According to W. S. Adair,  this is what Dallas looked in the late 1870s and early 1880s  Adair says the photos were shown by some stereoscopic views taken by Alfred Freeman, photographer, and passed to Yancey Bartholow by his uncle, Joel Y. Field. “I was a small boy, with wide-open eyes, in those days, and, crude as the town was, it was very wonderful to me,” said Mr. Bartholow. “The courthouse square was the heart of town, but there were business houses away from the square, some of them on roads that had not yet been given street names. The postoffice was on the northwest corner of Main and Houston streets, the present site of the Criminal Courts Building. In the same block, facing the courthouse, were W. T. Clark’s grocery, Dr. Cornelius’ drug store and W.M. C. Hill’s grocery. On the southeast corner of Main and Jefferson streets was Ash & Wagner’s grocery, later, and to this day, known as the L. Wagner grocery. The L. Wagner grocery is, beyond doubt, the oldest business establishment of any kind in the city. The furniture store of Jeffreys & Terry was another big concern, on the square. Between the courthouse and the river was S. H. Cockrell’s flour mill. That was before the Todd mill was built farther north, up about the Texas & Pacific Railroad tracks.

Dallas, Late 1870s According to W. S. Adair

Dallas, Late 1870s

Adair Describes Mardi Gras Parades.
According to Adair, “The street railway lines were operated by W. J. Keller. Shadyview Park, at the end of the San Jacinto line, was, for several years, the popular pleasure resort. It had taken precedence of Long’s Lake Park, and, in turn, was superseded by the City Park. The most vivid of my boyhood memories concern the Mardi Gras parades in 1876 and 1877. The strictly Mardi Gras features were mixed with business displays. These festivities brought to town more people than I had imagined were in the world. In those days, the town hardly extended beyond Akard street, but the parade traversed the short streets several times in order that it might not be over too soon. From what I have been able to gather in after years, the Mardi Gras parades were put on precisely as similar spectacles were put on in New Orleans, so that ours was the real thing, crude as our town was. At all events, it was a great advertisement of Dallas, and thus, answered the purpose for which the outlay was made. We have since had nothing in the way of street parades to compare with them.”

Early Day Hotels.
“Among the old-time hotels were the Crutchfield House, on the north side of Main street, between Houston street and the river, and the Commercial Hotel, on the north side of Elm street, between Houston and Market streets, William Sells, manager. The St. Nicholas, erected by Mrs. Sarah Cockrell, on Houston street, west of the courthouse, must have passed out of existence as a hotel before my day. The St. Charles, southeast corner of Commerce and Jefferson streets, and the San Jacinto and the Windsor, around Commerce and Austin streets, and later, the Le Grande, with which the Windsor was combined, under the name of the Grand Windsor, all came in response to the needs of the growing town, and as the business center shifted eastward.

Adair & the Old Residence Section.
“North Market street was in early days, a residence thoroughfare. On the present site of the Briggs-Weaver Company, was the dwelling of Joel Yancey Field, whose mother, Elizabeth Y. Field, lived with him. Next door to him, a small brick, was the dwelling of my mother, Mrs. Mary Augusta Bartholow, sister of J. Y. and Thomas Field. We had for neighbors, in the same block, Judge J. M. Thurmond, William Worden, the blacksmith, and the family of Mr. Bailey. North of us, on Carondelet street, was the Christian Church, a frame structure with a big square tower, which was, a few years later, abandoned as a church and used first as a grain warehouse; and next to [that] house, the first electric light plant in Dallas. West of the Christian Church, was the Planters’ wagonyard, facing Market street, and beyond the wagonyard, soared the tall spire of the Presbyterian Church. Across Market street, to the east of us, was the cotton compress, managed by Capt. J. M. Hardie. The greatest gathering I had seen up to that time was the Democratic State Convention, held in the compress. I was not old enough to follow the proceedings, but I am almost sure it was the convention that nominated the Old Alcalde, Gov. O. M. Roberts. The compress was afterward destroyed by a spectacular fire, which also reduced to ashes, a number of dwellings and outhouses in the two blocks north of the compress. We also had for neighbors, the Titteringtons, the Swindells and the families of Frank Austin and L. Craddock. Near the present site of the Katy freight yards was the cemetery. I think it had never had a name, and to distinguish it from the newer Masonic Cemetery, it was called ‘the Old Graveyard.’

Adair Tells About Business Concerns of the Day.
On the south side of Elm street, west of Market street, Miles K. Thorburn operated a grain and feed store. In the same block, were W. R. Hinckley’s tinshop and C. M. Wheat’s dry goods store. In the neighborhood were Adams & Leonard’s Bank, Carter & Gibson’s printing office, W. A. Rodgers’ hardware store, and Bowser and Lemmon’s agricultural implement establishment. Some other business men and business establishments of the times, were Sanger Bros., E. M. Kahn, Schoellkopf & Delling, Stone & Keating, B. M. Bond & Bro., Ervay & Connor, Fox’s candy factory, Jacob Nussbaumer’s market, A. M. Cochran’s drug store, L. Caperan’s grocery, Wallace & Wagner, grocers; DeStafano Bros.’, fruit and produce store, Kahn & May’s bakery, Dave Rainwater’s grocery, Francis Fendrick’s tobacco and cigar store and R. Platas’ cigar store, J. Y and Thomas Field, who carried sash and doors; Thompson Bros., dry goods; Ott & Pfaffle’s gun store, Padgitt Bros., J. J. Miller, W. H. Lehman, J. M. Moroney, K. J. Kivlen’s barrel factory, A. & E. Mittenthal, dry goods; Dave Goslin’s china hall, Hoyt & Coffin, druggists; T. Billington’s furniture, stone; Gayle & Bright, A. Dysterbach, C. T. Rowan, Fulton’s corn mill, Dave Gluckman, Will Apperson, Trammel & Sansom, M. Ullman & Co., wholesale grocers, and Clark & Bryan, dry goods.
“Some of the real estate firms were Prather & Ardrey, Jones & Murphy, Powell & Gage, Obenchain & Gillespie, W. H. Gaston & C. S. Wellborn. Among the druggists were Williams & Tolliver, R. F. Eisenlohr, W. H. Howell & Bro., George T. Atkins and W. H. (Billy) Patterson. Eisenlohr’s drug store was on the southwest corner of Main and Field streets. Next door to him was John McElhare’s soda water and candy store. It was taken as a sign that the town was spreading when, in 1878, Murphy street was opened between Main and Elm street, the St. James Hotel was erected on the southeast corner of Main and Murphy streets, on the site of the present Southland Hotel, and T. L. Marsalis, wholesale grocer, built across the street, where the City National Bank now stands. E. M. Tillman and Henry Friend’s wholesale liquor house was at the head of Murphy street, on the north side of Elm.

Adair also mentioned some Once Familiar Names.
“Other business signs up and down the street in the ’70s were those of Joe Menczer, M. Hyman, Ben Irelson, Connor & Walker, A. B. Taber, W. E. Best, Harry Bros., I. Goldsmith, Holloway’s grocery, Middleton Bros. marble yard, J. J. Brick; Bartlett, Baker & Co., C. H. Edward’s music store, Reed & Lathrop’s book store, J. S. Witwer, agent for the Studebaker wagons and buggies; George Rick’s furniture store. The jewelry line was represented by Frank Austin, J. W. Webb, J. M. Oram and Knepfly & Son. The physicians were Drs. J. W. Crowdus, W. S. Lee, Francis Keller, L. E. Locke, S. D. Thruston, J. H. Morton, A. A. Johnson and R. H. Allen. The undertakers were: P. W. Linskie and (Ed C.) Smith & Willett.
Prosperous concerns in the growing town and country were Elliott’s lumber yard and Clark’s planing mill. Kane Shield’s paint and glass store, Huey & Philp’s hardware house, and R. V. Tompkins’ agricultural implement establishment and Mitchell & Scruggs, in the same line. Other individuals and firms were M. D. Garlington, E. P. Cowan & Co., W. C. Howard, Ben Cahn, Ben Long, one time Mayor; W. E. Parry, who put on Exposition Park Addition; A. W. Childress, who promoted a cable street railway line on Elm street; W. P. Siler, the transfer man; John Moninger, manager of the opera house; Charles Meisterhans, Sam Klein, Levi Craft, B. O. Weller, Sam Ayres, P. H. Kleber, A. E. Bouche, Barnett Gibbs, W. B. Greenlaw, Joe Record, Judge J. M. Patterson, Alex Harwood, Major J. E. Barkley, Jerry Brown, Gen. W. L. Cabell, Col. W. G. Sterett, Judge G. N. Aldredge, Capt. Sam Adams, S. B. Morgan and his son, Judge Richard Morgan; the Kellers and the Knights, the Cochrans, the Caruths, the Gastons, the Rosses and the Slaughters. The Rock College in East Dallas was one of the leading schools in my day, conducted by Prof. W. H. Allen, assisted by his brother, and by Mrs. L. M. Dake. Other popular educators were Profs. Aldehoff, Scales and Giles.

This February 17, 1924, article by W. S. Adair, from The Dallas Morning News was transcribed by Jim Wheat for his Dallas County Archives collection.

Photo courtesy Lawrence T. Jones, III Texas photographic collection at SMU’s DeGolyer Library.