Stephen F. Austin State University

Smokey Row, Emory, Texas (July 2012)

Smokey Row
Emory, Texas
By Elaine Bay

The infamous business section of town that housed most of the saloons in town was known as "Smokey Row". The name for the area resulted from the fact that these business seemed to have a charmed life, escaping a number of fires in town and having survived two cyclones.

In 1878, a young man, who was later to become a prominent central Texas doctor, persuaded his mother to allow him to accompany a trail herd from Jefferson, Texas to Cooke County. When the drive was completed, he outfitted himself with chaps, cowboy hat, and a 6-shooter and set out for home in an around-about fashion so as to seek some adventure. Some days later this young man struck upon a cowboy with 6 horses and they decided to ride together seeing as how they were both headed in the same general direction.

One evening late they arrived at Emory, hobbled their horses, cooked supper and then decided to take in the town. After visiting several of the leading saloons, they proceeded to Shoot up the Town. The sport lasted until one of the local citizens began returning the gunfire, at which time, thy hastily returned to camp.

During the night, horse thieves visited the campsite and stole all the horses from our young adventurers. The young men decided to split up and the young man from Jefferson, riding a wide circle around Emory, returned to his home." (The Rains County Leader, Pioneer edition, 11 August 1939)

By early spring 1890 the subject of the saloons in Emory was mentioned in the Rains County Record, one of the earliest Rains County newspapers still in existence, with the notice "Doss Peoples will take pleasure in setting up to you the best liquor ever thrown over a counter in this county." There were six saloons by 1890, operating 24 hours per day. It was a common thing on Saturday nights for the law enforcement officers to lock up so many drunks that there was standing room only in the jail.

Annie White operated the Delmonico restaurant which was next door to the Oriental Saloon and served up first-class meals. A cyclone went through Rains County in April 1894; the O. Dick saloon, The Oriental Saloon, Annie White's Restaurant each suffered heavy damages. Business property was improving in 1904 when Mr. Kirkpatrick had a well bored in the back of his saloon. In 1906 the roof of her restaurant caught on fire but was soon put out before it spread to the Smokey Row business district.

By 1905 people were fast becoming Prohibitionists, seeing nothing but evil in the saloons; although they knew that saloons ceasing to exist would not diminish drinking a single drop.

In late summer of 1912 Judge Clendenin was praised by Harry Carpenter, delegate to the State Convention, for offering a petition that saloons close by at 8 p.m.

An article in the 1914 Rains County Leader announced that for the first time that the oldest inhabitants of the county could remember, Smokey Row was deserted. "It would not burn, and it can be proven by good and impeachable evidence that it has been set on fire more than a dozen times and each time the fire went out of its own accord." The last two houses were to be pulled down in 1914. "Goodbye "Smokey", goodbye, we will be glad to see you go-go-go."
Smokey Row