Quakertown: Denton, Texas Rhonda Thomas

Rhonda Thomas
Intel Teach to the Future
With support from Microsoft
Spring 2002
Revised April 2010
QUAKERTOWN, TEXAS. Quakertown was an
African-American community inside the city of
Denton in central Denton County. The boundaries
of the community were Withers Street on the north,
McKinney Street to the south, Vine Street on the
east, and Oakland Avenue on the west.
On the map you can
find it just below
TWU, Texas Woman’s
The Denton County Courthouse –1876-1894
Quakertown, most likely so named for the northern
Quakers who aided freedmen in the early years of
Reconstruction, began to form as a separate community
within the Denton city limits by the mid-1870s.
Black families from Freeman Town, the first black
settlement in Denton, relocated to Quakertown
after a black school was opened there in 1878. By
the 1880s Quakertown had a number of stores and
churches, and several communal organizations,
including the Masons, the Odd Fellows, and the
Knights of Pythias,which also served as centers of
community life. The first school building burned
down in 1913 and was rebuilt in 1915.
The Odd-Fellows met in the building right above the pawn shop
later in the century.
Like many Southern blacks,
Quakertown residents subscribed to
Booker T. Washington’s philosophy of
self-help and coexisted peacefully
with their white neighbors. Most
worked for white employers and
frequented the white businesses
around the nearby square. Yet, they
were surrounded by reminders of
their second class status.
A handful of the settlers
managed to overcome
some of the limitations
faced by blacks in the
South and established
businesses. Some were
E. D. Moten, the only black doctor in Denton in the early
1900s, lived in the community.
Mrs. Moten and their
The Moten’s Girls
Ford Crawford’s grocery store was below the Odd
Fellows Hall at the intersection of Oakland Avenue and
Holt Street.
Bert Crawford
Crawford’s son Bert’s
mortuary occupied a
shotgun building at the
corner of Holt and
Terry streets at the
front of the woodyard
and diagonally across
from the Pleasant
Grove Baptist Church
and the home of
Rachel Ellis, reported
to be Denton’s oldest
black resident at the
The previous were the exception.
Most residents
worked in lowpaying service jobs,
buying their small
homesteads on
time. Women took
in laundry or
worked in white
homes to
supplement their
husband’s incomes.
Young Women of Quakertown
Angeline Burr came to
Denton from Arkansas
with four children,
and in 1897, became
the first AfricanAmerican to purchase
land in Denton. She
took in laundry and
delivered many of the
city’s babies, white as
well as black. “Aunt
Angeline” was the
only Quakertown
departure mentioned
in the Denton Record
As the black settlement
grew in the teens, so did
the nearby College of
Industrial Arts(CIA now
TWU), which had
opened in 1903. As the
college expanded and
began to search for
State monies to win
recognition as a fullfleged liberal arts
college, it regarded
Quakertown as a
danger and an
embarrassment in
their bid for
Jack Cook was a stableman at CIA, now
Federal monies were also being given
to communities to stamp out malaria.
Quakertown was a swamp where
mosquitoes were rampant (mosquitoes
spread diseases like malaria) and
because some of the Quakertown men
had worked on the Panama Canal and
were carriers of malaria, city fathers
were concerned about the spread of
the disease.
The plan of the
city fathers was
to buy the land
from the
residents at a very
low rate and
move them to a
less desirable area
of Denton.
Park Site Plan, circa 1922
In March 1921 a
petition was presented
at the Denton city
commission meeting
to hold a bond election
to purchase all the
land encompassed by
Quakertown and turn
it into a city park.
WPA City Park Map,ca 1926
residents formed a
committee to write a
letter of petition to the
city to insure that their
property be sold for
what it was worth;
however, most of the
property was sold for
about one quarter to
one half of that amount.
Citizen’s Committee Letter
Henry and Mary Ellen Taylor
had moved to Denton in 1895.
Henry worked as a gardener for a
rich white family. His own lawn
and garden was like a park and
boasted a rare white lilac bush
and magnificent elm tree. The
city paid him half his asking
price. When the move took
place, Mary Ellen refused to
come out of her house. They
moved the house on skids, pulled
by mules (provided by the city),
and volunteers who moved huge
logs from the front to the back of
the house in the middle of the
night. Mary Ellen rode along.
Mr. Henry Taylor
The BaylessSelby House is
a perfect
example of the
type of house
rich “white
folk” lived in
during the
Two Quakertown homes have been added to
the Historical Park of Denton County. They are
located just South of the Bayless-Selby House
Museum in Quakertown
Future Welcome Center
Elm Ridge
Moving Day
August 2008
Turn of
the last
Old #14
Cuvier and Dolores Bell ca. 1919 on Bell Ave. Some of Quaker’s nicest residences
lined the east side of Bell Avenue south of Withers Street. On the corner stood the
home of Marcellus C. Bell and his family. Cuvier (A.C.) Bell is one of the oldest
living survivors of the move and still lives in Denton today at the ripe old age of 88.
He comes to speak to Denton seventh graders, when invited, as they study the novel,
WHITE LILACS, based on the Quakertown Story.
The bond election passed, and in May 1922
the city of Denton began to purchase
Quakertown properties. Residents were
given the choice of selling their land and
property outright or having their houses
moved to Solomon Hill, located on the west
side of where UNT now stands by the cities
cesspool and a second site on the other side
of the railroad tracks in the South-East
Denton area selected by the city.
Quakertown soon disappeared.
Even though what
happened to the
residents of
Quakertown benefits
us today,
Senior Center
City Pool
Emily Fowler Library
Civic Center
Women’s Building
the questions remain “At
what cost to our fellow
man?”and “Will we learn
from the mistakes of our
White Lilacs
Snow white, double
blossoms. Very
The pictures found
on this slide are
examples of the
same kind of white
lilac that
Grandfather Jim
Williams might
have grown in the
novel White Lilacs,
by Carolyn Meyer.
Miss Ellen
Large, double,
creamy white
Carolyn Meyer
Born in Lewistown, a small town in
central Pennsylvania, Carolyn Meyer
began writing at the tender age of 8.
After graduation, she headed to New
York to seek her fortune. Instead, she
found romance, married, had children,
and moved to the suburbs. Her first
book was a sewing book for little girls.
Years passed. She kept writing. Then
about 10 years ago she moved again,
this time to a small town in Texas,
Denton. She discovered many stories
there including White Lilacs. She now
lives in Albuquerque, NM and writes
many books, some for the Dear
America series.
Works Cited
Everett, Elaine. Cougar Web. 20 Feb. 2002
Glaze, Michele Powers. Cochran, Mike, ed. The Denton
Review: A Journal of Local History (The Quakertown
Story). 1991. Denton, TX: The Historical Society of
Denton County and The Denton County
Historical Commission, 2000.
Map of Denton, TX. 20 Feb. 2002
The Handbook of Texas Online. 20 Feb. 2002