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County museums are valuable assets

A family’s search for genealogy information reminded us again last week what valuable assets we have in the Denton County museums and their staff members.

Joy Miller Davis of Tulsa, Okla., was doing online research when she found that the Denton County Office of History and Culture had photos and information about an ancestor, Quakertown’s Dr. Edwin Moten.

With more digging, Davis, a descendent of Moten’s wife, Susie Whitlock, learned of the county’s museums and items from Moten and decided to visit Denton and take a look for herself.

Davis is the great-niece of Whitlock. She and her husband, the Rev. Gerald L. Davis, and her children, Olivia Whitlock Davis and Brooks Whitlock Davis, spent hours at the Denton County African American Museum and the Bayless-Selby House Museum.

They took in the African-American museum’s wall exhibit on Moten and viewed historical items of his that are on display, including family photos and letters between Moten and his wife before their courtship and after they wed in 1907.

The Dr. Edwin D. Moten Collection at the Denton County African American Museum includes significant information about Moten and his family, who were early residents of Quakertown and lived in Denton from 1907 to 1920, according to the Denton County Office of History and Culture website.

Moten was the only African-American physician in Denton County during that time period, the information states. The collection includes letters written by Dr. Moten to family, friends and professional colleagues as well as photographs, postcards, medical records, medicine cases, his medical shingle from in front of his office, prescription pads and narcotics register from Denton County, according to the website.

Davis said she searched for Susie Whitlock on a whim and discovered the photo that led her search for information from Virginia to Texas.

“I did not know the Texas connection; I had not been told that. Then, when I mentioned that to my mother, she said, ‘Oh, yeah,’ and things started coming to her,” Davis said. Davis said she had always been interested in Susie and Emmanuel Whitlock but didn’t know who their parents were or where they came from.

“I’m so pleased this is here, that this history is living,” Davis said.

Davis said she will continue searching for additional information and offered to donate any historical photos, paperwork and other items she finds to the county.

Peggy Riddle, executive director of the Denton County Office of History and Culture, said she hopes Davis’ story of discovering her family connection will motivate other families — especially here in the county — to document and share their history.

Davis shared the historical finds with her husband and children. Her son said it was “very cool” when she recounted the line of ancestors he had.

“It’s important to the kids to know they have a history,” she said.

For some, important parts of that history could have been lived right here, and thanks to the Denton County Office of History and Culture and the county museums, there is a portal to the past that can be easily accessed.

Information about the Denton County African-American Museum, the Bayless-Selby House Museum and the Courthouse on the Square Museum can be found at

We encourage area residents to visit the Denton County museums and view their collections. A trip to downtown Denton would make a perfect family outing for a summer day.