First Hamburger

Ever wonder where the hamburger was invented? Many say it was right here in Athens, Texas. In fact the good folks of Athens have posted a historical marker marking the spot. The marker reads "On this site in the late 1880's, cafe owner Fletcher (old Dave) Davis (1864-1944) innovated and made the first hamburger sandwich. Encouraged by Athens' enthusiasts, he introduced the sandwich at the 1904 St. Louis Worlds Fair. Dave's nephew, Kindree Miller, Sr., Clint Murchison, Jr. and the files of McDonald's Hamburger University helped Frank Tolbert in research for this memorial."

In Frank X. Tolbert's book, The History of the Hamburger, you'll find a compelling case for Athen's Texas claim to fame. It took me years of sweatneck research before I finally determined, at least in mine and in some other Texas historian's estimation, that Fletcher Davis (1864-1941), also known as “Old Dave” of Athens, in Henderson County, Texas, invented the hamburger sandwich.

People who helped me most in my research were Clint Murchison, Jr., of Dallas and Kindree Miller, Sr., a fifth-generation potter in Athens. Fletcher Davis was Mr. Miller's uncle.

A reporter for the New York Tribune wrote from the 1904 St. Louis World's Fair of a new sandwich called a hamburger, “the innovation of a food vendor on the pike.” By “pike” he meant the World's Fair midway.

Clint Murchison, Jr., had sent me a big picture of the 1904 World's Fair midway with “Old Dave's Hamburger Stand” marked apparently by Clint's grandfather, John Murchison, an Athens banker.

About ten years ago, Clint told me that his grandfather said that the as yet unnamed sandwich, the one now called hamburger, was served at an Athens lunch counter in the late 1880s.

Grandfather Murchison had vivid memories of the 1880s sandwich but recalled the name of the innovator only as “Old Dave.”

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Photo of the Marker