THE HISTORY OF POLYTECHNIC
(Written by the L. 4k and L. 4B classes of D. McRae School in 1933 and under the direction of Miss Nell Bratton )
In 1852 when Fort Worth was a very small village and Poly a barren prairie covered with grass almost as tall as a man, Arch Hall and his brother-in-law, Roger Tandy, left comfortable homes in Kentucky and set out with their families and negro slaves for the wilderness of Texas.. They traveled slowly in horse-drawn covered wagons. They were forced to clear their path a great part of the way, and where they found roads at all they found them so rough as to make traveling extremely difficult. Mr. Hall told of one day when the going was so slow that at night they found themselves so close to the camp of the night before that he sent his slaves back on foot to get embers from the fire to start the new camp-fire.
These pioneers brought with them plowshares, spinning-wheels, equipment for looms, molds for candles, and seeds and stock with which to begin farming. With the adze, a tool somewhat like an axe, they cut and trimmed timber with which to build log cabins. Arch Hall settled south of Tandy Lake at about the present location of 3500 Avenue E, while Roger Tandy chose a site north of the lake.
Furniture in these homes was scarce and consisted of beds, tables, and chairs, which in most cases were hand-fashioned. Logs were burned in big fireplaces for heat and cooking. Frames for looms were shaped from timbers and the work of spinning and weaving was begun. Candles were rnade of tallow in the molds brought from Kentucky. Water was hauled in barrels from a spring in a nearby creek. The tall prairie grass was cut and plowed under and the land made ready for cultivation. Oxen were used to pull the plows at first. Corn and wheat were the chief crops. The grain was ground into meal and flour by a mill at Tucker's Hill, between Poly and Fort Worth.
In 1857 Arch Hall took wagons to Jefferson County and brought back lumber with which he built a story-and-a-half house on the spot where the Leach home now stands. In 1866 W. D. Hall, who had followed his brother here in 1857, built a house of lumber brought from Jefferson County, also. This house was located at Avenue I. It burned about 1910.
When these frame houses were built, home comforts were improving. Brass lamps were used instead of candles, and stoves were used for cooking. Farm machinery was more efficient, and it was no longer necessary to weave cloth in the home, for stores in Fort Worth were able to supply the need.
Trips to Handley and
Fort Worth were rare and important occasions upon which stores of supplies were
laid in to last for weeks. Wagons were sent to far distant eastern towns to
bring back things which could not be found near. The return of these wagons
was eagerly awaited by the women and girls who longed for news of the fashions
of the day.
Homes were so widely scattered that social life was limited. when a party or a dinner was held at one home the news went out by word of mouth and neighbors came from miles away to attend. The nearest church was in Fort Worth. At times religious services were held in homes when a traveling preacher happened to pass through.
The first school in this community was a subscription school located on Sycamore Creek and taught by W. D. Hall, who had been held a prisoner by the northern army during the Civil War, and had spent his time there in studying Latin In 1883, a private school was built near the Arch Hall home for the benefit of the children and tenants of the Hall and Tandy families. This school was taught by Miss Mary Young, who came from Tennessee.
About 1886, the first public school was organized. It was called District No. 42 and was taught by Miss Helen Perrin, a graduate of Vassar. A few years later a school was built in connection with the Manchester Cotton Mill which was owned by a company from England. The first Post Office was at this mill also. The Manchester School was torn down in 1906 when the Polytechnic Public School was built at Nashville, between Avenue B and Avenue C. The first trustees of this school were E. S. Hall, D. McRae, R. W. Gillespie, J.H. Price, William James, Judge Chambers, and J. S. Wilson.
In 1907 Sam Calloway became superintendent of this school. There were seven grades at frst, but a grade was added each year until 1912 when the first class was graduated. The members of this class were Chester Hollis, Bessie Hollis, Fay Boykin, Mary Brown, James Liddell, Marguerite Latimer, and five others whose names we have misplaced.. This school organized the first football and basketball association and the first declama-tion league in the county. The name of the school was later changed to S.S. Dillow.
The T. and P. Railroad was the first to come to Fort Worth. For some time it stopped just north of Poly. On the day in 1876, when the first train came through, all the people went down to the tracks to see it. When it came around the bend it frightened them so that some of them turned and ran home as fast as they could.
In 1890 the Southern Methodist Conference decided to build Polytechnic College near Fort Worth. They chose the present location of the college because of the elevation of the land. Mr. Tandy and Mr. Hall gave the land for the campus and an in-terest in more land to be used in getting money for buildings. The college began with one two-story building A boy's dormitory, a gymnasium, and a chapel were added. Dr. Adkisson was the first president of the college. There were only a small number of teachers and students at first. The first graduating class was one man. Mrs. Hubert Leach graduated in 1895 and was the first person to be married in the chapel. Because the college was called Polytechnic College, the town which sprang up about it was called Polytechnic. For twenty-four years Polytechnic College was a co-educational school, but in 1914 it became a girls' school and the name was changed to Texas Wesleyan College.
THE FIRST CHURCH
In 1891 the first church was organized by Rev. C. A. Evans on the campus of the college. The first services were held in the college chapel. It was called the Polytechnic Methodist Church. In 1902 the church was moved to the new administration building. In 1909 the first church was built on the comer of Avenue F and Annis, on the campus. Rev. H. M. Long was pastor at that time. It was a brick building. It is now used by the college as a Fine Arts Building.
THE FIRST STORES
The Manchester Cotton Mill was the first business in Polytechnic. It was located near the end of Avenue E. When the college came here S. S. Dillow was running a store near Grapevine. In 1892 he married and moved to Poly. He built a small wooden building and installed the first grocery store. This building was at the location of the present Dillow home. In one corner of his store he kept a sub-station of the Fort Worth Post Offtce
Poly's second store was Davidson's, which was sold in 1907 to the Bradford brothers who came from Mansfield. The third business was a variety store run by Mrs. Hobbs. It was in the Dillow building next to the Dillow Grocery.
THE FIRST STREET CAR
In 1892, R. Vickery, Arch Hall, George Tandy, and several other Poly citizens installed street car tracks from the campus to Boaz Street in Fort Worth. The car was pulled by two mules. The mules and car were kept at night in a stall on the corner of Avenue E and Nashville. Sometimes the mules had trouble in climbing Vickery Hill and men and boys had to get out and push while the ladies rode and thought it very amusing. W. K. Gandy was the operator of the mule car. In 1897, J. K. Voss ex-tended his electric street car line from Arlington Heights to the college campus.
The last car at night was left standing at the end of the track. One Halloween, boys put the car on the campus and caused the motorman much trouble in getting -it back on the tracks. In 1906 the car line was extended out Bishop Street to Hanger. In 1913 it was extended to Bideker Street.
THE FIRST TELEPHONE
The first telephone was in the home of Rev. I.Z.T Morris at 3130 Avenue H. The time was 1901. The Morris children had to run for blocks to call their friends to the phone. The second telephone belonged to the college. The third was in the home of Dr. E.P.Hall. These first telephones were connected with Fort Worth, for Poly never had a telephone company of its own.
The earliest settlers
had to carry water in barrels from a spring in the creek. Each day the spring
was emptied, but it was always full the next day. Ed Hall was super-visor of
the first artesian well which was dug on land that is now part of the T.W.C.
campus. The water was purnped by a steam engine. The second artesian well was
dug in 1898 by Joe Dickey at Avenue E and Nashville. It was pumped by electricity.
The third well belonged to Keller and Alvord. Mr. Keller was the grandfather
of F.W. Huffman who is in this class. This well fumished water for the whole
town, until Poly bought the water works and dug wells in Sycamore Park.
During the early days of Poly there was no fire department and when a house caught fire all the people near had to help fight the fire by throwing buckets of water. The first volunteer fire department was organized in 1911. M,C. Anderson was appointed fire chief. In 1912 the first equipment was bought. It consisted of 1,000 feet of hose and two hose reels. The hose was pulled by two mules. The firemen walked to the fire behind the mules. In 1912 J.A. Boykin was elected fire commissioner, When the city hall was built Porter True was fire chief and Campbell Smith was captain, At that same time the first fire truck was bought and Ben Brown became the first paid driver, His salary was $40, a month. The first gasoline was bought from the Poly Drug Company. A law was passed that no person should ride in the truck without an invitation. The firemen were asked not to take joy rides in the truck. The commissioners asked Ben Brown not to take his day offwhen the wind was high. In 1918 the firemen were furnished trousers and boots to wear to fires.
Before Poly was incorporated, Avenue F, had become the business center. Besides the Dillow Grocery and Bradford Drug Store there was another drug store owned by Daniels and Braselton, and a barber shop run by Foreman and Wenzel. Martin's was the first dry goods store. Some of the other businesses at that time were Burge Hard-ware and Furniture Company, Murphy's Coal Yard and Ice House, and J. H. Arun's black-smith shop and garage. The Poly State Bank was organized in 1919. S.S. Dillow was president and Mr. Jackson, cashier. In the early days William James had a saddle factory where the American Seed Company is now.
In 1912 the Poly Baptist Church was built. J.H. Price gave the land for it. It was built at the corner of E and Annis. It was then a small frame building and had thirty members. Some of the first members were Mr. and Mrs. T.B. Cooper, Mr. J.H. Price, Mr. and Mrs. W.E. Taylor, and Dr. and Mrs. Boyd. The first pastor was Rev. S. Carpen-ter. In 1914 they tore the old building down and built the brick building at E. and Binlcley. In 1922 the Methodists sold their church on the campus of the college and built the present church at E. and Annis.
August, 1911, the Southern Traction Company asked for permission to run the Cleburne Interurban through Poly without a station in Poly. The town refused to allow the track to be laid until the company consented to build a station at Gandy Street. About 1933 the interurban was discontinued and the tracks were taken up.
The first electric
lights in Poly were connected with the street car cables. Later the Fort Worth
Power and Light Company extended its lines to Poly and put electricity in all
the homes. The Fort Worth Gas Company laid gas lines in Poly in 1912. In 1913
the Fort Worth Sewage System was connected with Poly.
D. McRAE SCHOOL
D. McRae School was built in 1917. There were only two floors at first and six teachers. It was built at this location for the benefit of the children who lived so far from S.S. Dillow. The first principal was Mr. T.B. Cooper.
One of the first teachers was Mrs. Cooper. The school did not occupy the whole block. There were houses where the north building now stands. The southeast room in the basement was used as a lunchroom. It had no floor at the time.
When the third story was added, Mr. Cooper used the small room on the third floor for his off'ce. The two west rooms on the first floor were build with a sliding wall between them. When programs wore given, the wall was raised and these two rooms became the auditorium. Mr. Cooper tells that they had many programs in those days and raised money to buy the equipment they needed. In the early days there were no lunchroom employees. The teachers took turns cooking beans and soup for the children's lunch.
The Cooper Museum and Library, located in Room 101., is named for Mrs. Cooper who has given many interesting items collected on her travels to make this museum possible.
POLY A SUBURB
In 1919 a census was taken and the population was found to be 5,173. At that time there was talk of making Poly a part of Fort Worth. This had to be done by vote of the people. In 1922, an election was held and most of the people voted to go in Fort Worth. Polytechnic High School, on Nashville, had been started by the people of Poly and was finished by Fort Worth. A few years later William James replaced S. S. Dillow. Since Poly became a suburb of Fort Worth, its growth has been rapid.
1. The first doctor
was Dr. Dobkins
2. The first baby born here was Vida Dobkins, daughter of Dr. Dobkins
3. The first store was S. S. Dillow Grocery
4. The first plumber was Joe Dickey
5. The first Negro born hero was Tom Brock
6. The first iceman was Roy Murphy
7. The first theater was the Fawn on Vaughn
8. The first cemetery was on the college campus
9. The first person buried there was the wife of the college president, Dr. Adkisson
10. The first undertaker was Mr. Shannon
11. The first automobile was bought by J.H. Price. It was a Mitchell and cost $2,500.
12. One of the first city ordinances was a curfew law. It did not allow any boy or girl on the streets after nine at night
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