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Yesteryear: May 2017

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DJ Taylor

100 Years Ago

From May 1917

Assistant in charge as County Attorney Owsley called up

During the absence of County Attorney Alvin M. Owsley, who has been called to the training camp for reserve officers at Leon Springs, Assistant County Attorney H.G. Owen is in charge of the legal procedures for Denton County.

Owsley will join other Denton County boys already at Leon Springs: C.J. Foster, F.D. Cox, A. Paul Simpson, W.E. George, George Fritz, Clark Owsley, Jerry S. Fowler, Bala Williams, Fred Reese, Luther Hoffman, B.E. Alexander, Abney Ivey, Paul R. Bird, Maurice Brailey, Alvin Bush, Edwin T. Miller, Homer L. Fry, J.N. Rayzor Jr., Sam B. Rayzor, James Potts, J.B. Cunningham Jr., John W. Bailey Jr., Mack Hodges, Kearle Berry, Loy W. Ledbetter and George Rucker. Eldon Young is another former Denton boy in the camp.

Ad: Mineral Water at O. M. Curtis Drugs-Medicine. Good stock of the waters from Mineral Wells which are now sterilized after bottling. Crazy Water — all numbers — per gallon water is 30 cents with a 10 cents refund for return of the bottle. Per case is $4 with $2 rebate when case and empties are picked up. Auto delivery.

Courthouse Square improvements will begin soon

Engineer Harrison of Dallas is here getting levels and measurements for making improvements of the public square along the line of bringing the courthouse lawn out to 80-foot from the courthouse site.

The County and City Commissioners are co-operating in the improvements.

Work is expected to begin on the improvements in the near future, as soon as plans are accepted. Tentatively, it is said, the plans include concrete curbing and walks about the enlarged yard.

Mr. Harrison is to make a report on the probable cost of the work within a week and the matter will come before the next regular meeting of the Commissioners' court on May 14.

75 Years Ago

From May 1942

Mayor asks ringing of bells for daily prayer

Because the bell at the municipal building cannot be heard over a wide enough area as it calls Denton residents daily to a moment of silent prayer, Mayor Lee Preston has asked that institutions where there are bells co-operate by ringing the bells at 10 o'clock each morning.

The bells should be rung for about 10 seconds, he said, enabling the city to comply with a proclamation by Governor Coke Stevenson and a request of the Denton Association of Christian Women.

Ponder lad gets naval commendation

Homefolk can add their congratulations to those of the navy to a Denton County boy who has received commendation for his service in an attack on the enemy by the U. S. Navy. He is Charlie Edward Smith Jr. of Ponder, the son of Mr. and Mrs. C.E. Smith.

A copy of a letter of commendation personally signed by Admiral T. Withers was forwarded to the boy's parents and delivered "with congratulations and sincere appreciation of the excellent performance of duties assigned on this patrol." Smith enlisted five years ago and re-enlisted last year.

50 Years Ago

From May 1967

Old graveyard tells Denton County history

A sizeable chunk of Denton's history is buried in the Oakwood Cemetery in East Denton, which contains the bones of mayors, county judges, state senators and even one of Quantrill's Raiders.

Many of the epitaphs read, "Gone But Not Forgotten," which was a common epitaph in those days, but apparently they are being forgotten.

Oakwood, which was deeded to the city by Hiram Cisco before the Civil War on condition that the city take care of it, is kept nicely landscaped, but the encroachment of urban life is destroying the markers.

A quick walk through the cemetery showed that at least 75 gravestones have been broken or turned over.

As a result, says Mrs. Lorena Bates Smith, whose father wrote the history of Denton County, the graves of many figures in Denton's early-day history are being lost. In fact, she says more people are being buried on top of people because the graves are not properly marked.

Among those buried at Oakwood is Henderson Murphy, a Virginian who built a log hotel at Old Alton in the 1850s. When Denton was created as the new county seat, Murphy put his hotel on log rollers and moved it to the new square. Murphy's son John was the first white child born in Denton.

Another is P.C. Withers who came to Denton during the Civil War as a member of Quantrill's Raiders, a band of Southern guerilla fighters under William Clarke Quantrill. The group included Cole Younger as well as Jesse and Frank James. It is not known whether Withers knew the James boys. Withers returned to Denton after the war and served as the city tax assessor-collector for 15 years and as the county tax assessor-collector for four years.

Mrs. Smith, who mapped the cemetery 20 years ago and again recently found that because of the many broken and moved markers a large number of graves are now lost. She thinks a fence should be erected and the cemetery locked at night.

TWU high-rise dorm to open in fall

The 21-story Nelda Stark dormitory at Texas Woman's University should be complete in late summer and ready for new residents in mid-September.

The ground floor will consist of lounges, reception areas and a post office box area. A connecting mall between the dormitory and the cafeteria will also have a lounge area.

The roof of the 225-foot-tall building will be a combination sun deck and observation deck.

"We would like very much to give people the chance to tour the building and go to the top," said Dr. John Guinn, TWU president. He added that the school hopes to have a dedication by October.

The dormitory will house 640 women, freshman through senior, with each room housing two women.

25 Years Ago

From May 1992

Fred Douglas Class of '42 to hold 50th reunion

The school music teacher pounded out "Pomp and Circumstance" on the piano when Christine Haynes McAdams led the Fred Douglas Class of '42 down the aisle of the St. Andrew Church of God in Christ.

Mrs. McAdams will lead the class down the same aisle Sunday in a 50th reunion service of the Fred Douglas High School (the school name was spelled with only one 's'). In the days of segregation, Fred Douglas was Denton's all-black school before the new Fred Moore School was built, named after its principal.

Mrs. McAdams and four classmates will reunite for the first time since their high school graduation. Fred Douglas was a four-room wooden building with a small gym building next to it. The gym was too small for the graduation ceremony.

After the Fred Moore School was built in 1949, the old wooden building was moved to Fred Moore Park and eventually torn down.

Mrs. McAdams was valedictorian of the 13-member class.

"My speech was on 'Our Faith is in America' because the war had just started," she said. "I was very proud to be valedictorian and I'm still proud."

Mrs. McAdams, who has lived in Denton all her life, will be joined by two other classmates who are Denton residents, William "Mutt" Devereaux and Charlie Jones. D. L. and Gladys Stanfier Johnson, who were high school sweethearts at Fred Douglas and married after graduation, will come from Fort Worth for the reunion.

The only other living graduate, Ester Mae Johnson, lives in California and will not be able to attend, Mrs. McAdams said.

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