From the Editors 29 (2011)Engineer and Editor Juan Hart Moved El Paso Forward 29 (2011)Elizabeth Garrett: Songbird of the Southwest 29 (2011)A Passionate Life: Josephine Clardy Fox 29 (2011)Forgotten No More: Korean War POW Tells Story of Survival 29 (2011)Janice Woods Windle Treasures Family History 29 (2011)Andy and Syd Cohen: The Men Behind the Name 29 (2011)Leona Ford Washington Preserved Black History 29(2011)Ingeborg Heuser Brought Professional Ballet to City 29 (2011)Lee and Beulah Moor Left Legacy of Love 29 (2011)
From the Editors 28 (2010)Chasin’ Away the Blues: Texas Sunday Legislation 28 (2010)Simeon Hart Pioneered Local Industry 28 (2010)Felix Martinez: Southwestern Renaissance Man 28 (2010)Teresa Urrea: La Santa de Cabora Inspired Mexican Revolution 28 (2010)Utopia in Mesilla: The Shalam Colony 28 (2010)Stahmann Farms Produce Pecans on Two Hemispheres 28 (2010)Betty Mary Goetting Brought Birth Control to El Paso 28 (2010)Maud Sullivan Made El Paso Public Library a Cultural Center 28 (2010)Lucy Acosta’s Legacy Continues in LULAC 28 (2010)Belen Robles: Voice for the Latino Community 28 (2010)Toltec Club: Of Ghosts and Guests 28 (2010)
Strong Women Building a Strong City -- From the Editors 27(2008)Notable Women of El Paso 27(2009)The Chew Legacy: The Story of Herlinda Wong Chew 27(2009)Desert Nightingale: Louise Dietrich 27(2009)1909-2009: YWCA Celebrates 100 Years in El Paso 27(2009)Mabel Welch: El Paso’s First Female Architect 27(2009)Myrna Deckert Remains Modest About Achievements 27(2009)Suzie Azar Still Reaches for the Sky 27 (2009)The Moocher: Callie Fairley, First Woman Vice Detective in El Paso 27(2009)Alicia R. Chacón Came to Politics Naturally 27 (2009)Rosa Guerrero: Cultural Dynamo 27 (2009)
From the Past to the Present -- From the Editor 26 (2007/08)Yandell Boulevard Named for Prominent El Paso Physician 26 (2007/08)Japanese Immigrants Came Slowly to Borderland 26 (2007/08)World War II Affected Japanese Immigrants 26 (2007/08)Living, Breathing New Mexico Ghost Town: Hillsboro 26 (2007/08)Canutillo Developed from Land Grant 26 (2007/08)Rómulo Escobar Zerman: Juárez Agronomist and Teacher 26 (2007/08)El Paso Mayor: Tom Lea Jr. 26 (2007/08)Ted Karam: Lebanese Immigrant Lived American Dream 26 (2007/08)Publication Credits 26 (2007/08)
From the Director 25 (2006)First El Paso Protestant Church: St. Clement's 25 (2006)Bowie High School: Always a Bear 25 (2006)Golden Gloves Grew Out of El Paso's Love of Boxing 25 (2006)LULAC Fought Hard to Guarantee Rights 25 (2006)El Paso Women Gained Power in LULAC 25 (2006)McKelligon Canyon: From Cattle to Culture 25 (2006)Tortugas Celebrates Virgen de Guadalupe, San Juan 25 (2006)Bataan Death March and POW Camps 25 (2006)Bataan Survivors Recall Horrors 25 (2006)Anthony Family Had Five Sons in World War II 25 (2006)Sober on the Border 25 (2006)Clyde W. Tombaugh: Farm Boy Reached for the Stars 25 (2006)A Taste of Southwest Wine 25 (2006)
From the Director 24 (2005)From the Editors 24 (2005)Gypsie Davenport and May Palmer Ran Infamous Brothels 24 (2005)Pioneer Attorney William Burges Tackled Unpopular Issues 24 (2005)Richard Fenner Burges: Renaissance Man 24 (2005)Charles Kelly Wielded Power with Political 'Ring' 24 (2005)Tom Charles Wanted World to Know White Sands 24 (2005)Dripping Springs has Rich History 24 (2005)Thomas B. White Directed Innovative La Tuna for 19 Years 24 (2005)Cowboys on the Range --- Missile Range, That Is 24 (2005)Ranchers vs. the Feds: The McNew Saga 24 (2005)Mexican Repatriation in 1930s 24 (2005)White House Department Store 24 (2005)Thomason Hospital Celebrates 90 Years 24 (2005)R.E. Thomason Shaped City, State, Nation 24 (2005)
Postcards from the Past Editor's Column 23 (2004)From the Editors 23 (2004)Solomon C. Schutz Helped Bring Law and Order to El Paso 23 (2004)James Gillett Showed Courage in El Paso 23 (2004)Jim White Explored Carlsbad Caverns for Years 23 (2004)Ben Lilly: Mountain Man of the Southwest 23 (2004)Aldo Leopold Proposed Land Ethics 23 (2004)Escontrias Ranch: A Link to Hueco Tanks Park 23 (2004)Hueco Tanks is Site of Controversy 23 (2004)Marcelino Serna Became World War I Hero 23 (2004)Sam Dreben Soldiered All Over the World 23 (2004)Kern Place Neighborhood: The Man Behind the Name 23 (2004)Farah Manufacturing Now Just a Memory 23 (2004)Texas Knights of Columbus Began in El Paso 23 (2004)
Look for Us on the Web - Editor's Column 22 (2003)From the Editors 22 (2003)Victorio Fought to the Death for Homeland 22 (2003)O. T. Bassett and Charles R. Morehead 22 (2003)S. H. Newman: Pioneer Newspaperman Fought Vice 22 (2003)Elfego Baca Lived More Than Nine Lives 22 (2003)Woman's Club Has Long Served City 22 (2003)Cathedral's Beauty Pleases 22 (2003)Albert J. Fountain's Achievements Eclipsed by Mysterious Death 22 (2003)Albert B. Fall's Career Ended in Disgrace 22 (2003)Cloudcroft Baby Sanatorium Saved Many 22 (2003)Dale Resler Worked Hard for El Paso 22 (2003)Price's Dairy Still Family Owned 22 (2003)Woodlawn Bottling Brought Pepsi to Town 22 (2003)Union Depot Witnessed Growth of El Paso 22 (2003)
We're Now on the Web --From the Editor 21(2002)From the Editors 21(2002)Downtown Opium Dens Attracted Many 21(2002)Juneteenth Celebrates Freedom for Texas Slaves 21(2002)Black Cowboys Rode the Trails, Too 21(2002)Ku Klux Klan Had Short Life in El Paso 21(2002)Mining Became Big Business in Southwest 21(2002)Smeltertown Still Exists in Memories 21 (2002)El Paso Played Important Role in the Mexican Revolution 21 (2002)Pancho Villa Led Northern Forces in Revolution 21 (2002)Soldaderas Played Important Roles in Revolution 21 (2002)Pershing, Villa Forever Linked to Columbus 21 (2002)Cristeros Became Mexican Martyrs 1926-1929 -- 21 (2002)Houchen Settlement House Helped New Arrivals 21 (2002)Otis A. Aultman Captured Border History in Pictures 21 (2002)
Hot Springs Have Long HistoryThe Building of a City -- From the Editor 20 (2001)From the Staff (Volume 20)Pat Garrett Enjoyed Controversy 20 (2001)Marshal Dallas Stoudenmire Terrorized Town 20 (2001)History Reveals Rivalry of Madams Etta Clark and Alice Abbott 20 (2001)Kohlberg, Krupp, Zielonka Became Business and Civic Leaders 20 (2001)Olga Kohlberg Pioneered Many Local Organizations 20 (2001)Henry Trost's Architectural Legacy Lives On 20 (2001)Sunset Heights Preserves History 20 (2001)Adolph Schwartz Built Local Retail Dynasty 20 (2001)Zach T. White Brought Progress to El Paso 20 (2001)Masons Became Leaders in Texas, El Paso 20 (2001)Smallpox Epidemic Showed Need for Hospitals20 (2001)El Paso High School Remains Classic 20 (2001)Bhutanese Architecture Distinguishes UTEP Campus 20 (2001)Elephant Butte Dam Solved Early Water Problems 20 (2001)
Pioneer Ranch became Concordia Cemetery 19 (2000)El Paso Grows Up 19 (2000)From the Staff 19 (2000)Chinese Immigrants Helped Build Railroad in El Paso 19 (2000)Volunteer Fire Department Grew into Professional Company 19 (2000)1880s Brought First Theaters to Town 19 (2000)Sisters of Charity Began Hotel Dieu Hospital 19 (2000)Tuberculosis Turned El Paso Into a Health Center 19 (2000)First Public School Built in 1884 19 (2000)Enigmatic Olivas Aoy Began School for Mexican Children 19 (2000)El Paso Public Library Began Modestly 19 (2000)Jesuits Continue to Influence Area 19 (2000)Sisters of Loretto Have Long Tradition in Southwest 19 (2000)Mormons Found Sanctuary in Mexico in 1880s 19 (2000)Mennonite Colonies in Mexico Accept Change Slowly 19 (2000)Flu Epidemic of 1918 Hit El Paso Hard 19 (2000)Early City Planners Saw Future in Scenic Drive 19 (2000)Prohibition Stimulated Economies of El Paso, Juárez 19 (2000)
The Editor's Column : The Building of a City 18 (1999)From the Editors 18 (1999)Magoffinsville Had Lasting Influence on El Paso 18 (1999)Town of El Paso Grew from Pioneer Settlements 18 (1999)Downtown El Paso Is Monument to Anson Mills 18 (1999)1848 War With Mexico Created Southwest 18 (1999)Colonel Doniphan and Volunteers Won Battle of Brazito 18 (1999)Gadsden Purchase Clarified U.S. Boundaries 18 (1999)Early Fort Bliss Occupied Pioneer Sites 18 (1999)Henry O. Flipper Paved Way for Integration of Military 18 (1999)Buffalo Soldiers Defended Western Frontier 18 (1999)El Paso Was Midpoint of Overland Mail Service 18 (1999)Salt War of 1877 Divided Southwest Residents 18 (1999)Geronimo Led Final Fight 18 (1999)Apache Indians Defended Homelands in Southwest 18 (1999)Texas Rangers Helped Keep Order on Frontier 18 (1999)Sarah Bowman and Tillie Howard: Madams of the 1800s 18 (1999)El Paso Grew Up with Arrival of Railroad 18 (1999)
Aztecs Ruled Complex, Rich Society 17 (1998)From the Editor 17 (1998)Aztec Beliefs Helped Conquer Mexico 17 (1998)Cortés Created New Order in Mexico 17 (1998)La Malinche Remains Controversial 17 (1998)Cabeza de Vaca: Travels in Texas 17 (1998)Estebán Furthered Legend of Cíbola 17 (1998)Coronado Searched for Cities of Gold 17 (1998)Oñate Conquered Desert to Explore Southwest 17 (1998)Festival Celebrates Oñate's Historic Arrival 17 (1998)Fray Garcia Left Great Legacy 17 (1998)Franciscans Brought Catholicism to Area 17 (1998)America's First Highway: El Camino Real 17 (1998)Pueblo Revolt Brought Tiguas South 17 (1998)Tigua Indians Survive 300 Years of Ordeals 17 (1998)Area Missions are Part of Living History 17 (1998)San Elizario Presidio Protected Settlers 17 (1998)Ethnic Terms Can Cause Confusion 17 (1998)
Oasis Restaurants Symbolized ‘50s Teen Scene 13 (1995)‘50s Cars Changed American Lifestyle And Image 13 (1995)Chevy Bel Air Charmed 1950 Car Buyers 13 (1995)San Jacinto Plaza Remains Heart Of Downtown El Paso 13 (1995)Smokey Bear: A Legend Is Made 13 (1995)El Paso's Company E Survivors Remember Rapido River Assaults 13 (1995)Company E Survivor Recalls Days As Prisoner Of War 13 (1995)El Paso Red Cross Essential to War Effort 13 (1995)World War II Took its Toll On The Home Front 13 (1995)Civil Air Patrol Protected Border During World War II -- 13 (1995)Quickie Divorces Granted in Juárez 13 (1995)Atomic Bomb Developed In Southwest 13 (1995)Former Crew Members On B-17s Remember Tough Times 13 (1995)Vintage Warplanes Keep Past Alive 13 (1995)The Cavalry Bugler: Essential To Horse and Man 13 (1995)Sun Carnival 1936 Style 13 (1995)H. Arthur Brown: El Paso Symphony Guru Of The ‘30s -- 13 (1995)Swing Music Helped Dispel The Blues Of The ‘30s and ‘40s -- 13 (1995)The General Store: A Hidden Treasure Of The Past 13 (1995)
Change on the Border 15 (1997)From the Editor 15 (1997)Latinos Work To Change Stereotypes In Hollywood 15 (1997)Cesar Chávez: Simple Man, People’s Hero 15 (1997)Shelter For Farm Workers Becomes Reality 15 (1997)Women’s Shelter Helps To Heal The Pain 15 (1997)Home Schools Become Popular Alternative 15 (1997)Renovation May Revive Downtown El Paso 15 (1997)Title IX Changed Women's Sports 15 (1997)Special Olympics Shine In El Paso 15 (1997)La Fe Clinic Serves South El Paso 15 (1997)ASARCO Works To Clean Up Its Act 15 (1997)A Growing Phenomenon: Single Fathers 15 (1997)Stepfamilies Become More Numerous 15 (1997)Teens Rebel Against Authority 15 (1997)Comics Retain Popularity 15 (1997)Tom Moore And Archie Have Timeless Appeal 15 (1997)
Life on the Border: 1950s & 1960s --14 (1996)From The Editors 14 (1996)A Baseball Team By Any Other Name 14 (1996)Drive-In Theaters Appealed to all Ages 14 (1996)El Paso Trolley First to Connect Two Nations 14 (1996)Barbie Doll Revolutionized Toy Industry 14 (1996)Rabies Took Bite of Sun City 14 (1996)Rabies: A Deadly Virus 14 (1996)Border Patrol Used Variety of Methods to Control Immigration 14 (1996)L. A. Nixon Fought Texas Voting Law 14 (1996)Douglass School Served Black Community Well 14 (1996)Thelma White Case Forced College Integration 14 (1996)Steve Crosno: An El Paso Original 14 (1996)Rock 'N' Roll Defined Teen Culture 14 (1996)A Shopping Mall by the People for the People 14 (1996)Chamizal Dispute Settled Peacefully 14 (1996)Turney Mansion Becomes Work of Art 14 (1996)First Hispanic Mayor Elected in 1957 -- 14 (1996)Flower Children Chose Alternative Lifestyle 14 (1996)
Three Decades of History 12 (1994)From the Editors 12 (1994)The Plaza Theater…Here to Stay!? 12 (1994)El Paso Broadcasting: The Stories Behind the Call Letters 12 (1994)Alphabet Agencies: FDR's Brainstorm 12 (1994)Chihuahuita in the 1930s: Tough Times in the Barrio 12 (1994)Hobo Sign Language Targeted El Paso 12 (1994)Self- Sufficiency Key to Farmers' Survival During Depression 12 (1994)Hanna's Story A Holocaust Survivor Remembers 12 (1994)Former Members Recall Life in Hitler Youth 12 (1994)German Prisoners of War Interned at Fort Bliss During World War II -- 12 (1994)German POWs Remembered at Fort Bliss 12 (1994)One German POW's Story 12 (1994)Ration Books and Victory Gardens: Coping with Shortages 12 (1994)Women Changed Wartime Work Patterns 12 (1994)Bracero Program Hurt Domestic Farm Workers 12 (1994)San Pedro Pharmacy Retains Look of the Past 12 (1994)Teenage Fashions of the Nifty Fifties 12 (1994)Rebel Image of Motorcyclists Set in 1950s -- 12 (1994)
Border Customs and Crafts From the Editor 10 (1992)From the Editors 10 (1992)King on the Mountain 10 (1992)Piñatas! 10 (1992)How to Play the Piñata Game 10 (1992)Out of a Cotton Boll Bloom Beautiful Crafts 10 (1992)Cotton Boll Entertains Too 10 (1992)Hands That Create Art and Soul 10 (1992)La Charreada - Mexican Horsemanship 10 (1992)Boots - A Family Tradition 10 (1992)Some Boys Still Grow Up to be Cowboys 10 (1992)Boot Capital of the World 10 (1992)The Magic of Mariachis 10 (1992)Ballet Folklorico - High School Style 10 (1992)New Generation of Mariachis 10 (1992)The Lady is a Bullfighter 10 (1992)The Midwife: Choices for Border Women 10 (1992)Retablos: Echoes of Faith 10 (1992)Tigua Indians: Dancing for St. Anthony 10 (1992)The Aztec and the Miracle 10 (1992)A Hispanic Girl's Coming of Age 10 (1992)Art - Low and Slow 10 (1992)Wedding Traditions on the Border 10 (1992)
Border Food Folkways From the Editor 9 (1991)From the Staff 9 (1991)Tortillas: Border Staff of Life 9 (1991)The Booming Tortilla Industry in Mexico 9 (1991)Where's The Beef? In El Paso! 9 (1991)How Do I Love Thee, Piggy? Let Me Count the Ways! 9 (1991)Tamales By Any Other Name Remain The Same 9 (1991)Rio Grande Thanksgiving 9 (1991)The Tigua Indians: Food for Thought 9 (1991)Corn: The Golden Gift from Our Ancestors 9 (1991)Border Pottery - Function and Beauty 9 (1991)Holy Hot Mole! 9 (1991)Looking Back at the Chile Pepper 9 (1991)Men Behind the Chile Pepper 9 (1991)Hot Peppers : They're Not Just for Eating 9 (1991)Food, Spices Double as Folk Cures 9 (1991)Weeds or Edible Desert Plants? 9 (1991)Cactus: It's Good for You! 9 (1991)Day of the Dead Celebrates Spiritual Tradition 9 (1991)Nutricious, Delicious Beans 9 (1991)Menudo Makes The Big Time 9 (1991)Mediterranean Cuisine: Old Tradition, Fresh Idea 9 (1991)Lenten Foods: From Fasting to Fabulous 9 (1991)Tarahumaras Rely on Nature for Food 9 (1991)Tempting Sweet Breads : Pan de Dulce 9 (1991)
Border Customs and Crafts II From the Editor -- 11 (1993)From the Editors 11 (1993)The Best Little Asaderos in Texas 11 (1993)Glass Work Disappearing on Border 11 (1993)Cockfights Legal in Surrounding Areas 11 (1993)Local Craftsmen Keep Art of Saddlery Alive 11 (1993)James and Joseph Magoffin: El Paso Pioneers 11 (1993)Chile Ristras Brighten Border Homes 11 (1993)Magoffin Home Preserves El Paso's Past 11 (1993)Bavarian Custom Celebrated in El Paso: Oktoberfest 11 (1993)Munich on the Border 11 (1993)Santo Niño de Atocha Called Miracle Worker 11 (1993)Lenten Customs Vary 11 (1993)To Ask is to Receive 11 (1993)Border Maintains Tradition of Posadas 11 (1993)A Visit from Three Kings 11 (1993)Matachines: Soldiers of the Virgin 11 (1993)Dichos Are an Intricate Part of Mexican Culture 11 (1993)Cultural Superstitions Affect Behavior 11 (1993)Que Onda Homeboy! Why Do We Talk Like This? 11 (1993)Traditional Hispanic Children's Games Disappear 11 (1993)
El Paso Women to ResearchEl Paso Women to Research (by name)El Paso Men to ResearchEl Paso Men to Research (by name)
From the Editors 30 (2012)From the Editor, Credits and Contents 30 (2012)Jessie Hawkins and Jenna Welch: Love, Loss and Laughter 30 (2012)Woodrow Wilson Bean: One in a Million 30 (2012)David L. Carrasco Gave Back to Hometown 30 (2012)Cleofas Calleros Made Local History Important 30 (2012)Robert E. McKee: From Rags to Riches to Philanthropy 30 (2012)Kate Moore Brown: A Woman of Many Firsts 30 (2012)Fun in the 1890s: The McGinty Club 30 (2012)
Borderlands Web Issue From the Editor 31(2013/14)Acknowledgements 31(2013/14)Mother Praxedes Carty: Serving God by Serving Others 31(2013/14)Carrie Tingley Hospital and the Couple Behind It 31 (2013/14)Harvey Girls Changed the West 31(2013/14)Jake Erlich: A Big Man in Many Ways 31(2013/14)Vernus Carey: Mr. YMCA 31(2013/14)
Borderlands 32 Tolerance. From the Editors and Acknowledgements 32(2014/15)Henry Kellen Created El Paso Holocaust Museum 32(2014/15)Bicycle Padre Still Working 32(2014/15)El Paso Connections: Ambrose Bierce: writer 32(2014/15)Mysterious Deaths: Bobby Fuller, Rock Icon 32(2014/15)Mysterious Deaths: Tom Ogle, Inventor 32(2014/15)Jake Erlich: A Big Man in Many Ways 32(2014)Harvey Girls Changed the West 32(2014)
Borderlands 33 Service. From the Editors and Acknowledgements 33(2015)Nothing Is Impossible: Major General Heidi V. Brown 33 (2015)Local Latino Soldiers Receive Medal of Honor Decades after Heroism 33 (2015)Vernus Carey: Mr. YMCA 33 (2015)Will the Real Leon Blevins Please stand up? 33 (2015)Carrie Tingley Hospital and the Couple Behind It 33 (2015)Mother Praxedes Carty: Serving God by Serving Others 33 (2015)
Borderlands 34 Inspiration. From the Editors and Acknowledgements 34(2016/17)Building Bridges Instead of Walls: Temple Mount Sinai 34 (2016/17)Ruben Salazar: A Bridge Between Two Societies 34 (2016/17)Luis Jimenez: Art Creates Dialogue 34 (2016/17)Richard "Tuff" Hedeman: The Michael Jordan of Professional Bull Riding 34 (2016/17)Rescue Mission of El Paso Provides Food and Opportunity 34 (2016/17)
35 From the EditorsArea Missions Are Part of Living History (with 2017 update)Downtown El Paso is Monument to Anson Mills (with 2017 update)Chihuahuita in the 1930s: Tough Times in the Barrio (with 2017 update)The Magic of Mariachis (with 2017 update)New Generation of Mariachis (with 2017 update)Looking Back at the Chile PepperMen Behind the Chile Pepper (with 2017 update)Hot Peppers: They're Not Just for EatingEl Paso Trolley First to Connect Two Nations (with 2017 update)Centro De Salud Familiar La Fe Serves El Paso County (with 2017 update)Tuberculosis Turned El Paso into a Health Center (with 2017 update)El Paso's Company E Survivors Remember Rapido River Assault (with 2017 update)Company E Survivor Recalls Days as Prisoner of War (with 2017 update)James and Joseph Magoffin: El Paso Pioneers (with 2017 update)
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Fun in the 1890s: The McGinty Club

Article first published in Vol. 30, 2012.

By Aaron Trujillo

View pdf version

Assay Office

Down went McGinty to the bottom of the sea ... dressed in his best suit of clothes.” These words from “Down Went McGinty,” a song by the Irishman Joseph Flynn, became the basis of the name for one of the most beloved clubs in El Paso during the ’90s. The 1890s, that is.

How did the McGinty Club come about? There wasn’t an official record of its beginning. According to Conrey Bryson in his book Down Went McGinty: El Paso in the Wonderful Nineties, the club got its start at the Independent Assay Office of Dan W. “Reck” Reckhart and Otto F. “Heck” Heckelmann. The assay office was located on the southwest corner of SanFrancisco and Chihuahua Streets, where the El Paso Civic Center now stands.

Image caption: The McGinty Club began at the Assay Office of Dan “Reck” Reckhart (left) and Otto “Heck” Heckelmann (right). (Photo courtesy of the  El Paso Public Library, Aultman Photo Collection, B254)

Reck learned to play some chords, usually in the key of G, on an old Martin guitar owned by Heck. Reck acquired a mandolin which Heck learned to play. Peg Grandover, so named because he had a peg leg, would join Reck and Heck. Peg loved to sing and create comedic songs and felt right at home with a Dutch or Irish dialect. From this point on, music could be heard from outside the Independent Assay Office. C. L. Sonnichsen in his book Pass of the North: Four Centuries on the Rio Grande Volume I 1529-1917 stated that the growing group “began meeting for instrumental music, barbershop singing, gossip and beer at the assay offices.”

The group would regularly go on picnics, taking beer and meat with them. During one of these gatherings, the men planned a hunting trip. Peg, who specialized in painting signs, drove a buckboard with supplies. Bryson related that “displayed over the picnic supplies were signs reading ‘ice water’ and ‘Barbecued Burro Meat.’ More important was a sign which stretched the entire length of the wagon.” This sign was put there to answer any questions of where they were headed. It said “Hunting for McGinty.” What began as a joke became the name of their club.

The only president the club ever had was Dan W. Reckhart. According to historian Leon Metz in an article for the El Paso Times, Dan Reckhart was an extraordinary personality. He was an athlete and had graduated from Columbia University. While at Columbia, he was a member of the crew team. Reckhart was also known for his enormous appetite. For breakfast he consumed a dozen eggs and he could eat a whole turkey for dinner. His weight went from 270 pounds up to 310 during his lifetime. Sonnichsen said that he would buy three seats at the opera. One was for his wife and the other two were for him. He would have the arm removed between the two. Reckhart encompassed the heart and attitude of the McGinty Club and its members.

J. D. Ponder, who was the official scribe for the McGinty Club and editor of the El Paso Times, explained in an article that two years after its beginning, the McGinty Club had in its membership nearly all of the business and professional men in El Paso. Bryson wrote that the El Paso Herald stated in one of a series of articles about the club in 1909 that “everyone who was in El Paso in the latter eighties and early nineties either belonged to the McGinty Club or was dead.”

The McGinty Club was an all men’s club. James J. Watts, a McGinty Club secretary, told Cleofas Calleros in an article for the El Paso Times: “We didn’t allow women to come to our meetings or parties. The fact is we didn’t want them. We were strictly a men’s club, organized for fellowship and to entertain the people in town.”

McGinty Club bandstandThe club with its well-dressed professional gentlemen and their spirit of comedy, music and showmanship, had a constitution. The constitution proved to be an extension of their comedic spirit. For example, El Paso Herald-Post reporter Marshall Hail noted, “Article 399,999, section 999,999, required a single man to swear he would not make love as long as he lived. The applicant for membership was required to answer rapid questions in Spanish, French, German and Chinese.”

Image caption: The McGinty Club Band, complete with cannons, is shown here in a bandshell constructed on an adjoining lot to the Assay Office of Dan Reckhart and Otto Heckelmann. (Photo courtesy of the El Paso Public Library, Aultman Photo Collection, B72a)

Sonnichsen said that the club’s purpose was to “put down liquor.” However, the club did not allow bartenders or saloonkeepers into their ranks, and Bryson noted that on at least one occasion the McGinty band led a parade to a reform rally to rid El Paso of saloons, open gambling and the redlight district.

The McGinty Club was a group like no other. As Calleros explained, “Their group was unique, paying no dues, receiving no salary, threatening no strikes, endorsing no political parties, recognizing no religious or social barriers within itself, and blissfully, wonderfully oblivious to the different nationalities and races of this number.” Marshall Hail wrote that the club “soon became so extensive and its activities so varied that it served the purpose of everything from vaudeville entertainment to a chamber of commerce.”

The parties the club gave were events not to be missed. Sonnichsen related that invitations were sent on cards on which was written “Failure to attend forfeits all future recognition.” No one wanted to miss these occasions. At the end of the parties, guests were treated to fireworks, and sometimes the McGinty cannons were fired. Sources vary as to where the cannons came from. One variation is that Reck had gotten the cannons from Joseph and Samuel Schutz, who had obtained them when Camp Concordia was deserted.

McGinty hunting tripThe club obtained a hill, which the El Paso Times article “Going To Hunt McGinty,” said was a sand dune between Santa Fe and Chihuahua Streets, and Main and Franklin Streets. The area later became the site for the present day Union Depot. It was on this hill that the McGinty Club built its “fort.” On July 4, 1895, the McGintys, at Fort McGinty, loaded the cannon with four pounds of black powder and lit it! The cannon blasted out nearly every window in the San Francisco Street area. As the Times article said, “From that time on the cannon was fired from Fort McGinty, with its muzzle pointed at the sky. It still rattled dishes all over town.”

Image caption: Peg Grandover would place the “Hunting for McGinty” sign on the wagon the club members used on their picnics and hunting trips. (Photo courtesy of the  El Paso Public Library, Aultman Photo Collection, B77)

Bryson points out that the club had a military department and one of their acts was to storm McGinty Hill. Peg Grandover was in charge of the McGinty Light Guards. Richard C. Lightbody, a former Mayor of El Paso, led the McGinty Plug Hat Brigade. Dr. P. S. Jenkins, a physician, led the Stiff Hat Brigade. All of these were involved with the parades that the club led, along with the Flambeau Club, which would light the sky. The parades would usually end up at Mesa Gardens, a popular gathering place of the time. Richard Bussell, a member of the El Paso Historical Society, related in an interview that the building which houses the El Paso Historical Society is located where Mesa Gardens used to be. Bussell also stated that the McGinty cannon became the property of the Eastwood High School Troopers in the 1960s.

McGinty Light Guard

Image caption: The McGinty Light Guards marched in parades and were led by Peg Grandover, shown here on the left using a crutch instead of his peg leg. (Photo courtesy of the  El Paso Public Library, Aultman Photo Collection, A5982)

The McGinty Club loved having a good time and members were masters of the art of parody. One event they parodied labeled the McGintys as “rainmakers,” a title that they wore with pride. Norman Walker, in an article for the El Paso Times, explained that in the early 1890s, Washington, D.C. had sent a group of scientists on a rainmaking expedition. On top of Mount Franklin, the scientists sent up kites and balloons and even went as far as sending a scientist up in a hot air balloon to try to produce rain for the El Paso area. The scientific group finished with no results and wounded egos. J. D. Ponder wrote in the Times that the “government rainmakers” left El Paso for Arizona and Colorado.

Ponder said that the McGinty Club later entertained delegates from the railroad convention being held in El Paso. The delegates were introduced to the “McGinty rainmakers.” Ponder said the rainmakers, D.W. Reckhart, W. M. McCoy, J. J. Longwell, and J. J. Watts, were wearing rubber coats and carried balloons and fireworks. After releasing the balloons and setting off the skyrocket bombs, water began pouring off the roof. When the delegates went to see where the water was coming from, they saw men with hoses pouring water on the roof. The parody of the “government rainmakers” was a hit with the convention.

Heck and Reck’s guitar and mandolin and Peg’s voice were the beginnings of the McGinty Band. At first it might not have been the best music around, but as more men joined the first three and they continued practicing, the band eventually became very good. They had become so good, in fact, that they performed for almost every civic event. In an article for the Times, Leon Metz said, “The club played for funerals, parties and weddings, even serenading the city during the Christmas and New Year periods.” Calleros said, “There were about 200 members composing eight complete musical organizations in McGinty Club” including a concert band, a brass band, a choir, drum and fife corps and orchestra, each with a manager and director.

There were concerts every week in what we know as the San Jacinto Plaza. The band began in earnest according to Bryson when it was organized in December 1891. The band’s first public appearance was in the St. Patrick’s Day parade in 1892. The streets were not in the best of shape at that time. The musicians had a hard time keeping their eyes on their music because of stepping into the many holes in the streets. Bryson says, “Manager Reckhart gave his frank opinion of the music — it was a cross between a catfight and a boiler factory shop.” The band quickly improved from there.

The addition of Professor Carl Pitzer in 1894 helped to make the band even better. He helped them improve and gave them a broader selection of songs. He also helped to recruit some other top performers to the band. Calleros wrote that the “McGinty Club commanded El Paso’s respect and received it.  The musicians were, for the most part,family men, and all were gentlemen of the old school. Whatever the performance or occasion, whatever the season, each man appeared in full, appropriate dress — a threepiece suit.” David Romo in his book Ringside Seat to a Revolution: An Underground Cultural History of El Paso and Juarez, 1893-1923 stated that the McGinty Band later became the core of the El Paso Symphony Orchestra.

McGinty string orchestraPat Worthington, the curator for the El Paso Historical Society, stated in an interview that the McGinty Club was very involved with just about every event in El Paso. It promoted boxing matches, cycling events and, of course, it held many performances at the Mesa Gardens. Every civic event was headlined by the McGintys, anything from entertaining the President of the United States to just promoting a picnic for the town. The El Paso Evening Post stated that “whenever the McGinty club gave entertainment, pages would carry beer into the audience. Fred (“Peg”) Grandover would always entertain by tossing his peg leg into theair.” The McGintys were greatly loved by the town and were expected to perform at every event.

Image caption: Playing in the McGinty String Orchestra were Dan Reckhart, first row, second from right, and Otto Heckelmann, back row, standing far right. (Photo courtesy of the El Paso Public Library, Aultman Photo Collection, A5998)

The end of the McGinty Club was not announced. It had no formal farewell. It didn’t even have one big going away celebration. It just went away with the beginning of the twentieth century. Bryson wrote that “In El Paso, the coming of the twentieth century brought demands from citizens for cleanup, physically and morally. Leading citizens had more serious things to do than to go through the ritual of a McGinty parade, with its marching units, fireworks and cannon.” Bryson added that President Reckhart had a son and a daughter at home and was spending more time there with them.

Peg Grandover seemed to have left the McGinty scene during the late nineties. Richard Bussell said that Heckelmann had moved to Mexico to establish his own assay office. Professor Carl Pitzer moved to Seattle in 1902. Bryson wrote what Reckhart told the El Paso Herald-Post about the band’s last performance. He said, “The last number was the McGinty song, and then when ‘Auld Lang Syne’ was finished, the members tucked their instruments under their arms and took them home as relics of the greatest musical organization El Paso has ever known.”

Camaraderie seemed to be key in the McGinty club. The club that started off with three gentlemen playing music and joking in front of an assay office became El Paso’s biggest pastime. Being a part of the McGinty Club brought camaraderie not only to its members but also to the entire town. At every event the townspeople gathered to see what the McGintys had in store. With their music, comedy, parades and other entertainment,the club became the heart and soul of the town. The McGinty Club reflected the light-hearted spirit of the time and demonstrated a sense of community.


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