when Sam Sanger arrived in the state. Sam Sangers’ brothers had opened dry goods stores in McKinney, Decatur, Weatherford, Bryan, Calvert, Hearne, Kosse, Bremond, Groesbeck, Corsicana, and Dallas, before brother Sam’s arrival. The McKinney store was the first and opened by Isaac Sanger in 1857. Sam Sanger merged the Bryan store to form the one in Waco. Sam Sanger died on December 18, 1919. His son, Asher Sanger, took over the business until 1926, when it was sold to a St. Louis based company. On March 15, 1931, the Waco branch of the Sanger Brother’s Department Store chain went out of business after 58 years. 

Sanger Brothers continued to operate stores in North Texas, and the company remained successful for decades after the Waco store’s closure. In 1961, Sanger Brothers joined with A. Harris and Co., to become Sanger-Harris. Many Sanger-Harris stores were located in shopping malls as anchor stores such as the ones at Valley View Mall in Dallas and Six Flags Mall in Arlington, TX. Sanger-Harris also operated stores in Ft. Worth, Mesquite, Irving, Plano, and Tyler. One former Sanger-Harris building was even modified to serve as the headquarters for the Dallas Area Rapid Transit System (DART). Sanger-Harris merged with Foley’s Department Stores in 1987, and in 2005, the once venerable firm merged with Macy’s


The “Then” in December 1913 photograph shows a Southern Traction Company railway car that has just transported Santa Claus and the Alessandro Band to Waco, from Dallas. The location is outside of the famous Sanger Brothers’ Department Store, once located at 321 Austin Avenue, Waco, TX. Santa Claus came to this store yearly at Christmas time and the event drew hundreds of onlookers. The “Now” image is of the same location in 2020, image by G.H. “Then” image is from: “Gildersleeve : Waco’s Photographer. Waco, Texas: 1845 Books, 2019. Print.”


A similar view to the above but taken in 1914. Santa Claus, accompanied by soldiers, stands in front of the large gathering. The slider or zoom feature shows a close-up of what the crowd came to see. “Then” image is from: “Gildersleeve : Waco’s Photographer. Waco, Texas: 1845 Books, 2019. Print.”

 


The Sanger building once stood at 321 Austin Avenue, as seen in this 1914 Fred Gildersleeve image. It was formerly the McClelland Hotel, and was also home to the Old Corner Drug Store, birthplace of Dr Pepper. Montgomery Ward occupied the building for many years until it moved to Lake Air Mall. The building, having survived the Waco Tornado of 1953, was demolished during Urban Renewal in about 1964. The site is now a parking lot and is also home to the memorial statue for the 1953 Waco Tornado. Image source: Gildersleeve : Waco’s Photographer. Waco, Texas: 1845 Books, 2019. Print.

Works Sourced:

Amanda Sawyer, “Sanger Brothers Department Store,” Waco History, accessed December 10, 2020, https://wacohistory.org/items/show/85.

Anderson, Jennifer. “Sanger Brothers in Dallas,” City of Dallas Office of Historic Preservation, accessed December 10, 2020, https://cityofdallaspreservation.wordpress.com/2018/11/08/sanger-brothers-in-dallas/

Gildersleeve, Fred A., Geoff Hunt, and John S. Wilson. Gildersleeve : Waco’s Photographer . Waco, Texas: 1845 Books, 2019. Print.

“The Story of Sanger Brothers, Pioneer Retail Store of Texas,” The Southwest Jewish Chronicle (Oklahoma City, Ok.), September 1, 1950.

“Sanger-Harris,” The Department Store Museum, http://www.thedepartmentstoremuseum.org/2010/05/sanger-harris-dallas-texas.html

Research Ready: November 2020

The Texas Collection posts newly accessible resources each month. If you have any questions or would like to use these materials, please let us know and we would be happy to assist!

Finding Aids
  • P. B. McKay papers #375
    • The P.B. McKay papers include three transcribed letters that McKay wrote as a soldier in the American Civil War.
  • John D. Dace papers #385
    • The John D. Dace papers contain a single transcribed letter from Dace, describing how he hopes Vicksburg can outlast the siege taking place at the time.
  • Thomas Travis Moore collection #3450
    • The Thomas Travis Moore collection contains letters and military records from Moore’s service in World War II, as well as research and writings from Moore’s great-nephews concerning his service.
  • Alexander Archer Beville papers #2048
    • The Alexander Archer Beville papers contain a 2nd lieutenant’s commission in the Texas militia, receipts, and check stubs from Waco area businesses.
Maps

There are two new additions to the Frances C. Poage map collection: Texas (1835) and Nueva Hispania Tabula Nova (1548). The cartographer for Texas was David H. Burr, who created five editions of this map (1833, 1834, 1835, 1845 and 1846). The 1835 edition show a much larger Texas extending west to the 106th meridian and north to the Arkansas River.

The second map, Nueva Hispania Tabula Nova, is now the oldest in the map collection and is a first edition. California is depicted as a peninsula, and the Yucatán Peninsula is depicted as an island. The Yucatán would be correctly drawn as a peninsula in the 1561 edition. However, cartographers continued to struggle with California, even in later years, as some would depict the territory as an island.

Photograph of map of Texas. Brown background with red line symbolizing border. Border extends panhandle north toward Oregon Country, west toward California, and stops South at the Nueces river. Eastern border edges Louisiana and Arkansas along the Sabine River.
Texas (1835)
Black and white map of Mexico and Southern United States as depicted in 1548. Mexico, Florida, Cuba, and the Baja peninsula are accurately placed while the Yucatan peninsula is drawn as an Island.
Nueva Hispania Tabula Nova (1548)

TEXAS OVER TIME: The Behrens Drug Company, 219 South Fourth Street, Waco, TX.

 

By Geoff Hunt, Audio and Visual Curator, The Texas Collection, Baylor University. 

Texas has changed quite a bit over the years, as is readily seen in our vast photograph and postcard collections. To help bring some of those changes to life, we’ve created a “Texas over Time” blog series that will illustrate the construction and renovations of buildings, street scenes, and more. Our collections are especially strong on Waco and Baylor images, but look for some views beyond the Heart of Texas, too.


Located on 219 South Fourth Street, Waco, Texas, the Behrens Lofts now occupies what was once known as the Behrens Drug Company building. The structure was completed in 1913, and was headquarters for the Behrens Drug Company. Earlier locations for the company were Fourth and Washington (1891-1896) and Third and Mary Streets (1896-1914), Waco. The company was founded by Dr. Herman Behrens. According to the Waco-News Tribune, April 19, 1925, Dr. Behrens was born in Seehide, Germany, on February 20, 1852. He moved to the U.S. as a child with his parents, and came to Paris, Texas, in 1874, to begin work in the drug industry. He came to Waco in 1878, to continue this trade and helped operate a firm called Behrens and Moser. After operating this company for a few years, he returned to Germany but came back to Waco again to help form another drug company called Behrens and Castles. In 1891, The Behrens Drug Company was incorporated. On December 17, 1905, Dr. Behrens died. However, Dr. W.R. Clifton soon became the company’s president and held this position for many years and the company achieved great success despite its founders’ passing.

 As a wholesale company, the firm sold “drugs, beauty products, talking machines, cigars, sundries, soda fountains, store fixtures, and more, to smaller business. Additionally, it even manufactured medicines in-house for a short time in the 1920’s. In the Waco-News Tribune, April 30, 1922, the company ambitiously states: “there is not an article in the drug dictionary which the Behrens Drug Company does not handle.” Another product sold was called Mrs. McCormick’s Beauty Cream, “popularized by the Behrens Drug Company from the hands of its originator, a Waco woman, who years ago sold it from house to house…” In 1925, Behrens Drug Company employed 68 people, and supplied goods across the state. In the 1940’s and 1950’s, Behrens expanded to include locations in both Lubbock and Tyler, Texas. The Clifton family continued the presidency of this company with Albert C. Clifton, and the company’s last president, William Lacy Clifton serving until the Behrens company was bought out by Cardinal Health in 1994. 


The “Then in circa 1920” picture in the image sequence below shows: the Behrens Drug Company building, located at 219 South Fourth Street, Waco, Texas. Photographer, Fred Gildersleeve, General Photo File, The Texas Collection, Baylor University. Same view of building but now Behrens Lofts in 2020 by GH.


Behrens Drug Company building, circa 1920, Photographer, Whayne Farmer, Waco Chamber of Commerce News, July-September 1926, The Texas Collection, Baylor University.

 

The Behrens Drug Company at previous location from 1896-1914, at Third and Mary Streets, Waco. General Photo File, The Texas Collection, Baylor University.

Works Sourced:

“Behrens Drug Company Rounds Out 40 Years of Service in Waco,” The Waco-News Tribune, April 19, 1925.

“Waco Has It,” The Waco-News Tribune, April 30, 1922.

Waco Chamber of Commerce News, July-September 1926, The Texas Collection, Baylor University.

Texas Army Air Fields

November is National Aviation History Month! According to the Government Printing Office, the month is “dedicated to exploring, recognizing and celebrating America’s great contributions and achievements in the development of aviation. Aviation history refers to the history of development of mechanical flight — from the earliest attempts in kites and gliders to powered heavier-than-air, supersonic and space flights.” This post explores the history of Army Air Fields in Texas using items from our holdings.

Written by Rachel DeShong, Map Curator and Coordinator for the Heart of Texas Regional History Fair

On December 8, 1941, the day after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, the United States declared war on Japan. Immediately, the United States government embarked on expanding their military operations as quickly as possible. These efforts included both recruitment and the building of new military installations. Texas offered ideal conditions for military installations as there was plenty of land and relatively warm climate year-around. When World War II ended, there were a total of 65 army air fields[1] in the state of Texas alone.[2] These air fields not only infused the local communities with some much needed income, but also brought in a large influx of young men and women from across the country.

To commemorate their training experiences, air field personnel created souvenir booklets, yearbooks, and postcards. The booklets and yearbooks (called “mug books”) were composed almost entirely of photographs and documented the lives of the cadets rather than the history of the air field. Only a few examples include any historical element, and those that do are very brief. Images depicting physical activity, daily messes, and classrooms were common. The yearbooks shared similar styles with high school yearbooks with elaborate covers and individual photographs of each cadet along with their name, their hometown, and sometimes their aviator call sign. One such yearbook in our collection from the Pampa Army Air Field includes the embossed name of the cadet on the front cover and signatures like those one would find in a typical high school yearbook.

These materials also provide a sneak peek into the cadets’ personal lives. Often included in these books are humorous drawings and captions with inside jokes. Others document the various extracurricular activities that the cadets participated in including sports, listening to music, and reading. Several even include images of their camp mascots which, contrary to what one might expect, tended to be furry, cute, and cuddly. The Amarillo Army Air Field claimed two puppies, a kitten, and a fawn as their post mascots. Other details hint at the romantic lives of the cadets such as the wedding photograph of an unidentified couple from the Blackland Army Air Field or the numerous illustrations referencing the cadets’ perpetual lack of female companionship. Some books also contain a section dedicated to the memory of cadets who died during training. While providing valuable historic insight to training and military installations, these resources help to humanize the pilots and remind us that they were just like us.

One of the post mascots for the Amarillo Army Air Field. Amarillo Army Air Field: a Camera Trip through Amarillo Army Air Field. 1943. Texas UG634.5.A414 A43 1943, The Texas Collection, Baylor University.
A humorous drawing included in the Flight: Class of 44H yearbook from Curtis Field. Flight: Class of 44H. 1944. Texas RBT UG634.5.C87 A155 1944, The Texas Collection, Baylor University.
A page devoted to the different sports in which the cadets participated. A Camera Trip through Ellington Field: a Picture Book of the Field and Its Activities. Circa 1940. Texas UG634.5.E35 C36 1940z, The Texas Collection, Baylor University.
The front cover of the 1944 Pampa Army Air Field yearbook with name of cadet in upper right hand corner.
Gig Sheet: 44 A. 1944. Texas RBT UG634.5.P267 A15 1944, The Texas Collection, Baylor University.

Stained Glass: Not Just for Churches

This blog post was written by Student Assistant Morgan Ballard. Morgan is a Senior Anthropology major in her second year at The Texas Collection. She assisted processing the L. L. Sams Stained Glass Studio records.

Four panel board depicting the hand of Christ in sunshine blessing the world.
Mock-up of the window found at the former Bergstrom Air Force Base Chapel in Austin, Texas

The words “stained glass” typically elicit the image of large, brightly colored, religious depictions in a church or temple sanctuary. However, these religious buildings are not the only places one can find such pieces of immaculate glass work. Stained glass companies have worked on both religious and secular themed glass for many years. A good example of this versatility is the work done by L.L. Sams Stained Glass Studio. The Studio operated as a division of the L. L. Sams Company in Waco, Texas, from 1952 until its closing in 1992. The studio produced many pieces for numerous churches as well as secular and semi-religious places that stained glass might not be expected.

Blue and white image of a rectangular image wrapped in grape vines around a top hat with cane and bowl and spoon.
A sketch of a proposed window for Oliver’s Restaurant in Odessa, Texas.

In the 1960s secular stained glass became more popular in America. During this time, restaurants began commissioning glass signs and decorative pieces which included restaurant names, still life scenes, and other abstract designs. The L. L. Sams collection holds items from two restaurants, Oliver’s in Odessa, Texas, and Mac’s Driveteria in Abilene, Texas. In addition to businesses, there was also a rise in residential stained glass. These windows were very diverse in style and included designs ranging from abstract patterns to heavily detailed scenery. For example, two residential commissions in the L.L. Sams collection are for a, relatively large, nature scene and an abstract design respectively. Although the trend of residential stained glass has declined in recent years you can still find many houses where it was installed in use today. Surprisingly, institutions such as public schools have commissioned pieces. La Vega High School in Bellmead, Texas, is a good example as they have a large window of the school’s pirate mascot that was commissioned in 1984.

Transom designs for a residential installation. Design one is two rectangles with clear glass with yellow roses in the corners. Design two is a tree on top of red rocks with a grey background.
These two images depict transom deigns created for a residential installation.

Some places, although secular in nature, occasionally have religious themes and areas associated with them. Hospitals, specifically in this collection, had the second most commissions behind churches. Most of the pieces were commissioned for the chapel, or another religious area, of the hospital in which they reside. While most of the pieces for these hospitals have religious themes, there are also many abstract pieces made in conjunction with them. A few of the hospitals in the L.L. Sams collection include Coryell Memorial Hospital in Gatesville, Texas, and Graham General Hospital in Graham, Texas. Mausoleums also account for a good portion of commissions to L.L. Sams. For example, Restland Mausoleum in Dallas, Texas, placed many commissions for both religious and abstract pieces. Military bases including Bergstrom Air Force Base, Lackland Air Force Base, and Fort Hood also commissioned pieces. The most impressive of these are from Fort Hood and reside in the main chapel on base. These windows have religious symbols and figures, such as crosses and Jesus, alongside images of soldiers and other military emblems. All these pieces are large and finely detailed, taking up most of each wall they reside on.

 

3 by 3 panel of images depicting military insignia such as propeller wings, a castle, crossed swords, and guns.
The Second Armored Division Commissioned images for the chapel at Fort Hood in Killeen, Texas.

Universities and Colleges have also commissioned stained glass. Baylor University, although a Christian school, has primarily commissioned secular stained glass. The largest collection on campus, and possibly in the world, is in the Armstrong Browning Library with a total of 62 windows. Most of the windows depict poems by Robert and Elizabeth Barrett Browning. Only one window, the “Cleon”, was made by L.L. Sams. This piece is housed in one of the third-floor offices and, unfortunately, is not open to the public. It can, however, be seen via the Armstrong Browning Library website (https://www.baylor.edu/browninglibrary/index.php?id=942971). This window centers around the poem “Cleon” by Robert Browning and depicts the columns of Baylor’s first campus at Independence, Texas, along with state specific imagery such as mockingbirds, yellow roses, and red honeysuckle. L. L. Sams also created pieces for Burleson Hall, Old Main, and Bennett Auditorium. These pieces, which commemorate past Baylor presidents, can be found above the doorways of each building’s exterior doors. These simply patterned windows contain the name of the president it is honoring and the dates which they served at Baylor.

Although L.L. Sams Stained Glass Studio is no more, and in its place stands an apartment complex of the same name, their work still stands in many places. The commissions mentioned above are only a small fraction of the work they completed. Many more concept pieces and documents are housed in The Texas Collection archives.

 

 

Half moon shaped stained glass transom window depicting the years served of Baylor President Rufus C. Burleson that can be found in Bennett Auditorium.
Transom Window above the door in Bennet Auditorium at Baylor University. Other windows of early university presidents can be found in Burleson Hall and Old Main.

 

“History of Stained Glass.” The Stained Glass Association of America. Accessed October 08, 2020. https://stainedglass.org/resources/history-of-stained-glass/.

Research Ready: October 2020

The Texas Collection posts newly accessible resources each month. If you have any questions or would like to use these materials, please let us know and we would be happy to assist!

Finding Aids
  • Sandra Hancock Trenwith Martin papers #591
    • The Sandra Trenwith Hancock Martin papers consist of letters from her time as a student at Baylor University and a memoir Rape in the Prayer Room.
  • Texas Civil War Centennial Commission records #1006
    • The Texas Civil War Centennial Commission records contain correspondence, reports, and agendas produced by the Commission in preparation for the 1961-1965 commemoration of the Civil War. Also included is a copy of the joint resolution passed by the U.S. Congress establishing the Commission.
  • Alvah A. Torrance papers #3085
    • The Alvah Allen Torrance papers highlight his work with the Amicable Life Insurance Company and its merger with American Life Insurance Company. Travel notebooks, correspondence, photographs, and several publications are included. Also included are slides of his work as an amateur photographer.
  • Harris County Club for United Southern Action letter #1714
    • The Harris County Club for United Southern Action collection contains a letter from J.H.H. Woodward to George Whiting describing the formation and intentions of the Harris County Club for United Southern Action and expressing strong anti-secession sentiment.
  • Pauline Breustedt collection #1832
    • The Pauline Breustedt collection documents the life and travels of a Waco resident from 1917 to 1969. Items of interest include scrapbooks, post cards, news clippings, and photographs of her personal interests, acting career, and travels.
  • Joseph Sheppard Barnett, Jr. papers #499
    • The Joseph Sheppard Barnett, Jr., papers contain letters, documents, and publications that relate to Barnett’s time in the armed forces during World War I and World War II, including many military documents from his time overseeing training at Camp Howze, Texas.
  • [Waco] Jefferson-Moore High School Parent Teacher Association records #2876
    • The [Waco] Jefferson-Moore High School Parent Teacher Association records document the involvement of the organization and outline their purpose, goals, and projects in relation to the school. Meeting minutes, including officers, programs, and financial reports, can be found in addition to newsletters and student directories.
maps

Two new additions to the map collection are Phelps & Watson’s Historical and Military Map of the Border and Southern States (1863) and J.H. Colton’s Map of the Southern States (1864). Produced during the American Civil War, these maps offer a unique perspective because they focus explicitly on the geography of the Confederacy. Phelps & Watson’s Historical and Military Map of the Border and Southern States includes a booklet that provides detailed information on 100 battle. On the map itself, markings are used to indicate battle sites. Two of these, Galveston and Sabine City, are located in Texas.

TEXAS OVER TIME: The Texas Telephone Company Exchange Building, 119 North 9th Street, Waco, Tx.


By Geoff Hunt, Audio and Visual Curator, The Texas Collection, Baylor University. 

Texas has changed quite a bit over the years, as is readily seen in our vast photograph and postcard collections. To help bring some of those changes to life, we’ve created a “Texas over Time” blog series that will illustrate the construction and renovations of buildings, street scenes, and more. Our collections are especially strong on Waco and Baylor images, but look for some views beyond the Heart of Texas, too.


Located on 119 North 9th Street, Waco, Texas, is the old Texas Telephone Company Exchange Building. It was completed in 1916, and was headquarters for the Texas Telephone Company through 1927. The company was incorporated on September 24, 1914, and its president was J.B. Earle. It was an independent, Waco based entity that began after merging with five smaller telephone systems located across Central (Lorena, Mart, McGregor, Moody, Waco, and West), South, and East Texas. Some of the companies the T.T.C. merged with include the Brazos Valley Telegraph and Telephone Co., and the South Texas Telephone Company. The 1914 merger proved to be very successful, and resulted in the Texas Telephone Company serving 34 towns in Texas, spreading north to the Oklahoma border, and south to the Gulf. According to the Waco Chamber of Commerce News, January 1920, the Texas Telephone Company “has an investment of 5 million dollars ($64.9 million in 2020) in telephone properties in Waco and a number of other cities and towns in Central Texas, is managed by Waco men; and many of its stockholders and bondholders are citizens of Waco and Central Texas, and it occupies, as its general offices in Waco, one of the most modern telephone exchange buildings of the size in the country.”

The construction of Waco’s Texas Telephone Company Exchange Building at North 9th Street grew out of a 1916 merger when this company bought out the Southwestern Telegraph and Telephone Company of Waco. This consolidated Waco’s two telephone systems and more space was needed for them to operate. In regards to the recent construction of the building, the Waco Chamber of Commerce News, January 1920, reported: “The company at that time erected a very complete and modern telephone building, installing new equipment throughout, and practically rebuilding the entire plant [telephone system] in this city.” Further, by 1920, the Texas Telephone Company employed approximately 700 people, including those in Waco, and beyond. However, even with such a successful start, the local company would soon merge with an even bigger telephone entity. The Waco-based Texas Telephone Company was bought out on December 31, 1927, by Southwestern Bell Telephone Company. The North 9th Street building was then used by Bell until a larger one was constructed in 1948, and located next door on 824 Washington Avenue. Today, the old T.T.C. building and the Southwestern Bell building are both used by the McLennan County Archives for their operations and records storage.


The “Then in 1916” picture in the image sequence below shows: the Texas Telephone Company Exchange Building, located at 119 North 9th Street, Waco, Texas. Photographer, unknown, Waco Chamber of Commerce News, January 1920, The Texas Collection, Baylor University. Same view in 2020 by GH.


The “Then in 1916” picture in the image sequence below shows: the Texas Telephone Company Exchange Building, located at 119 North 9th Street, Waco, Texas. Photographer, E.C. Blomeyer, E.C. Blomeyer Photographic collection #3886, tx-phoarch-blomeyer_3886-wctsa-758.2.tif, The Texas Collection, Baylor University. Same view in 2020 by GH.


The “Then in 1916” picture in the image sequence below shows: Moving into The Texas Telephone Company headquarters, located at 119 North 9th Street, Waco, Texas. Photographer, E.C. Blomeyer, E.C. Blomeyer Photographic collection #3886, tx-phoarch-blomeyer_3886-wctsa-497.2.tif, The Texas Collection, Baylor University. Same view in 2020 by GH.


 

The Texas Telephone Company Building, located at 119 North 9th Street, Waco, Texas. This image was taken from the roof-top of the structure which had a rest area for employees. The Amicable (Alico) Building is seen in the distance. Photographer, E.C. Blomeyer, E.C. Blomeyer Photographic collection #3886, tx-phoarch-blomeyer_3886-wctsa-785.1.tif, The Texas Collection, Baylor University.

 

The Texas Telephone Company Building, located at 119 North 9th Street, Waco, Texas. This image was taken from the roof-top of the structure which had a rest area for employees. Photographer, E.C. Blomeyer, E.C. Blomeyer Photographic collection #3886, tx-phoarch-blomeyer_3886-wctsa-796.1.tif, The Texas Collection, Baylor University.

 

From humble beginnings: The Texas Telephone Company merged with the Brazos Valley Telephone and Telegraph Company in the 1910s. Shown is one of their buildings in nearby Oglesby, Texas. This picture is dated August 8, 1917. Photographer, E.C. Blomeyer, E.C. Blomeyer Photographic collection #3886, tx-phoarch-blomeyer_3886-wctsa-756.2.tif., The Texas Collection, Baylor University.

 

Works Sourced:

E.C. Blomeyer Photographic collection #3886, The Texas Collection, Baylor University.

“Texas Telephone Co., Waco, Texas.” “Standard Corporation Service, Daily Revised” (May 1-December 31, 1914): 260. Accessed September 28, 2020.

“Waco Chamber of Commerce News.,” January 1920, Volume 1 Number 9, The Texas Collection, Baylor University.

United States Department of the Interior National Park Service. National Register of Historic Places RegistrationWaco Downtown Historic District. Available at: https://www.thc.texas.gov/public/upload/preserve/survey/highway/Waco%20Downtown%20Historic%20District%20Waco.pdf

 

Research Ready: September 2020

The Texas Collection posts newly accessible resources each month. If you have any questions or would like to use these materials, please let us know and we would be happy to assist!

Finding Aids
  • Alice Owens Caufield papers #3567
    • The Alice Owens Caufield papers contain the personal papers of Caufield, including speeches, research, and programs from African-American church and civic events primarily held in Waco, Texas.
  • First Street Cemetery Memorial Advisory Committee records #570
    • The First Street Cemetery Memorial Advisory Committee records contain the working files of the First Street Cemetery Memorial Advisory Committee, a committee to support the work of the City of Waco, Texas Historical Commission, and other groups in their work on the First Street Cemetery of Waco, Texas.
  • Sons of the Southern Confederacy: Joseph H. Jenkins Chapter records #348
    • The Sons of the Southern Confederacy: Joseph H. Jenkins Chapter records contain a program from a 1902 veterans memorial service in McGregor, Texas, a photograph of a descendant of a veteran, and some poetry about the veterans.
  • Franklin Harrold Bulmahn papers #3386
    • The Franklin Harrold Bulmahn papers contain the materials of Waco resident Franklin Harrold Bulmahn, mainly documenting his service in the United States Navy during World War II.
  • Woman’s Club of Waco records #225
    • The [Waco] Woman’s Club records contain administrative records and meeting minutes of the organization from 1897–1949, as well as yearbooks and scrapbooks from 1907–1974. Also included are materials related to the Waco Federation of Clubs, and various related organizations.

Exploring the Original Fundraising Campaign for Tidwell Bible Building

As the sounds of jackhammers echo throughout campus, it is difficult to ignore the ongoing renovation of the Tidwell Bible Building. On April 25, 2019, Baylor University announced a $15 million dollar gift from the Sunderland Foundation of Overland Park, Kansas dedicated to the Tidwell restoration fund.[1] Less than a year later, the Baylor Board of Regents approved a total budget cost of $21.2 million for the project.[2] The work began this summer and is projected to be completed in 2022.

Under construction from 1953 to 1954, the Tidwell Bible Building was named after the esteemed Dr. Josiah Blake Tidwell (1870–1946), former head of the Baylor Bible department, which later become the Department of Religion. Initially conceived in 1936 by former students of Dr. Tidwell, the building was a permanent homage to him as well as a physical representation of the significance of the Bible. Originally designed as a ten-story building with a “wall of light”, a more modest six-story building was ultimately built. The history of the building, what could have been, and what was, is a story often told. But how does one pay for a structure such as Tidwell? Therein lies an interesting tale…

The short answer is churches. According to a Certificate of Payment to Leslie Crocket Construction Co., the cost to physically build Tidwell was $590,000.[3] (Considering inflation, that is an estimated $5,682,884 in today’s money.) Looking at the records of the Tidwell Bible Building Campaign Committee, it becomes very clear that Baptist churches throughout the state were major contributors to the building fund. Appealing to districts defined by the Baptist General Convention of Texas, churches of all sizes were solicited. For example, in 1944,  First Baptist-Elm Mott donated $75, while Columbus Avenue Baptist Church donated $2,112.14 between 1944 and 1946 including amounts as low as $2.05.[4] In spite of the Great Depression and World War II, by January 31, 1947, a total of $121,988.70 was raised.[5] This amount, however, would not be enough.

In 1947, in an effort to raise the necessary funds, the Tidwell Bible Building Committee, in collaboration with the Baptist General Convention of Texas, approved a large-scale fundraising campaign. Setting an ambitious goal of $500,000, the committee “felt that the individual person approach was the best approach” to achieve said goal.[6] Again, using the BGCT districts, the campaign focused mainly on churches and their membership. The Executive Committee minutes from their February 4, 1947 described the concerted effort thus:

“A plan whereby a solicitor from each church would contact members of his church, and ask them to fill out a pledge card, and select the plan of giving to the Bible Building Campaign Fund. These pledge cards would be sent to the churches all over the state and would be followed up by public appeals in sermons, and then presented to the members by a committee of solicitors.”[7]

To oversee the fundraising campaign, Brother O.D. Martin from District 3 was employed full-time. [8] Setting monetary goals for each district to raise, he reported that “$515,000 worth of goals has been accepted by districts, churches, and association over the state.”[9] The ledgers from 1947 and 1948 reveal churches from all over the state donating various amounts. First Baptist-El Paso donated $10 on September 9, 1947, while First Baptist-Amarillo donated over $3,000 between 1947 to 1949 usually in $100 payments.[10] The concentrated effort paid off and by September 30, 1951, the building fund raised $628,665.02 (a little over $6 million in today’s money).[11] Of course, not all donations came from churches. There were a significant number of individual donors in addition to Baylor University agreeing to contribute $100,000. However, it is undeniable that Baptist churches across Texas played an important role in making Tidwell Bible Building a reality.

A love offering envelope provided to churches. BU Records: Tidwell Bible Building Campaign Committee, Accession #BU/169, Box 1, Folder 6, The Texas Collection, Baylor University.
A Tidwell Bible Building pledge card. BU Records: Tidwell Bible Building Campaign Committee, Accession #BU/169, Box 1, Folder 6, The Texas Collection, Baylor University.
The cover of a pamphlet to support funding the Tidwell Bible Building. The illustration depicts the elaborate “wall of light” that never was built. BU Records: Tidwell Bible Building Campaign Committee, Accession #BU/169, Box 1, Folder 6, The Texas Collection, Baylor University.

[1] “Baylor Announces $15 Million Gift from The Sunderland Foundation for Tidwell Restoration,” Media and Public Relations | Baylor University, April 25, 2019, accessed August 27, 2020, https://www.baylor.edu/mediacommunications/news.php?action=story&story=209144.

[2]“Baylor Regents Celebrate Groundbreaking of the Mark and Paula Hurd Welcome Center, Approve Final Phase of $21.2 Million Renovation of Tidwell Bible Building,” Media and Public Relations | Baylor University, February 24, 2020, accessed August 27, 2020, https://www.baylor.edu/mediacommunications/news.php?action=story&story=217369.

[3] BU Records: Tidwell Bible Building Campaign Committee, Accession #BU/169, Box 2, Folder 22, The Texas Collection, Baylor University.

[4] Ibid., Box 1, Folder 10.

[5] Ibid., Box 1, Folder 1.

[6] Ibid., Box 1, Folder 3.

[7] Ibid., Box 1, Folder 2.

[8] Ibid., Box 1, Folder 1.

[9] Ibid.

[10] Ibid., Box 1 Folder 18.

[11] Ibid., Box 2, Folder 2