10 September 1916: 1. On the corner of Preston and Main the three-story building at left housed Hutchinson & Mitchell Clothing Store on the street level as well as William E. Hawkins’ hack (carriage) line; on the second floor, the YWCA dining room. 2. Doctors Edwin D. and Thomas B. Lunn operated a sanitarium at 913 Preston offering treatment by electricity, electric massage and dry heart sweat baths. 3. The five story Kiam Building was built in 1893 by Ed Kiam as an office building with his dry goods store on the lower levels. Offices on upper floors held attorneys, real estate agents, physicians, an architect, a detective, and other professionals. 4. The 12 story Union National Bank had been completed just 6 years earlier housing the bank on the lower floors and many professionals on upper floors. 5. The 3 story north wing of the Kiam Building at 312-314 Main Street was a distinctive part of the Kiam Building. 6. 310 Main was the clothing store of the Sakowitz Brothers, who would eventually displace Ed Kiam’s own store, and on upper floors a shoe parlor and a dentist’s office. 7. 300 Main: The Sterne Building at the corner of Main and Congress constructed in 1916 after the 1884 building burned, and the Stuart Building further south was the location of J. L. Lewis’s restaurant at 306 Main, Wolf Brothers Shoe parlor at 304 main, and on upper floors, a bindery and chemical printing company, as well as Louis Ledbetter, auctioneer, and various dentists’ offices.
10 July 2004: 1. The Citizen’s Bank Building at 402 Main was built in 1925 with 8 floors, a 9th added in 1928. 2. In 1926 The Majestic Metro Movie Theater opened as the first air-conditioned cinema in Houston. When the theater scene diversified into the suburbs, the Majestic lay idle and abandoned. In 1990 it was restored and opened as an events venue catering especially to weddings. 3. The Kiam Building's elegant Richardsonian Romanesque style has remained a stable focus throughout a century of urban development as surrounding buildings underwent facelifts or replacement. It lies vacant as of this writing, but when this photograph was taken Mia Bella Trattoria Italian Restaurant attracted opera singers and other performance artists from the nearby arts district. 4. The Union National Bank was renovated in 2003 as Icon Hotel. 5. Dean’s Credit Clothing emblazons the façade at 316 Main and inside is Dean’s Downtown Bar while Clarks Home of East Credit at 314 Main is Notsuoh Bar (See Dowling Statue in Market Square for a discussion of Houston's Notsuoh Carnival). 6. Casa Blanca Lounge occupies the lower level at 312 Main with space for lease on the second floor 7. Various trendy bars catering to young professionals fill the lower floors with customers after 4 PM: The Pastry Wars (310 Main), Captain Foxheart’s Bad News Bar and The Nightingale Room (308 Main), High and Dry and Segundo (306 Main), The Little Dipper (304 Main), while Boomtown Coffee (300 Main on the corner of Congress St.) caters to an earlier crowd. Upper floors are primarily offices of attorneys.
Postmarked: Sep 10 1916; MF… RPO
Stamp: 1c Green George Washington #405
To: Mrs. C. K. Millard
East Rochester, NY
Message: Dearest Mother. Arrived in New Orleans at 12.30 and were allowed 5 hours in the town. Lots of Love to all. Murray
When Murray Millard passed through New Orleans and Houston in September of 1916, he was a 28 year old soldier from Rochester, NY dispatched on the “Mexican Punitive Campaign.” He must have intended his words as reassurance to his mother that he was in little danger, but in fact, he was a seasoned soldier heading into what might become a war zone. Further west General John J.Pershing was pursuing Pancho Villa at border crossings as Murray’s regiment, the New York 108th Infantry Regiment of the National Guard, was sent to strengthen the southern end of the border in the Rio Grande Valley. He saw no combat action during his short stay in Texas, the mission being largely a preventive show of force.
Sgt. Millard had been a member of the 108th since enlistment eleven years earlier, but he was following in the footsteps of his Uncle John Warren Millard, younger brother of his father, who enlisted in 1874 for a 5-year term of service. American military service was much more fashionable after the Spanish American War of 1898 when Murray was just ten years old. By the time of his enlistment the President was Teddy Roosevelt, hero of the conflict, a president unafraid of marshaling an army to settle a conflict. Woodrow Wilson’s presidency (1913-1921) was challenged by events south of the border in Mexico, which had been in revolution since 1910.
The troops of the Mexican Punitive Campaign had left New York on July 13 and arrived at the border two days later, staying until September 8 when the trains brought them back through Houston and New Orleans. Murray may have stopped briefly at the railroad station in Houston, long enough to purchase a postcard of Kiam’s Building before re-boarding. After his short stay in New Orleans, he penned his message to his mother and took the card to the post office car on the train. Railroad cars at that time often had an official post office car on trains which picked up mail along the line, sorted it as in any post office, and sent out received mail with a postmark R.P.O. (Railway Post Office).
“Dearest Mother” was Elizabeth Isadore Mathewson Millard, daughter of Perry J. Mathewson and Ellen L. McEwen. Perry was an artist and photographer in Bergen, Genesee County, New York, a community southwest of Rochester. Some time shortly before 1880 she married James H. Murray, son of Dr. Elwood D. Murray and they had a daughter, Maude, born 24 March 1881. After James died 13 April 1883 at the age of 23, she was barely 21, a widow with a tiny baby to raise. She met Charles Kendrick Millard, and soon after traveled with him to Niagara Falls, Canada where they married July 4, 1887. Witness to the marriage was John W. Millard, younger brother to Charles, then a resident of St. George, Ontario.
Charles K. Millard was a widower, his deceased wife was Azuba Bartlett, daughter of Rosetta and Reuben Donaldus Bartlett, and Charles also had a child, Hallet Vaness Millard, born 30 December 1879. As they contemplated marriage, both were widowed with a single child, but within nine months the family had increased to five with the addition of Murray Mark Millard, born in April 1888 in Mumford, Monroe County, NY southwest of Rochester. He was named, no doubt, for Elizabeth’s first husband, dead for almost exactly five years.
Until Azuba died, Charles had been following the trade of blacksmith in Clarendon, Orleans County, living with his father-in-law who was a stone cutter. This was somewhat north of Bergen, Genesee County where “Lizzie” was from, but by 1892 they relocated to Oakfield further west where the family grew with the addition of Marjorie Grace (b. 1891) and Lee Warren Millard (b. 1895). Maude Murray married George Parshall Coffin and relocated to Rochester, a city of 160,000 at the time. George died before 1910 leaving widowed Maude to raise their daughter Doris alone.
About 1905 the Millard family, except for Hallet V. Millard, 26 years old, moved to the city of Buffalo, a thriving lakeside port of more than 400,000 (by way of comparison, Houston at this time was 78,000). By this time the trade of blacksmith was dying out as the automobile displaced the horse as primary means of commerce. Charles found work as a driver, for which he was well-trained to care for the horses. By 1906 Murray, as an 18 year old youth, had found work as a presser, probably for a dry cleaning operation. Within a year he had joined the engineers in Rochester on June 17, 1907. He moved with the troops, and within 3 years he was stationed in the Vancouver, WA barracks.
After participating in the Texas border events in 1916, he found himself in the western front in France in the quagmire that was the “War to End All Wars.” On October 14, 1918 during the Somme Offensive campaign he was badly gassed, earning an honorable discharge on January 2, 1919. He returned to the care of his parents in Rochester, where he employed his skills as a machine operator to work in a drill factory, but the effects of the gassing lingered. He died on 4 March 1921 and was buried in Pittsford Cemetery near Rochester, NY.
Like many patriotic mothers of the day, Lizzie proudly displayed the gold star in her window to show that she had lost a family member in the war. She took her involvement more seriously than most and with Grace Darling Siebold and a small group of other mothers, she helped form the American Gold Star Mothers in Washington, DC on June 4, 1928. She became the second president of the organization (1932 - 1934). Elizabeth Isadore Millard died 15 July 1936 and her husband died six months later in Holly, Oakland County, MI while visiting his daughter Marjorie, wife of Orville Edgar Hagerty. His body was transported to New York where he was buried next to his wife and son Murray.