Taken with permission from the Wichita County Heritage Society June 2007 Riverside Cemetery Tour book. For more information about the Heritage Society, go to www.wichita-heritage.org.
J.B. Marlow moved to Wichita Falls in 1885 and resided at 3400 Tenth Street. He originally dealt in the transportation of corn and plover birds by railroad car to eastern markets. He worked after that as a cowhand, brick maker, farmer, and later established a real estate business. In 1911 he brought nation-wide publicity to Wichita Falls when he led a group on an unsuccessful attempt to produce rain by exploding a carload of dynamite. In 1918 he was elected mayor and kept his campaign promises to do something about the water situation by digging shallow wells on Ohio Street that relieved the shortage until rain replenished Lake Wichita. As mayor he played a part in the construction of the city’s first electric light system, the water plant, and the construction of the first important residential addition, Floral Heights.
It may have been Marlow who introduced the first automobile and airplane to Wichita Falls. In 1904 he drove a Buick from Apache, Oklahoma for an exhibition. Six years later with Harold Carpenter, an inventor of autos, they brought the first airplane in for an exhibition. During the 1910 flight, the plane crashed in high winds and Marlow helped drag the pilots and a French woman from the flaming wreckage.
He also won the respect of minorities throughout the area. He was personally responsible for the land for the Booker T. Washington School for Negroes. He underwent considerable financial sacrifice by giving up his plans to build a neighborhood on the site. He was a friend to the Indian and on his 75th birthday, he was given the original embossed proclamation that declared “Jim Marlow Day”. He received a respectful letter from the Indians of nine tribes in Southwest Oklahoma on that occasion.
He married the former Miss Sophia Mataska from Bryan, Texas, August 23, 1898. They spent their honeymoon in Cheyenne, Oklahoma making the trip with their wedding presents in a horse-drawn wagon. He was a member of the First Christian Church, the Elks Club and Maskat Temple Shrine. He passed away at the age of 78, one of Wichita Falls’ greatest builders.Tags: Booker T. Washington School, Elks Club, Floral Heights, J.B. Marlow, James Beard Marlow, Maskat Temple Shrine, Wichita Falls Mayor
This post was written by Christine Heidebrecht