Photograph of a historic plaque in Paris, Texas. It reads: "John James Culbertson, March 16, 1853 - September 27, 1932. Born in Cincinnati, Ohio, John James Culbertson grew up in large Northeastern cities. He married Emily Lou Lee of New Jersey in 1882 and soon became a salesman for a cotton product company based in Alabama. During his southern travels, Culbertson saw the potential for profit from cottonseed oil. He moved to Paris and was instrumental in building the first Paris cotton mill about 1884. The company, Paris Oil Works, was sold to American Cotton Oil Trust in 1887, and Culbertson moved to Arkansas to manage a Southern Oil Company Plant. Four years later the Culbertsons returned to Paris, where he built a small cottonseed oil empire through the Paris Oil and Cotton Company, later known as Southland Cotton Oil Company. Culbertson was asked to participate in a master plan for the growth of Paris in 1913. As an influential Texas financier, he was appointed to the board of directors of the Federal Reserve Bank in Dallas when it was formed in 1914. His nationwide reputation as a cotton producer led President Woodrow Wilson to appoint him to a board that organized a bureau to oversee cotton and cottonseed products for the U. S. Food Administration in 1917. After Paris was ravaged by fire in 1916, John and Emily Culbertson were among leading citizens who rebuilt the city. Held in high esteem by the people of Paris, the Culbertsons gave many public spaces, monuments and works of art to the city and several local institutions, including the Paris Public Library an the fountain of imported Carrara marble on the city's central plaza. (1999)"
Photograph of a historic plaque in Paris, Texas. It reads: "The Paris Fire. 1916. Although Paris was founded in the mid-1840s, many of its historic structures were lost in a fire that destroyed almost half the town in 1916. The blaze started about five o'clock on the afternoon of March 21, 1916, at the S. J. Long warehouse near the southwest city limits. Its cause is unknown, but one theory is that a spark from a switch engine ignited dry grass near the warehouse. Winds estimated at 50 miles per hour soon blew the fire out of control as it burned a funnel-shaped path to the northeast edge of Paris. Firemen from Bonham, Cooper, Dallas, Honey Grove, and Hugo, Okla., helped the Paris Fire Department battle the flames, which were visible up to 40 miles away. The blaze destroyed most of the central business district and swept through a residential area before it was controlled at about sunrise on March 22. Property damage from this fire was estimated at $11,000,000. The structures burned included the federal building and post office, Lamar County Courthouse and jail, City Hall, most commercial buildings, and several churches. Rebuilding was begun quickly as townspeople collected relief funds and opened their homes to the victims. A railroad and market center before the disaster, Paris soon regained its former prosperity. (1976)"