Nash the Man, Nash the School

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 (“Zeb”) Eugene  Benharnois Nash 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.

nash-77In 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.

nash 85 88

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.

nash-97Zebiron Eugene Benharnois Nash died in 1897. Note that Charles was at Hust Lake (often misspelled Hurst) when his father died.

nash-99Charles took over the family hardware company after his father died.

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, daughter of David Chapman 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 Street, still was not paved.

nash school board 1915 w photoCharles 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.

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.

nash-28The school opened in 1928. Not surprisingly, children of long-established Samuels Avenue families attended the new neighborhood school: Grunewald and Getzendaner.

nash-28-schools 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.

nash-36Fast-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:

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10 Responses to Nash the Man, Nash the School

  1. I am Stephen Kithas, first son of Bill Kithas. He lived with his Father Angelo Kithas who owned Angeles cafe. He always mentioned the Allen family. He grew up on east Bluff street and attended Charles E. Nash elementary school in the early 40’s. Please reply if you knew my family.

  2. russell tucker says:

    I attended Dagget Middle school in 1960-62 In fort worth. I had a friend, Robert Nash. His family owned Nash hardware. Any idea what happened to him?

    • hometown says:

      A search for “Robert Nash” in the Star-Telegram archives finds dozens of stories but none with a tie to the Hardware family. Find A Grave also has nothing for Bob or Robert in Fort Worth.

    • L R Westbrook says:

      Robert Nash is my first cousin.
      He is alive and doing very well in Texas

  3. 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.

  4. Noel Viramontes says:

    we love nash!!! And our kids go there now

    • hometown says:

      Beautiful school in a neighborhood of great history.

    • Kelly Smith says:

      Noel, I have been looking into Fort Worth’s history and came across your comment regarding Charles Nash Elementary. I have thought of you many times and still remember the hysterical story you told me about the “stalactites” in Mrs. Whittine’s classroom!
      Kelly Smith

  5. John Shiflet says:

    A majorly remodeled Charles E. Nash home still stands due north of the D.C. Bennett/Fenelon house at 731 Samuels. Mrs. David Nash told me she sold it to a Christian organization for troubled teens (Teen Challenge) in the 1970’s which gutted the historic home to the studs and rebuilt with a whole new floorplan inside. At least the exterior facade is still intact. The School honoring Nash (who was a school board president) is largely intact and original. Our son attended school there in the 1990’s back when it and the surrounding neighborhood were considered marginal. Now Nash Elementary is rated “exemplary”. Glad that new development did not destroy this fine old school building-long a neighborhood landmark.

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