Chasing Our Tales to Fort Worth Nature Center

photo by Raf
Here's my monthly column. Don't always post it here, but here it is today:

Yesterday Raf and I took a short trip to the Fort Worth Nature Center, The wind was brisk, but it was still a nice outing. We were disappointed to discover, however, that the Nature Center has not been as well maintained as was so in the past.

What, you may ask, does this have to do with the history and genealogy of our area. Well, on the way up and back we looked for remnants of the past, cemeteries, old homes, and other buildings of interest. And what was interesting, and perhaps a little sad, is that there just wasn't much, save three churches, sans their churchyards.

The church closest to the Nature Center, and in Tarrant County, was the Elm Grove Baptist Church which, the sign stated, was founded in 1886, making it one hundred twenty-two years in 2008.

Elm Grove Baptist is close to the community of Silver Creek. The land for the church was donated by the O'Donald family, the grandparents of Charles Homer McBride who was born in Tarrant County in 1897 near or in the area that is now Lake Worth. Charles' father, Henry Boyd McBride, was a tenant farmer south of Azle.

Charles married Eleanor Beal Karr in 1921. He lived many places in Texas, but was living in Boyd when he died in 1967.

The next church we saw coming back south was the Bluff Springs Church of Christ in Parker County. This church is presumably in what was once the community of Bluff Springs, where C. H. McBride attended school.

And the third church, closest to Lake Weatherford, was the Clear Fork Baptist Church, also in Parker County, in the community of Dicey. It was founded in 1858 by Noah T. Byars, and if we had but turned right, somewhere near the church, we would also have discovered the cemetery, although it was not marked from the road.

Noah Turner Byars was born in South Carolina in 1808 and died in Brownwood, Texas, in 1886. He became a gunsmith and blacksmith, and when the Texas Declaration of Independence was signed, it was done so in Byars' blacksmith shop, now known as Texas Independence Hall.

When Noah T. was 27 he came to Texas and opened a blacksmith-gunsmith shop at Washington-on-the Brazos. General Sam Houston liked his work and appointed him armorer and blacksmith of the whole Texas army.

Byars was a celebrated leader of the early Baptist Church in Texas. He was one of the originators of the Texas Baptist Education Society started in 1848, and he also helped charter Baylor University in the Republic of Texas. Byars was a fervent Christian missionary in the new land of Texas.

In his old age Byars served as the pastor of First Baptist, Brownwood from 1881-82. His last full charge was at Clear Creek Baptist in Brown County in 1884. He officiated at the wedding of Katherine Anne Porter's parents. He was survived by his second wife, whom he had married in 1877, and the children from his first marriage. He is buried in Greenleaf Cemetery in Brownwood. In 1936 a special Byars Memorial Thanksgiving Service was held in honor of the Texas Centennial on the campus of Howard Payne College. A blue marble spire was erected there and later moved to Byars's grave.

The Clear Fork Cemetery was donated to the Clear Fork Baptist church by the William Baker Family in 1869.

William Baker was a farmer who was born in South Carolina about 1824, as was Byars. Perhaps they were friends before coming to Texas. His wife, S. A., was five years his junior and was also born in South Carolina. Their children were Meary, Harriet, Calvin, Elizabeth, L.R., B., and Bettie.

Also, along the way, we noticed that the highway from the Nature Center to Texas 730 was called the Confederate Parkway, and we stopped in the town of Lakeside to ask if there was a Confederate Park in the area. We were told there had been one on the east side of the road right after Silver Creek but that it no longer existed.

We also noted that the road was being kept clean by the Sons of Confederate Veterans, Looking online I found that both Weatherford and Fort Worth have camps of the Sons. The Weatherford camp, Governor Samuel W. T. Lanham Camp #586, meets on the third Tuesday evenings at 7 pm at Grace First Presbyterian Church, 606 Mockingbird Lane. It's governor is Calvin Allen, and his contact number is 817-598-0141.

The Sons' website states that "The SCV is the direct heir of the United Confederate Veterans, and the oldest hereditary organization for male descendents of Confederate soldiers. Organized at Richmond, Virginia in 1896, the SCV continues to serve as a historical, patriotic, and non-political organization dedicated to insuring that a true history of the 1861-1865 period is preserved."

Still looking for historical evidence in an area now populated by city folks, realtors, developers, and folks that "aren't from around here", I tried to seize on any place names that might further my cause, but amid names such as Covered Bridge Canyon (complete with an up-to-date, no so historical covered bridge), Silver Creek and Turkey Mountain, I was left bereft of any history save that which is being made now, probably known better as Pop Culture!

Looking back on my previous column about Paducah and Cottle County, and on a subsequent column telling a little about Ella Elgar Bird Dumont, I have spoken to several local folks who grew up there, my friend Louise Dillard, my neighbor Jack Powell, and Raf's Gun Club friend Ed Yowell. Jack came by the other day and brought me a copy of Mrs. Dumont's book. He told me that he remembered Mrs. Dumont and that he walked past her house each day on his way to and from school.

Having read the book, I have found some interesting tidbits of information about the area and its history," J. J. McAdams' original ranch headquarters were near the center of Cottle County. According to Tom Long, McAdams never held title to this land. He obtained the land for a horse and a saddle from a man named Breckenridge. Long and Long, interview, March 20, 1987. In Our Roots Grow Deep, Bennett says that McAdams held "Winchester claim" to his land. It was McAdams who offered the site for the county seat (Paducah) in 1892. Webb, the Handbook of Texas 2:324. Bettie B. McAdams Gafford, granddaughter of J. J. McAdams, reports that McAdams later moved fifteen miles east to the Cottle and Foard county line, establishing the McAdams Hat Ranch in 1898. Following McAdams' death in 1921, Tom Burnett bought the ranch. Today the land is part of the Triangle Ranch, owned by burnett's granddaughter, Anne Windfohr of Fort Worth. Bennet, Our Roots. The year of the author's narrative is early 1890, two years before Paducah was organized." Ella Elgar Bird Dumont, edited by Tommy J. Boley, University of Texas Press, 1998.

Interestingly, Winchester claim means they were fixin' to shoot anybody who came on the land or tried to take it away from them.

So, do you have information about the history of the land between Weatherford and Lake Worth, or more information about Paducah and Cottle County? Or do you have an ancestor you'd like to tell us about or a question about a family line? Let's hear from you either at P O Box 61, Mineral Wells TX 76068-0061 or

And until next time, you all stay warm, you hear?


Dawn said…
It is sad when history is not valued enough to keep things up!
vicci said…
I have no history for you...but I sure like the photo of that church...sure makes one 'drift' to look at it....XO
I love history.....
yarngoddess said…
This is the kind of history that never gets into the books. Thanks for that.
I'd like to see what you do with that Navajo loom. How big is your first piece going to be? Did you get a book on tapestry with it? Are you ready to start warping it?
Inquiring minds want to know.
Oh Sue, I love to stop by and read about Mineral Wells. I was born on Lake Worth. My mom told me many many stories about Weatherford. And oh, how I miss Mineral Wells. I have an old town history book I'll dig up and get you the name.

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