Munson was the youngest of numerous children born to William Benjamin
Sr. (1846–1930) and Mary Ella Newton Munson (1852–1951). Ben and his
brothers, J. T. and Thomas Volney, had come to Denison in the town's
years, acquired large tracts of land, and became leaders of the new
Their first home was at 302 West Gandy Street.
was born on September 20, 1888, and graduated from Denison's
Institute (first Denison High School) in the Class of 1905. The
Institute was the first free, graded public school in Texas. Eloise
University of Texas, graduating in 1909 with a Bachelor of Arts degree
Arts. Her sister Linley Munson Tonkin, ten years older, was a noted
after graduating, Eloise lived in Denison and traveled to Canada and
Europe. Her obituary in the Denison
Herald on March 30, 1969, stated that she began to work at
her family’s Denison
businesses during World War I. The 1920 census listed her occupation as
stenographer at Munson Realty Company. The 1927 Denison City Directory
her as secretary-treasurer of Munson Realty Company. Her father was
Joseph, author of the book Ten Million
Acres, a biography of Eloise's father, described her as an
of a business “triumvirate with her father and Ben, Jr."
1912, Eloise's parents had built a large home at 1127 West Morton
she never married, she continued to live with them. They deeded the
home to her
in 1921, maintaining the right to live there and agreeing to handle all
and expenses for their natural lives.
Ben Sr. died in 1930, Eloise's brother, William Benjamin Munson Jr.,
male among Ben and Ella's children, took over leadership of the
businesses. Unfortunately, Ben Jr. died of a heart attack six years
1936, at the age of 50. At that time, Eloise took charge.
1936 to 1955, she served as president and general manager of Munson
and president of the Denison Cotton Mill.
The Cotton Mill was one of the largest
employers in Denison for many
years. Miss Munson was a director of the Citizens National Bank from
her death in 1969.
and her mother occupied the Morton Street home together until Ella's
1951, at age 99. A nurse also lived in the home during the later years.
was a staunch supporter of the Denison Public Library, which opened in
1935. She served as chairman of the Denison Public Library's Board of
from the library's inception until her death. She also allowed the
use the original Munson home on Gandy Street rent-free for two years,
donating the building to the city.
The Munson Home was used as the first building for the Denison Public Library.
Contributed by Billy Holcomb
"I Grew Up in Denison" FB
1948, it became obvious that the structure being used was no longer
adequate. One room had been condemned and books were overflowing
every bit of available space. In January of that year, the city
had an election for additional school facilities and $100,000 was
included for the building of a new structure for the library. When a
library committee failed to locate a suitable site for the new
building, the present site was generously donated by the Munson Estate
and construction was started on the new structure in September 1948.
The library was moved to the basement of the Kraft building, now
the Barrett building, during construction and remained there until
January 1950. The new building was formerly opened on Sunday, May
21, 1950, with the Hon. Sam Rayburn, Speaker of the U.S. House of
Representatives, as princpal speaker. ~ ~ ~ Thomas Moore.
Munson created the W. B. Munson Foundation in 1943, naming it after her
In 1975, the Munson Foundation donated $200,000 toward building a new
specifically to house a public library.
her death in 1969, Eloise Munson left an estate valued at some $3.5
left the Morton Street house and the majority of her money to the
That foundation, governed by a board of directors, has since given many
millions of dollars to fund scholarships, health programs, educational
and other projects that benefit the town of Denison, Grayson County,
whole Texoma region.
Elaine Nall Bay