The History of Taylor County Chapter Three Hundred-Twenty-Six

Stolzenfels Sells Yards

The VanDyke-Eaton company, a yearly visitor to the local theatre and whose star Miss Ollie Eaton was held high in the esteem of the local amusement patrons came to the Opera House for the week of February 12-17. An audience of 765 regular patrons attended the opening bill on Monday and extended Miss Eaton a warm welcome at her appearance back of the footlights which she gratefully acknowledged. 3,288 people paid admission to the house during the week’s engagement, but the near approach of the Lenten season held down the attendance for the latter part of the week. This church festival was generally observed in Grafton and many of the regular theatre patrons refrained from attending amusements during that season and this naturally affected the theatre business.  

The Junior Order of America Mechanics No. 14 convened in the Opera House in convention February 20, 1906, for business concerning this society. Thomas Moran was in charge of the meeting and conducted the session. 

The proprietors of the liveries and transfer business in the town petition the town council praying to be relieved to taxation on this line of business in the town. The firms who signed the petition were: Samuel Carruthers, George Evans, N.S. Hall, J.M. Hamilton and Son, William Mallonee, James Hussion, A.D. Poe and Son, George W. Poe, C.H. Pauley, U.N. Peters, E.H. Sherwood, William H. Swindler, John Shelton, James Shelton, Thomas Brothers, John Waller and L.E. Ward. The council informed the petitioners that the tax on all wheeled vehicles was fixed by the State Legislature and the town corporations had no legal right to relieve them of taxes and were compelled to refuse their prayer. With the introduction of motor driven vehicles this once flourishing horse drawn business has practically disappeared and only the horse drawn wagon of John Shelton is the sole reminder now of this business that flourished since the beginning of the town. 

Lincoln J. Carter’s scenic production of an epic of the far west carrying an Indian Brass Band and Indian ponies came to the Opera House February 21, 1906. This dramatic production different from all other from the pen of this master of stage craft with its band of real Indians dressed in all the glory of the fringe and feathers paraded the streets of the town and noon and gave a band concert in front of the theatre prior to the opening of the doors for the evening performance the rush to precure tickets swapped the box office and gave treasurer Tom Vance a very busy half hour. This like all Cater productions called for a clever stage, none of the house scenery except the front curtain was used in the play, which please an audience which filled all parts of the house. 

Charles Stolzenfels, prominent citizen of the old third ward and one of the largest land owners in that part of the town who conducted a junk business since 1976 disposed of his business to G.Yampolisky and Max Faber (sounds Yiddish) the firm established the Grafton Iron and Metal Company and announced they were in the market for bones, bottles, copper, iron, lead, rags and waste paper. This business afforded the youth of the town an opportunity to provide them with the means to purchase tickets and they combed the streets and alleys in search of materials to sell the junk firm and saved the street commissioner many jobs of cleaning up much rubbish on the streets. 

The Ladies of the Baptist church stage “Ye Old Time Singing School” in the Opera House February 27,1906 to an audience that filled the house and enjoyed an evening’s performance replete with songs in vogue in the almost forgotten past, accompanied by Mrs. Sallie Leith on the accordion, as a rule most amateur performances are tiresome, but it must be said this entertainment in which whose old time songs were revived was really enjoyable, and brought recollections to many of the older people in the audience memories of the days when they were young and took part in old singing school, an institution that was part of the life in all small rural communities. 

Henry J. Pracht and his wife Mamie Walters Pracht revived their school for dancing in Brinkman Hall for the coming season and enrolled a large number of pupils eager to mater the new dances then in vogue. Mrs. Pracht an accomplished pianist presided at the piano at these classes. At the end of each term a grand ball was given to which the parents and many friends were invited to witness the progress of classes. 

The W. Frederick Piano Company with music in Maryland and Pennsylvania leased the room at 218 East Main Street and engaged Guy D. Haymond to manage the local branch for the sale of pianos and organs in Grafton. The company stocked the room with famous makes pf pianos in both upright and square makes a new instrument call the Auto-Grand piano that was a novelty among these instruments. The march of time which was brought with it the phonograph and radio has practically thrown the piano and organ into the discard as well as the instructors who once flourished and conducted large classes of learners whose education considered not complete unless music was included. In the early years of Grafton most of the homes were furnished with the parlor organ and the son or daughter seated themselves at the keyboard to lead the evening devotion or entertain company. Only a few of the more prosperous family homes were furnished with the piano which at the time was considered a luxury beyond the means of the average family. The organ so prominent in church services of early days has been replaced by the pipe instrument and the organ is only to be found in the churches in the rural sections where it is used in the devotional services in these churches. 

Samuel B. Templeton and 215 other thirsty citizens petition the town council and mayor praying the question of saloon license for the sale of intoxicants be placed on the ticket for the voters of the corporation to express their opinion at the coming town election in March. They ask that the town ordinance fixing the time at two years to vote on this question be changed to read one year. 


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