Research Ready: September 2012

Baylor Cadets Letter, 1896
A June 2, 1896, letter requesting official student organization status for the Cadet Club: “We, the Baylor cadets, do respectfully petition that you recognize our “Cadet Club,” which we have organized subject to your approval, as a valid and permanent organization of Baylor University.”

Each month, we post a processing update to notify our readers about the latest collections that have finding aids online and are primed for research. Here’s the scoop for September—it’s been a busy month but we’re a little behind on getting finding aids up. Look for a big batch in October!

Far from Home: The Journey of a Union Soldier in the South

Hiram Carlton letter excerpt, April 1, 1865
In the final letter of the collection, dated April 1, 1865, Carlton describes the Battle of Spanish Fort, which was one of the last Union assaults of the war.

In July 2012, The Texas Collection acquired the letters of Hiram W. Carlton, a Union soldier who spent a significant portion of his enlistment in the South. Hiram W. Carlton was residing in rural Illinois when the Civil War began. Like many of his contemporaries, Carlton sought to serve the country he loved through military service. When the time came, he joined the 94th Illinois Regiment, which would go on to fight in key battles such as Vicksburg (Mississippi), Brownsville (Texas), Mobile Bay (Alabama), and Spanish Fort (Alabama).

Hiram Carlton letter, April 1, 1865 (page 1)
In this last missive in the Hiram W. Carlton Letters, he describes with great detail the sights and sounds of the Battle of Spanish Fort in Alabama. (The excerpt text from the beginning of the blog post can be found at the bottom of this page.)

Carlton’s correspondence here at The Texas Collection tells the story of a simple man who was just trying to find his way—to perform his civic duty in service to his country. Carlton had a rudimentary education, like many young men at the time, often spelling his words as they sound rather than in the standardized form. But don’t worry—The Texas Collection transcribed each original letter to make reading easier and more enjoyable for those who are not fluent in nineteenth century script! (Spelling has been normalized in the transcriptions for the convenience of modern scholars.)

Readers first encounter Carlton in the town of Brownsville, Texas, where he claimed that the 94th Illinois Regiment was the first to capture the Confederate position. Carlton was not married at the time, so he directed most of his correspondence to his sister Mary and her husband Merrill Walden, who had removed themselves to Portland, Maine, at the outset of the war. His letters ring of homesickness and loneliness but also with an unwavering resolve to do what must be done.

Researchers interested in the Civil War will find stories of intrigue, humor, and suffering within the pages of these letters. In the winter of 1863-1864, Carlton accompanied his unit into the Mexican town of Matamoras, where an American consulate requested protection from the fighting that was taking place between the native population and French forces. While most students of history are aware that the Union feared an English or French alliance with the Confederacy, the danger of mounting hostilities between the French/Mexicans and the Union forces that are presented within these letters is breathtaking and suspenseful.

The Hiram W. Carlton Letters (1862-1865) also reveal the human side of an ordinary soldier. While spending time in Brownsville, Carlton was court-martialed for disobeying a direct order that he believed lacked any sort of common sense. He ultimately paid for his stubbornness with three months’ hard labor and a loss of two months’ pay, but the way in which he recounted the tale was so casual that it borders on hilarity.

Carlton letter excerpt, May 10, 1864
In this letter from May 10, 1864, Carlton recounts to his sister the circumstances surrounding his court-martial. His reaction to his superiors was casual yet defiant, earning him three months of hard labor and two months without pay.

Yet in every soldier’s life, there is almost always the pain of loss and suffering. The reader will walk alongside Hiram as he endures bouts with scurvy and other serious ailments. News of significant victories by General Ulysses S. Grant and General William Tecumseh Sherman were tempered with losses of thousands of men. And Hiram experienced personal loss—his brother, Jefferson, died in a Confederate prison near Richmond, Virginia.

Recently, The Texas Collection released an online exhibit, “Believe Me Your Own: Letters from the Battlefield to Fanny from Alex, 1862-1865.”  This collection of letters chronicled the experiences of Confederate surgeon Alex Morgan and shed some light on the difficulties that soldiers experienced in daily life. Comparing the letters of Alex and Hiram proves the old adage that “there are two sides to every story.” While Unionists and Confederates differed strongly in their views of slavery, economics, governance, and the future of the North American continent, the average soldier was not as different from his counterpart as one might expect. In both Alex’s and Hiram’s letters, we see the struggle of ordinary men to survive and thrive in wartime.

By Thomas DeShong, Archival Assistant—Digital Input Specialist

A Fittin’ Home for the Fightin’ Baylor Bears: The 1949-1950 Baylor Stadium Campaign

By Geoff Hunt, Audio and Visual Curator

Every good Baylor Bear is abuzz with excitement about the new Baylor Stadium. The first time in more than 75 years that Baylor Football will play on campus! A new boat harbor and footbridge along the beautiful Brazos River! Baylor is partnering with the City of Waco to make a wonderful new event space for the entire community to enjoy.

Aerial of Baylor Stadium-Bears vs. Texas A&M, 1950, Waco, Texas
The turnout was huge for this Baylor vs. Texas A&M game in 1950. Notice towards the bottom of the image that cars are parked along Dutton Avenue to Highway 6 (now South Valley Mills Dr.). The hard work of the Baylor Stadium Corporation turned what was an empty field a year earlier into a bustling, modern sports facility. Photo by Jimmie Willis and digitally scanned from the original 4×5 photo negative.

But what do you know about the last time Baylor and Waco teamed up to build a football stadium for the Bears? That story begins around 1936, when Baylor Football’s home turf was Municipal Stadium, located at 15th and Dutton Avenue. With a maximum seating of 20,000, it didn’t take long for the Baylor Football program to outgrow this facility.

Municipal Stadium, Waco, Texas, 1949 (2), Baylor University
This picture was intended to highlight the aging Municipal Stadium in 1949 that both Baylor Football and Waco High School shared. This facility could no longer hold the crowds that Baylor football games were drawing. Photo by Jimmie Willis and digitally scanned from the original 4×5 photo negative.

And so a 500 member-strong Baylor Stadium Corporation formed in the late 1940s. Baylor President W.R. White banded together with Waco civic leaders including Harlon M. Fentress, Jack H. Kultgen, A.M. Goldstein, Gordon Rountree, and Walter G. Lacy Jr., to get the job done. The preliminary cost to build the stadium was projected to be $1.5 million dollars in 1949. (That would be about $14 million in today’s dollars, according to inflation calculators.) The city was to cover $500,000 towards the project, and it was estimated that $1 million dollars could be raised from non-Waco resources such as Baylor alumni, football fans, and “outstanding Baptists [sic] laymen.”

The Baylor Stadium Corporation's "The Invisible Line" (excerpt)
An infographic from a fundraising publication compared Municipal Stadium to others in the SWC. It pleads, “Baylor is a poor cousin in the Southwest Conference. Its stadium is the smallest and the poorest among the seven universities.”

So how did they go about raising that money? The Baylor Stadium Corporation issued 30-year stadium bonds at 3% interest. If bonds of at least $100 dollars were purchased, this would count for tuition credit and prospective students would receive “entrance priority.” (This is not how fundraising works today at Baylor!) Supporters also had the option of purchasing seat options, which guaranteed a seat for all home games for 20 years after the construction of the stadium, with prices varying according to stadium seat locations.

Fundraisers traveled across Texas, with exhortations from President White that “Baylor is not asking for a gift. The bonds are sound investments from a financial standpoint. The [seating] options are investments in future entertainment for sports lovers.” The rhetoric must have worked—by January 1950, $1,001,836.70 and counting worth of bonds and stadium seat options were sold.

While fundraisers were out stumping, Baylor had to figure out the right location for the stadium. Their first choice was to stay in the same area as Municipal Stadium, on the grounds of the former Texas Cotton Palace. But then as now, parking was an issue, and a geological fault on the land caused construction concerns. On to Plan B—a February 1949 news release announced the purchase of a 100-acre plot in “Waco’s west suburbs” for the new Baylor Stadium.

Groundbreaking Ceremony of the "new" Baylor Stadium, 1949 (2)
Baylor President W.R. White digs the first shovel of dirt to at the Baylor Stadium groundbreaking on May 28, 1949. (The event started at 5 pm, hence the large array of lighting.) Photo by Jimmie Willis and digitally scanned from the original 4×5 photo negative.

The groundbreaking ceremony for the new Baylor Stadium was held on May 28, 1949, and construction began in November of that year. And even though the stadium wasn’t quite done yet, the Bears played their first game at Baylor Stadium on September 30, 1950, against the University of Houston. The President of the Baylor Stadium Corporation, Jack Kultgen, presented the stadium to Baylor University.

The stadium’s seating capacity was 49,000 at the time and it was hailed as a “Fittin’ home for the Fightin’ Baylor Bears.” Opening ceremonies included the nearby Connally Air Force Base sending a group of planes to do a flyover of the new facility, while the University of Houston played the national anthem and the Baylor Air Force ROTC color guard raised the colors. Baylor even beat the University of Houston 34-7 on this long-awaited opening day.

Baylor (Floyd Casey) Stadium-First Game?
This may be the dedication game, Baylor v. Houston, that took place on September 30, 1950, but we are not certain. It is indeed a very early photograph of Baylor Stadium, with construction still in progress in the end zone. Additionally, tracks from construction vehicles can be seen around the field. This is a U.S. Air Force photo.

The final costs of the stadium? Legendary sportswriter Dave Campbell reported in a 1957 Waco Tribune-Herald article that “the show-piece stadium” where “every seat is good” cost “$1,668,790.27, and that figure includes a $70,000 outlay for a lighting system in 1955. The debt will be paid off by 1980.”

The city of Waco, Baylor University, and a vast network of alumni and sports fans made this vision a reality. Baylor Stadium (which became Floyd Casey Stadium in 1989) was a true investment in the future of Baylor Football and for the Waco community, serving both for more than 60 years. The new Baylor Stadium, with the dedication and support of Baylor fans and Waco citizens alike, also will turn a lofty vision into a stunning reality.

Enjoy a Flickr slideshow with more early photos of Baylor Stadium and its construction. Click the large arrow to start the show–and if you want to see the photos full-screen, click on the crosshairs that will appear in the lower right corner of the photo.

Read more about Baylor Stadium/Floyd Casey Stadium’s early beginnings:

The Invisible Line (The Baylor Stadium Corporation: Waco, Texas, 1949). Baylor University Subject Files: BU Buildings: Baylor Stadium: 1948-1949. The Texas Collection, Baylor University, Waco, Texas.

Waco and the Baylor Stadium Campaign: a handbook for workers and a prospectus for investors. Baylor University Subject Files: BU Buildings: Baylor Stadium: 1948-1949. The Texas Collection, Baylor University, Waco, Texas.

“Carroll and Dillard Tour Texas Towns…” The Daily Lariat, November 5, 1949.

“Stadium Building Committee Will Read Bids in UB Today.” The Daily Lariat, November 2, 1949.

“Shiver Declares December 2 As Statewide ‘Baylor Day.’” The Daily Lariat, November 9, 1949.

“Stadium Progress Is Good Despite Weather Conditions” The Daily Lariat, January 20, 1950.

W.R. White Letter, March 8, 1950. Baylor University Subject Files: BU Buildings: Baylor Stadium: 1950. The Texas Collection, Baylor University, Waco, Texas.

“Nash is Named To Head BU Stadium Group.” Waco Tribune-Herald, February 11, 1952.

“Baylor Stadium Site Chosen,” Baylor University Newsletter. Baylor University Subject Files: BU Buildings: Baylor Stadium: 1948-1949. The Texas Collection, Baylor University, Waco, Texas.

“Swigert Submits Lowest Bid for Baylor Stadium.” The Daily Lariat, November 5, 1949.

“Speeches, Bands Will Dedicate Fittin’ Home for Fightin’ Bears”. The Daily Lariat, September 29, 1950.

“Football Is Booming for Centex.” Waco Tribune-Herald, February 10, 1957.