TexasEscapes.com HOME Welcome to Texas Escapes
A magazine written by Texas
 
New   |   Texas Towns   |   Ghost Towns   |   Counties   |   Trips   |   Features   |   Columns   |   Architecture   |   Images   |   Archives   |   Site Map

Books by
Michael Barr
Order Here:

Texas | Columns

"Hindsights" by Michael Barr

Looking back at:
Banker Smith

Michael Barr
A shiny new Pierce Arrow thundered down Fredericksburg's Main Street, shattering the silence of a quiet morning, scattering chickens like leaves in the wind and scaring half to death a string of saddle horses tied to the hitching post at the Buckhorn Saloon at the corner of Main and Crockett Streets.

Cars were new to Gillespie County in 1910. Playthings for the wealthy. Good for terrifying livestock and little else.

Fredericksburg, Texas was still a horse and buggy town.

The daredevil behind the wheel was a wealthy and important man although he was no typical big shot in this close-knit conservative German community.

He was an auslander who spoke little German, an Episcopalian and a Democrat. To escape the Texas heat he and his family regularly summered in, of all places, New York City.

Temple Doswell Smith, Banker Smith as he was known in these parts, was born on August 22, 1846 at Walnut Hill Plantation in Hanover County, Virginia.

After graduating from the University of Virginia, Smith worked for an Indianapolis hardware company and a New York financial house. He married Mary Alice Francis, an Indiana girl.

Smith came to Texas in 1884 to join his brother Frank in the mercantile business in Anson. The brothers founded the first bank in Jones County.

Temple Smith was smooth and ambitious. He oozed charm and confidence. His optimism could lift the spirits of an entire town.

One day a tornado leveled part of Anson, including the Smith Brothers building, scattering dry goods all the way to the Clear Fork of the Brazos.

Temple Smith had every reason to be down in the dumps. Instead, he and Frank cleared the debris from the bare wood floor where the store once stood and held a dance that lasted until sunup.

On a business trip to San Antonio, Temple Smith heard of a prosperous village in the Hill Country that had no bank. Smith visited Fredericksburg, liked what he saw and decided to stay.

In 1887 Temple Smith founded the Bank of Fredericksburg, located on the first floor in the Maier Building at the corner of Main and Adams (today Hudson and Taylor).

Frontier banking could be an adventure.

On July 2, 1888, two strangers entered the bank, guns drawn. One stranger got the drop on Banker Smith and his assistant Mr. Wahrmund, The other bandit scooped up $250 in cash from the teller's drawer.

They wanted more but the timed vault was locked and couldn't be opened until the next morning.

The bandits ran out into the street, leaped into the saddle and galloped to the west across the public square.

Smith and Wahrmund ran upstairs to the law office of Judge A. O. Cooley. They took shots at the bandits from a second floor window until the outlaws made the brush and vanished.

In 1889 Smith commissioned renowned San Antonio architect Alfred Giles to build a new bank building at 210 E. Main Street. The bank was on the first floor. Smith and his family lived on the second floor.
TX - Bank of Fredericksburg
Bank of Fredericksburg
March 2018 photo © Michael Barr
Quite a few banks defaulted during the Panic of 1907, but the Bank of Fredericksburg, along with two other East Texas banks run by Banker Smith, weathered the crisis without closing doors or limiting withdrawals.

The San Antonio Light called Banker Smith's amazing work during the Panic "a unique feat."

"It is probable," the Light reported, "that this performance was not duplicated by any other individual banker in the United States."

Fredericksburg believed in Banker Smith. His word was gospel. He got things done.

Banker Smith is best remembered as the driving force behind the Fredericksburg Railroad. He spent years of his life and a considerable part of his wealth, bringing the railroad to town.

The railroad honored Banker Smith by naming a stop after him.

The town of Bankersmith, two miles south of Grapetown, once had a depot, post office, store, lumberyard, garage and dancehall.

Temple Smith died on April 24, 1926.

The Bank of Fredericksburg did not survive the Depression. In February 1932 both Fredericksburg banks failed on the same day.
Michael Barr
"Hindsights"
April 15, 2018 Column

Sources:
"The Fredericksburg Railroad Viewed As A Paying Proposition," San Antonio Light, November 16, 1913. "The Bank of Fredericksburg," Fredericksburg Standard, May 1, 1946.
"Fredericksburg Banker Has Used Pierce-Arrow Cars Fourteen Years," San Antonio Express, November 16, 1924.
"The Brownwood Press Meeting," The Anson Western-Enterprise, June 17, 1937.
"Wm. H. Hollis, Member of the County's Fifty Year Club, Attended Original Cowboy's Christmas Ball Here, 1885," The Anson Western-Enterprise, September 28, 1939.
Temple Doswell Smith, The Handbook of Texas.

"Hindsights" by Michael Barr

  • Ace Reid's Cowpokes 4-1-18
  • Fred Gipson's Treasures 3-15-18
  • Hoodwinked by Hollywood 3-1-18
  • Marking Time at the Palace Theatre 2-15-18
  • Louis Jordan - American Hero 2-1-18

    See More »

  • Related Topics:
    Texas Banks | People | Columns
    "Hindsights" by Michael Barr

  • Ace Reid's Cowpokes 4-1-18
  • Fred Gipson's Treasures 3-15-18
  • Hoodwinked by Hollywood 3-1-18
  • Marking Time at the Palace Theatre 2-15-18
  • Louis Jordan - American Hero 2-1-18

    See More »



  • Texas Escapes Online Magazine »   Archive Issues » Go to Home Page »
    TEXAS TOWNS & COUNTIES TEXAS LANDMARKS & IMAGES TEXAS HISTORY & CULTURE TEXAS OUTDOORS MORE
    Texas Counties
    Texas Towns A-Z
    Texas Ghost Towns

    TEXAS REGIONS:
    Central Texas North
    Central Texas South
    Texas Gulf Coast
    Texas Panhandle
    Texas Hill Country
    East Texas
    South Texas
    West Texas

    Courthouses
    Jails
    Churches
    Schoolhouses
    Bridges
    Theaters
    Depots
    Rooms with a Past
    Monuments
    Statues

    Gas Stations
    Post Offices
    Museums
    Water Towers
    Grain Elevators
    Lodges
    Stores
    Banks

    Vintage Photos
    Historic Trees
    Cemeteries
    Old Neon
    Ghost Signs
    Signs
    Murals
    Gargoyles
    Pitted Dates
    Cornerstones
    Then & Now

    Columns: History/Opinion
    Texas History
    Small Town Sagas
    Black History
    WWII
    Texas Centennial
    Ghosts
    People
    Animals
    Food
    Music
    Art

    Books
    Texas Railroads

    Texas Trips
    Texas Drives
    Texas State Parks
    Texas Rivers
    Texas Lakes
    Texas Forts
    Texas Trails
    Texas Maps
    USA
    MEXICO
    HOTELS

    Site Map
    About Us
    Privacy Statement
    Disclaimer
    Contributors
    Staff
    Contact Us

     
    Website Content Copyright Texas Escapes LLC. All Rights Reserved