Spectators from as far away as Dierks, Arkansas, were among the crowd following Texarkana Museums System curator Jamie Simmons as she related stories and anecdotes about the places and events of Texarkana. She especially noted the earlier, wilder history in the 19th century. The town was founded by rail, built its fortune in timber and, due to the slowness in establishing a city government on the Arkansas-side, had a "western" kind of lawlessness to it.
Starting at the P.J. Ahern home, she pointed out the Arkansas-side courthouse, whose top floor jail cells at the time had those in holding heckling those in the street. Later, as the group made their way down the street, actors began appearing, portraying scenes from this earlier period. For example, as Simmons detailed the earlier "blue laws" that strictly regulated city activities on Sunday, David Zwirn and his daughter Elora acted out a scene showing a town constable catching a child playing marbles on the sidewalk. In those days, that was illegal activity.
The throng moved further down Broad Street, where Simmons detailed more of the hustle and bustle of a frontier town, whose population was doubling every year. For a long period, many structures were wooden, thrown up quickly. Much of the businesses downtown, such as on Broad Street, were taverns and "inns" (some in actuality were brothels). At times, the city streets were even scenes of violent, bloody engagements, such as Bowie County Judge and Commissioners Court member John J. King shooting William Allan, editor of the Daily Interstate due to unflattering articles Allan published about the judge. He got off on the charge.
Texarkana is a colorful town with an even more colorful history. The Texarkana Museums System is one of those local outlets that has preserved much of this history.
Texarkana Museums System and the Discovery Place are located downtown at 215 Pine St., Texarkana, Texas. P.J. Ahern Home is located at 403 Laurel St.
The Museum System is planning its Harry Potter Month for August. Visit their Facebook page for further details.