De Leon Free Press
DeLeon, Comanche County, Texas, Friday, June 24, 1927
Free Press Celebrates Its Thirty-Ninth birthday With This Issue, Established 1889
The last week of June, 1889, as the present editor has the figures, John A. SWITZER turned out the first issue of the Free Press on an old Army hand printing press. The paper was organized as a stock company, a number of old timers still residing here took stock in the enterprise. Mr. SWITZER was hired to run the plant. He operated it for about nine or ten years, leaving De Leon about 1898 or '99.
The population of De Leon was something near 500 in 1889. A newspaper in such a community did not fill its owner's pockets with extreme riches, nor do country weeklies do so today that the editor has noticed. But the income then must have been meager indeed.
The old Army hand press occupies the same place in the press family, compared to the largest perfecting presses, as a sharp stick does to a modern power driven gang plow. Linotype machines were unknown in 1889, and for 25 years afterwards, at least in country shops. The Free Press was operated by the old hand-spiking method from 1889 until 1918, or almost 30 years. Where four or five people “slaved” under the old system to produce an eight page weekly paper, two printers in a shop equipped as the Free Press is today can do an equal amount of work with greater ease and do it better.
At least three local citizens now living here contributed to the stock company that founded the old Free Press. These are W.C. STREETY, J.D. HAM, and C.C. MORRIS. There may be others, but the present editor knows only of these three. Uncle Charley MORRIS says he threw in a hundred dollars. The others do not remember the amount. But at any rate the town wanted a paper badly enough to go and “buy one.”
In 1889 Albany was the end of the Texas Central Railroad. Comanche did not have a railroad, neither did Coleman or Brownwood. Wagons came from these places and hauled out many thousands of feet of lumber for buildings the pioneer farm houses and town settlements being formed in the country to the southwest.
W.C. STREETY stated that he once lived in a house on about the same location as the H.W. LOCKE home, a block west of the Foust Lumber Yard. Among other business enterprises in the early '80s, he owned a livery stable, being also in the general mercantile business since 1881. He stated that the traveling men came here in that early day, hired a livery team and were sometimes gone as long as two weeks, calling on the trade as far west as San Angelo with the De Leon teams. There were no railroads in that section until many years later.
Henry HEATH tells of coming to De Leon section on horseback from Cherokee county in 1873 to make his home here. This was nine years before the town of De Leon started, he said. The last Indian raid was in '73 or '74 in Comanche county. Along in the 80s Mr. HEATH said, a hack driver named HAMMERS, probably the father of Wendall HAMMERS, was held up with two or three passengers in Sabano bottom by two armed men. One of the passengers was the county treasurer John HAMILTON, and he was returning to Comanche via De Leon from Austin where he had gone to bring up about $5,000 in school funds. HAMILTON was one-armed and when one of the bandits saw he was minus an arm they refused to search him, although they doubtless would not have shown such marked consideration if they had known he had a small grip full of money.
The De Leon Examiner was published by Attorney GROOM in De Leon in the year 1884.
The De Leon Monitor was published here by Bob ROSS and later by C.R. REDDEN, in about 1886.
The De Leon Right-Way, a Populist journal, was edited and published by Marcellus BARKER, in about 1894.
The De Leon Watchman came along in about 1896, A.L. D”SPAIN editor and owner.
In about 1892 one John JENNINGS published a paper here for a short while, name of which has been forgotten.
John ADAMS put in a paper in competition with the Free Press in about 1905, called the Herald.
Newt WHITTEN, now of Dublin, published a paper called the Outlook in about the year 1903.
But none of these survived, as no community as small as De Leon will adequately support two newspapers, and this fact is as true today as it has ever been in the past.
Knights of Pythias Elect New Officers
Last Monday evening at the regular meeting De Leon Lodge Knights of Pythias elected the following officers to serve for the balance of the year:
Roy SMITH, Chancellor Commander
Chas. MORIS, Vice-Chancellor
Clyde E. GEORGE, Prelate
John A. MOHON, Master at Arms
H.H. CARLILE, M. of W.
Orb KENNEDY, Inner Guard
W.E. HOWELL, Outer Guard
S.R. UPSHAW, K. of R.S.
A. A. HANSFORD, M. of E.
Dee HENSON, M. of F.
These officers will be duly installed on the regular meeting night, next Monday.
T.I. Fitzgerald Met Tragic Death in Auto Mishap
T.I. FITZGERALD, for many years a citizen of this city, met death in an automobile mishap a mile east of De Leon at 7:00 o'clock Friday evening June 17th. Mr. FITZGERALD was returning from Comyn vicinity when the accident occurred. He had reached the second culvert east of the old HANCOCK homestead and attempted to pass another car driven by a son of Jim OWENS. The sun was low in the west and full in his face. He failed to clear the machine he was attempting to pass, the front wheel of his light roadster climbing over the bumper and onto the fender of Owen's touring car. FITZGERALD's car turned over twice, then righted itself and stopped with him still in his position at the wheel, according to John A. MOHON, who was no more than the length of a city block away.
Immediately Mr. MOHON turned his own machine around and started Mrs. MOHON into town immediately to summon aid, and a physician arrived on the scene in perhaps ten minutes.
Mr. MOHON and others who arrived shortly had done what they could for the unfortunate man, tearing away the wreckage of the top and windshield and attempted first aid. He lived perhaps ten minutes, expiring about the time the physician arrived. He never spoke after the accident and was apparently never conscious. His death was calm and peaceful as one falling asleep. He died from injuries about the upper portion of his body, both his chest and head being crushed.
Thad Irvin FITZGERALD was born near Harbin in Erath county, Texas, on Dec. 25, 1880. He grew to manhood there and was married to Miss Addie BELL in 1903. In the year 1906 they moved to Comanche county, buying a farm near Duster where they lived a year, then moved to a place about two miles west of De Leon,where they lived ten years, moving to their present home in this city in 1915.
Their four children are Claude FITZGERALD, who has been employed for the past year or so in San Antonio and Miss Opal and Colquitt FITZGERALD of this city, who with the wife and mother survive him.
Mr. FITZGERALD was district supervisor of highways under the administration of Mrs. Miriam FERGUSON and was assigned to duty first in Mills county, then in Comanche county, a position he held until the first of the year past. He was an active member of the Methodist church for a considerable period of his life, uniting with that church when 21 years of age, and took a live interest in politics always. For a number of years he has engaged in the nursery business.
Funeral services was at the De Leon cemetery at three o'clock Sunday afternoon with Eld. J.J. EDWARDS conducting the service. A large crowd came to pay their last respects. Sympathy is extended to the stricken family.
Uncle Jack Morton Celebrated His 82nd Birthday June 21st
On Tuesday, June 21st, 1927, Rev. U.J. MORTON, old and honored pioneer citizen of this locality, celebrated his 82nd birthday. His ten living children year after year meet to observe the occasion, and this year was no exception to the rule, further than the fact that four of the children were unable to be present.
It was planned to have the celebration at McCharen's Lake, but the early morning rain Tuesday prevented this. So the party gathered at the basement of the Methodist church and remained thruout the day discussing family history and informally enjoying the association of the large family circle.
At the noon hour a sumptuous spread was served in the dining room of the church, the table being made to groan under the weight of the good things to eat. A feature of the dinner was the large birthday cake, baked by Mrs. Perry SINCLAIR, a huge angel food, which was a delight to the eye and the palate as well. Mrs. SINCLAIR is a granddaughter of the venerable honoree.
Uncle Jack came to Erath county in the year 1871, and lived in the old Green's Creek community until about ten years ago when he moved to Mortons Chapel, west of De Leon. The Mortons Chapel Methodist church was named in his honor. He has preached for more than half a century, serving the church in that pioneering period when the old-time circuit rider carried his saddle bags over the cow trails of a wild and uncharted district where good roads were unknown and where the meeting house was all too often merely a brush arbor.
Those present for the celebration Tuesday were: Mr. And Mrs. E.W. MORTON, De Leon; Rev. and Mrs. C.N. MORTON and daughters, Malvin, Frances and Mary Ida, of Strawn; Mrs. H.G. KEATON, Big Spring; Mr. And Mrs. W.R. GREENWALDT, and children, De Leon; Mr. And Mrs. L.B. MORTON and children, De Leon; Geo. MORGAN and family, De Leon; Mrs. Oscar WEATHERFORD, De Leon; Mr. And Mrs. Perry SINCLAIR and children, De Leon.
The marriage of Prof. Howard BOSWELL and Miss Lucile STUBBLEFIELD occurred at the home of the bride's brother, Dr. STUBBLEFIELD at Gorman, on Wednesday morning, June 1st, at 9 o'clock. Rev. H.P. WATKINS, pastor of the Methodist Church, performed the ceremony. Only a few intimate friends were present.
Immediately following the ceremony the happy young couple left for Houston where he is attending school this summer. They will return later in the summer, Mr. BOSWELL being employed to teach the coming year at Comyn.
Miss STUBBLEFIELD is the daughter of Mrs. STUBBLEFIELD of Carbon where she was reared. She was quite popular at Gorman where she taught the past school year. Mr. BOSWELL, who is the eldest son of Mr. And Mrs. A.V. BOSWELL, is well known and highly respected in this community where he grew to manhood. He is a graduate of De Leon high school and also of John Tarleton College and has been teaching a number of years, two of which were at Carbon, where he met Miss STUBBLEFIELD. Congratulations and best wishes extended them.
Nannie Obera Todd
A precious one from us has gone,
A voice we loved is stilled,
A place is vacant in our home
Which never can be filled.
On Friday evening, June tenth, the death angel came and claimed the young daughter of Mr. And Mrs. W.P. TODD.
Nannie was 19 years of age, was a very sweet, loveable young lady. She will be sadly missed by many friends and loved ones. She was a member of the First Baptist church of Gorman. She is survived by her father, mother and three sisters, Mrs. George JENKINS, Mrs. Earnest OVERSTREET, and Mrs. Charles PLATTER, all of Gorman to whom their many friends extend their deepest sympathy.
In Memoriam, Mrs. G.S. Richey
Mrs. G.S. RICHEY died June 15th, at the home of her daughter, Mrs. T.C. SMITH, De Leon, Texas. Mrs. Rebecca L. Wendgworth RITCHEY was born in the state of Georgia in 1853, was married to G.S. RICHEY, January 24, 1878. She professed faith in Christ at the age of 13, uniting with the Baptist church. She moved with her husband to Texas in 1891. Her husband departed this life some eight years ago. She leaves six children to mourn her departure, namely as follows: Matt RICHEY, Roscoe, Tex.; John RICHEY, Galveston; Mrs. T.C. SMITH, De Leon; Mrs. Henry BUTLER, Hasse; Mrs. S.O. McKENNEY, Desdemona; Mrs. Frank LITTLE, Dublin.
................She was laid to rest in the Baggett cemetery at three o'clock p.m. June 16th, where many old time friends and relatives met to pay the last tribute of respect. - Contributed
Manager Higginbothams Grocery Department Returns From Market Trip
Alf SLOAN, manager of Higginbotham's grocery department returned last week from a trip to the Dallas markets where he was buying goods for the fall trade. Mr. SLOAN reported buying one solid carload of canned goods and also stated that the grocery department would sure be in shape to sell canned goods this fall.
Practically All Teachers Chosen in County Schools
According to Assistant County Superintendent Romee WALKER, practically all places in the rural schools have been filled for next session. Many of the contracts are not yet on file, however. Those on file at the office of the county superintendent.
Sidney: J.B. COOPER, Horace WHITE, Miss Belle LESLIE, Mrs. J.B. COOPER, Miss Faye HATTOX.
Downing: J.W. WALLACE, Mary SMITH, Ruth GOLDEN.
Van Dyke: J.B. LAYNE, Mildred WHITLOW, Louise GARDNER.
Newberg: A.E. HALFORD, Gladys IRWIN, Dovia DUNN.
Brysonville: Frank REDWINE, Goldia EVENS, Mrs. Herbert BUTLER.
Hicks Corner: Miss Faye McDONALD
Fairview: Jim COLLINS, Mrs. J.H. CHEATIOM, Mrs. Porter McCARROLL
Cotton Grove: Ida McDANIELS, Florence HARRIS.
Mercer Creek: Mrs. Varnie BARBER.
Harmony: Doras BROWN, Edna HARRIS.
Mercer's Gap: Maude DABNEY, Jo DABNEY.
Cross Roads: Pearl BOYD, Ara HUSKEY.
Hebron: Grace TATE and Rosa LEE
Dingler: Nannie PERRY, Miss CARTER.
Beattie: Ray McCORKLE, Johnnie ARMSTRONG, Mildred TAYLOR, Hubert KELLEY, Jeanne RAPE, Miss BARBEE.
Mountain Valley: Mrs. Jewel McKRMIE.
Oak Grove: J.B. WILLIAMS and daughter.
Elm Grove: Miss Abilene BUCKMASTER.
Soda Springs: Ben STEPHENSON and Mary LOFTIS.
Sabana: John LIGHTFOOT and Enola McCHAREN.
Duster: R.L. BOLLING.
Trinity: Delia WALL and Gladys TOLAND.
Oliver Springs: W.C. JENKINS, Hazel CHERRY, Priscilla COZART.
Lamkin: A.J. SPARKS, Alda MORTON, Will EARGLE, Bonnie Bell MOORE, Ottie PERNELL.
Jakehamon: O.H. MOORE.
Robinson Springs: Arthur ADAMS.
Leon: W.A. MORGAN.
Willow Branch: Essie SHOEMAKER.
St. Joe: Lucille VAUGHN.
Brooks: Jesse MORGAN, Florence PRINGLE, Mrs. J.M. ROIRDON.
Pounds: Mrs. H.C. KENNEDY
Mountain View: Morris FARROW, Inez HATTOX.
Mrs. Ray CARNEY, formerly Miss Annie Ruth HASSELL of Robstown, is here for a visit with her aunts, Mesdames A.E. HAMPTON and W.H. CLARK and Miss Joe HILTON.
Mrs. A.L. DILLARD, who was operated upon at the Blackwell Sanitarium at Gorman is now at home and doing fine. She wishes to thank the many friends that payed her visits and also the nurses at the hospital for their many kindnesses, also the mutual life insurance company for the sum of $145 that was presented her.
Miss Jamie Brown COLLIE of Lubbock is visiting her sister, Mrs. Dewey DANIELL.
Henry PILCHER of Clovis, N.M. and Dalton PILCHER of this city are visiting brother, Mr. And Mrs. Chester PILCHER in Kansas City.
Miss Willie Merle WALKER of Gorman was guest of her cousin Mrs. Dewey DANIELL last week. Miss WALKER took her degree from C.I. A. on June sixth, finishing as one of the honor graduates.
Mr. and Mrs. A.M. PATE and daughter, Miss Will S. have returned to their home at San Antonio after a visit with home folks.
Uncle Doss MILLER returned this week from Marlin where he has been for the mineral baths. Uncle Doss said he had not been taking any sort of treatment, only the baths, and he says he is feeling fine.
Mrs. Henry BOOTH has returned to her home at Marshall after a ten days visit with her sister, Mrs. C.H. WATKINS.
Mr. and Mrs. L.R. ROUSE and children of Amarillo were here the past week, guests in the home of her sister, Mrs. Oscar HOWARD.
Little Miss Doris FORD of Marshall, niece of Mrs. C.H. WATKINS, arrived recently and will spend the summer with her aunt.
Mrs. M.L. MORRIS returned some days ago from Sagerton where she visited in the home of her son, Curt MORRIS.
Mrs. Bryant HOWELL sustained a broken arm about ten days ago, and is making satisfactory recovery. Mrs. HOWELL accidentally fell while carrying one of her small children from the car to the house when returning home from a ride at night.
Mr. and Mrs. Earl PAINTER and son were here early in the week from Homer, La. Where he is employed as a pumper for the Standard Oil Co. PAINTER has been in Louisiana for a number of years. They visited his father, H.B. PAINTER and wife and his brothers, Bud and Ernest, all of the Comyn community. Returning they will visit with his wife's parents at some point in east Texas.
©2004,2005 Judith Michaels. This transcription is the generous work of Judy Michaels taken from microfilm held by the Newspaper Collection of the University of Texas at Austin with a microfilm copy at Comanche Public Library. The information may be used for personal research only and not for commercial purposes without specific permission.