Main at Franklin
13 September 1907: In the early years of the 20th century, the block between Franklin and Congress on Main was perhaps the busiest in town. It was Houston’s banking and railroad center, with many offices, street-level restaurants and watering holes sprinkled in. Whatever his business in town, CB., the author of the postcard, would have likely spent some time here.
1. 201-205 Main: First National Bank [See a later view when the bank had expanded to encompass the neighboring bank to the south], 8 floors, 1904, whose many tenants included: William Clifford Hogg (1875-1930), business-man and son of governor James Stephen Hogg (1851-1906); offices of Sanguinet and Staats, the Fort Worth architectural firm that designed the building and would design many others in town; an early office of Gulf Oil and Refining Co.; 2. 203-205 Main: The banking house of Thomas William House (1847-1923), estate; Jonas Shearn Rice (1855-1931), trustee, brother of William Marsh Rice (1816-1900) who first endowed Rice Institute. Also in the building, Arcola Sugar Mill Co. In the Panic of 1907 the bank failed and was purchased by the adjoining First National Bank, which demolished the structure and expanded; 3. 207-209 Main: [3-story beige building] Railroad city offices for Houston & Texas Central RR, Houston East & West Texas RR, Galveston, Harrisburg and San Antonio RR, Texas & New Orleans RR; 4. 209 ½ - 215 Main [3 buildings: Tan-Yellow-Pink]; a. 209.5 Main: American Express Co.; b. 211-213 Main: American National Bank; South Texas National Bank [See a later structure built by the bank in 1910]; c. 215 Main: On the street level, Weil & Wolf, a clothing store owned by Sol B. Weil and Charles D. Wolf; various professional and medical offices on upper levels; 5. 217 Main: Railroad offices for: International & Great Northern RR, Galveston, Houston & Henderson RR, and some professional offices; 219 Main, Houston National Exchange Bank [for a better angle of this classical building [LINK [See Congress East; Congress Casino]; 6. 301 Main: The Sweeney, Combs & Harris Building [the turreted structure seems distorted, perhaps fiddled with by postcard artisans], 3 floors, 1889; 7. 309-311 Main: [4-story pinkish] The Levy Dry Goods Building [LINK], largest clothing retailer at the time; 8. 513-519 Main: Binz Building, built by Jacob Binz (1828-1919) occupied by his son Arthur Binz (1875-1955) and son-in-law Julius Joseph Settegast (1875-1942); 9. 518-520 Main: Rice Hotel, 5 floors, 1883-1911;
10. 320 Main: Kiam Building, 5 floors, 1893; 11. 302-304 Main: [3-story NW Corner of Congress] Krupp & Tuffley boots and shoes, a long-lasting Houston company [See Congress East; Congress Casino]; 12. 210-220 Main: Between the corner of Congress and the 3-story [gray] building at 206-208 Main were a number of offices and businesses: a. 218-220 Main: Joseph Lowenstein (1847-1926) & Son (Edward Benjamin Loewenstein, 1882-1948), wholesale cigars; United Cigar Stores; b. 214-216 Main: Private office of John Henry Kirby (1860-1940) founder of Kirby Lumber Company; Dudley Brothers Restaurant (Jesse Greenbury Dudley (1872-1921) and Henry Malcolm Dudley (1875-1940)); “Juice of the Grape,” liquors, cigars, billiards, proprietor Edward C. Morrissey (1858-1924); c. 210-212 Main. [Beige 3-story] Clarence K. Darling, watchmaker, San Antonio & Arkansas Pass RR, Penn Lines, K. C. Southern RR; 13. 206-208 Main: [Gray 3-story with street awning]”Henry’s Saloon,” Henry. F Lahourcade (1863-1936), with offices on upper floors, including Sharks Club, 3rd floor; 14. 202-204 Main: [Tan 2-story, NW Corner Franklin] Union Bank and Trust, Jonas Sheen Rice, president and staff including Denton Winfield Cooley, assistant cashier and uncle (and apparent namesake) to Dr. Denton Arthur Cooley (1920-2016), heart surgeon; Fuller’s Earth Company, marketing Bentonite as an industrial product and oil drilling mud (Fuller’s Earth was originally used to clean and fluff wool in Scotland).
20 June 2004: The main center of town has shifted southward, leaving this block much less congested. Pedestrians now are largely enroute on the Metro Train or busses, with a few workers on errands or looking for lunch in the area. 1. 201 Main: Franklin Lofts, a residence (once the First National Bank building), 8 floors, 1904, expansions 1909, 1925; 2. 1004 Congress: Franklin Loft Parking, 7 floors; 3. 301 Main: Sweeney, Combs & Harris Building, 3 floors, 1889; 4. 1001 Preston: Harris County Administration Building (Harris County Annex #43), 10 floors, 1978; 5. 405 Main: Scanlan Building, 12 floors, 1909; 6. 1001 Texas: Binz Building (the third building your that name on the site), 13 floors, 1982; 7. 705 Main: S. H. Kress Five and Dime department store (now St. Germain Lofts), 8 floors, 1913 (renovated 1999 to apartments); 8. 1001 McKinney: City National Bank building, 22 floors, 1947-9; 9. 1021 Main: One City Centre (First City National Bank), 32 floors, 1959-1961; 10. 1000 Main: Reliant Energy Plaza, 36 floors, 2003;
11. 712 Main: Gulf Building, 36 floors, 1929; 12. 909 Texas: Rice Hotel, 17 floors, opened 1913, 3rd wing added in 1925, 18th floor added 1951; 13. 412 Main: Moxy Hotel (State National Bank), 15 floors, 1923; 14. 402 Main: Citizens National Bank Building, 8 floors, 1924, 9th floor added 1928;
15. 220 Main: Hotel Icon (Union National Bank, renovated in 2003 into a hotel), 12 floors, 1910; 16. 202 Main: Islamic Da'wah Center (Houston National Bank Building), 3 floors, 1928.
Postmarked: 13 September 1907 [by message]; Not Posted
To: Miss Stella Masters
1221 1st St.
I am in Houston to night Stella - Was here last night and night before last. We will be here a day or two - a letter from sis today -
When Stella Edith Masters received this postcard, she was a 17 year old girl recently come to Evansville from a farming family in Oatsville, Pike County, IN about 50 miles north. She lived in a boarding house with 12 other lodgers and worked as a milliner selling hats at Salm Brothers on Main Street. She left behind her father and little brother Dessel, not quite 7 years old. Her mother Cammie was an inmate at the Southern Indiana Hospital for the Insane in Evansville, a facility that held up to 800 patients. Very possibly, Stella was living in Evansville in order to watch over her mother. She was thus quite young and vulnerable, transforming herself from a farm girl to a working woman.
The author of the card cannot be established only on the basis of his (presuming he is male) initials, C. B., but it is clear that he was well enough acquainted with Stella that she would know he had a sister. He could have been a farmer from Oatsville on a leisure trip south or looking for work in Houston, but he makes no mention of a common rural history. It is perhaps more reasonable to hypothesize he was a recent acquaintance from Evansville traveling to Houston on some kind of business. The two cities were similar in population - Evansville with 70,000 [in 1910] was a little smaller than Houston at 79,000, but Houston was a shipping center linked by railroads to suppliers abroad.
Searching for a C* B* from Evansville about Stella’s age but still unmarried produces relatively few male possibilities. The most promising of these is Charles Philip Butsch, 21 years old in 1907. He was a traveling salesman whose work might have taken him to Houston, but he remained based in Evansville most of his life. His family had a long history in the area. His grandfather John Butsch (1810-1862) came to Vanderburgh County in about 1840 from Germany and many of his descendants remained in the area. Charles had 5 brothers and 3 sisters, including Elizabeth “Bessie” just a year and a half older than Stella, who also worked as a milliner in 1908, and might have been the sister CB speaks about. Handwriting comparisons are quite consistent between the postcard and Charles Butsch’s World War I (1917) and World War II (1942) signatures. Charles is known to have dealt with tobacco products, and in 1917 he worked for “House of Crane,” a wholesale cigar merchant based in Indianapolis, IN. If he was selling tobacco as early in his career as 1907, Houston was a southern port that could have imported cigars from Cuba and other tobacco growing areas.
Stella married Pollard Shelborn Swope in about 1910, and they had a daughter Margaret on 27 October 1910, named for Pollard’s widowed mother, Margaret Anne Whitehead. Pollard’s father, Albert Asbury Swope, was a carpenter and Pollard apprenticed in his father’s carpentry business as a youth. After his father died in 1904, he found more satisfaction as an artist and photographer. He began with Wallace & Sons (Jno. and Harry J.), then later Charles Popp  at 117 Mary before re-labeling that darkroom with his own advertising banner in local media. Pollard’s residence was the house where he grew up at 1000 Vine a few blocks from work with his mother, wife and daughter. He served in Europe during World War I in the 16th Photographic Section, then returned to Evansville and his private practice. He stayed in Evansville until about 1918 when he briefly moved to Cleveland around 1920, then Long Beach, Los Angeles County, CA before 1922. He may have been drawn to Southern California by the motion picture industry, but in that competitive environment Pollard only found work as a painter, then as a laborer in the California Oil fields .
CB, the putative author of the postcard, Charles Philip Butsch, did not marry until 6 May 1920 in Evansville when he wed Frances Sarah Chesboro, daughter of Frank Hezekiah Chesebro and Jessie Harold. Frank was born in Connecticut in 1855 and enlisted in 1876 in the 14th Cavalry. He was sent to New Mexico where he fought in the Apache Wars, and was discharged at Fort Wingate near Gallup, NM. He did not return back east, but stayed in the West, and moved to Colorado, settling in Durango and Denver. He worked as a barkeeper, then in retail liquor and cigars before moving to Evansville, IN in the early 20th century. He died there in 1909 and his widow took up the business, running a drinking establishment called The Oasis , perhaps where Charles Butsch met Frances.
Charles and Frances had two children, Charles Warren (1922) and Thomas Edward (1925). Charles moved to Houston about 1929 where they lived at 1520 Harold Street [between Mandell and Mulberry] and Charles was the president and manager of Texas Cigar Corporation at 504 McGowen. They did not stay long, and moved back to Evansville; sadly, there young Thomas died in 1932 at the age of 6 from septicemia following a slight infection of the leg. Frances and Charles separated, then divorced and Francis and their older son moved to Miami Beach, FL . She found work as a hotel secretary and in due course, enrolled Charles Warren in Emory University in Atlanta, GA. Back in in Evansville, Charles Philip Butsch continued his work with a partner, Charles E. Azenell, in the Evansville Store Equipment Store selling tavern and office supplies.
Charles assisted the war effort in 1942 by working for the Air Corps War Department in San Antonio, TX, but returned after this service to Evansville. It was about this time he married Marie, who stayed with him until his death in 1967; she lived another 20 years, and they are buried in Maple Grove Cemetery in Boonville, about 20 miles east of Evansville. Charles Warren Butsch earned a degree in electrical engineering at Emory and enlisted in the army on 13 June 1946. He died in 1996 in Tampa, FL.
Pollard Swope’s mother, Margaret Anne Whitehead Swope, died in 1932 in Santa Clara, CA, and is buried in Mission City Memorial Park in that city. Pollard died before 1940, and his widow then lived with their daughter Marguerite and son-in-law Oral Alan Akers in Los Angeles. Stella died 18 November 1976 in Santa Cruz, CA.