In attempting to piece together the history of our community, errors are unavoidable. The goal is to try to avoid substantial errors at all costs, and to keep minor errors to a minimum. In past articles I have mentioned that the original name of Victory Park was Wilson Park. Since the park was built during the time Woodrow Wilson was President of the United States, I made the incorrect assumption that the park was named in his honor. Today’s Echo of Our Past will be the story of one of the first subdivisions added to our community, the Goode Annex. Part of that story will include the real source of the name Wilson Park while giving us a picture of residential growth in Minden 90 years ago.
S. F. Goode was a pioneer citizen of Minden. He had a large plantation located in an area that was in his day “north of town.” Tradition has it that the hanging tree for Minden was for many years located on the Goode Property. Mr. Goode died in 1905, at the age of 94, and his estate remained undivided for several years after his death. Finally in February 1914, 35 acres of the Goode Estate, including the family home, were sold to E. R. Wilson, a real estate developer from Little Rock, Arkansas. In the Minden Signal-Democrat of March 6, 1914, Wilson announced his purchase and his plans for the property: “ . . . he is laying off (the property) into standard size town lots and will put them on the market at reasonable prices and on easy terms. Part of these lots will front on the Germantown Road commencing above the W. A. Castleberry residence and coming out into the Homer Road between the D. W. Stewart place and the old Berry homestead. The new addition has not yet been named and our readers can help in suggesting a suitable name if they will and at the same time stand a chance of winning ten dollars in gold.” The addition was bounded by the present-day Gladney Street on the east, Elm Street on the west, Germantown Road on the north, and Goode Avenue on the south.
On Saturday, March 7th, a meeting was held at the Bank of Minden to open the suggested names for the new development.
Mayor A.D. Turner had at Wilson’s request appointed a committee of Dr. Luther Longino, Mr. W. B. Lee, Mr. R. H. Miller, and Judge John N. Sandlin, to open and judge the entries in the contest to name the subdivision. After consideration the panel chose the name Goode Annex. That name had been submitted by three ladies, Mrs. L. W. Baker, Miss Eliza Todd, and Mrs. Charles R. Davis. The three ladies were each given $3.35 their share of the $10 prize.
Wilson had already created dirt streets through the site and residents were encouraged to drive through the area to examine its suitability for development.
Wilson then scheduled the first lot sale to begin on Tuesday, March 17, 1914. A gala event was planned. The sale would run from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. each day. Payment options included a down payment of one-fourth of the price with the option to pay out the remainder either in monthly payments or in a lump sum either 6, 12, or 18 months after the initial payment. With proper collateral, in the case of monthly payments, the required one-fourth initial payment could be reduced. Free carriage rides to the site would be provided by Wilson from the offices of his Texas-Louisiana Land Company located above the Burnett, Wren and Turner store.
Sales started at a brisk pace. The Signal-Democrat of Friday, March 20 reported that more than half of the available lots were sold on the first day and that by closing on the 2nd day, 96 lots, or two-thirds of the total available had been purchased. Wilson predicted that 8 or 10 new homes would be standing in the Goode Annex by the end of 1914. In an additional promotion, Wilson had scheduled a drawing to give away a free lot for Friday, March 20. This ceremony would feature speeches and music by the town band. Three carriages would be used to bring the ladies to the events. Everyone purchasing a ticket would be entered in the drawing for the free lot. In case of rain, the events would be held on the rear porch of the Goode Home. Activities would begin at 2:30 p.m. with the drawing for the lot scheduled between 3:30 and 4:30 p.m. In the spirit of the occasion, Wilson decided to give away two lots instead of the single lot promised in the promotion. The first lot was won by one-year-old Pat McCrary, the son of Mr. and Mrs. S. H. McCrary. The youngster received the title to Lot 1, Block 3, a corner lot on Bridwell Avenue. The second piece of property was won by six-year-old Eleanor Talton, granddaughter of Mr. and Mrs. D. S. Mims. She received Lot 12, Block 4, another corner lot on Bridwell Avenue.
Wilson also announced that 107 lots had now been sold and only 37 remained on the market. Four corner lots on Center Street with high elevation were still available. New incentive bonuses were offered to lot purchasers. A prize of $25 would go to the first person to put foundation and framing materials on his lot and $50 would go to the first person to move into their new residence in the Annex. Mr. Walter Peacock, who had purchased the south half of Block 7 had already begun work on his residence and was seen as the favorite to capture both of the incentive prizes. Wilson soon added other incentives, including an award of $15 to each purchaser who completes the foundation of their new residence by April 20, 1914.
On Wednesday, April 8, the Texas-Louisiana Land Company suffered an economic setback when a fire broke out in their offices. The 2nd floor offices of the company were completed gutted while the Burnett, Wren and Turner store on the first floor suffered substantial water damage to its merchandise and fixtures and the law firm of Stewart and Stewart also had its offices flooded by the efforts to extinguish the blaze. Undeterred by their loss, the company relocated to new offices and promotion of the new housing continued.
By early May, Wilson expanded the project to include more of the Goode property. These new lots were along the Homer Road and on the eastern edge of the property along modern-day Gladney Street. In the newspaper ads for this expansion of the project, Wilson touted the idea of a “farm in town” A 60-foot street had been cut through the center of the property (Center Street) along with the 14 new lots along Homer Road and several tracts of up to 4 acres along the eastern edge of the Annex. The Minden Democrat backed Wilson’s efforts by encouraging local residents to invest in these properties. The paper mentioned that many citizens of Minden had invested in proposed towns and oil properties in Texas and Oklahoma. The Editor of the Signal-Democrat felt that these citizens would be doing a public service by keeping their investments in the local community.
By early May the contest was on to see who would be the first resident to occupy their new home in the Goode Annex. The two favorites were Walter Peacock, who had been the first to pour a foundation for a home on the northeast corner of Summit and Center Street and W. W. Reeder. Reeder, who had previously resided in what is today the home of the McCullough family on the corner of Lewisville and East and West, was building a large residence in the new area on the northwest corner of Goode and Park Highway. Reeder had operated a poultry business at his previous home (which for many years was owned by the Crichton family) and was looking to use this new area on the fringe of the town to expand his operation.
On Wednesday, another large lot sale was held, offering the newly acquired lots to the public. Wilson now promised that water lines were already being extended to the annex and that street lights were soon to follow. A $50 bonus prize would be given to the first person to build a residence on the eastern side of Park Highway. The lots along the northern end of Park Highway were 4 acres in area and extended all the way back to Gladney Street. The proceeds from that day’s sales totaled $2400 and Wilson was able to announce new developments regarding access to his subdivision. The residents of Elm Street were willing to help defray the costs of sidewalks from the end of Main Street to the annex. The Percy, Garrison, Taylor, Frazier, Craton, Flaherty, Kent, Bridwell, and Ashby families had all agreed to pay part of the costs and the sidewalk construction would soon begin.
A large section of the annex had been set aside for a public park, bounded by Summit, Park Highway, Bridwell and Gladney. Wilson had asked the Civic Club for help in naming and developing this park, and the group had chosen the name Woodland Park. An interested group of local ladies asked Wilson for permission to adopt the park and to work on beautification of the area, they also requested permission to change the name of the park. Wilson welcomed the help offered by this group, but deferred the name change to the will of the Civic Club. The ladies apparently were very persuasive, as the name of the park was soon officially changed to Wilson Park, in honor of the developer. By June, the Wilson Park League was meeting and coordinating plans to make the best use of the recreational space donated by Wilson.
By September 1914, Peacock, Reeder and John Monzingo had constructed and occupied their new residences in the Goode Annex. The newspaper never reported which of these three men collected the bonus for the first house occupied, but the Goode Annex subdivision was on its way to becoming a significant residential area of the town of Minden, as it remains today. Wilson moved on to promoting the Harrell Addition in the Shreveport Road area, which he was also successful in developing. Today the efforts of this real estate developer are largely forgotten, so much so that I failed to give him the credit for donating the park in the Goode Annex. Of course, that park was later renamed Victory Park and E. R. Wilson’s name is forgotten. However, even though he was only dealing in Minden to make money for his business, his efforts created neighborhoods that are part of the Echo of Our Past and the community of today.
Minden Historian John Agan’s column appears Tuesdays in the Minden Press-Herald.Special to the Press-Herald.