Other Views from 1891

Where is Ladonia?

Above: Thaddeus Mortimer Fowler (1842–1922). Ladonia, Fannin County, Texas. 1891, 1891. Toned lithograph, 9.5 x 20.1 in. Published by T. M. Fowler & James B. Moyer. Amon Carter Museum, Fort Worth.

Ladonia in 1891

The population of Ladonia, in the southeastern corner of Fannin County, numbered around 1,000 when Fowler visited in 1891 to make this view of the city. It is doubtful that there would have been a sufficient market for Fowler’s views among so few citizens themselves, in Ladonia or any of the other small towns that the bird’s-eye view artists documented. Perhaps several entrepreneurs or city officials took it upon themselves to have the view published as a promotional effort, as happened in Victoria; or perhaps the view was a product of the 1887 arrival of the Gulf, Colorado and Santa Fe Railroad, which might have undertaken publication of views along its route to encourage immigration to the area.[1] The railroads engaged in a variety of promotional schemes, and supporting the work of these itinerant artists might have been a part of the effort.[2] As one newspaper editor concluded of a bird’s-eye view of his home town, “If it is properly got up, and placed in hotels, and public places of resort, throughout the country, it will do much to give a proper conception of the site and size of this city and environs.”[3]

Fowler depicted the town looking from the northeast toward the southwest, and unlike others of his lithographs, the train is very much in the forefront here, with the railroad from Dallas and Greenville arriving in the upper portion of the print and spurs heading off to Paris (in the left-hand corner, paralleling Paris Street) and Honey Grove (center foreground crossing Honey Grove Street). The community, and even the town square, seem to be dominated by four rather large churches (A, B, C, and D on map) and the public school (1).