HISTORY AT OUR DOORSTEP...

reprinted from Around the Town (February 2002)

Medlin Cemetery

Medlin Cemetery, nestled in the heart of Trophy Club, will soon be undergoing some changes. The cemetery sits on approximately 10.5 acres just south of Trophy Club Drive and west of Summit Cove.

As the street bond repairs of Trophy Club Drive get underway, the entrances to the cemetery will take on a new look. Over several weeks, the Trophy Club Department of Public Works and the Medlin Cemetery Association have held numerous meetings to discuss these changes. It has been proposed to remove the berms, now situated at the cemetery entrances on Trophy Club Drive.

Once removed, the dirt from the berms will be used to aid in the street repairs and allow the Town to make landscaping improvements to the cemetery entrances.

The Town has located the initial concept that was drawn up by John Harbin (Beck Properties) several years ago. The Town's proposal incorporates Mr. Harbin's plan by installing grass, shrubbery and trees, all professionally landscaped to provide an aesthetically pleasing appearance. The Town will irrigate and maintain the new landscaping.

In addition to the proposed entrance changes, the Cemetery Association has asphalted the interior roads to provide easier access within the cemetery. Association President Jackie Malone stated that their goal is to maintain the dignity of Medlin and preserve its history, while at the same time do some internal landscaping and upgrading of existing facilities. A local chapter of the Boy Scouts will be providing their time and efforts in this endeavor.

Many times, change is hard to accept, but with the Town's and Cemetery Association's dedication to the project, these new features will aid in preserving Medlin Cemetery's historical designation, while bringing the cemetery some much needed and deserved attention.

For those who do not know of Medlin Cemetery's past, here is some information on the rich heritage that lies in Trophy Club.

Mossy gravestone

In 1847, Charles and Matilda (Allen) Medlin, their nine children, and twenty other families, journeyed from Missouri in search of new land in which to live. They arrived in Denton County, but soon found that flooding from Denton Creek made it difficult to maintain their farms and raise their families. They headed for higher ground, and eventually settled in what is now called Trophy Club.

After they settled, Charles and Matilda had four more children, two of whom died in infancy. Their oldest daughter, Mittie Ann, was impressed with the beautiful view from a hill on the new homestead and, as legend has it, told her parents that she wished to someday be buried there. Upon her death on April 5, 1850, at the age of twenty-one, that wish came true and the history of Medlin Cemetery began. Charles, Matilda and all but two of their children are buried in the Medlin Cemetery. Mittie Ann's burial site is one of the oldest known marked graves in Denton County and is still marked with its original gravestone.

The cemetery's significance grew over the years, as veterans from the Civil War, World War One, World War Two, the Korean War and the Vietnam War were placed in Medlin for their final resting place.

Stories about smallpox outbreaks, cases of pneumonia and other illnesses prevail, and are just some of the stories behind the many unmarked graves that still sit in the oldest part of the cemetery, as well as the row of small weathered headstones that mark the graves of the babies.

Mary Carpenter, descended from the Medlins, was recruited in 1947 to take over the then three-year old Medlin Cemetery Association. Her extensive and exhaustive research resulted in the granting of a historical marker in 1977. Her research included locating property deeds dating back to Charles and Matilda Medlin. She saw the cemetery transform through the years. Grass fires destroyed many huge oak trees that once nestled among the graves.

Medlin family

Her own grandfather, William Owens Medlin, the sixth child of Charles and Matilda (family photo at right), was a Civil War veteran and now rests at Medlin Cemetery. His grave is marked with a military marker distinguishing his service as a private of Company G of the 15th Texas Cavalry. Mary Carpenter passed away last summer and is buried in the Medlin Cemetery.

Today's Medlin Cemetery Association consists of 5 members. Headed by President Jackie Malone, First Vice President Billie Mae Ables, Second Vice President Dorman Gierisch, Treasurer Queva Martin and Secretary Judy Majors, they continue to maintain the cemetery, its history and rich heritage.

Former Mayor Scott Smith stated about Medlin Cemetery, "To have a historical cemetery such as Medlin in the center of our Town is truly a blessing. I hope this cemetery will be an integral part of our community for a long, long time."

Former Town Manager Donna Welsh comments about Medlin, "Reading the tombstones is like reading a history book that documents the roots of our Town. Medlin is a historical landmark and many Trophy Club families have chosen to bury their loved ones there as well. It is important that we preserve Medlin because of the rich history it brings to our Town."

Look for part two in a series of articles on the Medlin Cemetery and the history of the Medlin family in the next issue of Around the Town.

Sources: Medlin Cemetery Association, Website: Medlin Genealogy and Grapevine Sun news article, July 1993

History at our Doorstep…Part Two - It Wasn't Just a Barn

reprinted from Around the Town (April 2002)

In the first installment of the history of Trophy Club, the Medlin Cemetery was the focus. In this article, another piece of Medlin history is highlighted.

Many residents of Trophy Club and surrounding areas will never forget the day in March 1997 when the Medlin Barn ceased to exist. After many years of having the grand old barn amidst the new homes being built in Trophy Club, the structure just couldn't last any longer. Beck Properties, the landowner, had to make a decision and it was one that did not come easily. After all, it is not often one finds a hundred-year-old barn with memories on the scale of this one.

In the 1870's, James Wilson Medlin traveled to Pennsylvania to get ideas for the type of barn he wished to have on his homestead in Texas. He found what he was looking for and came back to Texas to put his plans into motion. The Pennsylvania Dutch architecture was not common in this area.

The barn was 15,000 square feet and had three stories. On the first floor there were 24 horse stalls, the second held rooms for grain storage, and the third floor was big enough for hay rolls, and led to a loft and cupola. The barn was built on a slope, the second floor at ground level at the rear of the structure. When the barn was completed, it is said that Medlin showed it off to neighbors by driving a team of mules onto the ground level second floor entrance at the rear. They were supposedly unbroken mules, and once seeing daylight at the front entrance, they bolted, running for the open windows. When they jumped from the second floor, one was killed and two others had to be cut from the harnesses.

In the spring of 1878, legendary outlaw Sam Bass and his gang held up four trains within 25 miles of Dallas. It is said that he saw the Medlin barn in the distance and slipped in to steal a fresh horse when his horse grew too tired to continue.

The notorious duo of Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow also were rumored to have holed up in the barn. It is quite possible, as the stretch of road where the infamous Easter Day shootout occurred between Bonnie and Clyde and three Texas lawmen in 1934, is State Highway 114 west of Grapevine. Many of the exploits of Bonnie and Clyde took place in North Texas and the barn would have been a perfect hideout.

On a lighter note, the barn was thought to have been a haven for romantics. Teenagers would steal into the barn for a rendezvous, or just to hang out. One young man was so enthralled with the barn, he chose it as the place to propose to his steady girl. The rumor behind this is that the young man asked his girl to meet him at the barn. He then rode up on a horse, like a knight in shining armor and proposed to her. When asked why he chose the site, his reply was "It's the Barn."

The barn was used in its latter days as an equestrian center. It was a landmark to many of the residents of Trophy Club and surrounding areas. Many who grew up here recall the barn as a place where they saw "the horses".

The Medlin Barn was the victim in this tale. It went for too many years without proper upkeep, and then it became a liability. When the equestrian center moved the barn became an abandoned site, then a hangout for teenagers. When Beck Properties looked into repairing the structure, it was clearly not feasible. Engineers were called upon to evaluate the barn, and it was deemed structurally unsafe.

Producers for the television series "Walker, Texas Ranger" considered blowing up the barn for a scene in their show, but decided against it. Beck chose to implode the building and, as they took the supports out, it caved in and practically disintegrated. The wood was extremely dry and decayed and it literally turned to dust. It was a sad day for all in attendance.

Many people have voiced sadness at the demise of the barn, but family members miss it most dearly. Barbara Langston, daughter of Edith Medlin, remembers the barn fondly. She says, "Losing the barn was like losing a member of the family. There is a void, as when any loss takes place." Omalie Medlin Hood, whose great-grandfather's brother was the builder of the barn, recalls her dad pointing out the barn to her as a child. She admits that when she was small it did not impress her much. She understands now that her father was trying to explain the importance of the history of the barn to her.

Former Mayor Scott Smith wistfully remembers the view from his window. Looking out past the children playing soccer, he could gaze upon the Medlin Barn. He was taken back to his younger days in Berks County, Pennsylvania, where the Dutch Architecture was prevalent. Now he looks out the window, but something is definitely missing.

The Medlin Barn - it is gone, but will never be forgotten.

History at our doorstep… family and neighbors

reprinted from Around the Town (June 2002)

Trophy Club and surrounding areas in Denton and Tarrant Counties are rich with Medlin history. When Charles and Matilda Medlin migrated here from Missouri back in the 1840's, others came along. Many friends and family were part of the trek to Texas. Twenty other families settled in the area and began their own lives.

Medlin family gravestone

There are landmarks still in existence today that were created by Medlin family members or neighbors.

The Lonesome Dove Baptist Church, located in Southlake, was organized in 1846 by some of the early settlers. Hall Medlin served as the church's first clerk and also as deacon. It was originally located in Cross Timbers (now Grapevine). In October 1847, a new site was located and this is where the Fellowship Hall stands today. At the time, Lonesome Dove was the only church within 200 miles.

Hall Medlin was also the tax assessor and collector for Denton County in 1846-47. It was reported that in the winter of 1847-48, he was the first to have surgery in an area near Blue Mound. He was hunting buffalo when his horse was frightened and threw him to the ground. A buffalo then gored him and almost disemboweled him.

The historical Chisholm Trail is known by many, but another "Chisum" also blazed trails through Texas. John Chisum was a cattleman whose herd had the unmistakable "jingle-bob" ear split (which caused one ear to dangle) and the "fence-rail" brand burned from shoulder to hip. His cattle were immediately recognizable.

Chisum's daughter, Meady, from Chisum's marriage to his then slave, Jensie, married John Dolford "Bob" Jones, whose family lived on land known as the Medlin Mound, owned by the Medlin family. Bob and Meady were Free Black, as the saying went in those days. He built a house of logs, had ten children, acquired a patent to land amounting to more than 1000 acres and built a school on his land known as Walnut Grove. He wanted to ensure education for his children. Like his father-in-law, Bob raised cattle and champion boars. Sometimes he would hire white tenant farmers to work for him. Jones was active in the social and religious life of the white community. His neighbors, the Medlins, had only good things to say about Bob. Upon his death in 1936, he was buried in Medlin Cemetery. The history of the Medlin Mound, as insignificant as some may think, did indeed show that it was symbolic to be a Texan, whether black or white.

The Medlins of today are still active in the role of preserving family history. In April, I met with Edith Medlin, her daughter, Barbara Jean Medlin Langston, and cousin Omalie Medlin Hood (Pictured at right). It was very evident these three women cherish their family memories and enjoy reminiscing about family gatherings and past events. Barbara remarked that the Medlins were very "clannish". They stuck close by their own families and their neighbors.

It was not unusual for two sisters of one family to marry two brothers from another. They were a tight knit community in the early days and were proud as well.

Omalie, a family historian, has a quit that shows the Medlin family line. It is sewn with great care with names and dates going back many years. Barbara Jean recalls the picnics and family reunions the Medlin's shared with neighbors and family. She remembers the Jones family fondly. Edith Medlin, who is 92 years old, recalls her husband, Lonzo Medlin and his family as they made a living on the land. They continue to research the family and often come across new variations to the family name or encounter other Medlins via websites, word of mouth, etc. These Medlin women are the reasons the family history endures.

For more information concerning the cemetery, please contact:
Richard Totton 817-337-3122 or
Pam Mathias at 817-800-9436

Sources: website, Ft. Worth Star Telegram.