Izora Mabel (Lewis) Adkins was born near the turn of the century in Hunt County, Texas.
As a Dallas Resident, you know the inclement weather has passed the City of Dallas once the Tornado Warning is moved to Hunt County. It lies to the North and East just past Rockwall County, which is adjacent to Dallas County. It’s one of those names that sticks in local residents minds after hearing of it your entire life. The County Seat of Hunt County is Greenville.
Mabel, was the daughter of Edward Thomas Lewis and Emma Willis (White) Lewis. She first appears in the 1900 Census of Hunt County, Texas (June 13, 1900), in the household of her parents as ‘Izora Mabel.’ The 1900 Census gives her age as 2 years and indicates her birth took place in May of 1898. The 1910 Census of
Clay County, Texas, gives her age as 12 years and her name as ‘Izora.’ The 1930 Census of Maricopa County, Arizona gives her name as ‘Mabel I.M. Adkins,’ aged 31 on her last birthday. (Since the 1930 Census was taken on April 9, 1930, she would not have been 32 until the following month). Mabel Adkins’ death certificate state her DOB as May 13, 1900; but, due to the consistency of the census records, it is believed that the year of 1900 is in error.
Mabel’s mother died in December of 1900 and her father remarried to Mrs. Theodosia Walker. The combined family had relocated by 1910 to Clay County, Texas, which is one of those County names that strikes fear into locals as it usually means the inclement weather is approaching Dallas. It lies just to the east of Wichita Falls along the Texas-Oklahoma border.
Mabel was a buyer for a clothing store when she met Roscoe Adkins, who was an advertising salesman, doing business with the store. One family story is that the store was owned by the Lewis family. Mabel’s family objected to her association with Roscoe Adkins and threatened to disown her if she continued her relationship with him. There is no evidence of any contact with her birth family after she left with Roscoe. Years after her death, members of the Lewis family still believed her to be alive.
Earl R. W. and Mabel I.M. Adkins were listed in the 1930 census of Phoenix, Maricopa County, Arizona, with their son Billy Earl. According to the census, they had been married about 2 years. In January of 1931, they were in Harlingen, Cameron County, Texas, where their daughter, Mabel Christine, was born. Patricia (Patsy/Patty) Lorraine was born in Hot Springs, Arkansas, in March of 1933 and Louis Delano ‘Dale’ Adkins was born in Fort Worth, Tarrant County, Texas, in November of 1934. Roscoe’s job as an advertising salesman kept the family moving.
Mabel died of hepatitis on November 2, 1935, in St. Paul’s Hospital in Dallas, Texas, leaving her husband and four small children. She was buried the next day in the Dallas City Cemetery, Dallas County, Texas, which is commonly referred to as the Dallas Pauper’s Cemetery. It was just recently put into use at the height of the Great Depression to handle the masses of people who died with no means to support their own burial.
Although her husband was present at the time of death to provide details of her life for the death certificate, the estrangement of the family is demonstrated by him not knowing her correct date of birth. There was less than 2 weeks between the onset of the Hepatitis and her death, so there was little time to prepare for this sad eventuality.
Hepatitis is inflammation of the liver tissue. Some people have no symptoms whereas others develop yellow discoloration of the skin and whites of the eyes, poor appetite, vomiting, tiredness, abdominal pain, or diarrhea. Hepatitis may be temporary (acute) or long term (chronic) depending on whether it lasts for less than or more than six months. Acute hepatitis can sometimes resolve on its own, progress to chronic hepatitis, or rarely result in acute liver failure. Over time the chronic form may progress to scarring of the liver, liver failure, or liver cancer. The most common cause worldwide is viruses. (Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hepatitis)
At the time of her death, Mabel & Roscoe lived at 2006 North St. Paul Avenue. There is no house at that address anymore. So, with the help of the Archivists at the Dallas Public Library, I went back and looked at some fire maps that had been created at the time by a company named Sanborn. These maps were used by insurance companies when selling Fire Insurance. They are an early form of a Mapsco and use a similar grid system to provide highly detailed maps of large cities. Here on Map 216 we find Roscoe & Mabel’s house. I’ve marked it with a Red Arrow to help you find it.
From the map we can see that they lived in a Single Family Dwelling. It was 2 stories and had a large front porch and a small rear porch. There appears to be some form of bay window on the south side of the building. There was a much smaller secondary residence on the back side of the main house that is marked as 2006 1/2, and some other outbuilding along the back of the property. The area is punctuated with
multi-family units and the only business that is called out by name is Remington Rand, which was a well known Typewriter Company. You can also see that McKinney Avenue is just steps away, which hosted the Texas Interurban Railway. The tracks are still in use today by the McKinney Avenue Trolley.
The Interurban failed just prior to Mabel’s death, but the tracks are still in use today. The McKinney Avenue Transit Authority was created to rejuvenate McKinney Avenue and has purchased a number of historic trolley cars and runs a free air conditioned ride for this popular street’s restaurants and nightlife.
The area has been in a constant state of evolution since her death and only a few landmarks still survive. That is because in 1958 The City of Dallas decided to acquire the land to build a freeway that would complete the loop around Downtown Dallas and connect Interstate 35-E to Central Expressway along the north side of downtown. They acquired and cleared much of the land by 1966 when this photo was taken. You can see the corridor starting to take shape. The freeway along the top of the picture is Central Expressway and the one at the bottom is 35-E. The diagonal street that comes in near the lower end of the corridor is McKinney Avenue where the trains ran. There are several blocks of buildings and a train station near the lower end (West) of the corridor which have yet to be cleared at the time of this picture. You can also see the unfinished Fairmont Hotel at 1717 N. Akard street. It was originally intended to become a senior living high rise and construction began in 1961. But progress stalled and the builder was unable to complete it. So, it sat this way until 1968 when it was purchased and completed as the Fairmont Hotel. I worked there in the late 80s for a short time. The hotel made it possible to find my location in this picture. Akard is on the far side of the hotel in this picture. To find Mabel’s place, You go 3 blocks to the left (North) and the next street up (East) is St. Paul. I’ve placed a red arrow on the location. You can see a spec of something at the proper location, but you can’t really make out what it is.
Problems continued to mount for the corridor which delayed construction for 25 years after it first started it was finally completed and opened to the public in 1983. It was submerged to allow bridges to pass over the freeway at their original grade. The freeway remained this way for almost 30 years when a new plan was devised to reconnect Downtown to Uptown by building a Deck over the freeway and placing a park on top of it. I have to admit I was a skeptic when I first learned of the project. Dallas summers are extremely hot and I just pictured a bunch of dead grass that had no chance of survival. The final product relieved all my fears and today it is one of the most beautiful places in the city. It is Dallas’ own little Central Park. In the picture of the park below you can just see McKinney Avenue peeking out from behind the building with the Greenspace on its roof, still cutting its diagonal path to the freeway. St. Paul is the street to the far left of the picture, the Dallas Museum of Art faces the Park along with the Nasher Sculpture Center. Just outside of the shot to the right is the entire Arts District which has been completely rebuilt over the last 20 years.
According to Roscoe’s youngest sister, Nora Adkins Anderson, Mabel was a very intelligent, educated woman and a ‘devout Methodist’ who loved her four children very much.”
As if this wasn’t enough, the freeway has been recently extended across the Trinity River with an amazing suspension bridge that is known as the Margaret Hunt Hill Memorial Bridge. The bridge is immediately recognizable as the work of Santiago Calatrava. The Deck park is off to the right of this picture.
I have digressed quite a way, but just like Mabel’s life of moving from place to place to follow the love of her life, the evolution of Mabel’s house has been anything but stable. From now one whenever I drive past the Park, I’ll think of Mable and envision the little 2 story wood frame house with a big porch sitting there amongst the regal splendor of the park.
For this story I have drawn upon a biography written by one of her descendants and pictures they placed on her Find-A-Grave Memorial page located here.