Society gatherings in Victorian Texas where the primary entertainment of the day. Every gentleman belonged to one or more clubs. Some were ethnic (like the German Vereins) some political or vocational, and others purely social.
Each club would throw a ball sometime during the year and these events were looked much anticipated, especially by the eligible young men, for no pretty girl would fail to attend.
The most eagerly awaited event of the year in Houston was the Purim Ball, a masquerade held by Congregation Beth Israel. Folks would travel from Dallas, Waco, San Antonio and Austin to be part of the fun.
The Purim Ball of 1873 was to be the grandest ever. People had been talking about it for weeks.
Dr. S. O. Young, a physician and single, was eager to dance with the beautiful young ladies who had traveled from across the state. The costumes would add to their mystery and allure.
In his later years he wrote:
"Soon after I entered the ballroom I met Captain Conradi, who told me that he wanted me to take charge of a young lady who was visiting his family and had arrived that evening from New Braunfels."
"She was not in costume or mask, but he did not think that would bar her from the dancing floor, and it did not. He introduced me to her and I danced with her. She was so graceful and danced so well that half the fellows in the hall wanted to be introduced at once."
The dance card of the Belle of New Braunfels was soon filled, but Dr. Young was sure to reserve the last dance for himself.
"She was so pretty, so natural and altogether such a lovely girl that she captured the hearts of half the young men she met. I knew she had me, good and fast."
At the end of the night the order was given to unmask so that all could find out who they had been dancing with. Of course the young lady that had won so many hearts did not have to be unmasked, as she was not wearing one. So everyone was curious when Captain Conradi took her arm and led her to the stage.
This account of what happen next appeared in the Houston Age the following day:
"But the very greatest imposition and cheat in the masquerade - the truth of which assertion some 20 or 30 young beaux can attest to their great mortification - was Mr. Henry House, Jr., whose lithe figure and undergrown proportions suited the impersonation of a young girl excellently. His flowing hair, flashing jewels, heavenly smiles and telling glances led many an impressionable young man to his undoing."