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Markers help keep history alive

We were pleased to hear that the state has approved new historical markers in recognition of the city of Justin, the old Elm Fork Bridge near Aubrey and three African-American cemeteries.

The markers should help ensure that important details about Denton County history are not lost and that future generations will be aware of the accomplishments of those who came before them.

The Denton County Historical Commission received notification from the Texas Historical Commission that a subject marker for the city of Justin and a Recorded Texas Historic Landmark marker for the bridge had been approved.

A third marker, made under an application for an Undertold Story marker, was approved for the Harrington, Cassady and Clark cemeteries. Officials were notified that they would be among 14 applicants in the state to receive funding for a Historic Texas Cemetery marker.

The three cemeteries, located between the Oak Grove community and Little Elm, had long been neglected and were brought to the historical commission’s attention when a resident of the area inquired about cleaning them up.

“They were cemeteries that date back to the 1870s,” said Beth Stribling, chairwoman of the Denton County Historical Commission. “They are historic and that designation did need to happen to provide some sense of protection from future development.”

A recent project from Eagle Scout Chris Green resulted in the cleaning of two of the three cemeteries, and the county provided new fencing and signage.

The Elm Fork Bridge, located about four miles west of Aubrey, is one of the few in the county eligible for a Texas historical marker because many others have been moved to new locations.

Morgan Gieringer, a member of the historical marker committee and head of special collections at the University of North Texas Libraries, was one of the writers on the historical narrative.

“There’s an ongoing project in Denton County to get recognition for all of our bridges,” she said. “They are part of the infrastructure of the county and a real connection for people to think about the history of Denton County.”

The Elm Fork Bridge has remained in its original place, and Davis said it is a great example of reuse of an historical piece of infrastructure. It has been incorporated in part of the Greenbelt Trail.

“When people use it, they have an opportunity to learn a little bit more about the history of Denton County,” Davis said.

The Justin marker was submitted by the city and the historical narrative written by Lisa Westkaemper, a member of the Justin City Council and the county historical commission. As she worked on the project, Westkaemper said she began to realize there was a significant history in Justin of which she was not aware.

“We’re hoping it will let people see Justin in a slightly different light,” Westkaemper said. “Maybe it will bring in a few people who have not been [here] in the past, and they can experience Justin as they haven’t before.”

We agree — all three of the new markers should help residents and visitors gain new insights into Denton County history and experience the area in a new and more meaningful way.