Tuesday, June 28, 2022

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 www.southlakehistory.org.

“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.”

Celebrate Black History Month at the Bob Jones Nature Center and Preserve

February is Black History Month. It’s a time to recognize and celebrate the achievements of African Americans in local communities and throughout the U.S.

If you are looking for a way to celebrate Black History Month this year, then look no further than the Bob Jones Nature Center and Preserve. The Southlake Historical Society’s Bob & Almeady Chisum Jones: A True Story of Resilience, Courage & Success exhibit is displayed in the nature center lobby. Discover Bob Jones, his family, and their impact on Southlake.

The exhibit does a fabulous job of detailing the life and achievements of the man whose name is on Southlake’s largest park, a road, and the city’s nature center and preserve. Learn more about the Jones family and the legacy they left in Southlake through this exhibit which recently won the American Association for State and Local History’s Award of Excellence.

If you don’t have time to make it to the Nature Center this month, fret not! You can experience this exhibit virtually on the Southlake Historical Society’s website.

We hope to see you at the Nature Center!

The City of Southlake Unveils Bob and Almeady Jones Statue at Bob Jones Park

On Sunday, October 24, the City of Southlake hosted a public art dedication and celebration for Seth Vandable’s “Bob and Almeady Jones” statue at Bob Jones Park.

It was a beautiful Sunday afternoon at the park. Descendants from the Jones family, City Council members, Arts Council members, and Southlake Historical Society members gathered to unveil Southlake’s latest public art piece. Southlake Mayor, John Huffman opened the ceremony, followed by remarks by Arts Council Chairperson Tamara McMillan and Historical Society Historian Anita Robeson. The ceremony concluded with some words from Bob Jones’ grandson, Dr. William Jones.

“Art, in all of its forms, is so vital to a City and a community. Southlake has shown a steadfast commitment to the arts in recent years as we have unveiled public art pieces in the City’s roundabouts, parks, and facilities. Today’s celebration is another example of the City Council’s commitment to ensuring that art tells the story of our past, present, and future,” stated Mayor Huffman.

The Bob and Almeady Jones Statue is a memorial to the monumental role the Jones family played in Southlake’s development.

“Bob was a brilliant horse and cattleman. An excellent businessman, whose word and a handshake was his bind… He eventually acquired and operated over 2,000 acres in what is now Southlake. It’s a wonderful tribute that part of that original property is preserved in the Bob Jones Park and Nature Center. I am the youngest of the last of Bob and Almeady’s 24 grandchildren. No Jones descendant carries on the ranching tradition or lives in the area at present. But new generations of Jones descendants have the opportunity to visit the property and remember our past with pride…. The statue is a marvelous addition to Bob Jones Park, and will serve as a positive pictorial reminder of their legacy to all who visit for years to come,” stated Dr. Williams Jones.

After the ceremony, Jones family members unveiled the new statue together. The interactive art piece depicts Bob and Almeady Jones enjoying a freshly harvested summer meal after a hard day’s work of farming and teaching their 10 children. They are dressed in period attire and are seated on a stone bench and table, welcoming visitors to sit with them and enjoy a community meal together.

When describing the statue, Southlake Arts Council Chair, Tamara McMillan, stated that, “The portraits are welcoming likenesses, while still reflecting a measure of determination required to meet the challenges they face and burdens they carry. The sculpture is designed in the round, highlighting possible fruits and foods they would have harvested in the area, making it interesting from every angle.”

This public art dedication was unlike any other the City has hosted. After the unveiling, guests enjoyed a community meal at the Bob Jones Park Fishing Pavilion. A fiddler played as Jones family members from across the country ate together in celebration of their family’s legacy.

The Bob and Almeady Jones statue is located in Bob Jones Park in front of the playground. Community members can visit and take pictures with the beautiful interactive piece. Thank you to the Southlake Arts Council and Southlake Historical Society for helping make this addition to our Public Art collection a reality.

To learn more about Bob Jones and his family, visit the Bob Jones Exhibit at the Bob Jones Nature Center.

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 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.

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 www.SouthlakeHistory.org.

Ghosts of Southlake Past at Medlin Cemetery

The Southlake Historical Society invites everyone to its sixth annual Ghosts of Southlake Past cemetery tour on Saturday, November 2, in the historical Medlin Cemetery, 1130 Trophy Club Drive, Trophy Club. Tours will begin at 4:30 and 6 p.m. and will last about 40 minutes.

Appearing will be Southlake City Councilman Ronell Smith as Bob Jones, who went from slavery to success, and Trophy Club Mayor Nick Sanders as merchant William Prewitt.  Other local people will tell the spirited stories of Joseph Loving, who at age 52 joined the Confederate army with his son; Mittie Medlin Harris, the young woman who died in childbirth and was the first person buried in the cemetery; Almeady Chisum Jones and Eugie Jones Thomas, women of strength and integrity; and hard-working mom Millie Prewitt. All re-enactors will be dressed in period clothing.

Participants should bring a small flashlight, wear comfortable shoes and dress appropriately for the weather.  The tour will be held rain or shine.

A limited number of tickets will be available the night of the event. Tickets are required and can be purchased at www.southlakehistory.org.

Updated: D-Day Anniversary Exhibit in Southlake Library Spotlights Southlake Resident’s Bravery

In honor of the 75th anniversary of D-Day, June 6, the Southlake Historical Society is telling the story of Southlake’s own Lt. Colonel Charles H. Young in a pop-up exhibit June 3- July 6 in the Southlake Public Library, 1400 Main St.

The Society is inviting relatives and friends of people who participated in D-Day to write the service members’ names and units in a special book included in the exhibit.

On D-Day, more than 140,000 Allied troops crossed the English Channel at Normandy, France, paving the way for the liberation of Europe. Hours before Allied troops stormed Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno and Sword beaches, Young and other Troop Carrier Group pilots flew paratroopers and towed artillery filled gliders to targets behind German lines. Flying 70 feet apart with minimal lights and poor navigation technology, the unarmed planes were easy targets as they descended to 700 feet and slowed to just above stalling speed for their drops. Young’s plane was “The Argonia,” named for his hometown of Argonia, Kansas.

After the war, Young resumed his job as a pilot for American Airlines. In 1953, he and Virginia Young, his wife, bought a 100-acre place that today is part of the Monticello subdivision. In 1956, the pair helped found Southlake by working with a handful of neighbors to incorporate a small part of rural Tarrant County into a town.

In the 1970s, Young was editor of “Grapevine Area History,” the go-to book for anyone interested in local history. In 1995, he published “Into the Valley: The Untold Story of USAAF Troop Carrier in World War II, From North Africa Through Europe” to set the record straight about the under-appreciated Troop Carrier Command. His son, Charles D. Young, was the editor.

Also on display will be authentic WWII helmets, medals and other items owned by history enthusiast and UNT student Paul Porter of Southlake.

Library hours are 10 a.m. – 8 p.m. Monday-Thursday and 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Friday and Saturday, closed Sunday. The exhibit is free. Learn more about the Southlake Historical Society here.

The Southlake Historical Society presents “Wild about Wildflowers”

The Southlake Historical Society presents, “Wild about Wildflowers,” a guided tour though the Blossom Prairie Wildflower area at Bicentennial Park on Sunday, April 14 at 2 p.m.

The Southlake Blossom Prairie Wildflower area was established by the City of Southlake in November 2015 at the society’s first Buffalo Stomp, an event where families and scout groups shook a wildflower mixture onto the ground and stomped in the seeds.

In the late 1800s, the Blossom Prairie Wildflower area was known for being a campsite for settlers heading west by a wagon train along the road we now refer to as FM 1709.  The area that now houses the Southlake water tower was a lookout point referred to as Bunker Hill.

At the April 14 event, visitors can take a journey through history on a guided tour through the log house led by Joyce Connelley, co-owner of the organic garden center, Marshall Grain Nursery.  On the tour, Connelley will discuss the North Texas wildflowers and their importance to native landscaping, pollinator protection and sustainability. Kids will be invited to decorate their own wildflower packets.

This event is also free and open to the public.  Refreshments will be served.  For more information Visit the society’s website at www.SouthlakeHistory.org . For questions, contact Emily Galpin at galpinec@gmail.com or Tamara McMillan at tamaramcmillan@yahoo.com

‘Ghosts of Southlake Past’ will reappear November 3

Ghosts will gather this year Saturday, November 3 at Hood Cemetery in Southlake for the fifth annual “Ghosts of Southlake Past” cemetery tour sponsored by the Southlake Historical Society. Actors will bring to life early settlers, outlaws, Civil War soldiers and more. Putting on holsters and bonnets will be community leaders, a high school theater student, a beloved librarian and local history buffs.

Hood Cemetery is located on Coventry Lane near N. Peytonville Ave. in Southlake. Tours will be at 4:30 p.m. and 6 p.m. Admission is $15 for adults; $10 for ages 3 through 18; and $10 for ages 62 and older.

Tickets can be purchased online at the society’s website, www.SouthlakeHistory.org. The maximum number of attendees for each tour is 75, so you’re encouraged to buy your tickets early and be sure to bring them with you to the cemetery for quick check-in. Participants are encouraged to wear comfortable walking shoes and dress for the weather.

This year, the society will donate ten percent of ticket sales to the newly-organized Hood Cemetery Association, a 501(c) 3. Gather your family and join society members at this annual event — you’ll gain a sense of place and learn more about the history of Southlake.