Oscar Martin Carter
Oscar Martin Carter's complete life story should be written because it is stranger than fiction and needs a thick book to do justice to its merits. 0. M. Carter was a genius and for that reason went through life a rather lonely victim of his own great talents that set him off from the ordinary man.
He was born September 2, 1842, at Salem, Massachusetts Left an orphan when very young, he was bound out to people who were cruel to him. He ran away, and at Northfield Vermont, he learned the tinner's trade. Later he joined a pack train hauling freight across western plains. In this way he first saw Colorado and became interested in mining.
Carter's versatility in business management and in professional skills baffles belief. He worked as a cook for an ox-team caravan; at Central City he mined; all through the Mid-West he plied his trade as a tinner; he worked for the Union Pacific Railroad at Omaha; at Ashland, Nebraska he operated a hardware store, a tin shop, and a flour mill all at the same time that he managed Governor Saunders' race for the U. S. Senate.
For six years he was the government's trader with the Sioux Indians at the Rosebud Indian Agency. After 1885, he became president of six banks centering around Omaha, while he was also president of the American Loan and Trust Company in Omaha. In 1887, Carter sold his interests in Nebraska and came to Houston. By 1890, he had bought both the Houston City Street Railway Company and the Bayou City Street Railway Company in the interests of his Omaha and South Texas Land Company venture.
Mr. Carter was the inventor of the Carter Bit, and he manufactured the Standard Collapsible Rotary Drill and Core Barrel. He operated a gold and silver mine in Colorado. The record of his achievements is fantastic. And the greatest of his accomplishments was his real estate venture in Houston Heights.
On April 25, 1866, at Plattsmouth, Nebraska, he was married to Miss Cinderella Thomas. There were six children born to this marriage. But for years in Houston, Mr. Carter never made a home, living at the Hutchins House or his hotel.
In 1915, his first wife died at her home, in Denver. In 1920, Mr. Carter married Miss Nellie Green. From that time until his death on January 6, 1928, he made his home at 1316 Heights Boulevard.
Many people remember that Mr. Carter could have taken their homes and he refused to do so. The citizens of Houston Heights in their dealings with Mr. Carter found always complete honesty and gentle courtesy. This history in its probings uncovered no record of any suit involving a charge of unfair treatment in the vast real estate deals that Mr. Carter handled in developing Houston Heights. Mr. Carter in more ways than one was truly the Founder of the Heights.
Daniel Denton Cooley
As a young man he went West and settled at Ashland, Nebraska. Here he engaged in the mercantile business and became cashier in the First National Bank of which 0. M. Carter was president. In 1887, he became associated treasurer and general manager with Carter's newly organized Omaha and South Texas Land Company.
By 1892, the company's vast real estate venture had become a reality and "lots in an improved addition" were for sale. Mr. Cooley's office after 1893 was in the west corner of the hotel built by the company on 19th and Ashland. His home at 1802 Boulevard was the first erected that street.
From the beginning of the Heights development, Cooley had worked to establish schools, and in 1894 Cooley School opened. For years Mr. Cooley served on the school board for the Heights.
In 1882, D. D. Cooley married Miss Helen Grace Winfield and when the couple located in the Heights, they brought with them their three small sons. The family was active in the first Episcopal services at St. Stephen's Mission held for a number of years at Cooley School. Later Cooleys were leaders in establishing St. Andrew's Episcopal Church on West 20th.
Mr. Cooley's interests were varied. He engaged in real estate business, was identified with the South Texas National Bank, and with H. F. MacGregor in the operation of the Electric Street Railway Company. About 1903, became a member of the insurance firm of Childress and Taylor, which was later renamed Cooley, Schweikart and Seaman. He continued as head of this firm until his death in 1933.
Mr. Cooley and his family were all unusually affable and inclined to join in all social and civic functions of their community. For that reason Old Houston Heights felt close to the tall, white-haired gentleman, who to many people represented the "Father of Houston Heights."
Charles A. McKinney
In 1878, he was married in Princeton to Miss Kate Bacon of that city. In 1885, the McKinneys moved to Omaha, where Mr. McKinney assumed a position with the American Loan and Trust Company of Omaha, of which 0. M. Carter was president.
Two years later Mr. Carter went to Texas in connection with his proposed Omaha and South Texas Land Company, and there he bought all street car facilities in Houston. After Carter started street car lines to the Heights in 1892, Mr. and Mrs. McKinney and Mrs. McKinney's widowed mother, Mrs. Cynthia A. Bacon, moved to Houston. Mr. McKinney was made Secretary and Treasurer of the Houston City Street Railway Company and the Bayou City Street Railway Company.
In 1895, after Carter's dream of Houston Heights had materialized, the transit system was sold. Mr. McKinney then resumed his banking career. He became associated with the South Texas Commercial National Bank and remained with that institution until his death in 1922. For years he acted as Assistant Cashier.
In 1893, Mr. and Mrs. McKinney moved into their home at 1630 Heights Boulevard, making it their permanent residence. Besides Mrs. McKinney's mother, who lived with them, Miss Ella McKinney, Mr. McKinney's sister, was often a member of the household. She died at the McKinney home in 1934.
Mr. and Mrs. McKinney loved children and since they had none of their own, throughout their married life they extended help to families who needed assistance for their children. Mr. McKinney acted as superintendent for a number of churches, and for years delighted in teaching Sunday School at the Presbyterian Church. His first interest was always directed toward helping youth. In his will he left the bulk of his estate to Faith Home. Mrs. McKinney died in 1943 and her will made the same provision.
John A. Milroy
In 1893, Mr. Milroy arrived in Houston where he became associated with 0. M. Carter, founder and owner of Houston Heights, which was at that time in its initial state of development.
By 1894, Mr. Milroy had sent for his family and established a home at 16th and Harvard. Here they remained until 1898 when they moved to the house at 1102 Boulevard, since known as the Milroy home. Mr. and Mrs. Milroy had three children: Helen Douglas, Margaret Adair, and William Hamilton.
Of the early group associated with Mr. Carter in founding the Heights, only Mr. Milroy stayed on through the years. When all the other business developments of the original Omaha and South Texas Land Company had simmered down to the simple proposition of selling real estate, then only a real estate expert was needed. In that capacity John A. Milroy guided the "Houston Heights Office" for almost 25 years. Only in 1917 did he sever, with deep regret, his connection with 0. M. Carter, when he left the Heights Office to open up his own real estate business.
As manager of the Heights Office, Mr. Milroy had learned to know the community interests of the Heights and this knowledge served him in his long public career. At the first council meeting of the Municipality, we find Mr. Milroy an alderman, then as secretary of the council, and later member of the school board. In 1899, he was elected Mayor of the Heights and was seven times re-elected. Finally after serving eight years he asked to withdraw.
On April 17, 1907, the Houston Chronicle ran a lengthy story of a testimonial assembly at Fraternal Hall when the people of Houston Heights paid homage to Mr. Milroy and presented him with a beautiful chest of silver. Judge W. G. Love in his testimonial speech said: "Your official conduct has been characterized by that patience and diplomacy which small men do not possess." Judge Love spoke for the people of Houston Heights.
On August 19, 1918, at the comparatively early age of fifty-six, John Milroy died. The Heights lost a good man.
W. G. Love received his education in the common schools and Salado College. Later he attended the University of Texas and was graduated in 1889 with the degree of LL. B. That same year he was admitted to the bar of Texas and began his legal practice at Luling, where he remained until 1893 when he moved to Houston. The City Directory lists him as residing in 1894 on the Heights Boulevard between 14th and 15th.
In 1896, he became the first mayor when the Heights voted to incorporate as a municipality. He served three one-year terms and then became President of the Houston Heights School Board. Moreover, Mr. Love served his community as legal advisor and perhaps aided most in this capacity because the Heights was still a giant real estate proposition just emerging into a settled social order.
In 1907, Mr. Love was appointed District Attorney to fill an unexpired term for the criminal district comprising Harris and Galveston Counties. In 1908, he was elected for a two - year term to the same office. In 1910, he retired to attend to his private practice.
He was married in 1901 to his second wife, Miss Lilli Webb, daughter of Dr. W. T. Webb, well known physician and member of an old family of Mobile, Alabama, who had come to Flatonia, Texas in 1874. They had one son, William Hamilton Love.
In appearance Judge Love looked not unlike Abraham Lincoln, tall, determined, and because of this likenes seemingly typical of the pioneer lawyer. He was dignified in bearing, but (also like Lincoln) jovial and warm in his associations. His last home in the Heights, at 15th an Boulevard, was noted for its hospitality and its genuine spirit of friendly cheer. Mr. Love died June 30, 1926, age 57 years.
After a sunstroke young David Barker found himself unable for the hard work of the farm and untrained for scholastic enterprise. After several trials at night school and state employment, he finally bought a grocery store in a small town in Illinois called Old Ripley. He succeeded and bought other stores in neighboring settlements. He worked hard and studied harder.
In 1897, in Old Ripley, he married Miss Pauline Rilling Shortly after their marriage, the young couple sold their stores and settled in Greenville. On an excursion trip to Texas, Mr. Barker discovered that he liked the country and instinctively felt that Texas also offered sound economic security.
He brought his wife to Texas in 1903 and settled in the Heights where his son and daughter were born. His shrewd self-education, his instinctive honesty, his warm kindliness of manner, and his quiet dignity all combined to make Mr. Barker an outstanding man. In Texas he entered the real estate business and his clients grew to trust his sharp appraisals and his honest figures.
In 1906, he was, at the insistence of his associates, forced into the nomination for mayor of the Heights. He served from April, 1907 to April, 1913. During -that period, the Heights voted heavy bonds for improvements and Mr. Barker was chiefly responsible for the wise expenditure of this money and for the period of progress that marked his term of office.
After 1913, Mr. Barker served the City of Houston for years in various positions of trust. It would be impossible in this short sketch to enumerate his contributions, but this much should be said, that the Heights' only living ex-mayor for over fifty years has served his community with honor, dignity, and wisdom.
Robert Isbell became assistant manager of the Western Union in Nashville and married Miss Ruby Neville, daughter of Dr. E. F. Neville. After the birth of their son, the young couple moved to Houston in 1903 and built the Isbell homestead at 629 Heights Boulevard. For sixteen years Mr. Isbell was outstanding in the business circles of Houston and Southeast Texas. He organized the South Texas Oilmen's Association, was an early member of the Houston Club, belonged to the Lumbermen's Club, the Elks and other business and social groups.
Only once did he venture into politics, when in 1913 he ran for office of mayor of Houston Heights and won the election. At the time, Mr. Isbell was Secretary and Treasurer of the Fidelity Cotton Oil and Fertilizer Company. He was young when elected mayor and naturally still rising in his business career. When he was offered the position of manager of the Taft Industries, he could ill afford to stay in Houston. He resigned in August, 1914, as mayor and took his family to Taft, Texas. Later, still with Taft interests,Mr.Isbell moved to Portland, Texas, in the center of the Taft cotton production. Here, on February 19, 1920, Robert Isbell was accidentally shot. His passing was mourned by all who had known him. Few men of his age had made more lasting impression upon business associates, quite apart from hosts of personal friends, for warm, sturdy, intelligent leadership.
Mrs. Isbell and her son moved back to the old home on the Boulevard, where she still resides. The son, after receiving his Ph. D. from the University of Wisconsin, taught science and then was called to serve the U. S. Air Forces in the chemical warfare department. Today he is Colonel R. N. Isbell.
Four years later, he owned his own blacksmith and carriage shop and had four men working for him. This energy and determination characterized J. B. Marmion throughout life. Possibly, too, because he had to push a boy's strength to meet a man's responsibility, he became adept and practiced in aggressive struggle.
The Marmion family had lived in old Fifth Ward. There J. B. Marmion settled after his marriage in November, 1893 to Miss Mary Josephine Harris. In 1910, he took his growing family to Houston Heights, where immediately he became a leader in civic affairs.
In August, 1914, R. F. Isbell, Mayor of Houston Heights, resigned from office and the group who had supported Isbell put up W. P. Hamblen, Jr., for the special election called for September 5 to fill the vacancy. J. B. Marmion, nominated on a ticket which identified him as opposed to corporate interests, defeated Hamblen. Marmion was later re-elected and was still in office when the Heights was annexed in February, 1918.
After that event, Mr. Marmion served in various positions at City Hall in Houston. His scrapbook unconsciously shows his personal preference in his different posts. For some time he was Park Commissioner and most of his pictures were taken at Sam Houston Park (old City Park), of the grandstand, with his children in different beauty spots. In Marmion's report in 1915, while he was still Mayor of the Heights, he had pleaded for a park where children could play, something bigger and better than the old Heights Playground.
J. B. Marmion seems to have been the greatest fighter of our early Heights political leaders; but like most fighters, he was at heart a very gentle man, a man who loved his own children and who fought for parks for other people's children.