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100 Years Ago

March 1915

Square and East Hickory to be lighted

With the hearty approval of the businessmen and support of the County Commissioners it now appears that Denton has a fair chance to secure a “white way” around the Square and on East Hickory Street to the train depot. Director V. W. Shepard reported to the Chamber of Commerce that the Commissioners had agreed to furnish four ornamental lights around the Courthouse Square.

Under the plan now being considered the businessmen of Denton will each pay their individual part of the ornamental posts and lamps proposed of the lighted street. The costs are expected to be around $2,000, which the committee considers small in comparison to the benefits it will bring to the business section. The initial cost of the lights will be all that is required of the merchants as the city will furnish the current for the lights free of cost.


Jailer prevents jailbreak

Owing to the keen hearing of Jack Wisdom, jailer at the Denton County jail, one of the boldest jailbreaks in the history of the county jail was prevented Tuesday night. Mr. Wisdom heard a noise after retiring around 11 o’clock but remained quiet and listened for some minutes to ascertain the source from whence it came. Later, he went to the part of the jail where the prisoners are kept and found the empty cells occupied by John J. Edwards and J. M. Mahoney, held on charges of using explosives to burglarize the Denton Steam Laundry last fall.

After getting the men located and determining it would be several minutes before they would be free, he had Mrs. Pat Gallagher, the sheriff’s wife, telephone for Deputy Sheriff Akin and City Marshal Garrett Wells while he quickly ran to the Square and caught night watchman Tom Price. Returning to the jail they stationed themselves so that they could see that no one escaped.

When the other officers arrived the prisoners were just ready to climb down the sewer vent pipe. They were ordered to return via the route they had escaped by.

Wednesday morning Mr. Wisdom found a saw used by the two men in their escape attempt.


75 Years Ago

March 1940

Old City Hall being razed

Passing without much fanfare and little notice, the old Denton City Hall on West Oak that saw the town go from Old South traditions and a tinge of frontier flavor to a thriving, modern city is being razed; going the way of the carriage, horse drawn fire wagon and handle bar moustaches.

Contractor for the construction of the building was Lounis V. Brown in the year 1879 or 1880 depending on which old timer you ask. The first floor was originally a grocery store and a nursery had its headquarters on the second. The city bought the building in 1894. The first floor became the fire department and a wooden shed was added for a jail. The water works shared the first floor with the fire department and the city secretary was on the second floor. In the back of the building were the stalls for Nip and Tuck, the fire horses.

Many faces came and went in its public offices, and as the city grew so did its business.

Nip and Tuck were replaced by motorized vehicles and the old fire wagon was abandoned. After the new city hall was opened in 1928, the old building fell into disrepair. Now its dismantlement is a project of the WPA.

Advertisement: Carrots, 2 cents a bunch; apples, 19 cents a dozen; bread, 2 loaves for 5 cents; bacon, 17 cents a pound. Free Delivery Service. — Helpy-Selfy Grocery


Creek cleaned; mayor asks your help

Completion of the task of cleaning out the south branch of Pecan Creek, from Bernard to South Locust has been completed, according to Mayor Lee Preston.

A similar project is scheduled for the north branch, from Bolivar to the City Park.

Mayor Preston issued a plea to residents for cooperation in a civic enterprise to keep the city’s creeks and branches free of rubbish and obstacles that would dam the streams and cause stagnant pools. Dumping of cans, bottles, tree branches and junk has been a problem for years. The practice causes pollution of creeks, creates a health and mosquito menace and makes the streams an eyesore rather than an attractive addition to the landscape, the mayor reminded.

“Youngsters can help us, too, by not building play dams in the branches,” Preston added. “In clearing out the south branch of Pecan, workmen encountered four such dams — pretty stout structures built with rocks, mud and sticks.”


50 Years Ago

March 1965

Old county jail had its share of tales

Denton County’s “Cross Bar Hotel,” which is being demolished at 406 N. Elm, has a touch of history of the old west in its now dilapidated walls.

In a brief 19th century history of the old jailhouse compiled by Alex Williams of Denton, scenes familiar to us only through late night television westerns occurred.

One tale that Williams relates is one from October of 1894 when one J.Q.A. Crews murdered members of the Murrell family in Cooke County. After a change of venue moved his trial to Denton, he was convicted and executed; the last official hanging in Denton County.

Now the “Cross bar Hotel” on North Elm has received its own death sentence: destruction by wrecking ball.


Shakespeare Club hears about J. Frank Dobie

The Literature Department of the Woman’s Shakespeare Club met at Marquis Hall Thursday with Mmes. Tom W. Davis, L.H. Moore and C.A. Scott as hostesses. Mrs. J.B. Floyd presided.

The “Best of J. Frank Dobie” was given by Mrs. Shirley Peters. Mrs. S.M. Compton entertained members with the humorous “Tall Tales of Texas” by Boyce House.


25 Years Ago

March 1990

Commissioners Court won’t pay for mailing

In a highly charged exchange Monday night three county commissioners and County Judge Vic Burgess blocked an effort by Precinct 2 Commissioner Sandy Jacobs to have the county pay for a mailing of hers which they claimed was politically motivated.

The mailing consisted of a nearly one-inch thick packet containing copies of official correspondence, newspaper clippings and materials related to the January appointment by the Commissioners Court to fill two open judicial seats. It was mailed to 55 people in Precinct 2 at a cost of $479.25 for printing and postage. Mrs. Jacobs was the only dissenting vote on the appointments.

After Commissioner Lee Walker said she would not vote to approve the request, Mrs. Jacobs asked to hear from Commissioners Buddy Cole and Don Hill. Hill responded angrily, “I’ve seen the packet, and I think it is nothing but political propaganda ... there’s not any way these newspaper articles are official business of this court.”

The Court’s vote means Mrs. Jacobs will have to pay for the printing and mailing out of her own pocket.


County incumbents lose in primaries

Challenger Jeff Mosely’s strong lead in absentee voting against incumbent Vic Burgess in the Republican Primary for County Judge became an upset late Tuesday night as final totals rolled in.

Winning with almost 58% of the vote, Mosely said, “I wasn’t surprised that I won; I was surprised by the margin of victory.”

Burgess blamed his defeat on what he said was Mosely’s negative campaigning.

“I guess I don’t know enough about smear campaigns and how to fight back. It’s not my style,” Burgess said. “I maintain my standards on my integrity and I walk away from it with that. So how can you be disappointed?”

Bruce Isaaks, a virtual unknown just more than a year ago, managed an upset victory over four-term District Attorney Jerry Cobb late Tuesday in the Republican Primary winning 52% of the vote.

Isaaks claimed that his aggressive campaigning and the efforts of numerous volunteers made the difference. He added that Cobb’s change to the Republican Party just last year probably had not been convincing enough for committed Republican voters.

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

DJ TAYLOR resides in th Sanger/Bolivar area. he can be reached at 940-566-4979 or