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From January 1914

Denton County’s first automobile funeral held

The first automobile funeral ever held in Denton County was that of C.L. Smith on Monday. Mr. Smith died at the home of his son, Ed H. Smith, here in Denton and the burial was at the Smith family burial ground near Prosper, a distance of nearly 25 miles.

Magill & Shepard’s new automobile ambulance was used, followed by relatives and friends in eight other autos. The party left here at 11:30 Monday morning, reached the burial ground at 2 o’clock, and all were back in Denton by 5 o’clock Monday afternoon.

Lewisville people are pleased with roads

W.O. Taylor and Secretary Roark of the Chamber of Commerce were in the Lewisville road district Thursday and both were well pleased with the roads they found.

“The Lewisville roads are in excellent condition, that is, the portion of them that I saw yesterday afternoon,” said Secretary Roark. “We went via the Club Lake road and while the general condition is much better than a few weeks ago, there are yet enormous holes and bumps along the greater part of the way until the creek is crossed and the Lewisville good roads are met.”

Secretary Roark said the Lewisville businessmen are pleased with their roads and their success in the fall came about because the country people had good roads to travel into town.

A committee from Denton will probably visit and inspect the Lewisville roads early next week.


From January 1939

Program for benefit of Fred Douglass football

The Fred Douglass colored school will stage a musical program featuring spirituals and popular music, specialties, tap dancing and a boxing contest, in the municipal auditorium Friday night at 8 o’clock.

The program will be given to raise money to buy equipment for the school’s football team, according to Principal Fred Moore. The lower floor will be reserved for the school’s white friends and the balcony will be reserved for colored persons. Tickets will sell for 15 cents and 25 cents.


FIRE CHIEF, quick starting gas for cold mornings! Now 17 cents gallon. Jack Bryson Texaco Station

Ground broken for TSCW student chapel

Speakers at the ground-breaking ceremony for TSCW’s student chapel, held on the chapel site Friday afternoon, lauded the cooperation of the committee in charge of arrangements, the artists, students and ex-students for having accomplished their goal.

A number of students and townspeople braved the chilling wind to attend the ceremony. President L.H. Hubbard acted as master of ceremonies, and O’Neil Ford, architect who designed the chapel, G.F. Little of Dallas, NYA supervisor of District 4, and Miss Elizabeth Robertson, president of the student body, spoke briefly of the significance of the occasion.

“We are proud to be of assistance in the erection of this beautiful little ‘Chapel in the Woods’; students will benefit spiritually from having this place to go and renew the vows of their religion,” said Miss Robertson.


From January 1964

County breaks ground for annex building

Nine silvered spades flashed in the sun this morning as the first planned expansion of Denton County government facilities since 1896 officially got under way.

County Judge W.K. Baldridge, who presided at groundbreaking ceremonies on the Oakland-McKinney site of the county’s $540,000 County Annex Building, reminded the crowd that the jail building presently in use was built in 1891 and the Denton County Courthouse was finished in 1896.

“We’ve been aware of our need for new facilities for many years — the jail building was condemned more than 30 years ago,” Judge Baldridge said, noting that the present facilities of county government were built to serve a population one-tenth of today’s population.

Gilded bricks mark start of Fairhaven project

“I hope someday we can put up a big sign out there: ‘Happiness Lives Here,’” Ben Ivey told the crowd gathered at the groundbreaking ceremony for Fairhaven, a home for the aged in Denton.

Board members of the nonprofit organization that has planned the half-million-dollar home helped stack 14 gilded bricks at the tree-studded construction site in north Denton.

“This will be a home where elderly people may live surrounded by beauty,” said Ivey, who is finance chairman for Fairhaven.

Introducing those who placed the gold-plated bricks was Mrs. Myrtle Richardson, president of Fairhaven and the woman who conceived the idea for the home 10 years ago.

“Today is the culmination of many years of planning and hard work,” Ivey added.

With bake sales, fairs, coffees and other projects the group raised enough money to purchase the land in 1958 and then a little over a year ago, a $484,000 long-term federal loan came through.

The Fairhaven dream developed in 1956 into a project of the Denton Business and Professional Women’s Club and later became a nonprofit corporation.

Construction contracts call for completion in 270 calendar days. A.B. Swank of Dallas and Roland Laney of Denton are the architects.


From January 1989

County cemeteries preserve history

If you know that great-grandma is buried somewhere in Denton County and you want to find her grave, your first stop should be the Courthouse-on-the-Square and the offices of the Denton County Historical Commission.

The commission not only has records of the county’s 116 cemeteries, but provides a wealth of knowledge through its employees: Yvonne Jenkins, Peggy Jordan, Jeanine Sellmeyer and Barbara Edmanson.

The smallest county cemetery is the single grave of John B. Denton on the Courthouse lawn. As for the largest, Mrs. Jenkins says it is a toss-up between Pilot Point’s Masonic Cemetery, Denton’s IOOF Cemetery and Lewisville’s Old Hall Cemetery which was swelled by graves relocated when Lewisville Lake was constructed.

Jenkins says the documentation was started by caring individuals and credits a large part of the commission’s success to Hazel Shelton who started documenting graves long before it was a popular thing to do. Phoebe Tarver, another goldmine of information, currently chairs the Historic Cemeteries Committee. Grady and Thelma Stephens were volunteers who put all the information in order for the commission, future researchers and seekers of graves.

Some cemeteries are lost or abandoned. “They even bulldozed the Poor Farm Cemetery,” added Mrs. Jenkins.

The commission staff also refers researchers and visitors to the Emily Fowler Library in Denton, which has an outstanding genealogy section, according to Mrs. Jenkins.

County people attend Bush inauguration

The commentary from the media and various experts in the aftermath of President George Bush’s inaugural address had, as expected, its share of both positive and negative reflections.

For Texans like Mary Denny, who were able to see it in person, his address was pure gold.

“It just put a lump in everybody’s throat and made you pleased and proud to be a part of this system [of government],” said Mrs. Denny, chairwoman of the Denton County Republican Party.

Mrs. Denny said she thought Bush’s request of the Democrat-controlled Congress for a renewed move toward a more effective bipartisanship would go a long way in solving the country’s problems. “I think we’re going to see a lot of strides toward achieving his goals,” she said, adding, “He’s still got an uphill battle dealing with Congress.”

Congressman Dick Armey, R-Copper Canyon, said he was not sure Bush’s hopes will be realized. “I wish I could be optimistic about Speaker Jim Wright putting his partisanship aside.”

A number of Denton County residents were slated to attend the inauguration, including Jesse Coffey and his wife, Joan; County Tax Assessor Herb Barnhart and his wife, Julia; County Judge Vic Burgess and his wife, Eydie; Denton Mayor Ray Stephens; and Denton City Councilman Robert Gorton.

— Compiled from the files of the Denton Record-Chronicle by DJ Taylor

DJ TAYLOR resides in the Sanger/Bolivar area. He can be reached at 940-458-4979 or