|The St. George Hotel. Judging by the automobiles, the picture seems to have been taken around 1912.|
As curator of the Roscoe Historical Museum, I am always on the lookout for photos, images and information of early day Roscoe, and my searches on the Internet have occasionally been rewarded with finds that illuminate aspects of the city’s history that have otherwise been forgotten.
One example is the old photograph at top left from a collection at Hardin-Simmons University showing a large two-story depot under construction. The description that accompanies it says it was in Roscoe, Texas. However, it looks pretty grand for Roscoe, and I might have questioned the location if I didn’t have a Dallas Morning News article from August 27, 1898, that says the Texas & Pacific was building a new depot in Roscoe to replace the old one that burned down—and that the new one “when completed, will be an ornament to the town.”
At the same time, I did doubt the accuracy of another old photograph from the same collection also described as being from Roscoe. This one, shown above, is of a fine-looking building with three floors (counting the attic) called the St. George Hotel.
In stories I’d heard from my father, my uncle Marion, George Parks, Mary Edna Worthy, and other local historians, I’d heard of several hotels in Roscoe—the Turk, the Bourland, the Kern, and the Rex—but I had never heard mention of anything about a St. George Hotel, especially considering that it would have been bigger than any of the others.
Likewise, Sid Gracey, in her 1924 essay on the early history of Roscoe, mentions other early Roscoe hotels, but says nothing about a St. George. So I figured someone had made a mistake, as sometimes happens with old photographs, and forgot about it.
Then shortly thereafter, I learned that the Roscoe Volunteer Fire Department owns a scrapbook containing fire department history and memorabilia that go back to the incorporation of the city in 1907. Naturally, I was interested in what it contained, so, after getting permission to look it over and scan some of its pictures, I took it home and went to work. One of the first photographs in the scrapbook is this one of east Roscoe, said to be taken in 1908:
Moreover, on the same page of the scrapbook is a copy of the December 15, 1908, minutes of the City Council, which contains the following:
Be it ordained by the City Council of Roscoe that no frame buildings shall be constructed or built or moved within said limit without a permit from Council; said limit to be bounded on north by T&P Railroad, on east by St. George Hotel, thence south to 3rd Street, thence west to Moon Shop.
So, the evidence seemed conclusive. There was indeed a St. George Hotel in east Roscoe, apparently on Broadway and Pecan where the ice house used to be and where the Busy Bee Tax Office is now. But if that is the case, why wasn’t it a part of the general memory of the city’s history? How could such a nice, big hotel be apparently forgotten? When was it built, who owned it, and whatever could have happened to it?
I asked several local old timers about it but, like me, none of them had ever heard of it—not my mother, not Arlon Wayne Orman, who was pretty knowledgeable about Roscoe history, not Harold Duvall, who also knew quite a bit, nor anyone else that I asked.
One day, however, while on a visit to my mother at the rest home in Sweetwater, I ran into Pauline Heine, who had lived in and around Roscoe practically all her life. Like my mother, she was 104 years old at the time and still clear-headed.
I asked her if she’d ever heard of the St. George Hotel, and she said no, she didn’t think so. I said it was on Broadway in the early days over in the east part of town, and she said, “It was a pretty big hotel, wasn’t it?” I said yes, and she said she seemed to remember it. I asked her if she knew anything about it or what happened to it, but she said she didn’t.
So, I ran an article about it in the Roscoe Hard Times asking for any information anyone had about the old hotel. Bruce McGlothlin responded, saying he’d read something about it somewhere. A few days later while going through a box of papers, he found a copy of an old article about downtown Roscoe that that J. B. Cooper, Jr., had once given him.
Entitled “Roscoe, the Magic City of West Texas,” it was published in the July 16, 1908, issue of the Sweetwater Telegram. A long article for a newspaper, it begins by talking about how Roscoe is booming and what a wonderful town it is. Then it lists all the major businesses in town and writes a brief paragraph about each one—and the St. George Hotel is on the list.
Here’s what the article says about it:
St. George Hotel – The principal commercial hostelry of Roscoe is the St. George. This hotel is a good one, and commercial travelers know just what we mean when we say that. Mr. I. T. George has been at the head of this house for the past two years, and by constant effort in catering to the wants of the traveling public has now a good substantial business. The house contains 21 rooms in all, well and comfortably fitted up for the accommodation of all guests. Rates from $1.25 to $2.00 per day.
The article didn’t answer all the questions we asked about it, but it was a lot more information than we’d had. Another big question is what ever happened to it, and that’s one that may never be answered since it apparently ceased to be over a hundred years ago.
One possibility is that it burned down. Old hotels of the time often burned due to their wood-frame construction, open and common stairwells, and lack of firewalls. I did run across a short notice in the August 6, 1914, edition of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram with the headline, “Roscoe Hotel Burns,” which states that “The Butler Hotel, owned by G. F. Light, was destroyed by fire yesterday. The loss is about $9,000 on building and furnishings. It was insured for $3.000.”
It is of course only wild speculation that the Butler Hotel and the St. George Hotel were one and the same since there’s no apparently no remaining evidence one way or the other. Nevertheless, I present the information here on the off-chance that they were.
* St. George Hotel, Photograph, n.d.; (http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth55978/ : accessed June 07, 2016), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, http://texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Hardin-Simmons University Library, Abilene, Texas.
LUMBERYARD: THURSDAY DALLAS MOORE, FRIDAY CODY CANADA & THE DEPARTED
|Dallas Moore & the Snatch Wranglers|
Tickets for the show are $10 with Dallas Moore and band taking the stage at about 8:30pm.
|Cody Canada (center) & the Departed|
The Departed released their first album, This is Indian Land, in 2011 and Adventus in 2012. Canada also released a solo-acoustic album, Some Old, Some New, Maybe a Cover or Two, in 2013, followed by HippieLovePunk and Chip and Ray, Together Again for the First Time, both in 2015. Popular singles by Canada include “Inbetweener,” “All Nighter,” “Easy,” “The Ballad of Rosalie,” and others.
The show begins around 9:00pm. Tickets are $15 in advance and $20 the day of the show. For reservations, contact the Lumberyard at 325-766-2457.
WEATHER REPORT: CLOUDS AND RAIN, THEN SUNSHINE AND DRYING OUT
|The abundance of rain this year has produced some huge Swiss chard in my garden.|
Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday were all cool and cloudy. Highs for all three days were in the seventies, and more rain fell, although not so much this time as before. On Thursday evening, a shower came just at sunset and then rain fell off and on up until about 3am. Here in town I got a total of .86” and then .06” more Friday afternoon for a total of .92”, but the total was more like a half-inch or less in other places. In any case, the storms moved on, and since then it’s been mostly sunshine with highs in the mid-eighties and lows in the mid-sixties.
The forecast is for more of the same. The highs through Sunday should be in the upper eighties with lows in the upper sixties, and skies should be sunny or mostly sunny for the rest of the week. There is however a 50% chance of showers Sunday afternoon, but starting next week, we should experience more typical summer weather with highs in the mid-nineties. We’ve got plenty of ground moisture now, so that shouldn’t bother anyone.
† CAFFEY WELCH
Born October 23, 1925, in Truby, Caffey was the son of the late J. F. and Sula Frances (Caffey) Welch. He was a U. S. Navy veteran of WWII and married Marilyn Thompson August 13, 1948 in Abilene. Caffey worked in education for 35 years in Sweetwater, Blackwell, Roscoe, Roby, and finally retiring as principal of Hubbard High School in Waco. Caffey returned to Anson in 1981. He was a faithful member of the First United Methodist Church where he served on many boards. Caffey also was the president of the City of Anson Housing Authority Board. He was named Sweetwater's Man of the Year in 1953 and Anson's Man of the Year in 2001. Caffey was a loving husband and Papa, faithful friend and devoted Christian.
Caffey was preceded in death by his parents; two sisters, Dorothy Welch and Frances Richter; and two brothers, Joe Welch and Van Welch.
Survivors include his wife, Marilyn Welch of Anson; one son, Mitchael Welch (and wife, Lisa) of Seattle, WA; one daughter, Rhonda Ward (and husband, Leon) of Snyder; five grandchildren, Heather Ward Perez (and husband, Romer), Josh Ward (and wife, Jessica), Zack Welch (and wife, Lauren), Erin Garrido (and husband, Danny) and Holley Roper (and husband, Brad); and 10 great-grandchildren.