Dallas Historical Society Newsletter
State Fair 2006 Photo Courtesy of: Stephen D. Jones
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In This Issue:
Polly Smith
Texas History Quiz
Photo Archives
Polly Smith, Photographer: Telling the Story of Texas
Speaker: Evelyn Barker, UT Arlington librarian and the former curator of library and archives at the Dallas Historical Society
 Friday, October 17, 2008 at 7:30pm
University of Texas at Austin 
Central Library sixth floor parlor
Evelyn Barker's first book is A Texas Journey: The Centennial Photographs of Polly Smith (Dallas Historical Society, 2008). In 1935, Texas was preparing to commemorate the 100th  anniversary of its independence from Mexico with a world's fair. Officials and boosters, eager to publicize the Texas Centennial, hired a young woman photographer, Polly Smith, to travel the length and width of the state to capture on film the people and places that made Texas unique. 
Barker's book has been called a "stunning work" and a "beautiful tribute to her [Smith's] vision and skills." Barker earned her BA at Lamar University in Beaumont, Texas, and her MLS at the University of North Texas in Denton. A reception will follow her talk, and Barker will sign copies of her book.
Texas History Quiz
Recently we came across an interesting periodical in our collection. The piece was a magazine titled Naylor's Epic-Century. It was a quarterly magazine on Texas and her history. Inside the October 1936 issue was a twenty question quiz on Texas history. We thought it would be fun to put them in the newsletter. I'll throw out five this month. See how you do and have fun. Answers are at the bottom of this newsletter. 
  1. Which of the early Spanish missions in the new world is practically famed for its architectural excellence? 
 2.What was the Pajalache?
 3.What were the circumstances of Davy Crockett's coming to Texas? 
4.What effect did the winning of freedom of Mexico from Spain have on the colonization of Texas?
5.What was the Camino Real?
(Answers at bottom)
Just a Few Dallas Faces
 I have been writing these newsletter articles for a few months now in the hope that I could get you, the reader, to take a more personal look at Dallas' history. I will admit that for a long time I did not believe that Dallas even had a history. It took looking at thousands of old photos, but I have changed my mind.
 I have always heard that "fashions change and technologies change, but people never do". I suppose that is right, I look at a lot of photographs of people who died decades ago, and nothing about them seem practically strange. They loved their children, they liked to go to parties, they kept dogs and cats as pets, and they wanted to be remembered. Take a look at these long gone Dallas faces and see if you do not agree. I am not going to indentify most of these folks because frankly I do not know much about them, suffice it to say that if you walked down Ross Avenue 90 or 100 years ago you might have passed by one of them. You might have even mumbled an insincere "Good morning". 

 As you look at these people, let me point out a few things I find interesting. This couple,  I believe, worked for the Bartlett Family on Swiss Avenue around the start of the twentieth century. They are a handsome couple, but the woman looks as if she really did not want her picture taken that day. Maybe Mr. Bartlett pulled her away from some job she needed to finish. Look at the man's hands, hands can say as much about a person as their eyes. This fellow has obviously done a lot of hard work in his life, but he has the long, strong fingers of a piano player.

cabin The only information I have on this family is a notation on the envelope "Dec. 1898". The baby is wearing a christening gown, so perhaps they just returned home from church. The family is sitting in front of a log cabin, it is a big log cabin, and even though the husband is not wearing a coat or tie, and the Mrs. is not wearing any jewelry to speak of, nothing about them says poverty. It would be fun to invent a story about these folks' lives, but it would be historically incorrect for me to do that, but you are free to imagine what you will.

 The third photograph is of Miss Charlotte Riggs. The envelope says that Miss Riggs is wearing her graduation dress. I mainly put her in because while driving to work a few weeks ago I heard some radio talk show guy make the blanket statement that before about 1940 everybody was ugly. Take a closer look at Miss Riggs, Talk Show Boy. She would be beautiful in any decade. Dallas is known for its high percentage beautiful of women, apparently, " 'twas ever thus".
 One last photo. This is a crowd of people watching a parade going north on Main Street, about 1902. Fast forward 106 years, ignore the dress styles, and they could be watching a Cotton Bowl parade.
-Ed Owens
Quiz Answers
1. Mission San Jose de Aguayo "Queen of the Missions," is justly noted as the finest example of church architecture among the missions of New Spain.
2.This was the Concepcion irrigation ditch, oldest of the acequias about San Antonio. It was begun early in the 18th century, and was abandoned in 1869, after nearly 140 years of service.
3. Crockett, long apposed to many of the policies President Andrew Jackson, particularly on Indian matters, brought down the wrath of the administration upon his head, and was soon set upon the powers in the national capitol and shorn of his political honors. The champion of the Constitution of Tennessee, thus defeated, turned with heavy heart to the new colonies of Texas to join in the impending struggle for liberty and personal freedom.
4. The successful Mexican revolution made it necessary for Austin to reconfirm his colony concessions.
5.The Camino Real is certainly one of the oldest highways on the American continent, it being said to have been used many years before the landing of the pilgrims. Extending from Spanish provinces in New Mexico to those in Florida, this historic highway passed through or near these present Texas towns: Eagle Pass, Uvalde, Sabinal, San Antonio, Lockhart, Bastrop, Bryan, Crockett, and Nacogdoches
  If we may be of service to you in the future with discovering our past, please feel free to contact, visit or join the DHS.
Sincerely, Dallas Historical Society