From Towns and Communities of Denton County, compiled by Emily Fowler and Alma Lain Chambers
Courtesy Emily Fowler Public Library

History of Lewisville, Texas

Lewisville, "the best part of the greatest county in Texas", to quote the late Dr. D. F. Kirkpatrick, pioneer Lewisville physician, probably had its beginning in much the same manner as many other early settlements.

According to the few records on hand, people seeking to better their conditions found their way to this spot, now located about twenty-three miles north of Dallas and thirteen miles south of Denton on U.S. Highway 77 as early as the year 1844 when J.W. and A. G. King settled here on a head right. The next property owner, Steve Hyatt, sold his property to Thomas Kealy, brother of J. N. Kealy who was local post-master a number of years.

In 1862 Rawlins, Kealy and Herod organized and built a grist mill on South Mill Street and east of the Farmer's and Merchant's Gin. It was in this grist mill that every family in the vicinity, including McCurley Prairie, took refuge from the Indians after some school children reported seeing Indians between Big Elm and Little Elm. Since Indians were doing a great deal of stealing and trying to kill the settlers at this time, no chances were taken. The report was false, however, and the "Indians" turned out to be cattlemen, wearing blankets for protection from the cold.

In 1865 E. K. Rawlins brought in a little stock of dry goods, which he kept at his residence, a double-roomed log house just back of the T. M. Claytor residence, which is now owned by Conrad Duwe.

Around 1867 Uncle Joe Minor, who had operated a trading post at his home about one and one-half miles west of Lewisville, opened a saloon in a small house on the corner where Crawford's Grocery and Market now stands. About the same year Woodrum and Davis built a little house on the lot occupied by the J. M. Hatcher brick building, which they used for a general merchandise store.

Cotton Gins played a great part in the early history of this city. From 1967 to about 1870 gins were operated by Mark and Ed Bradley, Donald Beavers, Cowan Beavers, John Buster, Henry Hill and one built by T. M. Claytor and George Craft which was on the lot where Joe C. Cobb now lives. This place was then known as the Uncle Billy Cowan place. It is recorded that fifty cents was paid for a pound of nails when the latter gin was being built. The Claytor and Craft Gin ginned about one hundred bales the first season, but all but seventeen bales were used by the women for quilting. In connection with the gin was a carding machine, which was later moved by Kealy and Rawlins to the site where Farmers and Merchants Gins was located. It burned shortly afterwards and this is thought to be Lewisville's first fire. Gins continued to do a big business and in the early 1900's C. Y. Milliken recalls that fourteen thousand bales of cotton were ginned.

Milliken still operates the dry goods business, W. D. Milliken and Sons, which was established by his father in 1879. It is the oldest continuous business in the county. In recalling the days of the cotton gin Milliken told how the gins operated twenty-four hours a day and seven days a week during cotton season and stated that in the fall of the year it was hard to walk down Main Street because of cotton wagons. Today there are no gins in Lewisville. 57

The first brick building was built by W. D. Milliken around 1883-1884, which burned in 1918. The present building was then built. Milliken also recalled the time when as youngsters he and Urban Moore, Lewisville druggist since 1911, had the exciting duties of ringing the church bells for the Methodist and Presbyterian churches, respectively.

Lewisville's school system had it's beginning in the old Masonic Hall which stood where Old Hall Cemetery is now located. This hall, erected by the Masons around 1860-1861, was of logs and Captain Sam Lusk is reported to have said it was probably the first two-story building in this part of the country. This building was often used as a refuge from Indians and was constructed with "port holes" through which the settlers would shoot at the Indians. The Lewisville Masonic Lodge Number 201 AF and AM, which will celebrate its one hundredth anniversary January 23, 1957, held its meetings in the upstairs of the building and the lower floor was used for the first public school in this area. Religious services were also conducted here by all denominations. In the old Masonic records it is stated that the only requirements for the use of the hall were that there would be no religious debates, no one could make remarks that would cast any reflections on another person's religious beliefs, the hall had to be swept clean after the service and the people had to furnish their own candles. The Masonic Lodge continued to operate the school, which later moved to the lot now occupied by the residence of Mrs. Flora Merritt, until about 1890 when the state took over the school.

In 1891 a building was erected on the present elementary school site. When this brick and frame structure burned in 1909, school was held in the churches until the new building was finished. In 1921 the red brick three-story school was built which now houses the elementary grades. The first graduates of the Lewisville public school received their diplomas in 1903, when P. D. Kennemer was Superintendent. Graduates were Mable Addington, Ethel Hayes, Louise Milliken, Clo Crawford and Spurgeon Stover. Other Superintendents of the school were J. E. Templeton, J. E. Coffee, W. H. Smith, D. B. Allen, H. C. Lyon, W. W. Shields, Alex Core, W. M. Mitchell, J. L. German, Emmett Whitehead, B. F. Tunnell, H. G. Vick and the present superintendent, J. K. DeLay.

Today Lewisville's school system is second to none in Denton County. High School and Junior High School students enjoy the advantages of a new and completely modern building. The construction of another building, to take the place of the elementary building, which was built in 1921, is under way with hopes for its completion by next fall's school term.

Lewisville has a very active fire department even though the membership is on a voluntary basis. The first volunteer fire department near Lewisville was probably the "grass committee" of the Masonic Lodge whose duties included the burning of the tall prairie grass around the hall on the first calm day. This action was taken for two reasons. First of all it was protection from the big grass fires that very often swept the country in those days and too, the Indians were not able to hide so close to the hall after the grass was burned away.

Some of the early day business and professional men were J. W. Boatner, Wm. R. Carlisle, E. G. Bradley, John W. Kennedy and J. M. Gilbert, physicians; M. L. Bradley and Co., Kerr and White, J. A. Skillern and Son, Young and Hardy, G. W. Cassady and Co., J. W. Lyles, J. E. Chambers, Druggists; R. E. 58
Bradley, G. W. Elbert and Co., E. F. Stover, general merchandise; J. C. Brannon and Co., J. M. Hayes, M. Jacobson, hardware; John Cobb, H. Hill, W. D. Milliken, Portman Bros., C. I. Thomas, J. A. Hatcher, dry goods; D. S. Donald, stockman; G. E. Griffin, contractor; J. D. Gulledge, W. W. Smith, R. E. Bradley, groceries; W. T. Hyder, A. D. Miller, T. N. Degan, livery; T. H. Jenkins, depot agent; J. M. Hendrix, furniture and undertaking; J. N. Kealy, gin and mill; Kealy and Kealy, flour mill; Kealy and Hayes, gin; Kealy and Buster, gin; R. H. Powell, F. Stover, barbers; Cowan Reynolds and Co., implements; W. C. Smith and Son, printers and publishers; A. G. Terry, Justice of Peace; E. D. Wells, saloon; Mrs. Mattie Howard and Miss Lizzie Lokey, millinery; J. A. Pickens, Hood Cunningham, Y. S. Ready, J. W. Degan, cotton buyers; J. R. Bourland, lumber.

Several disasters mar Lewisville's early history. In 1908 people were marooned in trees by a flood and had to remain there until boats could reach them. Several times it seemed the entire town would be wiped out by fire. Half of the north side of the business district has burned twice. One time the Hatchers lost a building they had only been in four days. Hendrix and Savage furniture store, which was established in 1887 and is still operated by members of this same family, has been destroyed by fire three times.

The history of Lewisville was slow to change until in 1881 when the M. K. and T. Railroad reached here. The town and surrounding territory began growing until today it is a city of approximately 3,150 population.

There is nothing definite about how the town got its name. Some say the Indians named it, but according to the writings of Dr. Kirkpatrick and the memories of others it seems to have been named for a Mr. Lewis who lived here only a short time. Little is known of him or where he went.

Since the town was incorporated in 1925, Lewisville has had six mayors. They were M. D. Fagg, Jack Lewis, A. Hayes, M. H. Millican, all deceased, Conrad Duwe, F. C. Connor, and the present Mayor, Tom Beasley. It now has a property evaluation of $2,001,713.00.

Several churches contribute to Lewisville's spiritual life. The oldest churches are the First Baptist, Methodist, Church of Christ, Presbyterian and Stewart's Creek Baptist. The latter is one of the oldest churches in the county. It was organized and located in the Garza-Little Elm Reservoir district and was moved to Lewisville about four years ago and has been enlarged and redecorated.

In 1881 thirty-seven members of the Holford Prairie Baptist Church met and organized the Lewisville Baptist Church. The present brick building, which was dedicated last year, replaced a building, which was erected in 1905. An educational building completed in 1951 completes the church plant. This congregation is now building a new parsonage in the James F. Degan addition.

In 1868-69 the Methodist built the first church in Lewisville. This frame building was used until 1911 when the present brick structure was erected. Sunday school rooms and the Milliken Chapel were added to the church in 1952.

The First Presbyterian Church was organized November 1, 1879 with the Rev. H. F. Bone as the first pastor. Originally, it was the Cumberland 59
Presbyterian Church but later became the First Presbyterian Church, U.S.A. The present building was erected in 1917.

The Church of Christ was organized with eight charter members in the home of the late J. M. and Carrie Jasper Hendrix in 1886 under the leadership of Elder Terrill Jasper, a pioneer minister of the Church of Christ in Denton County. In 1894 a large frame church building was erected in the northeast part of town. In June 1917 a brick church was built on West Main. In 1948 the auditorium was enlarged and redecorated, five classrooms, two rest rooms and a dressing room added. Two more classrooms were added in 1953.

The Assembly of God Church organized about fourteen years ago, was located in the north part of town until 1952 when a modern church was built in the Dick addition to Lewisville.

The newest churches are the Central Baptist Church, which was organized about four years ago and has new and modern buildings in the Dick Addition, and the Lewisville Bible Church. The Bible Church was organized May 13, 1955 in the home of Mr. and Mrs. Reveau Stewart with twenty-eight charter members. The congregation met in this home until a new and modern church was erected near the high school. This new building was dedicated May 13, 1956.

Lewisville citizens take part in a variety of worthwhile activities through the various lodges, clubs and civic organizations which include the Lions Club, Chamber of Commerce, the Junior Chamber of Commerce, Business and Professional Women‟s Club, Resume Club and the Study Club which was organized April 14, 1914 in the home of Mrs. P. L. Jacobson. Other organizations include the Modern Housewives and the Lewisville Parent-Teacher Association.

The Lewisville Enterprise has served this community since 1872. Publishers have been F. N. 0liver, who established the paper, W. S. Ray, Hardin Smith, J. L. Harper, 0. S. Hamilton, Lee Vaughn, and Jack Lewis. W. S. Thurman is the present owner-publisher.

Lewisville is the only town in Texas to have had two former residents become Speaker of the House of Representatives at Austin. They are C. G. Thomas, deceased, and Fred Minor, Denton Attorney.

Today, the "Gateway to the Industrial Southwest", as Lewisville is known, is developing rapidly. Several residential additions have been opened and only last year building permits for forty-eight homes were issued totaling $310,550.00.

The city is furnished water from three wells and where in past history the businesses could easily be named, today the Chamber of Commerce has listed approximately ninety-five businesses in Lewisville.

The newest business is Tanks, Inc., which has started construction on Highway 121 in the east part of town. Bids will be open February 11th for a new post office and city hall, which will be built on the present city lot. Recently completed projects include the Garza-Little Elm Dam and Reservoir, Highway 77, and the direct line of the Santa Fe Railroad from Chicago to Dallas, which is in the north part of the city. 60

Surely the brave, industrious pioneers Dr. Kirkpatrick wrote about have left their mark on Lewisville as it continues to grow and keep abreast of the needs of it's citizens.