1909: Photographed from the corner Lamar and Crawford toward the northeast. Jewish congregants at the turn of the century walked to synagogue, so these places of worship tended to be embedded within residential areas. The commercial district in 1909 centered around upper Main Street, Courthouse Square and Market Square, while middle-class homes were some blocks to the southeast. Commuters could walk to their work or take the electric trolley for a nickel fare.
5-26-2013: On the grounds of Discovery Green pedestrian walkways have replaced what were formerly busy commercial streets. Brown Promenade is laid out in place of Lamar, while White Promenade has replaced Crawford Street. The modern structure is one of two small but colorful utility buildings across from The Grove restaurant. The row of trees to the right of the Synagogue can be seen to have grown considerably in the century separating the two views.
Postmarked: Houston, Tex. Sept 27, 1909 8 PM
Stamp: 1 cent green Ben Franklin [Scott # 331, issued Dec 1908]
To: Mr. J. N. Sousa
From: Madora Miller
Message: [Front] Madora Miller Sept 09
[Back] Your card from Canada received several days ago. I suppose you have received the picture of the "Bunch" by this time. My brother-inlaw, is finishing the other pictures & has not sent them to me yet. Will send you some as soon as I get them. Hope you had a safe journey. Madora Miller.
[inverted above text block] I have heard from Mr. Lenard and Mr, Dickey but have not heard from Misses Hubberd.
The fine Romanesque worship hall for Congregation Beth Israel was built at 1015 Crawford at Lamar in 1908. Jews at that time were not integrated into the larger white protestant and catholic communities, but prejudice was not generally oppressive. "Separate but Equal" was the watchword of the time, and the Jewish community, far more prosperous than the African American communities of the day, was mostly treated with guarded respect.
Beth Israel's synagogue was in use until the congregation sold it in 1923 [See the Home Page for a 1928 view westward across the dome to the downtown district.] Beth Israel replaced the synagogue at Lamar and Crawford with a grander Greek Revival building at Austin and Holman, now the auditorium at Houston Community College. This move was partly to accommodate a larger congregation and partly to relocate to newer neighborhoods as Houstons's population relocated further south.
The Building became a Christian House of Worship , the New Day Temple and was demolished by the Texas Eastern Transmission Corporation in 1971 to accommodate a grandiose 32-block redevelopment project, Houston Center, which was never realized after the financial downturn in the early 1980's.
During most of the time when Beth Israel occupied this synagogue the rabbi was Henry Barnstein, who in 1910 lived as a boarder in the house of Estelle Levy at 702 Gray at Louisiana, about 1.3 miles from the building. The British-born Barnstein was a cultural leader and founder of the Houston Museum of Fine Arts and the Houston Symphony Society, board member of the Houston Public Library. He brought a level of refinement and sophistication to the community and was active in interfaith work.
"Madora" is such an uncommon name that any Madora Miller in Houston is almost certainly the author of the postcard. The census of 1910 reveals two Madora Millers, mother and daughter.
The message strongly suggests that the sender is the daughter. Madora Miller sounds more like a young woman with an active social life than an older woman settled into a domestic life with a family. Mention of the "Bunch" suggests Madora is an active part of a social group or set of friends with some common interest. The recipient, J. N. Sousa in Fairbanks, apparently knows some of the "Bunch" and Mr. Lenard, Mr. Dickey and Misses Hubberd. A search of internet genealogy sites reveals a great deal about Madora Miller.
The Miller family lived at 1019 Roy at Washington in 1910. The mother was 51 living with her second husband, James E. Miller, a real estate agent whom she married in 1889. The daughter was 20, working as a stenographer for an iron company. Also in the house was James and Madora's other daughter, La Vera, 18 working as a stenographer in a law office and her step-brother William McCutcheon, 26, working as a stenographer for a railroad. McCutcheon was Madora, Sr.'s son from an earlier marriage.
The family had come from Oregon where in 1900 they lived in Pendleton, Umatilla County. The elder Madora was a dressmaker there, mother of 5 children, all still living, with Madora 10 and Lavera 9. Why the husband was not living with the family is not clear, perhaps he was already scouting Houston for a job. Madora Sr.'s other children were: Frederick K. McCutcheon, born 1883, married Rose Ella Warfield; and Marjorie E. McCutcheon, born in Missouri in 1894, married 1) John S. Kees, and 2) Emory West Reeves, MD.
The brother-in-law with the photographs mentioned in the postcard must be husband of her sister Marjorie, ie Marjorie Kees, who at the time was still living in Pendleton, OR. Marjorie would later marry again, to Emory West Reeves, and live in Houston at 507 Pecore in the Heights.
Further research revealed proof that the author of the postcard is Madora, the daughter. When William McCutcheon died in 1914 his mother wrote a letter which allows a handwriting analysis to show definitively that the mother did not pen the postcard (see below).
In 1920 Millers were still at the 1019 Roy address which they owned outright. By then both daughters were working as stenographers for an express company. The Miller family remained there through 1930 when the household consisted of Lavera, still a stenographer for a railway express company, as head of household and owner of the house with her mother. As a second family living with them was John C Ballew, 50, and Madora M. Ballew and daughter Adrienne age 8. John, chief clerk at a railway express company and Madora were married about 1920. At the time of their marriage John C Ballew, was a clerk at an express company living at 1008 Polk at Main in a large boarding house. Prior to to coming to Texas John Ballew lived in Little Rock, Pulaski County, AR in 1910 as a clerk for an express company.
Some time before 1935 John Calvin Ballew bought a house at 3008 Norhill in Houston Heights between Woodland and Euclid. John was by 1940 the depot agent for a railway express company. Lavera lived with them, working as stenographer for probably the same railway express company, while Adrienne was in college.
Adrienne Madora Ballew was a student at the University of Texas in Austin and married Paul Duane Hayslip on 23 Dec 1966 in Fort Bend County, Texas. Paul died in 2010, but Adrienne is apparently still living. Most of the family are buried in Hollywood Cemetery on North Main in Houston.
The census of Alaska in 1910 was a little different than the census in most of the rest of America. In Alaska census day was 31 December 1909, while in the lower 48 it was April 15th 1910, a fact which resulted in the strange circumstance of Joseph N Sausa being on the census of 1910 twice. First he was found in Garden District in Fairbanks in 1910, a 31 year old Californian whose parents were born in Portugal. He was listed as a divorced man working in the mining industry and living in a large boarding house.
In April he is back in Sacramento, living at 1117 V Street [less than a mile from where this author lived in 1971 at 1705 N Street]. He is listed as single in his brother Marshall's household with their mother Caroline (61) and a servant. His mother and father were both born in Portugal, so this is highly concordant with the Alaska record.
A decade earlier he was in Sacramento with his wife of 3 years, Mary Sousa. A point of confirmation is that both parents were born in Portugal. Joseph later married again and is buried in Alameda, CA.
How Joseph Sousa and Madora Miller became acquainted is not yet clear, but if Joseph was traveling a lot, he may have encountered Madora in Oregon on some trip. More research needed.