100 Years Ago – February 16, 1909

Houston, Tex., Feb. 16, 1909: Mayor H. Baldwin Rice announced that there would be no Mardi Gras ball in 1909, and that the police had been instructed to keep “masked women” out of saloons. Explaining the cancellation of the Mardi Gras ball, Mayor Rice said: “One of our police officers lost his life as a direct result of the ball last year, and we will have no more of it.” As for masked women in saloons, he commented: “It is no place for woman, and such conduct can only have a demoralizing effect on the community.”

The death to which Mayor Rice referred was that of Houston police officer J.S. Simpson. Simpson and another police officer, Henry Lee, were on duty all night at the 1908 Mardi Gras ball. When they got off duty in the morning, they went to a saloon. Simpson was shot at the saloon, and Lee was charged with killing him.

Horace Baldwin Rice served as mayor of Houston from 1896-1898, and from 1905-1913. Rice was the newphew of William Marsh Rice (founder of Rice University), and his great-aunt, Charlotte Baldwin Allen, was the first wife of Augustus Allen (one of the founders of Houston). Rice’s grandfather, Horace Baldwin, had also served as mayor of Houston. Mayor H. Baldwin Rice is best remembered as a supporter of the development of the Houston Ship Channel.

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