Aug 23, 2012 - 09:03 am CDT

The Austin Marshal's arrest ledger from 1912 can be viewed at the Austin History Center using call number AR.P.001
The Austin Marshal's arrest ledger from 1912
The Austin Marshal's arrest ledger from 1912

The justice system one hundred years ago was a different beast than it is today. Each of the City’s 16 policemen received a salary of $720 annually, according to “Highlights of Austin Police Department History”, a document created by the Police Department.

Arrests were managed and documented at the time by City Marshal J T Laughlin in his large handwritten ledger, which still can be viewed today at the Austin History Center.

Laughlin’s neat handwriting chronicled arrests for modern crimes such as theft and assault as well as 20th-century crimes such as abusive language, gaming, keeping a vicious dog, vagrancy and interfering with the Dog Catcher.

Fines for these crimes could be steep for the time, but sometimes the Marshal would forgive jail fines.  

One hundred years ago, this week, on Aug. 22, 1912, the Austin City Council dropped fines against residents at the request of the City Marshal. Some of the reasons for the requested fine forgiveness were peculiar by today’s standards.

Excerpts from the list the Marshal provided City Council that day:

Name Reason for debt forgiveness
Pearl Jackson Washed blankts (sic) for City jail
Mariah Carina Dead
E.H. Loughry Habitual drunkard
Will Lewis Mentally unbalanced, released
Christian Doehring Realeased, promised to be good
J.H. Moore Ordered to leave town, gone for good.

 

Aug 16, 2012 - 09:18 am CDT

A July 1974 concert photo from Wooldridge Park.
Top to bottom: A photo taken of the 1909 opening ceremony at Wooldridge Park. / An April 1912 photo of the park from the Austin Statesman. / An illustration of a political speaker at the park. / A 1974 concert photo.

On Aug. 15, 1912, the Austin City Council, including Mayor A.P. Wooldridge, voted to transfer $115.52 of its parks funds toward curbing and a cement walk at Woodridge Park. 

The park was named after Wooldridge, who worked to get it created. The square was designated as public space in the 17th century, but in Wooldridge’s time it was used as a garbage dump by local residents who rolled their trash down its slopes.

Wooldridge worked to raise the money for the space to be beautified. On June 18, 1909, the park opened.

On that day in 1909, Mayor Wooldridge gave a speech, preceding the first of many summer concerts that would take place in the park over the next century. An article the next morning in the Austin Statesman covered the speech.

  •  “Mayor Wooldridge told of the history of the park, of its natural beauty and of the plans to have it beautified,” the Statesman article stated. “He told also of his pride in the fact that the park is named in his honor and said that he appreciated the honor more than he could tell.”

Wooldridge proclaimed the park as “the most beautiful park anywhere in Texas” according to “Political Tradition – Woodridge Park”, a 1968 article in the Texas Public Employee. The Statesman article’s author seemed to concur, from his account of the 1909 opening night concert.

  • “They were all there. Men, women and children from every part of the city dressed in their white summer clothes, cool and comfortable. Around the park on every side were carriages, automobiles and buggies in which people were sitting. In the park people sat on the benches and many in the grass, so that there was hardly room for a person to pass. While the strains of music drifted over the park, gay-hearted children skipped in glee over the grass…”

For decades the park reigned as locale for music performances and a political gathering center. One hundred years after the 1912 City Council worked to maintain the new park, the City of Austin today is working to improve the old park by installing an irrigation system. The park is temporarily closed this summer.
 

Tagged:
Aug 01, 2012 - 04:19 pm CDT

 

Top: The Old Austin Dam circa 1890. / Center:The 1890 dam after flooding destroyed it. / Bottom: The second Austin dam, completed in 1915

The Old Austin Dam circa 1890
The 1890 dam after flooding destroyed it.
 

The devastated Austin dam awaited repair when the Austin City Council met exactly 100 years ago, this week.

City Council on Aug. 1, 1912 was working with contractors to repair the Austin Dam.

The dam was built in 1890 to allow Austin to harvest water and power from the Colorado River. After its construction, the newly-formed Lake McDonald (Lake Austin) became a recreation center, according to “The Old Austin Dams” a 1980 article in the Lower Colorado River Review.

Canoeing, sailing, skull racing and diving were popular daytime activities and steamboats featuring drinks, dining and dancing attracted evening guests.

But disaster struck in 1900 when flood waters rushed the dam, tore two 250-foot gashes in its wall and badly damaged the power house. For more than a    decade, the damage remained.

According to “The Old Austin Dams”:

“The broken dam stood, in one historian’s words, ‘like a tombstone in the river, a marker of vanished glory and dim hopes’”.  

But hope prevailed as the project was resurrected in 1911, when voters approved a bond issue to rebuild the old dam. 

On Aug. 1, 1912, one hundred years ago, the City Council agreed to pay William D. Johnson $25,534.20 for extra building materials and work needed to complete the new Austin Dam.

Little did they know that their dam, would again be shattered by floodwaters near its completion 1915. It would remain askew for more than two decades.

In 1940, a third dam, today's Tom Miller Dam, was built on the spot. The dam was dedicated on the day before the 40th anniversary of the first dam’s destruction. “The Old Austin Dams” remarked on the choice of dedication day:

“Certainly the thought must have crossed a few minds: how long would this dam hold up?”  

Tagged:
Jun 27, 2012 - 12:05 pm CDT

The Austin City Council 100 years ago was still dealing with the fallout from a City Hospital controversy. Two women, the Head Nurse and the Matron, had been fired because they did not work well together.

City / County Hospital as it appeared in the 19th century.
Downtown Austin construction work in the early 19th Century.

Top: City / County Hospital as it appeared in the 19th century. // Bottom: Downtown Austin construction work in the early 19th Century.

This week, on June 28, 1912, the City Council had to decide what to do with the vacant positions at the City Hospital (known today as University Medical Center Brackenridge). The new Matron would need the skills of a nurse and of an executive, said Council Member Hart. Hart proposed a salary increase for the position.

  • “…believing that a person combining such qualifications cannot be obtained at the present Salary of Matron, to-wit: $50.00 per month, and that one can be obtained at a salary of $65.00 per month…” Hart said as justification for the increase.

The new Matron would make $780 a year. Meanwhile, $50,000 was to be spent on building the new hospital, thanks to a bond that had passed and campaigning efforts by Dr. Robert John Brackenridge.

The new Matron perhaps got to know Dr. Brackenridge well in the years to come. Brackenridge, who was retired, became the unofficial overseer of the new building’s construction, according to “The Best and the Basics,” a history of the hospital available at the Austin History Center. The history states:

  • “The image which was passed down thorough the decade is of Dr. Brackenridge on the Hospital ground every day, his horse and buggy tied to a live oak tree, watching the building take shape.”  

 

 

 

 

  Photos used in this blog are available for purchase from the Austin History Center.

Tagged:
Jun 13, 2012 - 04:36 pm CDT

A century ago, on June 13, 1912, The Austin City Council suspended business to allow Councilman Hart to present a communication. In his statement, Hart recounted his involvement in the controversial firing of the City Hospital's Head Nurse and Matron.

Top: City / County Hospital as it appeared at the turn of the century. / Bottom: Congress Avenue in the early 1900s.
City / County Hospital as it appeared at the turn of the century
Congress Avenue in the early 20th Century
  •  “…the friction between the two Ladies being so obvious and continuous that it became apparent that the Hospital could not prosper as it should under such conditions,” Hart said as part of a lengthy explanation of the controversy that arose.

Despite the public affairs hiccup, the City Hospital (now called Brackenridge Hospital) was prospering in 1912. About a month earlier, on April 30, 1912, Dr. Robert John Brackenridge had led a successful campaign to pass a $50,000 bond that would build a new hospital to replace the old stone one, according to a typed history of the hospital available at the Austin History Center.

Construction would not begin until 1913, so that year was the last for the Queen Anne-style stone building with bays, pinnacles and a surrounding picket fence. The two-story structure housed a maximum of 40 beds, the document says.

By 1915, a red brick building had opened and was called “Brackenridge’s hospital”.

In his comments on June 13, Hart made a prediction for the future:

  • “The City Hospital was never in as good condition as it is at the present, and under the re-organization contemplated and now in progress it will continue to improve and become an object of pride and comfort and pleasure to our citizens.”

 

**Photos are available for purchase from the Austin History Center.

Jun 06, 2012 - 12:58 pm CDT

One hundred years ago this week, on June 6, 1912, the Austin City Council was ordering street improvements and sidewalk construction downtown.This photo from the Austin History Center depicts City streets around 1912.

But while the Austin Daily Statesman in 1912 reported that City Council had ordered brick or bitumen paving through most of the downtown streets, those who lived on the less-beaten paths were pushing for pavement.

One hundred men from the Hyde Park Civic Improvement Club visited City Council during an evening meeting in late May to petition the City to establish and repair streets in Hyde Park.

According to a May 28, 1912 newspaper article:

“George Mendel Jr. rose and talked briefly. He thanked the Council for the manner in which they had listened to the petition and added that he hoped they would find sufficient merit in it to make the streets in Hyde Park permanent. Mr. Mendell (sic) enlivened the evening by telling one of his choice anecdotes, for which he has a reputation. He alluded to the fact that when citizens of a community were willing to do without their supper as the majority of them had done that they certainly deserved consideration.”

 

*The photos above can be purchased from the Austin History Center using reference number: "C02001-B" (right) and C00606 (left).

Tagged:
May 22, 2012 - 02:25 pm CDT

One hundred years ago this week, on May 23, 1912, the Austin City Council was working with partner Texas Bitulithic Company to pave alleys and improve major downtown roads such as Congress Avenue, Colorado Street, Second Street and Brazos Street. It was a time of drastic change in the city. Automobiles and horse-drawn carriages shared the roads, many of which were merely mud, gravel or brick. The major improvements to the downtown streets are noted in the May 24, 1912 edition of the Austin Daily Statesman:

  • “With the exception of West Eighth this will practically complete the paving of the downtown business streets,” the Statesman article reads.
Men paving Congress Avenue in the late 20th Century The paving of Congress Avenue in the early 20th Century. (To order a copy, visit the Austin History Center and ask for C00606)

A carriage and car share the road in the early 1900s.

Cars and carriages shared Austin's roads in the early 1900s.(To order a copy, visit the Austin History Center and ask for PICA 03695)
 

 

Tagged:
Aug 16, 2012 - 09:18 am CDT

A July 1974 concert photo from Wooldridge Park.
Top to bottom: A photo taken of the 1909 opening ceremony at Wooldridge Park. / An April 1912 photo of the park from the Austin Statesman. / An illustration of a political speaker at the park. / A 1974 concert photo.

On Aug. 15, 1912, the Austin City Council, including Mayor A.P. Wooldridge, voted to transfer $115.52 of its parks funds toward curbing and a cement walk at Woodridge Park. 

The park was named after Wooldridge, who worked to get it created. The square was designated as public space in the 17th century, but in Wooldridge’s time it was used as a garbage dump by local residents who rolled their trash down its slopes.

Wooldridge worked to raise the money for the space to be beautified. On June 18, 1909, the park opened.

On that day in 1909, Mayor Wooldridge gave a speech, preceding the first of many summer concerts that would take place in the park over the next century. An article the next morning in the Austin Statesman covered the speech.

  •  “Mayor Wooldridge told of the history of the park, of its natural beauty and of the plans to have it beautified,” the Statesman article stated. “He told also of his pride in the fact that the park is named in his honor and said that he appreciated the honor more than he could tell.”

Wooldridge proclaimed the park as “the most beautiful park anywhere in Texas” according to “Political Tradition – Woodridge Park”, a 1968 article in the Texas Public Employee. The Statesman article’s author seemed to concur, from his account of the 1909 opening night concert.

  • “They were all there. Men, women and children from every part of the city dressed in their white summer clothes, cool and comfortable. Around the park on every side were carriages, automobiles and buggies in which people were sitting. In the park people sat on the benches and many in the grass, so that there was hardly room for a person to pass. While the strains of music drifted over the park, gay-hearted children skipped in glee over the grass…”

For decades the park reigned as locale for music performances and a political gathering center. One hundred years after the 1912 City Council worked to maintain the new park, the City of Austin today is working to improve the old park by installing an irrigation system. The park is temporarily closed this summer.
 

Tagged:
Then and Now: The Austin City Council
Aug 01, 2012 - 04:19 pm CDT

 

Top: The Old Austin Dam circa 1890. / Center:The 1890 dam after flooding destroyed it. / Bottom: The second Austin dam, completed in 1915

The Old Austin Dam circa 1890
The 1890 dam after flooding destroyed it.
 

The devastated Austin dam awaited repair when the Austin City Council met exactly 100 years ago, this week.

City Council on Aug. 1, 1912 was working with contractors to repair the Austin Dam.

The dam was built in 1890 to allow Austin to harvest water and power from the Colorado River. After its construction, the newly-formed Lake McDonald (Lake Austin) became a recreation center, according to “The Old Austin Dams” a 1980 article in the Lower Colorado River Review.

Canoeing, sailing, skull racing and diving were popular daytime activities and steamboats featuring drinks, dining and dancing attracted evening guests.

But disaster struck in 1900 when flood waters rushed the dam, tore two 250-foot gashes in its wall and badly damaged the power house. For more than a    decade, the damage remained.

According to “The Old Austin Dams”:

“The broken dam stood, in one historian’s words, ‘like a tombstone in the river, a marker of vanished glory and dim hopes’”.  

But hope prevailed as the project was resurrected in 1911, when voters approved a bond issue to rebuild the old dam. 

On Aug. 1, 1912, one hundred years ago, the City Council agreed to pay William D. Johnson $25,534.20 for extra building materials and work needed to complete the new Austin Dam.

Little did they know that their dam, would again be shattered by floodwaters near its completion 1915. It would remain askew for more than two decades.

In 1940, a third dam, today's Tom Miller Dam, was built on the spot. The dam was dedicated on the day before the 40th anniversary of the first dam’s destruction. “The Old Austin Dams” remarked on the choice of dedication day:

“Certainly the thought must have crossed a few minds: how long would this dam hold up?”  

Tagged:
Then and Now: The Austin City Council
Jun 27, 2012 - 12:05 pm CDT

The Austin City Council 100 years ago was still dealing with the fallout from a City Hospital controversy. Two women, the Head Nurse and the Matron, had been fired because they did not work well together.

City / County Hospital as it appeared in the 19th century.
Downtown Austin construction work in the early 19th Century.

Top: City / County Hospital as it appeared in the 19th century. // Bottom: Downtown Austin construction work in the early 19th Century.

This week, on June 28, 1912, the City Council had to decide what to do with the vacant positions at the City Hospital (known today as University Medical Center Brackenridge). The new Matron would need the skills of a nurse and of an executive, said Council Member Hart. Hart proposed a salary increase for the position.

  • “…believing that a person combining such qualifications cannot be obtained at the present Salary of Matron, to-wit: $50.00 per month, and that one can be obtained at a salary of $65.00 per month…” Hart said as justification for the increase.

The new Matron would make $780 a year. Meanwhile, $50,000 was to be spent on building the new hospital, thanks to a bond that had passed and campaigning efforts by Dr. Robert John Brackenridge.

The new Matron perhaps got to know Dr. Brackenridge well in the years to come. Brackenridge, who was retired, became the unofficial overseer of the new building’s construction, according to “The Best and the Basics,” a history of the hospital available at the Austin History Center. The history states:

  • “The image which was passed down thorough the decade is of Dr. Brackenridge on the Hospital ground every day, his horse and buggy tied to a live oak tree, watching the building take shape.”  

 

 

 

 

  Photos used in this blog are available for purchase from the Austin History Center.

Tagged:
Then and Now: The Austin City Council
Jun 13, 2012 - 04:36 pm CDT

A century ago, on June 13, 1912, The Austin City Council suspended business to allow Councilman Hart to present a communication. In his statement, Hart recounted his involvement in the controversial firing of the City Hospital's Head Nurse and Matron.

Top: City / County Hospital as it appeared at the turn of the century. / Bottom: Congress Avenue in the early 1900s.
City / County Hospital as it appeared at the turn of the century
Congress Avenue in the early 20th Century
  •  “…the friction between the two Ladies being so obvious and continuous that it became apparent that the Hospital could not prosper as it should under such conditions,” Hart said as part of a lengthy explanation of the controversy that arose.

Despite the public affairs hiccup, the City Hospital (now called Brackenridge Hospital) was prospering in 1912. About a month earlier, on April 30, 1912, Dr. Robert John Brackenridge had led a successful campaign to pass a $50,000 bond that would build a new hospital to replace the old stone one, according to a typed history of the hospital available at the Austin History Center.

Construction would not begin until 1913, so that year was the last for the Queen Anne-style stone building with bays, pinnacles and a surrounding picket fence. The two-story structure housed a maximum of 40 beds, the document says.

By 1915, a red brick building had opened and was called “Brackenridge’s hospital”.

In his comments on June 13, Hart made a prediction for the future:

  • “The City Hospital was never in as good condition as it is at the present, and under the re-organization contemplated and now in progress it will continue to improve and become an object of pride and comfort and pleasure to our citizens.”

 

**Photos are available for purchase from the Austin History Center.

Then and Now: The Austin City Council
Jun 06, 2012 - 12:58 pm CDT

One hundred years ago this week, on June 6, 1912, the Austin City Council was ordering street improvements and sidewalk construction downtown.This photo from the Austin History Center depicts City streets around 1912.

But while the Austin Daily Statesman in 1912 reported that City Council had ordered brick or bitumen paving through most of the downtown streets, those who lived on the less-beaten paths were pushing for pavement.

One hundred men from the Hyde Park Civic Improvement Club visited City Council during an evening meeting in late May to petition the City to establish and repair streets in Hyde Park.

According to a May 28, 1912 newspaper article:

“George Mendel Jr. rose and talked briefly. He thanked the Council for the manner in which they had listened to the petition and added that he hoped they would find sufficient merit in it to make the streets in Hyde Park permanent. Mr. Mendell (sic) enlivened the evening by telling one of his choice anecdotes, for which he has a reputation. He alluded to the fact that when citizens of a community were willing to do without their supper as the majority of them had done that they certainly deserved consideration.”

 

*The photos above can be purchased from the Austin History Center using reference number: "C02001-B" (right) and C00606 (left).

Tagged:
Then and Now: The Austin City Council
May 22, 2012 - 02:25 pm CDT

One hundred years ago this week, on May 23, 1912, the Austin City Council was working with partner Texas Bitulithic Company to pave alleys and improve major downtown roads such as Congress Avenue, Colorado Street, Second Street and Brazos Street. It was a time of drastic change in the city. Automobiles and horse-drawn carriages shared the roads, many of which were merely mud, gravel or brick. The major improvements to the downtown streets are noted in the May 24, 1912 edition of the Austin Daily Statesman:

  • “With the exception of West Eighth this will practically complete the paving of the downtown business streets,” the Statesman article reads.
Men paving Congress Avenue in the late 20th Century The paving of Congress Avenue in the early 20th Century. (To order a copy, visit the Austin History Center and ask for C00606)

A carriage and car share the road in the early 1900s.

Cars and carriages shared Austin's roads in the early 1900s.(To order a copy, visit the Austin History Center and ask for PICA 03695)
 

 

Tagged:
Then and Now: The Austin City Council