the 2008 political campaigns heating up, we are reminded that election
fever is often contagious and can lead to some strange incidents
taking place at times. Such fiery interests are not new, especially
in Texas as many incidents date far back in history to earlier elections.
For example, here is a true story that happened just before election
time in November of 1884 at Dodd
City located in Fannin County.
Major Edmund Dodd came to Texas in
1839, building a log cabin which acted as a home, stagecoach stop,
community gathering place and U.S. Post Office named "Licke." Later,
the name was changed to Dodd and then to Dodd
City to clarify the Post Office identification. The original
Rayburn clan were the most famous citizens in the area as the
population grew at first and then decreased during the Great Depression
and Dust Bowl days.
It seems the Studebaker Wagon Company of South Bend, Ind., touted
as the largest wagon manufacturer in the U.S., posted a bulletin
in their extensive factories threatening loss of jobs to any employee
voting for the Democratic candidates in the upcoming 1884 elections.
The exact connection between the huge South Bend company and the
fine citizens of Dodd
City has not been established (possibly employee kinfolk?),
but the threatening bulletin triggered an angry, much-publicized
demonstration held on the main street of the small town.
Some 200 angry citizens gathered, drafted a classic letter to the
president of the company and its board of directors stating they
had purchased a new Studebaker wagon, a quantity of coal oil, parked
the wagon on main street, invited the media and others interested
and planned to burn it to the ground in protest of the bulletin.
The letter further stated, "the wagon will be burned in the same
spirit that tea was tossed overboard at the Boston Tea Party in
1776, the Studebaker name will become vile and odorous anywhere
liberty and freedom exist."
It was also vowed no one would buy or use any Studebaker products
in the future considering such use to be treason.
Finally, the last sentence stated, "we burn it to consume a product
that was made by the sweat and blood of your employees, that your
bulletin has reduced to below the standard of manhood."
After mailing the letter, the coal oil was splashed, a match applied
and the new wagon burned to the ground as the crowds rejoiced and
made merry while the media watched.
Was the protest successful? Nothing has been found where the company
reacted in any fashion or manner. Were employees at the South Bend
plant harassed or fired?
If so, how did the company learn how each employee voted?
Back in Fannin County, the record was very clear. The Democrats
garnered 3,724 votes, the Independents had 911 votes and the Republicans
received only 99 votes. History also states there was a black spot
on main street in Dodd
City for many years afterward.
© Delbert Trew
"It's All Trew" March 20, 2008
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