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Historic Wills Point, TX
Issue 1

1910 Christmas, High Fashion, 1896 City Council, and more... early news from the pages of the Wills Point Chronicle.

We hope you enjoy reading these old newspaper articles as much as we did. Come back to see other articles every month.

Can't you just close your eyes and imagine Eva Lybrand playing these tunes during a silent movie at the Majestic?

Issue 2

A poem in the Wills Point Chronicle, December, 1910:


The Man I think most of ain't got
No skyscrapers ner buildings tall,
He's only got one little lot
And one wee cottage, that is all;
But what makes him appeal to me,
An makes my likin' for him climb,
Is just the little fact that he
Always goes broke at Christmas time.

Just that; he just plugs right along
Just every day of the year,
An' through it all he hums a song
An' always has a word o' cheer
For every one he haps to see,
To cheer them on the upward climb;
And what I like about him, he
Always goes broke at Christmas time.

Sometime he will be worn and old
Older a lot though he's old now
No time can scar his heart of gold,
Though years may whiten on his brow-
It seems to me he'll always be
Just what he is today, and I'm
Proud that I know him because he
Always goes broke at Christmas time.

And when he's smoothed the upward way
For the last time for some poor lad,
And stopped to watch the babies play
For the last time and has made glad
The last heart he could reach we'll be
We who are still upon the climb
Much better fit because that he
Went broke each year at Christmas time.

And if it was my duty to
Write something great and true and fine
To go upon his tomb and do
Him honor I would write one line
One line I'd like the world to see
No lilting song, no matchless rhyme
This would I chisel for him:
"He always went broke at Christmas time."
---Judd Mortimer Lewis---






Sixteen Pages

  This week's Chronicle contains sixteen pages in two sections-two papers in one week. This extra size is made necessary in order to accommodate the large amount of holiday advertising and at the same time have plenty of room for reading matter that the Chronicle's big list of readers deserve and shall have.
  From almost every page the Christmas advertisements of business firms not only in Wills Point but other towns, greet you with a smile. You will find them not only pleasing to the eye but interesting reading. Also you will find helpful suggestions in them all for your Christmas buying, suggestions that may serve to dispel your perplexity.
  In this connection we want to call attention to the growing tendency of the business men to seek that legitimate and necessary publicity that the columns of a good newspaper offer. Each year the demand for space becomes more pronounced and the public profits by the advertisements. Read the ads in this issue.





From 1910...

One Third Off on All Ladies'
Tailor-Made Suits

Ladies' and Misses' Long Coats, stock reducing sale
each ................................. $13.35
Ladies' and Misses' Long Coats, stock reducing sale
each ..................................$11.65
Ladies' and Misses' Long Coats, stock reducing sale
each ..................................$10.00




1896 City Council Members

Seated left to right -- Dr. Coates, City Health Officer; Mayor James A. Harris, F. H. Goodnight; City Secretary.
Standing left to right -- T. J. McKinney, J. H. Human, Wills Blanks; City Attorney, J. A. Pate, City Marshall (note the star badge); and Bankston Lybrand.


(from an article that was written for the 1937 ‘Bluebonnet’)
  The first public schoolhouse in Wills Point was far out on North Third Street fifty years ago. Professor W. I. Cowles, a graduate of the University of Virginia, was the superintendent. During the first part of the year, from September to January, tuition was paid by the patrons.
  From January to June, there was free school and every child bought his own books. The first building was destroyed by a storm May 30, 1890. In 1902, a tornado wrecked the next building erected on the present school grounds.
  The third building was destroyed by fire in 1903 and the present ward school building was built on the old foundation. A new and modern high school, well equipped with science and home economics laboratories, lecture chairs and cabinets and a library of six hundred volumes, was placed north of the ward school in 1927.
  This year a new gymnasium of red brick, with maple court, showers, and a modern heating system was erected west of the high school and south of the girl scout garden.
  Among the superintendents of the past are O. Rice, R. I. Ellis, D. Lake, H. P. Davis, E. E. Petersen, C. F. Christiansen, Elias Core, Maxey, J. F. Bagwell, L. H. Kidd, and E. E. Ramsey. The present superintendent, G. D. Staton, has completed his eleventh year. The first high school graduate was W. H. Alford. His diploma was presented in 1896, with H. P. Davis superintending. The present graduating class numbers seventy-five.


Wrong Man Killed As Judge Aims At Attorney
Feb. 21, 1895 – A very deplorable accident happened in our little city last Saturday morning at 11:35 o’clock, just after the Texas & Pacific passenger train No. 2 ran into the depot, resulting in the death of one of Wills Point’s best citizens, Captain C. W. Swank, who was at the depot on business.
  The cause of the accident was a difficulty between ex-county Judge T. R. Yantis and County Attorney W. W. Berzett. On such occasions there is always much excitement and almost everyone sees things in a different way. As to the facts in the case, we simply give the statement of City Marshal Marable, who was on the scene of disturbance. Mr. Marable says, “I was inside the office of the Texas & Pacific railroad as the east bound passenger train No. 2 came in, about 11:35 o’clock. The train had been in but a few seconds when I went to the door and discovered W. W. Berzett and T. R. Yantis engaged in a fist fight. I immediately attempted to stop them by getting between. I saw Berzett draw his pistol and in an instant, and before I could prevent it, Yantis had drawn his and fired, his hand just in front of me. Just as the first and only shot was fired, Berzett turned to run and slipping, fell, and I think the ball passed over him striking Mr. Swank. I am of the opinion that Berzett was between Yantis and Mr. Swank. At first I did not know who was shot as I took charge of Yantis and carried him inside the depot.
  Physicians were summoned immediately but to no purpose, for the leaden missle had done it’s deadly work and Capt. S. W. Swank was beyond all human aid. The ball passed entirely through his body, striking the lower point of the heart and causing instant death.
   Judge Yantis was taken in charge of Marshall Marable and as Justice Riley was disqualified from hearing the examining trial, by reason of his kinship with Mr. Yantis, was carried to Canton where he waived examining trial on a charge of negligent homicide and was admitted to bail in the sum of $1,000. Mr. Yantis and Capt. Swank were the warmest personal friends and no one regrets the unfortunate affair more than he.
   The funeral services took place from the family residence Monday morning at 10 o’clock under the beautiful and impressive ceremony of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, of which he was a member. All the business houses closed and near the entire population of the city followed this good man to his last resting place, all bemoaning his untimely death and sympathizing with the family and relatives in their sad affliction.
   Deceased was born in Illinois, August 27, 1850, but moved to Texas when quite young and for many years has been a resident of this county. He has been on the road for a number of years, holding various important positions with large St. Louis firms. His high standing among the business men is evidenced by the numerous messages of condolence received from his associates. The traveling men of St. Louis wired that a floral offering might be presented in their behalf as the only possible means of expressing their deep friendship. He will be missed by his friends, but those who will miss him most are an aged mother, and a wife and two children.
   At the time of his death Capt. Swank was a traveling salesman for the Wertheimer-Swarts Shoe Co. of St. Louis, Mo.

November 7, 1895 – The case of ex-County Judge Yantis, for the accidental killing of Capt. C. W. Swank here on the 16th of February last, was tried in District Court of Canton with the jury returning a verdict of not guilty.


Tornado Shows Life Has Uncertainties
May 25, 1907 – This date is etched into the hearts and minds of Wills Pointers as the time of the fateful cyclone.
  Life is fragile. Houses are temporary.
  As Tom Douglass and son, Walter, left home for a day of carpentering and daughter, Mertie walked to Rose Dry Goods Company where she was a saleslady little did they realize they were leaving home and family for the last time.
  The weather had been in turmoil that afternoon. Thundershowers, ominous lightning, dampness, closeness, warmth, had been the conditions which kept the eyes of the townfolk skyward. There had been other storms; six years earlier one damaged the T. J. McKinney property and several more less severe were to be in the future.
  Young Effie Jamieson was ill that day. As she rested on the bed, she heard her mother, Mrs. John W. Jamieson, talking to Mary Corinne Douglass about berries they were preserving that day. Comments were exchanged about the weather, though Mrs. Douglass expressed no fear of any upheaval in nature.
  In the late afternoon, Miss Effie noticed a bad, foreboding cloud in the south. “Mama, I see a column of smoke. It looks like the Bob Williams house is afire. We’d better go back into the storm house.” “Effie, that is not a fire, it is a tornado funnel, “ said Mrs. Jamieson.
  Not too many storm cellars were in existence at this time, so the Jamiesons found about 30 neighbors in theirs taking refuge when they went for protection.
  It was the same with the B. W. Bruce family several blocks nearer town. Mertie Douglass was one who sought shelter here. Tom and Walter Douglass had built a strong, new home on James Street, facing north, a few years earlier, near the present Clayton Hair home of today.
  In a matter of minutes, the house was completely disintegrated by the savage twisting, roaring storm.
  The bodies of Mrs. Douglass and eight year old son, Jesse, were found in a pasture several blocks from the original site.
  Scattered debris and personal belongings were found over a wide area on the then existing prairie, northward, as far as the Baker Ezell home.
  The W. H. Wingo home served as a funeral parlor for the victims.
  Professor Cole’s private school at the northeast edge of town, on the Elwood road and a Baptist church by the ravine on East North Street were destroyed at this time also. The Inman Douglass barn was blown away and two horses were killed. A Mr. and Mrs. Wilson, who were running for a cellar on James Street when the force hit survived by clinging tightly to two big trees.
  The surviving Douglass family of three moved into the old Deen home, located at the site of Easterwood Park. Tom Douglass lived in Wills Point until his death in 1938, as did Walter, who died in 1950. Mertie Douglass married Edgar Thompson in 1914 and clerked at Mayfield Dry Goods Company many years. She is survived by Mrs. Frank Hollandsworth, and four granddaughters.
  In 1973, an old box of mementoes was found which contained treasured expressions of sympathy, compassion and love of friends to the family following this tragedy 66 years ago. Words of heartfelt feelings were inked for the ages, proving again that there is much good in humanity and always will be ... that there is hope, when faith abides.


Wills Point Men Are In Train Hold-up
1900 –Mont Spikes and Arthur Hamm returned Monday morning from a trip down on the gulf, the I. & G. N. train on which they were passengers Sunday night was held up between Palestine and Jacksonville by highwaymen and an ineffectual attempt made to rob it. The boys say that as soon as it was known that train robbers had stopped them, all pistols and other valuables were carefully hidden away and the lights put out. When the would be robbers got scared and moved out Mont says he and “Pone” found themselves carefully hidden under a seat, their guns in a safe place and their six-bits in their pockets. They are fairly well satisfied with the way things turned out, and are not anxious to go up against a game like that any more.




It Happened in '65...

December 9 "A Charlie Brown Christmas"

December 15 - Gemini 6 and Gemini 7 perform the first controlled rendezvous in Earth orbit

December 30 - Ferdinand Marcos becomes President of the Philippines

December Movies
December 2 That Darn Cat!
December 9 The Sound of Music
December 16 The Spy Who Came in from the Cold
December 22 Doctor Zhivago
December 29 Thunderball


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