Research Ready: July-August 2021

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
  • Jack Hamm Illustration collection #155
    • The Jack Hamm Illustration collection includes original drawings, art prints, and newspaper clippings of Hamm’s work in cartoons and religious illustrations.
  • [Waco] Clifton Manufacturing Company records #1830
    • The [Waco] Clifton Manufacturing Company records document the company located in Waco, Texas. Legal documents, clippings, correspondence, newsletters, organizational charts and reports, credit memos, photographs, and printing plates are present.

      Example of a weekly illustration created by Jack Hamm and distributed by Religious Drawings, Inc. to numerous Christian organizations. The Illustration is dated October 1955.
black and white image of Robert Preston Taylor in military chaplains uniform
Chaplain Robert Preston Taylor
  • Robert Preston Taylor papers #3597
    • The Robert Preston Taylor papers primarily document the military career of the chaplain after his service in World War II. The collection includes military records, sermons, photographs, books, correspondence, and audio recordings. Items from his career at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and post retirement are also included.
  • Speight-McKenney Family collection #10
    • The Speight-McKenney Family papers contains correspondence, calling cards, photographs, poems, songs, and an herbarium. The collection was primarily created by Florence Speight, daughter of prominent early Waco citizen Joseph Speight.
  • Horace Clark papers #530
    • The Horace Clark papers contain materials documenting the life of Horace Clark, principal of the Baylor Female Department and Baylor Female College in Independence, Texas.
  • BU Records: 56th Evacuation Hospital # BU/94
    • BU Records: 56th Evacuation Hospital consists of a certificate of appreciation, a letter, and copied newspaper clippings related to the achievements of the 56th Evacuation Hospital.
  • BU Records: Baylor-Waco Foundation #BU/43
    • BU Records: Baylor-Waco Foundation contains a variety of materials related to the fundraising efforts of the Foundation in order to benefit Baylor University and the City of Waco.
  • BU Records: Discussion Board #BU/404
    • BU Records: contains message board posts discussing a wide variety of topics related to Baylor and its administration, with a focus on President Robert Sloan’s administration and the Baylor 2012 initiative.

Spotlighting Historic Black-Owned Businesses in Waco

This article was written by B.J. Thome, a graduate assistant at The Texas Collection pursuing his PhD in English.

In celebration of National Black Business Month this August, The Texas Collection is spotlighting a few historic Black-owned businesses in Waco and the accomplishments of their owners.

M. Sublett and Son
Photograph of L. M. Sublett and Son Groceries circa 1928. As the caption in the image indicates, the business’s proprietors can be seen standing on the store’s porch. Source: Hall, Ida Legett. History of the Negro in Waco Texas : Sociology 232, Spring 1928 . Waco, Texas: Ida Legett Hall, 1928, p. 16 1/2.

One of the first Black-owned businesses in Waco was L. M. Sublett and Son Grocery Store. The store operated during the early twentieth century, becoming one of the largest and most successful Black-owned businesses in Waco, on par with any other grocery store in Waco at the time. Sublett’s business focus wasn’t limited to just the grocery store, however; he also owned a couple farms and several houses that he rented out. By 1928, Sublett’s monthly income from his business endeavors was estimated at approximately $2,000.00 per month (roughly $31,000 per month when adjusted for inflation). Sublett’s endeavors weren’t limited merely to the business sphere. He was also politically active. In particular, he fought for voting rights for his fellow Black men and women. In the early twentieth century, one form of voter suppression was restricting primary elections to white voters only. In 1923, Sublett, among others, successfully sought and received an injunction from Judge Irvin Clark to prevent the Democratic party from excluding Black voters from the city’s primary elections.

Mecca Drug Store
Copy of an advertisement for the Mecca Drug Store. Although it isn’t dated, the identification of E. E. Clemmons as the store’s proprietor indicates that the ad is later than 1921. Source: Radford, Garry H., Sr. African-American Heritage in Waco Texas: Life Stories of Those Who Believed They Could Overcome Impediments. Austin, Texas: Eakin Press, 2000, p. 133.

Another prominent early twentieth-century Black-owned business was the Mecca Drug Store, located in the Fridia Building in downtown Waco. The drug store was originally opened by Dr. J. Walter Fridia, who first started practicing medicine in Waco in 1898. Shortly thereafter, Dr. Fridia purchased a three-story building on the corner of Bridge and Second Streets, opening the Mecca Drug Store on the first floor and providing space for physician and dental offices on the second floor and space for other business offices on the third floor. Around 1912, E. E. Clemmons, who had earned a pharmaceutical degree from the University of Michigan, came to work for Dr. Fridia as a druggist. In 1921, Clemmons bought the store from Dr. Fridia and continued to operate it for several decades afterwards. Clemmons even weathered the 1953 Tornado which devastated downtown Waco and severely damaged the Fridia Building. Clemmons rebuilt and reopened the store after the storm, continuing to operate it until 1968.

Photograph of the Fridia Building circa 1928. The Fridia Building is the white three-story building in the center of the photo. The Mecca Drug Store, owned by E. E. Clemmons by this point, was located on the ground floor of this building. Source: Hall, Ida Legett. History of the Negro in Waco Texas : Sociology 232, Spring 1928 . Waco, Texas: Ida Legett Hall, 1928, p. 16 ½.
In 1953, a Tornado devastated downtown Waco. Although most records of the event prioritize the impact on the main downtown area, the tornado also damaged black-owned businesses and buildings. This photograph comes from an unrelated collection and, at least until now, was not identified as the black-owned Fridia Building. Source: Wilton Lanning papers, Accession #4039, Box #9, Folder #26, The Texas Collection, Baylor University.
Dr. Garry Radford, Sr./East Side Cab Company
The Connor Willis Building was the location of Dr. Garry Radford, Sr.’s dental practice and, like the Fridia Building, was significantly damaged by the tornado. This photograph also comes from an unrelated collection and, at least until now, was not identified as the black-owned Connor Willis Building. Source: Wilton Lanning papers, Accession #4039, Box #9, Folder #26, The Texas Collection, Baylor University.

Another prominent Black business owner in mid-twentieth century was Dr. Garry Radford, Sr. In 1944, Dr. Radford moved to Waco and set up his own dental practice in the Conner Building, another Black-owned building in downtown Waco housing several Black-owned businesses and offices. Eventually, his practice expanded to have sixteen employees and gathered enough income to be listed by Dunn & Bradstreet. Like other prominent Black doctors/businessmen, Dr. Raford didn’t restrict himself to just his dental practice. He also invested in other Black-owned businesses, including the East Side Cab Company. The East Side Cab Company was originally organized by Johnnie Boy Holland in 1945. In 1946, Holland, along with J. D. Fikes, bought the Bridge Street Cab Company from Herbert Walker and merged it with the East Side Cab Company. (There were several Black-owned taxi companies in Waco at the time, responding to the demand for taxis that would carry Black passengers since companies like Yellow Cab refused to offer service to non-white customers.) In 1949, Dr. Radford bought half interest in the East Side Cab Company and even purchased several new cars for the company. As a result of the 1953 Tornado, however, the East Side Cab Company’s office and fleet were severely damaged, prompting Radford close down the company and refocus his efforts on community service and politics.

Like Sublett, Radford was actively involved in politics. In fact, in 1966, he decided to run for his district’s seat on the Waco City Council. At first, his chances of winning appeared slim. In fact, the radio announcers initially proclaimed his opponent, Les Tooker, to be the winner of the election. They even went as far as conducting an interview with Tooker, a white man, regarding his plans for his presumed tenure in office. After all, Tooker was ahead by three hundred votes with only a single box of votes remaining to be counted. However, that single remaining box of votes was Box 10C—the box from Radford’s home district where Radford himself went to vote. When the votes from that final box were counted, 455 votes had been cast for Radford and only 2 votes had been cast for Tooker. Despite the radio’s premature announcement of Tooker’s victory, Dr. Radford actually won the election by a margin of only 146 votes, becoming the first Black man elected to a public office in Waco’s history.


Garry Hamilton Radford papers, Accession #2221, Box #1, Folders #2-3, The Texas Collection, Baylor University.

Hall, Ida Legett. History of the Negro in Waco Texas : Sociology 232, Spring 1928. Waco, Texas: Ida Legett Hall, 1928.

Radford, Garry H., Sr. African-American Heritage in Waco Texas: Life Stories of Those Who Believed They Could Overcome Impediments. Austin, Texas: Eakin Press, 2000.

Hunter, Selese. “A Study of Negroes Engaged in the Professions and Business Activities of Waco, Texas.” Waco, Texas: Baylor University, 1927.

Wilton Lanning papers, Accession #4039, Box #9, Folder #26, The Texas Collection, Baylor University.

Transcontinental Possibilities: The Pacific Railroad Surveys Through Texas

This post was written and the images curated by Rachel DeShong, Map Curator at The Texas Collection

The first transcontinental railroad in the United States, connecting the east coast to the west, was completed on May 10, 1869 when the “Golden Spike” was hammered into place at Promontory Summit, Utah. Constructed over an arduous six-year period, the railroad was actually a decades-long process. As early as the 1830s, discussion concerning the need for a transcontinental railroad, referred to as the Pacific Railroad, raged on. As more interest developed in the 1840s, the issue was debated by Congress several times with few results.

Congress finally approved the Pacific Railroad surveys in 1853, authorizing four east-to-west surveys (between the 47th and 49th parallel, between the 37th and the 39th parallel, the 35thparallel, and the 32nd parallel) to be conducted from the Mississippi River to the Pacific coast. Additional surveys were also completed along the Pacific coast from San Diego to Seattle. The goal was to survey several different paths to determine the most appropriate and cost-effective route. The surveys were under the purview of the Secretary of War, Jefferson Davis, and were initially set to conclude in 1854. However, as one might expect, the process took over three years to complete. The idea of a Pacific Railroad became so firmly rooted in the American psyche that both the Democratic Party and the newly formed Republican Party included it in their presidential platforms for the 1856 and 1860 elections.

What is interesting to note is that two of these routes, the 32nd and the 35th parallels, ran through Texas. Although authorized to begin at the Mississippi River, the surveys actually began at the western borders of Iowa, Missouri, and Arkansas. The 35th parallel route began in Fort Smith, Arkansas and crossed the Texas panhandle into New Mexico and Arizona to end in San Pedro (now Los Angeles). It was roughly estimated to traverse 2,100 miles and cost $99 million (in 1850s money).

The 32nd parallel route was the southernmost proposed route and began on the Red River in Fulton, Arkansas. The route bisected Texas, connected to El Paso, and passed into New Mexico and Arizona, ending in San Diego. It was estimated to be less than 1,700 miles and cost approximately $72 million. This route was the most popular for a variety of reasons:

  • Jefferson Davis was a Southerner and naturally favored a southern route.
  • It was the shortest length and the lowest cost of all the possible routes.
  • The route would have encountered lower elevations and better weather.
  • The route passed through states and territories that had already been organized.

The primary downside to this route, which was addressed before the survey was even completed, was that a portion of the route passed through Mexican territory. To remedy this, the Gadsden Purchase was finalized on June 8, 1854. In exchange for $10 million, Mexico sold the United States 29,670 square miles south of the Gila River in present-day Arizona.

Despite the popularity of the proposed Pacific Railroad, the upcoming Civil War (1861-1865) stalled any decision-making. Once Confederate states seceded in 1861, the opposition to a central route was moot and the idea of a southern route was dismissed. Ultimately, a central route along the 42nd parallel, starting in Council Bluff, Iowa, (far enough away from the fighting) was approved.

Although the first American transcontinental railroad did not go through Texas, the routes surveyed had been viable options, as evidenced by future transcontinental railroads built along them. The Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe was constructed along the 35th parallel, and the Texas and Pacific and Southern Pacific railroads were built along the 32nd parallel.


Galloway, John Debo. First Transcontinental Railroad: Central Pacific, Union Pacific.
Westport, Conn: Greenwood, 1983.

“Pacific Railroad Surveys.” The First Transcontinental Railroad – Spotlight at Stanford. April 03, 2019. Accessed May 19, 2021.

Stover, John F. Iron Road to the West: American Railroads in the 1850s. New York: Columbia University Press, 1978.

“The Transcontinental Railroad: History of Railroads and Maps: Articles and Essays: Railroad Maps, 1828-1900: Digital Collections: Library of Congress.” The Library of Congress. Accessed May 19, 2021.

Transcontinental Railroad Map 1

Explorations and surveys for a rail road route from the Missisippi River to the Pacific Ocean. Map no. 1: Route near the 35th parallel from Fort Smith to the Rio Grande. 1853-4. Cubby 58, The Texas Collection, Baylor University.

Transcontinental Railroad Map 2

Explorations and surveys for a rail road route from the Mississippi River to the Pacific Ocean route near the 35th parallel: Map no. 2: from the Rio Grande to the Pacific Ocean. 1853-4. Cubby 58, The Texas Collection, Baylor University.

Research Ready: May-June 2021

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!

  • Linguistic Families of American Indians North of Mexico

    Linguistic Families of American Indians North of Mexico, circa 1910

    • This map illustrates 58 areas, grouped by native languages as well as a small inset of northeastern Siberia and the Aleutian Islands. Originally published in 1891 in John Wesley Powell’s Indian Linguistic Families of North America, this specific map was republished in Bulletin 30 of the Bureau of American Ethnology’s Handbook of American Indians North of Mexico. John Wesley Powell (1834-1902) was the first director of the Smithsonian Bureau of Ethnology.


Scheeps-Togt door Ferdinand Magellaan uit Kastilien gedaan na R. de la Plata en van daar door zyn Ontdekte Straat tot aan de Moluccas
    • Although it was created roughly 185 years later, this map illustrates the voyage of Ferdinand Magellan (1480-1521), who commanded the expedition which completed the first recorded circumnavigation of the world. Magellan died in the Philippines and the map clearly displays the end of his route. Ultimately, the expedition was completed by Juan Sebastián Elcano (c.1486-1526), but this is not included on the map. The map was included as an illustration for the Dutch translation of Diego Lopez de Sequeira’s (1485-1530) travel accounts.





Palacios City, Matagorda County, Texas
    • Map of the Colonization Grants to Zavala, Vehlein & Burnet in Texas, belonging to the Galveston Bay & Texas Land County

      The map shows the original town plan and subdivision of Palacios City as divided by the Palacios Townsite Company. The town was ultimately incorporated in 1909 and currently claims to be the “Shrimp Capital of Texas.”




Finding Aids


  • Laura Wise Maverick papers #663
    • The Laura Wise Maverick papers contain one scrapbook, a diary, and a travel journal documenting the singer’s personal and professional life. Contained in the materials are programs from performances, playbills, announcements, news clippings, photographs, and personal documents belonging to Laura Wise Maverick.



  • David Crockett Burleson papers #2875
    • The David Crockett Burleson papers contain two certificates, one a commission as a 2nd lieutenant in the Confederate army, and the other certifying an increase in his pension fund.
  • Albert Triplett Burnley papers #556
    • The Albert Triplett Burnley papers contain journals pertaining to land and business ventures in the early years of the Republic of Texas.
  • [Waco] Sanger Heights Neighborhood Term Paper and Research collection #2925
    • The [Waco] Sanger Heights Neighborhood Term Paper and Research collection tells the history of the Waco neighborhood through written and oral materials collected by Dr. Allan Robb during his English 1304 course taught at Baylor University. Items include term papers, oral interviews, tax records, floor plans, photographs, maps, and copies of other historical documents.
  • Southwestern Council of Latin American Studies records #742
    • The Southwestern Council of Latin American Studies records document creation and early operations of the organization. Records include minutes, by-laws, financial reports, conference programs and planning documents, correspondence, and selected conference papers.

Breaking Down the “Women’s Sphere”: The Origins of the American Association of University Women at Baylor University

This blog post was written by second-year Student Assistant Brigid Splaine. Brigid recently completed her Junior year as a Political Science Major, with a Minor in History. 

Written appeal by the Fort Worth Chapter of AAUW to Baylor University President, Samuel Palmer Brooks. AAUW Fort Worth wrote to encourage the president to participate in the accreditation of the university by the organization. [American Association of University Women, Waco Branch Records, Accession #232. Box 9, Folder 5]
Since it was first chartered in 1845, Baylor University has included women in its mission of providing higher education, marking it as one of the “first coeducational colleges or universities west of the Mississippi” (5). It would not be for another ten years until coeducational learning would be introduced into any other public university which by then Baylor already had their first female graduate, Mary Gentry Kavanaugh (5). Yet despite providing female students with ample access to attend the university and obtain a degree, inequality between the female and male students was as present as ever. While women were able to seek enrollment at the university, “their experiences were rarely equal to men’s once on campus” (6). Women at this time were seen by society as being “physically unequal to men” perpetuating “the unequal treatment of women on campus” (6). These societal pressures limited female students at Baylor to the “women’s sphere,” only allowing women access to certain majors and student organizations (6).

Despite these ongoing inequality issues, Baylor was able to effectively address them with the help of the American Association of University Women (AAUW). Established in Boston, Massachusetts in 1882 as the American Association of Collegiate Alumnae (AACA), this group focused on inequality issues by developing higher educational opportunities for women while also setting high standards for institutions serving women. In 1921, the AACA merged with another group, the Southern Association of College Women, to form the AAUW we can still see working today. The AAUW began its involvement at Baylor in 1923, when it recognized the university as being one of the few in the state of Texas to be placed on this accredited list (1). The AAUW would accredit higher education institutions after they displayed that a fixed set of standards had been met by the university, such as providing the “same pay for the same work as men” and calling for a dean of women to be created that would have “an equal rank with that of the dean of men” (1).

Ms. Edna E. McDaniel arrived in Waco in the fall of 1924 to serve in the newly created role as Dean of Women at Baylor University (2). Previously serving at the University of Texas in the same role, Ms. McDaniel was influential in helping Baylor obtain admission into the American Association of University Women as well as improving the lives of female students at the university. After her arrival in the fall of 1924, the new Dean of Women helped Baylor achieve the standard for accreditation and earned “admission into the AAUW” (2). McDaniel “advocated strongly for the vocational opportunities” for female students on campus, wanting Baylor women to be “well rounded and seek out vocations they were passionate about” (4).  Dean McDaniel helped break down the barriers of the “women’s sphere” on campus by encouraging women to pursue careers outside of the socially acceptable teaching degree. She states that it was “a pity that there are so many women with various talents who are all trying to be schoolteachers when they finish their college career” and while she saw the teaching professions as a noble line of work, she believed “there are a large number of other fields in which some women would be far more successful than they would be in teaching” (3). When Dean McDaniel resigned from her position at Baylor in the Spring of 1926 to “accept a position with the University of Oklahoma as dean of women” her impact was profoundly felt across the Baylor campus for years to come (2). From 1921 to 1930, the percentage of women enrolled at Baylor increased 5%, no doubt because of the improved conditions for female students cultivated by the work of Dean McDaniel and the American Association of University Women (6).

The AAUW chartered its Waco branch in 1926. The Waco Branch continued to carry out the AAUW’s mission of promoting education and equity for women through a variety of different programs including everything from study groups to science fairs to scholarship programs. The Waco Branch worked to support college-educated women at Baylor, as well as middle-school aged girls in the community in any way they could. After 75 years of serving Baylor and the surrounding community, the Waco Chapter of the AAUW disbanded in 2001 due to declining membership numbers and insufficient funds, but the legacy of their work would continue to be felt for many years to come.

Works Cited

  1. “For Equal Rights in Coed Colleges: Texas Branch of American Association of University Women will Demand Justice” Waco News-Tribune, 27 April 1926,
  2. “Dean of Women at Baylor Drafter by Oklahoma to Take New Place in Fall” Waco News-Tribune , 22 April 1926,
  3. “Decades of Growth: 1919 – 1940s” Impact, School of Education, Baylor University
  4. DeLong, Misha. “Road to Educational Equality: Women’s Access at Baylor from 1921 – 1930.” HESA Baylor History Project,
  5. “Meet Seven Baylor Women who Blazed New Trails in the Sciences.” BaylorProud, 7 March 2019,,parts%20in%20the%20university’s%20success.
  6. “Access at Baylor: 1921 – 1930.” HESA Baylor History Project,

TEXAS OVER TIME: The Professional Building (Waco ISD Administration Building), 501 Franklin 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.

       The Waco Independent School District’s Administration Building located at 501 Franklin Avenue was once known as the Professional Building. The 10-story structure was completed in 1929 by Texas-based C.L. Shaw Construction at a cost of $450,000. It was built for the Medical Arts Investment Company of Dallas who designed similar buildings aimed at housing medical professionals and law firms. Upon completion, residents included 25 doctors, 10 dentists, 15 lawyers, and other professionals including advertising agents. One of the lawyers who resided in the building was Leon Jaworski, of Scott and Jaworski Attorneys at Law. Jaworski, originally from Waco, rose to fame in the legal profession and during his career was a special prosecutor in the Watergate Trial. Additionally, the well-known Waco physician, Howard R. Dudgeon, was one of the many doctors who had practices in the building. Other occupants of the structure catered to these professionals such as the Central Shoe Hospital that was owned and operated by Sam Piazza. In addition, the first floor of the newly built structure in 1929 included Canon Drug Company, a barber shop, a tailor, and a tire shop. 

       The Professional Building originally got its water supply from a naturally occurring spring through an artesian well. Waco was once known as “Geyser City” due to the abundant supply of natural spring water in the area around the Brazos River and downtown. Many businesses and buildings took advantage of this and got their water supply from this source. According to the Waco News-Tribune of January 6, 1929: “Water from an artesian well supplies the [Professional] building, furnishing 240 gallons per minute for an estimated need of 135 gallons at the utmost….a surge tank of 100,000 gallon capacity is provided as a reservoir. The water is forced to the top of the building and is supplied through pipes by gravity.”  In fact, on this same site, prior to the construction of the Professional Building, stood the Crystal Palace Pool whose water supply came directly from these artesian wells. Unfortunately, overuse caused this natural water source to run dry for Waco businesses many years ago and it is no longer their sole water provider as it once was. See “Geyser City, Waco…Crystal Palace Pool,” for more information.     

       The structure survived the May 11, 1953, tornado that hit downtown Waco. It appears to have held up well having mostly blown-out windows as its main damage (see image below). However, the building’s neighboring structures, the five-story R.T. Dennis Building, and the Padgitt Building were completely destroyed having many casualties included among the 114 souls who perished that day. Structures contained within the 400 blocks of Austin and Franklin Avenues were hit especially hard by the this tornado. The Professional Building and its occupants at 501 Franklin Avenue were fortunate to have survived this storm. See “The Waco Tornado of 1953: A selection of Lesser Known Images…”, for further detail. 

       Throughout the years the Professional Building has changed ownership several times and has been referred to by many different names. In 1935, Waco Professional Building Inc. took ownership of the structure from the Medical Arts Investment Company of Dallas. In 1950, it was sold to Richard Gill of San Antonio, TX. It was later owned and occupied by several financial institutions and bore their names as well; examples include Citizen’s Tower [Citizen’s National Bank], Republic Bank Tower, and NCNB Texas Tower. In the late 1960’s, the Professional Building’s architectural designed changed during Waco’s Urban Renewal Program and under the ownership of Citizens National Bank. This involved the addition of the metal rooftop cladding, the update to the windows, and changes to the street level facade. This also included the 5th Street walkover to The Citizens Motor Ramp structure that was once part of CNB at 501 Franklin. The old motor ramp structure at the 400 block of Franklin Avenue is now the City of Waco Water Department and part of the Dr. Mae Jackson Development Center. 

After many years of residents, including but not limited to those in the medical, legal, and financial professions, the Professional Building now serves as a fitting structure for the Waco I.S.D as their administration building. The school district bought the building in June of 1992. In 2011, the structure received $2.7 million worth of renovations including asbestos abatement and the addition of the distinctive “WACO ISD” sign to the roof. Indeed, the old Professional Building is now just as significant as ever in providing work space to those entrusted to the education of our next generation of professionals.  

Left: Postcard of the Professional Building, circa 1929. Wilton Lanning Papers, The Texas Collection, Baylor University. Right: Professional Building by Fred Marlar, circa 1948. Waco-Businesses-Professional Building, General Photo File, The Texas Collection, Baylor University.

Street-level crop of Professional Building at 501 Austin Avenue, circa 1948 (full size version in above Fred Marlar image). The scene shows William’s Drugs, the Professional Building’s first floor occupant at the time. To the left is Kendrick Tire Company who resided at the location from 1929-2007, and was the building’s longest occupant. Piazza Brothers Shoe Service is seen at the far right. Waco-Businesses-Professional Building, General Photo File, The Texas Collection, Baylor University.

The “Then” picture in the image sequence above shows the Professional Building in 1929, as it once was on 501 Franklin Avenue, Waco, Texas, by photographer Fred Gildersleeve. Source: Waco-Businesses-Professional Building, General Photo File, The Texas Collection, Baylor University. The “Now’ image is of a similar view of the same but altered structure (now the WISD Administration Building) and taken in May 2021, by GH.


The First Occupants: Professional Building Directory from the Waco News-Tribune of January 6, 1929.

This photograph of the Professional Building was taken soon after the devastating May 11, 1953, tornado that hit downtown Waco. The structure held up well, however, blown-out windows can be seen in the image. This building’s neighboring structures, the five-story R.T. Dennis building, and the Padgitt Building were completely destroyed with many casualties among the 114 souls, total, who perished that day. Structures contained within the 400 blocks of Austin and Franklin Avenues were hit especially hard by the tornado. The Professional Building and the occupants at 501 Franklin Avenue were fortunate to have survived the storm. Waco-Businesses-Professional Building, General Photo File, The Texas Collection, Baylor University


These images of the Professional Building were taken in 1968 by the Urban Renewal Agency of Waco just before renovation. Both images also show Kendrick Tire Company, which was located in the adjoining space next to the building from 1929 to 2007. Waco-Businesses-Professional Building, General Photo File, The Texas Collection, Baylor University



The building that now houses the City of Waco Water Department was once was home to The Citizens Motor Ramp, part of The Citizens National Bank of Waco. This structure still has the walkover above 5th Street that was originally built to connect the two bank buildings. Waco-Businesses-Professional Building, General Photo File, The Texas Collection, Baylor University

This news clipping from the Waco Tribune-Herald of August 30, 1969, shows renovation work being done including the addition of the Citizen’s National Bank sign. The distinctive metal cladding at the building’s rooftop can also be seen and this was newly installed in this 1969 photo. It is believed that the update to the windows, street level facade, and 5th Street walkover to the Motor Bank were also done during this period. These modifications altered the original architectural design of the structure as they were intended to help turn it into a modern looking commercial building while protecting it from the environment.  

Works Sourced:

“Professional Building Marks Step in Waco Progress,” Waco News-Tribune of January 6, 1929.

“San Antonio Man Buys Professional Building in Waco,” Waco Tribune-Herald, May 21, 1951.

Waco Tribune-Herald, August 30, 1969.

“Waco ISD Seeks TIF Funds for Administration Building Upgrades,” Waco Tribune-Herald, June 29, 2011.

Mike Copeland: Kendrick Tire Closes…” Waco Tribune-Herald, April 6, 2014.




TEXAS OVER TIME: The Praetorian Building, 601 Franklin 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’s Praetorian Building

Waco’s Praetorian Building at 601 Franklin Avenue, is one of the city’s most distinctive structures. The building was originally built for the Waco Chapter of the Modern Order of Praetorians, a fraternal life insurance company originally founded in 1898, in Dallas, by Charles Gardner. Its construction was completed in 1915, in the Chicago Style of architectural design. It has 7-stories and was designed by the firm of C.W. Bulger and Company and was constructed by Hughes O’Rourke Construction of Dallas. The building is made of reinforced concrete and the exterior base has gray granite and terra cotta on its facades. The structure has stood the test of time, and this includes surviving the catastrophic 1953 Waco tornado, and remaining mostly unaltered during the later changes the downtown area saw during Urban Renewal. 

The Praetorian Life Insurance Company’s headquarters was in Dallas, and that city’s Praetorian Building was 15-stories tall and completed in 1909. At the time, the Dallas structure was the tallest building in Texas, and considered to be the first skyscraper in the Southwestern U.S. This undoubtedly led many to pay attention to what Waco’s Praetorian Building would look like. However, according to a May 23, 1913, Waco Morning News article regarding the building’s design, it states: “The city will always have reason to be proud of its Amicable [Alico Building] but none, we think, will suggest it is likely Waco will ever need another building of that height.” The article also states that it is a design that “Waco needs and wants.” At the time, this was referred to as a “medium-height” structure, and it seemed fitting for the Waco skyline of 1915. Beginning in the early 1910’s, and at the time of the Praetorian’s construction, Waco was already well-known in the state’s insurance industry having home offices for: Texas Fidelity & Bonding Co., Amicable Life Insurance Co., First Texas State Insurance Co., Southern Union Life Insurance Co., and Texas Life Insurance Co. Consequently, Waco was referred to as “The Insurance City of Texas.” The selection of Waco for another Praetorian Building seemed obvious, and this company succeeded well in building a structure much smaller in size but just as impressive as its Dallas counterpart.  

When built, the Waco Praetorian’s main occupant was the insurance company that bears its name, and on the first floor for many years was the First Bank and Trust. Additionally, in its earlier days, the upper floors served as main offices for some of the local railroad companies. As the Praetorian Life Insurance Company changed their mission and ownership over the years, the Praetorian Building did as well. The building later came to be known under several different names and occupants such as Service Mutual Building, 1934; Southwestern Building, 1956 (Praetorian’s sold the building this year); Veteran Administration, 1962-1965; Franklin Tower; and was vacant from 1973-1989, and in 1989, it was bought and renamed Williams Tower. However, One of the most important moments in the history of the Praetorian Building happened the fall of 1984, when the National Register of Historic Places (U.S. National Park Service) added it to their listing. The building was nominated to the register by Binnie Hoffman of the Austin, TX., architectural firm of Bell, Klein, and Hoffman who recognized its potential and well-preserved state. In the same year, Waco Heritage and History Magazine, Vol. 15, No. 2, published their original nomination letter which states: “The only differences shown on the building’s exterior in historic photographs [compared to 1984] are a flag pole centered on the main (southeastern) parapet, an ox-bow, arched canopy suspended by an iron bracket over the entrance on the east side, and a full-length canopy suspended from iron rods at the ground-floor northeastern facade.” The Waco Heritage and History article also states: “The later Waco Praetorian Building, while based on Chicago School organization and detailing, also had a regional flair in its Mission parapet. It remains one of the few high-rise structures in downtown Waco and is one of only two Chicago Style structures in the city. The Dallas Praetorian was severely altered in 1961, leaving its Waco counterpart as the most significant intact structure associated with that institution.” Indeed, this article helps to sum up just how well-preserved the building was into the 1980’s, and its need for recognition and preservation on a national level. This information is even more relevant today.  

In 1996, the original Waco Praetorian Building’s name was restored. By the early 2010’s, the building was on its way once again to becoming a well-utilized structure where many could call home or their place of work. While the Dallas Praetorian Building was deconstructed in 2013, a restoration of the Waco Praetorian began that same year. As a result, several floors were converted into loft apartments, also known as The Praetorian, the first floor into retail or business use, and space was even made for an art studio and gallery. In 2021, we are thankful for those who helped preserve the building over the years as it now stands prominently as one downtown Waco’s few remaining original high-rise structures.

The Praetorian Building, Waco, TX., Postcards, circa 1915, from the General Postcard Collection, The Texas Collection, Baylor University.

The “Then” picture in the image sequence above shows the Praetorian Building in 1926, as it once was on 601 Franklin Avenue, Waco, Texas, by photographer Whayne Farmer. Source: Waco-Praetorian Building, General Photo File, The Texas Collection, Baylor University. The “Now’ image is of a similar view of the structure and taken in May 2021, by GH.

A news clipping regarding the Praetorian from the Waco Morning News, May 11, 1916.


This image was taken in 1986 by Carlos Menchu when the structure was vacant. Noticeable is the “Regional Office, Veteran’s Administration,” painted on its side. Source: Waco-Praetorian Building, General Photo File, The Texas Collection, Baylor University.

Works Sourced:

“Lofty ambitions: Praetorian Building in downtown Waco entering 2nd century,” Waco Tribune-Herald, May 12, 2012. Accessed 5 May 2021. 

Praetorian Building Honored with National Register Listing.” Waco Heritage and History Magazine, Vol. 15, No. 2, Winter 1984. Accessed 5 May 2021.  

“The Praetorian’s Building,” Waco Morning News, May 23, 1913.

“Praetorian Building One Handsome Waco Structure,” Waco Morning News, May 11, 1916. 

Sawyer, Amanda. “The Praetorian,” Accessed 5 May 2021. 


A Musical Maverick: Laura Wise Maverick, Contralto

This post was written by Benna Vaughan, Assistant Librarian, Special Collections & Manuscripts Archivist

Promotional portrait of Laura Maverick, undated.
Young Laura Maverick at 9 years, June 1887

The Laura Wise Maverick papers, consisting of a scrapbook, diary, and travel journal, are now open for research at The Texas Collection. Though the Maverick name has long been associated with Texas and her growth (Laura’s grandfather, Samuel Augustus Maverick, was a land baron and signer of the Texas Declaration of Independence, her father a rancher and prominent developer of San Antonio), Laura would make her name on the stage as a contralto, touring throughout the United States and Canada, and performing with the Metropolitan Orchestra and the Russian Symphony Orchestra.

Laura was born on November 22, 1878 in San Antonio, Texas, to William H. Maverick and Emilia Virginia Chilton Maverick. Growing up on a ranch allowed Laura free reign for her adventurous spirit and she was often seen on the back of a horse riding at full speed around the grounds. She attended St. Mary’s Hall Episcopal school and graduated from the San Antonio High School for Young Ladies in May of 1895. She then attended Wheaton Female Seminary in Norton, Massachusetts. Sources differ as to the exact year of her marriage to Dr. Amos Lawson Graves, but the couple wed on April 19th in the early 1890s. They had two children, Amos Maverick and Laura Maverick. They couple would later divorce, with Laura and the children moving to New York to pursue her career in music. She trained abroad in the ensuing years with noted instructors, and by 1911, was making a name for herself in New York and Texas music circles.

On January 28, 1912, Laura appeared with the Russian Symphony Orchestra in Carnegie Hall. The New York Press said of her performance:

She was received with many manifestations of approval. Miss Maverick is a mezzo-

contralto of pleasing personality and sings with taste and intelligence. Her voice has

exceptional purity and quality and her diction in three languages was admirable, as

well as her phrasing and intonation.

Program for debut with Russian Symphony Orchestra, January 28, 1912

Laura toured and performed throughout the United States and Canada, taking a summer off during 1912 for time at her ranch in Texas. It was during this time that Laura went to Mexico where she devoted weeks to the study of Mexican songs. She also married cellist and conductor Carl Hahn in 1912, and they would tour and perform together in the following years. The couple would later divorce. They had no children.

Promotional flyer for Laura Maverick, taken from her scrapbook, undated

The scrapbook in the Maverick papers covers Laura’s musical career during the years of 1911-1913. Programs, repertoire lists, press releases, announcements, and news clippings are prominent throughout. The last clipping remarks on the passing of Laura’s mother and brother, within a week of each other (1913), and mentions the cancellation of Laura’s tour for that year. Loose materials within the scrapbook include photographs and personal mementos. The travel journal contains the month and day of each entry but not the year. It speaks of an early U.S. tour and reflects on the places she visited, events attended, and modes of travel. A letter from her granddaughter in 1954 is also found with the journal. The diary picks up later in Laura’s life from 1933-1937, with many entries discussing children, family, friends, colleagues, and life on the road. A poem inscribed in the front of her diary seems to echo her outlook: “Smile a smile/ While you smile/ Another smiles/ And soon there’s miles and miles of smiles/ And life’s worthwhile/ If you just smile.” (credited to Jane Thompson)

The Laura Wise Maverick papers offer an interesting facet of the Maverick family history, through a glimpse of the life of one of its female members. Rich and elegant in tone, the papers reflect the influence of music in society during the early 1900s, and the life of women working in music and theater.


Texas Archival Repositories Online. “Maverick Family Papers, 1840-1980.” Col 11749, Daughters of the Republic of Texas Library, San Antonio, Texas. Databases. Accessed 2021 April 13.

Laura Wise Maverick papers, Accession #663, Box 1, Folder 3, The Texas Collection, Baylor University

“Laura Maverick as an Amateur Circus Rider,” Musical America, December 23, 1912 (Scrapbook)

Laura Maverick,” Music (Boston) January 27, 1912 (Scrapbook)

Find A Grave, Inc. “Laura Wise Maverick.” Memorial #134173414. Accessed 2012 April 26.

Looking Back at Baylor: When Tree-Planting Was a Ritual

This piece by former Texas Collection director Kent Keeth was originally published in The Baylor Line in February 1980. Blogging About Texas periodically features selections from Looking Back at Baylor, with hopes of sharing Keeth’s work with a new audience.

**In honor of Arbor Day, read about Baylor’s early tradition of planting trees to beautify campus as well as mark the passage of campus traditions from one class to the next. **

At the turn of the century, Texas’ official observance of Arbor Day occurred on February 22, in conjunction with the state’s commemoration of George Washington’s birthday. On Baylor’s campus, however, students selected a different presidential milestone with which to combine the annual event. Beginning in 1903, seventeen successive senior classes marked December 4, President Samuel Palmer Brooks’s birthday, by a ritual known as “tree-planting” on Burleson Quadrangle.

Student gather for Tree Planting Day, circa 1907. The photo is marked “Thompson, Waco” the identifying mark of the photographer.

Brooks had assumed Baylor’s presidency in June 1902. By the time of his fortieth birthday, eighteen months later, he had won the admiration and respect of the university’s students to such an extent that the seniors chose this occasion to honor him with their symbolic contribution to their alma mater.

Burleson Quadrangle, in every sense the focal point of the campus, had been completed by the dedication of Carroll Science Hall and Carroll Chapel and Library earlier in the year. The students had sought a project which would make the university’s grounds even more beautiful.

The agenda of the first tree-planting, as reported in the Lariat, set a pattern for years to come. Seniors, garbed for the first time in their caps and gowns, solemnly paraded in pairs to the selected location. They were followed by members of the junior class, who joined them in forming a circle around the site. Following the invocation, a poem and a song which had been composed for the occasion were read and sung, and the senior class roll was called and answered with humorous responses.

The presidents of the two classes saluted one another in carefully worded speeches of jocular challenge and, the tree was placed into the ground, each of the seniors scooped a spadeful of dirt around its roots. After President Brooks had accepted the seniors’ gift on behalf of the university, the spade was handed over to the junior class president for use in similar ceremonies the following year. Then, with eyes moist but spirits high, all participants adjourned to the annual senior- junior football contest on adjacent Carroll Field.

While the broad outlines of the tree-planting ceremonies remained constant, the passage of years saw the addition of new features. By the nineteen-teens, seniors had begun to place more than shovelfuls of earth around the base of their tree. In a 1976 interview Dr. Cornelia M. Smith (BA ’18), retired chairman of the biology department, recalled the 1914 ceremony which she had witnessed as a student: “The climax of the program was reached at the roll call of the class. Each member responded by burying some words of condemnation at the foot of the tree, the things that he or she most detested about Baylor. Some of the burials brought good results, as for instance the abolition of chapel examinations. Can you imagine? Chapel examinations!”

Other buried grievances itemized by the Lariat included final examinations, the campus’ inaccurate system of clocks, certain areas of much- patched linoleum flooring, “sickening campus spooners,” and the rats in Burleson Hall.

Fred Gildersleeve image shows tree planting ceremony.

Perhaps Baylor’s students during the 1920s grew too sophisticated for the continuation of such a simple and rustic tradition: or perhaps, after seventeen years, Burleson Quadrangle was becoming so thickly wooded that no available sites remained for further implantations. Whatever the reason, the annual tree-plantings were discontinued after 1919.

In any case, with the construction of the new heating plant near Waco Creek in 1920, and of Brooks Hall at the northern extreme of the campus in 1921, Baylor’s horizons were beginning to expand beyond the confines of the Quadrangle. Future generations of students would move within a greatly expanded sphere of activity, while continuing to enjoy the shaded and leafy inheritance bequeathed to them by their predecessors.

**Ring Out and Passing of the Key, established in 1927 and 1946, respectively, accomplish the same intent as tree-planting; recognizing and passing on the knowledge and traditions of the university from one class to the next. Similarly, the Freshman Class Hymn, established in 2008, also fulfills the sentiments of tree-planting. The first ceremony included an original poem and song composed for the event.**

Research Ready: March-April 2021

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!
Cemetery map

Cemeteries, 2018: McLennan County, Texas

Postal map

Through painstaking research, Sharon Erwin McNary Rita Ballentine Hogan, and John R. Kamenec illustrate the most up-to-date information regarding cemeteries in McLennan County. Cemeteries are marked in red and are also included in an alphabetical list.


Post route map of the state of Texas, with adjacent parts of Louisiana, Arkansas, Indian Territory and of the Republic of Mexico, 1878

The first state of the second postal map of Texas, this map includes an explanation of mail service, showing railroads, mail messengers, beginning and ends of routes, the frequencies of delivery and discontinued offices. However, it does not appear to show the actual routes which would not appear until 1879.



Finding Aids


  • BU Records: Baylor Geological Studies # BU/26
    • The BU Records: Baylor Geological Studies contains primarily theses and print materials related to field trips taken by Baylor geology students. Field guides, newsletters, clippings, and brochures are included.
  • J.J. Greve papers #29
    • The J.J. Greve papers document the personal and political work of James Joseph Greve, a lawyer in Nacogdoches, Texas. Correspondence, speeches, and political campaign materials are present.
  • Davis Robert Gurley Family collection #2896
    • The Davis Robert Gurley Family collection contains one account book, genealogical materials, and a family Bible. The account book seems to track financial transactions from a Central Texas plantation owned and operated by Gurley.
  • Daphne Herring papers #3717
    • The Daphne Herring papers contain photographs and cards, organization materials from Baylor and Waco, and correspondence to Daphne and her husband Jack.
  • William Moses Jones papers #598
    • The William Moses Jones papers contain personal photographs, correspondence, financial materials, collected publications, and educational materials such as class records, exams, and academic reports from Jones’ time at Yale and Baylor University.



  • Paul Baker papers #3869
    • The Paul Baker papers contain biographical materials about the life and professional career of Paul Baker, a famous theater director and chair of the Baylor Theatre Department from 1940 until 1963.
  • Burleson Family papers #2612
    • The Burleson Family papers contain correspondence, news clippings, and genealogical materials about the Edward Burleson family
  • Ann Oldham papers #18
    • The Ann Oldham papers contain correspondence, art programs, questionnaires and reports for the Daughters of the American Revolution American Music Committee, biographical sketches of American composers, photographs, newspaper clippings, and printed materials.
  • Vernon John Puryear papers #300
    • The Vernon John Puryear papers consist of correspondence, certificates, diplomas, newspaper clippings, and six scrapbooks documenting his life and work as a university professor and author.
  • Waco Art League records #784
    • The Waco Art League records document women’s interest in the arts in Waco. The records include minutes, by-laws, yearbooks, programs, newspaper clippings, and a scrapbook.
  • Waco Lewis Shoe Store records #3451
    • The [Waco] Lewis Shoe Store records consist of the store’s advertising materials from the 1950s-1960s, which had been collected into a scrapbook. These advertisement materials include photographs, newspaper ads, magazine ads, radio ads, TV commercials, store window designs, and information on events and promotions.
  • Jake Wilson papers #3970
    • The Jake Wilson papers contain clippings, correspondence, obituaries, and collected materials documenting the life of Waco resident W.L. “Jake” Wilson.