True stories of old Houston and Houstonians: historical and personal sketches / by S. O. Young. Page: 205
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HOUSTON AND HOUSTONIANS 205
leading citizens called on Sinclair and asked him to organize a
grand race for the next year, to be held where everybody
could see it. Magnolia Park, then in its glory, was selected as the
place. Sinclair got busy and after talking to his boys they went
to work with a will and soon every boy in Houston who could
beg, buy or borrow a goat had a private training establishment
of his own. The morning newspaper gave Sinclair all the space
he wanted and when he began his "publicity" work he had the
publicity department of the No-Tsu-Oh of today looking like
thirty cents. The state papers entered into the spirit of the
thing and Houston's Goat Races were soon the best advertised
things in the state.
Next year, 1893, Sinclair grew ambitious and invited Governor
Hogg to come to Houston and act as official goat starter. The
governor was equal to the occasion and promptly accepted the
great honor. That cinched things. The idea of a great governor
of a great state like Texas, leaving his arduous duties to come
to Houston to start goat races, caught the people and the railroads
at once established excursion rates to Houston from all
parts of the state.
When the great day came, every bank, the railroad shops, every
wholesale and retail house in Houston was closed and the day
was made a real holiday. By noon there was hardly a man or
woman to be seen in the city, and not a single boy. Everybody
had gone to Harrisburg, where the races were held.
It is out of the question to attempt to describe the scenes on
the grounds. Hundreds of prizes had been offered by the merchants
and everybody had contributed something for the pleasure
of the boys. There were tons of watermelons and hundreds of
cases of soda water. There were regular hills of cakes and
pies and nothing could have been more attractive to the average
boy than the display of good things to eat and drink..
Captain Jack White was about right when he told the lady that
Sinclair could not keep from doing something outrageous. Sinclair
had invited the governor to come to Houston and had given
him the coolest place to rest in during the heat of the day,
namely, the tent where the watermelons were stored, amid chunks
of ice. When Sinclair saw the big governor sitting back, fanning
himself, the devil tempted him and he fell. He got about two
hundred boys, drew them up in line behind the tent and told
them that the first boy to get in the tent from the rear could
have the biggest melon. Then he gave the signal to charge and
the next moment Governor Hogg, chunks of watermelon and
two hundred boys were struggling amid the torn-down tent. It
was merely a side play, but the governor enjoyed it as much as
After that race Houston became famous as a sporting center,
and before long a challenge was received from Pittsburg, Pa.,
saying that Pittsburg had the fastest goat in the world and that
if the Houston champion would come up there Pittsburg's pet
would wipe up the earth with him. The challenge was promptly
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Young, Samuel Oliver. True stories of old Houston and Houstonians: historical and personal sketches / by S. O. Young., book, 1913; Galveston, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth24646/m1/205/: accessed July 23, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; .