Nash the Man, Nash the School

It’s unfortunate that folks for whom a school or other building is named often do not live to see their namesake. An example is Charles E. Nash.

nash 1870 census Charles Edgar Nash was born in 1861 in St. Paul, Minnesota, to Zebiron Eugene Benharnois (“Zeb”) and Octavia Mills Nash. The Nash family was living in New Orleans in 1870. Zeb, a Union army sutler (civilian provisioner), had been transferred to New Orleans in 1864 during Union army occupation of the city.

nash 85 88But in 1872 Zeb, drawn to Texas by the boom in land and cattle, moved his family to Fort Worth and is said to have opened a hardware store here that year. In 1877 son Charles, age sixteen, was a clerk in the hardware and tin shop of William F. Lake at Houston and 2nd streets. In 1878 father Zeb’s hardware store was on Houston Street between Belknap and Weatherford streets. About 1885 Zeb moved his store to 1609 Main Street. The building had housed the undertaking parlor of R. L. Turner, who operated a livery stable next door. Livery stables often branched out into undertaking. Maps are from 1885 and 1888.

nash 1892 cd Clip is from the 1892 city directory. Charles took over the company when his father died in 1897.

nash ear adsThe company’s newspaper ads in 1899 were small but prominently placed: in the ears of the nameplate on the front page.

nash 1900 census

By 1900 Charles had married Edith Bennett.

nash panelIn 1910 Charles sold the retail store and built a larger home for a wholesale hardware business at 410 East 8th Street. Today the building houses the Young Women’s Leadership Academy.

nash sanborn 1911

Note that in 1911 East 8th Street just four blocks off Main still was not paved.

nash school board 1915 w photoCharles E. Nash, who had  was elected to the school board in 1915. Re-elected was Dr. Clay Johnson of Chase Court. George Carson Clarke was re-elected as school board president. (Unlike Nash, George Carson Clarke had already lived to see an elementary school named after him—in 1914.) By 1916 Nash was vice president of the board when he resigned in a dispute over how the board should spend bond money. That same year Nash was among civic leaders trying to raise $150,000 ($3.2 million today) for TCU and its medical school after Fort Worth University closed in 1911.

nash 9-14-17 stCharles E. Nash died on September 13, 1917 at age fifty-six. Clip is from the September 14 Star-Telegram.

nash graveNash is buried in Oakwood Cemetery.

After Charles Edgar Nash died in 1917, his namesake school was not built for another ten years. Charles E. Nash Elementary School stands on Samuels Avenue three blocks from where the Nash home stood.

But one Charles Edgar Nash did live to see that namesake school: Nash’s grandson, Charles Edgar Nash III (a water ski and skateboard manufacturer), attended Nash Elementary.

Architect Wiley G. Clarkson did the school’s namesake proud with this Spanish colonial design:

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4 Responses to Nash the Man, Nash the School

  1. Mike Allen says:

    I went to Nash elementary in 1952 and was in Mrs. Newsom’s first grade class. My parents and I lived on East Bluff and I walked to school along East Peach street. There was a fire station adjacent to the railroad tracks on East Peach and I sometimes visited with the firemen there. Great memories.

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