Carroll Family Home:
A Family's History on Facebook
It all started on July 28,
2010, when Mavis Anne
Bryant told Jim Sears that the photo lab she used was closing on a
date. Thereafter, she would have no way to get her old-fashioned film
Jim responded right away: "Well,
gives you two days, and it would be a shame to waste half a roll. If
taking requests, put me down for the funeral home at 515 North Burnett
the 1950s, the house was home to two sisters who taught at Raynal
Nolte and Venita O’Dell. Mrs. O’Dell was the principal when I was
transferred away from Raynal in 1959, and apparently they never got
Neither of them lived another decade."
Mavis drove the few
blocks and took a few photos of the house.
(east) side, 515 North Burnett Avenue
Photo by Mavis Anne
corner of 515 North Burnett Avenue
Photo by Mavis
Anne Bryant, June 2010
Jim Sears was inspired to
delve into both
documents and his own memories. He discovered:
The 1920 Census showed the
Carroll family at
1315 West Main Street. They apparently moved to 515 North Burnett
sometime in the 1920s.
The 1930 Census listed five
residents at the Burnett
head of household, 51, railway switchman, born in Tennessee to parents
wife, no occupation, also born in Tennessee to parents born in
daughter, saleslady in a hat shop, born in Texas.
daughter, public school teacher, born in Texas.
27, daughter, occupation "none" (but industry "public
school"), born in Texas.
Hartson, 32, son-in-law, manager "Texas Co.
F.," born in Pennsylvania.
of Vinita Pierce Ray, great-granddaughter
John T. "J. T." Carroll
Three sisters: Mary, Venita,
and Wilma Carroll, ca. 1930
grew up in the Carroll family home at 515 North Burnett Avenue.
Vinita Pierce Ray, granddaughter of Mary Carroll
JIM SEARS PUT IT TOGETHER:
married her first husband, Albert Hartson (June 1, 1897 – September 7,
1927 or 1928.
occupation in the 1930 Census was given as "manager, Texas Co. F."
The U.S. National Guard Register for 1922 lists Albert J. Hartson as a
Lieutenant in Texas Company E. In 1925 he is listed again as a 1st
His regiment is "Special Division Troops" and his company is "36
Sig Co — Denison." That considerable military service (at least eight
years, 1922–30) apparently qualified him for his subsequent career in
Denison Police Department.
--Albert is listed
in the 1938 City Directory as a city patrolman. By 1940, he had been
to city detective.
--Venita is listed
in 1938 and 1940 directories as a teacher. In 1938, they were still
515 North Burnett, her mother’s home. (Venita's father, John T.
died in 1937.)
--The next City
Directory, 1946, lists Venita Hartson still at the same address.
however, is missing. Apparently they divorced between 1940 and 1946. In
Venita was still a teacher. For the first time, her school was
the directories as "Central School."
Security Death Index lists Van Horn in Culberson County as Albert's
address of record, but the Texas Death Index says he actually died in
County. There is or was a big VA hospital in Waco. He may have gone
Van Horn for treatment of his last illness. The Texas Death Index says
single when he died on September 7, 1973.
--By 1949 Venita had
been promoted to principal at Raynal School. She is listed there again
Her name is still Venita Hartson.
--By the time I
(Jim) started first grade in 1957, Venita Hartson had become Venita
having married Otha O’Dell, a railroad employee born in Grayson County
They obviously married sometime between 1951 and 1957. It was the
marriage for him, too.
--Venita may have
finally moved out of her mother's house after she married Otha. [The
1959 phone books list Otha O’Dell (sic) at 1029 East Texas Street.]
shortly before Christmas in 1965 at age 62. Otha lived until 1980, but
have been divorced before she died. The Grayson County Death Index
lists her as
did divorce, she may have moved back to 515 North Burnett
(assuming she moved out
when they married) before she died. (I don't have a directory or phone
O’Dell is buried in Fairview
Cemetery. Otha O’Dell is not listed in Fairview's
records among those interred.
HUSBAND, OTHA O’DELL:
Nancy Schmidt spoke up. “I
am Mr. O'Dell’s
niece, Nancy Colson. My mother was his sister. He had three sisters on
Street: Mrs. Tennie, Mrs. Millie Mays, and my mother. Aunt Venita was a
sweet lady. Someone said that Uncle Otha was buried out at our cemetery
town. He and Aunt Venita are in Fairview Cemetery north of town on the
the lake [Texoma]. Oh, no, I forgot Aunt Opal; she lived in half of my
house at 222 West Munson Street. It's all gone now. It's hard for me to
Munson … I enjoy these pictures and stories. Thanks to all who send in
stories. God bless.”
Vinita Pierce Ray,
granddaughter of Venita’s
sister Mary, replied: “I remember Mr. O'Dell's sister then, but I
name as ‘Charlie’ Mays (I always called her ‘Aunt Charlie’). Of course
very little and could be slightly mistaken about the name, but she
the street from my mother and me on Munson. We visited her all the
was so sweet. I loved her to death. She was about the only family left
"Mr. O'Dell was a very nice man. He is buried in a family cemetery east
Denison. I never saw him that he wasn't well dressed with a
hat on his head or
in his hand."
of Vinita Pierce Ray, great-niece
“I heard years ago that Mrs.
O’Dell died in a
fire.” Jim Sears spoke hesitantly. “I have been reluctant to say so,
memory plays tricks on me sometimes. For instance, I thought I
she spelled her last name ‘Odell,’ but it turns out that she actually
it with an apostrophe and a capital D—‘O'Dell.’”
Steve Armstrong knew for sure,
O'Dell died in a house fire the night before we were to have our
parties at Raynal in 1965. Raynal closed one day early for Christmas
because of her death. I was in the third grade at the time. The
the kids drew names for the parties were exchanged in January, after
to school. There used to be a portrait of Mrs. O'Dell over the entrance
cafeteria. Mrs. O'Dell loved purple, all right—Raynal's school colors
purple and white. I still have a purple Raynal pennant.”
Kay Clark had an idea:
“Perhaps Brenda O’Dell
(who graduated from DHS in 1960) would be able to answer some of these
questions. I believe they were related but may be mistaken. Her father,
O’Dell, built many of the homes in the Hyde Park area. Brenda lives in
... Mr. and Mrs. O’Dell were awesome. Very welcoming and kind.”
reported next: “I had a visit with Mr. O'Dell's niece tonight. Mr. and
O’Dell lived on East Texas Street. Mrs. Nolte and Mrs. O'Dell were
Christmas presents. Not sure if Mrs. Nolte lived there with them or if
just spending the night. All went to bed and woke up to a burning
O'Dell called the Fire Department and said she was right behind them,
never came out of the house. She was not burned in the fire; she died
inhalation. The fire was ruled accidental from an ashtray being dumped
with wrapping paper. I didn't meet Mr. O'Dell till after this had
was a very nice man.”
School report card
Venita O'Dell, Principal
Courtesy of Vinita Pierce Ray, great-niece
JIM SEARS TELLS IT
Carroll, a Denison school teacher, married Howell W. Nolte in Durant,
in August 1933, when she was 28 and he was about 35.
--Mrs. Nolte taught
first grade at Raynal School. Howell was a manual arts teacher at
School. He is mentioned three or four times in Bryant and Hunt’s
Schools on Main Street.
--In 1930, Howell
Nolte was still listed in the City Directory with a previous wife,
Nolte, also a school teacher. Their son, William Howell (Bill) Nolte,
in October 1932.
died, for Wilma raised Bill. He graduated from Denison High School in
when he was not yet 17. (Perhaps having three parents and an aunt who
school is an academic advantage.) In 2010, he was living in Ormond
--In the 1946
Denison City Directory, Howell Nolte is still listed as a school
teacher, but by
1949 he had changed careers, becoming a field specialist for the U.S.
Administration. He died in November 1949, at about age 52.
--By 1951, Wilma had
moved from 624 West Gandy Street back to 515 North Burnett. Howell’s
had moved with her. At that time, the Carroll family home was owned by
mother, Meta D. Carroll (widow of John T. Carroll).
--Bill is listed as
a student in 1951. Since he graduated from high school in 1949, he must
been attending college somewhere. I have found so many references to
"William Howell Nolte" on the Web that I suspect there may be more
than one person with that name. He may have become an English
literary critic, doctor, pilot, real estate agent, or all or none of
--Wilma Carroll Nolte died in
1968, at age 63. She is buried at
Fairview Cemetery. Howell Nolte died in 1949 and was buried in his home town, San Angelo.
Courtesy of Vinita Pierce Ray,
The third sister, Mary Carroll-Pierce, and her son Dan Mitchell
Couresy of Vinita Pierce Ray, granddaughter of Mary Carroll-Pierce and
daughter of Dan Mitchell Pierce
Mitchell Pierce on the front steps of the Carroll family
home, 515 North Burnett Avenue, Denison Texas Courtesy of Vinita Pierce
Ray, daughter of Dan Mitchell Pierce
Mitchell Pierce between his parents, Mary Carroll-Pierce and
Courtesy of Vinita Pierce Ray, daughter of Dan Mitchell Pierce
LATER: WHAT VINITA KNEW
Some considerable time had
passed before we
unexpectedly heard from Vinita Pierce Ray, the granddaughter of Mary
Carroll-Pierce, who was Venita and Wilma’s sister. Vinita wrote:
WOW! I think Jim knows more
about my family than
I do! I was, by the way, named for Venita, only my mother chose to
spelling slightly. Let's see what I can add to the story.
1. Venita did die in
the house fire.
2. My grandmother,
Mary Carroll-Pierce, was shot by my grandfather as she lay sleeping in
downstairs apartment of the Carroll family home. She was sleeping next
sister Wilma. My grandfather, Dansby Pierce, then walked upstairs and
himself. I am unsure of the exact year but believe it was around 1961
3. My father, Dan
Mitchell Pierce, died in a motorcycle accident on Breezy Hill [on
Parkway between Denison and Sherman] in August 1968. His Aunt Wilma
hours of finding out about his passing, due to the heartbreak of so
4. My mom did not
inherit the home because of my dad dying first, just hours before
Everything reverted to her and her heirs. I do have tons of pictures,
the china, and a suitcase full of memorabilia. It is such a shame that
house [at 515 North Burnett Avenue] is just sitting there.
Mitchell Pierce and pals, in front of 515 North Burnett
Marvin Hunt recalled: “Miss
Nolte told me my
real name was Marvin, not "Dust", in first grade, 1955. I cried so much
had to come to the school.”
Dianne Henry Stiff had this
to say: “Loved these
two wonderful ladies. Mrs. Nolte was my first-grade teacher and made
so much fun. She was a remarkable person with little ones, as she made
feel so special. Can't remember anyone not wanting to go to school.
was a good principal, and I always remembered that her favorite color
purple. [She wore] purple glasses and purple clothes. Always firm with
that needed to be firm with and had them eating out her hand. Everyone
respected her and didn't want to be on her bad side. I feel blessed to
gone to a school that had wonderful teachers that cared and gave so
their students. I am so glad to read this information on the Carroll
Venita and Wilma were very special to me as well as to many others in
Carole Moody had a special
youngest sister is named for Ms. Venita O'Dell. Her name is Venita, and
also a teacher!!!!!”
RAYNAL SCHOOL, DENISON TEXAS
PIERCE STORES ON
Grocery Store, 811 South Armstrong Avenue, January 1956
Courtesy of Vinita
Pierce Ray, who wrote, "My dad (Dan Mitchell Pierce) outside the Pierce
The store was owned by my grandfather Dansby Pierce and my
Cut-Rate Liquors" Sign
The store, located at
the southwest corner of Armstrong Avenue and Day Street, was owned by
Carroll-Pierce and Dansby Pierce. It later became the Ark Christian
Cut-Rate Liquors, southwest corner of Armstrong Avenue and
Day Street, ca. 1960.
Owned by Mary Carroll-Pierce and Dansby Pierce.
building was Betty's Beauty Salon around 1970–1980.
Later it became the Ark
Christian Book Store.
Interior, Deuce Cut-Rate
Liquors, southwest corner of Armstrong
Avenue and Day Street
Dan Mitchell Pierce (in
white jeans and
shades) and some of his buddies lounging outside the Magic Wand Car
1965. The two on the right may be James (Jimmy) Lively and Wayne Green.
tall one holding the cigarette may be Jimmy Wilkins. According to Steve
Armstrong, the photo was taken "behind the gas station on the northwest
corner of Crawford Street and Austin Avenue. You can see the old
mill in the background."
Elaine Nall Bay