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Sunday, October 10, 2010

1888 :: Rockdale in The News

The Galveston Daily News. Thursday, October 10, 1888. A LIVE TEXAS TOWN. ROCKDALE SITUATED IN THE SOUTHERN PORTION OF MILAM COUNTY. Its Trade and Business Men, Enterprises, School, Churches and Societies -- The Rich Country Around the City -- Statistics and Future Prospects.

ROCKDALE, Tex., October 9 [1888]. -- TO THE NEWS: Having recently observed in the columns of THE NEWS an article on Cameron and Milam county, in which the writer seems to have ignored Rockdale, I have concluded to furnish your readers with a brief sketch of this town.

Rockdale is a city of over 2000 inhabitants, situated on the International and Great Northern railway, in the southern part of Milam county, in one of the best producing sections of the state. The sandy loam in the immediate vicinity of the town is of exceeding fertility, while the rich black lands a few miles to the northwest are admitted as being among the finest farming lands on this continent.

The town was laid out in 1874, when it was the termination of the International and Great Northern railway. After the extension of the road beyond this point, the country surrounding Rockdale began to settle up with small farmers and the town began its growth, which has been steadily progressing, without the spasmodic impetus of a boom, until it was reached its present population.

The trade of Rockdale is extensive; from 10,000 to 13,000 bales of cotton are shipped from this point annually. Its total trade, embracing merchandise sales, lumber sales, exportation of cotton, etc., amounts to $1,250,000 yearly.

The enterprise and zeal of the citizens in the


is evidenced by an architectural building of brick, two stories high, at a cost of $10,000, which is an ornament to the town. Its capacity is sufficient for the present use. A public school, under the management of Prof. J.W. Clark, with 225 pupils in regular attendance, is kept in operation in this magnificent structure nine months in the year as a free school, paid for out of the state school fund and a small tax, self-imposed, upon the citizens of the town.

The streets of Rockdale are of extra width, the two principal ones being 100 feet wide. The business houses are generally 30 feet by 125 feet back, and are calculated to hold immense stocks of goods. In fact, the merchants of Rockdale carry larger stocks than those of any other town of its size in the state, the principal of whom, Messrs. Scarborough & Hicks, merchandise and groceries, an immense stock; B. Loewenstein & Bros., I. Baum, Isaacs & Lockett and Solon Joynes, manufacturers' agent for all kinds of machinery.

R.H. Ames has one of the best appointed gins in the county, turning out twenty-four bales of cotton per day.

The citizens of Rockdale have not lost sight of those moral and religious principles that ought to actuate a civilized and christian people. They


in which they weekly bend their knees in devout prayer to the giver of every good and perfect gift, to-wit: Methodist, Presbyterian, Old School and Cumberland, Baptist, Episcopal, Catholic and Christian. The several secret orders all represented by their various lodges, I.O.O.F., K. of H. and A.F. and A.M., with others too numerous to mention.

The press is ably represented by the Rockdale Messenger and the Rockdale Reporter, both weeklies.

Manufactories have not been neglected in the progress and building up of the town. There is one cigar factory, two brickyards that turn out a splendid article of red brick, two cotton gins that during the cotton season are run to their full capacity.

The town also affords ample facilities for the presentation of the drama, for the amusement of its good citizens.

The banking house of J.S. Perry & Co. furnish financial facilities for carrying on the trade and commerce of the city and surrounding country -- J.E. Longmoor, manager.

A contract has been made with the Aransas Pass Railroad company on its Waco extension to pass through Rockdale. The town has guaranteed the right of way from the country line on the south to the bank of Little river, twelve miles north of Rockdale, and a cash donation of $12,500, all of which has been secured.

The sandy soil in the vicinity of Rockdale has proved to be well adapted to fruit growing, which is now becoming one of the most important.


The apple, peach, plum, pear, apricot and grape succeed well. The present season, with abundance of rain, has developed the fact that apples and pears compare favorably with the same kinds of fruits imported from Arkansas and Missouri in size, and are superior in flavor. As each succeeding year proves prosperous, pomologists [someone who cultivates fruit trees] are enlarging their orchards, and in the near future a canning establishment will be demanded to save the increasing crop.

Five thousand boxes of fruit have been shipped from Rockdale during the present season. Your correspondent is indebted to Mr. Homer Eads, the obliging station agent of the International and Great Northern railway, for data as to shipments from Rockdale: Cotton shipped to September 28, 4090 bales of this season's crop. Receipts for shipment of freight for August amounted to $8975.85. Tickets sold, $350.90. Rockdale ships from 20 to 35 cars of cotton seed each season, besides large quantities of corn, hides. etc.

Two coal mines have been opened three and three and a half miles each of Rockdale, near the International and Great Northern line of road, which are likely to prove valuable, since its quality compares well with Indian Nation coal. The mines are not yet fully developed, since only about fifty carloads have been shipped per year.

The International and Great Northern company is well prepared to handle the immense trade of Rockdale. There is a new and neat passenger depot, large freight depot, cotton warehouse and plenty of platform room, stock pens, etc.

Another important enterprise in which the leading citizens are interested is the


The object of this association is to promote trade and increase the business of Rockdale. About fifty of the leading citizens of the town compose the combine. The association has its constitution and bylaws and regular order of business, and is sure of success in effecting the object of their organization. The association has its own hall, a find building.

The town is regularly incorporated, with W.R. Kennard, M.D., mayor.

The writer concludes that Rockdale, by reason of its natural advantages of location, its surrounding rich, fertile and productive lands; its facilities for railroad transportation, the industry and enterprise of its people, the high tone of business integrity of its leading citizens, the moral and religious character of its inhabitants; render it one of the most desirable towns in Texas.

Your representative can not close this brief sketch of Rockdale without acknowledging in grateful terms the kindness extended by Colonel E.M. Scarbrough, R.H. Hicks and B. Loewenstein, all prominent business men, and also Colonel N.H. Tracy, late of the Denver deep water convention, who is a leading legal light of the Milam county bar. Also to J.E. Longmoor, the efficient representative of THE NEWS at Rockdale, and to Rev. W.E. Copeland, who is extensively engaged in fruit culture.


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Transcribed & shared here by V. Everhart

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