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This article originally appeared in the Garland/Mesquite section of The Dallas Morning News on May 12, 1995.

By Michael R. Hayslip

Thomas N. Hickman was a public-spirited civic booster who built the biggest bank and maybe the biggest house in Garland at the time. Unfortunately, he lost them both.

In 1895 Hickman started the city’s first bank, Citizens National Bank, inside an unimposing frame building with upstairs living quarters. But in 1899, when fire cleaned out sufficient structures, including his, to create an open square, Garland’s only bank occupied a new one-story brick building at the north end of the square’s east side.

A short time later he constructed one of the city’s lavish Victorian gingerbread homes on property at Main Street and Glenbrook. In back was a barn and living quarters for chickens.  Like currency, the three-story house was painted in tones of green.

Without benefit of deposit insurance or other indemnity of any kind at the time, bank customers relied solely upon the character and ability of a bank’s officers and directors to safeguard accounts. Hickman’s solid, positive image personified the monetary ideals of the town, and he must have been justifiably proud.

But early-day financing was sometimes more treacherous for the banker than it was for the individual customer, since he often had more invested in the institution than the customer had deposited in his account. Without any hint of dishonesty or incompetence a bank was often ensnared by collateral price fluctuations that dissolved the security behind loans and wiped out the investors’ capital.

Such was the case with Hickman and his Citizens National Bank immediately after the close of World War I, when farm prices collapsed. Garland’s first bank became Garland’s first bank failure.

Outside investors renamed the bank in its same quarters and recapitalized it in 1919, so that no depositor suffered loss. But Hickman himself was ruined and soon left town. Despite his civic leadership, nothing was ever named to honor him.

The house was bought by M. D. Williams, who occupied it with his family for several years, then demolished the structure in 1927 to make way for his funeral home, which stands there today.

Garland Texas's first bank

Photo caption:

A Citizens National Bank float in the 1911 Garland Stock Show parade stands in front of bank president T. N. Hickman’s home, located on the present site of Williams Funeral Directors.  Beside the “16 Years Old” sign is future Garland mayor Ray Olinger, also 16 at the time.

This article originally appeared in the Garland/Mesquite section of The Dallas Morning News on December 8, 1995.

By Michael R. Hayslip

In the broad scope of things the most significant celebrity to visit Garland so far may have been Leonard Slye, better known as Roy Rogers, King of the Cowboys.

While the city has also hosted such national notables as then-Congressman Lyndon Johnson, segregationist Governor Orville Faubus, First Lady Roslynn Carter, concert pianist Van Cliburn and armadillo master Willie Nelson, none of these has yet equaled Roy Rogers’ positive role influence over generations of Americans.

With neither political clout nor the taint of civil disobedience, domestic intrigue or substance abuse, he held his position on high moral ground with minimal violence. Nevertheless, he edged out Gene Autry, and from 1943 to 1954 Roy Rogers was Hollywood’s number one money-making star. Truth be known, his trusty mount Trigger may have even inspired other horses to better behavior.

Roy Rogers’ act played especially well in Garland, a dry town where King James Bibles were best sellers and the local newspaper’s masthead bore the inscription “Dedicated to the Best Moral and Financial Interests of Garland and Communities.”

Happy Trails, the story of Roy Rogers and Dale Evans by Dallas Morning News writer Carlton Stowers, reveals that on his first visit, Tuesday, April 19, 1938, the 27-year-old Rogers was a little-known quantity -- in Garland or anywhere else. He arrived on a whirlwind promotional tour to plug his first starring role in Under Western Stars, originally reserved for Gene Autry and opening at the Capitol Theatre in Dallas.

Mr. Autry and Republic Studios had fallen out over a contract dispute, giving Leonard Slye his big chance, a new name and the services of Smiley Burnett, the veteran Autry sidekick.  The King of the Cowboys also received $75 a week and a clean white hat -- a big jump over his rewards for the previous seven years as a traveling singer and bit-part actor, before which he had been a shoe-factory worker in Ohio and a fruit picker in California. He smiled a lot in 1938, and Under Western Stars was eventually voted the best western of the year.

What the locals did know was that real-live movie stars had dropped by in the middle of The Great Depression. Although Garland and the surrounding area still had enough agricultural connections to cushion most residents from the worst of the country’s hardships, the Rogers-Burnett show provided a welcome morale boost, and obliging crowds of all ages thronged the Hollywood entourage as it appeared on the town square.

The festivities, complete with high school band, Mayor J. A. Alexander and other dignitaries, were endorsed by the entire Garland business community, 95 per cent of which was located around the town square. H. R. Bisby and his wife Jennie, who owned the Garland Theatre on Bankhead Avenue (now Main Street), where the new film was scheduled to run, were presumably parties to Republic’s ploy to thumb their new star at Gene Autry. A collection of theatre mementos from the Bisbys, including photos of Roy Rogers’ visits, is on display at the central branch of Garland’s Nicholson Memorial Library.

Howard Taylor, school band director at the time, recalls that the convocation occurred slightly before noon and was populated by a suspicious number of school-age youngsters Mr. Rogers would come to call “buckaroos.” “The Hollywood folks acted like they were in a big hurry to move on to the next stop,” said Mr. Taylor.

But despite the commotion, The Garland News management was far too shrewd to be duped by a publicity stunt for any flash-in-the-pan actor, and the paper restricted its photo-journalistic coverage of Roy Rogers to a three-by-four-inch spot on Page Two of the week’s edition. Some suspected Gene Autry sympathies on the part of the News’ publisher.

The Happy Trails of Roy Rogers crossed Garland at least once more after the 1938 visit, but his tracks are now faded. A wartime visit, restrained due to the circumstances, occurred about 1944, when he made a defense-factory tour of the Continental Motors plant (now Kraft Foods).

It was probably on that occasion that Mr. Rogers, world-famous by then, was photographed with his new sidekick, George “Gabby” Hayes and Mr. Bisby in what appears to be Mr. Bisby’s home on Avenue E. Gabby Hayes had joined the duo in 1939, since Smiley Burnett, after an querulous stint with William “Hopalong Cassidy” Boyd, had returned to the side of his old pal Gene Autry. Dale Evans became a part of the Rogers cinema team in 1944.

Roy Rogers makes appearance in Garland, Texas

 Photos courtesy John D. Skelton, II

 Photo caption:

(Band Scene) Band Director Howard Taylor and Smiley Burnett switch hats as they stand with the bank alongside Roy Rogers in 1938. Those visible with the group in front of Nicholson Memorial Hall include (l-r): Bill Matthews, Sam Wilhoit, Lorene and Florene Coyle, John Duke,  Mr. Burnett, Frank Greenhaw, Mr. Taylor, (unidentified), Mr. Rogers, (unidentified), Paul Buhler, Arthur Buhler, Minor Nickens, (unidentified), Sidney Thompson, (unidentified), Jimmy Davie, Lon Morris Pace and an unidentified boy.

Photo not available

(Interior group) Plaza Theatre owner H. R. Bisby (l) and Gabby Hayes (with beard) are shown with Roy Rogers and two unidentified guests on a Garland tour during World War II.

Garland, Texas - Roy Rogers appearance

 (Street Scene) Garland stages a big welcome for Roy Rogers and Smiley Burnett in 1938 on their tour to promote Under Western Stars. Mr. Burnett, who was better known at the time, is listed first and larger on the banners.

From The Garland Daily News, January, 1960



H.T. (Harry Tillman Payne)

One of the oldest family businesses in Garland, Payne Drugstore, was begun in 1922 by the late Harry Tillman (Doc) Payne.  Present owner of the store is his son, Don, who is a captain in Air Force, stationed at Perrin Air Force Base.

Doc Payne first started his drugstore on the east side of the square, where Food Town is now.  In 1930, the business moved to Garland Avenue in the 600 block.  Then in 1943, the drugstore was moved to its present location, 532 W. Garland Avenue.  Presently there are 12 persons employed at the store.

Doc Payne was a fixture in the Garland community until his death in December of 1958.  His wife, Gladys Tucker Payne, died in November of 1959.

Their son Don is married to the former Elsie Bachman.  The couple lives at 1008 Avenue D with their two children, Vicki, 8, and Donnie, 5.  They are members of the First Methodist Church.  Payne’s hobbies include golfing and hunting.

Payne says, “Garland is a dynamic community, and its future growth will probably be as great as in the past 10 years.  I am looking forward to the day when I can return to Garland permanently and participate more vigorously in civic affairs.”

Since Don is a career man in the Air Force, Gregory M. Leuty, pharmacist at the drugstore, is in charge of operations.  Leuty is married and lives with his wife, Elizabeth, at 1801 Morningside.  He has been with the drugstore since September of 1950.  In 1935 he received his agricultural degree from Texas A&M, after which he worked for the US Department of Agriculture.  He received his pharmacy degree from the University of Texas in 1950.

Leuty said there has been no real expansion in the drugstore plant in the past 10 years, but “we have a remodeling plan in the offing, and will get in operation in the next year.”