A century ago in Orange
Last updated 12/26/2023 at 8:51pm
News in Orange from a century ago isn't much different from that going into 2024. Christian denominations were splitting and the government wanted to save by cutting back on employees.
The daily newspaper, Orange Leader, of January 31, 1923, was reporting on local, national, and world affairs. One Associated Press story predicted "the year o the great realignment of the church forces in the United States" "spurred by the war between fundamentalists and modernists."
One pastor was criticizing "flapperism," referring to the short-skirted, bob-haired young women of the Roaring Twenties. "Flapperism is the reaches of insulted intelligent youth against the miserable hypocrisy of parents," one pastor said.
In the first newspaper of 1924, reports came that Mayor Sol M. White was going to save $7,200 in the city's budget. According to the U.S. Department of Labor inflation calculator, that would be the equivalent off $133,115 today.
Mayor White was going to eliminate two positions because of vacancies. One job was of a "policeman" after the resignation of "Officer Jett," and the other was the job of private secretary to the mayor. Mayor Lea, who had resigned to take a job in Dallas, was taking the secretary with him to his new position. The police officer and secretary each would save $1,800. Mayor White was eliminating the job of city engineer, with engineer A.J. Willison resigning effective February 1. That job vacancy would save $3,600 a year.
Even with the city making cutbacks, local bankers predicted a prosperous year locally with 2024. The daily paper interviewed officers at the city's three banks, First National, Orange National, and Guaranty & Trust.
The bankers were predicting that the Intracoastal Canal with a route through Orange would begin that year and the Texas Creosote Company's new plant would open. The newspaper reported the bankers were "unanimous in their belief that 1924 will usher in one of the most successful years in the history of Orange."
Downtown businesses at the time included the three banks, White House department store, Nathan's Dry Goods, Crager's department store, Orange Furniture Company, Miller's Cash Store, Model Tailors, Joe Lucas and Son jewelers, Holleman and Cottle, Goree's Drug Store, East Texas Hardware Company, Orange Drug Store, Handley's, H.L. Cohenour jewelers and optician, and Colburn Grain Company. Jackson Motor Cars at the corner of Border and Polk streets had Dodge Brothers cars.
Traditional churches continued locally and the Reverend E.T. Drake of First Presbyterian Church on Green Avenue announced Miss Jule Tyne of Queencastle, Indiana, would be the new organist and music director. She had been working at the church and her work had been "entirely satisfactory to church officers and warranted her employment."
Sunset Grove Country Club, built by H.J. Lutcher Stark and opened in 1922, had a New Year's Eve party that was "one of the social events of the holiday season." The dancing affair featured the Virginians, an orchestra from Beaumont.
Mr. and Mrs. Edgar Brown Jr. held the traditional Southern New Year's Day open house at their home, 811 Green Avenue. The couple in 1924 built their red brick mansion at 803 Green Avenue, a building that later became Orange City Hall.
Edgar Brown Jr., cousin of Stark, had not yet built his own country club, Pinehurst.
Orange's population in 1920 was 9,212, with the county's population at 15,379. In 1910, the city had 5,572 people with the county at 9,528. The figures show Orange, which was the only incorporated city in the county, had the majority of the county's population.
Orange got a bit of sad news to end the year. The local Salvation Army leaders Captain and Mrs. D.C. Nichols, were being transferred on January 6. They had been working hard during the Christmas season. Not only did the Salvation Army, which was in a two-story building on Front Street, provide needy children with toys and families with food, the group hosted a Christmas dinner for the community and sheltered people who had to move because of river flooding.
The flooding had temporarily caused the Orange Car and Steel Company to close. But good news came with the new year. The 300 workers at the plant were able to go back to their jobs of refurbishing railroad cars. The company had a contract with International & Great Northern Railroad.