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PIONEERS OF WHITE SETTLEMENT, TEXAS

By Norris Chambers

The name of White Settlement was originally conferred on the community by the Indians. When much of the territory was unsettled, the area became known as the "White Settlement" because it was inhabited and settled by "Whites". Also, when many of the roaming Indians settled down in communitites, most of the areas were inhabited by both Indians and Whites. Because this area was inhabited by white selttlers only, it was logical to call it the "white" settlement..

In 1849, a group of Tonkawas was attacked by Caddos and Comanches at the site of the future Tannahill station, known now as the Verna Stubbs place. The "Tonks," as they were called, fled to the Fort and asked for political asylum. They were admitted and given protection from the pursuing enemies. The attackers demanded the release of the Tonks, bu tMajor Arnold, thecommander, refused and fired a cannon shot above their heads to show that he meant it. The argument was settled by the Fort giving the Indians three beeves. They departed without their prisoners.

The intensive campaign to eliminate the buffalo in the late 1800's succeeded in driving the Indians to reservations. Very few Indians were left in the area by the turn of the century.

In 1846 a party of surveyors was attacked by Indians at the present junction of 183 and White Settlement Rd. One of the surveyors, Conelius Cormally, surveyed and applied for title to 640acres, on which he settled in 1849. This was in the area of the previous Indian attack and extended into the present Naval Air Station. He received title to and lived on the land for a time, and in 1856 he registered his daughter, Mary Deane, in the first public school census. It is not known when he left the area.

In the same year, 1849, the James Ventioners arrived and acquired approximately half of the 640 acre Connally tract. They built a home on what is now Roaring Springs Road near the Shady Oaks Country Club. They were described by their neighbors as being industrious, thrifty and skilled in hiding their livestock from the marauding Indians. The first recorded wedding in White Settlement was between James Ventioner, Jr. (he came to Texas with his father and family from Indiana) and Mildred Farmer on July 13, 1851. Mildred had been in the area only a few months before the wedding.

The third group to venture west of the fort were three brothers from Roane County, Tennessee, the FARMER brothers. About 1853 Dr. Michael . Lampton Woods, a physician,  moved to what is now the south bank of Lake Worth on a creek called Woods Creek  He set up a store, a mill and a meeting place. Dr. Woods brought the first piano to White Settlement. He also introduced the first threshing machine to the area.  Dr. Woods said that he had a hard time making a living as a  doctor and had to resort to other endeavors to make a living. Was it because the White Settlement pioneers were so healthy or because they couldn't pay their doctor bills?

In 1853, the fort was moved farther west, and the residents were left without military protection. They organized their own "home guard" units to protect themselves. This system worked well.

In 1851 Jud and Jane Rowland, along with five sons and a daughter and Jane's aunt arrived in the area in two covered wagons, drawn by oxen. They were accompanied by a carriage in which the women rode. They procured 200 acres in White Settlement and built a log cabin and various barns and granaries from timber cut along the Trinity. The Rowland boys were musicians, and many parties and dances were scheduled to provide amusement and relaxation.

Another group of wagons with ten families arrived in 1854. Included in their group was J. K. Allen, Sr. with his wife and three children and his brother-in-law Stephen Terry and his family. They settled on a tract of land that Rowland had given up. J. K. Allen, Sr. later became a County Commissioner and a State Representative. Stephen Terry moved into Fort Worth where he became a partner in a brick business, and later served as a Chief Justice for three years.

In 1856 Robert W. Tannahill from Scotland, built his first home just west of Silver Creek Road and near the west end of present Lake Worth- The Tannahill residence was built of stone with walls two feet thick It later became a post office and a stagecoach station.

Two more families from Kentucky arrived in 1857 - Paul Isbell and George Washington Grant. The Isbells settled north of White Settlement Road where the Naval Air Station is now located. The Grants made their home in the present White Settlement near Grants Lane.

Tom Hagood came with the Allens and stayed with them until his parents arrived at a later date. They settled on the south side of the Trinity.

Betsy Dearing Browder, a descendant of the Farmer pioneers, relates this account of the early Farmer family.

Although the Farmers were originally from Tennessee, they lived in East Texas two years before moving farther west to the Fort Worth area. The oldest brother, George Preston Farmer, settled his family on the bluff where the two forks of the Trinity join before the fort was built. When the soldiers arrived they found the family living in a tent. The Indians had burned their cabin.The army gave him a job as sutler of the fort. He managed the commissary and was furnished a dwelling west of the fort. He sold biscuits, brass button polish and tobacco to the soldiers.

The other members of the family were searching for fertile land and timber for cabins and fuel, as well as a source of good water. They settled in the area of the former Carswell Air Base where there was good land, plenty of timber and bubbling springs. They built their cabins and farmed the land.

Once the brothers were clearing the land and a group of Indians appeared. They were frightened, but the Indians only wanted tobacco. After giving them a supply, they left peacefully and the clearing continued Another time, Indians came to the cabin when Betsy Farmer, who kept house for her brothers, was alone. They demanded cornmeal. Joseph Farmer came in and scared the Indians away. Indians appeared at Elijah Farmer's cabin asking for cornmeal. Mrs. Farmer asked how they would carry it. The Indians stripped off the buckskin leggings, holding them close to their bodies to be filled They went away hugging their ingenious sacks closely to their bodies. In a few weeks they returned for another supply. Grain and meal were plentiful. The Farmers harvested their grain and took it to Dr. Wood's mill, located near where Saddle Hills park is now located.

Later Betsy Farmer married Bill Woody and they moved to Veal Station. The Farmers continued to live in the White Settlement area where they were engaged in various businesses, farming and cattle raising and trading.

In 1868 Joseph Farmer and his wife Melinda Jane were among the founders of White Settlement Baptist Church, originally called New Prospect Baptist Church. Mr. and Mrs. James Young and Mr. and Mrs. Lawrence Steel joined with Mr. and Mrs. Farmer and they met and elected officers and adopted a constitution and Articles of Faith. Church services wore held at Grants School as often as a circuit riding preacher was available, about once a month. Grants School was located just east of Cherry Lane. In 1874 they met at Tannahill School House up north on Silver Creek Road near the West Fork of the Trinity - perhaps to accommodate the scattered membership. Later other organizations organized and met in school buildings on alternate Sundays. In 1905 the Baptist group built a white, frame church on White Settlement Road, just east of Cherry Lane. The narne was changed to White Settlement Baptist Church, and later to First Baptist Church of White Settlement. Adjoining lots were purchased and more building were built.

In 1946 the church was destroyed by fire, but after meeting in temporary buildings, it was rebuilt in 1953 when the present sanctuary was completed. Later, a large education building was added Today there are more than 20 churches in White Settlement.

As early as June of 1854 a school census of Tarrant County was made. Children between 6 and 16 were identified. In the White Settlement areas 7 families registered 21 children. In 1877 a group of citizens organized a school at White Settlement Road and Cherry Lane, and the teachers were paid by the student's families. The same year the county established tax-supported schools and the teacher's salaries were paid by the county. In 1936 the small white school house was replaced by a larger brick school, later known as Central. The school district continued to grow by consolidation of other schools and the increase in population. White Settlement now has a high school, a middle school, an intermediate and five elementary schools with an enrollment exceeding 4000.

A Chamber of Commerce was established in White Settlement in about 1954, and has met on a regular basis since. Every year it has sponsored a festive parade and participated in many civic projects. For the last fifteen years it has kept an up-to-date city map available, published a business directory and answered thousands of letter and phone inquiries about the city. In conjunction with a progressive and efficient city administration the community continues to grow and become an even better place to live.

The spirit of the pioneers still lives, inspiring our community to move steadily forward toward achieving the goal which they sought a better way of life for the citizens and their posterity.

The White Settlement Historical Society has established a historical museum to preserve and exhibit what is available of early history. Because there were so few families involved in the earliest history, such artifacts are rare. The real beginning of our city as we know it today began with the beginning of World War II. From that time to the present many historical exhibits are available.