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History of Roanoke Texas
From The Quad-Town Community News
September 14, 1952 - November 23, 1962
The history of Roanoke, Texas goes back to the year of 1847, when a small group of twenty settlers and their families from Missouri settled near Denton Creek, north of the present location of Roanoke.  First called the Medlin Settlement, in honor of Louis and Charles Medlin whose families were in the colony, the early community was later designated as Garden Valley.   Note: Lewis and Charles Medlin

Laid off in one half (1/2) acre plots, the early settlement had stores and a blacksmith shop.  Frequent floods of Denton Creek, which often got up to the roof tops of the houses, endangered the lives of both the settlers and their livestock.  About 1879 the settlement was moved closer to the present sight of Roanoke.  In 1881 and 1882 most of the settlers begin moving to a new town sight, that was laid out by the railroad.  One of the railroad surveyors named the town Roanoke in memory of his home town in Virginia.

Roanoke was a cattle center in its early days.  They had robust cattlemen, two saloons, a horse trough, and a water tank, located in the center of what today is Oak Street.  The settlers would bring their barrels and buckets in horse drawn wagons, to the old well to fill them with the water which they needed.  There are still some which can remember the old well and how much trouble it was to carry water from it to their homes.  The well was constructed around the year of 1885.

The first store houses built in Roanoke were built in 1882.  Other early buildings are the stores, now occupied by Richie Simmons and W.H. Seagraves.  They were built in 1884.  Roanoke also had two hotels in it's early days.  They were the Pacific and the Eureka.  The Eureka Hotel was located on the north end of town where H.W. Jenkins Hardware Store now stands.  The Pacific Hotel was located across the street from where the present day Post Office stands at the corner of Oak and Main Streets.  The Eureka Hotel burned and the Pacific Hotel was closed down sometime later.  Roanoke also had four doctors at one time in it's early days.

In the year 1896 or 1897 there was a pool hall in the town.  It was located on the east side of Oak Street in the business section, and was operated by Wilson Smith.

Back in those days shaves were ten (10c) cents and hair cuts were fifteen (15c) cents.
Sam Bass crossed the history of Roanoke.  He was a notorious desperado who made his headquarters in Denton County.  What is known as one of the Sam Bass Caves is located northeast of Roanoke on the banks of what is now Grapevine Lake.

In the early days of Roanoke the religious needs was met with a Union Church.  It was located at about the same place the Church of Christ is now located.  There are five Churches in Roanoke today.

From the year 1881 to the year 1955, through fire and burglaries, the landmark which marked the beginning of a small town in Denton County stood.  It was the Texas and Pacific Railway Station.  It was owned and operated by the Texas and Pacific Company.  The railroad discontinued the use of the station in 1955 and it was sold, soon afterward it was torn down.  Mr. H.G. McDonald retired as the station master in 1955.  He had been station master since 1923.

Many years ago there was a train wreck not far from the T & P Railway station.  Eighteen cars piled up on the tracks.  Jerry Scott was the engineer on the train.

Many towns were hard hit during the days of the depression, Roanoke came through practically unscratched.  Not a single business house went broke.

It was during the early depression days, (1933) that Roanoke was incorporated as a town and H.W. Jenkins was elected as the town's first mayor.  The present city water system, including the large over-head stand pipe, was built in that year also.  The water system including the water tower over looking all Roanoke was constructed at a cost of $25,000.00 and is estimated to be worth over twice as much today.

Mr. C.W. Fanning was elected as the town's second mayor in the year of 1946.

The Texas and Pacific Railway Company sold the city its water well and tank, which was located about one mile south of Roanoke for $250.00 in the year 1953.  The tank was moved to town and is now located beside the large tank.

When W.G. Patterson started building his general store in what later became Roanoke, the timber had to be hauled in wagons which were pulled by oxens.  That was in the year of 1882 and the railroad had not yet been completed through the sight of Roanoke.  In his general store Patterson carried a line of goods which ranged from groceries to broadcloth.  One of the most precious commodities was nails in varied sizes.  Nails at that time were about as scarce as hen's teeth, and it was rare to have a variety of sizes.

Patterson also built the first residence in the town.  It was located on the southeastern side of the railroad tracks,, and was built in the year 1882 also.  After completion of the railroad, people began to come into the new town from Bells, Elizabeth, and Devenport Mills.

Ranching was the main source of income for the people at that time, and the only farm products grown were the vegetables and fruits which the families needed.

In the year of 1886 Mr. R.M. Snead and his brother B.S. Snead built one of Roanokes first rock structures, which still stands.  It housed a saloon, dance hall pool hall and at one time Dr. B.H. Seagraves had his doctor's office in the second story of the building.  The stones which the building was built out of were hauled from John Toland's and Jim Medlin's pastures.  The building was vacant for many years but in 1956 housed a cafe.

Patterson built one of the town's first brick buildings in the year of 1884.

Gus Wiggs was the town's first postmaster.  That was in the year of 1882.  One post office burned in 1909 or 1910.  It was built in 1898. The present post office was built in 1910.  Note:  A new Post Office was built about 1985

Miss Ida Cowan was appointed post mistress at Roanoke by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1910, succeeding her father William Cowan, who had held that office since 1898, and who inaugurated the first rural route out of Roanoke in 1902.  He was appointed by President McKinley.  Miss Ida Cowan was one of the first women post mistress' in this area. She retired in 1947 and Mr. George Jones took her place as post master. George was the son of the late J.J. Jones, pioneer business man at Roanoke.

The first bank in Roanoke was the Continental State, a branch of the Continental National of Ft. Worth, Texas, which was first run by L.J. Bryan from 1905 until 1907.  The Bank was dissolved in 1926.

click on picture to
read Bank article
A safe guaranteed to withstand nitroglycerin is one of many features in the Continental
State Bank building, which Roanoke rancher Charles Stone built in the early 1900's


The Federal Credit Union was established in Roanoke in the year of 1936 and is still operating at the present.  From around 1898 until close to the turn of the century there was a horse track in Roanoke.  It was located at about the same place that the Roanoke elevator is now located.  The men would get their horses together and have races there on Saturday's.

It wasn't uncommon to see a fight going on in the middle of the street in those days.  A lot of these fights took place when the men would bring their hides into town to trade them for drinks at the saloons.  There were many a fight in the Old R.M. Snead Saloon and there are still those that can remember the Saturday nights in Roanoke.

The first Roanoke Gin was built about a quarter of a mile east of the present location of Roanoke.  It burned and soon there was another gin built on the west side of the railroad tracks, not far from the Texas and Pacific Railway Station.  It was owned by  Bob Carruth.  Jack Medlin was owner of a gin at that time also.  There was an explosion there and three men were killed.  They were Clint Merritt, Sam Seagraves and Charlie Cleveland.  Soon after the disaster, Bob Carruth's gin burned. Later there was another gin built where Jack Medlin's had stood.  This gin was torn down in 1953 and moved to New Mexico.  It was owned and operated by Stirling Paddock before being torn down.

Roanoke's City Hall, (or Fire Hall) was completed in 1949.  Roanoke has two Fire trucks at the present.  The first one being bought in 1948.

In about 1925 the Roanoke Roller Mill burned down.  It was operated by Pete Lassem, and was located on the west side of the railroad tracks not far from where the Roanoke Washateria is now located.  Flour was shipped to Ft. Worth and several other cities from the mill.

Roanoke had a weekly paper until Friday, September 14, 1956.  It was established by John M. Usry in early 1933.  He later enlarged the paper to include not only Roanoke but Keller and Justin also.  After Mr. Usry's death in 1938, with the help of her sons, Mrs. Usry kept printing the paper until 1956.  The printing office was located in the Roanoke Federal Credit Union building for some years then later was moved to Pilot Point.  The Community Standard became its new name.

Before the Community Standard was established there was another paper called The Roanoke Weekly News.  That was around 1909 and the paper was published by J.C. Melton.

In the year of 1910 there was a great disaster in the town of Roanoke. Mr. Lane's store caught fire and all of the stores on the west side of the street, from what is now Mrs. J.H. Jones Grocery to W.H. Seagraves store, burned.  Roanoke didn't have a fire truck at that early date so the fire was put out by men carrying water in buckets to put on the fire. There are still those that can recall helping put out this fire.

Another proud possession of Roanoke is the dial telephone system, installed in 1948, by the Southwestern Bell Telephone Company.  When the automatic system started operating in September of 1948 Roanoke became the first small town in Denton County to have dial telephones.

Bewley Mill built an elevator in Roanoke about 1900 or 1905.  Al Mason and son, Le Roy ran it until around 1957.

There has been four additions to Roanoke since the turn of the century. They are Morning Side, Blue Bonnett, North Highland, and Dallas Drive.

Roanoke's pride centers around its City Hall, modern water system and new Civic Building.  Also it's fine schools.

The city, in 1956, put in a sewerage system.  Construction on this project was started in September of 1956.  This project cost around $60,000.00.

In 1954, most of the streets in the city were hot topped, and in 1955 street signs were put up naming all the streets in Roanoke.  All of this and much more shows the improvements of Roanoke.

W.G. Patterson, also opened the first lumber yard in town.   It was called the Patterson Company.  He ran this company for about ten or twelve years before he returned to Missouri.

Almost one hundred years ago the Roanoke School had its beginning.  It was around 1847, soon after the settlement started, that the school was established.  In 1882, the first school was built on the present sight, but the buildings now being used were built in 1938 and 1940.   However the grade school building was begun in 1913, and for many years served as the high school also.  All the buildings and grounds (which covers 3 acres) are surrounded by a rock wall fence.  The Roanoke School also has a fine lunch room located on the second floor of the old grade school building.

The Home Demonstration Club was organized in Roanoke on April 30, 1948.  There were twenty members present at the first meeting-in 1948.

The P. T. A. was organized in Roanoke about thirty five years ago and is a member of the National Organization.

The Masonic Hall was built in the year 1905 and still stands at the present date. It is located on Oak Street.

In 1953, merchants and others chipped in and installed Christmas lights for the business section of town. They are  put up each year around Christmas time.

In 1950, natural gas was put in use in Roanoke. This was another step taken toward the progress of Roanoke.  Roanoke, at one time had trade days.  Trade Day was usually held on the first Saturday of each month.  You could win flour, feed, groceries, and etc. by guessing the amount of beans which a jar contained. There would also be a greased pig turned loose and the person catching him would receive a prize.  Trade Day in Roanoke was discontinued about 12 or more years ago.

Things such as these and many more are what people like to recall of past happenings in Roanoke.

Back in the year 1909 you could get a fine Thanksgiving dinner for thirty five cents and a supper for twenty five cents. For Thanksgiving J.W. Medlin gave $1.50 to the person baking the worst cake of any kind, and 100 pounds of Pearl Flour to the person baking the best white loaf cake and for the best layer cake.

In the November 19, 1909 edition of the Roanoke Weekly News, Mr. H. W. Jenkins, who was in the hardware business at that time and still is at the present, put an add in the paper advertising Sherwin Williams House Paint at $1.50 per gallon.  He also sold putty at 10 cents, per pound and four inch strap hinges at 5 cents each.  The rate of the Roanoke Weekly News in 1909 was $l.00 per year.

Philip Manire
Rodney Love
Historical Committee

Thank You Oma Hood for sending the first 3 pages of this article.
Thank You Curtis Blackburn for sending the 4th page of this article.

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