More Early Denton Automobiles
More Early Denton Automobiles
We discussed in our previous article that Gentry Thompson was probably the first automobile owner in Denton. We now turn our attention to those that followed after Mr. Thompson.
The second automobile in Denton was owned by Mr. A. E. Graham.
It was a 1903 Cadillac Model A, tonneau (it had a back seat). It had a single cylinder 10 horsepower engine and a two speed transmission, with reverse. The price of the car was around $850.
Cadillac Wins First in Class
We can't say with absolute certainty that Mr. Graham's Cadillac was the second automobile in Denton. But, it was probably the most memorable of the early cars in Denton.
Newspaper accounts suggest the car was somewhere between a 1903 and 1905 year model. I feel pretty confident that the Cadillac was a 1903 year model due to the fact that one account says that there was an entrance to the backseat at the rear of the automobile. Since Cadillac did away with the rear entrance in the 1904 model year I believe it's safe to say it was a 1903. The rear entrance was a cool feature that allowed the driver to back up against a sidewalk and allow passengers to get into the rear seat, and thus avoid stepping in the mud. For Cadillac owners, it also meant having a cleaner interior.
If Gentry Thompson did indeed have the first steam automobile in Denton, then Mr. Graham can claim he had the first gasoline powered automobile in Denton. Everyone's a winner!
The Cadillac Owners Club
A. E. Graham was a wealthy merchant in the early 1900s. Unfortunately we don't know much about Mr. Graham's automobile experience but we might have something more interesting.
The car was sold to Dr. S. P. Odell of Stoney, Texas, sometime after 1907. We know it was after 1907 due to the fact that Graham was the second person to register an automobile in the county, when statewide vehicle registration began in 1907.
It was then sold to George Sheridan, who owned the first service station on Oak Street in Denton.
On a side note, George Sheridan's daughter, Ann Sheridan was a famous Hollywood actress. Her birth name was Clara Lou Sheridan and she was born on February 21, 1915. She worked regularly from 1934 to her death in 1967. Her notable movie roles include Angels with Dirty Faces (1938), The Man Who Came to Dinner (1942), Kings Row (1942), and I Was a Male War Bride (1949).
After George Sheridan, the automobile changed hands in 1910 to Henry Lively of Ponder, Texas. Now here's the cool part. Mr. Lively still owned the car in 1951, as it was reported in the Denton Record Chronicle that he was trying to get it registered with the county. The article even mentioned his license plate number which was not in the county records because it has not been registered for over 10 years. The plate number was 156110.
Unfortunately, after 1951 the Cadillac owner trail ends. If this automobile survived to 1951, I just bet that car is around somewhere! If you're in a museum and see you 1903 Cadillac from Texas please let us know!
The First Electric Automobile
We know that Mr. Graham owned the first gasoline powered automobile in Denton, but it seems that Mrs. Graham gets credit for a first of her own.
A 1911 newspaper article states that A. E. Graham purchased the first electric automobile in Denton. We assume they were referring to Mr. Graham as the purchaser. But according to other newspaper reports, it was certainly Mrs. Graham automobile.
Most of the stories about Mrs. Graham's electric automobile were about its shortcomings. The automobile was described by one person as a dainty coupe with a ringing bell horn. She had to enlist help to get up the steep driveway at her residence. The vehicle didn't fare well on rough roads as it the drained the batteries. And, it spend most of the time in the garage being charged.
If she would have waited one more year she could have gotten an electric start Cadillac. The 1912 Cadillac was the first American automobile equipped with an electric starter.
More Automobile Owners
Charlie Smoot owned an air cooled Franklin. He also owned an Oldsmobile dealership.
Fox Brothers owned the first dealership selling Briscoe automobiles.
L. D. "Banana" Smith introduced the Velle brand in Denton.
J. L. Wright sold Fords at 401 Sycamore.
Will Williams bought Denton's first delivery truck, a one cylinder Brush.
Mr. A. E. Graham was the second automobile owner in Denton. He owned a 1903 Cadillac. Mrs Graham was the first to own an electric automobile. The 1903 Cadillac changed hands from Mr. Graham to Dr. S. P. Odell, George Sheridan and Henry Lively.
If you have any additional information about anyone mentioned in the article please send us an email or use the feedback form below.
Also in 1903
Parlin and Orendorff Implement Company got the Cadillac agency for the state.
The San Antonio Automobile Club was formed.
The Texas Good Roads Association was organized.
Henry Ford founded the Ford Motor Company.
Horatio Nelson Jackson was the first person to drive coast to coast in an automobile.
The Wright Brothers fly the first airplane at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina.
Most of the historical accounts this article are based on several newspaper articles recalling Denton's automobile beginnings.
1903 Cadillac Photo
Ann Sheridan Photo
By CINEGRAF magazine [Public domain or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons