James Lee Dickey: An Analysis of One African-American's Leadership in Jim Crow Texas

Indirect Charity

After the excitement of all Dr. Dickey's well deserved recognitions, he settled into another form of charity. A search of the Williamson County Clerk's office reveals that the good man dabbled in real estate. Fellow Taylorites testified that Dr. Dickey would purchase properties that had gone into foreclosure. He would then improve them by installing running water and sewage then rent them at a very low rate to the people of southeast Taylor. It was a great improvement over other offers of "rent to own" deals in which the lessee paid ten dollars a month for perpetuity. If they missed a payment, Constable Ned Fail arrived to mete out intimidation and often physical punishment. Ultimately, they would be evicted with no equity. In addition to rental property, Dr. Dickey sold an easement for a huge fee of $1 to the city on the basis that the city would install sewage taps to adjoining houses on the colored side of town. Not all of Dr. D's property was rental houses. According to records, Dr. Dickey owned 200 acres of land along the San Gabriel River and 58 acres of land just south of the railroad track in southwest Taylor where he raised a few livestock and probably had a stock pond where he could escape his responsibilities and go fishing with his son.

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