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Looking backward and forward after 170 years in Denton County

Looking backward and forward after 170 years in Denton County

Great-Granddaughter of Edna Westbrook Trigg, Debbie Johnson, presents the reading of the Historical Marker dedicated to Edna Westbrook Trigg at the 170th Denton County Anniversary on Saturday April 6, 2016 at the Denton Courthouse lawn. Paulina De Alva | Staff Photographer

Looking backward and forward after 170 years in Denton County
April 18
22:39 2016

Victoria Monteros | Staff Writer

@ToriLaSuper

In honor of the 170th Denton County Anniversary, Dentonites came together this past Saturday for an education on Denton’s history. Marker celebrations, fun activities for children, musical performances and even a cake-cutting ceremony took place on the Square.

The Denton County Historical Commission planned the commemorating festival Courthouse-on-the-Square, inviting everyone to share in the festivities. Denton has seen all kinds of growth and change since it was established in 1846. Originally a small agricultural community, it has since flourished to bring in people from out of town, state and the country.

The Square of the past

Several of the residents cherish what they called a city rich in heritage.

“You look back at our roots, and learn how the people who came before us paved the way before us, and we learn from our mistakes,” Ben Poush, resident and festival volunteer, said. “And it allows us to move into the future and not make the same mistakes we’ve made in the past.”

Denton County held a 170th Anniversary celebration at the Courthouse lawn with activities for the entire family, an anniversary cake and a historical marker unveiling. Paulina De Alva | Staff Photographer

Denton County held a 170th Anniversary celebration at the Courthouse lawn with activities for the entire family, an anniversary cake and a historical marker unveiling. Paulina De Alva | Staff Photographer

The more urban and modern Denton many call home was once just dirt streets and wooden buildings. Those buildings caught fire and were replaced with brick buildings. In fact, a brick building originally stood in the present location of the Courthouse.

It only lasted around 17 years, however, and had to be taken down. The Courthouse was then built around 1896 and was hand-crafted using limestone, making for a sturdier building. It originally housed the sheriff’s office, the city’s health department and even a library.

“The fact that this building was put up and handcrafted on the ground is a pretty amazing feat that happened without modern equipment,” said Denton County history and culture education and tourism coordinator Gretel L’Heuruex. “Everybody’s always amazed how this was done.”

Back when Denton was becoming more established, free land attracted many people to the area, as well as a better climate than other areas of the country. Another factor that helped bring people to the area was Denton’s focus on education.

“It was an education center from the very beginning, when the Quakertown people were here and started a school for the African-American people,” L’Heureux said. “I remember the rancher from Decatur came here only because he wanted an education for his kids. So education has been a continual theme.”

The present festivities

Like the Bishop family, even visitors not from the area made their way to the 170th-anniversary celebration.

“We’re visiting our son, and we’re in town, [we] heard this was going on, so we came,” said festival attendee Steve Bishop.

Bishop’s wife, Dorothy, is from Sherman and loved the fact that Denton had an event like this.

Historical Commission volunteers Paul and Georgiana McCoig ride a carriage at the 170th Denton County Anniversary on Saturday April 6, 2016 at the Denton Courthouse lawn. Paulina De Alva | Staff Photographer

Historical Commission volunteers Paul and Georgiana McCoig ride a carriage at the 170th Denton County Anniversary on Saturday April 6, 2016 at the Denton Courthouse lawn. Paulina De Alva | Staff Photographer

“I think it’s grand that you have this going on in the Square. Sherman doesn’t have this,” Dorothy said.

The festivities naturally attracted long-term residents, as well, including 88-year-old Alma Clark, a Denton resident of 54 years. Clark is still very active in the community and just completed a 1K walk for Mustache Dash beforehand. Clark also has served on the Denton County Historical Commission and currently sings in a local senior chorus.

“When I came, it was just a small town, because I came from Austin, and it was kind of a culture shock to come to a smaller place.” Clark said. “This was my husband’s home, and we decided to return back. He loved Denton because he was born and raised here in Argyle, and then came to Denton was he about 6-years-old.”

Many volunteers were also present at the festivities. Tim Snider, a volunteer who grew up in Denton and is into farming, brought some antique farming contraptions, including an old corn sheller.

“I just enjoy the kids getting to do stuff like this,” Snider said. “See how things worked, get some hands-on things with the farm equipment.”

Plans for the 175th anniversary are already being discussed, with the possibility of a parade or a longer celebration. It is important to the festival’s commission to convey that the festival is not only about the city of Denton, but all of Denton County.

“What makes it kind of special is that we want the community and all of Denton County to know that we’re all one group,”Georgiana McCoig, chairman of the 170th celebration committee, said. “This is a Denton County thing. It’s for everyone that lives here in Denton County.”

Featured Image: Great-Granddaughter of Edna Westbrook Trigg, Debbie Johnson, presents the reading of the Historical Marker dedicated to Edna Westbrook Trigg at the 170th Denton County Anniversary on Saturday at the Denton Courthouse lawn. Paulina De Alva | Staff Photographer

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