Union Station - N
13 January 1912: Union Station was completed in 1911 by The Houston Belt & Terminal Railway at 501 Crawford between Texas and Prairie. It unified the passenger terminal and offices for four railroads: 1) Beaumont, Sour Lake and Western RR (B. S. L. & W.); 2) Gulf Colorado and Santa Fe RR (G. C. & S. F.); 3) St. Louis Brownsville and Mexico RR (St. L. B. & M.); and 4) The Trinity & Brazos Valley (T. & B. V.). The station was completed the year before as a two-story structure, but already the expansion to four floors was planned.
21 November 2019: Enron Field was completed in 2000, preserving the old Union Station passenger waiting room as an entrance hall. The railroad theme is preserved inside the stadium where a 19th century replica of a steam locomotive celebrates home runs by tooting its way along a track laid along the moveable roof 90 feet above the field. In June 2002 Enron Field became Minute Maid Park and the replica train cargo switched from logs to oranges.
Postmarked: 13 January 1912; Lafayette, LA
Stamp: 1c Green Ben Franklin #374
To: Mr Bertram. H. Hirsch
1103 N. Oregon St.
The farther south we get the colder it seems to get we are about 200 miles from New Orl
[Reverse] My Dear little Bumpo Dady is still riding on the chu-chu - & it as a big long train like yours. take good care of "mudie" & sister & be a good boy & do just what mother tells you. lots of kisses from Dady
“Bumpo” - Bertram Heil Hirsch was the 3½ year old son of Charles Albert Hirsch and his wife Belle Cleve Heil, new brother to 13-day-old Louise Natalie Hirsch. The family lived at a boarding house at 1103 N. Oregon in El Paso, TX with Cleve’s parents, Bertha Lowensen Heil and Louis N. Heil. “Dady” must have hesitated before embarking on the trip, knowing the stresses a new baby brings to any family, but the new mother had many supporting hands to help out. Charles was, by the evidence here, a loving and indulgent father showering his son with toys such as the toy train he mentions. Charles was a traveling salesman who frequently traveled by train so Bertram had surely seen his father off at the El Paso Union Station a couple of blocks from the downtown area where his father and grandfather worked. The El Paso terminal was a fine building designed by Chicago architect Daniel Burnham in 1906, who would later complete the Scanlan Building in Houston [See Main at Preston]. As Charles passed through Houston’s terminal he found a railroad-related postcard to mirror his son’s interests, and wrote his affectionate note as he approached New Orleans. In Lafayette, LA he posted it in time to be cancelled by the agent at 9:30 PM.
Charles sold shoes for a living, and managed the Walk-Over Shoe Shop at 214 San Antonio Street. He had moved from Springfield, MO about 1904 where he had worked at Guarantee Shoe Store. He was born in 1878 in Clinton, MO the son of Simon Hirsch and Tina Goldstein, brother to older sisters Fannie (1872), Minnie (75), younger twins James Garfield and Rose (1880), and brothers Adolph H. (1883) and Isaac A. (1886). The family moved from Henry County, MO to Salina, KS about 1885, then to Springfield where Charles came to adulthood. About the time Charles moved to El Paso, Simon and the rest of the family moved to St. Louis, MO where he based his business as a traveling salesman dealing in liquors. Simon would later retire to Pittsburg, PA where he and Tina spent their last days together.
The Hirsch and Heil families were both Jewish, part of a loose-knit community of merchants whose stores often were among the most sought out in urban centers across America. Bertha was born in Rochester, NY, the daughter of Sigmund (1791-1860) and Rosa (1824-1874) Lowensohn. Her brother Moses “Morris” (b. 1848) had business interests in New York City, and she may have joined him there after the death of her parents. It was there she met and married Louis N. Heil in Kings County in 1882 fourteen years after he immigrated in 1868. The young couple soon found their way to the newly incorporated town of Montose in western Colorado where their children were born: Rosa (b. July 1883, likely named for Bertha’s mother) and Belle (“Cleve” b. September 1884), and Harold (b. May 1887). Montrose was a small community of only about 1000 citizens at the time, and Louis was too ambitious a businessman to be content in that small marketplace.
El Paso as an historically important center began in the early 18th century with the early settlement of missions in the area, but remained a remote outpost of little economic importance for Texas through most of the 19th century. This changed in 1881 with the arrival of the railroads when El Paso became a commercial hub with 10,000 inhabitants by 1890. When the Heil family brought their mercantile business to town there was already an established Jewish community centered around the synagogue at N. Oregon and Boulevard (now Yandell Drive), just three blocks from their boarding house at N. Oregon and Arizona. The Union Clothing Company at 111 S. El Paso soon became one of the most patronized establishments in the city. Just two blocks away was Charles’s shoe shop at 214 San Antonio Street, and home at 1103 N. Oregon ten blocks up circumscribed their world at the time.
Charles Arthur Hirsch died unexpectedly at the age of 42 in early June, 1921 in Oakland, CA, perhaps there on business related to his traveling sales. Within the decade widow Cleve and the children moved to San Francisco. Louise Natalie and Bertram attended the University of California at Berkeley; Louise married Herbert Gustav Blum in 1934 and Bertram married an Australian immigrant, Maisie Ailleen Cranston in 1945.
Cleve Hirsch died in 1960 in San Francisco, her son Bertram Heil Hirsch died in 2003. Louis N. Heil (1849-1921) and Bertha Lowensohn Heil (1856-1908) are buried in Temple Mount Sinai in El Paso, TX. Simon Hirsch (1847-1921) is buried in New Mount Sinai Cemetery in St. Louis, MO near his children Fannie Hirsch (1871-1914) and James Hirsch (1880-1906). The site of Union Clothing store is now the entrance ramp to the underground parking for Hotel El Paso Del Norte North Tower (17 stories completed in 1986 to adjoin the original 10-story hotel built adjacent to Union Clothing in 1912). The site of Walk-Over Shoe Shop is now surface level parking. The El Paso Holocaust Museum has been erected across N. Oregon St. from where Mt. Sinai Synagogue originally sat, and the boarding house at 1103 N. Oregon is now one of the buildings of the El Paso Community College System.