Friday, August 12, 2022

Monarch Madness is Coming to the Nature Center: Don’t Miss the Fourth Annual Monarch Festival!

The Bob Jones Nature Center and Preserve is all about celebrating the gifts of our natural Cross Timbers ecosystem. Fall is the best time to come to the Nature Center and participate in the incredible monarch migration phenomenon.

The fourth-annual Monarch Butterfly Festival is happening on Saturday, September 17, 2022, and you don’t want to miss it. Join us as we release hundreds of Monarch Butterflies into the wild and interact with them first-hand! This community favorite program helps our butterfly friends as they make their epic annual journey into Mexico. Our Nature Center staff is ready to make this an event to remember!

The Monarch Festival is split into three one-and-a-half-hour sessions. Each session has the same activities, including crafts, monarch-related games, snacks, a butterfly house, and more! Please arrive on time for your registered session (8:30 am, 10:15 am, 12:00 pm). Stick around after your session to enjoy the beautiful miles of hiking trails at the Preserve!

Please note that if you are later than 30 minutes to your check-in time, we cannot guarantee a butterfly will still be waiting for you to release.

Registration is required for all participants ages three and up. All ages are welcome! Children ages two and under are free (registration is not required).

Session 1: 8:30am – 10:00am

Session 2: 10:15am – 11:45am

Session 3: 12:00pm – 1:30pm

We’re so excited to celebrate the magnificent Monarch Butterflies with you and your family!

Texas Historical Commission recognizes the Southlake Historical Society as a leader in preserving the history of Texas

The Texas Historical Commission’s prestigious Award of Excellence in Preserving History has been awarded to the Southlake Historical Society for its exhibit “Bob and Almeady Chisum Jones: A True Story of Resilience, Courage and Success.” The exhibit shines light on Southlake’s past through the accomplishments of former slaves whose lives were part of the heritage of Texas.

“The Bob Jones family has left a lasting legacy for the city that will forever define Southlake,” said Southlake Mayor John Huffman. “We are grateful to the Southlake Historical Society for bringing their incredible story to life through this award-winning exhibit.”

The exhibit was displayed in Southlake Town Hall in summer 2020. It can now be seen at the Bob Jones Nature Center’s visitors center and also online, at

“The Southlake Historical Society is an inspiration to other organizations and communities wrestling with similar histories,” said THC Executive Director Mark Wolfe. “Their commitment and diligence in building this detailed exhibit is worthy of recognition as preservationists and historians work to present Texas’ diverse history.”

Both Bob Jones (1850-1936) and his wife, Almeady Chisum (1857-1949), were born into slavery. Each had a white father and a mother who was enslaved. Bob and Almeady witnessed the Civil War, Juneteenth, frontier lawlessness, trail drives and cattle barons (Almeady was told cattle baron John Chisum was her father), Reconstruction and Jim Crow. The pair built a farm/ranch that was an area economic engine, created strong bonds with their white and Black friends and neighbors, educated their 10 children and enjoyed life.

In 1948, when thousands of acres, including Jones land, was being taken to build Lake Grapevine, sons Jinks and Emory opened a livestock auction barn, the largest business at the time in what would become Southlake. Next to the auction barn, their wives ran a cafe thought by historians to be the first integrated cafe in Texas.

The award was one of 11 presented at the Real Places 2022 conference in Austin Feb. 3-5 that honored accomplishments and exemplary leadership in the preservation of Texas’ heritage. The conference was attended by hundreds of individuals and organizations dedicated to protecting and preserving Texas’ historic places and the stories they tell.

The THC award is one of several earned by the historical society. In October 2021, President Connie Cooley and historian Anita Robeson were honored by the Tarrant County Historical Commission for their 20-plus years of gathering and presenting Southlake history. In September 2021, the society received an Award of Excellence from the American Association for State and Local History (AASLH) for its Bob and Almeady Chisum Jones exhibit. In 2013, the AASLH awarded the society the Albert B. Corey Award, recognizing “the qualities of vigor, scholarship and imagination in their work.”

Southlake Historical Society’s exhibit on Bob and Almeady Chisum Jones wins 2021 AASLH Award of Excellence

The Southlake Historical Society (SHS) was recently named the recipient of an American Association for State and Local History (AASLH) Award of Excellence for “Bob and Almeady Chisum Jones: A True Story of Resilience, Courage, and Success.” The AASLH Leadership in History Awards, now in its 76th year, is the most prestigious recognition for achievement in the preservation and interpretation of state and local history.

The exhibit tells the story of former slaves who established a prosperous ranch, built relationships with white neighbors and townspeople based on friendship and respect, and valued church, education, hard work and family. The Joneses continue to impact Southlake today.

“Our goal was to make history real by connecting it to the namesake of Bob Jones Nature Center, park and road,” said Anita Robeson, SHS historian. “The Joneses’ remarkable story of perseverance and success in an uncertain world is often overlooked, but it is one everyone should know. It is part of the heritage of Texas.” See the exhibit virtually at or in person at the Bob Jones Nature Center and Preserve visitor center when the building is open during programming hours.

“The Bob Jones family has left a lasting legacy for the city that will forever define Southlake,” said Southlake Mayor John Huffman. “We are grateful to the Southlake Historical Society for bringing their incredible story to life through this award-winning exhibit.”

This year, AASLH is proud to confer 38 national awards honoring people, projects, exhibits and publications. The winners represent the best in the field and provide leadership for the future of state and local history.

The Southlake Historical Society was formed in the early 1990s after Gary Fickes, a former Southlake mayor and now a Tarrant County commissioner, put an ad in the Grapevine Sun newspaper asking people interested in Southlake history to meet. The 2021 board members are Connie Cooley, president; Claire Johnson, secretary; Terri McAndrew, treasurer; Rebecca Utley, director of development; and Anita Robeson, historian. In 2013, the society received the AASLH’s Albert B. Corey Award, which recognizes “volunteer historical organizations that best display vigor, scholarship and imagination.”

The American Association for State and Local History is a not-for-profit professional organization of individuals and institutions working to preserve and promote history.

The City would like to extend its appreciation to the Southlake Historical Society for their partnership on this story and the virtual tour video that was created so people could enjoy the exhibit online. The City’s collaboration with the Historical Society goes back to the early 1990s.

Take a Virtual Tour of the Bob & Almeady Chisum Jones Exhibit

You know Bob Jones as the name on a Southlake park, road, and the nature center. But who was he?

Bob Jones (1850-1936) and his wife, Almeady Chisum Jones (1857-1949), were born into slavery. They overcame the challenges of inequality to build a prosperous farm and ranch along the Denton-Tarrant county line. They made sure their ten children received an education and took pride in who they were. Their story is drawn from census and other records and the remembrances of generations of family and friends.

Take a moment and watch this virtual tour of the Southlake Historical Society’s exhibit: Bob and Almeady Chisum Jones, A True Story of Resilience Courage and Success.

To see the exhibit in person, you can visit Southlake Town Hall and the Southlake Library , now through September 4. To learn more about the Jones family and to read the exhibit panels in their entirety, visit

Exhibit Tells the Story of Bob Jones, a Well-Known Name in Southlake

In Southlake, Bob Jones’s name is on a park, nature center and road, but who was he? An exhibit now open through September 4 at Southlake Town Hall, presented by the Southlake Historical Society, will tell the remarkable story of Bob Jones (1850-1936) and his wife, Almeady Chisum Jones (1857-1949). It’s called “Bob and Almeady Chisum Jones: A true story of resilience, courage and success.”

The exhibit will be displayed in the lobby of Town Hall and in the Southlake Public Library during regular business hours. The exhibit is free and open to the public.

Both Bob Jones and Almeady Chisum Jones, had white fathers and mothers who were slaves and grew up on the Texas frontier. Bob’s father brought him to southern Denton County in about 1860. After the war, Bob drove cattle along the Chisholm Trail and later built a prosperous ranch and farm on the Denton-Tarrant County line. In 1858, Almeady and her mother and sister were given to cattle baron John Chisum as collateral for $814 worth of cattle being driven to California. She thought of Chisum as her father.

Bob and Almeady married in 1875 and had 10 children.

“Bob and Almeady were exceptional people, able to make their way through a difficult world. They earned the trust and respect of all who knew them,” said historical society president Connie Cooley. “They valued God, family and education. They took pride in who they were.”

Today, most of the couple’s 1,000-plus acres are under Lake Grapevine, which was built between 1947-1952. In 1948, their two youngest sons, Jinks and Emory, established Grapevine Auction Sales at the southeast corner of Highway 114 and what was then called White’s Chapel Road. Their wives, Lula and Elnora, ran a cafe that is thought by historians to be the first integrated cafe in Texas. For years, the auction barn was the largest business in Southlake.

Bob Jones Road was named in the 1970s. In 1988, the City annexed land up to Lake Grapevine that included former Bob Jones property. Bob Jones Park opened in 1998 and the Nature Center & Preserve opened in 2008. Much of the original Jones homestead that is not under water is part of the nature center.

In gathering information about the Joneses, “We were lucky that amateur historians had interviewed Jones family members over the years,” said Anita Robeson, SHS historian. “This year the Jones family has shared with us memories, pictures, clothing, letters, legal records and other items that give fresh insight into the family’s story.”

“Letters written to Bob by his father, clothing Bob wore at his wedding, a lovely hand-sewn dress worn by one of his daughters, a poll tax receipt and other items will be on display,” she said.

This is the sixth summer exhibit presented by the Southlake Historical Society. Past topics have included old Southlake photos and the stories they tell; private airstrips in Southlake from about 1950-1980; Denton County history through the eyes of a cattle baron, outlaws, lawmen, church ladies and former slaves; How the War “over there” (World War I) impacted now-Southlake and Texas; and the Centennial of Carroll Hill School, the Birthplace of Carroll ISD and the City of Southlake. Each topic is chosen a year in advance.

To read more about the Jones family, see

Southlake Honors Bob Jones

February is Black History Month! Join us at the Bob Jones Nature Center and Preserve on Saturday, February 15 from 11 a.m. – 12 p.m. to honor the legendary Bob Jones. Guest speakers will discuss his legacy and ties to the Southlake community.

Jones was a former slave, husband and father who became a prosperous landowner and rancher in the Roanoke-Southlake area.

He and his brother purchased 60 acres of land now known as Roanoke from their father in the early 1860s. He later relocated to Denton Creek where he started a cattle and farming operation.

Between the late 1860s and early 1870s, Jones was one of the largest landowners in the area, owning over 1,000-2,000 acres on the Tarrant-Denton County line. Some of that land is located under Lake Grapevine.

By 1875, Jones married Almeady Chisum and they had 10 children together.  Due to ‘Jim Crow’ laws, his children could not attend schools with white children.

In the 1920s, Tarrant County created districts for “colored” schools. Jones donated an acre of his own land and built Walnut Grove School.  The school later closed around 1951 because the seven students enrolled eventually had to attend junior and senior high schools, which were located in Fort Worth.

Jones was held in high esteem by both whites and blacks throughout the area. His legacy will always be remembered throughout Southlake and Tarrant County.

The Legacy of Bob Jones event is FREE, but registration is required, please register online here.

Campout in Southlake Parks this Spring

Spring is right around the corner! Before we know it, the sun will be shining, flowers will be blooming, and Southlake will be full of green again. What better way to enjoy the beautiful Texas weather this spring then with a campout for the whole family!

Join us for a campout on Saturday, May 7 – Sunday, May 8 at the Bob Jones Park Day Camp Area (near the BooBoo’s Buddies Dog Park). The cost is $15.00 per campsite (includes 1 camper) and each additional camper is $10.00, up to a total of 5 campers. Children 2 and under are free. Be sure to register early at as Camp Sites fill quickly!

Southlake Parks and Recreation wants to help you and your family re-connect with nature. Campout activities will focus learning about and enjoying the great wide world around us. Cost includes dinner Saturday evening and breakfast Sunday morning. Tent set-up may begin at 4:00 PM Saturday afternoon. Children must pre-register with at least one adult. Campers must provide their own tent, sleeping bags and camping gear.

You can register online or in person at the Parks and Recreation office at 1400 Main St, Suite 210.

For more information, please contact (817) 748-8019 or visit



Weekends at Bob Jones Park active with soccer and softball leagues

With multiple youth athletic associations set to begin their spring seasons, the Southlake Community Services Department wanted to make sure that our residents and park visitors were aware of park usage by these athletic leagues.

The Grapevine-Southlake Soccer Association (GSSA) spring season began on February 20 and will run through May 21. League matches are being held each weekend at Bob Jones Park with the exception of March 12-13 and March 27, when there will be no matches. The Southlake Girls Softball Association (SGSA) begins on Saturday, March 26 and will continue through May 21. League games will also be held at Bob Jones Park.

For more information on these and other updates, visit or call us at 817-748-8019.

Tree-mendous Grant for Carroll ISD Campuses

Bob Jones Nature Center, Southlake

Jack D. Johnson, Old Union and Rockenbaugh Elementary schools will be given trees to plant as part of a nationwide network of Gardens supported by the USDA People’s Garden Initiative. The Bob Jones Nature Center announced Thursday, May 17 that they received a $2,460 grant from a national nonprofit Alliance for Community Trees.

Johnson Elementary School

The selected schools house kindergarten through fourth grade. With this hands-on experience, students will recognize the basic needs for plant growth and environmental factors that affect plant growth.

Rockenbaugh Elementary School

This year, the Alliance for Community Trees launched the “People’s Garden Plant Program” initiative.  The program aims to explore and deepen the connection between trees and urban agriculture. ACTrees has provided funding to 30 communities in 21 states to plant trees in community gardens that produce shade or produce fruit and nuts.

Old Union Elementary School

ACTrees Executive Director Carrie Gallagher says trees are a very important component to healthy people as well as healthy communities.

“We are excited to offer this opportunity to the Bob Jones Nature Center and the three schools to demonstrate locally that trees are in integral part of sustainable community agriculture,” said Gallagher.

Each school will receive trees to plant that add a shade component to their gardens. The planting event is planned for October 2012.