Memorial and Biographical History of Dallas County, Texas. Page: 250 of 1,110
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HISTORY OF DALLAS COUNTY.
flocked to hear him in thousands; and just
such another day was never witnessed before
or since the 27th day of October, the day
this most eloquent and divinely gifted young
orator of Georgia, delivered his great oration,
said by many to have been really the greatest
speech of his life. As it has been pronounced
as a gem of literary production to be preserved
in history, and as it was one of the
greatest speeches ever delivered in Dallas
county, we give it nearly in full, together with
the invitation sent him, the correspondence,
and arrangement made by the committee of
"' Probably no one enterprise in the whole
history of Dallas developed so great a surprise,
even to its projectors themselves, and
has brought and continues to bring such lasting
and material benefits to the city and to
the State at large, as the Texas State Fair and
Dallas Exposition. Its organization was
completed in the early part of 1886, the
following named gentlemen being chosen as
directors, to serve for the first year: J. B.
Simpson, T. L. Marsalis, Alexander Sanger,
J. S. Armstrong, W. J. Keller, J. M. Wendelken,
E. M. Reardon, W. H. Gaston, B.
Blankenship, who elected James B. Simpson
president and Sydney Smith, secretary, with
C. A. Cour as assistant, and Mrs. Sydney
Smith, as superintentendent of the Ladies
Department. Captain W. M. Johnson, who
had formerly served the city for eight years
in that capacity, was appointed as engineer
in charge of grounds, and Judge J. H. Dills,
of Sherman, Texas, was employed to lay off
and build the race track.
"The selection of the site was concluded in
April, and work begun in July of that year.
From that time until October 26-the opening
day-ninety acres of wild, unimproved
hog-wallow prairie had been transformed into
a beautiful park. The citizens of Dallas
themselves could hardly realize how such a
transformation could have taken place, and
visitors from abroad positively refused to
believe that these beautiful grounds, complete
in every requirement for a first-class fair and
exposition, were the results of less than four
months' work. But to effect this mighty
change had required the continuous labors of
more than 300 carpenters and 150 two-mule
teams from July to the night of October 25.
The gates were thrown open the morning of
the 26th, and neither the sound of hammer
nor saw could be heard on the grounds. The
work was complete. It had ceased at 12
o'clock the night before.
" Each member of that directory had put
his shoulder to the wheel, and it was said that
the executive committee and secretary had
parted each night at 12 o'clock to meet on
the grounds at 7 o'clock the next morning.
To be a member of that directory in good
standing, meant almost a total neglect of private
business as well as the loan of money
and credit with which to carry forward the
"' Dallas had two fairs on her hands that
year, each contending for the supremacy and
each managed by her liveliest business men.
The entire State was ablaze with excitement
over this freak, and the general opinion was
that Dallas was smartly overdoing the fair
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Lewis Publishing Company. Memorial and Biographical History of Dallas County, Texas., book, 1892; Chicago, Illinois. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth20932/m1/250/: accessed August 19, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Dallas Public Library.