Folks for whom a school or other building is named often do not live to see their namesake. An example is Charles E. Nash.
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.
But in 1873 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 competing 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 (today the southern edge of the Water Gardens). 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.
Zebiron Eugene Benharnois Nash died in 1897. Note that Charles was at Hust Lake (often misspelled Hurst) when his father died.
Charles took over the family hardware company after his father died.
The company’s newspaper ads in 1899 were small but prominently placed: in the ears of the nameplate on the front page.
By 1900 Charles had married Edith Bennett.
In 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.
Note that in 1911 East 8th Street, just four blocks off Main Street, still was not paved.
Charles E. Nash 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 school 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.
Charles E. Nash died on September 13, 1917 at age fifty-six. Clip is from the September 14 Star-Telegram.
Nash 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.
The city directory provides a snapshot of public schools in 1928.
Charles Edgar Nash died in 1917, 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.
Fast-forward to 1936. Just eight years after Charles E. Nash Elementary School opened, the school building was expanded. The school district was busy that year, adding on to some buildings, including Nash and I. M. Terrell High School, and building or planning new schools, including Wyatt C. Hedrick’s Riverside, Joseph Pelich’s Polytechnic, Wiley G. Clarkson’s North Side, and Preston Geren’s Arlington Heights high schools.
Clarkson also designed Nash Elementary. He did the school’s namesake proud with this Spanish colonial design: