Saturday, May 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.”