Donna Huntís recent column on visits by presidents and first ladies reminded me that my colleague Dr. Ed Phillips had written in some detail about the visit by Theodore Roosevelt. The president was on his way to San Antonio by train, and he stopped in Denison as well as Sherman on April 5, 1905.
In 1898 he had originally trained his Rough Rider Regiment in the Alamo City and they were having a reunion.The President traveled in a three-car special train (a fourth car was added in St. Louis) with members of his official family (secretary and aides), members of the Press, and railroad officials. He traveled on the M.K.T. railroad from St. Louis to Texas, entering the Lone Star State at the Red River bridge.
When his train stopped briefly at Denison, he was welcomed by a huge throng and presented a floral piece in the shape of the state of Texas by the school children of Denison. He spoke a few words of greetings and thanks.
His train moved on to Sherman on the Houston &Texas Central tracks, arriving at the station at 4:05 p.m. Here he was greeted by the Sherman reception committee and a huge crowd. Nine carriages, handsomely decorated, took the President and his party up Mulberry St. to Travis. Then they proceeded down Travis St. to the Courthouse Square, going around the Square to the speakers' platform located at the southeast corner.
The procession from the station was headed by a troop of Rough Riders led by Colonel B. H. Colbert, U.S. Marshal, and the carriages passed between a line of blue-clad Union veterans headed by Dr. C.C. Haskell and a line of gray-clad Confederate veterans headed by Capt. J.H. LeTellier.
As the President passed the Confederate Monument on the Square he reverently doffed his hat and the crowd responded with a great roar of approval. The speakers' stand, the buildings, and the streets were profusely decorated with flags, bunting, streamers, pictures, and slogans, and the crowd was estimated at 30,000 to 40,000.
People had arrived from a radius of 175 miles including the Indian Territory to the north. At least three of the railroads serving Sherman had run special trains for the occasion, and thousands arrived on horseback and in wagons.
Among those gathered to watch the procession were students of Carr-Burdette College, North Texas Female (Kidd-Key) College, Austin College, St. Joseph's Academy, and the Public Schools. The President spoke for fifteen minutes, praising Texas as one of the two or three greatest states in the Union and stressing the evidences he saw of the healing of the wounds of the Civil War.
He concluded with "Good Bye and Good Luck," and was cheered mightily. Before leaving the platform the President was greeted by his former Rough Rider comrades, each of them dashing his mount up to the stand, receiving the President's warm handshake, and wheeling back to place.