Samuel Finley Hackney Building
108 South Main Street
By Robert Griffith, Updated March 2009

Lot 4 in block 3, upon which the majority of the S.F. Hackney Building rests, was sold by G.M. Dodge to David Irvin Murphey, an area pioneer, on 23 March 1893. Mr. Murphey, benefactor to the Red Oak Academy on the Mound, sold lot 4 to George Washington Dobson on 1 September 1884. Dobson, a former Rock Creek schoolmaster, moved to Burleson and opened a general merchandise store. G.W. Dobson served as Justice of the Peace and a notary public; eventually, he became city secretary and one of the first city attorneys.

On 29 March 1890, Dobson sold lot 4 to Alonzo Wallar Overton, son of Waller H. Overton, one of the first Fort Worth city aldermen and one of four men who established the Fort Worth Democrat. A.W. farmed and ran a clothing store in the Oak Grove area before moving to Burleson. A.W. Overton and his wife Kittie Warren lived in a house which sat where Burleson City Hall is presently located. Their son Claude went into the dry goods business with G.C. Brister and S.F. Hackney.

Samuel Finley Hackney, who constructed the present-day brick building on lot 4 and part of lot 5, was born in Alabama in 1859. His father perished in the Battle of Salem Church during the Civil War and his mother died in 1874, broken in spirit and body. Hackney headed for Texas on horseback in 1876, settling in Coryell County. He married Laura Jane Wolf, the daughter of his employer, in 1879. In 1884, Hackney moved to a farm in Joshua, but he soon opened a general store in the prosperous little town on the Gulf, Colorado & Santa Fe Railroad.

In 1888, Hackney called on the William Cameron Lumber Company in Waco to help him establish a lumber yard and building concern in Joshua. Unfortunately in 1889, Hackney's uninsured general store burned. Hackney decided to try his luck in Burleson. Although smaller than Joshua at that time, Burleson sat on an important railroad between Fort Worth and Waco. He again enlisted the help of William Cameron and installed his lumber yard on East Front Street (now Commerce), one block east of West Front Street (now Main), mere feet from the Missouri, Kansas & Texas railroad. It is unclear as of this writing where Hackney's first storefront was, or if he operated strictly from the buildings on his lumber yard. A bill of sale from 1895 states Hackney was a "Dealer in Lumber, Shingles, Sash, Doors, Blinds, Moldings, Paints and Oils."

S.F. Hackney Bill of Sale dated June 21, 1895
Mary Ruth Arnold Collection

By 1900 the Hackney Lumber Company had become one of the most prosperous businesses in Burleson. The Missouri, Kansas & Texas Railroad even built a spur to accommodate the railcars of lumber coming and going from Burleson. Hackney lumber went into the construction of many homes in Burleson, including that of G.W. Dobson; Dobson's house still stands at 140 South Dobson Street.

G.W. Dobson House, August 31, 2008
240 South Dobson Street
Photo Copyright Robert Griffith

On 23 August 1897, Samuel Finley Hackney purchased lot 4 and the wooden business house occupying it from A.W. Overton. The firm of Brister, Overton & Hackney operated a general merchandise store. Because Burleson did not have an undertaker at that time, Hackney built and sold coffins.

S.F. Hackney, along with W.P. Lace, F.J. Wood, R. Hornbaker, C.J. Edwards, J.H. Burton, Drs. Dunn & McNairn, G.W. Bransom, J.A. Gildwell, and G.L. Clark lost businesses on Front Street (Main Street) after the disastrous fire of 21 January 1902. Hackney’s lumber yard and home across the railroad tracks were safe, but the flickering embers rising above Burleson’s fledgling skyline must have struck fear and sadness into the Hackneys, who had lost a business to fire in Joshua.

On 7 August 1902, C.J. Edwards sold lot 5, on which his business had burned, to S.F. Hackney. On lot 4, and on a portion of lot 5, Hackney undertook the construction of the present-day two-story brick building. In 1906, Hackney sold the building to M.A. Small and C.B. Hobday. Then on 10 December 1908, lots 4 and 5 were sold to W.P. Lace. Six days later on 16 December, Hackney brought the lots from Lace. The Farmers Union Clearing House leased the building.

Jim Scott and W.P. Lace operated the Scott-Lace Grocery on Ellison Street from around 1910 to 1923, when Lace was again appointed Burleson Postmaster. Scott acquired Lace's interest and brought his oldest son Malcom on board, beginning the Scott & Son Grocery. (Younger son Pete joined the business in 1946.) As historian Michael H. Beard notes, "On July 27, 1931, Kittie Lace released the 2-story brick building sold on August 11, 1931 by R.U. Pierce to J.T. Scott and J.M. Scott. In 1955, the property was transferred to L.W. Scott, and the business operated until 1971. […] Ceiling fans cooled the room as folks wandered up and down the center aisle of can goods. Fresh meat and cheese cut to customer’s satisfaction at the meat counter and fresh eggs and dairy products were available in the ice boxes which lined the walls. Ice cream treats were frequently enjoyed by children accompanying their parents while shopping. A cold soda submerged in the old red Coca-Cola cooler box filled with ice was accessible near the front double screen doors at the end of the wooden plant floor.”

The Burleson News carried an article on December 11, 1958 which stated: "The benevolence committee for the First Baptist has started a community welfare project. Mrs. A.F. Higginbotham is chairman and director and Mrs. Lola White and Mrs. Ben Hill serve with her as a committee. The center has been started over the Scott Grocery Store. Mr. Pete Scott is donating the use of two rooms for use as a sewing room and a storage and fitting room."

Since 1971, the property has housed C&S General Western Store, Western Auto Supply & Mexican Imports, Burleson Fitness Center, an antique store, the Total Image Boutique and Tanning Salon, and presently J.J. Mocha’s. The original tin ceiling has survived intact, now shimmering with a coat of silver. The old walk-in vault, emblazoned “S.F. Hackney 1909” is now a storage room at the rear of the building.

United American Financial, Incorporated, of which local businessman Charles Powell is CEO, currently owns the building. Mr. Powell has applied for a Johnson County Historical Commission marker to commemorate the contributions of S.F. Hackney to Burleson more than a century ago.

Main Street, 1979
Photo Copyright Michelle Griffith

Burleson Fitness Center Circa 1980s
Photo Copyright Michael H. Beard

J.J. Mocha's, August 10, 2008
Photo Copyright Robert Griffith

Bibliography
Beard, Michael H. "S.F. Hackney Building." Comp. Michael H. Beard. Burleson.
Burleson Historical Committee. Burleson - The First One Hundred Years. Dallas: Taylor Publishing, 1981.
"Conflagration at Burleson." Dallas Morning News 21 February 1895.
"Burleson and Her Business Men as appeared in The Burleson Banner." Burleson News 25 October 1945.
“Fires in Texas.” Dallas Morning News 22 January 1902.
"Welfare Center Started for Community Service." Burleson News 11 December 1958.

Links