The Dallas Journal, Volume 49, 2003 Page: 7
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Lindley/Heisel Bible Library Research Project
Adam Joseph Heisel, oldest son of Adam and Georgia
(Lindley) Heisel was born 4 July 1877 in Dallas according to the
family Bible. He received a probated (delayed) birth certificate
later in his life.66 With his father working as a shoemaker, it was
understandable that both Adam Heisel Jr. and his younger brother,
William Heisel, went into the leather goods business as well.
Adam Joseph Heisel worked as a saddler and harness maker for
the G. H. Schoellkopf Company, a pioneer industry that grew
along with the city. Adam Heisel went to work for Schoellkopf at
the age of fourteen and stayed with him until around 1910 when
the two brothers opened their own harness making shop at 112
Commerce Street. The men moved their shop to 111 South
Houston Street around 1914 where they became hardware merchants. Heisel Brothers Hardware Store later moved
to 612 Commerce Street and was in operation until Adam Heisel's death in 1959. Again we tried placing the Heisel
Brothers store on a modern-day map of Dallas. We found their store location at 111 South Houston Street directly
where Dealey Plaza now stands.
Adam Heisel married Ethel Felecia Seay on 12 June 1918.67 The couple had no children. A few months
after his marriage, Adam Heisel registered for the World War I draft on 12 September 1918 as "Adam Joe" Heisel.
He was 41 years old at the time and listed his residence as 528 West Eighth Street in Dallas. He described himself
as "medium" height, "medium" build with grey eyes and dark hair.68 While Adam and William Heisel operated
their successful hardware store, Ethel Heisel taught school at the J. S. Armstrong school in West Dallas. Adam
Heisel and his wife were enumerated on the 1920 U.S. census69 and on the 1930 U.S. enumeration for Dallas.70
We gained valuable insight into the growth of Dallas through two newspaper articles that ran in the Dallas
Times Herald on 28 August 1949. Visiting the seventh floor Texas/Dallas Archives & History Division, we used
the "old-fashioned" card catalog. This proved to be a treasure trove of information, but the staff told us it was an
underutilized resource. The holdings of the Archives & History Division had been indexed, and the catalog
contained a card on Adam Heisel. The index card lead us to the newspaper articles and taught us a valuable lesson
as well: We must check every resource we find to fully research our families.
The newspaper featured a series of informative articles on the history and development of the city. We
learned a little more about the Heisel family in an article entitled "Real Estate Deal 'Muffed,' Dallas Pioneer
Claims." Adam J. Heisel was interviewed for this story that read, "As a result of a real estate deal that didn't
materialize, Adam J. Heisel of 528 W. 8th St. is probably not quite as wealthy as he might have been. Heisel, born
July 4, 1877 at his father's home at 1411 Main St., lived there as a small child. Soon afterward, his father had an
opportunity to buy most of the property on Main St. above the 1400 block. But the elder Heisel wasn't interested
because the property was nothing but a "hog wallow." Instead he traded his homesite for a 40-acre tract in present
Oak Cliff." The photograph above shows the site of the Heisel farm on Plymouth Road in Oak Cliff.
"Might have made a fortune if he had bought that land," Heisel muses today. So instead of becoming rich,
Heisel moved into a log cabin in Oak Cliff where he remembers watching cowboys drive cattle to Dallas. He has
lived in Oak Cliff ever since. There were only four families living in Oak Cliff when the Heisels moved there. "The
only problem involved in getting to Dallas was paying the fee at the toll bridge. It wasn't much of a problem," says
Heisel, "because we never paid it. We just forded the river." 71
The second article addressed the Heisel brothers' early careers as saddle and harness makers. Entitled
"Harness, Saddle Craft Once Centered in City," the article traced the history of this manufacturing business in
Dallas. Two men, Jesse D. Padgitt and G. H. Schoellkopf"...began saddle and harness-making in the little
community on the banks of the Trinity..." in the late 1800s. "They found it a profitable business and by 1906
Dallas had become the saddle and harness center of the entire nation...Between 1900 and 1908, the leading
manufacturers were turning out around 200 sets of harness a day. Each set brought from $13.50 to $35...Dallas
boasted that in those boom years that 'more leather was cut here than in any other town in the country.'" While the
advent of the automobile caused a sharp decline in the industry, the article stated that "...the two firms still making
harness are the Schoellkopf Co. and Padgitt Brothers." 72
Life went on for Adam and Ethel Heisel until tragedy struck in 27 December 1959. Adam Heisel was
beaten and robbed at his hardware store during a break-in on 25 November 1959. The newspaper account of the
event relayed that "Dallas police Monday said that they have classified the death Sunday of Adam Joseph Heisel,
The Dallas Genealogical Society 7
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Dallas Genealogical Society. The Dallas Journal, Volume 49, 2003, periodical, June 2003; Dallas, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth186862/m1/11/: accessed October 21, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Dallas Genealogical Society.