Historical Markers in Tarrant County

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John Peter Smith, Founder of Oakwood Cemetery

Located at the Oakwood Cemetery entrance, 700 Grand Ave., Fort Worth.

Pioneer area settler John Peter Smith (1831-1901), who donated twenty acres for the establishment of this cemetery, came to Fort Worth from Kentucky in 1853. He served the community as a teacher, clerk, surveyor, and attorney, and became a noted civic leader. Although opposed to the secession of Texas during the Civil War, Smith raised a company of Tarrant County men for the Confederacy and joined Sibley's Brigade in 1861. While in the war he served in the unsuccessful invasion of New Mexico, the recapture of Galveston in 1863, and was severely wounded at Donaldsville, Louisiana, later that year. After the war Smith returned to Fort Worth, where be became involved in the development of the city. He helped organize a bank, gas light company,and street railway. He also gave land for city parks, cemeteries, including this site in 1879, and a hospital, later named in his honor. In 1882 he became Mayor and directed the establishment of many public services, such as the school system and the water department. In 1901 Smith died in St. Louis, Missouri, while on a promotional trip for Fort Worth. He is buried in a section of Oakwood Cemetery that is part of the original acreage he donated to the city.


John Peter Smith

Located in small park, 1100 Throckmorton, Fort Worth.

A native of Kentucky, John Peter Smith migrated to Fort Worth in 1853. He worked as a teacher, clerk, and surveyor before his appointment as Deputy Surveyor of the Denton Land Department in 1855, for which he received payment in property. Also a student of law, he was later admitted to the bar. Although opposed to the secession of Texas during the Civil War, Smith raised a company of Tarrant County men for the Confederacy and joined Sibley's Brigade in 1861. While in the war he served in the unsuccessful invasion of New Mexico, the recapture of Galveston in 1863, and was severely wounded at Donaldsville, Louisiana, later that year. After the war Smith returned to Fort Worth, where he became involved in the development of the City. He helped organize a bank, gas light company, and street railway. He also donated land for parks, cemeteries,and a hospital, later named John Peter Smith Hospital. In 1882 he became Mayor and directed the establishment of many public services, including the school system and the water department. In 1901 Smith died in St. Louis, Missouri, while on a promotional trip for Fort Worth. He is buried in Oakwood Cemetery, a site he donated to the city.


Khleber Miller Van Zandt (1836-1930)

Located in Oakwood Cemetery, 700 Grand Ave., Fort Worth.

Tennessee native Khleber Miller Van Zandt moved to East Texas as a child. After serving as a Major in the 7th Texas Infantry Regiment, C.S.A., he came to Fort Worth in 1865. A merchant, banker, and rancher, he was instrumental in making the city a major rail center and helped establish early newspaper, the public schools, public transportation, and the First Christian Church. He served in the 13th Texas Legislature of 1875. A member of the United Confederate Veterans, he held the office of National Commander-in-Chief (1918-1921). Texas Sesquicentennial 1836-1986


Home Town of Texas Confederate Major K.M. Van Zandt (1836-1930)

Located in Trinity Park, 2900 Crestline Rd., Ft. Worth.

Born in Tennessee. Came to Texas 1939. Was son of Republic of Texas Minister to the United States. K.M. Van Zandt was admitted to the Bar in 1858. Raised Co. D, 7th Tex. Inf., 1861. Fought in snows at Fort Donelson, Tenn., Feb. 1862. Captured in surrender there. During imprisonment at Camps Douglas, Chase, Johnson Island, Ill., 5 Co. D men died. The rest were exchanged at Vicksburg in Sept. 1862. In the campaign to prevent the split of the Confederacy along the Mississippi River, Van Zandt and Co. D Fought many Battles to the east of Vicksburg. (Back of Monument) Van Zandt was promoted to Major in 1863 in Granbury's Brigade. Granbury led 306 men into battle at Raymond, Miss., came out with only 148. Van Zandt led 7th Tex. after Granbury was wounded at the Battle of Chickamauga. Went farthest of any Confederate unit into enemy lines. At Missionary Ridge, saved the heavy guns of his unit by pushing them by hand when horses wavered under fire. Van Zandt was in retreat to Atlanta, May 1864, and in the Nov. 1864 carnage at Franklin, Tenn. Late 1864 and 1865 he was in Trans-Mississippi department in Tax services for Gen. Kirby Smith. After the war he moved from Marshall to Fort Worth and became a Merchant. When big Eastern bankers failed to put railroad into Fort Worth, he founded a firm for railroad construction. Was president of Fort Worth National Bank for 56 years, and city benefactor to such an extent that he was called "Mr. Fort Worth." Erected by the State of Texas 1963.


Lawrence Clifton Elliott

Located in Greenwood Cemetery, 3400 White Settlement Rd., Fort Worth.

Aviation pioneer Lawrence C. Elliot was born in Greenville, Texas. During high school, Elliott exhibited early aviation talent when he built an experimental airplane. He attended Texas A&M University, participating in the Reserve Officers Training Corps. After graduating in 1924, Elliott was commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant in the Army Air Corps and trained at Brooks Field and Kelly Field in San Antonio. He earned awards in air races and became a U.S. Army flight Instructor. In 1928, Elliot began a 35-year career with the Aeronautics Branch of the U.S. Department of Commerce (Later the Civil Aeronautics Administration). Stationed at Southwest Regional Headquarters in Fort Worth for 25 years, he was instrumental in marking domestic flight routes, developing weather communication broadcast techniques, establishing standards for airplane maintenance and inspection, and recommending air facility safety modifications. During World War II, Elliott was regional manager of the U.S. Civil Aviation System. He received awards for exceptional service and impact on international aviation in 1953. Elliott was married to Mildred Leonhart Reiter (d. 1963). Their former home at 3 Chase Court was designated a Recorded Texas Historic Landmark in 1983. (1991)


Middleton Tate Johnson

Located at 621 W. Arkansas St., Arlington.

The Father of Tarrant County. A member of the Congress of the Republic. Born in South Carolina, 1810. Died at Austin, Texas, May 15, 1866. Johnson County was named in his honor.


Ormer Leslie Locklear

Located in Greenward Cemetery, 3400 White Settlement Rd., Fort Worth.

A native of Greenville, Texas, Ormer Leslie Locklear moved to Fort Worth with his family in 1906. He worked for his father's construction company until 1914, when he and his brother opened an automobile repair shop. Locklear enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Service in 1917, soon after the U.S. enter World War I. He trained in San Antonio and Austin before being assigned to Barron Field near Fort Worth as a flight instructor. He soon became known for his daring feats of precision flying and performed in barnstorming air shows to recruit pilots for military service. Locklear resigned his Army commission in 1919 to fly in the commercial air show circuit. Hired by the Universal Film Company as a stunt pilot for motion pictures, he moved to Hollywood and in 1920 was killed flying a stunt pilot for his second feature, "The Skywayman". The accident, believed to have been caused when the bright lights illuminating the night sky for filming blinded the pilot, was recorded on film and used in the movie's final scene. Thousands of mourners attended Locklear's Fort Worth funeral, which the Fox Film Corporation filmed and released later as a newsreel. (1992)


The Peters Colony in Tarrant County

Located at SH 26 and Union Church Road, Grapevine.

In 1841, W.S. Peters of Kentucky and associates contracted with the Republic of Texas to bring immigrants to this area. By 1848, Peters Colony land covered nearly 2 million acres in north central Texas, including all of Tarrant County. Speculation in unlocated land certificates was rampant. About 150 colonists and their families, most of whom were American-born farmers of meager means, settled in Tarrant County. As the most extensive empresario enterprise undertaken by the Republic, the Peters Colony helped open this area of Texas to settlement.


Thomas B. Saunders Family

Located in, Saunders Park, 100 block of E. Exchange St., Fort Worth.

A native of North Carolina, Thomas Bailey Saunders (1816-1902) migrated to Texas in 1850 and started a cattle ranch near Gonzales. After the Civil War he completed cattle drives to markets in New Orleans and Kansas before settling in Bexar County. Two of Saunders' twelve children were also involved in the cattle industry. William David Harris Saunders (1845-1922) helped supply beef for Confederate forces during the Civil War and later became a successful Goliad merchant and rancher. Another son, George Washington Saunders (1854-1933), became a noted trail driver of the 1870s. He later opened a livestock commission in San Antonio. Thomas B. Saunders, II (1872-1929), the son of William, owned a livestock firm in Houston. He later moved here and in 1902 became the first cattle dealer on the Fort Worth Stockyards. He was a pioneer in the transporting of cattle by truck. His son Thomas B. Saunders, III (1906-1974), was involved in extensive ranching operations throughout the Southwest. During the 1930s economic depression, he started a cattle clearinghouse for traders, order buyers, and commission companies. Since the 1850s, Saunders family members have been actively involved in the Texas cattle industry.


William Alfred Sanderson

Located at Ayers Cemetery, 2500 block of Scott St., Fort Worth.

A native of England, William Sanderson came to Texas in 1841. He obtained a Republic of Texas land grant and in 1847 settled in Tarrant County with his wife, Isabella Francis (Ayres). Sanderson soon established himself as a farmer and stock raiser. A charter member of the First Christian Church of Fort Worth, he also was appointed Justice of the Peace and was involved in the relocation of the county seat from Birdville to Fort Worth.


William John Marsh

Located in Greenwood Cemetery, 3400 White Settlement Rd., Fort Worth.

Born near Liverpool, England, William John Marsh was an accomplished organist and musician when he came to Fort Worth in 1904 to enter the cotton business. In addition to his bookkeeping work, he served as organist and choirmaster for two area churches and one synagogue, and as choral director and professor of organ at Texas Christian University. He also composed over 100 pieces of music. In 1929, his composition "Texas, our Texas" won in competition to become the official state song. March died in Fort Worth at the age of 90.


William Letchworth Hurst

Located at Hurst City Hall, 1505 Precinct Line Road, Hurst.

A native of Tennessee, William Letchworth "Uncle Billy" Hurst (1833-1922) served in the Confederate Army during the Civil War. As a member of the Sixty-First Tennessee Infantry, he was involved in fighting near Vicksburg, Mississippi. Following the surrender of his unit to Gen. Ulysses S. Grant in 1863, and his subsequent release, he joined in the reorganization of his outfit as the Sixty-First Tennessee Mounted Infantry. Captured in December 1863 near Tazwell, Tennessee, Hurst spent the remainder of the war in military prisons in Kentucky and Illinois. In 1870 Hurst and his wife Mary (Lynch) (1835-1908) joined other residents of Claiborne County, Tennessee, who had migrated to Texas. By adding property to his first land purchase in 1872, Hurst became a prominent land speculator in the area. In 1903 he granted a right-of-way across his farm for the construction of a Rock Island rail line. In exchange, the company named a rail stop and depot for him. Later it became the town of Hurst. Honored for many years by his friends and relatives with festive birthday celebrations, Hurst was the father of 14 children and had over 100 grandchildren. Many family descendants still live in the area. (1981)


William M. Rice

Located at 310 S. Stewart St., Azle.

William M. Rice first came to Texas in 1834 and settled in what is now Nacogdoches County, where he was involved in frontier defense and served as an Alcalde in the Mexican Government. He served in the Texas Revolution and was wounded in the Battle at San Jacinto. He and his wife, Mariah, later lived in Harris County, in Kansas, and in Dallas County, where he was a farmer and merchant. During the Civil War, he was active on the home front, making soldiers' hats and hauling supplies. About 1874, Rice moved to Tarrant County, where he lived until his death.


William Madison McDonald (June 22, 1866-July 4, 1950)

Located in Old Trinity Cemetery, 700 Grand Ave., Fort Worth.

Born in Kaufman County, William "Gooseneck Bill" McDonald became active in politics in 1890. His ability to unite black and white voters led to his prominence as a leader of the "Black and Tan" faction of the Republican Party. He remained influential, serving as a delegate to many state and national conventions, until the decline of the Republican Party in Texas in the early 1900s. Also active in black Masonic societies, he served as State Secretary for 47 years. He moved to Fort Worth in 1906, founded the Fraternal Bank and Trust Company, and was a prominent civic leader. (1982)



Located at 408 Shelton Drive, Colleyville.

A Post Office with the name Bransford opened in this vicinity in the late 19th Century. In 1889 the Post Office was moved to Red Rock on the route of the St. Louis, Arkansas, and Texas Railroad. Named for pioneer Felix Grundy Bransford (1828-1898), the Post Office name eventually replaced the name of Red Rock and the Town of Bransford became the center of a large framing community. Early residents of the area remembered a Post Office, two daily passenger trains, four doctors, two blacksmith shops, a livery stable, four general stores, and lodge hall in the town. The railroad depot provided a passenger and supply center for the surrounding agricultural communities. The Bransford Lodge Hall, built in 1911, provided a meeting place for four groups: The Odd Fellows, Woodmen of the World, Knights of Modern Macabees, and the Farmers Union. It was also a gathering place for many community activities. The closing of the Bransford Post Office in 1913 and the advent of highway travel contributed to the decline of Bransford. By the time the city of Colleyville was incorporated in 1956, most reminders of the hamlet called Bransford had disappeared. Texas Sesquicentennial 1836-1986.


Fort Worth "Where the West Begins"

Located at the northwest corner of Houston & W. Belknap Streets, Fort Worth.

Founded June 6, 1849, as frontier post of Co. F., 2nd Dragoons, 8th Dept., U.S. Army. The commander, Maj. Ripley Arnold, named camp for his former superior officer, Maj. Gen William Jenkins Worth. In 4 years of operations, the post had but one serious Indian encounter. A town grew up alongside the fort, as center for supply stores and stagecoach routes. In 1856 Fort Worth became county seat of Tarrant County. A boom started after 1867 when millions of longhorns were driven through town en route to Red River Crossing and Chisholm Trial. Herds forded the Trinity below Courthouse Bluff, one block north of this site. Cowboys got supplies for the long uptrail drive and caroused in taverns and dance halls. After railroad arrived in 1876, increased cattle traffic won city the nickname of "Cowtown". By 1900, Fort Worth was one of world's largest cattle markets. Population tripled between 1900 and 1910. Growth continued, based on varied multimillion-dollar industries of meat packing, flour milling, grain storage, oil, aircraft plants and military bases. Fort Worth also has developed as a center of culture, with universities, museums, art galleries, theatres and a botanic garden.



Located at 211 Main St., Grapevine.

Wild mustang grapes growing profusely in this area inspired the name "Grapevine" for this community. Ambrose Foster (1794?-1847) and his wife Susannah Medlin (1796-1876) were among the first settlers in 1845, from Platte County, Missouri. The Fosters, their daughters and sons-in-law acquired land that became the heart of Grapevine. Within the first year worship services and school classes were conducted. Cattle raising was the major enterprise prior to the Civil War. Beef cattle were sold to Camp Worth (present Fort Worth) by Archibald Leonard, Fosters' son-in-law, who owned a mercantile store. In 1858 a Federal Post Office was established and run by Solon Dunn. During the 1870s the village was also known as "Dunnville". In 1914 the name became "Grapevine". After the Cotton Belt Railroad line opened in 1888, the town thrived as a shipping center for cotton, grain, truck crops and dairy products. In 1907 Grapevine incorporated. By 1934 two major paved roads leading to Dallas and Fort Worth were constructed. A dam built in 1942 on Denton Creek formed Lake Grapevine. It serves as a water supply, flood control measure, and a recreational area. In 1974 the Dallas-Fort Worth Airport opened within the city limits. (1979)



Located at the intersection of SH 1709 at SH 1938, at Jellico Corners Plaza.

Robert Emmett Wilson came with his family to this area during the 1880s and built a general store near this site. The name Jellico was chosen for the community when a post office was established in 1898. The town was named after a town in Tennessee from which some of the settlers had immigrated. By 1895, Jellico had a cotton gin, blacksmith shop, grist mil, syrup press, and school. The town began to decline when cotton prices fell in 1907. Wilson's General Store closed in 1912, and the school was consolidated into another district. (1985)



Located at the park entrance on Bear Creek Rd. just east of US 377, Keller.

After Texas & Pacific Railroad came through this area, H.W. Wood, a druggist, set aside 40 acres on July 19, 1881, for this townsite. He named the new village "Athol". Within a year, the name became "Keller", honoring John C. Keller, railroad construction crew foreman. Many businesses grew up to meet the needs of the surroundings farms. In 1886 the Post Office was established. There were two hotels, three doctors, a newspaper, and a school. The Baptist, Methodist, and Presbyterian congregations erected a Union Church building in 1886. Keller was incorporated 1958. (1980)


Niles City

Located at Packing House Plaza, 500 block of E. Exchage St., Fort Worth.

Incorporated in 1911, the City of Niles was called the "Richest Little Town in the World" because of its size and the number of large businesses located here. Included in the townsite, which eventually covered 1.5 square miles, were major meat packing firms, the Fort Worth Stockyards, two grain elevators, a cotton seed oil company, and a petroleum refinery and pipeline plant. By the early 1920s the town's taxable property was valued at $30,000,000. Niles was named for Louville Veranus Niles (1839-1928), a successful Boston businessman who first visited Fort Worth in 1893. His reorganization of the Fort Worth Packing Company in 1899 led the firms of Swift and Armour to locate their plants in this area in 1902, rapidly increasing nearby business development. Substantial muncipal tax revenues helped make the city of Niles a progressive community. Under the supervision of a Mayor and five Aldermen, funds were used for improvements in roads, utilities,and city services. The two school districts which served the town also benefited from the large tax base. Despite legal efforts beginning in 1921 to remain incorporated and avoid annexation, the City of Niles became part of Fort Worth in 1923. (1981)

This page was last modified 27 Sep 2001.

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