Friday, April 13, 2012
Denton County to celebrate 166th anniversary
Denton County hasn’t held a commemorative celebration since the 1996 Sesquicentennial Celebration.
Photo by Flickr user SA Moberly.
Still adjusting to its joining of the United States in 1845, members of the Texas legislature took notice of a scarcely populated North Texas frontier with potential for growth after 20 investors from Kentucky moved to the area and formed the Peters Colony. On April 11, 1846, the legislature acted on that potential by officially establishing the land as a county, and Denton County was born.
One hundred and sixty-six years later, some of Denton County’s estimated 662,614 residents, according to the 2010 Census, will gather to celebrate its past and future with Denton County’s 166th Birthday Celebration this weekend at the Courthouse-on-the-Square Museum.
The event will showcase the importance of the county’s history and the growth it continues to make, while reminding residents where they came from.
“It’s a way to call attention to the Denton County museums. We’re hoping hundreds of residents come out and enjoy it,” Chairman of Denton County Museums Peggy Capps said. “It [the Courthouse-on-the-Square Museum] belongs to all of us, it’s like the county’s living room.”
Held 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, the event is free, open to people of all ages and designed to reel the community in for some good old birthday fun, Capps said.
Denton’s own give back
About 10 organizations will participate in the celebration, offering time and services free of charge to the museum. Most people involved are volunteers or a part of the Historical Commission, Capps said.
Members from the Denton chapters of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows and the Rebekah Lodge, both fraternal orders, will satisfy party-goers’ sweet teeth by handing out slices of birthday cake.
Across from the museum grounds, Beth Marie’s will sell a special flavor – Courthouse Pecan – in honor of the celebration until Sunday, General Manager Margaret Rich said.
Car enthusiasts can enjoy vintage cars being put on display by the Early Automobile Club of Denton County around the Denton Square. The display’s prized possession will be the county’s 10-year restoration project, the Old No. 14 fire truck.
Visitors can take rides on a restored Butterfield Stagecoach, provided by Wells Fargo Advisors. The stagecoach is set to begin at the north side of the museum before making its way through the Denton Square.
Eleven custom-made quilts donated to the museum by the Denton County Quilt Guild will be raffled off during the celebration. Each raffle ticket is $5, and all proceeds will go toward a trip planned by the members that includes the group traveling to Tanzania and teaching women how to quilt so they can create their own businesses, said Peggy Riddle, director of the Courthouse-on-the-Square Museum.
The two biggest challenges in planning the event included getting the word out and making the most of having just a few months to prepare, Riddle said.
“We had big buttons made and ran announcements in a few local publications, but that’s really it,” she said. “We made the decision in December of last year to have the party, so we didn’t have a whole lot of time to plan it.”
The Courthouse Museum will also make its mark on the event, hosting a rummage sale where visitors can purchase items that were donated over the years, such as candleholders and pendants.
“All of the proceeds from the rummage sale are going to be deposited into the museum’s donation funds and be used to do a number of things such as traveling exhibits, where we go to local schools to talk about Denton history and for other educational programs,” Riddle said.
Denton History comes alive
Marking Denton County’s early days, the Pinckneyville Stump, a 166-year-old oak tree stump, will be dedicated to the museum at a ceremony at 1 p.m. with remarks from Chairman of Historical Commission Dr. Rynell Novak.
As one of the county’s oldest landmarks, the stump represents a time where circuit judges held court in a grove of trees because there was no real courthouse, she said.
Denton County hasn’t held a commemorative celebration since the 1996 Sesquicentennial Celebration. Events and receptions were scheduled for the county’s 150th birthday.
“We had a celebration on the courthouse lawn then, too, and buffalo soldiers came out,” she said. “There were all kinds of events going on.”
One of those events, the moving of the First Ladies Gown Collection to the Center for Visual Arts at TWU, had First Lady Laura Bush as a guest, Capps said.
Capps said that before she became chairman last year, nobody had shown interest in celebrating the county’s birthday, leading to the 16-year gap in celebrations.
“I guess no one else wanted to do anything in the past, so last year when I became chairman I decided that we needed to do something,” she said. “I’m just the party girl on the Historical Commission.”
With more people settling in North Texas, it’s important they know about the county and Denton’s history.
“The county’s population, as well as Denton’s, has grown immensely, and people need to understand that,” she said.
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