Main at Polk - North
7 August 1913 (but probably dating from more like 1910): 1. 1216 Main: The imposing entry gate for the Albert A. Van Alstyne home promises a grand house beyond, and it was indeed one of the most impressive houses in Houston. Designed by Nicholas J. Clayton of Galveston, it was the first known Houston home to be built by a professional architect, 1877-1918; 2. 1206 Main: Partly hidden by trees on the left is the house of Henry Samuel Fox which stood on this block 1893-1927. Henry was a German immigrant, formerly an iron merchant and banker, whose household at about this time included a domestic staff with a cook, a maid, a coachman and other servants; 3. Main 806: The Samuel Fain Carter Building, 17 floors, 1910. The Carter Building was at the time the singular skyscraper in Houston, “Carter’s Folly” because in the view of some nay-sayers, no such tall building building should be constructed on Houston’s boggy soil. The Carter Building can also be seen at a similar perspective from another block back south in Main at Clay - Methodist Church and Main at Bell - Methodist Church yet another block south; 4. The structure jutting out into the street was probably a construction building left over from the erection of the Carter Building by the Fred A. Jones Building Company. Visual details are murky in this view, but the Texas Company Building at 708 Main, 10 floors, constructed in 1910 would be discernible if the image were clearer. Similarly obscured, the 5-story Old Rice Hotel built in 1883 and demolished in 1911, dates this postcard just prior, or the 17 story hotel would be quite prominent.
26 March 2014: 1. 916 Dallas (1212 Main): The 9-story Humble Oil Building, constructed in 1921 was headquarters of the Humble Oil and Refining Company for more than 40 years until the corporation moved a few blocks south to 800 Bell in 1963 (now the ExxonMobil Building). The vacated Humble Building was renovated in 2003 into a hotel and apartment building, The Courtyard Marriott. The skyscraper void to the left of the Metro Train (right of the Courtyard Marriott) was once Foley's Department Store (1110 Main), briefly Macy's, and imploded on 21 September 2013. Ssince this photograph was taken, the void has been filled by the corporate headquarters building of Hillcorp; 2. 811 Louisiana: A thin sliver of distant Two Shell Plaza can be seen, 26 floors, 1972; 3. 1010 Travis: Travis Place, 9 floors, 1968 (Once the site of apartment building The Waverley); 4. 910 Travis: Bank of the Southwest (Bank One Center, 919 Milam), 24 floors, 1956; 5. 700 Milam: Pennzoil Tower, 36 Floors, 1975; 6. 1000 Main: Reliant Energy Plaza, 36 floors, 2003; 7. 930 Main: McKinney Place (Parking Structure), 12 floors, 2002; 8. 914 Main: Commerce Tower, 24 floors, 1929 (converted into condominiums 2003).
See Main at Dallas for a view of this block from the other direction one block up further north along Main Street.
To: Ruth Biggerstaff
DeKalb Route 3 Tex
Postmarked: 7 August 1913 D### [DeKalb?] Tex.
Stamp: 1c Green Geroge Washington #405
From: Mama [Mary Emma Biggerstaff]
Message: Claude TX
how are you we are all well hope you all are the same. I think your Grand pa is better I had a card from Kit they are well and soon from Your Mama
Ruth Biggerstaff was staying in DeKalb, Bowie County when her mother wrote her from the Texas Panhandle town of Claude, TX in 1913. What Ruth, a young girl not yet turned 15, was doing there cannot be ascertained. The family was from Whitewright, Grayson County where James Hall Biggerstaff and Mary Emma Amiss raised a family of 7 children: Jessie (born 1888), Willie (1890), Bessie (1893), Victor Hugo (1893), Maude “Sallie” (1896), Ruth (1898) and Edith (1902). They were together there for the 1910 census on their family farm, but by 1920 Willie had married Clarence Carlton and moved to Dallas, where he worked as a clerk for the Sante Fe Railroad. Ruth lived with them and worked as a telegraph operator. It is tempting to speculate that "Kit" is Clarence Carlton, but there is no evidence to support this. Clarence in 1910 was a sailor on the U. S. S. Colorado in Bremerton, WA, but it seems that he married Willa about 1915 and may have been married at the time of this postcard.
What drew Ruth's mother, Mary Emma, to Claude, Armstrong County, in the north Texas from which she wrote this postcard cannot be determined either, but she mentions the fact that Ruth’s “grandpa” seems to be better. Ruth’s paternal grandfather, Benjamin Boone Biggerstaff, died in 1881, so Mary Emma’s father, George Amiss must be meant, but he cannot be accounted for in Claude, Armstrong County at that point in time.
Mary Emma died in 1933, James Hall Biggerstaff died in 1941 and they are buried in Oak Hill Cemetery in Whitewright, Grayson County. Ruth never married and retired as a supervisor for Western Union. She died in 1973 in Dallas and was buried near her parents in Whitewright.