Quakertown: Denton, Texas 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 University. 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 son. 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 time. 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 Chronicle. 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 acceptance. Jack Cook was a stableman at CIA, now TWU 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 Quakertown 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 Quakertown 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 1920’s Two Quakertown homes have been added to the Historical Park of Denton County. They are located just South of the Bayless-Selby House African-American Museum in Quakertown Residence Future Welcome Center http://dentoncounty.com/dept/main.asp?Dept=128. Elm Ridge Church Moving Day August 2008 Turn of the last Century Windmill Old #14 Fire Truck 1890s Outhouse 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 past?” White Lilacs Madame Lemoine Snow white, double blossoms. Very fragrant. 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. http://www.lilacgardens.com/white.html Miss Ellen Willmott Large, double, creamy white florets . . Carolyn Meyer http://www.readcarolyn.com/ 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 <http://help.denton.isd.tenet.edu/>. 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 <http://www.phil.unt.edu/denton.htm>. The Handbook of Texas Online. 20 Feb. 2002 <http://www.tsha.utexas.edu/handbook/online/articles/ view/QQ/hrqgk.html>.