1616 W. Abram St. (at the Historic Fielder House) Arlington, TX 76013 817-460-4001 Geraldine Mills, Director [email protected]
www.historicalarlington.org Hours: Fielder House: Tues. through Sat. 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. (or by appointment) Knapp Heritage Park: Sat. & Sun. 1-4 p.m. Newsletter Editor—Tom Dodson at [email protected]
In this Issue Arlington Archives – Former slaves on the M. T. Johnson plantation speak to us!
History of the Arlington Preservation Foundation
Historical Society receives abstracts of historic Arlington Newspapers
Former slaves on the Middleton Tate Johnson Plantation speak to us! (Part 1 of 2)
Old Timers and Garden Club schedules for 2013
Assembled by Tom Dodson, Arlington Historical Society Board Member
Go to the Central Library and see the AHS’s great new WWII Exhibit—it will make you proud!
Newsletter — APR/MAY 2013 Stories from the
Arlington Archives !
In 1997 the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History had its first major exhibition devoted to the Trans-Atlantic slave trade - A Slave Ship Speaks: The Wreck of the Henrietta Marie exhibit describes the slave trade circuit and its cargo. As part of this exhibit, Gayle W. Hanson, historian and Arlington resident, had the pleasure of working with the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History in developing local history exhibit information with regard to slavery to complement the national traveling exhibit. Research information for the local history exhibit came from the American Slaves Narratives portion of the Federal Writers' Project, which was a part of the Works Progress Administration (WPA).
History of the Arlington Preservation Foundation (from Nancy Bennett, APF and AHS Board Member)
The purpose of the Arlington Preservation Foundation is to safeguard, protect, enhance and perpetuate the heritage of Arlington through the preservation of historic and cultural landmarks, to work with other historical preservation organizations in identifying historical landmarks, and to promote historical preservation.
Gayle W. Hanson
Gayle noted that "These autobiographical accounts of former slaves stand as one of the most enduring and noteworthy achievements of the WPA. Compiled in seventeen states during the years 1936-38, these accounts are interviews with former slaves, most of them first-person accounts of slave life and the respondents' own reactions to bondage. The interviews afforded aged ex-slaves an opportunity to give their personal accounts of life in those days. (continued on page 2)
1990: The city of Arlington's Landmark Preservation Commission (ALPC) had no funding nor could it raise funds or accept donations to further its efforts. A steering committee was formed and eventually an invitation was issued to selected persons to “attend the organizational meeting for the Landmark Preservation Foundation (later renamed Arlington Preservation Foundation) on June 29, 1990 at 7:00 o’clock p.m. at the Planetarium on the campus of The University of Texas at Arlington”. Pat Harry was then Chairman of the ALPC. A sizeable number of interested persons attended and minutes from that evening indicated that a number of persons declared they would become charter members, a slate of officers was elected: Pat Harry President; Nancy Bennett, Secretary; and Suzanne Sweek, Treasurer. Checks were to be made to the Landmark Preservation Foundation, Inc. For some reason a decision was made (continued on page 4)
News from Arlington Historical Society APR/MAY 2013
Former slaves on the Middleton Tate Johnson Plantation speak to us! (from p. 1) It was a wonderful discovery to find typescript copies of Tarrant County’s slave narratives at The University of Texas at Arlington, Special Collections (just ask for "WPA Federal Writers’ Project-Fort Worth City Guide Records"), as well as at the Fort Worth Public Library. I have researched this subject for many years and have located some descendants of these narratives." But first, before we get to the first of the three Slave Narratives, following is some background on Middleton Tate Johnson (from the Handbook of Texas Online):
“JOHNSON, MIDDLETON TATE (1810–1866). Middleton Tate Johnson, ranger and politician, was born in 1810 in the Spartanburg district of South Carolina and moved to Georgia at an early age. He won election in 1832 to the lower house of the Alabama legislature, where he served four successive terms. In 1839 he and his wife, Vienna, moved to Shelby County, Texas. There Johnson secured an immigrant's headright of 640 acres in what is now Tarrant County. He served in the Regulator-Moderator War of 1842–44 as a captain of the Regulators. In the final days of this conflict he represented his county in the Congress of the Republic of Texas and served for a short while in the Senate. In 1845 he raised a company of volunteers, mostly former Regulators, and served in Col.George Tyler Wood's Second Regiment, Texas Mounted Volunteers, at Monterrey. He was discharged on October 2, 1846, and returned to Texas, where he raised a mounted company that became Col. Peter H. Bell's ranger regiment, which served on the northern frontier. Johnson, as lieutenant colonel of the unit, served near the trading post at Marrow Bone Spring, at the site of present Arlington. On June 6, 1849, he and brevet major Ripley A. Arnold established a fort and army outpost at the junction of the Clear Fork and the West Fork of the Trinity River. They named it Fort Worth in honor of Gen. William J. Worth. Johnson also helped to organize Middleton Tate Johnson Tarrant County. For his service in the Mexican War he received a grant of land now in Tarrant County. He settled his family (three sons and five daughters) in 1848 near Marrow Bone Spring [now a linear park at 600 W. Arkansas Lane, just east of Matlock Rd.; the spring is part of the creek now known as Johnson Creek], where he established a cotton plantation. He soon became one of the wealthiest and most influential men in the region; he is reported to have owned the largest number of slaves among Tarrant County planters. The settlement surrounding his home became known as Johnson Station [I would have said that the trading post and stagecoach stop established by M.T. Johnson became known as Johnson Station]. Johnson worked to secure a railroad route west of Fort Worth and helped Gen. Thomas J. Rusk survey the proposed Southern Pacific line to El Paso. In the state election of 1849 he failed in his bid for the lieutenant governorship. In 1851, 1853, 1855, and 1857, he unsuccessfully ran as a Democrat for governor. In 1859 he bolted from the party and supported Sam Houston. Johnson returned to the Texas Rangers in 1860 to lead a regiment against the Comanches in a much criticized and largely useless campaign. During this time, after the death of his first wife, he left his command to travel to Galveston to marry Mary Louisa Givens. Because of this apparent dereliction of duty and the lack of results from his campaign he was widely censured. In 1861 he donated land for the courthouse in Fort Worth. Although opposed to secession, Johnson served in the Secession Convention. For the Confederacy he raised the Fourteenth Texas Cavalry Regiment, which served on both sides of the Mississippi. He was regimental commander until he was succeeded by John L. Camp. Johnson also supervised a blockade-running system to bring supplies into the Confederacy. In the course of the war his oldest son, Tom, was killed, and his second son, Ben, died of consumption. After the war Johnson returned to politics. He was elected to the state Reconstruction convention in December 1865. On May 15, 1866, while returning to Johnson Station, he suffered a stroke and died. He was first buried in the State Cemetery, then reinterred near his sons in the family cemetery, now in Arlington [on Arkansas Lane, just east of Matlock Rd., across from Marrow Bone Spring Park]. Johnson was a Mason. Johnson County was named in his honor.” (continued on page 3)
News from Arlington Historical Society APR/MAY 2013
Former slaves on the Middleton Tate Johnson Plantation speak to us! (from p. 2) The following comments were recorded at the time of the interview of former slave Hannah Mullins (c. 1937) by Sheldon P. Gauthier, who was the interviewer. "Hannah Mullins, 81, was born on former Gov. M.T. Johnson's plantation, which was located at Johnson Station, Tarrant County, Texas. Her mother was used as a mid-wife and child nurse, and Hannah was told to stay with the Johnson children and do whatever they asked. Since the Johnson children were good to her and didn't abuse her, she played with them as one of the family until after freedom, when she stayed with her own parents. A good example of a slave's loyalty was shown when Hannah's father went to Austin, to dig Gov. Johnson's body from his grave [in the State Cemetery], haul it to Arlington, Texas, where the family would bury him in the family cemetery. Hannah's parents remained on the plantation until their deaths, but she married William Mullins when she was 16, and they established a home of their own on the Johnson Plantation. After three children were born to them, they moved to Arlington, Texas, where Bill was employed by a livery stable. A few years later, they moved again to Fort Worth, where Bill was employed at common labor until his death in 1935. Hannah went to live with her daughter at 1820 Chambers Avenue, Fort Worth, Texas, after his death. Her sole support now is a monthly $9.00 pension received from the State of Texas."
The narrative provided by former slave Hannah Mullins follows Ise bo'n on Cunnul M.T. Johnson's plantation at Johnson Station, Tarrant County, Texas. The time was a little over 81 yeahs ago, and Ise been told 'twas on June the 19th. Ifn that's so, sho was a powerful lotta folks that celebrates my birthday, 'long with the Mancipation Day doin's. Twas like a little city, what with the buildings and all that was on the plantation. Ise fails to recall the number of slaves MarsterJohnson have but I sere members that each family have a double log house. That is, there was two rooms separated by a hall twixt them, and the houses were in rows like a city. Then Marster have the shoe shop where the hide tannin' was done,and the blacksmith shop, the ginmill, and soon there was the spinnin' room where the cotton and wool was spun into thread, and the looms where the thread was run into cloth so's the seamstresses can make the clothes and so on. Marster Johnson's plantation was selfs'portin, far's Ise knows, and raises the cotton to make the money crop. The other crops was small 'cordin to the cotton, but 'twas enough to raise vegetables and so on fo food. Each family gits theys rations on Sunday mo'nin aftah the bell rings, and tooks the rations to they own cabins, where the women folks cooksit when needed. If the family have good workers in it, it was give a cow and hawgs to raise. We all has chicken once in awhile, but the Marster keeps the chickens in a bunch together. Co'se now, Ise a kid on the plantation but Ise know what it's all about 'cause freedom nevah changed things much 'round there. Ise raised in the nursery 'til Ise 'bout five yeahs old. The nursery was where the mammies brings theys babies til they can git 'em back aftah workin hours. This nursery was work a-plenty fo' the womens that runs it 'cause they are s'posed to keep the kids out of fights. 'Twas a big job 'cause the kids will fight evah time the womens have theys backs turned. The real trouble comes when meal time comes around. Twas several long wood troughs put on the table, and each kid was give a wood spoon. Usually, the trough had milk with corn bread crumblin's in it, and the kids are lined up and down the table. The nurse gives the word when to eat, and the kids all tries to git mo'ren the rest of them. That starts the a'guments and the fights all over. The nursery also has slides fo' to play 'round and several sand boxes. Marster Johnson was sho good to all the little kids. My mammy was the mid-wife fo' the whole place. She was sorta hunch-back and not able to work good, but was at mid-wifin', so Marster sets her to that and carin' fo' the little piccaninnies 'til theys able to be in the nursery with the rest of the kids. Mammy mid -wifed fo' ole Mistez too. Ole 'Mistez have four to five chilluns, and aftah Ise five yeahs ol', Ise took out to stay with Themas the nurse. Twarnt any nursin' to be done but I sejus' to do what they wants me to do, like gwine aftah watah, helpin' dress, and so on. The Johnson kids could have made it hard fo' me but theys good to me, and we all plays together like Ise white as they is. Ise fed the same vittals and wears the same clothes as they does. Have the same sleepin' time and all. (continued on page 5)
News from Arlington Historical Society APR/MAY 2013
Historical Society Receives Abstracts of Historic Arlington Newspapers (by Tom Cogdell, AHS Board Member) The Arlington Historical Society received a set of four books about the history of Arlington at the Board meeting on February 11, 2013. Members of the Arlington Genealogical Society Thomas Cogdell, Cecilia Messick, Cherry Williams, and Mary Ann Conrad (l. to r. in the adjacent photo) were there to make the gift and explain its background. Four bound volumes of abstracts of newspaper stories from historic Arlington newspapers, written by AGS member W. E. "Will" Keller, were handed to AHS Director Geraldine Mills to become part of the collection of the Fielder House Museum and made accessible to the public for reading or research. Death Notices and Miscellaneous News Items Abstracted from the Arlington Journal Volume IA 1897-1905 Volume III 1925-1933 Volume IV 1934-1940 The Arlington Citizen, Arlington, Texas, Death Reports, News Items and Writings 1937-1940 These works acknowledge their source in the Arlington Public Library microfilm of the newspapers and are not continuous from 18971940 because there are gaps in time when copies of the newspapers have been lost. Regrettably, besides missing individual issues for scattered dates, there is no coverage of small town Arlington at all from 19051925, though Will reserved space for it if a source of the newspapers was found. They are fully indexed by surname and have some articles grouped into categories such as History and Miscellaneous when they are more about events in time than events in families. Obituaries that are included are fully detailed down to letters of thanks from family members and relatives who were in attendance. Several brief histories of the town's development are the recollections by early residents given many years later. Willard Eugene Keller was a native of Indiana who worked for American Airlines for 52 years and remained in Arlington after retirement. An expert photographer and a student of history, he often volunteered in the Arlington Public Library, where he devoted much of his free time over several years to reading microfilm to select articles of interest to include in the Abstracts that constitute the four books. He included brief wire service articles that serve to place Arlington events in a broader context. He was clearly fascinated by aviation; accidents of automobiles, railroads, or both; events in frontier Texas or the Indian Territory; and the local schools and college. Bound copies of the volumes were placed in the George W. Hawkes Central Library beginning in 2004. Digital versions were recently posted on the Library website as a Genealogy Resource. They are available to read by anyone with web access. The other copies of the manuscripts were entrusted to Mary Ann Conrad and were recently bound to present as this gift to the Fielder House Museum.
History of the Arlington Preservation Foundation (from page 1) on the spot, by persons not recorded, that money would not or should not be collected that evening and no members were signed up. 1994: By this date Pat Harry had resigned as President of the Foundation. The remaining officers, Dorothy Rencurrel, Secretary; Suzanne Sweek, Treasurer; and Nancy Bennett, President Designate, met together to try to revive the Foundation by selling note cards and posters which the ALPC had produced but had not been able to sell. On September 27, 1994, the three named above and Barbara Barksdale met as the Arlington Preservation Foundation, Inc (a 501 (c) (3) designation had been received by this time) and discussed ways to market the above-mentioned items. The decision had been made to have board members only at this time to simplify the 501(c) (3) process. The Foundation still has only a Board of Directors and does not solicit memberships. 1996: At a meeting on November 4, 1996, a discussion of the purpose of the Foundation was held. The then current by-laws did not allow it to be an advocacy group or have members-at-large. With a change, the Foundation could become an advocacy group for historical preservation. A committee to update the bylaws was appointed. At this time the city's Landmark Preservation Committee (LPC) (it had been reduced in status at that time) was appointed by the Planning and Zoning Com (continued on page 5)
News from Arlington Historical Society APR/MAY 2013
Former slaves on the Middleton Tate Johnson Plantation speak to us! (from p. 3) Co'se now, Ise fails to recollect the games we all played, but the Johnson kids were house kids and don't want to be all the time a -runnin' round, so 'twas easy fo 'me. I seall the time wantin' to go to the field and work with my pappy, but Mistez Kate Johnson won't let me 'cause she wants me to stay with the kids. 'Twas the best fo' me, but Ise guess Ise bo'n to be a plow hand 'cause that's what Ise all the time wantin' to do. Ise don't know nothin bout when freedom comes but Ise knows the time 'cause my pappy comes aftah me, and we all lives together in the cabin 'instead of mea-livin in the Marster's house with the kids. Pappy and mammy goes on a-workin' fo' Marster as the field hands on wages 'cause we nevah share crops while we was a-livin at Johnson Station. Ise gits plenty a-plowin' to do aftah Ise goes to live with my mammy and pappy. Many's the time Ise aplowin in the field and the sleet was fallin' all around us. Ise done something 'long about that time that Ise could nevah do. All the time Ise at Johnson Station, Ise never had shoes on my feet 'cept when we goes to church, and we nevah goes to church til aftah freedom 'cause 'twarnt no churches fo' the cullud folks in slavery times. Ise 'spect ifn youse was to go 'round barefooted, that youse would ketch youse death of cold. 'Twarnt nothin' to us 'cause thats the way 'twas all the time. We nevah puts the shoes on gwine to church 'til we are several hundred feet away, then puts 'em on. 'Twas done that away fo' to save the shoes. Aftah freedom comes, de Klux goes to a-runnin around over the country and causin' the cullud folks plenty a-trouble. Ise see the PatterRollers befo' freedom, but de Klux comes right up to where we lives to git people. They goes around over the country in bunches on hoss-back. My mammy was a-ridin her mule down the road towards home aftah mid-wifin' fo' some cullud folks, and a bunch comes down the road aftah her. Mammy moves over so they can git past without any bother, but aftah they was apassin', one of them hollers, halt!' The other mens says, 'Dat's Emma. She's alright, and they rides on without any trouble. The other trouble was when the Klux was a-tryin' to shoot Martha Ditto's husband. 'Stead of shootin' him, one of the shots goes a -strayin 'and kills the baby in Martha's arms. The Klux kinda thinned out aftah that and 'twarnt much trouble. (Hannah Mullin’s story will be continued in the next issue of the newsletter)
History of the Arlington Preservation Foundation (from page 4) mission and approved by the City Council to interact with city government. The Arlington Historical Society’s purpose was to collect, preserve, interpret and exhibit historical material and artifacts. The Arlington Preservation Foundation would safeguard, protect, enhance and perpetuate the heritage of Arlington through the preservation of historic and cultural landmarks. These three separate organizations remain today. The Foundation’s Board was/is open to persons with an interest in helping preserve Arlington’s history. The board has a limit of 25 members. 1998: Since there was no entity in Arlington at this time that in any way recognized the historical landmarks and sites of the city, the Foundation Board, after discussions with and approval of the city's Landmark Preservation Committee, decided to accept the responsibility of selecting and marking Arlington landmarks with an Arlington Historical Marker. 2001: The process of deciding on criteria for designation, process of application and designing the medallion and selecting a company to produce the marker took many months of discussion. The first Local Landmark Medallion was placed on the Slaughter-Geer House on South Center Street in June of this year. 2006: During this year the City of Arlington celebrated its 130th Anniversary and the Foundation was represented on the city committee for this celebration. The Foundation also designed and produced a commemorative pin as part of the celebration. Pins continue to be for sale with proceeds going toward historic preservation. 2008: The Foundation continues to support both the Arlington Historical Society and the city's Landmark Preservation Commission (upgraded to a "commission" sometime prior to 2000) in their efforts for historical preservation and education. To date the Foundation has awarded a number of local markers and is continually adding more to the list. The Foundation also produced a DVD: A History of Arlington from Trading Post to Wrecking Ball, which is still available for sale. 2010: The Foundation placed the first marker on a building from the mid 20th Century. The decade of the 1950s, with the (continued on page 6)
News from Arlington Historical Society APR/MAY 2013
GARDEN CLUB The Arlington Garden Club, the oldest garden club in Arlington, founded in 1926, and "Federated" in 1930, is “shaking things up" for its 87th year! Our mission is to stimulate a love of gardening, share horticulture knowledge with our community, aid in the protection of natural resources, and encourage civic beautification. In the future, all meetings will be at the Historic Fielder House at 2pm, on Sundays. The first half 2013 calendar is as follows: Sunday, April 7 - Fielder Festival Sunday, May 5 – Julia Burgen “ Monarch Butterflies” No meetings in the summer. Everyone interested in gardening (not just Garden Club members) is invited to come and enjoy the experiences of 87 years.
OLD TIMERS SPEAKERS Old Timers meets at the Fielder House on the 3rd Thursday each month at 2 p.m. April 18 —The Ross Brothers—Albert, Hugh, and Martin May 16 —John Murchinson June 20 —UTA authors Evelyn Barker & Lea Worcester July 18 —Tom Cogdell, “The Mystery Woman in Arlington” August 15—O. K. Carter, his new book, Caddos, Cotton and Cowboys: Essays on Arlington Sept. 19— to be announced October 17 —Jane Santerre, “The Santerre Family”
History of the Arlington Preservation Foundation (from page 5) coming of General Motors and a major league baseball team began Arlington’s growth toward the city it has become. The building marked was the Jones Building on West Main Street. 2013: The Arlington Preservation Foundation has, in the last few years, continued to place markers but has expanded into the advocacy part of our mission by serving as the 501 (c) (3) entity for small community groups, allowing them to apply for grants which they might not otherwise be eligible for. The Foundation is currently a 501 (c) (3) advocate for Briarwood Neighborhood, Old Town Historic District, South Center Street Historic District, and South Davis Neighbors. In order to help educate the citizens of Arlington about its history and the significance of certain structures, persons, areas, sites or artifacts the Arlington Preservation Foundation makes available a Local Landmark designation. The marker depends, at times, more on local history and involvement of persons living in the structure than on architecture. The Arlington Preservation Foundation also honor artifacts, sites and archeological areas if they meet the local historic significance criteria. The next issue of the newsletter will contain the criteria for designation as an Arlington Landmark and a list of all of the Markers awarded by the Foundation.
You need to see the Arlington Historical Society’s great new Exhibit at the Central Library Honoring the Arlington boys who died in WW II We have moved most of our artifacts and memorabilia from the Fielder Museum to the Library to share with others information we discovered while researching our communities' involvement during the WWII years. Many stories taken from microfiche of the Arlington Journal, and from family and friends of our fallen boys are available at the Museum and in the book Arlington in World War II, by Beverly Reynolds. We now have included 47 soldiers, sailors, and marines in our Gold Star Roster. A presentation of our material will be given on Armed Forces Day, May 18, hosted by the George Hawkes Central Library, time to be announced.