Julius Born, Merchant, Photographer

Gerlach Brothers Road Ranch & Store

Julius Caesar Born was born in Tennessee on May 24, 1879. He came to Canadian on March 6, 1897, not quite 18 years of age. He had worked in the mines of Tennessee for 60 cents a day, been buried alive during a mine cave-in and given up for dead. He was unconscious when dug out. Canadian must have seemed like a significant improvement.

In 1900, he was working for the Santa Fe Railroad as a section hand at the old coal chute when track work was slack. He came to Canadian in 1897; after a temporary move to Oklahoma, he returned to Canadian and opened a general store on March 5, 1905, at 215 Main, with exactly 75 cents operating capital. He borrowed $8 to start the business and had 6 bits left after paying the drayman for his load of merchandise. He operated this store for over 50 years and lived in the back.

Julius Born's Variety Store (shown on the right) became a curiosity shop for Canadian residents and visitors to the city. He carried everything from brightly colored feather fly catchers to old fashioned silver clasp purses, kerosene lamp wicks, to syrup pitchers like grandma used to have on the table. He bottled and sold Sarsaparilla to generations of Canadian's youngsters, and his sugar-candy figures were a delight to the children and probably a horror to their mothers.

He also operated a photography business in the same building. Hundreds of glass negatives stored in pasteboard boxes in the back of his store were saved when the building was torn down. Years after his death, these boxes of negatives were developed by Juhree Carr and have greatly contributed to the photographic history of the community. All of his negatives both glass and “soft” have been digitized and can be viewed at the museum or online at the Portal of Texas History.

Julius Caesar Born passed away on July 10, 1962 at the hospital in Canadian, Texas. He had been a patient at Smith's Rest Home in Wellington, Texas for about a year and a half. He was brought to Canadian two weeks before his death and gradually grew weaker. He is remembered as owning and operating one of the first businesses in Canadian, Texas, and being the foremost photographic chronicler of the town’s history.