In The Weeds, 2.20.18: Denton Women’s Interracial Fellowship

In 1964, a group of African-American and White women formed a group to meet regularly to get to know and learn from each other. This was the Civil Rights Era and that Act had been passed in the Summer of ’64 after many years of struggle. One of the main reasons for forming this group was to open dialog to see if problems and concerns could be addressed bi-racially and hopefully help smooth the transition from a Jim Crow segregated society to a more integrated one.

Among the projects undertaken by the group were: tutoring for children, voter registration drives, assistance with finding jobs, and, in particular and what we will focus on here, is the 1968 Street Survey of Southeast Denton. Fifty years ago, very few of the streets in that area were paved. Historically, Southeast Denton, also known as Solomon’s Hill, was the location of the Black population after the relocation of the Quakertown community in the early 1920s. In an effort to rectify this situation, the Interracial Fellowship pushed for and conducted a survey of property owners as part of the Mayor’s Committee for Development of Southeast Denton. It is a fascinating document with hand-drawn charts, a copy of the petition, interviews with the Mayor, City Manager, City Planner, and is a snapshot in time:

Street Survey of southeast denton

The alumnae of the Fellowship were profiled in the February 16, 1994 issue of the Denton Record-Chronicle:

Interracial2.16.94

Interracial2.16.94.2

A series of oral histories from members of the group were conducted by the UNT Oral History Project and the Special Collections Department at the Emily Fowler Library has the transcripts, as well. This oral history project was featured in the  Oral History Review, Vol. 19 No. 1/2 (Spring-Autumn, 1991), pp. 31-53  with an article authored by one of the interviewers, Richard W. Byrd. It offers some additional context both locally and in Texas politics at the time.

We encourage anyone who is interested in this group and Denton history to read the oral history transcripts, as the speakers are far more eloquent about their experiences than we are interpreting it.

Please direct questions and comments to chuck.voellinger@cityofdenton.com

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In The Weeds, 5.9.17: Victoria Ebbels

In the early 1920’s, a young New York-trained artist moved to Denton to teach at the College of Industrial Arts, now known as TWU, and apparently became an assistant professor in Fine Arts. There is a bit of a mystery here, something in which we like to delve here at “In The Weeds”. Nowhere is she mentioned in the Daedalian yearbooks from 1921-1923. She is however listed as a faculty member from those school years in the College Bulletin, Historical Sketch of TSCW, The First Thirty Three Years 1903-1936 by E.V. White, Dean of the College. Why wasn’t she listed as an Assistant Professor in two editions of the yearbook?

Searching the 1923 Denton City Directory, she is found living at 1213 Carrier Street, which real Denton History geeks will recognize as the former name of the current Austin Street. Here is a photo of the house that occupies that address but we are not sure of its date of construction:

Ebbels 095

Interestingly, in the 1921 Sanborn Fire Insurance Map for Denton, the lot for that address appears to be empty: dentonjune1921sheet15. Was the house pictured above brand new when she lived there?

Here is the page from the City Directory with another mystery:

EbbelsDirectory002

Who is “Grace Ebbels” also living at this address? According to the 1920 census, she was Victoria’s mother.

Ms. Ebbels went on to have a fairly high profile career in art under the professional name of “Victoria Hutson Huntley” with her work in the collections of the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, Metropolitan Museum in New York, The Chicago Art Institute, etc.  The Smithsonian American Art Museum website has some examples of her work. She went on to have a long career and passed in 1971.

Written by Chuck Voellinger. Questions and comments can be directed to chuck.voellinger@cityofdenton.com.

 

 

 

In The Weeds, 11.9. 16: Swing, Ken Lasater, Swing!

From the 1930’s to the early ’60s, Honky Tonk music in Texas, to a large degree, resembled Western Swing in its harmonies, rhythm and instrumentation. A man and an instrument collided in the mid-’30s to create a sound that would influence Country and Western Music for decades to come. The man was Bob Dunn and the instrument was an early prototype of the “steel guitar”. That is to say, he wanted to incorporate an electrified Hawaiian guitar into the Western music he was playing. Leon McAuliffe of  Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys made this concept famous with the “Steel Guitar Rag” in 1936. Suddenly, there were hundreds of innovators and imitators of this style and one of the folks who came along in the aftermath of that musical Big Bang was Ken Lasater.

Bob Dunn was making his name with Milton Brown and His Musical Brownies in the 1930s when Ken first heard him.

First page tease from biography in “Lake Cities Legacy” which we have at the Emily Fowler Library:

lasater002

Ken worked with many bands over the years and finally settled in Lake Dallas. The work linked above is from 1986 and likely one of the dozens of Texas Sesquicentennial commemorative publications available at that time. Here are a couple links that go into more detail:

http://wired-for-sound.blogspot.com/2010/11/homer-zeke-clemons-on-imperial-8091.html

https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zeke_Clemons

https://tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/xgm01

Written by Chuck Voellinger, Special Collections Librarian, Emily Fowler Library
chuck.voellinger@cityofdenton.com

In The Weeds 5/11/16. Voertman’s Teachers College Store

Voertman’s College Store has to be one of the longest operating businesses on the same location in Denton. According to an oral history done by UNT in 1977 with Paul Voertman, they have been at the same location on West Hickory since his father Roy opened the store in 1925, 91 years. Here is an ad from the 1925 NTSTC Yucca yearbook:

vcs002

Here it is in 1942, long before the renovation by Mount-Miller architects in 1968:

Voertman's1942

Picture courtesy of the UNT Photo Archive.

Who were “Mount-Miller”? We’ll do an extended blog post and exhibit at the Emily Fowler Library about them later in the year, but for now, Tom Polk Miller (1916-2000) and Mary Isabel Mount Miller (1916-2007) owned an architecture firm that designed or renovated between two and three hundred homes and commercial spaces in town. You’ve probably seen their work but didn’t realize who was responsible. Their work in many cases could fall under the Mid-Century Modern era of design. Some notable examples are: The Denton Unitarian Universalist Fellowship Church at 1111 Cordell St., the former Yarbrough’s Pharmacy (now Denton Camera Exchange) on 117 Piner St., the small shopping center at 531 North Elm that formerly held Joe Alford Florist, etc.

Here is a scan of a slide taken by Isabel Mount-Miller in 1972 given to us by their daughter Abigail:

Voertman's at North Texas 1972

Roy Voertman passed on Sept 20th, 1951 at his home while his son Paul was in the Army. Obituary from the Sept. 21, 1951 Denton Record-Chronicle:

Voertman1Voertman2

The business was sold to the Nebraska Book Co. in 1990 and further changed hands in 2013 when it was bought by out-of-state investors, The Weitzman Group.

Written by Chuck Voellinger, Special Collections Librarian, Emily Fowler Library. For questions please contact chuck.voellinger@cityofdenton.com

 

In The Weeds 4.06.16: Fist Fights, Snakebites and Polygamy

We have a collection of 19th and early 20th Century newspaper articles and gleanings about Denton people and events from in and outside the county. They make for fun reading and an opportunity to re-evaluate how we think people lived and behaved in an era we tend to think was so different. There is quite a bit about the sadder side of life such as crimes, deaths, and health issues (“If it bleeds, it leads” is the news axiom). We won’t go into those but, rather, focus on some humor and more lighthearted events. And it was fun to come up with tags for this blog post…

From the Denton County News, Sept. 29, 1898, p.8, c.3:

“BITTEN BY A COPPERHEAD. W. H. Durham, who is employed in Long, Williams & Co’s grocery store, was bitten on a finger last week by a copperhead last Thursday night while engaged in picking up some articles in a dark corner of the store. He immediately drank a quart of whiskey, but the bite was so poisonous that the whole arm swelled considerably. At last accounts, Mr. Durham was improving and is now considered out of danger.” –We think the cure might be worse than than the cause.

From the Legal Tender, Dec.2, 1897, p.1:

“The Green Valley School is progressing fine, and the Algebra class say they can work any thing by the X.Y.Z.”

From the Denton County News, Oct 29th, 1896, p.5, c.1:

“PONDER ITEMS. Ponder, Oct 25. There was quite an interesting wolf chase experienced in Denton creek bottom last Saturday, one being killed by Mr. M. W. Hedrick; also a wild goose and three squirrels.” –A real “wild goose chase”.

From Denton County News, March 2, 1899, p.4,c.3:

“AGAIN IN TROUBLE. Rev. Logan, who conducted a series of services at the Advent Church in this city a year or so ago and who ran away with a young lady of this city is in trouble again, having been arrested in Fort Worth last week charged with having too many wives.”

From the Dallas Weekly Herald, June 6, 1874, p.1:

The editor of the Denton Review takes a whole column of space to tell his readers that he got thrown from a horse and didn’t get killed.” – Ouch! That’s going to sting.

From the Denton County News, Sept. 24, 1896, p.8, c.4:

“Mr. M.D. Saunders, of Fort Worth, has located in Denton and opened a bicycle store in the brick building in the rear of the Masonic building.” –Bicycles. Denton loved them then and loves them now.

From the Denton County News, Sept. 21, 1893, p.3, c.2:

” W.R. Staples and Arthur Smith, living near Stony, had a rough and tumble fight on the farmer’s place Monday which resulted in a number of bruises for each. Mr. Staples came to town and had a physician extract two of his fingers from his own wrist which he had grafted there by rapping Smith too rudely on the mug.” – That must’ve been some punch. How does one graft one’s own fingers to the same wrist?!

From the Denton County News, Jan 31, 1895, p.2,c.2:

“At the residence of Mrs. Stark of Roanoke, can be found a little black bird that can talk as plain as any body in the county.”

Written by Chuck Voellinger, Emily Fowler Library. chuck.voellinger@cityofdenton.com

 

Texas, Our Texas #1

We’re starting a new blog series featuring oddities, rarities, and interesting titles from our Texana Collection at the Emily Fowler Library. The title of it is as above, “Texas, Our Texas”, which we’re sure some of you are familiar with.

What is a “Texana” collection, you ask? Our definition is: items that cover all areas and aspects of Texas from its birth to current events. Our collection has been designated a Texas Heritage Resources Center by The Texas Historical Commission since 1982 and we strive to have a history for each of the 254 counties.

Interestingly, one cannot find an actual definition of “texana” in any dictionary! Not for the first or last time, Texans have apparently coined a term for a unique need and we aren’t going to argue with custom or The Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas (maybe the premier collection in the state).

So, without further ado, our first book is Texas Women’s Hall of Fame by Sinclair Moreland. Published in 1917, it contains short biographical sketches and photos of notable Texas women, most of whom are addressed by their married name or title, ie; “Mrs. John Davis”. Also included following each entry are short quotes such as the following,

“When a woman works, she gets a woman’s wage; but when she sins, she gets a man’s pay-and then some.”

TxWmonen1

Below is Miriam “Ma” Ferguson, who later became the first female Texas governor and the first elected female governor in the United States in 1924. Interestingly, this biographical sketch was written by one Katie Daffan who was the president of the Texas chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy and namesake of the Denton chapter of that organization.

TxWomen2

Keep your eyes on this blog for our next installment of Texas, Our Texas where we take a look at a book that discusses the Zapruder Film’s effects on modern visual culture.

Written by Chuck Voellinger at the Emily Fowler Library. Please contact me with any questions at chuck.voellinger@cityofdenton.com