Monday, June 14, 2021

Southlake Names Open-Space Park in Honor of a Carroll School Founder’s Family

Honoring a founder of the Carroll school and his family’s exceptional contributions to the community, the City has named the new open-space park in the Metairie subdivision the John R. (J.R.) and Ora Graham Shivers Park.

The Metairie development is set on 29 acres of land located at the southwest corner of the White Chapel Blvd/Dove Road intersection. The 2.75-acre parkland was dedicated to the City, offering a vast open space for park-goers to enjoy. The pet-friendly park will maintain natural vegetation with a granite path through the undergrowth and include amenities such as large stone benches, drinking fountains and pet waste-pickup stations.

J.R. Shivers was one of the first three Carroll School trustees and was instrumental in the building of the 1919 Carroll School.
“The developer proposed the name at the request of the Shivers’ family,” said Chris Tribble, City of Southlake’s director of community services. J.R. Shivers is the grandfather of Rebecca Utley, the previous landowner.

According to data collected by the Southlake Historical Society, J.R. Shivers married Ora Grace Graham in 1902. The couple lived in a log house and farmed 100 acres that straddled White Chapel Boulevard to Shady Oaks, north of Hwy. 114. In 1919, J.R. Shivers helped spearhead the building of the 1919 Carroll School, a three-room brick building on N. Carroll and Highland.

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 www.southlakehistory.org.

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

Southlake Historical Society to Honor Local WWI Heroes with Exhibit and Reception

The Historical Society’s upcoming Town Hall exhibit tells the stories of farmers, cowboys, tradesmen and other small-town Texans who fought in one of the most significant wars in modern history.

During World War I, nearly 200,000 Texans served in the armed forces. “The Yanks Are Coming: How Texans Helped Win the Great War” will take you to the battlefields and into the hearts of the families left behind. The free exhibit can be seen July 7 through August 30 in the Town Hall lobby and the Southlake Library (1400 Main Street). Exhibit hours are as follows:

Monday – Thursday: 10 a.m. – 8 p.m.
Friday and Saturday: 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Sunday: Closed

The public is invited to join the Southlake Historical Society for a free exhibit reception with music and refreshments on Sunday, July 15, from 5 to 6:30 p.m. in the Town Hall lobby.

WWI Texas Soldier

Image courtesy of the Texas Historical Commission

“When the U.S. entered the war in 1917,” said Anita Robeson, historian and archivist of the Southlake Historical Society, “nearly 1 million Texans registered for the draft. More than 5,000 died in battle or of disease. Like all Americans, Texans back home made sacrifices. They bought Liberty Bonds, supported the Red Cross, conserved food and, if a loved one fell, mourned.”

World War I was a windfall for Texas business. The Fort Worth Stockyards became the largest equine market in the world. More than half of the U.S. military’s mobilization and training facilities for the war were in Texas. “Texas became a place on the map,” Robeson said.

Accompanying the exhibit will be authentic WWI items collected by Southlake Carroll grad Paul Porter, who became intrigued with WWI at age 11 after reading a book he found in study hall. On display in the Library will be the uniform and personal belongings of a combat infantryman, gas masks, helmets, hats, assorted medals, a U.S. field radio and “trench art.” Soldiers and prisoners of war frequently recycled shell casings, spent bullets and other refuse to create personal art, jewelry and decorative items such as ornately-carved artillery shells and painted helmets.

“We have partnered with the Southlake Library for several years now during our exhibits,” said Connie Cooley, president of the Southlake Historical Society. “The Library opens their doors to us so we can extend our exhibit area and showcase more memorabilia, books and art.” Visit the Southlake Library’s website to learn more about their programs, events and collaborations.

For more information about the Southlake Historical Society and their upcoming WWI exhibit, visit www.SouthlakeHistory.org.

AASLH’s Corey Award Goes to Southlake Historical Society

The Southlake Historical Society’s new creative, engaging website – www.southlakehistory.org – has earned the SHS the Albert B. Corey Award from the American Association of State and Local History as part of its Leadership in History Awards. The annual awards are the nation’s most prestigious recognition for achievement in the preservation and interpretation of state and local history.

The Corey Award recognizes primarily volunteer historical organizations that best display the qualities of vigor, scholarship and imagination in their work.  The website was written by SHS president Anita Robeson and first vice president Connie Cooley.  The web designer was Sullivan Perkins of Dallas.

The award will be presented Sept. 20 during the AASLH’s 2013 conference, “Turning Points: Ordinary People, Extraordinary Change,” in Birmingham, Ala.  The awards banquet is partly sponsored by The History Channel.

The SHS and its website originally were nominated for an Award of Merit, but the awards committee instead gave the group the important Corey Award.  The committee found the site to be sophisticated, well-arranged, user-friendly and visually attractive, said Bratten Thomason, director of the History Programs Division of the Texas Historical Commission.

The committee also liked the SHS’s use of the slogan “Preserve the Tradition” – a takeoff on the Dragon football team’s “Protect the Tradition” – as something that would resonate with the community.

In his evaluation of the website, University of North Texas professor Andrew Torget, who has spent 10 years building and creating sites focused on digital scholarship and digital history, wrote “the Southlake site is easily the finest I have seen from a local historical society. It is immersive and engaging, mixing visual and textual in a way that draws the user in … .”

For example, “when users arrive, they are immediately oriented to the region’s history through an animated timeline, which offers images from various eras in Southlake history and short, intriguing textual sketches of life in Southlake during those points in the past.  It is a terrific orientation device, allowing users to dive directly into whatever part of the past they find most interesting.”

He added, “One of the greatest challenges in building historically oriented websites is finding a way to orient users in terms of both time and space (the two primary mediums of history), and here the Southlake site succeeds admirably.”

Dawn Youngblood, Tarrant County archivist, wrote in her evaluation that “the website is well-researched and written by persons clearly deeply familiar with local history on a truly meaningful level. The presentation… offers a broad view of local history as well as how local history dovetails with larger historical events ….”

In noting that the population of Southlake has increased five-fold in the last 25 years, she wrote “…it is nothing short of astounding that Southlake had been able to hold on to something of its pioneer and rural roots, maintaining a strong historical foundation upon which the community can build a true sense of identity.”

An important feature of the website is Tell Us Your Story, where current and former residents are invited to tell their personal stories about life in Southlake.  “Whether you’ve lived here 90 years or a year, we hope you will write something,” Robeson says.  “Tell about your family, a special event, school days, every-day life, your business, whatever. These stories will create an important archive of local information.”  Stories can be submitted through the Tell Us Your Story tab.

Tweaks and improvements to the site are being made by the SHS on an ongoing basis.  Comments and suggestions can be emailed to boardmember@southlakehistory.com.