Jump to content

Confederate Soldier Monument Removed in Denton County Thanks to Great Efforts of Denton Citizen


salon

210 views

 Share

I was so pleased to read of this man, Willie Hudspeth, who spent around 21 years protesting the Confederate monument that was on the Denton County courthouse lawn. His tireless protest, carried out almost every Sunday, finally led in June 2020 to the monument being removed. Denton County Commissioners Court voted to remove it on June 9, with the Texas Historical Commission''s later approval, and then the removal was done early in the morning, with little notice. Statue was taken to storage.  From the Denton Record Chronicle

 

Quote

 

For several years, Denton resident Eric Phillips has felt unwelcome when passing by the Confederate monument, saying that it was an embodiment of white supremacy and racism. But after becoming aware via a Facebook post early Thursday morning, Phillips said that he hustled from his Quakertown apartment to the downtown Square, in order to witness history.

“I was really excited,” Phillips said. “I wanted to witness it coming down, but this is something that has bothered me and hurt my soul to see such an ugly monument to slavery still standing, but it’s a beautiful day to see it finally coming down.”

County officials have said that the monument will be restored, then reassembled and put on display with context within the next year. A definitive location for re-installment of the statue, though, has not been decided.

 

I

n the article first linked, from Business Insider, there''s an interesting discussion about Quakertown in Denton County, which was a black merchant district near town. Essentially, Denton County relocated a thriving black community to a *swampy cow pasture* on the other side of the railroad tracks, in the same year as the Tulsa Massacre.

Quote

 

...white Denton decided that Quakertown was in the way. The College of Industrial Arts, a school for white women, had been built on the edge of Quakertown, just beyond the Square. The town claimed the students needed more space for the ladies to walk safely from school. Plans had also been drawn up for a new Denton Civic Park – exactly where Quakertown then stood. As a historical marker set down in the park in 2013 puts it, "the civic-minded interests of Denton''s white residents threatened the future of Quakertown."

 

In 1921, three years after the Confederate monument went up in Denton, the town voted to relocate the whole of Quakertown to Solomon Hill, a swampy cow pasture on the other side of the railroad tracks in southeast Denton, thus giving the white ladies their walking path to school. More than 60 families lost their homes and many residents left Denton altogether. It was the same year as the Tulsa Race Massacre, 270 miles north, when the city''s "Black Wall Street" was burned and 300 people were killed.  

What happened to Quakertown sealed in a wound that has not healed to this day. Some of the old Quakertown homes still sit on cinder blocks from the hasty relocation. There was never an apology from Denton''s white leadership, much less compensation offered to those who had lost their community and livelihoods.

 

 

 

Quakertown

This article, that includes photos, is a great timeline of how the first group of black settlers came to Denton to form a town called Freedman, then in 1867 moved to Quakertown.

From Dentonhistory.net

Quote

 

A handful of the settlers managed to overcome some of the limitations faced by blacks in the South and established businesses. Ford Crawford ran a grocery; his son, Bert, the black mortuary. Across from Crawford''s Store, Dr. E. D. Moten practiced medicine, while down the street, Anthony Goodall operated the Buffalo Bayou Cafe. These were the exception, however. Most residents worked in low-paying service jobs, buying their small homesteads on time. Women took in laundry or worked in white homes to supplement the meager wages of their menfolk. Together, the black men and women sought to build a new life in the tightly-knit community affectionately known as "Quaker".

As the black settlement blossomed in the ''teens, so did the nearby College of Industrial Arts, which had opened in 1903. The young school was faced with an ever-increasing need for expanded facilities and under the guidance of President F. M. Bralley, began to court state officials in Austin in a bid to win legislative appropriations and recognition as a full-fledged liberal arts college. The college regarded Quaker as a danger and an embarrassment in their bid for acceptance. The mud-lined streets, laundry- filled yards, and profusion of black children did not present the impression they wished visitors to get on their approach to the school. Conscious of the college''s importance to Denton''s economic growth, local businesses supported Brally wholeheartedly in his endeavors. It is within this dynamic that the Quakertown story emerges.

The only published reference to Quaker is in C. A. Bridges'' 1979 history of Denton, in which he discussed the black community within the context of the movement for a city park. Like many women of the Progressive period, Denton club women had campaigned actively to beautify the city. But with nearly eight thousand inhabitants, Denton was a full decade behind its neighbors in establishing a park system. Dallas, just forty miles to the south, had already created seven park sites. Bridges told of the passage in Denton of a seventy- five thousand dollar municipal bond issue in April 1921 to buy out the predominantly black property owners. He described the purchase as being "several pieces of property" bought over a several month period and concluded that "most of the former residents of the area soon had newer and better homes about a half mile east of the railroad depot" in the newly settled area known as Solomon Hill.

A closer study suggests that although the creation of a city park fulfilled a valid civic need, it camouflaged the deeper desire of administrators at the college and business leaders to minimize contact between the black community and the all-white women''s campus. Supported by local women''s clubs and civic groups, CIA spearheaded the move, which proved to be neither a willing nor beneficial one for the black community. By 1923, traces of the once-vibrant settlement had virtually disappeared....

The park issue only interested a limited segment of the general population. Although the inclusion of a fairground and coliseum secured the support of local farmers and otherwise-disinterested citizens, only 607 of Denton''s eligible voters cast their ballots. Women, having won the right to vote the previous year, were well-represented in the 367 votes in favor of the park. This was due in part to an intensive house-to-house canvas conducted by members of the City Federation of Women''s Clubs, which was made up largely of female faculty members and faculty wives from the city''s colleges. Despite these efforts, the bond issue passed by only a slim margin of 127 votes. Interestingly, once procurement of the property became a reality, no further action was taken to include a fairgrounds at the location. The wheels of the legal system turned rapidly as purchase preparations continued. Ordinances, City Commission and Park Board meetings, municipal bond negotiations, and other legalities filled the ensuing months. From the beginning, the park committee seemed convinced of a willingness on the part of the owners to sell. They felt the City would be forced to evoke its condemnation right on few properties.

While plans moved swiftly in the civic arena, rumors ran rampant in Quakertown as residents wondered where they would go. Older residents in particular resisted the thought of moving. A committee of concerned black citizens beseeched the Commission to pay full price for their property so they might afford a permanent settlement. Despite this effort, many residents, including Will Hill, feared they would not receive fair compensation for their land.

Hill and his wife, Ida, had arrived in Denton in 1896 and bought property. A firm believer in saving money and owning land, Hill was aware that the white man could take it away. The proposed removal of Quakertown residents only substantiated these fears and Hill resented the racial implications that he and other blacks felt were the underlining cause for the move. But of the fifty-eight property owners involved, Hill was the only one openly to challenge the City''s actions. Acting in accord with his motto "Respect every man, but fear none," Hill sued the City. But in 1922 southern blacks had little legal recourse and his action brought no compensation. Fearing reprisals against his family, he eventually dropped the suit.

Another of Quaker''s elder residents, Henry Taylor, also felt the impending doom. Henry and Mary Ellen Taylor had purchased their property from Mary Ellen''s brother, Giles Lawson, an early black settler. Enticed by the promise of education for their children, the couple had moved from Decatur in 1895 where Henry had worked as a cowboy. Now he cleaned houses and gardens for wealthy white families on the west side of town. With throwaways from the lawns he tended, Taylor''s yard resembled a park, boasting a rare white lilac and a magnificent elm tree. Brick walks led to the house and surrounding buildings. When the committee rejected Taylor''s asking price of two thousand dollars, countering with a lower figure, Taylor''s daughter travelled from Denison to entreat the committee to reconsider. Her parents were old and the tree alone was worth what they were offering, she argued. In the end, Taylor accepted $1038.55 and moved his house and the prized lilac bush.

By May 1922, the City, near to closing the municipal bond contract, began to conduct negotiations in earnest. Throughout the month, owners pleaded their cases before the City Commission. Twenty-two property owners appeared the first night. The three white, owners, developers, John Alexander, Ray Lakey, and C.I.A. store manager W. P. Whitson spoke first. Commissioners accepted Alexander''s and Whitson''s requests of forty-five hundred and four hundred thirty five dollars respectively, but delayed action on Lakey''s land. Later that evening black Henry Maddox finally accepted four thousand dollars for his three lots and large frame boardinghouse; neighbor Henry Webster settled for eight-hundred-fifty dollars. The Commission took no action on the requests of the remaining seventeen black owners.

As price negotiations continued, the question of where the residents would move loomed paramount. Most Quaker residents objected to the tract of land between the railroad tracks originally suggested to them and sought more favorable property. White property owners, on the other hand, wished to move the blacks further from their neighborhoods. One petition specified locating the blacks east of the railroad tracks and south of McKinney Road. A second, signed by twenty-one concerned citizens, read:

The undersigned property owners and citizens of McKinney St. [handwritten in] Frame and Paisley streets hereby advise you that a majority of us voted in favor of the Park Bond issue; that we do not wish to sell our property on said streets, and hereby protest against any attempt to locate the colored population of Quaker Town in our midst, or near [sic] us than you would wish them located to you

The altruistic quest for a city park touched a more deep- seated issue as the relocation question was addressed. What had been treated as a move for the civic good suddenly became a campaign to remove the black population from the white neighborhoods.

The solution came from rancher A. L. Miles. In 1920, Miles had borrowed to purchase sixty acres adjacent to his forty-nine acre homestead southeast of town, but he had been unable to make the subsequent payments on his land. A fair man with a mind for business, Miles saw the Quaker relocation as an answer to his cashflow problem. In July 1922, Miles platted thirty-five acres of pasture and offered to sell the lots to the displaced blacks, calling the development Solomon Hill. But the quiet Texas community of Denton was not immune to the violence and anti-black sentiment that was sweeping the country. In December 1921, the Ku Klux Klan marched in downtown Denton and left an anonymous fifty dollar contribution to city charities. It followed with a second unsigned communique to the Denton Record-Chronicle claiming:

"The KKK stands for law and order. It stands for the protection of the sanctity of the home and the purity of young girls -- college girls who are without the immediate parental guidance ... With its large membership drawn from every walk of life, it gathers information from many sources and of varied character. . ."

Rev. Willie Clark, a young man of twenty at the time, recalls an incident that occurred on Miles'' land. Miles had been warned of possible trouble from the Klan; many white residents were disgruntled that he had offered his property to the blacks. As Clark and two cousins cleared land at fifty cents a day to make way for the black homes, they heard riders approaching. Miles directed the young black men, who were all "crack shots," to take cover behind some fallen logs and await his command. "Don''t shoot until I shoot," he warned. "If I shoot, you shoot - and shoot to kill otherwise we''ll all be dead." Luckily, the hooded riders did not notice the hidden men or their shotguns, and no encounter occurred.....As the new park took shape, the former Quaker residents went about transforming cowpastures into a new home. They no longer feared flooding, for the land was high, but it lacked the trees so abundant in Quaker. Henry Taylor dug saplings from the creek banks to line his property. He carefully nurtured his beloved lilac as he planted vines and flowers around his new home. Mary Ellen Taylor told of flies so heavy she was forced to burn them off the screens, and mosquitoes prevented sleeping outdoors to escape the summer heat. Odors from the open sewer disposal system nearby frequently lay heavy on the air. Even after a new system was completed further downstream, a strong breeze often brought the pungent stench uncomfortably close. "Cessie has her skirt up" became a popular term for the offensive condition.

The added distance to work and shops presented problems for those without transportation. What had been a short walk to CIA, where many blacks worked as janitors and cooks, was now well over a mile; and black residents had to walk nearly two miles to North Texas State Normal College. Few neighborhood businesses survived the move, so all shopping was done at the now-distant square. No longer able to walk to the houses he tended, Henry Taylor was forced to buy a horse and wagon to carry his tools. Many residents felt cut off from the mainstream of city life they had enjoyed in Quaker....Although Denton and the College of Industrial Arts benefitted from the creation of the park, the damage to the black community was long-lasting. With the departure of most Quaker businessmen, the community lost its leaders with the vision and means to improve the quality of black life, and the black business community rebuilt slowly. But the psychological damage was perhaps the most devastating. The black community again found themselves at the effect of white society; their years of freedom and toil seemed fruitless. Seventy years later, the effects can be seen in the fear expressed by many former Quakertown residents that it could happen again as the city marches eastward.

 

In 2013 the State of Texas Historical Commission placed a stone marker for Quakertown Park to honor the community that was once there. NBCDFW

Quote

 

Many of the houses and buildings were picked up and removed from the land.

"One lady, she stayed in her house," said Betty Kimble, longtime Southeast resident Betty Kimble and American Legion Senior Center director. "She stayed in her rocking chair while they were moving that house."

Most were placed in Denton''s Southeast neighborhood, where many of Quakertown''s residents, such as Norvell, stayed their whole lives. However, many residents simply left Denton and never looked back.

"It did create quite a feeling of mistrust for the African-American community in Denton," Douglas said.

For a long time, the name Quakertown simply disappeared from the area as the city turned the land into a park and named it Civic Center Park.

But the city began to do its part to restore the lost history in the late 1980s or so, Douglas said.

Civic Center Park was renamed Quakertown Park, and a house from the lost community was restored and reopened as a museum. The Denton County African American Museum tells the stories of the city''s first African-Americans, who worked on the railroads, along with the legacy of Quakertown.

 

Incidentally, there is a another wonderful website about at least 3 other communities in Denton County, to include Pilot Point. Research was done by some students at UNT who had enrolled in an African Americans in North Texas seminar.

My own history intertwines with Denton County. One branch of my ancestors came from Kentucky to Peter''s Colony in the late 1840''s. (Hawkins, Bates and Witt).

'

 Share

0 Comments


Recommended Comments

There are no comments to display.

×
×
  • Create New...