Legacies: A History Journal for Dallas and North Central Texas, Volume 22, Number 1, Spring 2010 Page: 20
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Burney Lipscomb,14 Dallasites got their first
glimpse of a so-called "horseless carriage" when
Texas Midland Railroad owner E.H.R. Green
took delivery of an automobile in Terrell and,
with a young man named Jess Illingsworth as his
driver, set out for Dallas, arriving after a trip of
"five hours and ten minutes." Riding "up and
down Main Street ... at the rate of fifteen miles
an hour," the two men and their machine
reportedly created a sensation.15 Whether Henry
Garrett witnessed this remarkable scene or if he
examined the vehicle when it was afterward dis-
played at the Texas State Fair16 is unknown, but
in view of the fact that he later purchased "Old
Hurricane," as the machine was nicknamed,
there can be little doubt that his fascination with
this new-fangled form of transportation had
By 1901 Garrett had acquired a second
"horseless carriage,"8 which he entered in an
auto competition held on January 1, 1902, at Fair
Park. During an era when the automobile was
still something of a novelty, there were three
basic types available: gasoline powered, steam
powered, and electric. Garrett's choice of an
electric vehicle was therefore unsurprising, but
apparently such machines "were not made for
speed." When he and another electric vehicle
owner made the circuit, local newspaper
reporters were so unimpressed that they failed to
record the name of the winner. The steam and
gasoline-powered autos, no doubt because they
were noisier and went faster-some reaching 25
or 30 mph-attracted greater attention.19
Some time that same year Henry Garrett
became an official sales agent for the National
Electric Company, an Indianapolis-based auto-
mobile manufacturer. By doing so, he became
not only the first automobile dealer in Dallas but
also the entire state of Texas. His first customer
was John S.Armstrong, a partner with Thomas L.
Marsalis in the development of Oak Cliff and
soon to be the developer of Highland Park.
Within two years, the electrician-turned-auto
dealer was also selling gasoline-powered
Locomobiles and Wintons, as well as White
Steamers and Oldsmobiles.20
At around the same time that Henry
Garrett's fascination with automobiles began, a
certain young woman also attracted his atten-
tion. If there had been anyone special in his life
up to this point, nothing had come of it. At
forty-one, Garrett was still unmarried and living
with his parents long past the age when most
men had not only a wife but also children, as
well as a home in which to raise them. Then
somehow he met Lillian Butler, the daughter of
an itinerant Dallas carpenter.
In view of the huge difference in their ages
and their sharply contrasting social backgrounds,
there was certainly no more unlikely couple.
However, it is not hard to imagine what attract-
ed them to one another. Lillian, from all
accounts, was a vivacious young beauty, and
although he was rather plain looking, Henry was
for her a chance to be lifted out of poverty and
the lack of respectability that came with it.
On May 27, 1902, when she was only sev-
enteen and he was forty-one, Lillian Butler and
Henry Garrett were quietly married by Bishop
A.C. Garrett at the Episcopal rectory on
Greenwood Street. No doubt out of considera-
tion for the sensitivities of the Bishop and his
wife, who were almost certainly embarrassed by
the bride's tender age and her lack of social
standing, the press barely mentioned it.21
As Lillian must have hoped, marriage to the
son of one of the most highly respected citizens
of Dallas quickly improved her social standing.
The following year, a newspaper report on the
"Automobile Fad in Dallas" named all the auto
owners in town. Topping the list of twenty-six
individuals, which included "people in all lines
of Dallas business and all professions" were
"Henry Garrett and Mrs. Henry Garrett," both
of whom, it was reported, "have an electric run-
about."22 There was no mention of the difference
in their ages (nor the fact that Mrs. Garrett was
pregnant). That same year Lillian gave birth to
the couple's first child-a baby boy who was
called Charles. In 1904 a second son, Frederick,
In 1906, the same year that Letitia or"Ditsy"
the Garretts' last child and only daughter, was
born, Henry Garrett inexplicably sold his dealer-
ship to his miniature railway partner, R.L.
Cameron.23 (He had already dissolved his electri-
cal supply partnership with A. Burney Lipscomb
20 LEGACIES Spring 2010
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Dallas Historical Society. Legacies: A History Journal for Dallas and North Central Texas, Volume 22, Number 1, Spring 2010, periodical, 2010; Dallas, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth146051/m1/22/: accessed September 22, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Dallas Historical Society.