Legacies: A History Journal for Dallas and North Central Texas, Volume 18, Number 1, Spring, 2006 Page: 36
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REICHENSTEIN AND MANLEY
A Fatal Stabbing During President Tafts Visit to Dallas in 1909
BY STEVEN R. BUTLER
ctober 1909 did not begin well for the
family ofJ. D. (Joseph Daniel) Manley. On
the morning of the 8th, his teenage wife was
sitting beside a hot stove in the family's South
Dallas kitchen, cleaning a skirt with a rag and a
pan full of gasoline when suddenly the makeshift
cleaning fluid spontaneously ignited. Alerted by
her screams, neighbors rushed in and threw the
blazing pan of gasoline into the backyard.When
the fire department arrived, they found Mrs.
Manley badly burned on her hands and arms.
The following day, The Dallas Morning News
reported that she "displayed more grit than is
usually shown by a woman under such conditions
when she stood in the door of her home
and told Chief Magee how it happened."'
Unfortunately, before the month was out, the
young Mrs. Manley's "grit" would be severely
tested again, in a way she probably could not
have then imagined.
On the morning of Saturday, October 23,
about two weeks after his wife's gasoline mishap,
Manley, a carpet maker who was also a part-time
sergeant in Company E, 3rd Infantry, Texas
National Guard, left home to go on duty.2 That
day all Dallas was abuzz with excitement over
the anticipated State Fair visit of President
William Howard Taft.3 At the request of the
National Guard and the Secret Service, Mayor
Hay had called out the troops "for the purpose
of suppressing and preventing violence and
enforcing the laws of the City of Dallas, and for
the greater security and protection of His
Excellency,Wm. H.Taft, President of the United
States."4 Although Theodore Roosevelt, the first
Weighing more than 300 pounds, William Howard Taft
was America's heaviest president.
president to visit Dallas, had come and gone
without incident four years earlier, there were
apparently fears for Taft's safety. In September
1901 a crazed gunman had approached President
McKinley in Buffalo, New York, seemingly to
shake his hand. Instead, Leon Czolgosz pumped
36 LEGACIES Spring 2006
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Dallas Heritage Village. Legacies: A History Journal for Dallas and North Central Texas, Volume 18, Number 1, Spring, 2006, periodical, 2006; (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth35088/m1/38/?rotate=270: accessed October 18, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Dallas Historical Society.