Commentary

SPOILIN’ THE BROTH

Check out Rockdale’s bragging points in 1912
Bill Cooke

Neighbor Grover sez he hopes they never discover life on any other planet, because sure as heck our government will start sending them money. W hat was Rockdale like in 1912, just a short 101 years ago?

I found in my files an old, tarnished manila envelope, measuring 5-by-10-3/8 inches, which not only was used for mailing out bills and correspondence by one Coffield Hardware Company, but also to advertise our town.

The return address on the envelope reads: “Coffield Hardware Company, dealers in farm implements, shelf goods, stoves, vehicles, saddles and harness, Rockdale, Texas.”Nopostoffice box number, no street address, no zip code.

C’mon, folks, this was 1912. Our town’s streets wouldn’t be named for some 40 years. There were no zip codes. If you addressed a letter to Coffield Hardware Company,

Rockdale, Texas, it would get to the local post office and the clerk would put it in the store’s post office box. A different post office too—a narrow little building on East Cameron Avenue (two doors east of this newspaper’s present office. Our current post office wasn’t built until 1939.

Anyway, on the back side of the envelope are printed facts about 1912 Rockdale. Enjoy:

• Has a population of about 4,000 (it was later to fall as low as 2,600).

• Has a taxable value of $1,000,000.

• Has two banks with $125,000 capital.

• Has 10 churches.

• Has large Cit y Hall and Opera House.

• Has 50-ton oil mill, improved with fertilizer factory combined.

• Has 25-ton ice plant.

• Has water works with 110- foot standpipe.

• Has electric light plant.

• Has sewer system and good natural drainage

• Has two cotton gins and three cotton yards.

• Has two machine shops.

• Has large pressed brick yard.

• It’s the junction of the I&GN and SA&AP Railroad Companies.

• Has three large lumber yards.

• Has two large hardware and implement stores.

• Two rivers are within five miles of city.

• Has three large public schools.

• Has one large wholesale house.

• Greatest lignite center in world—Produced 275,000 tons of coal in 1911, valued at half million, and furnished employment for 500 laborers.

• Has both black waxy, bottom and sandy land tributary—plenty of fine soft surface water.

• Principal farm products are cotton, corn, peaches, tomatoes, potatoes, melons and cantaloupes, shipped in car load lots.

• Land values are from $10 per acre and up.

• Every principal store in city is erected of brick, stone or concrete.

• Has some paved street and concrete sidewalks on principal thoroughfares.

• Has fine fair grounds and one of the best race tracks—prettiest homes, shade trees and parks.

• Healthiest and best little town in the state.

• Now under construction: One $20,000 bank building, four brick store buildings, one gigantic gas plant to supply neighboring towns, and Interurban to the richest black land belt in the world.

Hmm. Sounds like a good place to live in 1912, and it still is! bill@rockdalereporter.com


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