Thursday, August 28, 2014

Chisum, Toney (1885 - 1944) - Automobile Distributor

The building in the b/w newspaper clipping is the old Toney Chisum Automobile Building at 1019 S. Polk Street, just across from the old Bivins home/library. The color photo shows the same building today. Amarillo automobile distributor Toney Chisum had the building specifically designed and built in 1927 to serve as an automobile sales and service center. He moved in with his Hudson and Essex distributorship in December 1927.

Tony Chisum (22 Dec 1885 - 6 Oct 1944) was not born in Amarillo, but he moved here in 1916 to set up a Hudson automobile dealership, which was first located in a small building on Polk Street, just north of 6th Avenue. He then moved to a similar sized building in the 100 block of West 5th Ave., next to the Amarillo National Bank.

By 1920, Mr. Chisum was able to buy the corner at 5th & Tyler and renovated the building there to suit his specific needs. I am not sure which corner of 5th & Tyler he bought, but the only building left standing on a corner there is the 1-story white building in the photo below.

Toney Chisum was a smart businessman because he realized early on that wives had an important say in car buying decisions, so he catered to the needs of the lady of the house by setting up a ladies' sitting room in his dealership, designed to appeal to the tastes of women. One of the b/w photos below shows the lady's sitting room for his dealership in 1922.

Toney went out of his way to promote his automobiles. In October of 1920, Toney Chisum and a Dave Lewis arranged to race the Santa Fe passenger train "California Express" from Amarillo to Belin and Albuquerque, New Mexico, which was 396 miles away. Driving an Essex Touring Car, Toney and Dave beat the California Express to Albuquerque by exactly two hours and twenty-three minutes, even though the route taken by the car was eighteen miles longer and included mountain roads made difficult to negotiate by recent rains. The 10 Oct 1920 clipping posted below, from the Amarillo Daily News, gives more details of the race.

The b/w photo of the Toney Chisum building at 1019 S. Polk comes for a newspaper ad in the 14 Aug 1938 Amarillo Sunday News-Globe. The b/w photo of the ladies' sitting room comes from the 2 September 1922 weekly trade magazine "Automobile Topics," published out of New York.

Link to photos of the former home of Toney Chisum

Clipped from an ad in the 14 Aug 1938 Amarillo Sunday News-Globe

Old Toney Chisum Automobile Building at 1019 S. Polk

Ad clipped from the 14 Aug 1938 Amarillo Sunday News-Globe

Clipped from 10 Oct 1920 Amarillo Daily News

Clipped from the 14 Aug 1938 Amarillo Sunday News-Globe

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