1953 was a big year for paleontological finds near Denton. Excavation related to the construction of the Garza-Little Elm dam (Lewisville Lake) revealed many significant ancient remains. A Denton County Archaeology Society formed after the discovery of a mastodon tooth cap near Lake Dallas. Society members joined together to locate and save artifacts from inundation when the Garza-Little Elm dam opened in October 1953.
In early 1953, Ernest M. Calvert, Jr. discovered a mammoth’s bones protruding from a seven foot arroyo on his father’s farm, located five miles south of Denton. Calvert, Jr. contacted North Texas State College (NTSC)* about the find and permission was granted for NTSC students and faculty to spend Saturdays excavating the partial mammoth skeleton. NTSC professors Carl B. Compton (Art) and Dr. Elgin Williams (Sociology) and a total of fifty students excavated the mammoth using trowels and whisk brooms from February to April 1953. Members of the public were welcome to visit the dig site from 2:00 – 5:00 PM each Saturday.
Beulah Harriss, moved from Nebraska to Texas to join the faculty of the North Texas State Normal College (now the University of North Texas) in 1914. She was the first woman hired as a member of the athletic faculty. Ms. Harriss supervised the women’s athletic program, including coaching women’s basketball. The women’s team played three undefeated seasons between 1918 and 1920, to be recognized as the champions of the State of Texas. Beulah Harriss was active in the community as well, organizing the Denton Girl Scouts in 1919. Miss Harriss founded the Green Jackets Club in 1926 as a service and spirit organization at North Texas. Miss Harriss served as faculty advisor for this organization for four decades. She retired in 1960 and died in 1977 at the age of 88.
Additionally, Miss Harriss was one of 13 professors from UNT who started the Denton County Teachers Federal Credit Union (DATCU) in 1936. In 1976, the credit union held the first Miss Beulah Harriss Day, in honor of the organization’s 40th anniversary. Read more
It was not the first time that politicians in Austin were considering the merger of North Texas State University (now UNT) and TWU. On several occasions before, the existence of two comprehensive state universities in one small north Texas city had become a subject of heated debate at the State Capitol. In times of economic downturns, the proponents of the measure would voice their strong reservations to funding the two institutions which were perceived as strikingly similar in their role and mission. However, it was not until 1986 that NT and TWU came very close to becoming one university.
This time, in a climate of austere state economic conditions, the proposed merger of the two institutions was but a part of a much larger project to overhaul the entire system of higher education in Texas, which the legislators considered haphazard, costly, inefficient, and lacking in adequate academic standards. In 1985, Texas Legislature created Select Committee on Higher Education and charged it with the task of reforming the system. Several organizational proposals were submitted to the Committee, some based on geography, and some on mission; some of them included mergers. Among the seriously considered proposals was one by Larry Temple, the Committee Chairman, who put forward a plan to create a five-tier system of colleges and universities, each group with a distinct academic mission and with only one governing board; importantly, several small colleges and universities were to be merged with bigger ones, and TWU and NTSU were among them. Read more
A group of women in Denton started Old Maid’s Day in 1950 to get “recognition, not menfolks.” It all began when Miss Dorothy Babb, a Latin and English teacher at North Texas State College (NTSC, now the University of North Texas) was tired of buying gifts for weddings, Mother’s Day, and baby showers. She complained to Mrs. Dude Neville McCloud, the NTSC news service director that it was unfair that she only got gifts at Christmas and had spent over $1500.00 buying gifts for others. On a lark Mrs. McCloud wrote a feature for the Associated Press which was picked up all over the United States and eventually overseas asking for recognition and gifts for women who either couldn’t or refused to get married.
Denton Mayor Mark Hannah designated Tuesday, August 15th, 1950 a day to honor unmarried women. People suggested more flattering names such as glamor girls, unclaimed blessings, unclaimed jewels, career girls, unmarried ladies or bachelor girls, but Miss Babb said that she just preferred being called an old maid. “Anybody who didn’t like the name [old maid] could just go and get married.”
The first year’s celebration included a tea at the Denton Country Club, and free soft drinks, popcorn and candy, as well as admission to a show featuring ‘Fessor Floyd Graham and his orchestra, and films at the Campus Theater, including The Three Stooges in “The Brideless Groom.” In addition, other gifts were provided for distribution to any unmarried woman who would admit to being an old maid. Read more
When Annie Webb Blanton, an early twentieth-century Texas feminist and educational reformer, moved to Denton in 1901 to join the faculty of North Texas State Normal College (a predecessor to the University of North Texas), the town had 4,000 residents. Over the next seventeen years Blanton witnessed Denton’s population double in response to the opportunities afforded by North Texas State Normal College and the Girls Industrial College (now Texas Woman’s University), the establishment of new businesses, and the introduction of a railroad connection to Dallas and Forth Worth.
Before accepting a teaching position at North Texas, Blanton spent seven years earning a Bachelor of Literature from the University of Texas while teaching full-time at an Austin elementary school. She graduated from UT in 1899 at the age of 29.
North Texas hired Blanton to teach English grammar and composition at the rank of Associate Professor. She taught five courses a semester and met with each course five times a week. This was the standard teaching load at North Texas at the time. Blanton also coached the North Texas debate team and helped establish both the North Texas State Normal Journal and the women’s Current Literature Club on campus. The 1908 North Texas yearbook, The Yucca, was dedicated to her “justice, impartiality, and interest in the students.” Read more
Alvin Clark Owsley (1856-1938) was born in Missouri, received most of his schooling in California, moved back to Missouri to study law, and moved to Denton, Texas in 1873 to be a public school teacher. A year later he was the examiner of teachers for Denton County, remaining in that position until 1884. Owsley continued with his career in law. He received his Texas law license in 1875. By 1882 he was licensed to practice in the circuit and district courts for the Northern District of Texas. He received a doctor of laws degree from Nashville College in 1903.
C. Owsley was a prominent member of the Denton community. He was elected to serve three terms in the Texas legislature, starting in 1888. He also served a term as a district judge in the sixteenth judicial district of Texas (1926-1928). In 1934 he was appointed special chief justice of the Texas Supreme Court. Owsley was also the first president of the Denton Chamber of Commerce. Read more
The University of North Texas has been home to a rich and vibrant Greek community since 1952. Currently, UNT supports over 40 fraternities and sororities under four councils; organization members have made a significant impact in areas such as community service and academic excellence. But even before 1952, UNT students organized and gathered in various social and academic clubs and societies, usually segregated by sex.
At the turn of the 20th century, an energetic group of students gathered in the chapel to organize the school’s first society. Due to an inability to agree on the proposed constitution, the school’s first society quickly split into two separate groups: the Kendall-Bruce Literacy Society (known affectionately as the K-B), and the McKinley Society. After a few name changes and a trial co-ed integration, the McKinley society disbanded. In 1902 a rival literary society formed; the Reagan Literary Society regularly engaged in debate functions against the K-B, and the two rival groups met for a joint session in 1907 to form the Oratorical Association of the North Texas State Normal. Female students weren’t excluded from these activities for long, and the Mary Arden Club was founded in 1902. Originally created as a literary club for women and devoted to the study of Shakespeare, the club also provided its members various training opportunities in club work and social activities. In 1922 the members raised enough money through pledges to build the Mary Arden Lodge, described as being “ideally located just east of the library.” The Mary Arden club remained active until 1970, regularly hosting various teas, socials, and literary lectures on campus. The UNT Special Collections Department houses their organizational archive. Read more
On September 16, 1890, a man dressed in a frock coat and top hat stood on the steps of the Denton County Courthouse and addressed the citizens of Denton, Texas. President Joshua Crittenden Chilton’ s speech opened the Texas Normal College and Teachers Training Institute, now known as the University of North Texas. The new educational institution started classes before a site for the campus had been chosen. After the speech students were directed to a structure on the northwest corner of the square that would serve as the school site for the first year. Read more