The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 106, July 2002 - April, 2003 Page: 81

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The History and Modus Operandi of a Small Merchant

Houston, April 14, 1896
"R. C. [Charlie] Lanier Crosby House, Beaumont.
Have arranged for balloon. Make your advertisements accordingly.
John H. Kirby."7
The balloon event did, indeed, happen, as recorded below:
[The balloon] was a very large one, and everything promised well, but before it
had gone very high it burst and collapsed. Though rather risky to descend in a
parachute except when very high, Prof. Ronig, when he saw the balloon would
fall, released his monkey in its parachute and then jumped himself. His para-
chute barely had time to open enough to break his fall before he struck the top
of a house with great force, but he was not injured [no reference to the mon-
key's status] .
The celebration was a rousing success, with the crowd estimated conserv-
atively at three thousand (in a town of three hundred)."
Such were the characters and styles-clearly divergent-of the two
mentors most responsible for Julian Lanier's mercantile training.
At the time the Gulf, Beaumont, and Kansas City railroad was extended
northward to Kirbyville in April 1895, the city of Jasper was still without
direct rail service and would remain so until August 1901. Nevertheless,
the Kirbyville rail terminus, nowJasper's closest, did reduce rail access to
twenty-two miles each way. And as my father related to me, it was over this
distance (and before his fifteenth birthday) that he "hauled freight" as a
teamster, his first known job other than working for his father.10
The interim from 1900-1905 was a pivotal time for Julian Lanier and
comprised the essence of his pre-entrepreneurial training. After clerking
in his father's grocery until 1903, he moved to Lufkin, Texas, where his
uncle was now in business. Here he and his brother, Linton, received
their most consequential sales training. By August 17, 1904, however,
Julian had traveled alone to St. Louis and the 1904 World's Fair. What
effect this great exposition's sensorial assault must have had on such a
rustic is hard to imagine. He would have seen automobiles, electric street-
cars, "skyscrapers," buildings outlined brilliantly with electric lights, and
other awe-inspiring precursors of the still-young twentieth century."
7 Telegram printed in Jasper News-Boy, Apr. 22, 1896.
8Jasper News-Boy, May 6, 1896.
0 For 1896 population of Kirbyville, see Diana J. Kleiner, "Kirbyville, Texas," in Ron Tyler,
Douglas E. Barnett, Roy R. Barkley, Penelope C. Anderson, and Mark F. Odintz (eds.), The New
Handbook of Texas (6 vols.; Austin: Texas State Historical Association, 1996), III, 1126.
10 For extension of rail service to Kirbyville and freight-wagon mileage reduction, see Jasper
News-Boy, Apr. 17, 1895; for rail extension toJasper, Jasper News-Boy, Aug. 7, 1901.
n This Lufkin, Texas, history and chronology is inferred from Jasper News-Boy "Personals"
columns for the periods indicated; for World Fair "sights," see MargaretJohanson Witherspoon,
Remembenng the St. Louis World's Fair (St. Louis: Folkestone Press, 1973), 43, 41, 11, 17.


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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 106, July 2002 - April, 2003, periodical, 2003; Austin, Texas. ( accessed April 19, 2019), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History,; crediting Texas State Historical Association.

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