its masthead proclaimed that the Texas State Democrat held itself
in devotion to “those things which make happiness in the Texas home,
prosperity on the Texas farm and contribute to the development of
Texas resources,” news is news.
And news, especially in 1902, sold newspapers. Even high-minded
sheets like the State Democrat had to report the various unfortunate
interruptions of the status quo that make news.
Gunfire for sure never makes for a happy home, and as the May 29
edition of the Austin weekly noted, “There seems to be a great deal
[of] promiscuous shooting and no one knows who does it. Saturday
night two [men] and a…preacher named Pitts were shot. Two [men]
have been arrested that are supposed to have been in the shooting
The same issue noted that J.W.D. Singleton, a Capital
City hack driver, “was fired at by unknown parties about midnight
Sunday. He states that the [man] who fired the shots must have mistook
him for one of the parties in the shooting of the preacher Pitts.”
What the preacher had done to provoke the wrath of man went unreported.
The same night Singleton found himself dodging bullets, someone
broke into William Ulit’s meat market and stole $25 worth of knives,
butcher blocks and other items.
At 8th and Waller, Mrs. Joseph Thompson did some crime prevention,
shooting at a burglar about to make off with her silver service.
The would-be thief dropped the silver and “took to his heels.”
Even in the early 1900s, riding a bicycle on city streets could
be dangerous. A runaway horse struck Roy Wilson as he rode his “wheel”
(an early term for bicycle) on East 5th Street. As the Democrat
reported, “Neither boy nor horse were injured but the wheel was
In other Capital City
news that distant spring, the just-completed Seton Hospital opened
to the public, the local postmaster got a $100-a-year raise and
former Gov. Frank R. Lubbock was in town to testify before a legislative
Farmers could not have enjoyed reading that “boll
weevil are spreading despite the untiring efforts to stop their
progress” but may have felt a bit better in noting that Round
Rock resident C.F. Wacker reported that crops in his area were
in good shape.
John W. Hornsby, a descendant of one of Travis County’s earliest
settlers, withdrew from the Railroad Commission race while at Pflugerville,
where “one of the largest political picnics given this campaign”
Laura King Orr would be a June bride in ceremonies at the First
Baptist Church on the 11th. The prospective groom, Charles Huberich,
taught at the University of Texas.
Life went on, but so did death.
The weekly newspaper reported five deaths since its previous issue,
including the passing of M.A. McClaughlan. He had served the South
during the Civil War in Company A, 11th Alabama Infantry. He died
at the Confederate Veterans Home on West Sixth St. Burial would
follow in the State
never quite able to live up to its lofty ideals, the State Democrat
itself soon succumbed of poor circulation brought on by weak advertising
© Mike Cox - "Texas Tales"
August 22, 2007 column