About this Blog

We are determined not to spend our summer glued to televisions, computers and video games. This blog is about our endeavor to experience 81 new adventures--one for every day of this summer--before school starts back up. If others are following along we'll be more likely to reach our goal, so thanks for your help! Your comments and ideas are appreciated.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Catching Up--Part One 38-46

The first day of school has arrived, and with all the moving out, looking for a house, living with Gaby and Charlie for 3 weeks (definitely a new thing--#38), then moving into a new house,we found it impossible to reach our goal of experiencing 81 new things before the end of the summer.   Because of the extenuating circumstances, we believe an extension is in order, and we're going to press on! 

While we have fallen behind, we have kept working on 81 Things, so now that we're moved in and have Internet access, I'm going to get caught up in two or three posts.

39. Picking Parker County Peaches
We spent a weekend at Mimi's in Weatherford after moving out, and one of the first things the kids did was pick fresh peaches in the back yard. In case you didn't know, some of the best peaches in the world grow in Parker County.

40-41. Parker County Peach Recipes
Of course, after picking fresh peaches we couldn't wait to try some new recipes.  First we made a special topping to go on vanilla icing--it didn't turn out perfect, but it was good enough that we're going to experiment again with fresh peaches, cinnamon, brown sugar and dry oatmeal mixed together and baked.

When we got back to Gaby's she and the girls whipped up a batch of easy peach jelly, I'll see if I can get her to post the recipe as a comment.


42. Historic Weatherford Cemetery
While in Weatherford we spent some time at a historic cemetery.  We didn't find any headstones that referenced Indian raids, but we did come across the grave of Oliver Loving, the "Dean of Texas Trail Drivers".

43. Exploring the Baker Hotel
Ashley and I have always been fascinated by the old Baker Hotel in Mineral Wells, so we headed out there to do some exploring.  The hotel has been vacant and shuttered for many years, but walked where we could on the veranda and peeked inside the broken windows. Of course there was lots of discussion of possible ghosts, and Hogan was pretty sure he spotted a severed arm wrapped in cloth through one of the broken windows--you can check it out for yourself in the first photo below.

44. Les Miserables
We took Hogan, Gage and Harley (Lexi and Olivia spent a few days with Mimi) to see Casa Manana's student production of Les Miserables. When I told Hogan what we were going to do, he huffed and said, "Oh I'm gonna be les miserables alright."  I tried to get him a little excited by telling him about the story of Jean Valjean, and the smart _ss said, "Yeah, well I'm gonna be Jean Val-gone!" While he may never admit it, he did like the show, which was outstanding. (sorry for the poor quality picture below)

45. Music Camp
Lexi, Hogan and Olivia attended church music camp, their first "formal vocal training". At the end of the week they participated in an outstanding patriotic choral performance and are looking forward to being a part of the Burleson FUMC children's choir and it's rendition of The Sound of Music later this year.

46. Taste Test
Ashley and the kids performed a blind taste test to find out if you could tell the difference between name-brand foods and generics. They tested sodas, cheese puffs and cookies, among other things. Turns out you can't always tell the difference.  The kids had a great time and learned a lot about shopping for value and the scientific method.

Coming up in the next post: A trip to Waco and other adventures.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

37. Clark Gardens

We made a Sunday of it in Mineral Wells, and our first stop was Clark Gardens.  I was worried about the reaction I would get from the kids, but with beautiful gardens, fountains, water falls, butterflies, model trains, peacocks and waterfowl there was plenty to keep them engaged.  Definitely a great way to spend the afternoon!

Monday, August 2, 2010

36. Burleson Historic Markers

Burleson has four official historical markers and I'm ashamed to say I had never taken the time to take stop and read them with the kids (even though we pass by each one on a regular basis).  We learned some really interesting facts about our own city's history.

Robert Griffith has put together a really nice Burleson history website, http://www.burlesonhistory.com/.  Rather than re-create the wheel, I will borrow Robert's descriptions of Burleson's historical marker sites, which rely on other sources as noted.

Red Oak Academy

Reproduced from Burleson – The First One Hundred Years, Dallas, Taylor Publishing, 1981.
Written by Lorena Mercer Hardgrove

Although this site did not become involved quite so early as 1879 with the higher education movement, it “inherited” in later years a school that began that year. This school, the first operated in the vicinity of Burleson, was a 30 by 40-foot frame building erected at Brushy Mound. Its first teacher was J.T. Galloway. Succeeding teachers at Brushy Mound included a Mr. Heuskden, Fisher Rector, Berry Stout, Will Pearson (a graduate of Add-Ran College), a Miss Taylor and A.P. Thomas.

During the superintendency of Thomas, there was a movement to obtain a better school for the locality. Among civic leaders interested in this were J.H. Bills, J.W. Haskew, D.I. Murphy, T.N. Pierce, T.K. Stone, and J.A. Thompson. Rock Creek and other small communities were canvassed, and it was found that there were many citizens interested in better educational facilities.

At a meeting on April 17, 1885, in the Baptist Church in Burleson, it was suggested that the school should be in Burleson. But Brushy Mound people were putting up most of the money, and wanted it in their community, so it was situated there, only a few miles away from Burleson.

D.I. Murphy, a leading citizen, gave $7,000 to start the fund, and canvassed Fort Worth and surrounding towns for contributions. In a building completed in November, 1885, the new school opened under the name of Alta Vista College.

A.P. Thomas was president; the staff was composed of Thomas, a Mr. Miller, and Miss Sofia Shannon. For a while the school seemingly was going well. But as it had no funds other than the contributions of its patrons, finances had become a great problem.

Meantime, Burleson was growing; it needed a good school, and proposed to move Alta Vista College into town, but was met with the opposition of Brushy Mound people. In 1889 Burleson people decided to build their own school and withdrew patronage from Alta Vista. This further weakened the college, and Mr. Thomas resigned to accept a better position elsewhere.

In spite of its difficulties, Alta Vista College kept operating until 1893, when it was transferred to the ownership of Red Oak Presbytery of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, and became Red Oak Academy – about the equivalent of a junior college.

The Rev. L.C. Collier was named president. There were boarding houses for both girls and boys (the boys’ operating under the name of “The Hamontree House”). The oldest student on record was a man of 40; the youngest admitted, a girl of 15.

The great event of 1898 was the dropping out of three boys to enlist in the Spanish-American War.

In the fall of 1898, the Rev. D.C. Ellis succeeded Mr. Collier as president. In the spring of 1899, disaster struck in the form of a typhoid fever epidemic. Fatalities included several students and two of the teachers, Misses Sallie Gerard and Clyde Houston. There were three students who remained in school long enough to graduate that spring, but the school closed early and never again reopened. The property reverted to the ownership of the Brushy Mound Community.

In 1900, largely through the ownership of G.W. Bransom, the schoolhouse was moved from Brushy Mound to Burleson, on wagons. The two-story building was constructed of the heaviest timbers, and the low bid of $350 proved deficient when the work of moving began. This was cancelled, and a new contract made at $500.

In Burleson the structure was joined to an existent school building, to form the plant for Burleson High School, of which E.T. Genheimer was then principal. In 1909 this building burned and had to be replaced.

During its years of service as Alta Vista College and as Red Oak Academy, this pioneer educational center probably enrolled about 500 students. Many of these became teachers, and through their work extended the influence of the pioneer academy and college far beyond the primary circle of its contacts.

Alta Jack, for example, studied here and later in Waco and in Europe, and spent a long teaching career on the Baylor faculty. Floy Houston (later Mrs. Gordon) taught in Cleburne and in Kansas.

Amy Porter, after her days at Brushy Mound, continued in school until she received the degree of doctor of medicine.

George Murphy transferred from Alta Vista in 1889, and after further education became county auditor of Johnson County, an office in which he served for many years. Henry Bills, alumnus of the school at Brushy Mound, became a successful lawyer, his brother and schoolmate, Brent Bills, was the postmaster at Gotebo, Oklahoma.

The pioneers who established this school and maintained it as such sacrificed cost for 14 years deserve the gratitude pf Texans, for they did a worthy work.

Renfro-Clark-Phillips Home
128 North Clark Street

Reproduced from Burleson – The First One Hundred Years, Dallas, Taylor Publishing, 1981.
By Mrs. Royce Baker (Wynetta Baker)

The Renfro-Clark Home is located at 128 North Clark Street in Burleson. This house is located about 200 feet from the street. It was built in 1894 by Mrs. H.C. Renfro, who was the widow of Henry C. Renfro, and their only daughter, Mrs. Margaret Annette Baker Clark.

When the MKT Railroad wanted to come south from Fort Worth, a Mr. Dodge, who represented the railroad, asked Mr. Renfro if he would sell the land to the railroad. Mr. Renfro was not in favor of selling all the land to the railroad, preferring to sell them only every other lot. However, he finally agreed to selling all the lots if he could name the town. The deal was confirmed and he was given permission to name the townsite Burleson after his very good friend, Dr. Rufus C. Burleson, then President of Waco Classical College. Prior to that time, Mr. Renfro had named his only son James Burleson Renfro after his friend.

Mr. Renfro lived south of town at that time and he never lived in the town of Burleson. After he died in 1885, his widow, Mary R. Renfro, and his daughter decided to move into town. So it was then they built the house presently at 128 N. Clark Street.

The house took approximately six months to complete. It was copied after a house that is presently located between Burleson and Alvarado. At the time the house was built, it was one of approximately six houses on the east side of the MKT Railroad. It was the first house to be built in the M.A. Clark Addition.

The builder of the house was a Mr. Pribble, who was a master carpenter. The structure of the house is late Victorian. The house is topped by a cupola and originally it had two back porches that have been enclosed. The ceilings of the house were high and some have been lowered.

The wood used in the house came from Dallas and was carried to Burleson by wagon. The nails used were square. Most of the lumber contained no knots.

Since it was built 76 years ago, it has been in the same family and four generations have lived in the house. First, there was the widow of Mr. H.C. Renfro, her daughter, Mrs. M.A. Clark, and her grandchildren, James Renfro and Mary Pearl Baker. Mary Pearl married Hugh Clark and raised 8 children (one of whom died in infancy). James Renfro Baker still lives in Burleson, Texas.

The street in front of the house was named for James Clark, who was the husband of Margaret Annette Clark. He was Pearl Clark’s stepfather and he was no relation to her husband.

The main street through the town was named Renfro Street after H.C. Renfro.

Note: Barry Phillips, the current owner and occupant of the home wasn't home when we knocked on his door seeking permission to take the photo below, but being a lover of history and Burleson I didn't think he would mind.  I'm hoping to make arrangements with Barry to get the kids a tour of the inside of the home!

The Interurban in Burleson
124 West Ellison Street

Text of the marker, in full:

At the turn of the 20th Century, the Northern Texas Traction Co. found success with an Interurban Railway that operated between Fort Worth and Dallas. In 1911, a group began planning a new Interurban that would run from Fort Worth to Cleburne by way of Everman, Burleson, and Joshua. By that time, Burleson had approximately 700 residents and an active business district, and the city incorporated in 1912. The Fort Worth Southern Traction Co. came to town that year seeking employees and arranged with businessman and community leader Albert H. Loyless to be their location representative. He moved his Loyless-Robbins Pharmacy from a two-story wooden building across the street to a new brick building at this site. The traction company constructed an electrical plant and freight dock behind the building, and the pharmacy, complete with soda foundation and Interurban ticket counter, occupied the front of the orange-brick structure.

The first public run of the electrical train line came through Burleson on September 1, 1912. From that date until 1931, the train carried people in and out of town, brought goods to them from other cities, and helped make the pharmacy a community center. In 1935, a few years after the Interurban ceased its service and motor coaches and automobiles took its place, Loyless, accepting the position of Burleson Postmaster, moved his business next door to the post office. Robert Deering bought the former pharmacy building and from it published his newspaper, the Burleson News (later Burleson Dispatcher). The city later purchased the building for use as a visitor’s center.

Local historian Michael H. Beard thoroughly researched the Loyless Interurban Drugstore and the Northern Texas Traction Company's involvement in Burleson and Johnson County over a six-year period. He received assistance from Dorothy Schwartz of the Johnson County Historical Commission in applying for the marker. The City of Burleson graciously installed the marker at the Burleson Heritage Visitors Center, 124 West Ellison Street, on July 25, 2006. A formal dedication was held on Founders Day, October 14, 2006.

First Baptist Church
317 West Ellison Street

Text of the marker, in full:

The First Baptist Church has served Burleson's residents since 1884, shortly after the town was founded. In 1881, the town organized when the Missouri, Kansas & Texas (MKT) Railroad arrived. By 1882, the town had a post office and several businesses and residences. Settlers soon began to worship at the schoolhouse, but moved later to a store and then to a hotel. The First Baptist Church was organized at the hotel in 1884. Dr. R.C. Burleson, an educator, Baptist Minister, and later President of Baylor University, and the man for whom the community was named, moderated the organizational meeting. Twenty-six women and twelve men presented letters from their former churches, declared themselves in fellowship with one another, and became charter members of the Baptist Church of Burleson. The church began to meet monthly under the leadership of the Reverend D.I. Smith. Grenville M. Dodge, a railroad financier and speculator, donated the church site, and a church structure was constructed by 1885. A new building that could be used by other denominations when not in use by the Baptists was constructed in 1895. In 1907, Rev. A.E. Boyd became the church's first full-time minister, and additional buildings were added beginning in 1917.

The First Baptist Church has had a long and dedicated focus on mission work. In 1940, members opened an African American church north of Burleson. Additionally, two pastors became foreign missionaries, serving in the Philippines and in Colombia. Other community programs begun by the church include a bus ministry to provide transportation to church services, a day care center and the Christian Counseling Center.

Thanks to Brenden Burden for tipping me off to the marker. Now, which church will follow in the Baptists' footsteps? Hmm...

Note: I like the question Robert poses at the end...As a lifelong Methodist, I'm hoping it will be FUMC Burleson.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

35. Moving

Moving has made it tough to keep on track with 81 Things. This move was especially difficult because we didn't have a new house to move into yet. If you've never had the experience of putting almost everything  you own into storage, I wouldn't really recommend it. We've fallen a little bit behind on posts, but have maintained a focus on new adventures, so we'll be catching up over the next several days.

It's not the first time the kids have moved, but since Hogan and Olivia were babies the last time we moved, this was certainly the first time the whole family participated in the moving fun. Lexi worked especially hard to help out and learned first-hand what it's like to get everything moved out, get the house cleaned up and do all the little touch-up before you hand over the keys. We couldn't have made it without her!

34. Making "Spongebobs"

Recently we made our own Spongebobs. We used old sponges that we no longer needed. We pulled out our craft bucket and looked through it to find stuff to decorate our sponges. We found google eyes, streamers, buttons, beads, Popsicles sticks, and pipe cleaners. The hot glue gun worked very good on our sponges. We were very happy with our sponges. Olivia named hers Taylor because the ponytail reminded her of the name Taylor. Hogan named his Taylor because he though it was funny, and I named mine Rosie because of her big red hairdo.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

33. Weatherford Downtown Cafe

This morning we had breakfast at Weatherford's Downtown Cafe. Normally we don't count new places we eat in our 81 Things, but we had a great experience. We had oatmeal pancakes for the first time, Hogan had the best pancakes he'd ever eaten, and we learned some cool things about Weatherford's history from the menu. Among the things we learned were that many early Parker County settlers died in Indian raids and there are many old tombstones that read "Killed by Indians". We're thinking it might be interesting to explore an old Parker County cemetery. Did you know Weatherford is named for a state senator who reportedly never set foot in the town?

Sent from my iPhone

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

32. Preserving Memories

It turns out that this summer dedicated to new adventures is going to involve a major change for our family--after seven years in our home we've decided it's time to move on.  The house has sold and we'll be moving soon! Before we started packing everything up we wanted to preserve memories of some of our favorite things about our house, so I asked everyone to take pictures of some of the things they wanted to remember.  I asked them to include something in their rooms and something in another part of the house.

From his room, Hogan chose the bear head that hangs on the wall above his bed.

From the living room, Hogan wants to remember the fireplace. I think he likes that he can turn it on with the flip of a switch.

Olivia wants to remember the plates with the pretty flowers hanging on the wall in her room and the oval window in the guest bathroom with the view of the big crepe myrtle in front of the house.

Lexi was gone to Mimi's when we did this activity, but I'm pretty sure she's going to want to remember the shelves in her room where she keeps some of her favorite things.

Ashley and I love the baby pictures of all the kids on our bedroom wall.  We also love the antiques and keepsakes Ashley has collected.  She spent years looking for just the right antique scale, which looks great in our breakfast room, and I love my study with the political and historical memorabilia.