And Now You Know: Orange: Prosperity, Politics, and Progress

Published 12:56 pm Saturday, March 24, 2018

By Mike Louviere

In the early 1900s, Houston grew in population from just over 44,000 to 78,800 according to the 1910 census.

Beaumont, thanks to the oil discovery at Spindletop grew from 9,427 in 1900 to 20,640 in 1910.

These were said to be the two wealthiest cities in Texas.

In this same time period, Orange had only had an increase of about 1,700 in population, ending the decade with slightly over 5,500 citizens. Orange, thanks to sawmills and shipbuilding, had more wealth per capita than Houston or Beaumont. Green Avenue was home to more millionaires, per capita, than any other street in Texas.

Orange had two banks, First National and Orange National.

First National advertised that they had $100,000 in capital with surplus and profits of $90,000. Orange National was proud to have $250,000 in deposits. Both banks were paying four percent interest on savings accounts at their banks. Financially they were two of the best banks in Texas.

Elections for new terms were beginning; the Democrats had a full ballot. S.B. Cooper was running for reelection in the Second Congressional District, opposed by Martin Dies. John C. Chaney and Thomas H. Langham were asking for votes for Representative in the 22nd Congressional District. In the race for District Judge, 1st Judicial District, E.A. Cheatham and S.W. Sholars, Jr. were the opponents. O.R. Sholars was the candidate for County Judge. E.L. Bruce was asking to be elected as County Attorney. Park Gray and Henry W. Bland were running for Sheriff and Tax Collector. John S. Keacher wanted to be elected Justice of the Peace, Precinct 1. Martin Schuh and H.P. Munn opposed each other for the office of County Commissioner, Precinct 1, and J.B. Childress was the candidate for County Commissioner, Precinct 2. The Democratic primary election was scheduled for July 25, 1908.

Republican candidates had not been published as of June.

Weaver and Sons had a well-earned reputation as builders of wooden boats and ships.

In 1908, they entered a new era. They became agents for Mullins Steel Launches. They advertised the new “Mullins 1909 Special” was built of puncture proof pressed steel plates. The launch had air chambers like a life boat. It was guaranteed not to leak, waterlog, dry out, or warp. It never needed to be caulked, and needs no boathouse. The engine is the Ferrio Reversible 1 1-2-2 Horsepower Engine. It was equipped with all the 1909 improvements, including the Mullins Silent Underwater Exhaust. Weaver was also the agent for Ferro and Fairbanks Victor Gasoline Engines.

Doing business within the City of Orange was changing. W.E. McCorquodale announced in the Orange Daily Leader that he had become a Master Plumber and paid a $500 bond to comply with a city ordinance. He stated he was complying with the ordinance and asked that the city ensure that all workmen doing work in the city comply with city laws to ensure that all work will be safely done.

“I am in favor of a heavy bond to be made on the Master Plumbers and a small bond to be made on the Journeymen; also a close inspection made by a city safety inspector who is elected by the city council in order that we may get only the best sanitary work in our beautiful city,” said McCorquodale.

McCorquodale was one of the leaders in converting waste water and sewerage in Orange from the open and septic systems to a closed sanitary disposal system. He advertised the latest and most modern plumbing fixtures available.

Leader publisher, A.L. Ford, always on the lookout, wrote “We saw a prominent Orange lady out in the hot sun the other day cutting down weeds around her place; thus putting to shame those of us men folks who are content to allow weeds to grow up around our places and make no effort to get rid of them.”

In addition to those striving to make money in Orange in those days, there were some who cared about the appearance of the city.

“And now you know”