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 www.SouthlakeHistory.org 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.
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 www.SouthlakeHistory.org.
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 www.southlakehistory.org.
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.
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 www.SouthlakeParksandRec.com
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 SouthlakeParksandRec.com or call us at 817-748-8019.
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.
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.
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.
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.