[Vintage pics] Can you imagine walking to Memphis, Texas from Arkansas with your family and all your belongings in the month of June? These people did

Can you imagine walking down a hot Texas road to Memphis, Texas from Arkansas in June 1937 with all your belongings and your family, including young children, like these people did in the photographs at the bottom?  I don’t even see any shade trees for miles.

Located in northeastern part of the county

Memphis is a city and the county seat of Hall County, Texas, United States. As of the 2010 census, the population was 2,290.

It is located in the northeastern part of the county and was started in 1889 when J. C. Montgomery purchased land for a townsite north of Salisbury on the Fort Worth and Denver City Railway. The land had previously been owned by W. H. Robertson, who had a dugout near Parker Creek.

1920’s map showing Memphis in Hall County, Texas

HallCountyTexas1920s

 

Hotel in Memphis, Texas by Photographer Dorothea Lange in June 1937Hotel in Memphis, Texas by photographer Dorothea Lange in June 1937

Formed a townsite in 1890

Montgomery and Robertson, with Rev. J. W. Brice and T. J. Woods, Jr., of Dallas, formed a townsite company and presented a plat early in January 1890. P. M. Kelly opened a law office. A rooming house (later the Memphis Hotel), a general store, a drugstore, and several residences were soon erected. For a time the new town was without a name. Several suggestions were submitted to federal postal authorities but with negative results.

Surviving on the Texas Frontier: The Journal of a Frontier Orphan Girl in San Saba County, 1852-1907

Flood refugee family near Memphis, Texas by photographer Dorothea Lange June 1937

Flood refugees near Memphis, Texas. These people, with all their belongings, are bound for the lower Rio Grande Valley, where they hope to pick cotton. They come from Arkansas

No such town in Texas

Finally, as the story goes, Reverend Brice, while in Austin, happened to see a letter addressed by accident to Memphis, Texas, rather than Tennessee, with the notation “no such town in Texas.” The name was submitted and accepted, and a post office was established on September 12, 1890, with Robertson as postmaster.

Early street scene in Memphis, TexasEarly street scene in Memphis, Texas

Won county seat battle

In the meantime Hall County was being organized. Memphis was engaged in a heated county seat battle with neighboring Salisbury and Lakeview. Memphis won the election with a total of 84 votes. County officers were elected in June, and a school district was subsequently formed.

Hall county court house in Memphis, TexasHall county court house in Memphis, Texas

Smeared the train tracks with lye soap

Since Memphis was without a depot and trains did not stop there, certain citizens sought to remedy that situation by smearing the tracks with lye soap. A subsequent agreement was struck between town promoters and railroad officials. In 1891 a depot was built, and businesses were moved on wheels from Salisbury to the new county seat, where a courthouse of homemade bricks was constructed in 1892.

The town square in Memphis, Texas by photographer Dorothea Lange June 1937

The town square in Memphis, Texas by photographer Dorothea Lange June 1937

 

The town square in Memphis, Texas by photographer Dorothea Lange June 19372

Boom period

Memphis thus enjoyed a boom period. Two saloons, a bank, numerous stores, blacksmith shops, and livery stables attested to its role as a shipping and trading center for area ranchers and farmers. The Missionary Baptist Church was organized in Memphis; its minister Rev. J. L. Pyle began Baptist congregations throughout the county. Telephone service was first installed in 1901. In June 1906 the town was incorporated with a mayor-council form of city government.

Since the Great Depression era Memphis has continued as a farm supply center.   Below are some pictures of citizens in 1937 when photographer Dorothea Lange visited.

Woman on relief. Memphis, Texas by photographer Dorothea Lange June 1937

Woman on relief. Memphis, Texas by photographer Dorothea Lange June 1937

Part of a family on relief. Memphis, Texas by photographer Dorothea Lange June 1937Part of a family on relief. Memphis, Texas by photographer Dorothea Lange June 1937

Tractor driver on cotton farm near Memphis, Texas by Photographer Dorothea Lange June 1937Tractor driver on cotton farm near Memphis, Texas by Photographer Dorothea Lange June 1937

 The tractor driver gets a dollar a day, this house to live in, and a cow to milk for working ten to eleven and a half hours daily. Three miles from Memphis, Texas.The tractor driver (#16949) gets a dollar a day, this house to live in, and a cow to milk for working ten to eleven and a half hours daily. Three miles from Memphis, Texas by dorothea lange June 1937

 On the steps of the bank in the public square. Memphis, Texas by photographer Dorothea Lange June 1937On the steps of the bank in the public square. Memphis, Texas by photographer Dorothea Lange June 1937

On the steps of the bank in the town square. Memphis, Texas by Dorothea Lange June 1937

On the steps of the bank in the town square. Memphis, Texas by Dorothea Lange June 1937

 Farm owner near Memphis, Texas. He says, “I’d rather have renters than tractors on my place. I oppose the tractors. It puts too many off the land. I went to my limit, more than most, and kept my renters until this year. But I got seven hundred behind on my taxes, so I need all I can get” by photographer Dorothea Lange June 1937Farm owner near Memphis, Texas. He says, I'd rather have renters than tractors on my place. I oppose the tractors. It puts too many off the

Below are some families who walked toward Memphis, Texas to escape the Great flood of 1937.  These people, with all their belongings, were bound for the lower Rio Grande Valley, where they hope to pick cotton. They came from Arkansas. The pictures were taken in June 1937. Can you imagine how hot it was with no trees around for shade?

Photographed by Dorothea Lange June 1937Flood refugee family near Memphis, Texas by photographer Dorothea Lange June 1937

 

Flood refugee family near Memphis, Texas by photographer Dorothea Lange June 1937 3

Flood refugee family near Memphis, Texas by photographer Dorothea Lange June 1937 4

Flood refugee family near Memphis, Texas by photographer Dorothea Lange June 1937 5

Flood refugee family near Memphis, Texas by photographer Dorothea Lange June 1937 6

Flood refugees near Memphis, Texas. These people, with all their belongings, are bound for the lower Rio Grande Valley, where they hope to pick cotton. They come from Arkansas

Flood refugees near Memphis, Texas. These people, with all their belongings, are bound for the lower Rio Grande Valley, where they hope to pick cotton. They come from Arkansas2

Flood refugees near Memphis, Texas. These people, with all their belongings, are bound for the lower Rio Grande Valley, where they hope to pick cotton. They come from Arkansas3

 

 This is a brick street in the historic square of Memphis, Texas today.

TexasMemphisBrickStreetLookingNorthSMichaels0108brick street memphis, texas

 

Faith and Courage: A Novel of Colonial America (Tapestry of Love) (Volume 2) In this action packed novel depicting true events the family saga continues with Ambrose Dixon’s family. George Willson witnesses the execution of King Charles II and is forced to leave the woman he loves to witch hunters in 17th century England as he flees to his sister, Mary, and her husband Ambrose Dixons home in Colonial American. Ridden with guilt over difficult decisions he made to survive, George Willson and the Dixon’s embrace the Quaker faith which further creates problems for their existence in the New World.

 

Faith and Courage: A Novel of Colonial America (Tapestry of Love) (Volume 2)


By (author): Donna R Causey

List Price: $13.87 USD
New From: $13.45 USD In Stock

About Donna R Causey

Donna R. Causey, resident of Alabama, was a teacher in the public school system for twenty years. When she retired, Donna found time to focus on her lifetime passion for historical writing. She developed the websites www.alabamapioneers and www.daysgoneby.me

All her books can be purchased at Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble.

She has authored numerous genealogy books.
RIBBON OF LOVE: A Novel Of Colonial America (TAPESTRY OF LOVE)
is her first novel in the Tapestry of Love about her family where she uses actual characters, facts, dates and places to create a story about life as it might have happened in colonial Virginia. Faith and Courage: Tapestry of Love (Volume 2)
is the second book and the third FreeHearts: A Novel of Colonial America (Book 3 in the Tapestry of Love Series)
Discordance: The Cottinghams (Volume 1)
is the continuation of the story. .

For a complete list of books, visit Donna R Causey

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