North Texas Daily

Documents suggest water fountains on Denton’s Confederate monument were once functional

Documents suggest water fountains on Denton’s Confederate monument were once functional

September 06
12:58 2017

Denton resident and UNT religious studies junior Jessica Luther challenged Denton County Judge Mary Horn on her statements that the water fountains on the Confederate monument on the Denton Square had never been functional in a Denton County Commissioner’s Court meeting Tuesday night. 

Beliefs that the fountains had never been connected to water lines played a major role in decisions to let the fountains remain off, contrary to the wishes of some local activists.

Luther referred to an issue of the Denton Record Chronicle (DRC) from September 8, 1919 in which the newspaper reported that the water fountains were functional, writing in a news brief that “the water connections with the drinking fountains on the Confederate monument at the court house were completed and the water turned on.”

Luther’s statement, made during the public comment portion at the beginning of the meeting, drew applause from the crowd, some of whom also carried printouts of the 1919 edition of the DRC.

“I was very surprised because all our research up to that point indicated that water lines had never been connected,” Horn said. “Newspapers do get things wrong from time to time so I’ll be excited to see what the research comes up with.”

There have been protests in Denton surrounding the monument recently calling for the removal of the statue.

Willie Hudspeth, 71, has been protesting the Confederate monument on and off since 1999, with varying goals. While Hudspeth initially wanted the statue moved into the Courthouse museum, in 2005 he instead asked the city to allow him to repair the fountains so everyone could drink from them, as opposed to what he said was their original designation, ‘whites only’.

In response to an email from Hudspeth and Bryce Goodman, Horn said “I know for a fact that the memorial has never had an operable fountain – there is NO water line from the building to the memorial and never has been.” The response was sent Tuesday morning.

Horn said more research is being done and previous DRC issues are being reviewed to learn more about the status of the fountain. She said researchers have found one article from the DRC which reported that the sewer lines still needed to be connected. Horn was unsure whether the article was from an issue before or after the Sept. 8 issue, but said they had been printed within a couple months of one another.

“I’m quite sure there are no pipelines to the fountain at this point in time, nor is there anything connected to a sewer line,” Horn said.

Horn denied that the fountains were ever operational, telling the North Texas Daily in 2015 that the Texas Historical Commission had “strongly recommended” against restoring the fountains because it would require dismantling the monument to install plumbing.

In 2015, the DRC reported that “the Denton County Office of History and Culture has no record of the fountains ever being plumbed for use.”

“I’m not convinced one way or another at this point,” Horn said. “More research needs to be done.”

Around 30 Denton residents offered their thoughts on the monument during the public comment section of the meeting Tuesday night. Most encouraged Judge Horn to put the monument on the agenda and many were return commenters from the previous week.

The first speaker, Lisa Hancock, said the soldiers who fought in the Civil War had no choice but to fight.

“They had no more choice…than the destitute poor in New York,” Hancock said. “I am for keeping the Confederate soldier monument. I am for repairing the water fountains so we can all use them and I would like to see more education about slavery.”

Nonprofit founder Diana Leggett spoke in favor of having it moved to a museum.

“[In a museum] it’s put in an appropriate context so that the citizens of this county can have an overall view of the history of this incredible place,” Leggett said.

John Goodman, a Denton resident, quoted Judge Horn from a previous meeting, where she said it’s about the soldiers.

“I agree it’s about the soldiers,” Goodman said. “But these soldiers cannot be separated from the Confederate cause when the monument says ‘Our confederate soldiers.’ The Confederate cause to preserve slavery was self-serving, morally wrong and does not deserve a public monument.”

Featured Image: The Confederate monument sits in front of the Denton County Courthouse. The monument reads “Our Confederate Soldiers” on top with a statue of a Confederate solider on top of the arc. Zoee Acosta

About Author

Sarah Sarder

Sarah Sarder

Sarah Sarder is the Senior News Writer for the North Texas Daily.

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  1. PJ
    PJ September 06, 16:56

    Folks! Just get over it. Surely you must realize that destroying monuments will do nothing to destroy the hate and racism that persists in this country.

    Reply to this comment
  2. j
    j January 11, 20:15

    did it actually say whites only on it?

    Reply to this comment

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