The WPA Dallas Guide and History Page: 72
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Industrial development was also evident. Dallas had nine saddle and harness es-
tablishments, at least four of them on a large scale. Other important establish-
ments included plants for the manufacture of railroad cars, wagons, carriages, bug-
gies, furniture, a foundry, two soap factories, a vinegar and cider factory, three
flour mills, and numerous other small industries.
The March 19 issue of the Dallas Sunday Mercury headlined the tragic slaying
on March 14 of Judge J. M. Thurmond, a prominent attorney and former mayor:
On Tuesday about 1 p.m. the report came up the street that Judge J. M. Thurmond had
been killed by Robert E. Cowart in the County Court room only a few moments before.
The slaying attracted much attention because of its background of city politics.
Thurmond had been elected mayor in 1879 on an independent reform and morality
ticket, but the following summer was removed because of his asserted inability to
enact the promised reforms. This was the only ouster proceeding undertaken by
the city government in its history, the city council at that time having authority
under the charter to remove the mayor by a vote of lack of confidence. Cowart was
one of the attorneys engaged to displace Thurmond. Later, Thurmond appealed to
the people for reelection but Cowart took the stump against him and was generally
credited with having defeated him. At his first trial Cowart was convicted of murder
in the second degree and sentenced to seven years in the penitentiary. A second
trial was granted a year later and this time he was acquitted.
Marriage Aid Organized
Another event of 1882 was the incorporation of the Texas Marriage Aid Association,
"managed by a number of the leading citizens and business men of the city of
Dallas." These included W. H. Lemmon, W. H. Thomas, W. H. Prather, C. M. Terry,
A. C. Ardrey, F. M. Cockrell, J. B. Franklin, and T. S. Burnett. Such associations, a
form of marriage insurance, were apparently common in Texas at the period. The
advertised plan of operation of the Dallas Association was as follows:
For five dollars, any unmarried white person of good character, or child, may become a
certificate holder in this association, and will receive fifty cents a day on each five dollars
invested, till marriage shall have occurred. And in case of failure to marry within two
thousand days from the date of the certificate, each certificate held will draw one thousand
dollars. No one person will be allowed to invest more than twenty-five dollars, and cannot,
therefore, hold more than five shares.
In April the organization was pushing its work into all sections of the state,
carrying advertisements in leading newspapers, and seeking agents. The total
membership of the association by August 1 was 1,700, and a state convention was
held in Dallas on October 18. Early in its existence it was paying benefits promptly,
as the following newspaper item indicates:
Chas. F. Bolanz of Dallas, a member 30 days paid into the association $30 and received $75
benefits. Miss Sallie E. Leonard of New Orleans, a member 33 days, paid into the associa-
tion $30 and received $82.50 benefits. Fran Wright of Plano a member 13 days paid into
the association $25 and received $52.50 benefits.
In 1883 freight service was tied up in Dallas as elsewhere by the nationwide rail-
road strike, which boomed the wagon trade and set saloon patrons to grumbling
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Writers' Program of the Work Projects Administration in the City of Dallas. The WPA Dallas Guide and History, book, 1992; Dallas, Texas. (https://digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc28336/m1/96/?q=: accessed June 7, 2023), University of North Texas Libraries, UNT Digital Library, https://digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Press.