It’s inevitable that some of the institutions we rely on today won’t be used in the future. Consider the manual typewriter or the milkman … or the town crier.
Texas Standard’s Micheal Marks spoke with Maria Pfeiffer, a local historian in San Antonio, who told him the last town crier in the U.S. was Julius Myers, and he held his position until 1928.
“He was born in New York in 1868 to German immigrants, came to Texas and started a family and grocery business in Luling,” Marks says. “But then got into advertising, moved to San Antonio, and became a town crier.
Pfeiffer, a San Antonio native, says Myers was known for riding through town on his horse, Tootsey, up and down the streets, handing out flyers from local businesses and calling out details of the products. Marks says Myers was also known as Megaphone Myers, because of his booming voice.
“He’d give you the news of the day, too,” Marks says. “Announce charitable events, things like that. For about 15 years, he’s a really beloved community figure. But in 1926, things start to change.”
Pfeiffer told Marks that criers had begun to irritate the public. Marks says this resulted in an official ban on town criers in 1926 by the San Antonio City Council. Part of the rationale was that residents disliked how criers slowed traffic. Also, radio allowed for more efficient advertising.
“Because he was such an institution, he did make a brief comeback,” Marks says. “They allowed him to resume his town crying on two conditions: he could only advertise baseball games, and his horse, Tootsey, had to remain in the barn.”
Myers died on Sept. 18, 1929, at 62 years old. As the last town crier in the U.S., his death was national news, and San Antonio philanthropist E.B. Chandler wrote a eulogy comparing his legacy to that of the Alamo.
Written by Brooke Sjoberg.