History From the Four Corners of the County: Quadrant 2

Because settlement of the Texas frontier in the nineteenth century progressed from east to west, Quadrant 2 of our 1920 Tarrant County map (see Part 1) was the first corner of the county to be settled.

Place names in Quadrant 2 include the schools of Carroll, Minter, and Shady Grove and the communities of Bransford, Smithfield, Dove, Birdville, and Tarrant. (See larger maps at bottom of post.) (From Pete Charlton’s “1000+ Lost Antique Maps of Texas & the Southwest on DVD-ROM.”)

In 1920 county commissioners approved a crossroad to connect the Carroll school with the road from Grapevine to Roanoke and the road from Grapevine to Keller. The Carroll school had opened in 1919, named for Burrell E. Carroll, county school superintendent.

The crossroad is shown on the 1920 map. Carroll Independent School District still exists, serving Southlake. The unnamed crossroad of 1920 today is Southlake’s Carroll Avenue.

For people living in rural areas, country schoolhouses such as Shady Grove were often the closest public meeting space. (The Adamson Law of 1916 established an eight-hour workday, with additional pay for overtime work, for interstate railroad workers.)

The minutes of a 1923 county school board meeting show the grades taught by each school.

Birdville, of course, was the first county seat in 1850.

The community of Smithfield, established before 1870, originally was named “Zion.” A post office opened there in 1878. When the St. Louis Southwestern (Cotton Belt) railroad laid track a quarter-mile south of there in 1888, a second community of Zion developed near the track and drained population and commerce from the first Zion, which was abandoned. The new community was renamed “Smithfield” for brothers Eli and David Smith, two “good specimens of the genus homo” who had donated land for a church and cemetery in Zion. By the late 1940s Smithfield had 350 residents, but nearby North Richland Hills annexed Smithfield in 1958.

Bransford was named for pioneer settler Felix Grundy Bransford, who opened a general store in the area in 1873 and was active in the Smithfield Masonic lodge.

In 1875 people could pay their taxes at places such as F. G. Bransford’s store, Birdville, and Minter’s Chapel.

After 1888 the community of Bransford, like Smithfield, prospered when it became a stop on the Cotton Belt railroad.

To the south, after the Rock Island railroad laid track from Dallas to Fort Worth in 1902 the community of Candon grew up around a station near Euless. Candon’s name was soon changed to “Tarrant.” The community had a post office, blacksmith, gin, drugstore, and about seventy-five residents. But the town declined after its railroad station closed. Tarrant lost its post office and was absorbed by Euless in the 1940s.

By 1845 lay minister Green Washington Minter and wife Jane Large Minter had moved to Texas from Illinois to settle on Peters Colony land. By 1854 they settled in northeast Tarrant County. That’s when the Minters helped organize Minter’s Chapel Methodist Church. The congregation built a church building of hewn logs. (Photo from Tarrant County College Northeast Campus, Heritage Room.)

The 1854 log church was replaced in 1882 by a frame structure. Minter’s son-in-law, James Cate, set aside 4.1 acres of land for the church and cemetery. The building served as both church and school for decades.

One Sunday morning in 1933 a church member built a fire in the building’s stove to heat the church before services. The stove had a faulty flue. The building burned to the ground.

The building was rebuilt on the site of the 1882 building.

Although founded by a lay minster, Minter’s Chapel was served by circuit-riding preachers for most of its history. Preachers on horseback might preach at thirty churches in a month. They carried a gun as well as a Bible when they traveled because of the dangers on the isolated roads. According to historian Michael Patterson, the Minter’s Chapel congregation heard its last sermon from a circuit preacher—now traveling by auto—in 1953!

Mr. and Mrs. James Cate of Minter’s Chapel. Mrs. Cate was the daughter of Green Washington and Jane Large Minter. (Photo from Tarrant County College Northeast Campus, Heritage Room.)

A class of the Minter’s Chapel school. (Photo from Tarrant County College Northeast Campus, Heritage Room.)

The Minter’s Chapel Cemetery was laid out next to the church. Many of the graves are marked only by blank stones. Others are not marked at all. Some of the graves are thought to be those of slaves.

The earliest marked grave is that of A. M. Newton, who died in 1857.

The shared tombstone of Green Washington and Jane Large Minter. They died two weeks apart in 1887.

In 1967 WBAP’s Texas News reported that the site of Minter’s Chapel had been sold to make way for Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport. The congregation packed up—lock, stock, and doxology—and moved. Today the congregation is part of First United Methodist Church Grapevine. But the population of Minter’s Chapel Cemetery—in the words of the old spiritual (“I shall not, I shall not be moved. I shall not, I shall not be moved. Just like a tree that’s planted by the water I shall not be moved.”)—didn’t budge an inch. The airport “built around” the cemetery, which today is 1,700 feet west of Runway 36L.

Seven miles northwest of Minter’s Chapel Cemetery on the west side of Lake Grapevine stands a church that was founded eight years before Minter’s Chapel.

In 2006 Lonesome Dove pastor Coy Quesenbury said, “In 1844 a large number of people left Platte County, Missouri [by wagon train] to make a new life for themselves in the Republic of Texas.”

Upon arriving in Texas two of the men in the wagon train were so impressed with the new land—abundant wild turkey, buffalo, deer, wild honey, wild grapes, and lots of elbow room—that they returned to Missouri in 1845 and persuaded relatives to move to Texas with them. Twelve additional wagons, called the “Missouri Colony,” headed west in September 1845.

They settled in the Cross Timbers, specifically the northeast corner of what would become Tarrant County.

According to Winnie Foster, great-grandson of Missouri Colony member Susan Foster, the first religious meetings of the colony were held at fireside meetings under oak trees against which the men stacked their guns.

Then “the pioneers began to meet in different homes for worship,” Quesenbury said, “and because other settlers were arriving on a regular basis, there were soon enough people for the founding of a church. On the third Saturday of February 1846, the band met at the log cabin home of Charles Throop and formed the Lonesome Dove Baptist Church.”

Charter members were John Allen Freeman and wife Nancy, Henry Suggs and wife Saleta, Felix and Rachel Mulliken (who settled in today’s Samuels Avenue area and thus traveled several miles of rugged road to church), James W. and Mary Anderson, Susan Foster, James Halford, Lucinda Throop, and Mary Leonard (wife of Archibald Leonard). Lucinda Throop was the wife of Charles Throop.

According to Darla Allcorn in her master’s thesis of 1975, as far as the Lonesome Dove charter members knew, their church was the only one between Red River County and the Pacific Ocean.

John Allen Freeman, the church’s first permanent preacher, was ordained in the log cabin of James Halford on July 19, 1846.

Freeman remained at the church until 1857. He also taught at the Lonesome Dove School.

Of the name “Lonesome Dove,” writer A. C. Greene says: “There are several versions of how Lonesome Dove Church was named. The most romantic says that the members met outdoors under an oak tree, and, as they were praying for guidance, a dove lighted nearby and began cooing, inspiring the name. Another version is that this church, so remote in the wilderness, was God’s lonesome dove. There also may have been a church of similar name back in Missouri, where most of the founding members came from.”

Several charter members of the church appear in the 1850 census.

Their land surveys appear on this 1867 map.

The first meeting house for the Lonesome Dove Church was erected in the autumn of 1847. Members of the congregation camped out while building the meeting house. The church was built on a high stone foundation because of the danger of flooding from Denton Creek. During floods church members fished from the church’s porch.

We know these details because the minutes of the early meetings of the Dove church congregation have survived.

The Dove community also had a school.

In September of 1863, the minutes show that the congregation had voted to meet in the schoolhouse because the church building had been burned by Native Americans.

The church was rebuilt in 1865 and replaced in 1894. The new church was built to accommodate approximately two hundred people.

For illumination, lamps and a carbide light plant were used until 1918, when the building was wired for electricity.

The 1894 church stood until 1930, when the building was again struck by fire. A new building was erected on the site and used until 1968, when a brick meeting house was built.

The Lonesome Dove Cemetery is located next to the church. Many of the founders of the church are buried here. The cemetery was fenced first by timber and in 1882 by barbed wire. Original grave markers were of wood or sandstone.

The graves are laid out on an east-to-west axis with the tombstones facing west.

Wives are buried to the left of their husbands.

A replacement tombstone for Lonesome Dove charter member Susan Foster and husband Ambrose. He was a veteran of the War of 1812.

The earliest grave marker is dated February 1867, but many people were buried before then in graves that were not then or are not now marked.

The cemetery grounds were originally scraped free of vegetation to prevent grazing animals from trampling the graves and to lessen the danger of grass fires burning wooden markers. Some of the graves were also mounded to make them distinguishable.

Around the church and school developed the agricultural community of Dove. A post office operated there from 1894 to 1904. The community school enrolled eighty-eight students in 1905.

But the community of Dove eventually became part of Southlake. The church is located on Lonesome Dove Road.

Meanwhile Lonesome Dove Baptist Church has retained its identity. As it nears its 174th birthday, it claims to be the oldest continuous congregation in Tarrant County.

Hard to argue with that.

History From the Four Corners of the County: Quadrant 3

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