27 September 1911: 1. Levy Brothers Dry Goods store, founded by Abraham Levy (1859-1924), 3 floors and a basement, once the home of 400 employees (including Jules Wolf, Paul Building) considered to be the largest mercantile establishment in the South, 1904, 309-319 Main; 2. The Fox Building, with Rouse Drugs on the first floor, professional on upper floors: dentists, physicians, attorneys, real estate agents, surveyors and a blue print company; 3. The Scanlan Building, 1909, 11 floors, built in memory for their father, T. H. Scanlan, by his daughters, designed by iconic Chicago architect, Daniel H. Burnham: offices of professionals, including medical practitioners on the 5th and 6th floors, Houston Home Telephone Company on the 7th floor, the estate of T. H. Scanlan and Gulf Pipeline company and Gulf Refining Company on the 8th floor, Dow, Albrecht & Scanlan, attorneys for the estate of T. W. House [LINK], onetime mayor of Houston and the richest man in 19th century Houston, and the William M. Rice Institute for the advancement of Literature, Science and Art, a prototype organization formed in 1891 by Rice and others to initiate a first-class educational enterprise for Houston; 4. The Binz Building; 5. Rice Hotel, 1883 (demolished in 1911); 6.a rooftop billboard; 7. Jerry L. Mitchell, jeweler and Hutchinson & Mitchell, clothing store at 402 Main; 8. Kiam Building, a clothing and shoe store at 312-320 Main, 5 floors, 1893; Sweeney Loan Company at 310 Main with YWCA central rooms on upper floors, and Sakowitz Brothers at 308 Main. [For a view in the opposite direction see Main Preston – Kunc] [For a view in the opposite direction see Main Preston – Kunc]
10 July 2004: 1. Harris County Administration Building, 10 floors, 1978; 2. Scanlan Building, 1909, 11 floors; 3. Binz Building, 13 floors, 1982; 4.Houston Metro Preston northbound train stop; 5. Gulf Building (712 Main), 36 floors, 1929 6. Rice Hotel (The Rice), 17 floors (18th added in 1951), 1912; 7.State National Bank Building (Moxy Hotel), 12 floors, 1924; 8. Citizens National Bank Building (Public National Bank Building, 402 Main), 9 floors, 1925; 9. Kiam Building 5 floors, 1893.
Postmarked: 27 September 1911; Houston, Tex.
To: Mr. Walter D. Root
R. F. D. 6,
Birmingham, Ala. Box 77
Message: Dear Walter:-
Here I am way away from where I was three weeks ago. You would not have known us if you had been in New Orleans when we got there. We were so black and dirty. Have been cleaning house ever since we came home. Well give your mother and father my love. Lots for you
Lovingly your cousin Laura.
The surname Root was not unknown in Houston and East Texas, and at least two unrelated Root families are to this day celebrated here. Root Square is a park opposite Toyota Center, named in memory of the family of Alexander Porter Root and Laura Shepherd Root. Laura was the daughter of Benjamin Armistead Root, an early banker, who bought out Thomas M. Bagby in 1867 to join with his private bank to comprise the First National Bank in 1867, probably the leading charter bank in Houston in the last half of the 19th century. Alexander Porter Root succeeded his father-in-law at the helm of the bank. The Root house built in 1893 occupied the entire block bounded by Clay, Austin, Bell, and LaBranch with a fine home including a very private garden space adjoining the house [See Houston’s Forgotten Heritage, p. 131]. A. P. Root died in 1908, his widow Laura in 1912 and in 1922 the heirs gave the block to the city of Houston for a park. The house was demolished in 1893, leaving a park space with a few oaks that still stand.
The other notable Root Family connection to Houston is Brown & Root, now KBR (formerly Kellogg, Brown and Root) whose headquarters have long been in Houston. Herman Brown and his brother-in-law, Daniel Easley Root, businessmen from East Texas were the company’s founders. Daniel’s mother was South Carolina Easley from an east Texas family, and his father James Leper Root from Missouri, a family with no known connection to the Root family from Birmingham. Dan had attended Southwestern University in Georgetown in 1909-1910, and turned his attention to cotton farming. His sister Margaret married Herman Brown and in 1919 Dan advanced the capital for the construction firm. In 1922 Herman’s brother George Brown joined the firm and it prospered with various road building projects. Dan may not have been in the best of health, and in 1918 on his draft registration he is listed as “cripple” but the nature of that disability is not described. In 1929 he died in St. Joseph Infirmary in Houston of cancer of the colon and intestinal obstruction, and is buried in Odd Fellow’s Cemetery in Georgetown, Williamson County, TX. He was a single man without children but his legacy continues to live on in Brown & Root and KBR.
Walter’s cousin Laura was Laura Alabama Bray, daughter of John W. Bray and Irma Root Bray, and Irma was the older sister of Charles Harris Root, Walter’s father, making them first cousins. When she wrote, Laura was only 18 and Walter Duane was not quite 12, grandchildren of William D. and Laura Tatum Root, probably the author’s namesake. In the card, Laura speaks of being “black and dirty” when she was in New Orleans, probably on the way home from a family visit to Birmingham, AL. Laura was born in Birmingham 27 January 1893, but before she was three the family moved to Houston. She had an older brother George W. (b. 1889) and sister Lela Virginia (1891), and a younger brother, Frank Harris (July 25, 1895).
Within barely three years Laura was dead three days before her 22nd birthday on [DATE]. She had been working in a clerical position at the Sunset Central railroad auditing office with a number of young women of the same age, who were stunned by her death, and who served as honorary pallbearers: Misses Norma Ruddock, Catherine Abraham, Ida Hayslip, Nellie Taylor, Helen Lee, Nellie Daly, Clair Paschal, May Greenwood, Richardine Billow, Lucile Ray, Belle Berner, Jamie Sellingsloh, Fannie Cunningham, and Mrs. M. Greer.
She was buried at Glenwood Cemetery. She would be joined by her brother Frank Hugh Bray when he died at Verdun on 12 October 1918, then her father John William Davis Bray on July 27, 1933. Her mother remained a widow for nearly 27 years when she died May 17, 1960 and was buried in Forest Park, joined there in 1957 by Laura’s sister, Lela Bray Hayslip. Her brother Captain George William Bray died 12 February 1957 and is buried at Seabrook Cemetery, Seabrook, TX.
Walter Duane Root worked as an electrician in Birmingham for most of his adult life, a single man who died 27 March 1873 at the age of 73. He is buried in Elmwood Cemetery in Birmingham, AL as are his father, Charles H. Root (1877-1949), mother Eva Jeffries Root (1879-1973), Uncle Henry Pearce Root (1869-1928), brother Herbert Norman Root (1901-1961) and his wife Maude Underwood Root (1906-1980).