Weatherford Democrat

March 17, 2014

Live local history and support the East Parker County Library!

Weatherford Democrat

— Staff Report

Tickets for a unique self-paced historical driving/biking tour to be hosted by the East Parker County Library are now on sale at the library, 201 FM Road 1187 in Aledo.

The event will take place from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, March 29. A map/ticket — one per car — costs $25/$10 single with all proceeds benefiting the library.    

“Some of these sites are once-in-a-lifetime opportunities to tour,” library director Sue Ellen Shaw said. “Don’t miss the chance to ‘follow the trail down the path of history!’ You won’t be disappointed!”

The tour is based on “Parker County Prairie Sketchbook” by local author/artist Homer Norris. Explorers can begin anywhere on the map, Shaw said.

Following is a glimpse of what’s in store!  

Stop at the Parker County Cowboy Church to see a real chuckwagon and try a taste of what the ranch and farm hands ate. The arena will also be open to watch horse riders and ropers.

Stop at Annetta United Methodist Church. Find out when the old rock church was built; see the small plaque that honors the “wagon train baby”; try your luck in the “arrowhead dig.

Stop at the two historical churches behind Front Street - United Methodist Church of Aledo and The Church at the Crossing, formerly known as Aledo First Baptist Church. Children’s activities at both sites!

Stop at Doss Heritage and Culture Center. See Homer Norris’s beautiful art work; arrowhead collections; and the famous “Gracie,” a young bison skeleton thought to be ceremonially-buried. Discount tickets apply for this tour only. Children FREE.

Stop at Holland Lake Park to see the double log cabin where George McClesky was killed by Indians. Look for the bullet holes around the doorway. This is a great place to plan a picnic and feed the ducks!

  Stop at Ann and Steve Bolton’s El Chico Ranch House, meticulously and beautifully restored with much historical information about the famous stars and prominent Fort Worth businessmen who frequented the lodge for a retreat. This is a rare opportunity to learn much about the ranch culture of the 1920s and 30s!

Stop at Vandagriff Elementary and drive behind the school to the Old Rock Gym. Find out what it was like to go to school in East Parker County in the mid 1900s, and what was used for the school bus! Find out about Willard Stuard, Mattie Coder, Elaine Vandagriff and Charles McAnally.

Pass by Tunnel Road off of Underwood. Old Tunnel Road was built in 1879 by T&P Railroad workmen and paved with cobblestones. You can read about “The Smartest Fox” and how it outsmarted the hounds near Tunnel Road, back in the early 40s on p. 75 in Parker County Prairie Sketchbook.

Stop at A. J. Hood Log Cabin. The docent at this location is a descendant and has much to share with visitors about the important history of this lovingly restored cabin. This is a valuable piece of Parker County History and a rare chance to view its beauty!

Stop at Willow Springs Cemetery and do a stone etching of a favorite memorial. Learn about Martha Sherman, a brave pioneer woman, and why she is buried there. Meet famous descendants of Lawson D. Gratz, the only known Buffalo Soldier and African American Union Civil War veteran who is buried in Parker County. Born in 1839 in Kentucky, Gratz (or Gratts, as the family now spells it) served as the sergeant of Company C, 114th Colored Infantry, fought at Richmond and Petersburg, and was present at Appomattox Courthouse when General Robert E. Lee surrendered. Gratts owned land in Annetta, where he lived until his death in 1909.

For more information, call the library at 817-441-6545.