In the early 1880s Quakertown was a thriving African American community nestled in the heart of Denton; by 1923 Quakertown had disappeared and the land was being developed into a city park, originally named Civic Center Park and renamed Quakertown Park in 2006 in honor of the Quakertown Community. The Texas Historical Commission (THC) has recognized Quakertown as a significant part of Denton and Denton County history by awarding it an Official Texas Historical Marker. The dedication ceremony will be held at 10 a.m. on Saturday, February 16, at the Denton Civic Center at 321 East McKinney, and Quakertown Park. The marker will be placed in Quakertown Park next to the Civic Center.
Denton County Judge Mary Horn and Denton Mayor Mark Burroughs will speak at the event, which is sponsored by Denton County Historical Commission (DCHC), Denton Parks and Recreation Department and the City of Denton Public Library. The dedication ceremony is free and open to the public.
The marker will be unveiled by Colette Johnson, president of the Southeast Neighborhood Association, Denton County Commissioner Andy Eads and Denton Councilman Kevin Roden. Former Denton councilwoman Charlye Heggins will read the marker inscription. The Denton High School Color Guard will present the colors followed by the national anthem by the American Legion Hall Senior Chorus.
THC provided the funding for the Quakertown historical marker through their Undertold Story program, which funds applications for undertold stories from counties throughout the state. The program began in 2006 with a $100 marker application fee that was used to fund markers to address historical gaps, promote diversity of topics and proactively document significant undertold or untold stories. The Denton County Historical Commission Marker Committee submitted the application for Quakertown to THC in 2010. The application was selected as one of 17 topics for funding that year. Since 2008 -2012, THC has funded 81 topics throughout the state, spread through 51 counties.
Quakertown, a town within a town, was built in the 1870s on the banks of the Pecan Creek just below the College of Industrial Arts (now Texas Woman’s University). It encompassed an area bounded by Withers Street on the north, Oakland Avenue on the west, Bell Avenue on the east and Cottonwood and Pecan Creeks on the south.
By 1920, it had almost 60 middle and working class families and had developed its own school, three churches, a mortuary, lodges, restaurants and other businesses. Dr. Edwin Moten moved there in 1907 and was the first African American physician in the county. Ever since the college was established in 1903, there was a “rumble” to remove Quakertown from the shadows of the women’s college. Also, civic groups of Denton, spearheaded by local women’s clubs were looking for a location for a city park and fair grounds.
In January, 1921, a petition went out calling for a bond election to purchase the Quakertown property for the city park. The election held April 5, 1921, had 367 votes for and 240 votes against the sale. Some of the homes were moved more than a mile away to Solomon Hill. Many of the homes were destroyed or did not survive the move from Quakertown.
In the 1980s, the story of Quakertown was “rediscovered” by local historians. A City of Denton Historic Landmark marker for Quakertown was placed in the Civic Center Park. The marker was placed close to the location of the Fred Douglass School that had burned in 1913.
St Emmanuel Missionary Baptist Church at 509 Lakey Street began as the Second Baptist Church in Quakertown. Located between Sanders and Oakland Streets in Quakertown, it was established in the mid - 1880s and served the community until 1922. THC approved the Subject marker for the St. Emmanuel congregation in 2006. The historical marker inscription notes that the church’s pastor at that time, Rev. J. A. Ayers, was vocal about his opposition to the forced relocation and reportedly left town and the church due to threats. A second church, Saint James African Methodist Episcopal Church, at 1107 East Oak Street, was founded by a group of black pioneers who came from White Rock community in Dallas to Denton County in 1875. They named their settlement Freedman Town. A THC Marker was dedicated in 1985.
In 2008, the Denton County Historical Commission moved one of the remaining houses that once stood in Quakertown to the Historical Park of Denton County. It is now the Denton County African American Museum. A DCHC Landmark marker was dedicated for Quakertown House in 2009.