Terri’s Farewell

It just so happened that my turn at a blog post came the same week I am leaving my post as Director of Libraries at the Denton Public Library. So here is my shout out to a great community and a stellar group of people – those who work inside the libraries and those who visit the libraries.

One of the best things I have learned, is it’s never about me. The work we put in at the library happens for one reason only, to serve our community. While I am proud of the things we have done in the past ten years, we wouldn’t have produced, created, hosted, and made available any of those neat things if the community didn’t want or need them. We truly exist to serve.

It seems that we usually get things right because feedback from our customers consistently tells us we do. That’s not to say we are out of ideas or are tired of listening! We can accomplish some really great things with the support and direction of our community. Listen, act, listen some more. It’s a great formula.

Soon, there will be a new Library Director in the pretty office at Emily Fowler Central Library. And out at Jazzfest. And visiting a school, a nursing home. Please welcome this new person! Let them know what makes Denton, and Denton Public Library, special. Listen to this new Library Director as they share some new, great ideas. And mostly, support your library. Let others new to your neighborhoods know what delights are available to them! Send a note to your Council member and let them know what the library  means to you.

It has been my pleasure to serve this community. I am honored to have worked with some of the finest, most talented people anywhere. I know their good work will continue.

Terri Gibbs, Ex-Libris

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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.

 

 

 

Denton: First You Have a Little and Then You Have a Lotta

I don’t feel serious at all, so in the spirit of April fun, here are some pages, some press clippings that appeared in the Denton Record-Chronicle from years past; they were pasted into a scrapbook and lived in the City Manager’s Office for decades. This was one of the ways City Hall used to keep track of City history: a designated person would read the paper every day, cut everything out, and affix the articles into the scrapbook using rubber cement. The Library inherited many of these scrapbooks some years ago and here they sit in the Special Collections Department which you are free to look at – if you ever have time to take a gander. I like their chronological format and the ease of the turning page which doesn’t require me to look very hard for what comes next.

And yes, the theme of this post does reflect a criminal nature. The one below is not quite of the Darwin Award caliber, but it seems to me that if you’re going to rob a bank, you shouldn’t wear a fake mustache (they always fall off).  Call it a portent, if you will. They also used a pillowcase, a favorite method of many a cartoon character, but a little bulky. I wonder it had flowers on it, the article does not mention that.

Has anyone taken statistics on the favorite wardrobe and accessories of robbers, I wonder?

Awesome headline #1: Shotgun Power Stops Drug Theft

I like this particular article not only because the person was stealing a television (which is no laughing matter as they used to weigh a ton) and carrying a pillowcase (!) filled with drugs, but because this phrase was used, “The potential power of a sawed-off shotgun prevailed this morning on a drug burglar.”

An Exciting Car Chase Through Denton:

Favorite phrase: “flushing two of the three from around a Coca-Cola machine.”

Cool Technology! With the increase in crime came the need for more modern technology – which Denton delivered:

I had no idea this kind of technology was available in 1970.

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I’m ashamed to say that I have at times enjoyed the police blotter when the stories were funny. There is always the sobering human factor involved that makes it not-so-funny, although a good reporter can artfully soften the blow and make it more laughable.

Looking at 1970 made me wonder how much Denton has changed in terms of crime.  In 1968, Denton had a population of 39,846 and 970 criminal offenses. According to the Department of Public Safety’s website, Denton had 3,412 criminal offenses for the year 2015 and a population of 131,194.

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~Leslie Couture, Special Collections Department

Wandering About Oakwood Cemetery

Gate

A few weeks ago I stopped at Oakwood Cemetery to take a few photographs. The sky was overcast, the weather balmy, (yes in February) and it just felt like a fitting day to visit a Cemetery. But Oakwood is more than just a place where people are buried. If there is any spot in Denton where one can get a feel for the breadth of the City’s history, it is this small cemetery tucked between a park, a neighborhood and an industrial area in Southeast Denton.

The cemetery was established in 1857 around the same time Denton was founded as the county seat. (There are a few burials that date before that time.) It was known for many years as the City Cemetery but in 1931 the name was changed to the Oakwood Cemetery.  Ann Cope provides a little history and some of the local lore surrounding the cemetery in the “Last Resting Place of Denton’s Pioneer Ancestry; Once Neglected, Now Beauty Spot of Grass, Flowers.” (DRC 3 OCT 1930)

In another article, “The Silent City and the Sleepers There” (DRC 10 July 1915) the author provides a well-written, if not sentimental, biography of a few of the many of pioneer settlers and early citizens of Denton buried in the cemetery. The State of Texas designated it a historical site with the placement of a marker in 1982. (Oakwood Marker Ded)

As I wandered the old part of cemetery I was looking for members of some of the African American families who are interred there. For many years this cemetery was their only option for a burial place in the City.  I found the headstone for Henry Maddox and his wife Charlotte, proprietors of the boarding house in Quakertown, and next to that a marker inscribed with the names of Mr. Maddox’s mother and sister. (Providing his mother’s name after she remarried and his sister’s married name, a gold mine for a genealogist!)

I was surprised to see how few headstones are still standing in the old part of the cemetery. The remaining headstones range from unreadable weathered wood markers to elaborate granite monuments. Headstones are easy prey for vandals and the ravages of time. It’s possible that some graves never had a marker. The DRC published an article by Keith Shelton, “Old Graveyard Tells Denton County History”  about the vandalism and decay of the headstones.(DRC 14 May 1967 1 1, DRC 14 May 1967 2)

There are over 4500 people interred at Oakwood Cemetery. If you would like to find out more about Oakwood Cemetery, and other cemeteries in Denton, visit the Genealogy and Local History Department at the Emily Fowler Central Library.

Sandstones

Laura Douglas
Emily Fowler Central Library

In The Weeds 2.8.17: Frederick Douglass School

In honor of Black History Month, this week we will be highlighting the Fred Douglass School. The first “Colored School” was established in 1876 in Quakertown, the African-American community located in what is now known as Quakertown Park just a few blocks northeast from the Square. Located at the corner of Terry and Holt Streets until it burned in 1913, the school was named after famed abolitionist, statesman, social reformer, and writer Frederick Douglass. After the mysterious fire, the school was rebuilt at its current site in Southeast Denton and retained that name until the late 1940s when it was renamed for longtime principal and community leader Fred Moore.

Here is early principal J. T. McDonald:

mcdonald Next we have Mr Fred Moore:

fred-moore-portrait

Finally, here is a class photo from 1941 showing the exterior of the building which is still extant at 815 Cross Timber St in Southeast Denton:

1941 Fred Douglas School

Sources:

“The Quakertown Story”, The Denton Review, Denton County Historical Society, Winter 1991.

“Quakertown: 1870-1922”, Denton County Historical Commission, 1991.

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

1993 was a strange year, but then so is every year.

Well, it was.

I just ran across numerous articles while looking for a photo of a junior varsity player catching a football – which I didn’t find –  and instead kept coming across articles that really brought back some memories for me. Scrolling through the September reel of the Denton Record-Chronicle on our microfilm scanner could have taken forever if I had read everything which is why I scanned some things and made myself skip the rest.

So that is why I chose September of 1993. It is very interesting to look back at your life using the local newspaper as a lens. All these things that took place while you slept, ate, worked or went to school. Maybe you heard about ’em – maybe you didn’t – or had some vague memory that they happened. Or, perhaps you are the consummate storyteller and have made that particular memory something quite fine and your own.

Here are a few things I saved – some of which mean a little something to me  – and all of them have nothing to do with the year 2016.

cop-and-krishnas-22-sept-1993

I frequently saw the Hare Krishnas on Fry Street around this time period (I think they lived in the old white two-story house next to the Headshop.) – I remember them being very nice. I should have accepted their offer for a bowl of lentils, but I was always too shy.

el-matador-30-sept-1993

Not much to say about this, but El Matador has been around for a while.

officer-paul

This really makes me giggle. I remember being intimidated by his mustache, but was glad Officer Paul was around as I do remember some head-banging (literally) back then.

north-texas-biking-club-26-sept-1993

A friend told me that there was crazy goose that lived on one of these FM roads who would chase after cyclists – I think terrorized them was more of the word that they used. Just one of the many thrills of riding a bike in the country – ‘er, um, anywhere actually.

I have to stop and go back to work now. It is fun to dabble in time; run your fingers through it.

Leslie Couture,
Special Collections, Emily Fowler Central Library

Letters to Santa

SantaTranscribed from the Denton Record Chronicle (1909-1923)

Writing letters to Santa Claus is a delightful childhood tradition. Most of the time the letters are simple lists of toys, candy, or other much dreamed of items. But mingled among the requests for dolls and firecrackers one can find a glimpse into history.

Letters to Santa, published from 1909-1923 in the Denton Record-Chronicle, have been transcribed and are now available on the library’s  Genealogy and Local History resources page. The project was started by retired Librarian Kathy Strauss and completed by Ethan Seal as his Eagle Scout project. The index lists: the name of the child who wrote the letter, their address (if given), the content of their letter, and the citation for the issue of the DRC in which it was printed.

Each December the children of Denton would write their letter to Santa and send it to the Denton Record-Chronicle. The editor would then publish the letters and “send a copy of the paper to the North Pole for Santa to read.” The DRC was not the only business in town to support and encourage the letter writing program.  In one example from 1913 Evers Hardware hosted Santa himself in a visit to the store with candy and a present for every child that wrote a letter in care of Evers Hardware.

The letters are both predictable and surprising.  The children ask for items for themselves, but many also include family members and friends in their wishes. Events in the community or world-wide troubles are also mentioned in the children’s letters.

In 1915 the children were not only writing letters to Santa, but actively campaigning to have sidewalks installed by the Sam Houston School. A number of the children’s letters ask Santa for the sidewalks. Miss Elsie Wynn’s request put it quite nicely:

“Dear Santa Claus: Please bring the Sam Houston School some sidewalks. Better bring them in a boat so you won’t sink in the mud. Bring them from the Sam Houston School to Oak Street, and if you have any left, lay one on the south. Your friend, Elsie Wynn.”

Interestingly, also in 1915 there must have been a Scarlet Fever outbreak in Denton. Quite a few letters from that year mention that they, or someone they know, has had the disease. Annie Laura Cannon wrote:

“Dear Santa Claus: please bring me a bottle of perfume, a pretty doll, a little umbrella, a little sewing machine, a popcorn popper, a little piano, beauty pins, crochet hook, two packages of sparklers, oranges, apples, bananas, nuts of all kinds. Your little friend. P.S. – You need not bring us any candy. We are going to make our Christmas candy. We have the scarlet fever, and if you are afraid to come in, just leave the things on the front porch.”

Many of the letters ask Santa to “remember the orphans”. This is especially evident in the letters from 1916-1920, as the children recognize the communities ravaged by WWI.  There are many letters that ask for Santa to remember children without families closer to home. Bennie Margaret Klepper wrote in 1914:

“I want you to go to Buckner’s Orphan Home and take all the little children something, and be sure and go where they are playing war, and take all the little children something. I have three brothers. Be sure and come to see them. One of my brothers is in heaven. Bring me something to go on his grave, and don’t forget my mamma and papa, and if you have anything left, I would like a cow-girl suit and a sleepy doll. I go to Sunday school every Sunday and help mamma work. I thank you ever so much. You are so good, I know I will get all I ask for.”

Not only do the letters provide a glimpse into history, they may also have clues for people researching their family history. Occasionally people disappear leaving no trace about what happened to them. Did they move away, did they change a name, or did they die? Sometimes these questions are never answered. The children often write about their life in the letters, like in the one written by Cate and Robert Maples in 1914 which provides a clue about the death of their mother.

“We are two little orphan children. Our mamma is dead. She died not long ago. Send us anything you have for us. I guess Christmas will be dull with us so bring us some candy, fruit and nuts and anything else.”

Since the index transcribes letters from multiple years, for some children there are letters published in sequential years.

During December, the Emily Fowler Central Library is hosting a display  in the Special Collections Department featuring Letters to Santa. Come by and visit, or take a look at the document online. You just might find someone you know.

Laura Douglas
Special Collections – Emily Fowler Central Library