Quakertown History

A black and white photo of an African American couple walking in Quakertown in Denton, TX.

Around the time the City of Denton incorporated in 1866, a community of African Americans began taking shape within the city in what became known as Quaker. By the early 1920s, the Quaker neighborhood was described by some historians as middle class and thriving. In 1901, The Girls Industrial College was established and in 1903 college building began just north of the Quaker neighborhood. While there are many accounts of the particular actions and events leading to the forced sale of the nearly 60 Quaker residences in 1922, what is clear, the residents did not relocate willingly. There is documentation of filed lawsuits and other oral histories of resistance, including one of Mary Ellen Taylor who purportedly stayed defiantly in her rocking chair in her house while it was being moved. What is also clear is that the leadership at the College of Industrial Arts (CIA, formerly, The Girls Industrial College and later Texas Woman’s University) played a role in architecting what Dentonites of 1921 called the Park Bond issue.

A historical map of the homes at Quakertown with the park plans drawn over the area.

On November 18, 1920, in a speech delivered to the Denton Chamber of Commerce as a pitch to apparently gain support for the upcoming vote on the Park Bond issue, CIA President Bralley said the Park Bond issue would “rid the college of the menace of the negro quarters in close proximity to the college and thereby remove the danger that is always present so long as the situation remains as it is.” This bond issue is viewed by many today as a thinly veiled act of racial injustice intended to create distance between the all-white girls’ college and Black Dentonites, specifically those living in the area of what the City of Denton now calls Quakertown Park.

Quakertown Committee

In 2017, Chancellor Feyten formed the Quakertown Committee. She charged it with developing recommendations that allow the university to publicly acknowledge its past role in the displacement of Quakertown citizens in a way that fosters and promotes better racial unity today.

Committee Members:

  • Denise Lucero-Miller, Ph.D. (chair), director of CAPS
  • Jacob Blosser, Ph.D., History professor
  • Sheryl English, Denton Realtor and TWU alumna
  • Robin Head, associate vice president University Advancement (no longer with university)
  • Anne Jensen-Smith, (student at the time) alumna
  • Christopher Johnson, chief of staff
  • Dianne Randolph, TWU alumna and TWU Foundation Board of Directors
  • Zane Santos, systems engineer

A Site of Remembrance, Reflection and Commitment

A black and white photo of a group of African American women outdoors in Quakertown in Denton, TX.

HKS, the architectural firm that created TWU’s master Denton campus plan, is designing the memorial on our Denton campus.

The plan calls for constructing an amphitheater—the circular shape symbolizing an equal positioning of voices in dialogues over difficult topics—surrounded by shade trees to tell the Quakertown story. The space will include a walking path and an augmented reality exhibit that recounts the period’s historical events and social environment.

Along that memorial path will be key images that are forever linked to this tragic narrative: the rocking chair sat in by Mary Ellen Taylor, whose home was lifted onto skids and moved as she defiantly sat in her parlor; and lilac bushes, which were proudly displayed in one neighbor’s garden.

The path will offer members of the community, students, faculty and staff an opportunity to remember the displaced citizens of Quakertown, reflect on concepts of equity and justice, and illuminate TWU’s commitment to principles of diversity and inclusion.

Timeline

  • 2017Committee formed
  • 2018Committee recommendations presented to TWU Cabinet  
  • 2019HKS architectural firm hired to design plans for memorial
  • 2020Plans to be finalized
  • 2022Quakertown Memorial completed, 100th anniversary of relocation of Quaker residents