From land grants to settlement, Dickinson’s early pioneers

Dickinson is named for John Dickinson, who in 1824 received a Mexican grant for land north of the community’s present site. A settlement called Dickinson existed on Dickinson Bayou shortly before 1850.

The earliest owners of the parcels of land comprising present-day Dickinson were James L. Perry, Emily Austin, Mary Austin, Alexander Farmer and William K. Wilson.

Stephen F. Austin gave Farmer title to his league in 1831. Farmer sold property to John J. Bowman and George Cook in 1859. In 1884, Charles Nolan acquired this tract.

Nolan’s neighbors were W.S. Deats, his wife Jane, and their thirteen children. The Deats family moved to Galveston from Montgomery, Alabama, in 1850. The family moved to Dickinson in 1871.

In 1843, James Perry sold four tracts to George Hammerkin, who in turn sold 484 acres to a German immigrant, Herman Benson.

Other early settlers to the area include Gustav Schmidt, George Cook, William Giesler, William Nelson, Henry Satchell, Norbert Edwards, Frank McMahan, Allen and Stacy Lewis, Ed McLean, Clarence Thayer, Robert Hughes, Sr., and Henry Ahlers.

John G. Tod, an early settler, purchased 3,728 acres of the original Wilson League. Tod raised cattle in the 1840s, 50s and 60s. The cattle market at that time was mostly for the tallow and hides. However, a “Beef Packery” was built in Dickinson sometime in the 1860s, and it served as the location of “The First Annual Ball,” held on the 21st of April, the 26th anniversary of the Battle of San Jacinto. There is no record of “The Second Annual Ball.”

August 19, 1824

August 19, 1824, John Dickinson took possession of a league of land somewhere in the vicinity of what is known today as Dickinson Bayou.

A league of land consisted of 4,428 acres. John Dickinson paid $135 for his league, just over 3 cents an acre.

The land was granted by the Mexican government and was executed in Spanish. The grant was signed by Stephen F. Austin, Baron de Bastrop, and John Dickinson.

Dickinson was killed by Indians in late August 1825. His brother Edward claimed the land after his brother’s death and sold it to Stephen Austin.

The land passed through many different individuals and families over time but the Dickinson name held on.


1.3 (18 X 30 Graphics, Post Office, Old Town Images)

1.4 ( 12 X 30, Text and image)

General Ebenezer B. Nichols

General Ebenezer B. Nichols, from Cooperstown, New York, arrived in Houston in 1838. He went into partnership with William Marsh Rice in the wholesale merchandise business. The partnership was quite successful, continuing until 1850 when Nichols moved to Galveston and established E. B. Nichols and Company.

He became a highly successful businessman in Galveston, expanding his business to include shipping and other interests. He became so prosperous that he was able to build a mansion in Galveston. He and his wife Margaret Stone Nichols entertained the notables of the day, including General Sam Houston.

In the mid 1850s, Nichols built a summer home on the north side of Dickinson Bayou. The summer estate was often referred to as “the prettiest spot on the bayou.” In addition to the main house, quarters were maintained for the estimated sixteen slaves who tended the many acres of cotton, corn and vegetables.

At the outbreak of the Civil War, Nichols organized a regiment with funds from his own pocket. When General Magruder arrived in Texas in 1862, General Nichols became a member of his staff.

Following the Civil War, through a series of purchases, General Nichols acquired the unsold portions of the Perry & Austin leagues, which took up a significant portion of the land north of Dickinson Bayou.

The only way to cross the bayou at that time was by means of a flat boat ferry drawn by a rope. It was operated free of charge by George Cook, who lived in a log cabin on the banks of the bayou. General Nichols built a ferry for his own private use at his estate.

Upon his death in 1872, General Nichols’ property was divided equally among his seven children. Of the seven, only Fred McKinney Nichols was interested in the Dickinson property. He bought out his siblings and promoted Dickinson as a resort and truck farm community. He began surveying and grading at his own expense. Fred Nichols built the first roads in Dickinson and the first bridge over the bayou in the late 1870s.

The community of Dickinson had its first post office by 1888.

1.5 (11 3/8” X 11 3/8” Text and image)

The Galveston, Houston and Henderson Railroad

The Galveston, Houston and Henderson Railroad began construction in 1856. Several bridges had to be built to carry tracks over water, including a 343-foot long bridge over Dickinson Bayou. In 1859, at a point roughly mid-way between Houston and Galveston, a water point and refueling station was built. This junction in the “Dickinson Country” would later become the Dickinson Depot.

2. Dickinson, GH&H Railroad and the Civil War


2.1 (10 X 36 Text)

Camp Kirby on the Dickinson Bayou

Following the blockade of Galveston, the most important port in Texas, the destruction of twelve vessels off Galveston, and a Union bombardment of Confederate batteries in the summer of 1861, Texans appealed for the mustering of volunteers for the defense of the Texas coast.

Colonel J. E. Kirby of Austin County began organizing a battalion of infantry in Hempstead to send to the Galveston coast. The battalion comprised several companies of infantry and one of cavalry totaling 400 to 600 men. The battalion was assigned to the First Texas Brigade under the command of Colonel E. B. Nichols (later promoted to General), a prominent Galveston businessman who had a summer home on the banks of the Dickinson Bayou.

Stationed on the Dickinson Bayou, Kirby’s battalion was to serve as rear guard protection against enemy advance from the bay up the bayou and to provide protection for the railroad bridge at Dickinson, as well as the rail and telegraph lines in either direction. The encampment was known as Camp Kirby.

Within a few months after the battalion’s arrival, a hospital was established to provide medical support for the men. It is generally believed that the Nolan home-site, located next to the railroad, was converted for use as a hospital.

By the spring of 1862, the government of the Confederate States issued a change in priorities that dictated a change in defenses for the coast of Texas. Soon after, Camp Kirby was abandoned.


# 2 (button and headline on panel 2.1)

Civil War

(cannon fire in distance, crowd voices overlapping “We need help! We need protection! We have to keep the port open. We can’t let the Yankees have Galveston.

Narration: Brief paraphrase of Confederacy in Dickinson / Hospital site

The Battle of Galveston
On October 4, 1862, Union Naval Commander William B. Renshaw led his squadron of eight ships into Galveston Harbor to demand surrender of the most important Texas port. Brig. Gen. Paul O. Hébert, commanding the Confederate District of Texas, had removed most of the heavy artillery from Galveston Island. The Fort Point Garrison fired on the Union ships, which responded with return shots. The Confederate commander on the island arranged a four-day truce while he evacuated his men to the mainland. The Union ships held the harbor, but 264 men of the Forty-Second Massachusetts Infantry did not arrive until December 25 to occupy Kuhn’s Wharf and patrol the town.

# 3 (button and headline on panel 2.1)

Battle of Galveston

Maj. Gen. John Bankhead Magruder replaced Hébert in the fall of 1862 and began to organize for the recapture of Galveston. His plan was to attack the Union forces by land and by sea. For the sea attack, he placed artillery and dismounted cavalry aboard two river steamers, the Bayou City and the Neptune. The land assault would be from the mainland across the GH&H railroad bridge; infantry and cavalry, supported by twenty light and heavy cannon, would cross the railroad bridge onto the island to capture the Union forces ashore. To meet the attack, Union forces had six ships that mounted twenty-nine pieces of heavy artillery.
The Confederates entered Galveston on New Year’s night, January 1, 1863, and opened fire before dawn, but failed to seize the wharf because the ladders provided for the men were too short. Union naval guns helped drive back the assault. Then the Confederate “cottonclads” struck from the rear of the Union squadron. The Harriet Lane sank the Neptune when it tried to ram the Union ship, but men from the Bayou City boarded and seized the Union vessel. Commander Renshaw’s flagship, the Westfield, ran aground, and the commander died trying to blow up his ship rather than surrender. The other Union ships sailed out to sea, ignoring Confederate surrender demands. The abandoned federal infantry surrendered. Magruder had retaken Galveston with a loss of twenty-six killed and 117 wounded. Union losses included the captured infantry and the Harriet Lane, about 150 casualties on the naval ships, and the destruction of the Westfield. The port remained under Confederate control for the rest of the war.
2.2 (24 X 36 Graphic Civil War Battle of Galveston, other Civil war Illus, Train Guy)

2.3 ( 10 X 24 Text)

The Galveston, Houston & Henderson, Old Reliable Short Line
The Galveston, Houston and Henderson Railroad Company was chartered on February 7, 1853, to build a rail link from Galveston through Houston to Henderson. Although it was supported in Galveston and Houston, much of the early financing was provided by investors in Holland and France. Construction of the “Old Reliable Short Line,” as the road was later called, began in 1854 at Virginia Point on the mainland opposite Galveston Island. However, the first rail was not laid until 1857 and, in 1859, the company finally reached Houston. For a number of years the GH&H was Galveston’s only rail connection, with the Texas railroad system centering at Houston.
In 1859, the first officers and directors of the GH&H were named. E. B. Nichols, who had recently built a large summer estate in Dickinson, served on the board of directors.
In October of 1859, the outskirts of Houston had been reached, but a yellow fever epidemic halted work for a time. A railroad bridge spanning Galveston Bay was completed in 1860. The bridge cost $100,000 and the draw span $25,000.
By 1861 the railroad had two engines, the “Perseverance” and the “Brazos.”
Tri-weekly train service was inaugurated between the outskirts of Houston and Virginia Point. Passengers and freight were transferred between Virginia Point and Galveston across Galveston Bay by the ferryboat. The trip took four hours and cost $2.00.
During the Civil War the railroad remained active, handling the traffic to and from the blockade runners reaching Galveston. The tracks and the Galveston Bay Bridge were used by Gen. John B. Magruder in his recapture of Galveston on January 1, 1863.
In 1867, the bondholders of the original company forced the railroad into receivership. Over the ensuing four years, an acrimonious court battle was fought between the stockholders and bondholders before the Galveston, Houston and Henderson was ordered sold under foreclosure on December 15, 1871. A third company was organized under the original charter, which acquired and merged with the Galveston and Houston Junction Railroad Company later that month.

# 4 (button and headline on panel 2.3)

A confusing history, the GH&H goes to court
The railroad was again sold on August 1, 1882, to Jay Gould and Russell Sage. They organized a new company, also under the original charter, which was sold to the Missouri, Kansas and Texas Railway Company (Katy). The Katy was also under Gould’s control. Since the Katy railhead was 165 miles from Houston at the time, the Galveston, Houston and Henderson was leased to a third Gould railroad, the International-Great Northern Railroad Company, in 1883. Gould lost control of the Katy in 1888. In 1893 the Missouri, Kansas and Texas Railway Company of Texas built into Houston, and the Katy demanded the return of its property. The International-Great Northern refused, claiming a valid lease of the Galveston, Houston and Henderson. Although the Katy was initially successful in state court and began operating into Galveston, a change of venue to federal court overturned the state court ruling. The case remained in the courts for the next two years while the International-Great Northern had exclusive use of the property. Finally, on November 19, 1895, the two contesting railroads signed an agreement settling the dispute. The Katy sold a 50 percent interest in the Galveston, Houston and Henderson to the International-Great Northern, the lease was dissolved, and both railroads received track rights between Houston and Galveston.

2.4 (17 3/8” X 11 3/8” horizontal pedestal — Text and image)
The Old Reliable Short line
The Galveston, Houston and Henderson was the shortest of three railroads that eventually connected Houston and Galveston and reported its mileage at an even fifty miles.
In 1892, the company reported passenger earnings of $95,000 and freight earnings of $398,000. That year, the railroad owned twelve locomotives and fourteen cars.
The September 1900 hurricane destroyed the company’s two-mile bridge across Galveston Bay, and it was not rebuilt. The railroad used the bridge owned by the Gulf, Colorado and Santa Fe Railway Company, the only bridge to survive the storm, until the Causeway was opened in 1912.
Changing Times in Texas

By the time the effects of the Civil War and the terrible depression that followed the Panic of 1873 had worn off, the Industrial Revolution was in full swing, and that revolution came to Texas in the form of railroads. By the end of the 1880s, Texas had 8,846 miles of track. Significant economic change was coming to Texas.

Tracks to the sea

The island city of Galveston, possessing the finest natural harbor on the Texas coast, sought to become the seaport of the states west of the Mississippi River.

# 5 (button on panel 2.4)

The Link to Galveston

The strategic importance of Galveston evidenced in the 1880s was not entirely new. Texas railroad maps for 1860 and 1870 show Galveston as the focal point for Texas railroads built at the time. It is true that the Galveston, Harrisburg & San Antonio (GH&SA) and the Houston and Texas Central (H&TC) converged on Houston, but Houston was not yet a significant port. It was the link to Galveston provided by the Galveston, Houston & Henderson (GH&H) that made the other roads serving inland Texas feasible. The bulk of Texas imports and exports passed through Galveston and were transported to and from the port city on the GH&H, the tracks led to the sea.

End of an Era
By end of 1960, ownership of the Galveston, Houston and Henderson was vested in the Missouri Pacific Railroad Company and the Missouri-Kansas-Texas Railroad Company as successors to the original owners. On December 1, 1989, the Missouri-Kansas-Texas and the Galveston, Houston and Henderson were both merged into the Missouri Pacific.
The “Old Reliable Short Line” operated under its original charter and name for over 136 years, longer than any other railroad in the state. It had exactly the same main line mileage when it retired as when it was first built – 47.33 miles.
# 6 (button on panel 2.4)

First Daily Newspaper Train

(Railroad sounds) The GH&H has the unique distinction of having operated the first exclusive daily newspaper train in Texas, in fact the United States. This was in 1877. It was run for the Galveston News in the early hours of the morning from Galveston to Houston to reach Houston subscribers and to connect with early morning trains of other lines for the benefit of subscribers on their route. This service lasted until World War I.

Galveston, Houston, Henderson Railroad chartered February 7, 1853. This was the first line to reach the Texas Gulf Coast. Construction began in1856. The line never reached Henderson. Several bridges had to be built to carry the tracks over water, including a 343-foot long bridge over Dickinson Bayou.

2.5 (12 X 24 Text and image)

The Dickinson Depot

In the 1890s, the GH&H Railroad began a modernization program.

A new depot was built for League City in 1896. With the growing number of people flocking to the Dickinson Picnic Grounds since the Texas Coast Fair of 1895, the Dickinson Depot had become too small. A new suburban depot was constructed at Dickinson under the direction of J.H. Hill, General Manager and Superintendent of the line.

A telegram dated January 31, 1900, from Mr. Hill to F.P. Olcott, President of the GH&H, read, “Depot at Dickinson burned yesterday.” Mr. Hill sent a brief reply, “Rebuild depot.”

While planning for the replacement depot was underway, a baggage car was placed on a siding to serve as a temporary depot. Then on September 8, 1900, the Great Hurricane struck the upper Gulf Coast. The station agent, Charles Dibrell, spent that terrible night in the baggage car.

The hurricane caused so much destruction that work on the depot was delayed. It was not until the fall of 1901 that bids were received from contractors for building the depot and platforms according to the plans and specifications furnished by Galveston architect George Stowe.

By the winter of 1901, the depot building was taking shape. The building, painted in the standard station color Nile green, featured the only cupola on the line, a slate roof and red brick foundation.

The finished station was the finest on the line. It contained two large waiting rooms, each with two sets of half-moon doors and windows. The white waiting room boasted an elegant ornamental fireplace and mantle. The agent’s office was situated between the two waiting rooms with a ticket window into each.

2.6 (18 X 24 Graphics, Civil War Illus

2.7 (18 X 24 Graphics GH&H letters, papers, Depot)

3. Immigration


3.1 (21 X 30 Graphics, Stevedores, black settlers / families, cane field illustration, Great Storm illus

3.2 (10 X 30 Text)

Early Black Settlers

The first blacks in Dickinson were slaves held by General E.B. Nichols in the mid-1800s. It is not documented if any of those families remained in Dickinson after slaves in Texas learned that they had been emancipated.

Many of Dickinson’s early black settlers came from Galveston, Austin, Richmond and Brazoria, Texas. Some came following the Italian farmers as they immigrated to Dickinson from Brenham and the flood planes of the Brazos; others came from the cane fields of Louisiana; and still others from Mississippi, all searching for a better life.

Italian families made up the bulk of Dickinson’s population of 100 to 150 in the late nineteenth century, with a sprinkling of Blacks. There were few white Americans at the time. Blacks, however, did not enjoy the status of white Americans, nor that of their Italian neighbors. They were mainly farmers, field laborers, longshoremen and later, domestic servants.

In April of 1897, R.B. Hall and two other black longshoremen from the Galveston docks joined together to buy some acreage in Dickinson. The two others were H.S. Anderson and Hamilton Guyton. They each received 2.5 acres, built shotgun houses and began farming. There were three other black families in Dickinson at the time; the Matthews family and the families of two brothers named Slaughter.

Other early black settlers included Will Hall, Adam Anderson, Frank Mathews, John Slaughter, France Goyen, Minor Hagler, Moses Wells, Adam Jackson, Marion Hamilton and Hamilton Guyton. Minor Hagler was a blacksmith and for a time operated the only blacksmith shop in town.

The area where Blacks began to settle was originally owned by a white man named Moore. He sold land to Blacks settling in the area. The area became known as Moore’s Addition.

After the 1900 storm, more Blacks arrived in Dickinson to escape the devastation in Galveston. Many Blacks found work building the Interurban between Galveston and Houston. The opening of the Interurban in 1911 meant that Blacks could travel to Houston to work the cotton compress or to Galveston to work as longshoremen.

# 7 (button and headline on panel 3.2)

Dickinson’s Early black Settlers
Dock sounds / work sounds / water In April of 1897, R. B. Hall and two other black longshoremen from the Galveston docks…

3.3 (11 3/8” X 11 3/8” Text and image of Sadie Porter)

Ms. Sadie Porter

Ms. Sadie Porter was born December 10, 1886 in a one-story wood-frame in Galveston to Eliza and Robert B. Hall. Her family moved to Dickinson in 1897. The Halls’ new home contained wood burning stoves, long iron heaters and a big iron pot for boiling clothes.

“We pasted newspaper on the walls with paste made from flour to keep the cold out. We would stand up there and read the papers to pass the time.”

# 8 (button and headline on panel 3.3)

Recollections of the 1900 and 1915 Storms

Sadie remembered the 1900 storm vividly. “I was sitting on the gatepost whistling and the wind kept getting higher and higher. My father and mother were in Galveston so it was just us kids at the house. We thought that cool wind was something funny. Then we got sleepy and went to bed. A short time later a strong wind blew the house off its back blocks. It wasn’t until much later that I found out how bad it really was.”

She also remembered the 1915 storm. “I wasn’t whistling then. I was on the last Interurban out of Galveston. The wind was blowing so hard we had to use umbrellas inside the train. They had to work real hard to get the drawbridge down.”

3.4 (10 X 36 Text)

Italian Immigrants Come to Dickinson

Italian immigrants began to arrive in the United States in appreciable numbers after 1870. Between 1880 and 1900, almost half a million Italians arrived, mostly through northeastern ports and New Orleans. From 1880 to 1910, America was reaching new heights of industrialization, and unskilled labor was in great demand. Four-fifths of the Italians entering the United States listed “agriculture” as an occupation at their port of entry, yet they were drafted into practically every kind of non-agricultural labor. The newly arrived immigrants had to see to their immediate problems first: obtaining food and shelter. This led most to seek the quickest employment and not search for opportunities far beyond the port of entry.

For those who did attempt a cross-country journey, language barriers increased the possibility of misdirection or misunderstanding. Many an immigrant was placed on a train for Independence, Missouri, thinking his trip would end in the strawberry center of Independence, Louisiana.

Southern Louisiana became an important area of concentration of Italian immigrants. Each year, thousands of Sicilians came for the cane-cutting season in Louisiana. They arrived in September, prepared to stay through December. Work in the cane field was the most backbreaking, difficult work in the world. The Italians left the cane field as soon as better opportunities arose. Many moved to neighboring Texas.

Texas, from its beginnings as a state, had been concerned with attracting new settlers. Railroad companies actively encouraged passenger and commercial traffic toward Texas. As early as the 1870s, the Missouri, Kansas and Texas Railway issued a monthly periodical advertising Texas land and offering low rates for immigrants.

The Brazos Valley attracted a large number of Italian immigrants. The land was good for cotton cultivation and, because of frequent flooding, local farmers were often inclined to sell at a good price.

It was flooding that made the Brazos bottomland rich and affordable – it also forced Italian-American farmers to consider other areas from time to time.

The United States Secretary of Agriculture toured Galveston County in 1899. In Galveston he stated, “Within an hour’s ride you have thousands of acres of the finest land in the world – land that will raise anything – unsettled, unused and for sale at $15.00 an acre.”

Italian farmers from the flood that ravaged Brazos, Louisiana, and elsewhere were soon attracted to the mainland of Galveston County. Groups of Italians settled at League City, La Marque, and along Dickinson Bayou. Dickinson became the largest Italian community in the county. Family groups of Tortorice, Piazza, Trippodo, La Fasso, Megna and Palermo were the first to settle on the mainland. Encouraged by enthusiastic letters filled with success stories, still more families arrived. The Salvato family arrived in Dickinson from Bryan, followed by the families of Emmitte, Termini, Cucchia, Falco, Napoli and Battistoni. By 1900, more than 200 Italian-born immigrants were living on Galveston County’s mainland.

Good fortune followed the Italians to Dickinson, where once again affordable land could be found.

The Nicholstone development in Dickinson had a grand vision. During the 1890s, streets were graded, a park and racetrack built, and numerous improvements made. But the Nicholstone project never became the success its backers had planned. After 1896, the company began selling off land more cheaply in order to pay its debts. By the spring of 1900, the company formally declared that its property had been “consumed in the payment of its debts…” Prominent Galveston banker Joseph Lobit acquired most of the Nicholstone land.

Lobit was willing to sell land at reasonable prices with generous credit arrangements. These terms were very attractive to new settlers, particularly Italians, who would spearhead agricultural innovation in the area. In what had been cotton or cane area, truck, fruit or specialty crops now became the dominant agricultural pursuit.

Consul Nicolini and Baron Mayor des Planches

Consul Clemento Nicolini, born in Italy in 1853, became a sea captain in the 1870s, traveling to practically every port in the world. Captain Nicolini settled in Galveston in 1884. Within three years, he became an American citizen and was named consular agent for Italy, a position he held from 1887 to 1925. The 1888 Galveston City Directory advertised Nicolini as a grocer, ship chandler, and importer, as well as an agent for several steamship lines. In Galveston, Consul Nicolini worked on behalf of fellow Italians by aiding with the “Italian Colony Fund,” which was designed to aid stranded Italians; and with “La Star Italian,” a mutual benefit society. Both groups enhanced Italian social life. On several occasions “La Star Italian” made group picnics to Dickinson’s Picnic Grounds.

During the 1890s, Consul Nicolini became actively interested in settling Italians in Texas. As early as 1896, he purchased land in Dickinson, both to rent and sell to Italian colonists. Terms of sale were reasonable; when G.L. Piazza purchased a fifty acre tract north of Dickinson Bayou in 1896, he was allowed ten years for full payment.

# 9 (button and headline on panel 3.4)

April 28 1905, Baron Mayor des Planches, Italian Ambassador, arrived in Galveston.

Baron Mayor des Planches, Italian Ambassador arrived in Galveston. The Ambassador, on a special tour of inspection of the South, was accompanied by Mr. Nicolini, Consul to Galveston. Tthe distinguished visitor was entertained by the Italian colony of this city.

Some 50 natives of Sunny Italy gathered at Harmony hall, when Baron Mayor des Planches, Consul Nicolini and other members of the official party arrived in carriages. When the Ambassador entered the hall a march was played followed by other patriotic songs at intervals. (Royal March, Dixie, Uncle Sam, Blayz Anyae, Gondalier, Sweet May, Just Because I Love You so, Violet, the Sweet Girl in Dixie, Like a Star that Falls from Heaven.

In Dickinson yesterday, some 150 natives of Italy greeted the Baron and told him of their prosperity and as an expression of their good will, presented him with an elaborate bouquet of beautiful flowers, which he accepted in a 20 minute address.

3.5 (24 X 36 Graphics, Italian families, promotional booklet / Dickinson pocket folder cover)

3.7 (12 X 24 Text and Image Growers Assoc)

New Arrivals in Dickinson

Not all Italian immigrants were farmers. Several were prominent merchants with stores in the heart of Dickinson. The DePasquale family is an example. Both Rosario and Rosa DePasquale were born in Sicily; Rosario in 1863 and Rosa in 1871. They did not meet until they had immigrated to the Bryan, Texas area, where a large colony of Italians had established farms in the Brazos River floodplain. They were married in 1893. After terrible flooding on the Brazos in 1899, they relocated to Galveston County. They survived the 1900 storm. Rosa recalled having to crawl to safety in the rising wind while six months pregnant with her son Domenic Victor.
Recollections, DePasquale family

# 10 (button and headline on panel 3.7)

Where You Land is where You Stay

My grandmother’s family, she was a Napoli, came here through the Port of Galveston. Her father came and settled in Lafayette, Louisiana. He worked, got married and got enough money to send for his family in Sicily. He sent for his entire family, his mother, his father, his sisters and brothers. When the ship landed in Galveston he wouldn’t pay for them to go to Lafayette. He said where the ship lands that’s where you stay. So the Napoli family settled in Dickinson.
Recollections, Raymond Termini

In 1898, Josephi Giamfortone and his family arrived in Dickinson from Bryan in a horse-drawn covered wagon.

The family lived on Benson Street. Josephi began farming strawberries. The strawberry business flourished, and they shipped strawberries all over the country.
In the 1920s, brothers Sam, Frank and Joe decided that gambling might be a lucrative business.

John Falco arrived in the United States in 1894, settled in Dickinson, purchased 12 acres of land and grew strawberries and vegetables. He became the first president of the Dickinson Growers Association. In the 1920s, the Falcos and the Emmites also branched out into gambling and other businesses.

3.6 (11 3/8” X 11 3/8” Text and Image, Dues farm, farms)

Promotional Booklets Call Newcomers to Dickinson

Some newcomers were Anglo Americans from other parts of Texas and other states. The Dues family left Ohio and came to Dickinson, Texas, in 1908.

# 11 (button and headline on panel 3.6)

A Good Place to Go

The Dues family left Ohio and came to Dickinson, Texas in 1908. They left two sons in Ohio to dispose of their little farm. They had seven children, five boys and two girls. Three of the younger children had asthma. They were induced to come to Dickinson by literature the railroads sent out. It was an advertisement or booklet promoting Dickinson as a southern paradise. Doctors told them to go to a warmer climate. So they were reading this booklet and kind of decided it sounded like a good place to go.
Recollections of the Dues family

4. Dickinson a Destination


4.1 (11 3/8” X 11 3/8” Text and Land assoc graphic

Dickinson Land & Improvement Association

Through a series of purchases, Gen. Nichols acquired the unsold portions of the Perry & Austin leagues, which took up a significant portion of the land near the GH&H north of Dickinson Bayou. Gen. Nichols made little apparent effort to promote the development of the mainland.

When Gen. Nichols’ son, Fred McKinney Nichols, assumed control of the Nichols holdings, he promoted the development of Dickinson as a resort and truck farming community, establishing the Dickinson Land & Improvement Association in 1890. From the outset, the enterprise was intended to promote the development of agriculture as much as provide home sites. The land was especially touted for its ability to produce fruit such as pears, plums, peaches, grapes and berries. Nichols recognized the scenic and recreational potential of Dickinson Bayou from the beginning. He donated forty acres bordering the bayou as a public park, which gained regional renown as the Dickinson Picnic Grounds. The park was described in glowing terms: “Most of the grounds are covered with beautiful woodland, supplied with rustic seats and pavilions and bordered by Dickinson Bayou, where all kinds of fish abound and on which small pleasure boats can be run.” The plat filed with Galveston County named the town site Nicholstone, a combination of his surname and his mother’s maiden name, Stone.

During the 1890s, streets were graded, a park and racetrack were built, and numerous improvements made, including developing the picnic and fair grounds and the Flying Kite race track.

4.2 (12 X 24 Text and images, Picnic Gnds

The Dickinson Picnic Grounds

Although the picnic grounds in the Dickinson country had been in use since 1859, it wasn’t until Fred Nichols made significant improvements in 1890 that the park grew in popularity. Special excursions from Galveston came to enjoy “shady bowers, forest glades, boats and bath houses along the banks of the bayou, the prettiest stream in all Southern Texas.” The park now featured a dancing pavilion, cricket grounds, tennis courts and a baseball park. It was reported that 25,000 people came to the picnic grounds in the spring and summer of 1891.

People from Galveston, Houston and all over the county flocked to Dickinson for the Texas Coast Fair in 1895-96. The GH&H had to use special trains to carry the increased load. The most popular attraction at the 1895 fair, besides the exhibits, was the Flying Kite race track. This elliptical mile track was acclaimed as being the best of its kind in the south.

In addition to the horse races, the single skull contest between two top oarsmen, one from Canada and one from England, was rowed in Dickinson Bayou for the Championship of England and a purse of $1,000. In the background, Professor Berry’s brass band could be heard throughout the picnic grounds while visitors viewed exhibits of every kind.

4.3 (18 X 36 Graphics montage map and pics)

4.4 (15 X 24 Graphic montage picnic gnds pics)

4.5 (12 X 24 Text and Image)

The Interurban

The Galveston-Houston Electric Railway Company ran fifty miles between Galveston and Houston from 1911 to 1936. When it began its formal schedule on December 5, 1911, it provided a service that no other mode could have given ― speed, comfort and regularity. The Interurban was the most popular form of transportation between Galveston and Houston. Dickinson, with its park and picnic grounds, was a significant destination along the line. Many Dickinson residents used the Interurban to commute to work or school in Houston or Galveston.

The first concrete causeway between the mainland and Galveston was completed in 1911. One fourth of the $1.75 million cost was paid by the electric railway company.

The line started, or ended, at 1010 Texas Avenue in Houston, and ran 50.47 miles, 34 of which were without curves. The company had a right-of-way 100 feet wide, fenced all the way. The cars rode rails set on an embankment, which ranged from 14 to 18 feet wide. Between Houston and Galveston there were 1,700 poles carrying the wire that fed the electricity to the car. The Standard Car, built by the Cincinnati Car Company, weighed 72,000 pounds and measured 52 feet overall. They were powered by four 75 horsepower electric motors.

Inside was room for 54 passengers. The car was 9 feet wide with 8 ½ foot ceilings. Thick carpet covered the floor, the seats were upholstered in leather, and gold-leafed mirrors ringed wide arched windows.

Beginning at Houston, these were the morning stops and times in August of 1912:
Houston, 6:00; Belt Junction, 6:13; Brookline, 6:18; Park Place 6:22; South Houston, 6:26; Genoa, 6:28; Webster, 6:40; Power Plant (on Clear Creek), 6:45; League City, 6:46; Dickinson, 6:52; Oleander, 6:53; La Marque, 7:06; Texas City junction, 7:08; Virginia Point, 7:16; Oyster, 7:23; Galveston, 7:40.

The fare for the entire trip was $1.25, but fares ran, according to your destination, as low as 5 cents.

# 12 (button and headline on panel 4.5)

How to Flag Down the Interurban

You got on the interurban by flagging it down. Here is how the instructions read:
“Stand near the track and wave hand or handkerchief by day and match or light by night, when the car is at least 15 poles from the stop. Motorman will answer signal with two short blasts of whistle. If the car is an express or full, two short blasts will be followed by one long. Following cars must be signaled in the same way.

Dogs were allowed but only two per car and they had to wear collars and chains and had to remain on the front platform. Lap dogs had to be carried in the lap or in satchels. Produce, fish and oysters were carried as freight in a freight wagon. Guns had to be carried in cases and checked as baggage.

# 13 (button and headline on panel 4.5)

The End of an Era

The line had just begun smooth operations when the 1915 hurricane came along and destroyed part of the causeway and equipment on the line. Then World War I produced a shortage of cars followed by a bit of prosperity and an increase automobiles; patronage began to fall off.

By 1925 a local car had 28 stops including an additional stop in Dickinson at Gray Mule.
In 1924 Deluxe cars were put into service. They made the trip in 55 minutes ― no stops ― and went straight to the beach.

The interurban ceased operation on October 31, 1936, replaced by the bus and automobile and the endless, ever expanding ribbons of concrete that have been with us ever since.

What Might Have Been

Quoting from the August 1925 issue of “Electric Traction” magazine:

“If you want to get somewhere, take the Interurban.”
“The inherent advantage of the electric railway vehicle as regards to speed is not only today being widely recognized by the general public, but will become more and more apparent as the inevitable congestion of hard surfaced roads continues to reduce the speed of vehicles over public highways.”

4.6 (12 X 18 Graphics, Oleander pic montage)

4.7 (11 3/8” X 11 3/8” Text)
Oleander Country Club

In 1910, a group of prominent people from Galveston selected a site on the South bank of the bayou for the erection of the Oleander Country Club. Club members could walk from the Interurban stop to the club.

The exclusive club featured an 18-hole golf course. Although the greens were well maintained, the fairways were rough. Some tee boxes were elevated to allow for a clear view to the green.

The beautiful wood clubhouse burned to the ground and was never rebuilt. Many of its members saw the beauty of Dickinson and ended up purchasing property and building fine homes in Dickinson.

# 14 (button and headline on panel 4.7)
February 20, 1911, Construction of the Oleander Country Club

Final orders have been placed for all materials to be used in the construction of the $20,000 home of the Oleander Country club near Dickinson and the actual construction is to begin within less than two weeks. It is planned to have the new club house opened for the reception of members and guests by August 1, and with that end in view every possible effort will be made to expedite the construction.

# 15 (button and headline on panel 4.7)

September 9, 1913, Birthday Party at the Oleander Country Club for Terressa May Parke

“Terressa May Parke entertained with a dance at the Oleander Country Club Tuesday night in honor of her birthday (age omitted by request). The ballroom was beautifully decorated for the occasion. Supper was served to the guests in the dining room at 9 o’clock.”

# 16 (button and headline on panel 4.7)

November 9, 1918 “The Oleander country Club is on Fire”

On November 9, 1918, just two days before the armistice was signed ending World War I, and one day before a big dinner dance was to be held for the officers from Ellington Air Force Base, a call was sent out to the Galveston fire department “The Oleander Country Club is on fire.” Truck No. 6 was immediately dispatched to Dickinson. However, the fire truck on route to Dickinson swerved and ran into a cattle guard in an attempt to turn on a road north of La Marque. The truck, after hitting the cattle guard on the International and Great Northern Railroad track held up traffic for over an hour. No one was injured but needless to say, the fire truck from Galveston never made it to the scene of the fire.

4.8 (12 X 36 Graphic, picture montage, Oleander, people, etc.)

4.9 (12 X 36 Graphics, picture montage, Interurban, park, people, etc.)

5. Education

5.3 (10 X 36 Text)

Dickinson Schools

The Dickinson school system began with the arrival of Minnie Witter Owens from Kansas. She held the first classes in the “Little Church on the Hill,” destroyed by the 1900 storm. After the storm, classes were held temporarily in a partitioned-off area in one of the Fair Grounds buildings. By 1901, a new school building had been erected. The children could look out the windows of the school to see cowboys driving cattle across an old wooden bridge during round-up season. The school year lasted only six months but was increased to eight months when more teachers became available.

By 1903, Dickinson had a two-teacher school. Classes went to the seventh grade. After 1911, if students wished to continue their education, they commuted by Interurban, at their own expense, to Ball High School in Galveston to complete their final years.

In 1913, a new two-story brick high school went under construction. When it opened in the spring of 1914, the Dickinson Common School District #7 had 195 students.

In 1929, a large one-story, modern school building was erected on the site of the 1913-14 building. The old brick building was torn down.

In 1939, a new junior and senior high school was opened, serving grades 7 through 12. The new facility featured a large auditorium, gymnasium and football field.

In 1941, the Dickinson Independent School District was formed. The enrollment was 594 students.

5.1 (12 X 24 Audio buttons and headlines with pictures)

I Remember
School Days

# 17 (button and headline on panel 5.1)

Rosario DePasquale carries his children to school

Rosario was insistent that his children get an education. He was equally insistent that his children have a neat appearance. Every night he would polish his children’s shoes. On rainy days when the streets were muddy, Rosario carried each child on his back to the primary school, a distance of three blocks, making as many trips as necessary.
Recollections of the DePasquale Family

# 18 (button and headline on panel 5.1)
School games and Rainy days

In those days our school was what is today the administration building on Highway 3. We used to play hop scotch in front of the school by the flag pole. We would draw lines with chalk and then hop away. When it rained we would go into the gymnasium and march around with the U.S. and Texas flags. Whoever asked Mr. Gillis first would get to carry the flags.
Recollections Pat Benoist Dewey

# 19 (button and headline on panel 5.1)

After School Chores

When I got home from school I had to get out to those fields and plow and stuff like that. And we raised hogs. My job was to feed them hogs in the morning and the evenings. If I didn’t do it I’d get the belt.
Recollections Sam Palermo

# 20 (button and headline on panel 5.1)

July 16, 1913 Five Teachers for Dickinson High School

We hear (overlapping)
Dickinson is fortunate in having an efficient corps of teachers elected for the ensuing term.

Prof. J.L. Hoshal, of Acadia, was re-elected to the principalship and he will have the honor of being the first superintendent of the Dickinson High School.

Misses Carmel Underwood and Neva Owens, both of whom graduated from Ball High School of Galveston last June, are the two new teachers for the year.

Miss Fay Underwood, who was formerly principal of the Dickinson school, but who taught last year in Hitchcock, is to be returned to her home town.

Miss Ruth Springfield was re-elected as a teacher in the Dickinson schools.

It is thought that arrangements will be made to use a Baptist Church for high school until completion of the new high school building.




# 21 (button and headline on panel 5.1)

September 19, 1914 Strom Hotel Crowded with Teachers

The Strom Hotel is fairly swarming over with teachers this week, mostly of the fairer sex, there being about forty accommodated for meals at that place. Among those registering there are Misses Amy Talbot, Alice Hill, Mabel Hoover, Alma Eppert, Ethel Hovey, Flossie Payson, Mary Sandell, Ivy Crutchfield, Jennie Scott, Minnie Frazier, Gertrude Priest, Em Salmon, Grace Kelly, Golda Finger, Blanche Peebles, Merle Wharton, Elma Cone, Cynthia Platzer, Learline Lane, Allena Cuashear, Mesdames H. Davis, W.O. Clement, G.H. Cook, Annie L. Berg, M. Stoddard and Professors Fendly and Hoshal.

5.4 (10 X 36 Dunbar Text)

Dunbar School

From the period after the Civil War to early 1900, there were few public schools built for African-American youngsters in the South. This was during the period of racial segregation; black children were not allowed to attend school with white children. Many communities did not provide an education to black students. Churches provided the solution to the problem. The Methodist Church established the Freedman’s Aid Society in 1868. In Dickinson, the Warren Chapel and St. James A.M.E. Church established primary schools for black children in the 1890s.

The early Dunbar School building, built around 1915, was a large one-room barn-like building. All classes, primary through the middle grades, were held in the same large room. The school was located at the school’s present site at 23rd Street in Dickinson. Black children from League City, Alvin and other surrounding communities attended Dunbar, the only black school in the region. There was no transportation provided – children had to walk or come by wagon, mule, or other means.

In 1939, a new brick school was built. In 1941, Dunbar School was added to the Dickinson Independent School System. Prior to 1943, Dunbar only went to the 10th grade, black children wishing to receive a high school diploma had to commute, at their own expense, to segregated black High Schools in Galveston or Houston.

The last segregated class graduated from Dunbar School in 1966. Dickinson ISD integrated in 1967, and Dunbar was converted into a middle school.

# 22 (button on panel 5.4)

School Stories

My school was in a church, and my father paid five cents a week for me to go there.
Our teacher came every Monday morning on the train from Galveston. I taught what I knew to the children until she arrived. Then she taught me. In this way I got a high school education.
Recollections Sadie Porter

In those days, children did not have anything for entertainment like they do now. We went to school, and then came home to help with the chores. I graduated 10th grade from Dunbar in 1930. I completed my education in Houston at Phyllis Wheatley.
Recollections Gladys Hagler

We were some of the first students at Dunbar. During that time, we would go to school, and work or church. There was no basketball and football.
Recollections James Hall

Black and white schools

“We had two schools, one for the white kids and one for the black kids, Dunbar was the black school. I think it was the only black school on the mainland. Alvin and League City paid Dickinson to send their black kids over here to school.”

“They came here by bus but it wasn’t a Dickinson ISD bus, it was their own bus. Some of the black families owned a bus; I think it was a church bus. One of the oldest boys was old enough to drive the bus so he’d drive the bus over, go to school and then drive the bus back.”
Recollection the Deats family

# 23 (button on panel 5.4)

Some Ride

It wasn’t long before Dickinson got a big bus. It would go out to Bacliff, San Leon and other communities who sent their kids to Dickinson for school, but this was only for the white children, the black children had their own bus.
Recollections the Deats family

5.7 (17 3/8 X 11 3/8 horizontal, Text w/image)

I Remember
High School Years at Dunbar

“I was a twirler along with Shamarion McKinney and Betty Hagler from 1948 to 1952. Essie B.Garrett was our drummer. This was before we had a band at Dunbar.”

“For homecoming football games, Professor Williams would take us four to League City to the parade, where we would march from Garner’s Drug Store to Kilgore’s Store. He would then bring the girls back to Dickinson, and we would march from in front of the Old Dickinson Bank to the high school. Our school colors were purple and gold, but we wore black and white uniforms.”
Recollections Camille Rhone

# 24 (button on panel 5.7)

Mrs. Broussard’s Pickles

At lunch we’d go to Mrs. Broussard’s across the street from Dunbar and buy hamburger chips and pickles. Ms Broussard would always pinch the end of the pickle off before she gave it to you. I think she used those ends to make relish or put in coleslaw. They were the best pickles.
Recollections Camille Rhone

“I remember that, in those days, there were few teachers. Therefore, the teacher was promoted as the student was promoted. You never got rid of the teacher until high school. Professor Williams taught math, Sally Taylor taught English. She was also director of the girls’ glee club. Sally Taylor was an inspiration to me; she encouraged me to continue further with my education. I was fortunate to attend Dunbar for all twelve years. My older siblings had to complete high school in Galveston because at that time Dunbar only went to the 10th grade level. One song that sticks out in my mind is the Negro National Anthem.”
Recollections Geneve Ricks Stoot

# 25 (button on 5.7)
Negro National Anthem

# 26 (button on 5.7)


I did not enjoy the first five years of grade school; some of the teachers were not student friendly. I remember the hand-me-down books, often torn pages and very worn from Dickinson school after the white children received new ones.
Recollections Peggy Farmer

I don’t remember getting a book when I was in school that didn’t already have five or six names in it before I could write mine in it. When the white school got new books, we got their old books. But that didn’t hold me back. I don’t care if a book is a thousand years old; it still has something you can learn. I remember we didn’t have uniforms; we had whatever was left from up there. Some might have been red; some might have been green…because they were hand-me-downs. Thing was, the parents had to pay for them.
Recollections Shamarion Barber

Dunbar Band

“Mr. Henry Hayes was Dunbar’s first and only band leader and music teacher. I played the alto saxophone. We participated in competitive concerts at Prairie View University and often won 1st and 2nd prizes. I remember we had homecoming parades before the final home football games. We would march down Highway # 3 from Dunbar to Dickinson High School, where the games took place. Dunbar did not have a football field with bleachers. We always had a good band.”

“I was also in the pep squad in elementary grades under the direction of Mrs. Sonora Williams; we often had practice in the vacant field across from Dunbar on the south side of the school.”
Recollections Peggy Farmer

# 27 (button on panel 5.7)

Sports at Dunbar

During school at Dunbar, I played basketball and football. We did not have a football stadium. We played basketball on the playground between the Dunbar School cafeteria (auditorium) and the home economics building. We played football in the vacant lot South of the Dunbar High School building.
Recollections Alton Farmer

# 28 (button on panel 5.7)

We couldn’t dress for the game

I was in the band and I played football at Dunbar. We played our football games at Dickinson High School because Dunbar did not have a football field and bleachers. Our team couldn’t use the dressing rooms at Sam Vitanza Stadium because we were black.

We had our halftime meetings under the goal posts at either end of the stadium and we had to dress at the gym at Dunbar before going to the game.
Recollections Patrick Williams

5.6 (12 X 24 Text and image)

Professor Williams

Joseph O. Williams, Sr. accepted the position as principal at Dunbar School in 1930.
Dunbar at that time was a small two-story frame building. It housed classrooms for eleven grade levels with an assembly room on the second floor. After several years, Dunbar expanded to several buildings, and grade levels increased from eight to ten. Professor Williams, as he was known in the community, implemented new curricula such as shop and metal activities, home economics, and music, providing more jobs to black teachers with these specialties. Dunbar began to compete in football and basketball with black schools in the surrounding area.

Dunbar did not have transportation for its students. The county provided buses for the white students but none for the black students. Professor Williams, like many educators, looked for other sources of income during the summer months. He purchased a bus, which he used to transport fruit and vegetables, which he had grown, to the market in Galveston. When school started, he used the bus to transport black students to school. He began recruiting students from neighboring towns. Although he was the principal, he drove this bus to League City, Webster, Friendswood, and other communities, personally picking up students. Black students attending Dunbar from Alvin had their own bus, purchased by the black community in Alvin. Professor Williams’s son Howard later drove the bus until the school district finally purchased transportation for Dunbar students.

Professor Williams created a school which drew recognition in and around Galveston County. An informal partnership was established with Texas Southern University and Dunbar. Professors from T.S.U. would travel the distance to Dunbar to collaborate with Dunbar teachers and help identify the needs of small town students. Professor Williams continued to oversee the improvement of Dunbar’s facilities and curriculum as a cafeteria was added and the grade level increased to twelve.

Professor Williams died as he was preparing to go to work in 1957 at the age of 63. A record crowd attended services to remember Professor Williams and his commitment and contributions to educating the black students of the region. Services were held at the new Dunbar gymnasium, another improvement project headed by Professor Williams.

5.2 (24 X 36 white school pic montage)

5.5 (24 X 36 Dunbar/Black school pic montage)

6. Economic Development

6.4 (10 X 15 Text and image of Grover Benson)


Before the 1880s, cattle ranching dominated rural Galveston County. Vast prairies of native Bluestem grass for grazing and bayous and creeks for watering made this ideal cattle country. The whole region was open range; only homesteads and gardens were fenced.

Two of the earliest ranching families in Dickinson were Benson and Deats. Both arrived after the Civil War in the mid 1860s. Ranchers from all over the region allowed their stock to co-mingle. Every spring, the cattle were rounded up for sorting and branding. The process caused a number of heated disputes over who owned which cattle. One dispute led to Grover Benson being tied up and whipped severely by cowboys from League City. The dispute ended in the ambush and shooting death of Marcus Benson, who was gunned down on Main Street in League City, where he had traveled to avenge his brother’s beating.

6.1 (12 X 24 Text and image)

Come to Dickinson “The Center of the Orange Belt”
The Fig Orchard & Strawberry Bed of the Coast Country of Texas

Fred Nichols promoted the land as being some of the richest in Texas, able to produce the finest fruits and vegetables. The climate was mild and conducive to the general health of its inhabitants. He brought in experts to comment on the quality of the water. Professor W. D. Church, chemist of the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad, said, “This water is extra good for boilers, and is exceptionally pure and wholesome drinking water, owing to the absence of organic matter.”

By 1909, the Dickinson Business League picked up where Nichols left off and was promoting with this story of success: “Two truck growers came to Dickinson seven years ago without a cent. They have, by good management and hard work, accumulated $7,000 in property; and they have $2,000 in the bank. They have shipped this season, from their own land (ten acres), 1300 crates of strawberries, worth $2,500, and still have berries to ship each day.”

The officers and board of directors of the Dickinson Business League included J. H. Leonard, H. A. Deats, W. F. Baldridge, J. M. Parke, Joe Salvato, G. L. Piazza, Gus Sharf, M. Lucy, C. B. Benson, J. A. Desel, Jos. Collonge, and E. E. Stone.

In 1911, the Interurban from Galveston to Houston was running hourly between the two cities through Dickinson. A pamphlet distributed by the Farmers and Merchants Progressive League of Dickinson announced, “We have the cream of the world in climate, soil, rainfall, health and location. No blizzards, cyclones, overflows or droughts. Farmers, truck and orange growers realize $100.00 to $1,000.00 per acre. Land at reasonable prices for 2,000 farmers.”

The land, they said, could produce a bale of cotton per acre or 50 bushels of corn. Other crops they listed as suitable to the Dickinson Country included Irish and sweet potatoes, peanuts, cabbage, turnips, radishes and mustard. Nearly every variety of vegetable does well here, they insisted.

But cotton and vegetables were not the only products the Farmers and Merchants Progressive League promoted. Fruit and berries, they announced, would bring the greatest return.

6.5 (10 X 15 /text)

Strawberry Capital of the World

“Strawberries are one of our most valuable crops. The plants are set in October, but only yield a half a crop the first year after planting. The second and third years are the best, and our truck growers realize about $350.00 per acre. Berries begin to ripen in February and continue to bear fruit until May.” Dickinson, it was said, was the “Strawberry Capital of the World.”

Come to Dickinson

“Our section is better orange country than California, and we are known as one of the best fig producing sections in the Union.

Everyone who has an orange grove should also have a fig orchard, for he can begin realizing money from his figs in July and up to the time his orange grove begins to ripen its fruit.”

An invitation was extended to anyone interested in helping to make Dickinson one of the best and most progressive countries of the world. The Dickinson Land Company and the Dickinson Realty Company encouraged people to buy land and invest in Dickinson.

“We invite farmers, merchants and all good people who want to live long, do well and be happy, to come to Dickinson, and we assure them that they will never regret it, and prosperity will crown their efforts.

All inquiries will be cheerfully answered by the secretary,

W. F. Baldridge”

Dickinson Promotional Booklet, 1909

The list of Dickinson’s promoters now grew to include C. B. Garner, G. I. Piazza, George Deats, Ed Deats, John Falco, Tony Cucchia, J. E. Walker, G. B. Fuqua, Wm. Doerrig, W. B. Springfield and the Wood brothers.

# 29 (button and headline on 6.5)

Picking Strawberries, The Worst Job

The worst job was during strawberry season. When the strawberries begin to get ripe they get big and you have to lift them off the ground or they’ll rot. The way you do it is to lift up the plant and put a bed of straw under the berries. That was backbreaking, a lot worse than picking.
Recollections Pete Salvato

6.7 (11 3/8 X 11 3/8 Text and buttons)

The Telephone Situation

It was thought that the telephone situation at Dickinson had been settled by the withdrawal of the Arcadia Company from the field, but last Friday, workmen from the company began erecting poles and announced their intention to install their lines. The League City Telephone Co. already has had its poles set, and the exchange will be installed this week in the new bank building. Monday night there was a meeting of Dickinson citizens to perfect plans whereby only one company shall operate in Dickinson, as two systems would certainly be a nuisance. At this meeting, a committee consisting of E.E. Stone, H.H Haden, J.M. Parke, T.J. Woods and Dr. A.W. Marshall was selected to perfect consolidation plans.
Mainland Messenger March 10, 1915

# 30 (button and headline on 6.7)

“Seeing is Believing, Goings on in Dickinson”

Talk about the corn crop of Illinois and Missouri, North Texas and Oklahoma, but have you seen the crop that is now growing in Galveston County? Best ever. We will yet show the world that the Coast Country is ahead in corn and cotton before we get through.
Mainland Messenger July 16, 1913

It is estimated that about 1500 crates of berries were shipped during the berry season from the interurban station.
Mainland Messenger May 27, 1914

The strawberries are beginning to grow scarce now, only a carload every other day is going out, while heretofore for the past two weeks a car and several hundred crates to local points has been the output. Northern berries are now coming to market, thereby lowering the price considerably.

The road running from Dickinson out to Mr. Jake Silbernagel’s is being shelled and with a few more days of good weather, it will be completed.

Frank Giamfortone is installing a new soda fountain in Frank’s pool hall.

The brick work on Dr. Garner’s new two-story brick store will be completed this week and will be ready for the carpenters to take charge. The doctor hopes to be able to occupy it by the 15th of June or the 1st of July.
Mainland Messenger May 12, 1915

6.6 (12 X 24 text w/Mr. Parke image)

Vote for Shelled Roads
Dickinson, Texas, October 1909

Letter to the Editor

There has never been a proposition for the voters of Galveston County to decide upon of as much importance as the vote on the bond issue to be held next Tuesday. Every man must not only go to the polls and cast a vote for the betterment of the mainland roads
but to see that his neighbor goes with him and help run the vote up and roll up a big majority.

To defeat this all-important issue at this time means to retrograde and to see other counties going ahead and building fine shell roads. We should stop and ask the question, “Are we going to fall behind the line?” Are we going to take a step backward? Are we going to say, by our vote, that we do not desire our county to prosper?

The Causeway is moving on and, with this link joining us with the people of the Island City, we must have the good roads to meet this giant undertaking. We must join in the grand celebration of the completion of this mighty task with shelled roads over our mainland so that we can hitch up our wagon and drive to the bay shore over roads that are shelled and up-to-date.

I cannot believe that there is a man in Galveston County that will cast his vote against this bond issue next Tuesday, and if there should be one, we hope that he will, on Wednesday, offer his holdings and move away to some other climate where the word progress has never been known.

With shell roads, beautiful farm homes will spring up all along the way. Happy families will, in contentment, bring our prairies to blooming gardens, and Galveston County will, as if by magic, come out of its lethargy and forge to the front rank. Our population will double in a few years and, where the longhorn used to roam, we will find a picture that we have dreamed would come true. Instead of prairie grasses we will have corn, fruit, vegetables, orange orchards, fig groves and rice fields.

We have an abiding faith in our people that they will, as they have done before, stand up and vote for this bond issue and push this county way up in the list of counties that have for their watch word “Progress and Prosperity.”

Signed: J. M. Parke, October 9, 1909, Depot Agent

6.8 (24 X 36 Image panel, Strawberries, figs, flowers, ferns, veggies, etc. and people)

6.2 (12 X 36 Image panel people, products. logos)

6.3 (21 X 36 Image panel agriculture, veggies, logos)

6.9 (24 X 36 shell roads people etc) DELETED

7. A New Economy


7.2 (10 X 18 Text)

The Great Depression

Unemployment was at 25%. The Great Depression gripped the United States and the world. What was once the land of opportunity was now the land of desperation. For many, the best hope for a better life was California. Many Dust Bowl farmers packed their families into cars, tied their few possessions on their backs, and sought work in the agricultural fields or cities of the West. Instead of advancement, survival was the keyword. Though democracies such as Germany and Italy fell to dictatorships, the United States and its Constitution survived.

The late 1920s and 1930s brought significant change to Dickinson. By 1925, the citrus and fruit business centered in the Rio Grande Valley. Nursery and fruit production along the Gulf Coast had all but dried up. As the nation entered the decade of the Great Depression, cash crops were few. The people of Dickinson made do the best they could without hard cash by growing their own vegetables and keeping livestock such as hogs and chickens. Prohibition was still the law of the land, and some enterprising residents turned to producing liquor and bootlegging to make a dollar.

7.3 (11 3/8” X 11 3/8” buttons and headlines)

# 31 (button and headline on 7.3)

Dickinson and the Depression

We didn’t have electricity, just kerosene lights in the rooms. I don’t think we got electricity until the 30s.

We didn’t have inside water. Everybody took a bath in the big tub once a week.

We were better than average because we raised everything. We had hogs, chickens, cattle, horses, mules, and everything we got out of the field.

About the only thing we had to buy were kerosene, sugar, and coffee.

Sunday we would all go to church. We never did wear shoes, the only time we wore shoes was on Sunday.

We all had chores. We had to milk the cows, feed the animals, slop the pigs, we did it all together, and there was nobody else to do it.

When I got home from school I had to get out to those fields and plow and stuff like that. And we raised hogs. My job was to feed them hogs in the morning and the evenings. If I didn’t do it I’d get the belt. We didn’t have anything for entertainment. We went to school, and then came home to help with the chores.

# 32 (button and headline on 7.3)

Father Ropps Goes to Town

I was an altar boy at the Catholic Church. I was one of the only ones in Dickinson.

We had a lot of different priests but I remember Father Ropps. He was such a big fat man he couldn’t get his stomach under the steering wheel of a car. I’d have to drive him all around. I remember he loved to play the horses. I’d drive him to Houston to play the horses. I was around 13 or 14 at the time. I started driving when I was 10. I loved cars.
Pete Salvato

# 33 (button and headline on 7.3)

Recollections from Moore’s Addition

My father worked private homes for rich white folks from Houston who had homes here in Dickinson.
Recollections Gladys Hagler

When we were growing up my father also owned a barber shop. I remember hair cuts were 25 cents and soda pop was a nickel. The customers were all black except for a Mexican family that lived across the railroad track in a blue house. That was the only Mexican family in Dickinson.
Recollections Lois Height

Our family moved to Dickinson from Evergreen, Texas. My father moved us here in 1929 to better our living condition. Most black families worked in fields or as longshoremen. Some men worked on the interurban track and the Cotton Exchange in Galveston. Families that were here when I came are the Haglers, Andersons, Slaughters, Matthews, and the Porters. I remember the Whitfields were known as best field workers. They worked picking strawberries and vegetables. Dickinson was mostly an open field at that time, wasn’t much here.
Recollections Lois Height

Automobiles during the early 30’s were very few especially among blacks. Mr. Donahue was at one time, the only black that had a car in Dickinson. He worked at the icehouse; we would drive to the icehouse to get ice to put in the icebox. Lots of people didn’t have ice boxes; they would put their ice in a tub, wrapped with newspaper to keep longer.
Recollections Lois Height

7.7 (10 X 18 text)


In the early hours on a morning in 1934, Dickinson’s first oil well blew in.

The discovery of oil near Dickinson in the early 1930s brought positive economic change. Demand for housing was so great in Dickinson that oil field workers slept in shifts in the local boarding houses. Almost every major oil company leased property and drilled wells. Humble Oil was by far the largest operator in Dickinson. They built a camp with paved roads, a park and recreation center and provided housing for workers with free water and gas. Humble Oil provided school bus service to carry their employees’ children to school. That bus was later donated to the Dickinson School District. For Dickinson, the oil companies offered employment to many young men and women and, for some fortunate landowners, royalty checks for many years.

7.5 (11 3/8” X 11 3/8” Text and image)

The Changing Face of Dickinson

In the late 1920s and 1930s, many of Dickinson’s farmers began to break up their farms. They often gave parcels to the next generation for home sites or developed the property themselves. The Giamfortone and Termini families were among those that divided their land for their growing family and for sale.

Dickinson’s resourceful residents turned to alternative enterprises to substitute for the collapsing fruit and vegetable market. Grocery and clothing stores were opened, as well as gas stations, garages, pool halls, cleaning establishments, saloons, barbershops, and night clubs. Dickinson was changing.


On December 7, 1941, Japan attacked Pearl Harbor, and the United States was plunged into World War II. Dickinson’s young men went off to war, and the women went to work. Jobs previously done by men were now done by women to free the men up to serve in the armed forces.

7.1 (24 X 36 Image montage)

7.6 (24 X 36 Image montage)


8. A Roaring Good Time (HL on 8.2)

8.1 (12 X 24 Text and image)

Towards Prohibition

In the era from 1870 – 1913, a series of “isms” was aroused: feminism, unionism, socialism and progressivism. Prohibition absorbed elements of all of them, and vice versa.

The feminist movement originated in the early 1800s. The Women’s Crusade of 1873 and the organization of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union in 1874 marked the formal entrance of women into the Temperance Movement.

The WCTU was devotedly headed by Frances E. Willard, a lady equally committed to women’s rights, suffrage, equal pay for equal work, and an eight-hour day.

# 34 (button and headline on 8.1)

McGuffey’s Readers Aid the Cause

The WCTU was responsible for part of the early campaign to educate the public about temperance. They were assisted in this effort by McGuffey’s Readers which denounced the licensing of liquor stores and saloons.

Whiskey makes “the happy miserable” and impoverishes the rich, the McGuffey books concluded. And the word spread. By 1902, the temperance campaign had permeated the public school system: every state but Arizona had introduced compulsory temperance education. Their texts teemed with both facts and misinformation such as “Alcohol sometimes causes the coats of blood vessels to grow thin. They are then liable at any time to cause death by bursting.” Indeed, temperance ideology contained a powerful strand of fantasy. It held that alcohol was the major cause of nearly all social problems: unemployment, poverty, business failure, slums, insanity, crime and violence.

# 35 (button and headline on 8.1)

The WCTU in Dickinson. Mrs. Deats Hosts a Luncheon

The WCTU was active in Dickinson in the early twentieth century. In April of 1914, Mrs. Fred Deats hosted a luncheon for Mrs. Herbert Linscott of San Antonio, a prominent temperance lecturer and an organizer of young people’s branches. After lunch the ladies retired to the High School where Mrs. Linscott spoke to the school children and organized a Loyal Temperance Union with the following officers:
General Superintendent, Mrs. S. D. Massey, President, Sybal Garner, First Vice President, Robert Massey, Second Vice President, Stella Silbernagel, third Vice President, Maurice Lucy, Fourth Vice President Katy Termini, Secretary, Alice Russell, Assistant Secretary, Frank Strom, Treasurer, Angelina Falco, Assistant Treasurer, James Parke. Twenty-five children signed the pledge and joined the Union.

The National Prohibition Party

In 1869, the National Prohibition Party was born, and in the twentieth century, a new prohibitionist organization ― The Anti-Saloon League ― came to dominate the movement. The League put its considerable resources behind candidates from any party who would vote as directed on the single issue of liquor. In 1913, the League finally declared itself in favor of constitutional prohibition. The Prohibition Movement, which now included large corporations as well as the many Protestant churches, had long supported the League, and mobilized the final support for Prohibition during the patriotic fervor of the First World War.


By December 1917, both houses of Congress had voted the required two-thirds majority to send to the states for ratification a constitutional amendment prohibiting the manufacture, sale, transportation, import, or export of intoxicating liquor. On January 16, 1919, Nebraska became the thirty-sixth state to ratify the Eighteenth Amendment, which was to go into effect in one year. In October 1919, Congress overrode President Wilson’s veto to pass a strict enforcement act known as the Volstead Act. This act defined “intoxicating liquor” as any beverage containing more than 0.5% alcohol.
At midnight on January 16, 1920, the Eighteenth Amendment took effect.

Prohibition’s supporters had argued that banning alcohol would ensure prosperity and increase law and order; these utopian moralists believed that major social and economic problems of American society would be solved by eliminating alcoholic drink.

# 36 (button on 8.1)

Enforcing Prohibition

Prohibition was ineffective because it was unenforceable, it caused the explosive growth of crime, and it increased the amount of alcohol consumption. Mayor LaGuardia of New York said, “It is impossible to tell whether prohibition is a good thing or a bad thing. It has never been enforced in this country.” The laws were flagrantly violated by bootleggers and common people alike. Bootleggers smuggled liquor from overseas and Canada, stole it from government warehouses and produced their own. The government had only 1,550 agents to patrol over 18,700 miles of coastline.

8.4 (10 X 18 Text)

The Free State of Galveston

Although one would think that prohibition would have made acquiring alcohol more difficult, liquor was actually very easy to obtain. The bootlegging and smuggling business was immense. Saloons were replaced by illegal speak-easies and on Galveston Island and in Galveston County, Sam and Rosario Maceo exploited the prohibition of liquor and gambling by offering illegal drinks and betting in nightclubs and saloons. This, combined with the extensive prostitution which had existed in the port city since the Civil War, made Galveston the sin city of the Gulf. The citizens tolerated and supported the illegal activities and took pride in being “the free state of Galveston.”

8.5 (11 3/8” X 11 3/8” Text and image)

The Maceo Dickinson Line

During the years between the world wars, Galveston and Galveston County, under the influence of Sam and Rosario (Rose) Maceo, exploited the prohibition of liquor and gambling by offering illegal drinks and betting in their nightclubs and saloons. Illicit liquor could be had by the bottle or by the drink in Dickinson. Gambling and other vices were available as well. Many establishments served booze openly. The end of prohibition did not put an end to the free wheeling times in Dickinson, Galveston County, or on Galveston Island. Brothers Sam and Rose Maceo owned, owned stock, or invested in more than sixty clubs in Galveston and Galveston County.

Dickinson was considered a “wide-open” town during Prohibition (1917-1933). Dickinson provided illegal liquor, gambling, and other vices to thousands of people in its heyday. Bootlegging, making moonshine and gambling flourished throughout Galveston County. In fact, driving into Galveston County from Harris County was known as crossing the “Maceo Dickinson Line.” It was rumored that if you had a drink in Galveston or Houston during this time, there was at least a 50% chance the liquor was made in Dickinson.

# 37 (button and headline on 8.5)

Prohibition Agents Raid Dickinson

On February 16, 1925, Federal Prohibition agent from Houston conducted a raid on several farmhouses near Dickinson. In one day from dawn to dusk, they destroyed ten stills with a daily capacity of 25 to 150 gallons each.

Ten days later a raid resulted in the destruction of ten more stills and more than 200 gallons near Dickinson. On October 22, 1925, Federal agents seized four more stills, a “gin mill,” 31 gallons of whiskey and six gallons of gin.

8.6 (11 3/8” X 11 3/8” text and image)

Try your luck, Gambling comes to Dickinson

The Golden Pheasant was one of the first establishments in Dickinson to introduce gambling. The Cedar Oaks Club, Town and Country Motel and Club, Rose Garden, Silver Moon, Salvato’s Green Lantern Café, later the Rodeo Café and the Dickinson Social Club followed suit.

In 1957, Attorney General Will Wilson, with the help of Texas Rangers, shut down bars, destroyed gambling equipment, and closed many houses of prostitution throughout Galveston County.

8.7 (11 3/8” X 11 3/8” Text and buttons)

Dickinson’s Bootleggers

During Prohibition there were stills everywhere. There weren’t any trees like there are now. Out in the prairie, in the middle of nowhere, there were a number of stills operating. Nobody checked on them and nobody found them. You could see anyone coming and there was just a dirt road. In the winter you couldn’t get there anyway because of the mud. It was cash money and there wasn’t much money. You had to make a living.

North of 517, there wasn’t anything there but wood. I remember going out there and finding stills all over the place, right there in the woods.
Recollections Lobit family

# 38 (button and headline on 8.7)

Shhhh! Keep Still

I remember one fella that wouldn’t let anyone work on his roof except Fred Deats ‘cause he had a still in the attic and didn’t want anyone to know. He could trust Fred.
Mr. Collogne, the man who had the lumber yard here, he’d buy carloads of grapes and sell them to the Italians to make wine.

They couldn’t afford to buy a train car load of grapes but he could.

There were stills all over the place. There was one house not far from here that had a bathroom in the center of the house and no windows. Nobody could look in and that’s where they had the still.
Recollections Deats family

When they were bootlegging the revenuers would come around every six months or so, hit one or two of them, but they didn’t bother too bad.
Recollections Pete Salvato

One of my uncles turned out to be a pretty good whiskey maker during prohibition. My mother said that they lived in a wood house with old wooden walls. Whenever someone would come over he would go over to the wall and slip up a piece of board on the wall and pull out a bottle. He even made cordials and stuff like that. He was good at it. At one time the sheriff was one of his customers.
Recollections Dora Magliolo

You know when the Italians were raising strawberries they had a hard time. Everything was hand to mouth, hard work with wagons and mules. But when prohibition came, most of the Italians went to making bootleg. And they all prospered, fixed up their houses, bought the cars and things ended up better. Yeah…that was what really made the Italians and then later the gambling. Slot machines were big, people have a little restaurant they’d have two or three slot machines and do real well with them.

8.3 (10 X 30 Text and image)

Dickinson is the Place

I played my first slot-machine in Fred’s Place in the early 1940s when I was about six years old. I was with my dad, Frank Lothrop. He told me “I’ve got to drop in here and see a friend.” He took me to the back of the establishment where there were three machines against the wall. He demonstrated how the machines worked, put in a nickel, pull the arm, watch the fruit spin in the windows, gave me a hand full of nickels and went to the front of the bar to meet his friends.

I remember the thrill of putting the nickels in and pulling that “bandit’s arm.” I couldn’t wait to get home to tell my mother about all the fun I had. When I told her she sucked in her breath and shot a look at my father and in a flat tone she asked him, “What in the world were you thinking, taking a child into a beer hall?” I answered for my dad, “It’s okay mom; you should have seen those cherries spin.”
Recollections of Greta Lothrop Hockersmith,

# 39 (button and headline on 8.3)

Fine Wool Suits

My father owned Dickinson Cleaners on Main Street. His best customers were Mr. Joe Salvato, Mr. Joe Giamfortone and Frank Termini who owned some of the most famous gambling casinos in Dickinson. They had beautiful fine Italian wool suits. My father used to let me touch their suits to let me feel what really fine wool felt like. It was always a special treat. It gave me the feeling of being part of a special inside loop.
Recollections of Greta Lothrop Hockersmith

The Silver Moon offered dining, dancing and gambling. I remember the Texas Rangers coming many times, disturbing the nightclub: People running and screaming.
My Dad, Lonnie Peterson, worked there part time, parking cars and running errands.
He made more money in tips on weekends than he made in a week at Smith and Douglass. The only Blacks allowed were employees.
Recollection of Peggy Farmer

# 40 (button and headline on 8.3)

Work and Rangers at the Silver Moon

Sometimes, I worked at the Silver Moon with my mother in the kitchen. I can remember when the Texas Rangers came one year; they took axes and chopped those machines into pieces. They would take the slot machines and pack them with one hand; Aaron Timmons and Frank Zeno were some of the blacks that I remember worked there.
Recollections Vera Prylor


# 41 (button and headline on 8.3)

What a Job

Right after the war they had a little gambling around Dickinson. I worked it. I started as a Keno card shuffler, you know Keno? I learned the tricks of the trade, you know. I went to the Rose Garden and worked there for a while. From there I worked the 75 Club and from there I worked the Cedar Oaks in Dickinson. I was working there for a while then I got high society. One of the bosses came down and he said “Sam, how would you like to come and work at the Balinese?” I said, “When do you want me to start?”
They had great entertainment there, I mean great. Frank Sinatra, Sophie Tucker, they all came down.
Recollections Sam Palermo

The Golden Pheasant opened in the early 20s. The story goes that Bonnie and Clyde came through and stopped, sat and ate at the Golden Pheasant.

# 42 (button and headline on 8.3)

There was Gambling Everywhere

I have memories of the gambling raids in the 50s by the Texas Rangers. I was six years old. I was present when they came in. It was quite frightening for a child who didn’t know what was going on. But the Golden Pheasant was the hub in Dickinson. My aunt, Dora Salvato Magliolo, remembered the beautiful stuffed pheasants they had displayed in there. They had gold plated ones too and a gorgeous bar. We don’t know what became of that, but it was a nice establishment. But it’s gone, gone with the wind.
Recollections of Nena Trombatore Neal, granddaughter of Ben Salvato

In the 50s there was gambling everywhere. The biggest buildings in town, the Rose Garden, the Silver Moon, Golden Pheasant, they all had gambling. The Rodeo Café down on Highway 3 had a slot machine on the sidewalk. My grandmother used to take me there for a hamburger once in a while and she’d let me play the slot machine.
Recollections Lobit family

In the 1920s, brothers Sam, Frank and Joe Giamfortone decided gambling might be a lucrative business. They invested in slot machines. The company grew into the Dickinson Novelty Company. Sam built the Rose Garden Restaurant and Club in 1926. He also had the Garden Liquor Store, the Shrimp & Oyster House and a gas station.

As time went on, Frank and Joe bought the Sportsman Inn in Kemah, the Searchlight in La Marque, and later opened the Streamline Dinner Club in Algoa. Frank opened Frank’s Place, the Pool Hall and Frank’s Barber Shop in Dickinson. Together they bought property all over the county and housed their machines in most businesses on the mainland. The gambling business was very good to the Giamfortone brothers and the Giamfortone family.


# 43 (button and headline on 8.3)

The Dime that Never Left

My grandfather got tired of farming in the 1920s and that’s when he developed the Golden Pheasant. Downstairs was a restaurant. I remember as a child, about 6 or 7 years old, I asked my grandmother for a nickel to get an ice cream cone and a nickel to play the slot machines. In those days there were slot machines everywhere. I could play downstairs; I was too young to go upstairs where the casino was. I would pull up a chair and stand on it and put my nickel in the slot machine and pull down on the handle. Then I’d go in the same building to see my Uncle Dominic who owned the restaurant and spend my other nickel there for an ice cream cone. The dime never left the family. Recollections Raymond Termini

Carlo Falco owned the Silver Moon Club. The restaurant would seat about 50 people, and had two dice tables, a roulette wheel, and slot machines.

John Falco opened the first icehouse in Dickinson, started the Dickinson Ice and Fuel Company and Water District with the Emmittes, and owned Falco’s Drive-Inn and F&S Grocery.

8.2 (24 X 36 Image montage)
A Roaring Good Time

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8.9 (18 X 36 Image montage) DELETED

9. NASA Connection, Apollo 13 Control Room
18 X 18 ribbon with Aquila Burns dressmaker

NASA Connection

The first two days, the crew ran into a couple of minor surprises, but generally Apollo 13 was looking like the smoothest flight of the program. At 46 hours 43 minutes, Joe Kerwin, the CapCom on duty, said, “The spacecraft is in real good shape as far as we are concerned. We’re bored to tears down here.” It was the last time anyone would mention boredom for a long time.

The message came in the form of a sharp bang and vibration. Jack Swigert saw a warning light that accompanied the bang, and said, “Houston, we have a problem here.” Lovell came on and told the ground that it was a main B bus undervolt. The time was 2108 hours on April 13.

A most remarkable achievement of Mission Control was quickly developing procedures for powering up the Command Module after its long cold sleep. Flight controllers wrote the documents for this innovation in three days, instead of the usual three months.

“During the mission, a number of other young women and I typed the flight plan. We all wore headsets, so if an engineer wanted a particular message on the flight plan at a certain time, we would type it, and it would be displayed on the screen in the control room. We worked in eight-hour shifts. The control center was in total chaos. The Flight Director and Flight Engineers, with concerned looks on their faces, kept making changes to the flight plan, some of which were given to me for the screen display on the big screen. Then, all of a sudden, there they were, parachutes open and landing in the ocean. It was a tremendous challenge for the engineers. I felt like I was a part of history, if only in a small way.”
Recollections Pat Benoist Dewey


9. NASA Connection,
18 X 18 Ribbon with Apollo 13 Control Room

Aquila Burns, Dressmaker for Astronauts’ Wives

Aquila had been sewing most of her life. She remembered as a little 5 year old girl, standing behind her mother, watching intently as she sewed; her mother saw her keen interest. Aquila began sewing with her mother from that time on. During the winter months, when it was too cold to go outside, the girls would stay inside and help their mother quilt. When she took home economics classes at Dunbar, she was already so proficient that she was asked to assist the teacher, Ms. Bessie Mason, Dunbar’s first home economics teacher. Aquila soon began sewing for different people in the community. The astronauts’ wives heard about her sewing from their housemaids and friends. Her sewing expertise became well known among the well-to-do whites.

Mrs. Scott Carpenter was quoted in an article in the Houston Chronicle that featured a story on Aquila and her work for the Astronaut’s wives: “My dressmaker, Mrs. Aquila Burns, is a tiny, soft-spoken woman with graceful gestures, impeccable taste and innate good judgment. We have enjoyed a good friendship over coffee and planning sessions. Her house in Dickinson is often my last stop before that mad drive to the airport to meet Scott.”

Annie Glenn, astronaut John Glenn’s wife, forwarded the article on to Aquila with the following letter.

9. NASA Connection,
18 X 18 Ribbon with Apollo 13 Control Room

Aquila Burns, Dressmaker for Astronauts’ Wives

Aquila had been sewing most of her life. She remembered as a little 5 year old girl, standing behind her mother, watching intently as she sewed; her mother saw her keen interest. Aquila began sewing with her mother from that time on. During the winter months, when it was too cold to go outside, the girls would stay inside and help their mother quilt. When she took home economics classes at Dunbar, she was already so proficient that she was asked to assist the teacher, Ms. Bessie Mason, Dunbar’s first home economics teacher. Aquila soon began sewing for different people in the community. The astronauts’ wives heard about her sewing from their housemaids and friends. Her sewing expertise became well known among the well-to-do whites.

Mrs. Scott Carpenter was quoted in an article in the Houston Chronicle that featured a story on Aquila and her work for the Astronaut’s wives: “My dressmaker, Mrs. Aquila Burns, is a tiny, soft-spoken woman with graceful gestures, impeccable taste and innate good judgment. We have enjoyed a good friendship over coffee and planning sessions. Her house in Dickinson is often my last stop before that mad drive to the airport to meet Scott.”

Annie Glenn, astronaut John Glenn’s wife, forwarded the article on to Aquila with the following letter.


11. A Tale of Two Dickinsons Part One
(28 X 18 ribbon)
Why the Dickinson Depot has two waiting rooms
At the time this depot was built, Texas law required segregated waiting rooms: one for white passengers, and another for colored. Railroads operating in the state had to comply. The law required the races to be segregated in schools, theaters, restaurants – everywhere. Blacks could not go to a white hotel, or a white restaurant or club, unless they worked there.

Plessy v. Ferguson
On June 7, 1892, a 30-year-old colored shoemaker named Homer Plessy was jailed for sitting in the “White” car of the East Louisiana Railroad. Plessy was only one-eighths black and seven-eighths white, but, under Louisiana law, he was considered black and therefore required to sit in the “Colored” car. Plessy went to court and argued, in Homer Adolph Plessy v. The State of Louisiana, that the Separate Car Act violated the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Amendments to the Constitution. The judge at the trial was John Howard Ferguson, a lawyer from Massachusetts, who had previously declared the Separate Car Act “unconstitutional on trains that traveled through several states.” In Plessy’s case, however, he decided that the state could choose to regulate railroad companies that operated only within Louisiana. He found Plessy guilty of refusing to leave the white car. Plessy appealed to the Supreme Court of Louisiana, which upheld Ferguson’s decision. In 1896, the Supreme Court of the United States heard Plessy’s case and found him guilty once again.

# 74 (button and headline on panel)

Justice John Harlin, The Lone Dissenter
A brief reprise of Plessy and the following from Justice Harlan
The lone dissenter, Justice John Harlan, showed incredible foresight when he wrote
“Our Constitution is color-blind, and neither knows nor tolerates classes among citizens. In respect of civil rights, all citizens are equal before the law…The present decision, it may well be apprehended, will not only stimulate aggressions, more or less brutal and irritating, upon the admitted rights of colored citizens, but will encourage the belief that it is possible, by means of state enactments, to defeat the beneficent purposes which the people of the United States had in view when they adopted the recent amendments of the Constitution.”
Over time, the words of Justice Harlan rang true. Although nowhere in the opinion can the phrase “separate but equal” be found, the Court’s rulings approved legally enforced segregation as long as the law did not make facilities for blacks inferior to those of whites.
The Plessy decision set the precedent that “separate” facilities for blacks and whites were constitutional as long as they were “equal.” The “separate but equal” doctrine was quickly extended to cover many areas of public life, such as restaurants, theaters, restrooms and public schools. Not until 1954, in the equally important Brown v. Board of Education decision, would the “separate but equal” doctrine be struck down.
How did Jim Crow “separate but equal” evolve?

“Jim Crow” refers to a traditional blackface character in Minstrel shows –
bawdy, vaudeville-style musical entertainments, which from the 1830s to
1900s were as popular in the North as they were in the South. The term was
then applied to the rules, customary or statutory, that enforced racial
separation after the Reconstruction. The “Jim Crow” regime actually emerged
slowly in the South (and in the North), as even mildly successful
egalitarian reforms were gradually eroded by the constant pressure of white
supremacy. The just-plain racism of the white supremacists was
increasingly supported by the scientific racism of the nineteenth-century’s
latest “objective” social science. Social Darwinist evolutionary theories,
for example, suggested that it was a natural thing for light-skinned races
to rule the world, and darker races to be ruled. Moreover, it was a given
that light-skinned peoples must remain biologically “pure” and could only do
so by socially shunning the dark. Thus, racial separation, always a good
idea in the minds of the white supremacists, and now also understood to be
the law of nature; Plessy v. Ferguson made it the law of the land.

What was Brown v. Board, and how did it influence segregation in the South?

Plessy v. Ferguson (1896) was finally overturned by the decision in Brown v.
Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas (1954). Already, little by little,
African American lawyers (including Thurgood Marshall) had established in
court that Jim Crow’s promise of “equal” had never been fulfilled in public
graduate schools, medical schools and law schools. In Brown, the Supreme
Court decided that, in the area of public education, separate was inherently
unequal, and hence unconstitutional. It is difficult to understate the
ruling’s impact on Southern politics and society. In large part, the 1955
refusal by Rosa Parks to go to the back of the city bus in Montgomery,
Alabama, which resulted in her arrest as well as a successful boycott by
African Americans, was her brave attempt to ratify and also to extend the
principles of Brown v. Board.

# 75 (button and headline on panel)

Chief Justice Earl Warren wrote for the unanimous Court in Brown
“Today, education is perhaps the most important function of state and local governments. Compulsory school attendance laws and the great expenditures for education both demonstrate our recognition of the importance of education to our democratic society. It is required in the performance of our most basic public responsibilities, even service in the armed forces. It is the very foundation of good citizenship. Today it is a principal instrument in awakening the child to cultural values, in preparing him for later professional training, and in helping him to adjust normally to his environment. In these days, it is doubtful that any child may reasonably be expected to succeed in life if he is denied the opportunity of an education. Such an opportunity, where the state has undertaken to provide it, is a right which must be made available to all on equal terms.”
Boynton v. Virginia
364 U.S. 454 (1960) was a decision by the Supreme Court of the United States. Within a few years after the Brown v. Board decision, not just public schools but also public accommodations, including bus and train depots, became the loci for racial reform, and often racial violence. In 1960, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Boynton v. Virginia that segregation in bus terminals that were open to interstate travelers was also unconstitutional.
Pleading that case before the Supreme Court on October 12, 1960, was Thurgood Marshall, who later became the first black Supreme Court Justice.
# 76 (button and headline on panel)

What was Boynton v. Virginia all about?
In 1958, Bruce Boynton, a black student at Howard University Law School in Washington, D.C., took a Trailways bus from Washington to his home in Montgomery, Alabama. On a 40-minute layover at the Trailways Bus Terminal in Richmond, Virginia, the passengers went inside to eat. Boynton entered the segregated restaurant, sat in the white section and ordered a sandwich and tea. When asked to move to the colored section he refused, saying that as an interstate passenger he was protected by federal anti-segregation laws. Declining to leave, he was arrested by local police, charged with trespass, and fined $10.
The Commonwealth of Virginia conceded that the conviction could not stand if anything in federal law or the Constitution gave Boynton a right to service in the restaurant. But it found no such right. Lawyers for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) petitioned the Supreme Court on grounds that Boynton was entitled to such protection under the Constitution.
The significance of Boynton was not so much in its holding — it managed to avoid deciding any constitutional questions in its decision, and its expansive reading of Federal powers regarding interstate commerce was also well established by the time of the decision — but the outlawing of racial segregation in public transportation led to a movement called the Freedom Rides, in which African Americans rode various forms of public transportation in the South to challenge local laws or customs that enforced segregation.
The Dickinson Depot, with its two separate waiting rooms, would certainly have fallen under Boynton v. Virginia. It would have been illegal to continue to operate the depot as a segregated facility after this ruling.
# 77 (button and headline on panel)
A Strategy of non-violence
The Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) proposed the “Freedom Ride” to test President John Kennedy’s commitment to enforcing this ruling. CORE’s strategy was to have an interracial group board buses in the North, but destined for the South, with whites sitting in the back and blacks in front. At rest stops, whites would go into “blacks only” areas and vice versa. Challenge and confrontation was expected, even courted, by the Freedom Riders. The idea spread, and evolved into the strategy of non-violent “sitting in” at lunch counters.

11. A Tale of Two Dickinsons Part Two
(45 X 18 ribbon part 2 and part 3)
The Long Night of Racial Segregation
In 1896, the Supreme Court issued the Plessy v. Ferguson decision that legalized segregation of the races. Segregation, the court ruled, was fine as long as the facilities were equal.
It began after the Compromise of 1877, where among other things, President Hayes recalled all federal troops stationed in the South when the white citizens of the North gradually turned their backs on the black citizens of the South. This began what was called the “Long Night of Racial Segregation.”
# 78 (button and headline on panel)

Poll Taxes and Grandfather Clauses
The first step in segregation was to pass poll taxes, charging for voting so that blacks were unable to afford it. Some polls required literacy tests, which caused people who could not read or understand the reading to void their vote. Poll taxes and literacy tests did not violate the Fifteenth Amendment because they were not directly related to “race, color, or previous condition of servitude.” Another technique for segregation was the Grandfather clause. This clause established that poll taxes and literacy tests did not apply to persons who had been able to vote before 1867, or their children and later decedents. In 1875 a Civil Rights Act was passed that provided that “citizens of every race and color” were entitled to “the full and equal enjoyment” of hotels, trains and all “places of public amusement”. After the Compromise of 1877, however, whites began to ignore this law.
In fact, these segregation laws became the rule for the entire country, thanks to Plessy v. Ferguson. In 1881, Tennessee passed the first of the Jim Crow Laws. Tennessee laws required blacks to ride in separate railroad cars, among other things. The passage of these laws opened doors for other Southern states as well. Florida followed suit in 1887 and Texas in 1889. These laws were extended to separation of the races in all places. After this, segregation became the rule in the South. For over half a century following the court’s decision, the issue of “separate but equal” was settled. The Plessy case served as justification for the segregation policies of many states until 1954.
By 1955, however, the cumulative weight of the Supreme Court precedent had combined with other important trends and developments to shift white public opinion, putting proponents of segregation squarely on the defensive.


# 79 (button and headline on panel)
The Etiquette of Segregation
The essential function of segregationist racial etiquette was to define and maintain the social distance necessary to highlight the social superiority of whites in relation to blacks.
Jim Crow etiquette required blacks to address whites as ‘Mr.’ or ‘Mrs.,’ but allowed whites to address blacks by their first names. It counseled blacks to enter a white person’s dwelling from the rear, but imposed no reciprocal expectation. It required blacks and whites to dine separately under all circumstances.
Dickinson’s Black Community
In Dickinson, African Americans began settling in what is today Moore’s Addition in the late 1800s. This was one of the few section of town where blacks could buy property. The law of the land provided that the races would be separated one from the other. This meant that the black community had its own park, churches, restaurants, rooming houses, stores, taverns, barbershops, funeral parlor and school. Modes of transportation like the GH&H railroad or the Interurban had separate sections for black passengers, and not all cars or trains were available to Blacks.

During and after prohibition, when gambling was a feature in Dickinson, the clubs were restricted to Blacks unless they were employees. Black entrepreneurs opened their own clubs in Moore’s Addition. Clubs such as the Grey Mule, “T” Bones Café, and Casa Blanca catered to the Black community. Movie theaters were also segregated. Blacks could attend the movie but were made to sit in the balcony while the white audience sat below.
African American churches, always important to the black community, became a refuge for Blacks in the South as segregation became law. Church leaders were often the most influential and independent figures in black communities.

11. A Tale of Two Dickinsons Part 3
45 X 18 ribbon Part 2 and Part 3)

Segregation ends in Houston and Galveston County

In Houston, bottom-line business interests trumped race bias. A few
political leaders possessed sufficient influence and independence to
implement reforms without waiting to be prodded by the courts. Roy Hofheinz,
the millionaire real estate developer who served as mayor from 1953 to 1956,
ordered the desegregation of restrooms, water fountains, and waiting areas
in the city’s new airport, directed the removal of “whites only” and
“colored” signs from restrooms at city hall, and arranged the integration of
the municipal golf course. Only the last of these executive actions was a
response to a federal court order. Mayor Hofheinz broke the initial
resistance to this step by reminding the members of the city council that it
would be very expensive for the city to build a separate-but-equal “colored”
golf course. Schools were another matter – the Houston and Galveston County school districts took decades to desegregate, and only by federal court order. The last segregated class graduated from Dunbar in 1966.

Pocketbook issues were also in evidence when, during the nascent African
American students’ sit-in movement of 1960, Houston’s political and business
leaders conspired to keep news of civil rights protests out of the media
spotlight. This was possible, at least temporarily, because Houston’s
newspapers, television stations, and radio stations were owned by a
relatively small number of influential individuals or families. The owners
of businesses facing protests concluded that racial strife might damage the
city’s self-promoted progressive image and hence harm its economic
prospects. As a result of their agreements with local black community
leaders, who were similarly business-minded, most of Houston’s major
downtown businesses were desegregated during an orchestrated media

Was the process smooth, as compared to other places?

The desegregation of Texas, and especially Houston, was comparatively quiet
and peaceful, but only comparatively. Little Rock, Arkansas, became the
well-publicized site of “massive resistance” in 1957, while the Houston
businessmen seemed to have snuck desegregation by the resisters in the dead
of night. That did not mean that Houston was a particularly racially
tolerant or progressive city, per se, but only that the resistance was less
massive and monolithic. Rural areas (especially in East Texas) featured
more deeply ingrained racial prejudice.

12. Sculpture Voices and Office

12.1 (18 X 6 rail mount)

Mr. James Parke, Depot Agent

In 1901, Mr. James Parke arrived to take charge of Dickinson Depot.

Born in Indiana, Mr. Parke lived for a time in Jewett, Texas, before coming to Dickinson. Mr. Parke served not only as the station agent, but also as the town’s unofficial mayor, legal advisor, chief promoter and public stenographer (he owned the only typewriter in town).

Mr. Parke was an active promoter of Dickinson, encouraging families to settle here. He served on the board of directors of the Dickinson Business League, organized to promote Dickinson as “The Center of the Orange Belt, The Fig Orchard & Strawberry Bed of the Coast Country of Texas.”

A promotional brochure from the early 1900s read, “Dickinson, Texas, the Strawberry Capital of the World.”

# 80 (button and headline on panel)

Mr. Parke

Mr. Parke’s granddaughter describes him, “He was a distinctive figure in his seersucker suit, white shirt, and black string tie; his railroad watch in his vest pocket with a chain arched across his ample front. The sagging pocket of his coat held a tobacco pouch for the pipe that was his constant companion.”

# 81 (button and headline on panel)
Strawberry Capitol of the World

Although the area produced a variety of crops, the soil seemed particularly suited for strawberries. Dickinson farmers shipped tens of thousands of cases of fruit in boxcars to markets throughout the Midwest in the period between 1900 and the late 1920s. Dickinson proclaimed itself the Strawberry Capitol of the World.

In a letter dated August 18, 1910, Mr. Parke detailed the monthly shipment of strawberries from Dickinson: In March, 1,842 crates at $3 per crate; April ― 13,759 crates at $2.50; and May ― 2,740 crates at $2 each. In 1909 he calculated there were 47,945 crates shipped, producing a revenue of $80,230.50.

# 82 (button and headline on panel)

The Secret of Successful Farming

Mr. Parke wrote an article for the Mainland Messenger in August 1913 titled “The Secret of Successful Farming,” it reads:
“The past season has taught our farmers that this coast country will raise corn and cotton and will produce as much per acre as the famous land of Oklahoma and North Texas. We have corn now growing here that will require a man to get a stepladder to gather it, and cotton that will make over a bale an acre.”

Mr. Parke was fondly known as “Uncle Jim.” He could always be found with Dickinson’s finest at social events and public forums. When he wasn’t selling tickets or handling freight, he was selling lots, drawing up wills, or typing letters. His citizenship and social standing were rewarded when he was one of the very few Dickinsonians to be honored with membership in the Oleander Country Club.

12.2 (12 X 6 rail mount)

Tony Salvato, Depot Telegrapher

Tony Salvato moved to Dickinson with his family from Bryan in 1902. He worked on his father’s strawberry and vegetable farm with his older brother Ben. Tony decided he was not cut out for farming and went to school to learn telegraphy and Morse Code. In 1911 Mr. Parke hired Tony as the telegrapher for the Dickinson station of the GH&H. He worked in this office for several years before being transferred to several other stations in the area and eventually to Galveston.

. _ _ . . . . . _ _ . . . . . _ _ . . . . _ _ . _ _ _ _ . .

. _ _ . _ . _ _ _ . . _ _ _ . . . . . _

# 83 (button and headline on panel)

Samuel Morse sends the first coded message, “What hath God wrought.”

In 1844, Samuel F. B. Morse sent the first telegraph message from Baltimore to Washington, reading, “What hath God wrought.” The dot and dash signals made from the sound of a clacking armature were easily read, and a new craft was born ― telegraphy.

Telegraphy played a strategic role during the Civil War. Commanders communicated with their troops almost instantly. After the war, railroad and telegraph lines crossed the country. Telegraphy advanced with the railroads because the telegrapher’s primary duty was maintaining communication across the ever expanding rail system. The telegrapher was the eyes and ears of the train dispatcher.

There was some concern among telegraphers when Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone in 1876, but Morse code and the telegraph continued as a vital communications link for 125 years before more modern systems took over.

# 84 (button and headline on panel)

Written in Morse code below the text “What hath God Wrought?”

What hath God Wrought? struck in code

12. Sculpture Voices
(18 X 18 ribbon)

Ms. Minnie Owens

When her parents came to Dickinson, “Miss Minnie” remained in Kansas teaching until the end of the school year. Upon arriving, she found that Dickinson had no county supported school and no paid teachers, so she decided to apply for the post. In order to apply, she had to pass the State Board examination, which was given in Galveston. She made the trip to Galveston on a schooner owned by Mr. Holmes, a family friend. Her application was accepted, and she became the first teacher to be fully paid with county funds.

# 85 (button and headline on panel)

Ms. Minnie recalls her first school.

“It was my good fortune to be elected to teach the Dickinson School for two successive terms. The frame building was about 30’ X 40’ and had been built shortly before for school and church purposes, perhaps more for church purposes as it contained box pulpit and had a steeple. It was furnished in part with home built desks and seats and a floor blackboard. There were 40 or more pupils ranging in age from 8 to 18. The subjects were from primary through 6th grade. Most of the pupils lived near, though some came from as far as the mouth of the bayou and had to live in Dickinson during the school week. Transportation ranged from buggy or wagon, horse or ox drawn and some by row boat and some came by foot.

The grounds were fenced as the cattle and hogs had the freedom of the town and adjacent country. The funds for the school provided about 6 months at $30 per month. Incidentals had to be provided by donations or some other way. Dickinson was ‘in the mud’ during rainy weather for many years until the grading and shelling of roads was effected.

The September 1900 storm razed the school building to the ground. After we recovered from the shock we had to plan for new quarters for the school term which was at hand. A portion of the exhibition pavilion built on the picnic grounds for the Texas Gulf Coast Fair of 1895 was prepared as well as possible under difficult circumstances.”

In 1901, a two-story frame building was built across the street from the Methodist Church. In 1903, their first two-teacher school year began.

She met Charlie Owens, School Trustee and Sunday School Superintendent at the Methodist Church. His visits to the school became more frequent after she arrived, and finally they married in 1894.

Her husband owned a store in town, “General Merchandise and Fancy Groceries.” The storm lifted the roof off of the store and ruined most of his merchandise. He did not seek bankruptcy but kept careful record of his debts and paid them off over the next few years.

There were now three children. When the proprietress of the local boarding house passed away, Minnie became a boarding house operator. The boarding house was the only restaurant in town, too. She housed and fed her now four children and the boarders (mostly young single men, teachers and salesmen called “drummers” who came in on the GH&H in search of business). When her husband, general store owner, a school trustee and the postmaster, died in 1910, she took over the post office.

A daughter, Beulah became a teacher at the Dickinson Elementary School. She married R.J. (Jack) Hughes, who operated the Oaklawn Fernery on the south bank of the bayou for years.

# 86 (button and headline on panel)

Strawberry Season

Local Post Mistress Minnie Owens recalled that Dickinson “came alive” in the spring selling season as farmers carried fruits and vegetables in wagons and on their heads to the rail station where children sold quart boxes of strawberries to train passengers. The annual arrival of agents “made us feel so important.” The buyers would come to town with silver dollars to buy strawberries.


12. Sculpture Voices

Two Young Picnickers from Houston or Galveston
(18 X 18 Ribbon)

# (button and headline on panel)

November 21, 1895

Record crowds of 4,500 to 5,000 visitors came to Dickinson for “Galveston Day” on the third day of the Texas Coast Fair of 1895. Some 2,500 were from the island.

Railroad officials reported that they “were prepared to handle big crowds but they could not take care of the whole earth.”

The morning train consisted of 19 coaches, in every one there was standing room only. The train leaving at 12:45 had 12 coaches with every seat jammed.

With the exception of bad train service nothing occurred to mar the occasion. The turf sport was by far the most exciting. The races were lively and hotly contested. More running horses are due to arrive from Houston tomorrow.

Shortly after the races had begun Galveston Mayor Fly was introduced to the crowd with the remark that “he needed no introduction to the people of this section of Texas.” The mayor made a short speech and was wildly applauded.

Picnic Grounds and Race Track

The “Dickinson Picnic Grounds” became one of the most popular places for picnics and outings in the entire area. Trains would pull onto a siding and unload picnickers and, at the end of the day, the train would return. One of the largest annual outings was “Ball Day” celebrating the birthday of George Ball, who gave the city the Ball High School building. The Galveston News reported in May 1918, “Public schools in Galveston will be closed all day today, and probably about half of the 5,000 students will enjoy the annual Ball Day outing in Dickinson.”

In 1896, the picnic grounds hosted the “Texas Coast Fair,” featuring agricultural and livestock exhibits and competitions, as well as numerous concession stands. The Galveston News in November of 1896 reported that the fair attracted thousands of people.

In addition to the Picnic Grounds, the Flying Kite harness racing track was built to attract even more visitors. The great harness champion Dan Patch was reported to have run at the Flying Kite.


# (button and headline on panel)

Conversation between the visitors recounting their day in Dickinson

12. Sculpture Voices

Two Young Picnickers from Houston or Galveston
(18 X 18 Ribbon)

# (button and headline on panel)

November 21, 1895

Record crowds of 4,500 to 5,000 visitors came to Dickinson for “Galveston Day” on the third day of the Texas Coast Fair of 1895. Some 2,500 were from the island.

Railroad officials reported that they “were prepared to handle big crowds but they could not take care of the whole earth.”

The morning train consisted of 19 coaches, in every one there was standing room only. The train leaving at 12:45 had 12 coaches with every seat jammed.

With the exception of bad train service nothing occurred to mar the occasion. The turf sport was by far the most exciting. The races were lively and hotly contested. More running horses are due to arrive from Houston tomorrow.

Shortly after the races had begun Galveston Mayor Fly was introduced to the crowd with the remark that “he needed no introduction to the people of this section of Texas.” The mayor made a short speech and was wildly applauded.

Picnic Grounds and Race Track

The “Dickinson Picnic Grounds” became one of the most popular places for picnics and outings in the entire area. Trains would pull onto a siding and unload picnickers and, at the end of the day, the train would return. One of the largest annual outings was “Ball Day” celebrating the birthday of George Ball, who gave the city the Ball High School building. The Galveston News reported in May 1918, “Public schools in Galveston will be closed all day today, and probably about half of the 5,000 students will enjoy the annual Ball Day outing in Dickinson.”

In 1896, the picnic grounds hosted the “Texas Coast Fair,” featuring agricultural and livestock exhibits and competitions, as well as numerous concession stands. The Galveston News in November of 1896 reported that the fair attracted thousands of people.

In addition to the Picnic Grounds, the Flying Kite harness racing track was built to attract even more visitors. The great harness champion Dan Patch was reported to have run at the Flying Kite.


# (button and headline on panel)

Conversation between the visitors recounting their day in Dickinson

13. Celebrations
(38 X 18 ribbon with Movies and Street Dancing)

Dickinson My Hometown


I liked Halloween too because we always got special treats at Halloween. We put out our shoes like children hang stockings at Christmas, and the witches would come during the night and fill our shoes with treats.
Dora Salvato Magliolo

Rose Garden Christmas

The Rose Garden was open 364 days a year – seven days a week, 24 hours a day, except for Christmas. On this day, the doors were closed to the public and opened to all the Giamfortone family. The kitchen was turned into an Italian cookery and the restaurant into a family dining room. This was truly an Italian festival. The aroma and the tastes of the delicious feast of Italian meatballs and spaghetti, turkey and dressing and all the trimmings, fried cardunas all kinds of vegetables, Italian biscotti, pies and cakes could never be forgotten.
Recollections Giamfortone Family

# 89 (button and headline on panel)

Christmas During the Depression

Christmas was not a big present celebration, about the biggest thing we got was an apple, no toys, we didn’t have any money. In later years we would make a tree and the girls would decorate it with colored paper made into rings and other decorations put together with flour paste but no lights or anything like that.
Recollections Pete Salvato

My folks didn’t bring anything with them from Italy that I remember but we always had spaghetti and meatballs at Christmas dinner. We had the works too, turkey, salad, pie but always spaghetti and meatballs too.
Recollections Sam Palmero

Celebrations, Juneteenth

On holidays, especially Juneteenth, we men would meet at the end of Sunset, sometimes at Jim Wiley’s place. We’d dig a hole in the ground and put in plenty of firewood. We used a pitchfork to turn the wood until it was really hot. Then we placed an old bed spring over the hole and smoked pigs, beef, deer meat, chickens, homemade links – everything. Everyone brought something and everyone was invited.
James Hall

# 90 (button and headline on panel)

Juneteenth in Moore’s Addition

My Uncle Sole made an instrument by tying up string to a broom and rubbing it across the ground or floor. We would dance to guitar music by Willie Fraiser and Base Guitar music and fiddlers. When night fell, the elders would stuff their empty brown beer bottles with cloth soaked in kerosene and light the cloth, this provided much light. We also had coal oil lamps.
Ruby Hill Wright


The people in the community were close-knit families who helped one another. There was an old lady by the name of Annie Harris, who delivered babies for the black women in town. When families needed food or clothing, the community would give a “pound party” and collect goods that were shared among the poor.
Recollections Mrs. Lois Height
What is Juneteenth?
On June 19 (“Juneteenth”), 1865, Union General Gordon Granger read the Emancipation Proclamation in Galveston, thus belatedly bringing about the freeing of 250,000 slaves in Texas. The tidings of freedom reached slaves gradually as individual plantation owners read the proclamation to their bondsmen over the months following the end of the war. The first broader celebrations of Juneteenth were used as political rallies and to teach freed African Americans about their voting rights. Within a short time, however, Juneteenth was marked by festivities throughout the state, some of which were organized by official Juneteenth committees.
The day has been celebrated through formal thanksgiving ceremonies at which the hymn “Lift Every Voice” furnished the opening. In addition, public entertainment, picnics and family reunions have often featured dramatic readings, pageants, parades, barbecues and ball games. Blues festivals have also shaped the Juneteenth remembrance.
Juneteenth declined in popularity in the early 1960s, when the Civil Rights Movement, with its push for integration, diminished interest in the event. In the 1970s, African Americans’ renewed interest in celebrating their cultural heritage led to the revitalization of the holiday throughout the state. At the end of the decade, Representative Al Edwards, a Democrat from Houston, introduced a bill calling for Juneteenth to become a state holiday. The legislature passed the act in 1979, and Governor William P. Clements, Jr., signed it into law. The first state-sponsored Juneteenth celebration took place in 1980.
# 91 (button and headline on panel) DELETED
“Lift Every Voice”

13. Entertainment
(38 X 18 ribbon with Celebrations / Community and Street Dancing)

Let me entertain you. Dickinson goes to the Movies.

In 1915, Vincent Liggio built the first movie theater in Dickinson on the northwest corner of Main Street and Video Street. It showed only silent movies in black and white.

They operated two projection machines. They did not have electricity, so they built a generator, which ran on gasoline behind the theater to generate electricity.

The Emmittes opened a talkie across the street from the Liggio silent movie house in 1928. The silent theater closed in 1931.

Emmitte moved his movie operation to Highway 3 into the new Hollywood Theater. When it opened in 1941, it was the entertainment center for Dickinson’s youth. “Me and my friends lived at that picture show,” remembers Clint Wolston. “I bet we saw every movie they showed.”

Times turned hard for the Hollywood in the 1960s. The last movie was shown on the Hollywood screen in 1966.

# 91 (button and headline on panel)

Going to the movies

I remember the movie Gone With The Wind. It was such a big movie, everyone had to see it. We had to go to Houston to see it.

At that time you dressed to go to the movies. You wore your hat to go to the movie.

I really remember high heeled shoes, and hats and gloves, fancy things. No matter where we went we always had hats and gloves. All of us had a fur coat. And red fingernail polish, it only cost ten cents, and face powder.
Recollections of Dora Salvato Magliolo

# 92 (button and headline on panel)

Recollection from the balcony

Because Dickinson is so small we, you know, the whites and blacks would cross…like at the movie, there was only one movie in town. Of course when we went we had to go upstairs, and we would go upstairs. If you wanted to go to the man’s movie you went upstairs.
Shamarion Barber

We would go movie with a quarter. We would pay a nickel to get into movie, a nickel for soda, a nickel for pop corn, a nickel for a candy bar and keep a nickel for another time. Of course we black kids had to sit up stairs at the picture show; white kids could sit at the bottom.
Mrs. Lois Height

13. Street Dancing
(38 X 18 ribbon with Movies and Celebrations / Community)

Street Dancing

Street dances were popular entertainment in Dickinson. They started during the Depression in the 30s and carried over into the 40s and 50s.

Folks would take cars out to the stretch of road that wasn’t busy and turn the radios, loud, to the same station and dance in the road.

In the 1950s, street dancing was a big affair. Sometimes there would be three or four bands along Main Street. Politicians would be charged $10 a minute for speaking to the crowd. The money was used to pay for the bands.

# 93 (button and headline on panel)

Oh How we Danced

“I remember on one occasion Main Street was blocked off from Highway 3 to the railroad tracks. There were three bands, one at Highway 3, one at Citizens State Bank and another at the railroad tracks. We danced the Texas Two-Step, Fox Trot, Waltz, Jitterbug it was good fun.”

Patricia Ann Garner Yates

14. Dickinson Exterior # 1 Depot Story
(24 X 12 exterior panel)


The Dickinson Depot

A new depot was built for League City in 1896. With the growing number of people flocking to the Dickinson Picnic Grounds since the Texas Coast Fair of 1895, the Dickinson Depot had become too small. A new suburban depot was constructed in Dickinson under the direction of J.H. Hill, General Manager and Superintendent of the line.

A telegram dated January 31, 1900, from Mr. Hill to F.P. Olcott, President of the GH&H, read, “Depot at Dickinson burned yesterday.” Mr. Hill sent a brief reply, “Rebuild depot.”

While planning for the replacement depot was underway, a baggage car was placed on a siding to serve as a temporary depot. Then on September 8, 1900, the Great Hurricane struck the upper Gulf Coast. The station agent, Charles Dibrell, spent that terrible night in the baggage car.

The hurricane caused so much destruction that work on the depot was delayed. It was not until the fall of 1901 that bids were received from contractors for building the depot and platforms according to the plans and specifications furnished by Galveston architect George Stowe.

By the winter of 1901, the depot building was taking shape. The building, painted in the standard station color Nile green, featured the only cupola on the line, a slate roof and red brick foundation.

The finished station was the finest on the line. There were two large waiting rooms, each with two sets of half-moon doors and windows. The white waiting room boasted an elegant ornamental fireplace and mantle. The agent’s office was situated between the two waiting rooms with a ticket window at each side of the office.

Notice how the roof has wide overhangs that shield the platform on all sides of the building. The interior space is light and airy. The high ceilings aid in ventilating the building. The doors and windows open to take advantage of the coastal breezes making the depot as comfortable as possible in the long humid summers.

Architect George B. Stowe

Galveston architect George B. Stowe was commissioned to design the new Dickinson Depot. He was born in the 1850s. He began his practice in Galveston in the 1880s and, by the 1890s, was a prominent architect. The Stowe family was part of Galveston’s social elite. He designed many houses that still remain Galveston landmarks.
Depot on the move

The Dickinson Depot was donated to the Weed N’ Wish Garden Club by the GH&H Railroad in the late 1960s and had to be moved to this site over the Dickinson Bayou bridge.

14. Dickinson Exterior # 2 League City Depot
(24 X 12 exterior panel)

The 1896 League City Depot

Late 19th and early 20th century passenger and freight stations in small towns were important economic centers. These depots served two functions. They were where passengers traveling by train disembarked and set off on journeys and also where freight traffic was handled.

The 1896 League City Depot is much more characteristic of the style of buildings built during this time period than the Dickinson Depot, which is a special design. Like the Dickinson Depot, both passenger and freight functions were combined in the same building.

The League City Depot represents the linear building type typical of those found in small Texas towns. The building is a wood frame construction, board and bat. This was a popular and very economical type of construction for serviceable but non-monumental buildings. Notice the cutout ornaments on the eaves just below the roof. The pediments and arabesques above the windows are efforts to economically decorate this very utilitarian building.

This building, like the Dickinson Depot, was donated to the Dickinson Weed ‘N Wish Garden Club by the GH&H Railroad in the late 1960s and moved to this site. The building had to be cut in two in order to be moved and reassembled on site.

14. Dickinson Exterior # 3 Technology
(24 X 12 exterior panel)


Modern Technology

When the GH&H first began construction of its line in 1857, the gauge of the track was 5’6,” as was typical for railroads west of the Mississippi. Railroads east of the Mississippi used a 4’8 1/2” gauge. The assumption among engineers was that the Mississippi could never be bridged.

Things would change – by the time the Transcontinental Railroad completed construction in 1869, the 4’8 1/2” track gauge was considered the standard, but not in Texas. Track gauge of 5′ 6” was required by Texas law until 1875.

The late 1880s and early 1890s were period of tremendous economic expansion in Texas. All along the Gulf Coast, in relation to the construction of railroad lines, new town sites were springing up, usually small towns that were tied to agricultural development.

Railroads were the miracle of modern technology in the 19th century. Imagine combining the functions of a freeway and an airport. Railroads were a superior form of transportation that supplanted earlier forms of shipping up navigable streams by boat and overland by wagon.

To supply the many needs of the burgeoning railroad industry, companies like M. M. Buck & Company of St. Louis sold every imaginable bolt, engine, lantern, rail, signal, switch, tool, track or wrench necessary to run and maintain a railroad through their catalogue.

10. Through the Decades

Ribbon A (8’ X 18” to include decades 1890-1899 through 1920-1929

1890 – 1899
The Industrial Revolution had transformed the world’s economy. In 1890, the United States was the world’s top producer of iron and steel. In 1893, financial panic erupted when American gold reserves fell below $100 million, setting off a national depression that lasted four years. Hundreds of railroad companies, steel mills and other businesses failed.

By the 1890 census, of the 62,947,714 people counted, 17 million lived west of the Mississippi River. Dickinson’s population was about 100. People were coming to the United States in great numbers – 3.6 million in this decade alone.

No longer were they coming from the “old immigrant” countries of western and northern Europe but from “new immigrant” countries of southern and Eastern Europe. On January 1, 1892, the government opened Ellis Island in New York City Harbor to process the multitudes coming to the New World.

These “new immigrants” were looked upon as less desirable and skilled than the earlier immigrants. The competition for jobs, accelerated by the panic of 1893, stirred antagonism toward these newcomers who were willing to work for less pay. Despite the hardships and discrimination, still they came.

The drive for public education continued. More and more women entered the teaching profession. By 1900, seventy-five percent of all teachers were women, and these women were rising to supervisory positions. Women’s rights grew as suffrage was granted in Colorado in 1893 and Utah in 1896.

In 1896, the Supreme Court issued the Plessy v. Ferguson decision that legalized segregation of the races. Segregation, the court ruled, was fine as long as the facilities were equal.

Main Street was still the center of life in the 1890s. The drug store soda fountain was a gathering place, and drives in a buggy were a way of courting. Dancing was a favorite pastime, with the two-step being the most popular, danced to the popular John Philip Sousa marches. Entertainment in the home consisted of family music playing on piano or guitar or singing. Sheet music was popular. The popularity of bicycles gave rise to songs about them including “The Cycle Man,” “The March of the Bloomers,” and the still popular “Bicycle Built for Two.” In 1895, Sears and Roebuck published their mail order catalogue. The catalogue became a favorite book in many homes. In 1897, Campbell’s condensed soup was introduced, which sold for 10 cents. By the end of the decade, there were 8,000 automobiles registered in the entire country, but only ten miles of paved roads.

# 44 (button on panel)

Popular Music from the 1890s

Chicago’s Columbian Exposition of 1893 introduced picture postcards, Juicy Fruit gum, and Cream of Wheat. Electricity was the theme, and the star attraction was the Ferris Wheel. In 1891, the Edison Company successfully demonstrated the Kinescope, which enabled one person at a time to view moving pictures. In 1896, the first successful projector showed projected movies. Other inventions included the zipper, the matchbook, the electric stove, the electric chair, and the adding machine.

One of the most popular memorized poems ever written was by Gelett Burgess in 1895.

I never saw a purple cow.
I hope I never see one.
But I can tell you anyhow.
I’d rather see than be one.

10. Through the Decades

Ribbon A (8’ X 18” to include decades 1890-1899 through 1920-1929

1900 – 1909
In 1900, a hurricane ravaged Galveston, Texas – 6,000 drowned. Eastman Kodak introduced the Brownie Box Camera, thus making amateur photography popular. The Brownie cost $1.00 and a six-exposure roll of film was 15¢. Sigmund Freud published The Interpretation of Dreams. Life expectancy at birth averaged 48 years for whites and 33 years for blacks. L. Frank Baum wrote The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, an allegory of Populist politics. Congress passed the Gold Standard Act; currency would be backed by gold reserves.
President McKinley began his 2nd term in 1901; he was shot fatally by anarchist Leon Czolgosz. Theodore Roosevelt was sworn in as his successor. Norwegian Johan Vaaler patented the paper clip in the U.S. Guglielmo Marconi of Italy, who in 1895 proved that radio signals could be sent without wires, sent the first radio signal across the Atlantic Ocean.
Carry A. Nation began her hatchet-wielding Prohibition crusade. In 1902, Enrico Caruso made his first gramophone recording. Barnum’s Animal Crackers were introduced by the National Biscuit Co. Army field uniforms changed from Yankee Blue to drab olive.
# 45 (button on panel)
Popular Music from the Early 1900s
The Wright brothers, Orville and Wilbur, flew the first powered, controlled, heavier-than-air plane at Kitty Hawk, NC, in 1903. Henry Ford organized Ford Motor Company. King Gillette created the first safety razor. Thomas Edison produced the important early motion picture The Great Train Robbery. President Roosevelt designated Pelican Island, FL, as the first national wildlife refuge.
In 1904, St. Louis, Missouri, staged a world’s fair to showcase American achievements and to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Jefferson’s Louisiana Purchase. Nearly 20 million visitors attended. The fair reflected the culmination of 19th century racial ideas in science, politics, and culture. Across from the technology exhibits were groups of indigenous peoples from around the world displayed in their “natural” habitats – a “living illustration” of man’s hierarchical development on the earth. By century’s end, race was invoked to explain everything: individual character, the cause of criminality, and the natural superiority of “higher” races. Racism gained additional impetus through the flawed but popular “science” of eugenics and Social Darwinism.


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Social Darwinism and Eugenics
Able Doumar, a Lebanese immigrant, invented the ice cream cone at the St. Louis World’s Fair when he rolled a waffle from one stall and put ice cream in it from another stall and sold the combination. Theodore Roosevelt was elected President. Teddy bears, named for President Roosevelt, became cherished toys. Other products born in this era were Crayola crayons and Jell-O.
Albert Einstein announced his special theory of relativity and other key theories in physics in 1905. The first Nickelodeon opened in Pittsburgh, PA. Such theaters, showing a film program for only 5 cents, soon became popular
In 1906, the San Francisco earthquake and three-day fire left 500 dead.
In 1907, a financial crisis gripped the United States. The stock market fell nearly 50% from its peak in 1906, the economy was in recession, and there were numerous runs on banks and trust companies.
Oklahoma became the 46th state to join the Union on November 16, 1907. Plastic was invented by Leo Baekeland of Belgium. Immigration peaked at 1.2 million. Most newcomers hailed from southern or Eastern Europe.
Grand Canyon National Monument was dedicated in 1908.
Robert E. Peary and Matthew Henson reached the North Pole in 1909. The National Association for the Advancement for Colored People (NAACP) was founded in New York. Chlorine was first added to public drinking water. Instant Coffee hit the market. Abraham Lincoln’s profile replaced the Indian head on US pennies.

10. Through the Decades

Ribbon A (8’ X 18” to include decades 1890-1899 through 1920-1929

1910 – 1919

Women strove for equality. The first suffrage parade was held in 1910. The 19th amendment that would give women the vote was proposed in 1919.

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Audio section, historic broadcast (recorded) portion of speech by prominent suffragette

In 1910, the population of the country was 92, 407,000 and the average salary was $750 per year.

On April 15, 1912, the Titanic went down. More than 1,500 people lost their lives.

In 1914, Dickinson had a population of 250, twelve businesses and a bank.

The Ouija Board became popular. Thirty million people a week flocked to the movies. The Model T was affordable. Chevrolet, De Soto, Dodge and Nash were all introduced during the 1910s.

Ballroom dancing was popular. Dance crazes included the Fox Trot and Tango. Black Americans continued to write and perform ragtime, blues and jazz. Popular songs of the decade included “Alexander’s Ragtime Band,” “Danny Boy,” and “You Made Me Love You.” War songs included “Pack Up Your Troubles In Your Old Kit Bag,” “Keep The Home Fires Burning,” “Over There,” “Til We Meet Again,” and “Oh! How I Hate To Get Up In The Morning.”

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Popular Music of the 1910s

The status of the Negro worsened during this decade. President Wilson (1913 – 1921) allowed many of his cabinet officials to establish official segregation in most federal government offices and, in some departments, for the first time since 1863. His administration imposed full racial segregation in Washington and hounded from office considerable numbers of black federal employees. Wilson and his cabinet members fired many black Republican office holders, but also appointed a few black Democrats. W.E.B DuBois, a leader of the NAACP, campaigned for Wilson and in 1918 was offered an Army commission in charge of dealing with race relations. (DuBois accepted but failed his Army physical and did not serve.) When a delegation of blacks protested his discriminatory actions, Wilson told them that “segregation is not a humiliation but a benefit, and ought to be so regarded by you gentlemen.” In 1914, he told the New York Times that “If the colored people made a mistake in voting for me, they ought to correct it.”

The United States entered the war on the side of the Allied Powers in 1917.
World War I was a beginning, albeit small, step toward some concepts of racial equality. Although black soldiers were relegated to essentially supply and labor jobs by the U.S. military, the French had no qualms about using African American military units in combat. As a result, the first African American unit in the war, the 369th Infantry Regiment, was assigned to the French Army. Also known as the Harlem Hell Fighters, this unit would not only see more combat action than any other American unit, it would become the most highly decorated American regiment of the war, regardless of race. Yet, despite its achievements, after being feted as part of a New York City victory parade following the war, its members would still struggle with racism upon their return home.

The Hell Fighters also created a different American legacy in Europe. James Reese was designated to create and lead a jazz band for the unit. That band’s performances for French audiences would create a love for jazz — a uniquely American art form — in that country and Europe that lasts to this day.

Prohibition became law in 1919.

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October 21, 1914
Battleship Texas School Children’s Silver Service Fund

The following letter has been sent out to all contributors of the silver service fund:

To all contributors to the Battleship Texas School Children’s Silver Service Fund:

The Battleship “Texas” will be in Galveston, Saturday, November 7th, 1914, and on that date will receive the silver service purchased by the contributions of the school children of Texas.

Your school, among others, contributed to the purchase of this service and we are anxious that as many scholars as possible be present at this presentation.

The ceremonies will be held on then campus of Ball High School at Galveston and the committee on arrangements desires to know whether there will be representation from your school at the presentation.

Low rates will be established on all railroads and it is hoped that many of the school children of Texas may find it convenient to come to Galveston at that time.


Texans in WWI

There was little opposition in the state to the draft, for which 989,600 men registered. Through the draft and voluntary enlistments, a total of 198,000 Texans saw service in the armed forces during the course of the war. In addition, 450 Texas women served as nurses. One nurse and 5,170 Texans died in the armed services; 4,748 of the dead served in the army. More than one third of the total deaths occurred inside the United States, many of them as a result of the influenza epidemic of 1918. Four Texans were awarded the Medal of Honor. Military camps established to train men for service were Camp MacArthur at Waco, Camp Logan at Houston, Camp Wallace at Hitchcock, Camp Travis at San Antonio, and Camp Bowie at Fort Worth.

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Life on the Home Front

Each public school was required to be equipped with a suitable flag and to spend at least ten minutes a day in teaching intelligent patriotism. “Give Till It Hurts,” “Do Your Bit,” “Buy More Bonds,” and other slogans found a place in the popular mind. Texans bought Liberty and Victory Bonds and War Savings Stamps and contributed to the Red Cross, Salvation Army, and other wartime organizations. They also cooperated in the food-conservation program known as “Hooverizing,” which included wheatless Mondays and Wednesdays, meatless Tuesdays, and porkless Thursdays and Saturdays; fat and sugar were to be conserved every day. War gardens were planted, and Texas farmers devoted new space to food crops. War industries established in the state benefited temporarily.

The war ended when Armistice was declared on November 11, 1918.

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Flag pole in the middle of St. Goar

The Galveston Houston Highway was a shell road in 1917 when the flag pole was first erected, right in the center of St. Goar, and right in front of our house. It was a gathering place for national and state holiday celebrations, political rallies and even school pep rallies. Mr. Fred Menotti raised the flag every morning and lowered it every night. My mother told me that when the flag was first raised during World War I, she and Mrs. Mable Stone made hundreds of tiny bouquets out of Cape jasmine and fern that were folded into the flag. When the flag unfurled at the top of the pole, the bouquets were released and floated down on the crowd in a floral shower. The town’s farewell to Captain Lothrop and his boys was held at the flag pole when the troops left for war training.

I can remember how proud I was to see our flag flying over the town, come peace or war. It belonged to us all. I guess at some point some progressive citizen decided that it was an obstacle to traffic and it was removed.
Recollections Mrs. Mary K. Broussard

Lawn Tennis in Dickinson

“Tennis is one of the nicest games ever invented and is this year attracting more attention all over the United States than ever before.” said a reporter from the Mainland Messenger, August 27, 1913.

According to the same reporter, the community of Dickinson had five tennis courts. Most of the courts were grass, with the exception of a clay court at the public school. At that time there was some talk of sending a challenge to League City players and, “without a doubt, an interesting match could be pulled off.”

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September 1914, Dickinson Tennis Club

Lawn tennis parties were held at the homes of many prominent Dickinsonians. The Woods Drug Company, seeing the demand for tennis goods had a stock of racquets and tennis balls to accommodate the players. Some of the participants at a tennis party at the home of Mr. and Mrs. H. A. Deats were: Misses Rowena Deats, Fay and Carmel Underwood, Terressa May Parke and Sawyer Wolston, Lawrence Deats and Vern King.

The Dickinson Tennis Club was organized in 1914 and the first annual tennis tournament was conducted by the members in September of that year.

In the finals Mr. Desel and Miss Beulah Owens bested Stone and Miss Ida Garner two sets to one.

Professor Findley was present and presented the prizes offered by the Woods Drug Co. to the winners. Refreshment of punch and cakes were served to all. The meet was voted to have been a most interesting occasion.

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Free War Map, Mainland Messenger, December 21, 1919

To all subscribers of this paper who send us one dollar we will extend your subscription one year and send you post paid a Rand McNally war map.

It shows complete map of all Europe and gives vast amounts of valuable information concerning the strength and resources of the various nations now at war.

H.L. Nelson, Publisher, Mainland Messenger

10. Through the Decades

Ribbon A (8’ X 18” to include decades 1980-1899 through 1920-1929

1920 – 1929

During the decade of the 20s, the average annual wage climbed to $1,236. A teacher’s salary was $970.

It took 13 days to reach California from New York by car. There were now 387,000 miles of paved roads.

The Volstead Act, prohibiting the sale of a drink containing as much as one half-once of alcohol, became effective January 16, 1920. The 19th amendment giving women the vote, proposed June 4, 1919, was ratified August 18, 1920. Speakeasies replaced saloons, and gangsters and bootleggers provided what much of America wanted, cheap booze.

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Listen to a Temperance Speech

Mah jongg and crossword puzzles were popular. Endurance races of all sorts gained popularity, including marathons and flagpole sitting. Dance marathons became a hit in 1923. The most popular dances of the period included the Charleston, Black Bottom, and Shimmy.

Harry Houdini was the great escape artist of the 1920s. The Miss America contest began in 1921.

Radio networks began during this decade. David Sarnoff’s NBC and William Paley’s CBS both went on the air.

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Popular Music of the 1920s

Silent screen stars included Rudolph Valentino and Clara Bow. Rudy Vallee sang through a megaphone. The first talking picture, Don Juan, starring John Barrymore, premiered on Broadway in 1927.

The first commercial machine to slice bread produced its first slices on July 7, 1928.

Racial tensions were high and quotas were set for immigrants coming into America.

The Ku Klux Klan was very active during this decade in the South and Midwest. In Galveston County, League City was the center for Klan activity.

On October 24, 1929, Black Thursday, the stock market crashed and panic broke out. Banks closed. The Great Depression would grip the nation through the end of the twenties and most of the thirties.

10. Through the Decades

Ribbon B (8’ X 18” to include decades 1930-1939 through 1950-1959)

1930 – 1939

During this decade, the population of the country grew to 123,188,000 in 48 states. Following World War I, Dickinson’s population had risen to 1,000; it dropped to 760 in 1931 but rose again to 1,000 in 1933.

Unemployment was at 25%. The Great Depression gripped the United States and the world. The average yearly salary was $1,368.

With money scarce, people did what they could to make their lives happy. Movies, parlor games and board games were popular. In 1935, Parker Brothers introduced the game of Monopoly, and twenty thousand sets were sold in a week.

Gambling increased as Americans sought a quick way to relieve their financial problems. Between 1930 and 1939, horse racing became legal in fifteen more states, bringing the total to twenty-one.

The Social Security Act of 1935 was set up to ensure an income for the elderly. The Wagner Act of 1935 gave workers the right to unionize.

Jesse Owens, an African American athlete, won four gold medals in track and field at the 1936 Olympics in Berlin and put to shame Hitler’s Aryan superiority message.

Radio reached its zenith and people gathered around to listen. By 1939, about 80 percent of the population owned radio sets. America laughed at the antics of Jack Benny, George Burns and Gracie Allen, Amos and Andy, and Fibber McGee and Molly. Heroes like the Lone Ranger, the Green Hornet, the Shadow, and Jack Armstrong, the “All-American Boy,” thrilled listeners young and old. Soap operas dominated the daytime airwaves. “Our Gal Sunday” began each episode with the question, “Can a girl from a little mining town in the west find happiness as the wife of a wealthy and titled Englishman?” Women listened intently in hopes of learning the answer. News broadcasts by commentators like Edward R. Murrow kept the public aware of the increasing crisis in Europe. Franklin Roosevelt influenced Americans with his Fireside Chats. One of the most dramatic moments in radio history occurred on May 6, 1937, when the German airship Hindenburg burst into flames as it was about to land in Lakehurst, New Jersey. On October 30, 1939, a twenty-three-year-old Orson Wells broadcast on his Mercury Theater of the Air the H.G. Wells story “War of the Worlds.” Despite the disclaimer at the end of the program, the tale of Martians invading Earth panicked a million listeners, who mistook the play for a newscast.


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Historic Radio Broadcast

Hollywood turned out movie after movie for its Depression audience. Movie goers wanted to forget their everyday troubles for a few hours. They swooned over such matinee idols as Clark Gable, Bette Davis, Greta Garbo and Errol Flynn. They laughed at the likes of W.C. Fields, Bob Hope and the Marx Brothers. America fell in love with Shirley Temple and was enthralled by Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, tapping and ballroom dancing across the screen. Walt Disney produced his first full-length animated movie Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs in 1937. In 1939, the musical fantasy film The Wizard of Oz premiered, and the epic Civil War movie Gone With the Wind debuted in Atlanta, Georgia.

Young people flocked to hear and dance to the big bands of Benny Goodman, Duke Ellington, Glenn Miller and Tommy Dorsey. In 1935, George Gershwin’s American folk opera “Porgy and Bess” was first performed. In 1938, Kate Smith performed Irving Berlin’s “God Bless America” and made the song her own.

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Popular Music of the 1930s

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I Remember Radio

The radio was a big thing. My father had a small radio…I guess we weren’t allowed to touch it because he had it on a shelf real high. We’d sit under the radio and listen to it like you sit and watch TV today.

Amos and Andy, Lucky Strike Program, Fibber McGee and Molly, The Life of Riley, As the World Turns, The Lone Ranger, Gun Smoke, Burns and Allen, Abbot and Costello and soap operas, they were my favorite.

We would listen to all of the big bands. You didn’t see them but you could listen to them on the radio.
Recollections of Dora Magliolo

10. Through the Decades

Ribbon B (8’ X 18” to include decades 1930-1939 through 1950-1959)

1940 – 1949

The 1940s were dominated by World War II. European artists and intellectuals fled Hitler and the Holocaust, bringing new ideas created by disillusionment. War production pulled the country out of the Great Depression. Women were needed to replace men who had gone off to war. The first great exodus of women from the home to the workplace began.

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Popular Music from the 1940s

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Blackouts in Dickinson

During World War II Dickinson would practice blackouts in case the enemy would try to bomb us. My dad put blankets over all of the windows so no light could be seen from the sky. Me, my mom, dad, sisters and brothers would all gather in our parent’s bedroom. Dad always turned on the radio so we could hear news updates. There was a door in the hallway that had a window pane in it. It was covered too but sometimes I’d sneak out into the hall and try to peek out. All I could see was black.
Recollections Pat Benoist Dewey

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Romance Delayed

I met this girl a few days before I went off to war in September of 1942. We had one date, it wasn’t really a date, we just talked and walked. I didn’t even kiss her. When I got back three years, six months and nine days later, I was home about a week and decided to go into Houston to buy some civilian clothes. I walk into the store and I run into her. I ask her what she’s doing here? She says shopping. I said what you been doing, she said nothing. I say are you married? No, she says. Do you want to go eat? I say, and that’s how it started.

Isn’t that strange? I didn’t write her, nothing, and she’s the first girl I run into when I get back to Houston. That’s got to be one in a million.
Recollections Pete Salvato


Italians from Texas

I was in the war, World War II. I got wounded twice while fighting in Italy. I got transferred to a port battalion in France. We didn’t have to do much, just count stuff; you know, make sure no one was stealing stuff. But there were a lot of guys there from New York. When I got there, I told them I was from Texas and my name was Sam Palermo. So one of these Italian guys from New York says, “Hey fellows, a guinea from Texas.” Well, I learned that guinea means Italian. They couldn’t get over an Italian from Texas.
Sam Palermo

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Making the best of it.

When Mac (my husband) went to war I rented an apartment in one of the big old buildings downtown. I think I paid $18.50 a month.

The apartment was big. The school superintendent came to me and asked if I could take people in, boarders. I said yeah, I could put up two. I moved the kids into the room with me and fixed up the spare room for the teachers. I got the librarian and the band director.

They came back and asked if I could take in the first grade teacher. She couldn’t find a place to stay and was going to have to leave. So I moved the kids and me over into one side of the room and put her bed in the other. None of us knew each other but it worked out alright. I cooked breakfast and supper and they ate lunch at school. I got $40 a month.
Recollections of the Deats Family

Sometimes soldiers don’t come home

Esther had a brother who was killed in the war. Her mother was a sweet lady; she did all the things I wanted to do. She hooked rugs, cooked and made things.

She had her son’s uniforms hanging in the closet for a while. She hated looking at them. They made her sad but she didn’t want to throw them away. Mrs. Gates suggested that she make an old fashioned plaited rug from them. She didn’t know how to do it, so Mrs. Gates got her started, stripping – you know, cutting long strips. There wasn’t enough material in just her son’s uniforms, so she collected wool from friends and thrift shops. She took my uncle Ben’s Army uniforms, she took my husband’s and, before too long, she had made a large wool rug mostly from uniforms. We had that rug for years and years, long after she was gone. I think it made her feel better.
Recollections of the Lobit Family


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The boys from Camp Wallace

During World War II soldiers were stationed at Camp Wallace. My grandmother had her home behind Salvato’s Department Store. A lot of those soldiers found a second home at my grandmother’s kitchen. She had her Italian kitchen going 24 hours a day feeding those lonely young men.

A lot of those boys who were from up north came here and never left. My grandmother told how those boys didn’t know anything about mosquitoes or humidity. Don’t know what they were using for repellent but those mosquitoes ate them up.
Recollections of Nena Beth Trombatore Neal

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Historic Events of the 1940s
In 1941, President Roosevelt issued an executive order banning discrimination in military-industry hiring. But when millions of black veterans returned from the war and found that America had returned to business as usual ― even as the United States was embroiled in a cold war, claiming to be at the forefront of freedom and democracy ― and pressure mounted for a massive assault on discrimination and segregation. Shrewdly looking forward to an uphill re-election battle, President Truman ordered the desegregation of the armed forces, and the turbulent 1948 Democratic Convention passed the strongest civil rights plank of any party since the radical Reconstruction laws of 1866. Consequently, the party suffered the first of what became a long line of defecting Southern political leaders when Strom Thurmond bolted and ran as the Dixiecrat Party candidate for President.
Television was introduced at the 1939 World’s Fair, but war interrupted further development. Radio remained the lifeline for Americans in the 1940s, providing news, music and entertainment. In 1947, commercial television with 13 stations became available to the public. Radio faded in popularity as television became prominent. Many of the most popular radio shows continued on television, including Red Skelton, Abbott and Costello, Jack Benny, Bob Hope, and Truth or Consequences.
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Popular Radio Classics

The Serviceman’s Readjustment Act, commonly known as the GI Bill, entitled returning soldiers to a college education. In 1949, three times as many college degrees were conferred as in 1940.
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Jackie Robinson Breaks into Baseball

On August 28, 1945, Jackie Robinson met with Branch Rickey, the general manager of the Brooklyn Dodgers. Robinson was offered the chance to break organized baseball’s unwritten but powerful color line. The fiery Robinson, intensely proud of his talents and his blackness in a white-dominated world, accepted the challenge. But he had to agree to Rickey’s condition that he not respond to the abuse he would be sure to encounter.

10. Through the Decades

Ribbon B (8’ X 18” to include decades 1930-1939 through 1950-1959)

1950 – 1959

In 1951, the UNIVAC 1, the world’s first commercial computer, was delivered to the
United States Census Bureau.

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UNIVAC Predicts the Eisenhower – Stevenson Presidential Race

The Bureau needed a new computer to deal with the exploding U.S. population. In a publicity stunt, the UNIVAC computer was used to predict the results of the Eisenhower-Stevenson presidential race. The computer had correctly predicted that Eisenhower would win, but the news media decided to blackout the computer’s prediction and declared that the UNIVAC had been stumped. When the truth was revealed, it was considered amazing that a computer could do what political forecasters could not, and the UNIVAC quickly became a household name.

Also in this year, the A.E.C. (Atomic Energy Commission) produced electricity from atomic energy, super glue was invented, Chrysler Corporation introduced power steering called Hydraguide, Charles Ginsburg invented the first videotape recorder (VTR), paint by numbers became popular, and Kellogg’s presweetened cereal Sugar Pops was introduced

In 1952, Mr. Potato Head was patented; Sony, a new Japanese company, introduced the first pocket-sized transistor radio; Kellogg’s introduced Sugar Frosted Flakes; and Scrabble became a hit.

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J.R. Klecka’s

J.R. Klecka came to town with a new slogan, “It Pays to Pay Cash.” I remember my mother Charry Lothrop saying “Mr. Klecka’s slogan is right, but it signals the end of the time when local folks were trusted to ‘pay up’ at the end of the month.”

Klecka’s had two stories. The staircase was located in the center of the store. I remember walking up the stairs and seeing Mr. Klecka who sat at a desk at the top of the stairs. I always felt like I was approaching a king rather than a customer in a store

The piece goods department was on the second floor. I remember my eyes would sting and my nostrils fill from the die in the bolts of cloth. There were dress patterns offering the latest fashions of the 1940s and 1950s. I remember that you were never rushed to make a decision on something as important as a new dress

Greta Lothrop Hockersmith.

In baseball, Joe DiMaggio retired and, in 1952, married the nation’s favorite blonde, Marilyn Monroe. New baseball legends Mickey Mantle, Roger Maris and Ted Williams were joined by more heroes as all 16 teams were integrated in the 1950s. It was an era of bold challenge to long-held norms and assumptions about race in baseball. The remarkable careers of Willie Mays, Ernie Banks, Hank Aaron, Elston Howard, Roberto Clemente, Frank Robinson and Orlando Cepeda signify the enormous change that took place in the 50s.

Jackie Robinson, who had paved the way for Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, Ernie Banks and a host of other stars of color, retired from baseball in 1957, and, as a result of his great success on the field, was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1962.

In 1953, radial tires were on the road; movie goers saw the first 3-D movie; Francis Crick and James Watson discovered the “double helix” of DNA; Dr. Jonas Salk announced discovery of the vaccine for polio; and TV color broadcasting began.

1954 saw the first non-stick pan produced; General Electric introduced colored kitchen appliances; and coonskin fur caps became popular with the airing of Disney’s “Davy Crockett.” Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas, case was decided by the U.S. Supreme Court on May 17, 1954.

On television we watched the Phil Silvers Show, Father Knows Best, The Price is Right, American Bandstand, Twenty-One, Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet, Leave it to Beaver, and the Nat “King” Cole Show.

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1950s TV and Music

The microchip was first developed in the US by Intel, and the US Nuclear Submarine “Nautilus” passed under the ice cap at the North Pole.

In 1958, Explorer I, the first U.S. satellite, successfully orbited the earth, and, in 1959, Alaska and Hawaii became the forty-ninth and fiftieth states.

Fashion of the 50s included poodle skirts, cinch belts and crinolines, saddle shoes and white bucks.

Trading stamps took the country by storm. Everyone collected stamps to redeem for prizes. S&H Green Stamps, Top Value, King Korn, Triple S, Gold Bell and Plaid were given away at supermarkets and gas stations nationwide.

Rock n’ Roll characterized music of the 50s

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Music of the 50s; rock and roll and soul

Senator Joe McCarthy and the Red Scare

In February of 1950, an undistinguished first-term Republican Senator from Wisconsin, Joseph McCarthy, claimed that he had a list of 200 known Communists working in the State Department. He never produced documentation for a single one, but he touched a nerve in the American people and, for the next four years, he exploited the issue.

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Have you no sense of decency sir?

In January of 1954, in what were to be the first televised hearings in American history, McCarthy obliquely attacked President Eisenhower and directly assaulted Secretary of the Army Robert Stevens. Day after day, bullying, harassing, and never producing any hard evidence.

Audio clip “Have you no sense of decency sir? At long last have you no sense of decency?”

Americans regained their senses and by the end of the year, McCarthy had been censured by the Senate by a vote of 65 to 22.

Dickinson Jaycee’s

The Jaycee’s was an organization for men ages 18 to 35. After 35 you could stay as an associate member but you couldn’t hold office; you were supposed to move up to the Chamber of Commerce. Their motto was “Leadership training through community service.” A dedicated group of young men from Dickinson with no previous experience put their stamp on Dickinson and the surrounding community for a decade. When the 1950s came to a close, the Dickinson Jaycees was one of the most respected community organizations in the state of Texas.

From its chartering in 1954 to 1959, the Dickinson Jaycee’s grew to 112 members, and the members were active. There were state contests where the Dickinson Jaycee’s would sponsor the local winner and take them to the state competition. They sponsored the Voice of Democracy, Driving Rodeo, Civil Defense, Teen Canteen and Seniors Night Out.

In 1959, the Dickinson Jaycee’s won first place in the State of Texas for revenue raised and second in the United States.


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Sold Out

“I’ll tell you how we made a bunch of money one year. We were raising money for the Rusk State Mental Hospital. Well the state organization came up with this Christmas card we were to sell. We went to a meeting where the designer showed us this card that had to be the ugliest thing I’d ever seen. He had some song and dance about how it was designed on the same paper money was printed on. I didn’t see how that made it special, but we had to sell them. These cards were so unattractive we knew we couldn’t show them to people and ask them to buy them. Our strategy was to go to the door and ask for a donation to the Rusk Mental Hospital and if we received a donation we would give them a box of card free. We never showed them the cards. Well we got rid of all of those cards and took more and got rid of them too. I still get some of those cards at Christmas time but I never have figured out who sends them to me.”
Bud Saunders

Gar Rodeo
In 1954, the Dickinson Jaycee’s started the Gar Rodeo, a week long event featuring parades, beauty contests, live music, dancing, and fishing contests with great prizes.

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You Win!

“One of our biggest events was the Gar Rodeo. It was a fishing contest accompanied by parades, live music, dances and beauty contests. The enthusiasm for this event spread throughout the whole area. It really put Dickinson on the map. Tickets were $1. We followed the boat racing circuit selling these tickets. We became pretty well known on the circuit and sold a lot of tickets.

We wanted to see if we could get a boat and motor to give away. We went through sportsmen’s magazines and cut out ads for stuff then we wrote letters to 500 potential donors to see what we could get for prizes. We got so many donations we had to find space to store the stuff.

Dickinson Bayou would be lit up at night through the month of July and the biggest Gar would get the big prize, a boat and motor. You could fish during the day for prizes for different fish. Everyone had to take their fish to Bob and Bonnie Dues’ Sinclair Station where everything was weighed and measured. We had so many prizes if you caught a fish 2 inches long you got a prize.”
Bud Saunders