“This is a picture of my grandparents, Cicero and Mary Ann Gibbs taken in 1939”, Juanita Tabor said as she gently handed me fragile pictures from her aging Bible.
“This is my mother Martha Holder on her 95th birthday in 1984. Oh, here is one you will really be interested in! This is my first husband Carl Young and I standing in front of the old Royse City Movie Theater, This was right before we married. That’s a 1943 Model A Roadster Ford we are leaning against. That was 67 years ago.
“Oh, I don’t know anything about the history of Royse City” was the response from
Juanita Holder Young Tabor, now 84, when I asked her for an interview for my column. I met her at the Royse City Senior Citizen luncheon when I spoke briefly to the group asking for their help in compiling history for my column and possibly someday, a book.
“All I know is that my house was built from the lumber of the old music college and my front door is the real door from the college,” Juanita said.
This intrigued my interest and after a phone call, she agreed to let me come by and talk to her. I hadn’t even sat down in the rocker on her front porch and she was spilling out history like an overstuffed history book!
“I was born in Royse City” were her first words. I laughed through the whole interview, telling her to “slow down, I can’t write that fast and my mind won’t hear that fast. It was wonderful talking to someone who knew nothing!
Juanita said that the music college was in operation in the 1800s. When it was torn down, the wood was stacked on the property and the door along with it. She has an abstract dated 1865.
“Johnny Shelton and Wilby Sherrell built the house she now lives in at 803 Wood Street out of the original wood from the college. It is built from solid oak, a very hard wood, thus the inside of the house had to be paneled(not sheet rocked) as the wood was too hard to drive nails into it,” she said.
The college was built on the exact spot where their house is now. The lot was 100 by 183 yards.
The house to the left of Juanita’s (facing the street), was moved in after the college was torn down, by Elbert Nolan. It was his parent’s house and they no longer wanted to live in the country, so he simply had their house moved to town. There was an underground storm cellar on the lot and he had it torn down before he moved the house in. Neighbors didn’t want it torn down because that was where they all went when bad weather came.
In September 1990, Henry and Juanita put new windows, plumbing, and siding on the house.
Juanita likes to talk about her younger days and especially her teachers. “Bonnie Gentry was my 3rd grade teacher, Lola (Irwin) Crowell, Phoebe Hall, and Kitty Mae Benbrook were my 4th, 5th, and 6th grade teachers. All three teachers taught all three grades. Pus Erwin was my 7th grade teacher, and Mary Taylor taught me 8th grade Home Economics. Oh, and Vestis Poteet was my biology teacher.
“My parents were Martha & George Washington Holder. All my daddy’s brothers were named after presidents but I can’t remember their names. It’s been too long,” she said laughing with a cute twinkle in her eyes.
“When I was a child, we lived in the country on a farm. During the depression my family was better off than most. We grew all the food we needed in our garden, as well as raising cows and pigs.
“We did O.K.,” she says. “I remember that once a month Daddy would come to town and buy a 100 pound sack of flour. Food was rationed during these tough times.”
We had a “surrey with a red fringe on top” as the song goes. A surrey was a carriage of the late 19th century, horse-drawn, four-wheeled, with two or four seats, used for short trips.”
“By the age of 27, I was the mother of seven children, all seven were girls, and all seven were born on Saturday. I had one set of twins.”
Juanita remembers her maternal grandparents, Mary Ann and Cicero Gibbs were asked by J. B. Dodson to move in with them at what is now the corner of Hi 66 and Josephine (the house was torn down in 2009) and help take care of his wife Becky and him, who were both in failing health.
Some time later, Juanita’s aunt, Druzzy Chapman, was also asked to move in and help. The house was a very big two-story house so there was plenty of room for all. The Dodson’s were a prominent family in Royse City.
“My parents bought a big plot for 9 graves in the Royse City Cemetery. My brother Earl D. Holder (Buster) was the first one to be buried in the family plot. He was killed at the age of 21 in a car accident on the viaduct over what is now Lake Ray Hubbard. I was 11 at the time.”
“Four of my daughters are buried in the same plot. My mother bought a metal plaque marker for each of them and my brother, and as I remember it, they cost about $25 a piece. That was a lot of money back then. The first time someone mowed the cemetery, they pulled all the markers up and threw them away. That was really heat-breaking for Mother and me.”
“When my grandfather Cicero died, he was buried on her 16th birthday. That was a tough birthday, and hard to forget.”
As a matter of history, Juanita’s maternal grandmother Mary Ann Gibbs was born on October 3, 1861 and died July 19, 1961. Her maternal grandfather Cicero Gibbs was born on February 13, 1854 and died August 25, 1941. Her aunt Druzzy Chapman, (Martha Holder’s sister) was born on December 5, 1885 and died on September 5, 1950.
“I remember about 1963 or 1964 when the ice cream polar on Main Street caught fire and blew up. My husband and Cab Desmore were standing in front of the polar and the front door blew straight out and into the air. It almost hit them. They would have been seriously injured if not killed if the door had of hit them face on. I think the explosion was caused by canisters of oxygen stored in the polar, when they untied from the heat. It was a big event in Royse City.”
Well, in the future, possibly I’ll go by for another visit with this lady (Juanita Tabor) who doesn’t remember anything about the history of Royse City. Yes, she had many more memories, but this article would be too long to print. Maybe another time.
If you have any stories about Royse City, especially from the 1800’s until the 1950s, please contact me at 972-636-3373 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I am also looking for pictures depicting the history during that time. If you have any newspapers from during that era or know where I can locate them, please let me know.