Denton County Historical Commission officials held a dedication Sunday for three new historical markers in the Cooper Creek community, which lies just outside Denton city limits along Mingo Road.
Officials said it’s rare for a community to receive three historical markers at once. Beth Stribling, Denton County Historical Commission chairwoman, said the rare occurrence is a result of a backlog at the Texas Historical Commission.
“They had to lay off a few people because of budget cuts,” she said. “So after that happened, they got behind in the process. As a result, we are having numerous dedications in short periods of time.”
The Cooper Creek Church received a Texas Historical Subject Marker and the cemetery received a Historic Texas Cemetery marker.
Lastly, the Cooper Creek School was designated a Recorded Texas Historic Landmark, the highest honor the state bestows on historic structures for age, architectural significance and historical associations.
“Each dedication is unique,” Stribling said. “But having three markers today makes it that much more special.”
Approximately 130 people showed up for the dedication. The dedication began inside the Cooper Creek Baptist Church were officials spoke of the significance of the markers.
Dallas-based consultant Kate Singleton researched and wrote the historical narratives for each site. She said that during the process, she found great stories about the Cooper Creek community, which was established in 1872.
She said historical markers are significant because they allow a community to understand its past and present.
“Our history is what defines us as a community,” Singleton said. “What you think is just local history might also have a national significance.”
Officials said a community’s history can reveal facts about genealogy, settlement patterns and religion. Historical markers also help communities preserve their origins as they continue to grow larger, Singleton said.
“We lose our small rural communities all the time,” she said. “They get eaten up by the larger cities and by the sands of time.”
The Cooper Creek community was established after families began to settle in the area sometime before the Civil War. In 1876, The Texas State Legislature established a county school system that allowed residents to form schools in their communities. The school also served as a community center where plays, club meetings and church revivals were held.
The cemetery dates back to before the Civil War, according Singleton’s research. The earliest marked grave is of Richard Kale, who died Feb. 9, 1872. Unlike many early cemeteries, the Cooper Creek Cemetery is not segregated by race or religion.
The church began in 1872, in a building near the current church building’s location. In 1916, the current building was constructed, and over the years, it was expanded. Today, its current membership includes descendants of the original settling families.
“During my research I found stories that were so meaningful — hold them in your heart and pass them on,” Singleton said.
JOHN D. HARDEN can be reached at 940-566-6882 and via Twitter at @JDHarden.