Cowboy Photographer: Erwin E Smith
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Community Life-Bonham | Miscellaneous Scenes
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Beginning in 1894, Bonham became a popular agricultural market for area farmers who traded chickens, eggs, and rabbits in the town square. (Today, Bonham celebrates the longest-running First Monday Trade Days in North Texas.) During the Boer War of 1899–1902, thousands of horses were brought to Bonham where they awaited shipment to New Orleans to board ships bound for South Africa. Subsequently, the First Monday Trade Days (celebrated in Bonham on the Saturday after the first Monday of the month) became well-known as a horse market. Erwin Smith frequently photographed the horse trading in the courthouse square, and some of his photographs illustrated an article on the subject in the June 10, 1911, issue of the Saturday Evening Post.

Also in 1911, Smith documented a celebration known then as the Negro State Fair that occurred in Bonham August 23–27. Smith's photographs include views of floats in the opening-day parade and groups of men preparing to ride in the daily horse races. Newspaper articles in the Bonham News and the Bonham Daily Favorite describe the parade and competitions of brass bands and the Queen's Contest. First prize in the Queen's Contest was a scholarship to any school in the State of Texas. Little is known about these annual state fairs, so Smith's photographs provide a rare glimpse into African-American celebrations in the years of Jim Crow segregation.


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