Waco History: The Bawdy House Register

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Edmond Bear
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At one time, Waco was only the second city in the US to allow legalized prostitution. In 1889, Waco was known for higher education and religious institutions. However, efforts to suppress prostitution did not seem to work.

So, the city defined an area between Washington and Jefferson Avenues and Third Street and the Brazos River (an area referred to as The Reservation or Two-Street), as an area where legalized prostitution could take place.

Prostitutes were required to sign The Bawdy House Register and pay a licensing fee every three months. Madams were charged for each room they "rented."

Even though prostitutes were legal, they were not treated well by the local population. When groceries were needed, they traveled in enclosed carriages and were met by shop owners on the street with their products. I guess this was the original curbside service. Children of women in the Bawdy House Register were not allowed to attend public schools. When a local do-gooder established a rescue society to aid prostitutes, he was kicked out of his church.

The city eliminated legalized prostitution around 1917 when the opportunity to gain a nearby military base in support of The Great War was offered.
Bexar Pitts
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Edmond Bear said:


At one time, Waco was only the second city in the US to allow legalized prostitution. In 1889, Waco was known for higher education and religious institutions. However, efforts to suppress prostitution did not seem to work.

So, the city defined an area between Washington and Jefferson Avenues and Third Street and the Brazos River (an area referred to as The Reservation or Two-Street), as an area where legalized prostitution could take place.

Prostitutes were required to sign The Bawdy House Register and pay a licensing fee every three months. Madams were charged for each room they "rented."

Even though prostitutes were legal, they were not treated well by the local population. When groceries were needed, they traveled in enclosed carriages and were met by shop owners on the street with their products. I guess this was the original curbside service. Children of women in the Bawdy House Register were not allowed to attend public schools. When a local do-gooder established a rescue society to aid prostitutes, he was kicked out of his church.

The city eliminated legalized prostitution around 1917 when the opportunity to gain a nearby military base in support of The Great War was offered.

a little embellishment on this interesting topic.. http://wacohistoryproject.org/Places/reservation.htm
BaylorGuy314
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I've heard of this but never seen the street boundaries listed. Seeing them now, that's literally two city blocks - basically where the Courtyard by Marriott is in downtown Waco and then the lot immediately behind it.
ABC BEAR
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Any idea if the ladies were allowed to be buried in Waco cemetery's or were they banished to unmarked graves?
Robert Wilson
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Thanks for posting

from the article said:

Balderach's research finds Adams got her start as a girl working in Nolan's nine-room brothel in 1890. She ran her own three-room operation a year later and was up to a seven-room establishment by 1893. By 1910, Adams was wealthy enough to commission a house from the Waco architectural firm Scott & Pearson the company that designed First Baptist Church of Waco and what's now the Dr Pepper Museum.

Adams ' 1910 house at 408 N. Second St. must have set tongues wagging with its indoor plumbing, electrical fixtures, two sitting parlors, a dance hall, a bar and fireplace , a bell system wired to every room, and red velvet chairs in the waiting room. Her portrait, painted by a New York artist for $500, hung over the fireplace mantel.

Though wealthy during her tenure as a Reservation madam, Adams was snubbed socially and died a pauper in 1940. Her last house, located at Second Street and Jefferson Avenue , burned to the ground in 1964 though it had been vacant for some time.

Fascinating and sad. Microcosm of the whole thing.

Wouldn't you love to have seen that place? Too bad it wasn't somehow preserved, even if just in pictures.
sipembeers
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ABC BEAR said:

Any idea if the ladies were allowed to be buried in Waco cemetery's or were they banished to unmarked graves?
I believe the most well known madam, Mollie Adams, is buried in a plot in the historic graveyard off lasalle. Wealthy businessmen bought the plot upon her death. To this day the plots to each side of her are vacant and unsold.
CorsicanaBear
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Not at all a complaint, its always interesting to revisit this information, but somebody seems to discover The Reservation, the Crash at Crush and a few other sensational chapters in Waco history for the first time every couple of years and post here or on the dearly departed BF site.

I certainly had my turn.

Illigitimus non carborundum
Bexar Pitts
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Robert Wilson said:

Thanks for posting

from the article said:

Balderach's research finds Adams got her start as a girl working in Nolan's nine-room brothel in 1890. She ran her own three-room operation a year later and was up to a seven-room establishment by 1893. By 1910, Adams was wealthy enough to commission a house from the Waco architectural firm Scott & Pearson the company that designed First Baptist Church of Waco and what's now the Dr Pepper Museum.

Adams ' 1910 house at 408 N. Second St. must have set tongues wagging with its indoor plumbing, electrical fixtures, two sitting parlors, a dance hall, a bar and fireplace , a bell system wired to every room, and red velvet chairs in the waiting room. Her portrait, painted by a New York artist for $500, hung over the fireplace mantel.

Though wealthy during her tenure as a Reservation madam, Adams was snubbed socially and died a pauper in 1940. Her last house, located at Second Street and Jefferson Avenue , burned to the ground in 1964 though it had been vacant for some time.

Fascinating and sad. Microcosm of the whole thing.

Wouldn't you love to have seen that place? Too bad it wasn't somehow preserved, even if just in pictures.
I wonder if Gildersleeve ever snapped a photo of the houses on the Reservation? He photographed just about everything else. You've stirred my curiosity, so I'll try and check that out.
CorsicanaBear
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Illigitimus non carborundum
ABC BEAR
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sipembeers said:

ABC BEAR said:

Any idea if the ladies were allowed to be buried in Waco cemetery's or were they banished to unmarked graves?
I believe the most well known madam, Mollie Adams, is buried in a plot in the historic graveyard off lasalle. Wealthy businessmen bought the plot upon her death. To this day the plots to each side of her are vacant and unsold.
Thanks for the reply. Waco history fascinates me to no end.
Bexar Pitts
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ABC BEAR said:

sipembeers said:

ABC BEAR said:

Any idea if the ladies were allowed to be buried in Waco cemetery's or were they banished to unmarked graves?
I believe the most well known madam, Mollie Adams, is buried in a plot in the historic graveyard off lasalle. Wealthy businessmen bought the plot upon her death. To this day the plots to each side of her are vacant and unsold.
Thanks for the reply. Waco history fascinates me to no end.
Me too, and I've been here over 70 years..Learning something all the time! ( or trying anyway!) This ongoing movement at Baylor to "right the ship" on slave ownership by the Founders is intriguing. You should read some of W.C. Brann's "Iconoclast" , where he writes scathing articles on Baylor's Baptist roots and Rufus Burleson's private life in particular..Brann reprtedly had over 100,000 subscribers to his publication, and he truly stirred up quite the "ruckus" locally. I won't bore you with details, but online stories of Brann are quite interesting and make for good reads if you have the time.
ABC BEAR
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W.C. Brann - Shot in the back by a disgruntled real estate agent (and Baylor supporter) on April Fools Day after implicating the school in a campus sex scandal....it seems he was outraged at their handling of the whole affair.

Dear old BU seems to suffer a chronic issue of tripping over itself or, "What goes around, comes around."
Bexar Pitts
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ABC BEAR said:

W.C. Brann - Shot in the back by a disgruntled real estate agent (and Baylor supporter) on April Fools Day after implicating the school in a campus sex scandal....it seems he was outraged at their handling of the whole affair.

Dear old BU seems to suffer a chronic issue of tripping over itself or, "What goes around, comes around."
Brann was a highly controversial figure. I believe the man who shot him died as Brann turned and fired. Brann reportedly walked to the Courthouse after being shot, then went home and died later that night. He's buried in Oakwood Cemetery, and his grave marker bears the scars of gunshots.
sipembeers
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ABC BEAR said:

sipembeers said:

ABC BEAR said:

Any idea if the ladies were allowed to be buried in Waco cemetery's or were they banished to unmarked graves?
I believe the most well known madam, Mollie Adams, is buried in a plot in the historic graveyard off lasalle. Wealthy businessmen bought the plot upon her death. To this day the plots to each side of her are vacant and unsold.
Thanks for the reply. Waco history fascinates me to no end.


I went through leadership Waco a few years back and we did a "history day". If you are in Waco and have time to explore the history, download the "Waco history" app. Cool app that gives your points of interest, historical facts and photos.

When prostitution became illegal, the reservation turned into "calle dos" which is where almost all of the Mexican immigrants moved to when arriving in Waco.
Biscuits_and_Gravy
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I highly recommend the Waco History Podcast. There are episodes on The Reservation and Brann and so many other things.
Ivy_Twin
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When I was in my early twenties(probably still at Baylor), I knew an eccentric old lady who actually owned a huge, mirrored, ORNATE, carved wooden bar that Molly Adams had in her brothel. She said she would sell it someday. That lady is long gone after living out the rest of her years in Saint Catherines and the bar, lost to history. I saw her up there some years later and she didn't recognize me with her dementia.


What I would not give to have that bar, now.
Robert Wilson
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Ivy_Twin said:

When I was in my early twenties(probably still at Baylor), I knew an eccentric old lady who actually owned a huge, mirrored, ORNATE, carved wooden bar that Molly Adams had in her brothel. She said she would sell it someday. That lady is long gone after living out the rest of her years in Saint Catherines and the bar, lost to history. I saw her up there some years later and she didn't recognize me with her dementia.


What I would not give to have that bar, now.
Oh, man. I would love to know where that bar went.
sipembeers
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ABC BEAR said:

Any idea if the ladies were allowed to be buried in Waco cemetery's or were they banished to unmarked graves?

Molly adams is buried at oak wood. When she passed away, local businessmen purchased a plot for her. To this day the plots next to her are vacant and can't be sold.
SSadler
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sipem,

The Oakwood Cemetery office seems closed more than it's open. Very difficult to do genealogical research on tombstones and find old grave locations from the online "Find a Grave" site.

Do you know what part of Oakwood the Adams grave is in?
sipembeers
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SSadler said:

sipem,

The Oakwood Cemetery office seems closed more than it's open. Very difficult to do genealogical research on tombstones and find old grave locations from the online "Find a Grave" site.


Do you know what part of Oakwood the Adams grave is in?


This is where I remember it being. It is at a corner location on the roads inside oak wood.

I tried to find it to show my wife last time we were out there and could find it.
whitetrash
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sipembeers said:

SSadler said:

sipem,

The Oakwood Cemetery office seems closed more than it's open. Very difficult to do genealogical research on tombstones and find old grave locations from the online "Find a Grave" site.


Do you know what part of Oakwood the Adams grave is in?


This is where I remember it being. It is at a corner location on the roads inside oak wood.

I tried to find it to show my wife last time we were out there and could find it.

Needless to say, Molly is not mentioned in the booklet of famous gravesites produced by Oakwood (at least the 2012 edition). My grandparents are buried on that side of the cemetery, just opposite what shows there to be the only undeveloped tract on 3rd st (and currently under construction). I'll try to look around that area next time I am down there.
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