Texas Almanac, 1992-1993 Page: 51
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CENTRAL TEXAS HISTORY 51
The Early Twentieth Century
The first decade of the 20th century was fairly pros-
perous, especially coming after the great industrial
panic of 1893 to 1897.
In 1900, only 17 percent of Texans lived in cities, but
urbanization was increasing at a greater rate than the
growth in total population. San Antonio was the largest
city in the state, with a population of 53,321; Austin and
Waco were sixth and seventh with 22,258 and 20,686 resi-
dents, while Temple was twentieth with 7,065.
The backbone of communications within the grow-
ing state was newspapers. Many publications were
started in the mid-1800s, but lasted only a few years and
had only limited local influence. Others survived and
flourished into the new century, among them the San
Antonio Express, started in 1865; the Austin Statesman,
founded in 1871; and the San Antonio Light, dating
from 1881. Statewide, 985 different publication were
printed in 1912.
Texas took a giant step backward in 1902, when the
Legislature required voters to pay an annual poll tax
of $1.50 to $1.75 to be eligible to vote. As expected, poor
blacks and whites were excluded from voting. Poll
taxes remained a requirement for voting until 1966.
Texas made gains in education during the early
1900s. During the first 15 years of the new century, the
Legislature made changes that encouraged construc-
tion of badly needed school buildings and increased lo-
cal funding of smaller school districts. The first
compulsory school attendance law became effective in
1916, and a constitutional amendment in 1918 provided
for free textbooks. Black schools, however, continued
to be separate. Their buildings, equipment and books
were generally hand-me-downs, and black teachers
were paid only one-third the salaries of white teachers.
Library construction throughout the state was
boosted by the philanthropy of Andrew Carnegie, "the
Santa Claus of Texas Public Libraries." Carnegie, a
Scottish steel magnate in Pennsylvania, donated mil-
lions worldwide to build libraries and other public fa-
cilities. Between 1898 and 1917, Carnegie provided 34
grants in the Lone Star State to fund 30 public librar-
ies, one college library, two branch libraries and one
lecture hall. In the Central Texas region, Carnegie li-
braries were built in Belton, Bryan, Franklin, San
Antonio and Temple. The Belton, Bryan and Franklin
buildings are still standing: The Belton Carnegie is
now used for a museum; Bryan's is a historic monu-
ment; and the Franklin building houses the Robertson
County Library upstairs and a community center
A few automobiles were in use in Texas by 1900. By
1907, there were enough motorized vehicles on the
roads that the first traffic laws were passed, limiting
speed to 18 miles per hour and requiring that autos
stop when meeting horse-drawn vehicles. Each vehicle
had to be registered in the owner's home county. The
state collected license fees for cars beginning in 1915.
Railway and bus stations maintained two waiting
rooms - one for whites and one for "colored" - and
most public buildings had segregated water fountains
and restroom facilities as well. Not until the Civil
Rights Act of 1964 became law did this situation
Central Texas farmers suffered setbacks in 1908,
1911 and again in 1914 when cotton prices fell sharply
after 10 years of comparative prosperity. A public
warehouse system was created to help prop up the
commodity. Prices rose in 1916, spurred by the war in
Europe. The same wartime inflation helped to double
the value of farmland between 1910 and 1920, followed
by a sharp drop in 1921.
Electrical power was produced locally in Texas
until 1913, when a Texas Power and Light Company
high-voltage transmission line was completed from
Waco to Fort Worth, with a branch from Hillsboro
through Waxahachie to Ferris, where it branched
again - north to Dallas and south to Corsicana.
The Central Texas town of Temple was the location
chosen by Dr. Arthur Carroll Scott and Dr. Raleigh R.
White for a hospital in 1904. First established in a con-
verted house, the institution was originally called
Temple Sanitarium. The hospital moved to a former
Catholic convent where it stayed for 59 years, adding
buildings as the need arose, until it comprised 31 build-
ings. In 1923 the name was changed to Scott and White
Hospital, by which it became internationally known.
Scott and White moved to its present plant in 1963, and
by the 1970s, it was serving more than 100,000 patients
The Amicable Building was erected in Waco in 1910-
1911. When it was new, the 22-story steel-frame build-
ing was said to be the tallest building in the South. The
Amicable had its own electrical plant and artesian
well, and its own shallow oil wells supplied fuel for its
steam heating system.
The year 1910 also marked the start of electric in-
terurban service between Bryan and College Station.
The railway provided service over a seven-mile track
between Bryan and Texas A&M until 1923. An interur-
ban linked Waco with Dallas and the towns between the
two cities beginning in 1912.
Military aviation history was made in San Antonio
in February 1910, when Lt. Benjamin Foulois arrived
at Fort Sam Houston with 17 crates full of airplanes,
accompanied by a number of student mechanics. Fou-
lois, assigned to the Aviation Section of the U.S. Army
Signal Corps, had taken three flying lessons with
Wilbur Wright. Because of the winter weather at the
Signal Corps facility at College Park, Md., flight train-
ing was shifted to Fort Sam Houston. Foulois had
orders to put the plane together, learn to fly it and
train others to fly it.
The aircraft was a Wright brothers biplane with a
wingspan of 36 feet, 4 inches, and an overall length of
32 feet, 10 inches. The power plant was a four-cylinder,
water-cooled 30.6 horsepower Wright engine. Instead
of wheels, the plane was equipped with sleigh-like run-
ners. Take-off was aided by a sort of catapult. The
plane was ready to fly by March 1. By the outbreak of
World War I in 1917, the U.S. Army Signal Corps had 35
trained pilots and 200 training planes. Foulois proved
that aviation could be a vital part of military opera-
tions and helped establish Texas as a maior military
aviation center. He rose to the rank of major general
and became chief of the Air Corps before he retired in
A quiet Austin businessman and planter named
Edward M. House became the first Texan to exert
influence in national politics. He had guided the elec-
tion campaigns of governors Hogg, Culberson, Sayers
and Lanham, and he effectively controlled the 40 Texas
delegates to the Democratic convention in Baltimore
in 1912. He served Woodrow Wilson as an informal
advisor, but resisted an official position and title, pre-
ferring to work behind the scenes.
President Wilson appointed two Austin residents to
high posts in his administration. Thomas Watt Gregory
served as Attorney General, while Albert Sidney Bur-
leson was Postmaster General.
When the United States entered World War I, Tex-
ans were distracted by the controversies surrounding
the Ferguson administration. Jim Ferguson was a
Temple banker who won the gubernatorial election in
1914 by assuming a country-boy demeanor that belied
his education and intelligence. Called "Farmer Jim"
by some, he appealed to the tenant farmers of Texas
by promising them protection from unreasonable
rents. The time-honored rental agreement - with the
landlord taking one-fourth of the cotton and one-third
of the other crops - was ignored in some areas with
the richest farmlands. Ferguson proposed a law mak-
ing one-fourth and one-third mandatory. That won the
hearts of the tenants, who managed 62.6 percent of
Texas farms in 1910, but the law, passed in 1915, was de-
clared unconstitutional in 1921. Despite his popularity
with farmers, however, certain of his questionable
financial shenanigans were exposed. Ferguson was
impeached after a year and a half in office, but he re-
signed the day before the judgement was announced.
He managed his wife's two successful gubernatorial
campaigns in 1924 and 1932. Miriam "Ma" Ferguson's
campaign slogan, indicating that Farmer Jim would
be calling the shots, was, "Two governors for the price
Central Texans participated in the "War to End All
Wars" in several ways. The area sent its share of
young people into the armed services. Statewide,
almost one million Texans registered for service;
about 200,000, including 31,000 blacks, actually served
in the military forces. More than 5,000 lost their lives.
About 450 Texas women served as military nurses.
Two large army training camps were established in
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Kingston, Mike. Texas Almanac, 1992-1993, book, 1991; Dallas, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth279642/m1/55/: accessed April 25, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.