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Arlington's First Property Owners - 1876 (Part 5 of 5)

There were 22 persons who were original purchasers of lots in the new town of Arlington, from the first auction by the T & P Railway Co. on July 26, 1876, through to the end of 1876. The names of all of these persons are listed in part 1 of this article. In previous issues, we covered the lot purchases of those persons who purchased lots in the new town as shown in a 1900 Sanborn-Perris map, i.e., on both sides of South Center Street, and on East and West Main Street. In this final installment of this article, we will cover additional purchases between July 26, 1876 and the end of 1876 that were outside the area covered by the Sanborn-Perris map, what the buyers did with these lots, and what subsequently happened.

G.W. Hill

G. W. Hill bought lot 2/2 on October 31, 1876 for $135. This lot is the second one west of Center Street on West Front Street. On December 11 of that year, he added lot 1/34 to his holdings for $60. This residentialsize lot is located on the northwest corner of the intersection of Pecan Street and Division Street, 201 West Division Street, on what much later became Arlington's "Auto Aisle," the historic Bankhead Highway. Both deeds state that he resides in Tarrant County.

On March 1, 1877, G. W. and wife Mattie Hill, both of Tarrant County, sold both of the lots to M. Bell for $1000. The deed specifies "with all the buildings and improvements thereon," so G. W. Hill may have earned the profit. Mattie Bell next sold the lots to J. H. Hamby on March 5, 1881 for $1200.

Dennis and Beck Wynne

On July 28, 1876 Wynne, Dennis and Beck of Forrest City, Arkansas bought three lots in Arlington for $320. They were all business lots on the north side of the track, lots 11 and 12 in block 1 on East Front Street, on the northeast corner of the intersection with Center Street, and lot 1 in block 2 on West Front Street on the corner with Center Street.

This is a clear case of land speculation in the new town. Jesse Watkins Wynne had come to Texas with his parents while quite young and was employed as clerk in James Flanigin's furniture store in the vicinity of Nacogdoches. When the Civil War began, he enlisted in the Third Texas Cavalry, CSA and won distinction as well as suffering two wounds. After the war ended, he succeeded in driving a cattle herd to Arkansas and invested the earnings along with James W. Dennis and John W. Beck in a furnishings business in Forrest City that turned to banking by 1868 and became the largest bank in the region.

On June 15, 1897, subsequent to the death of J. W. Dennis and his wife M. J. Dennis, the jointly owned properties were divided, with 11/1 transferred to J. W. Beck, 12/1 to the Dennis heirs J. W. Dennis and Perle Dennis, and lot 1/2 to J. W. Wynne. Subsequently, Mike Ditto bought the two lots in block 1, paying $175 on June 13, 1902 for 11/1 and $250 on June 26, 1903 for 12/1. Morris Putman paid $125 to J. W. Wynne, living in Memphis, Tennessee by then, for 1/2 on November 20, 1898.

W.S. Thomas

Three Thomas brothers came to Tarrant County from Columbia County, Arkansas. Henry L. Thomas took up farming in the blackland prairie east of Johnson Station on Arkansas Lane. Martin van Buren Thomas acquired the southwest quarter of the Solomon Davis survey, which had passed through the hands of Middleton Tate Johnson and others.

Martin Thomas sold 60 acres of the quarter section to William Samuel Thomas. The T & P Railway right-of-way went through both of their holdings and the town plat for Arlington included the south part of both these lands. After negotiation, both of the brothers sold what the T & P needed to the railroad. W. S. Thomas received $30 for his right of way and $193.75 for the 43 ½ acres of his for which town lots were planned. In tough negotiations that went on until August 25, the railroad threw in 60 acres of land in the W. P. Milby survey west of town and two town lots for its part of the bargain and paid the nominal fee of $1 to W. S. Thomas. Both brothers still owned land adjoining the town boundary which gained value due to its location. On August 4, 1876 W. S. Thomas sold one acre on what would become the northward extension of North Center Street to O. W. Lawrence for $30. Land without the advantage of location such as this was selling for about $10 per acre.

W. S. Thomas received the land in the W. P. Milby tract as agreed and selected town lots 5-6 in block 64 on August 23, 1876. The town lots were apparent home sites at the southeast corner of Center Street and North Street.

W. S. Thomas in the 1870 census of Columbia County Arkansas was a 33 year old farmer with an estate worth $1700, accompanied by wife Catherine and children Mary, Ellen, and John, all born in Arkansas. In 1880, living in Johnson Station, Mary was not with them, but seven year old son Furman was added, born in Arkansas. A deed of sale from Martin Thomas and William S. Thomas to Thomas J. Heath on July 30, 1872 states that both brothers at that date were residents of Arkansas, so they must have moved to Texas soon after that.

On February 14, 1882, W. S. Thomas gave one acre of land in the Sol Davis survey north of town for the building of a Methodist church. The grantee was the "Arlington Circuit North West Texas Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church (South)." It is not clear that he built a home on his town lots 5-6, since he sold them to the church on December 19, 1884 for $30. In a coordinated plan the church also bought all of block 31 immediately south of them in two purchases from the T & P Railway on December 27, 1884 and January 31, 1885. This gave the church all the lots along the east side of Center Street from Division Street to North Street, which we recognize as the current west face of the First United Methodist Church in Arlington.

All three Thomas brothers and their wives are buried in Johnson Station Cemetery.

Joseph Tolliver

Joe Tolliver was granted lot 6 in block 63 by the T & P for the nominal fee of $1 on August 8, 1876 as part of the compensation for the 14.09 acres that he sold the railroad in the northeast corner of the town site on October 27, 1876. The lot was residential, facing North Street at the southeast corner of North and Mesquite.

Joe Tolliver was a native of Lawrence County, Indiana, born there November 15, 1833. He came to Texas in 1855 via the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers to New Orleans and up the Red River to Shreveport, then overland to Tarrant County. He engaged in freighting lumber and commodities from Jefferson and Houston, sometimes delivering supplies to the US Army posts. When the civil war began, he enlisted in Company D, 9th Texas Cavalry, CSA, Ross's Brigade, one of the units raised by Middleton Tate Johnson and originally captained by Johnson's son-in-law M. J. Brinson. Upon the death of Captain Brinson in1901, Joe Tolliver wrote the resolution offered by the Bedford Forrest Camp, United Confederate Veterans, to honor him. Another soldier in the unit was Lewis Finger, a farmer located in the Hayterville-Watson vicinity. Joe married his daughter Rachel Finger in 1867.

In the 1870 census Joe, Rachel and W. A. Robinson were counted in Precinct 3 of Tarrant County, farming, and the Tolliver estate worth $1320. However, Joe and Rachel bought 40 acres in the east part of the Sol Davis patent from her father Lewis Finger and brother John C. Finger, for $550 on September 9, 1874 and moved closer to the Finger family, and, as it happened, closer to where Arlington would be.

They continued to buy small parcels ranging from a few acres up to one of 82 acres when available, eventually accumulating 160 acres in that area with cotton and corn fields and pasture land. In the 1880 census they were living there and the enumeration of the "Village of Arlington" began further down on the page. Having no child of their own, their adopted daughter Anna, 15 years old, was in the household.

As the town of Arlington filled out, it became profitable for the Tollivers to file plats for two additions. One named the Joseph Tolliver Addition lay along the south side of Division Street near Collins Street. The larger Tolliver Acres Addition reaches from North East Street to Collins (east-west) and Division Street to Rogers Street (north-south).

Joe Tolliver sold Arlington 6/63 to Mrs. E. A. Taylor for $50 on November 30, 1882. Her husband L. R. Taylor later bought lots 1-5 in block 63 from the T & P, which they held until selling all of it to W. F. Elliott for $815 on February 24, 1890.

'Uncle Joe' died November 19, 1925, 91 years old. Rachel had died two years earlier. They are buried in the Arlington Cemetery.

Middleton & Company

On November 2, 1876, Middleton and Company bought lot 1 block 40 for $140. This is the place where a lumberyard was built on the north side of West Front Street in the third block west of Center Street and just across the street from the railroad siding. It is quite likely that Mr. Copeland operated the business, but when it was sold to Fleichell and Company of Gregg County for $540 on Feb 20, 1878, J. C. Middleton was the sole owner.