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  Texas : Features : Columns : "It's All Trew"

Voters hold fiery rally

by Delbert Trew
Delbert Trew

With the 2008 political campaigns heating up, we are reminded that election fever is often contagious and can lead to some strange incidents taking place at times. Such fiery interests are not new, especially in Texas as many incidents date far back in history to earlier elections. For example, here is a true story that happened just before election time in November of 1884 at Dodd City located in Fannin County.

Major Edmund Dodd came to Texas in 1839, building a log cabin which acted as a home, stagecoach stop, community gathering place and U.S. Post Office named "Licke." Later, the name was changed to Dodd and then to Dodd City to clarify the Post Office identification. The original Sam Rayburn clan were the most famous citizens in the area as the population grew at first and then decreased during the Great Depression and Dust Bowl days.

It seems the Studebaker Wagon Company of South Bend, Ind., touted as the largest wagon manufacturer in the U.S., posted a bulletin in their extensive factories threatening loss of jobs to any employee voting for the Democratic candidates in the upcoming 1884 elections.

The exact connection between the huge South Bend company and the fine citizens of Dodd City has not been established (possibly employee kinfolk?), but the threatening bulletin triggered an angry, much-publicized demonstration held on the main street of the small town.

Some 200 angry citizens gathered, drafted a classic letter to the president of the company and its board of directors stating they had purchased a new Studebaker wagon, a quantity of coal oil, parked the wagon on main street, invited the media and others interested and planned to burn it to the ground in protest of the bulletin.

The letter further stated, "the wagon will be burned in the same spirit that tea was tossed overboard at the Boston Tea Party in 1776, the Studebaker name will become vile and odorous anywhere liberty and freedom exist."

It was also vowed no one would buy or use any Studebaker products in the future considering such use to be treason.

Finally, the last sentence stated, "we burn it to consume a product that was made by the sweat and blood of your employees, that your bulletin has reduced to below the standard of manhood."

After mailing the letter, the coal oil was splashed, a match applied and the new wagon burned to the ground as the crowds rejoiced and made merry while the media watched.

Was the protest successful? Nothing has been found where the company reacted in any fashion or manner. Were employees at the South Bend plant harassed or fired?

If so, how did the company learn how each employee voted?

Back in Fannin County, the record was very clear. The Democrats garnered 3,724 votes, the Independents had 911 votes and the Republicans received only 99 votes. History also states there was a black spot on main street in Dodd City for many years afterward.

Delbert Trew
"It's All Trew" March 20, 2008 Column
E-mail: trewblue@centramedia.net.
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