More Naples History










As the Naples, Texas web site develops, there will be more historical information here.

As on the other "Naples History" pages, the information is authored by Mr. Lloyd Heard.

Use the links to the left to navigate to other site pages for specific information about businesses, current events, history, special attractions, etc.






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This is a postcard photo of Naples taken in 1895




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As shown in the photo, this was the Naples High School, circa 1910. When I started first grade in 1944, this building had become the elementary school and the high school was a dark red brick building just to the left of this building. The two buildings stood almost corner to corner. My first grade class was on the first floor in the right front corner, as you are looking at the building, and Mrs. Gladys Martin was my teacher and Mrs. Louise Davis was the principal. I went to school in this building through the seventh grade. Pewitt was formed, so I attended the eighth grade in the basement of the First Baptist Church in Omaha while the Pewitt school was being built. High School for me began in the new Pewitt High School building. As best as I can determine, the above building was first opened in June 1886 as the Belden School. It was a "pay school" which means it was not funded by the state. Tuitions ranging from $2.50 to $4.00 were charged and full board cost $10.00 per month. The newer building, completed in the summer of 1926, then became the high school. Just to the other side of the building above was the gymnasium. Just out from the near corner of this old building was a circular water fountain that had a step up for the younger children. The fountain had about six to eight spigots and was about six feet in diameter, or so it seemed. I do not remember, but Morris Craig and others remember a drain pipe near the boys restroom that became "electrified" when it rained. One would get a good jolt from this drain pipe, so children avoided it. I have recently been told that many of the high school boys would test each other to see who could hang on to the drain spout the longest. Many happy hours were spent in this school building and I learned more than was taught by the teachers.





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This is a photo of the high school as it was in 1947. The photo was taken from the 1947 Naples yearbook. Note the elementary school building to the right. Across the street from the high school stood the city water tower. I remember that Alvis "Sunshine" Franklin was the only small boy to climb to the top and sit on the ball.





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This is another photo of the elementary school building as it appeared in 1947. Note the corner of the gymnasium below that was located just to the right out of the photo. Also note the high school building to the left.





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This is the only photo I have found that shows the old Naples gymnasium fully. This view is looking in a northerly direction at the front of the gym. It's outer shell was of corrugated tin. I learned recently that this old gymnasium was sold in the early 1950's to the Westminster School in Collin County north of McKinney. It was dismantled, moved to Westminster and reassembled. The gymnasium is still standing in Westminster, but is being utilized as a building supply center known as "Real Deal". See the photograph below. When still in grade school, we boys would enter the gymnasium by crawling underneath. We had a "club room" in one of the dressing rooms or storage rooms. I remember the room was not used and we could lock it with a latch from the inside. Mr. Orville Miller, the Ag teacher, caught a bunch of us coming out of there late one afternoon after school and we all got licks from him. He made us bend over and grab our ankles while he administered licks to our backside with his belt. He was one of the easier ones that dealt punishment to my backside during my growing up years. The main door to the gym was the door you see to the left. We boys would have rounded the corner to the right and about two thirds of the way down the side to enter under the building as previously stated.





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This is the old Naples gymnasium as it looks today. It does not look anything like it did when it was in Naples. I read in one of the old Naples Monitors that the building was not entirely moved to Westminster. When everything had been removed but the frame of the building, a storm came through town and lightning struck the frame and knocked it down. The report did not say how much of the frame was salvaged, but it did indicate there was a lot of damage. The workmen had taken refuge in the elementary school building and no one was injured.


The graduating class for 1927 of the Naples High School were: Cluron Wright, Mozelle Legg, Herbert Hicks, Oletta Hampton, Emma Kate Zimmerman, Bernice Heard, Gordon Fulcher(Class Pres.), Herbert Cromer, Cecil Pratt, Lollye Myrl Knight, Eddie Rea Campbell, Ida Mae Davis (Class Sec.), Olen Smith, Jack Fomby, Elizabeth Williams, Charlie Robinson, Mildred Williams, Marguerite Banks. Teachers were Ruth Williams and Willie Terrell. Oscar Rogers was principal and H.T.Morris was superintendent.






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A photo of the old Wickenden Opera House. This photo was taken from the December 11,1911, Booster Edition copy of The Naples Monitor. From what I have gathered, the opera house was located about where the Morris County National Bank is now located and was destroyed by fire around 1915. The owner of the Opera House was Thomas C Wickenden. Mr Wickenden was also the proprietor of a mercantile store, probably that one shown on the ground floor of the opera house. He was also elected mayor of Naples in 1910 while still quite young. He was described in the paper as a hustler in every sense of the word. His wife was the organizer and president of the Naples Civic Improvement League.


THE JEFFERSON AND NORTHWESTERN RAILWAY

How many of you remember a railroad between Marietta and Naples??? Not many people are around to remember it. I have talked to a few people who remember the old J & N Railway and they remember that it turned around in the old Dan Watson pasture which is the current location of that portion of Highway 77 between the Highway 67 overpass and the intersection of Highway 338.


The following clipping is quoted from The Handbook of Texas Online:

"The Jefferson and Northwestern Railway Company was chartered on November 5, 1899, to connect Jefferson, in Marion County, with a point on the Moses D Frazier survey to the northwest,four miles southwest of Linden in Cass County, for a distance of twenty miles. The capital stock was $20,000. The principal place of business was Jefferson. The members of the first board of directors were J R Darwell, F J Clark, L E Prussell, M D Grigsby, and E Parker, all of Jefferson; and H W Adams and Joseph M Dickeon, both of Dallas. In 1912 the railroad built thiry-six miles of track between Jefferson and Camp and between Givens and Linden. In 1916 the line reported passenger earnings of $5,000 and freight earnings of $42,000. That year the railroad owned two locomotives and ten cars. In 1917 it completed four miles of track between Camp and Marietta. In 1926 it built nine miles between Marietta and Naples, owned four locomotives and fifty cars, was listed as a Class II railroad, and reported passenger earnings of $6,000 and freight earnings of $116,000. In 1931 the railroad owned four locomotives and seven cars, was listed as a Class III railroad, and reported passenger earnings of $270 and freight earnings of $36,000. The twenty-nine miles between Linden Junction and Naples was abandoned in 1933, and in August 1934 the line was sold under foreclosure. A new company, the Jefferson and Northwestern Railroad Company, chartered October 31, 1934, acquired the line effective January 1, 1935. Operations of the company were discontinued on September 9, 1941, and the line was abandoned the following year."






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This is a photograph of Main Street, Naples, taken circa 1935, and probably on a Saturday afternoon. Hmmmmm, wonder what the photographer climbed to get this shot? Within the realm of my recollection there was not a building at that specific location. The Texaco station belonged to Cranford Henderson. It was built on the site where Naples' first movie theater was located. The theater burned. The location later became the location of Chester Coker's Ford dealership and the Wyninegar's Pharmacy. Bill, Cranford's son, tells the story that the lighted Texaco sign in the photo one time developed a short, and when someone touched it, they would get a slight shock. The shock wasn't that bad, but mostly surprising, enough that you immediately let go of the pipe, jumped about two feet in the air, and quickly moved away. When an unsuspecting "victim" walked up to talk awhile, Cranford would move toward the pipe and the visitor would move along with him as they talked. It would not be too long until the visitor would be close enough to the pipe and would invariably lean on the pipe. The reaction of the unsuspecting person was delightful entertainment to those waiting about deliberately to see the fun. Without exception the victim always joined in the laughter and often stayed around to watch the next victim. Dogs quickly learned to stay away from the pipe. The building just behind the Texaco station was "Miss" Nadine McCoy's Lunchroom.





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This looks like a photograph of the Naples Buffalo Band in their green and gold finery. This was probably taken about 1949 or 1950, based on the ages of some of the people in the photograph. I recognize a few of these lads and lasses, including the current mayor of Naples. As a matter of note, we boys "came of age" when we were able to jump and touch the W.H. Morgan store sign in the background. It was the highest of all the signs in town.





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This is an old photo looking northwest at the corner of Walnut and Pace Streets. The house to the right was at one time owned by F W Bolin, an early Naples merchant, but the house later became the Howard and Thelma Moore home. The house is still owned by Delwin Moore and has not changed much. The house on the left is gone, but was at the time of this photograph the home of S G Ledbetter, a real estate agent doing business in and around Naples. I remember the Stricklands(Earl, Myrtle, and their daughters, Shirley & Martha) living there in the 1940s and 50s..





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This is a photo I borrowed from the Naples library. Is it from the candy factory?? The young lady in the photo is Mary Elizabeth Whatley.





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A photo of the old cotton and watermelon shed taken circa 1920. This old shed was located across from where John Paul Jones Motor Company is now located. H.B. Moore was the cotton buyer and the cotton you see supposedly was raised by Tom C. Lyster. This information was on the photo. Would you note the long line. There were many cotton gins in Morris County during that era. Mr. H.B. Moore also built and operated a mercantile store on the corner of main street and the street going up by the Methodist church and water tower. Joe Fulcher later operated a mercantile store in this location and after that, it became Brabham's Washateria. Its last use was as a washateria. There are still big metal plates at the front of this building which reads "H. B. Moore 1895".





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This is the old First Methodist Church. This building is no longer standing. Note the unpaved road. This photo was copied from a Naples Monitor dated May 1, 1942.





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This is a newer but better photo of the First Methodist Church taken about 1962. I remembered the sidewalk coming on across the road back in the late 1940's and early 1950's because boys would build homemade scooters from roller skate parts and coast all the way down to the highway.





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This is a drawing I came across of the old Methodist Church. I don't know who drew it or my memory is failing me.





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This is a photo of the First Methodist Church taken about 1911. Note the parsonage to the right of the church. This house was still standing as late as 1960. This church stood where the current Methodist complex is now located. If anyone has the history of the First Methodist Church, I will gladly enter it here. You don't want the Baptists to out do you, I know.





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The above photo of the First Baptist Church was taken circa 1962. This building is no longer standing.

The following is quoted from a copy of the Naples Monitor dated May 1, 1942:

"BRIEF HISTORY OF NAPLES BAPTIST CHURCH -- History is the record of the experience of man either in writing or oral form. And so, in this account of the growth and development of the Naples Baptist Church covering a long period of time, the information of the early days has come from the memory of those who were personally related to the work and also as it was to to them by their predesessors. All of the records of the early church life were burned when the Pastor's home was destroyed by fire many years ago. The first organized work in Baptist life nearest here was started about the year 1867 in the little village of Wheatville located then about two miles North of our present town of Naples. From this mother church a number of members joined with a group of Baptist here in Belden, now Naples and organized a church. In the spring or early summer of 1888, a church building was begun on the lot occupied by the present edifice. Until this first building was completed, the church held services in the school house under the leadership of Brother Jordan, the pastor who helped in the construction of the house of worship. Following him as pastor was Bro. Callaway and Bro. J.M. Archer, each serving for five years. During this period they experienced an increase in membership and worthwhile activities. In the year of 1903-4 the church realized the need of another and larger building. So the old building was razed and in its place was erected a modern weatherboarded, wooden house of worship with a cupola and spire in which was housed a bell. It is said you can judge the spiritual concern of a people of any age by the type of archite(c)ture which they develop. Through these unfolding years the church continued to multiply with many souls accepting the Grace of God revealed in Christ the Savior. For almost a quarter century the church was content to worship in the once modern and up-to-date wooden building. With the ushering in of a new era there arose a consciousness on the part of the Baptists of Naples, a need for a larger and more commodious house for worship and organized work. In 1927 this need developed into ideas, plans, realities, and work. The second building gave way plank by plank, piece by piece and in its place arose this modern brick structure, beautiful, and accomodating to welcome the host of Baptists in this section. The church building is adequately arranged to take care of the present needs of the church. With a full basement containing ten Sunday School rooms, assembly, kitchen and other accommodations. The second floor is arranged with a comfortable auditorium two class rooms, pastor's study, and baptistry back of which is a beautiful, natural, inviting picture. This modern brick church plant was erected at a cost of $15,000 and was paid for during one of the hardest periods in church life. The dedicatory services were held, April 4, 1937, under the leadership of Rev. R. G. Behrman, pastor, with the dedication sermon being delivered by Dr. M.T. Andrews, past of the First Baptist Church of Texarkana. The night services were conducted by Rev. John A. Williams, who was pastor of the church when the building was erected. The church during these fifty or more years, has been served by many pastors, as follows, although may not be in consecutive order: Revs. Jordan, Archer, Jenkins, Callaway, Bentley, Ross, McHan, Mizzell, Stringer, Anderson, Williams, Airheart, Lovelace, Moses, Behrman, Newton and Meyers. And with the help of earnest, consistent, loyal men and women, under the leadership of the Spirit of God the church has continued to grow. The doors of opportunity swing open to an enlarged more challenging field of endeavor that to the people of the days gone by."

The following article was in the September 16, 1927, issue of the Naples Monitor:

"IMPORTANT MEETING - At the Baptist church next Sunday morning after a short talk by the pastor of the church will hear the report of the building committee on the proposed new house of worship. It is of much importance that there be a large attendance for the consideration of this very important matter. That meeting will make history in the life of this church and of Naples community. Let every member be present unless providentially hindered. And let all make up their minds beforehand to abide by the will of the majority and cheerfully work to carry it out. A Baptist church is purely democratic in government; that is, every member may vote and a majority rules. Let no member stay away and then kick about what the majority does. Be on hand to use your vote and influence for what you believe to be best for the cause of Christ in our community. Preaching at night at 7:45"

That is the first half of the church's history. Now I need to get the last half. During my teenage years, Bro. Morris Hill was the pastor and he came to Naples in January 1951 after serving five years at the Immanuel Baptist Church near Longview. Brother Hill served Naples for many years.





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This is a photo taken about 1911 of the Baptist Church. It was located where the parking lot for the First Baptist Church is now located.





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This is a photo taken circa 1944 alongside the First Baptist church of the Bible School. Some of the faces recognized are Marilyn Stewart, James Stewart, Morris Craig, Frances Craig, Charlene Craig, Tommy Gee Heard, Lowell McMichael, Sara Beth Porter, Betty Jean Garrett, Barbara Davis, Butch Mize, Jackie Skelton, Mrs Skelton, Billy Walls, Shirley Fink, Mary Ann Gamble, Charlotte Tomberlain, Claudette Carlton, Charles Welborn Jones/Falls, Donald Ray Roberts, and Christine Kingston. Again, can you help me with some of the others?





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A photo taken of some folks inside the old Naples school gymnasium. Was it a ball game, or a dance??(This photo and the one below were provided to The Monitor by John Wright. I twisted Mr. Craig's arm for them.) Seated on the second tier just to the right of the post are Tom and Connie Gamble. Standing on the first tier are Ida and Dan Watson. Just behind Tom and Connie Gamble are Earl and Myrtle Strickland. Does anyone recognize any of the other people in this photo?





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Another photo taken in the old Naples gymnasium. This was a dance! The boy in the checked shirt is Cully Vaughan. To HIS left are James Ed Alexander, Jack Hampton, Joe Ward Russell, Hope Hampton, and Mary Ann Gamble. Just behind Hope is Margaret Jolly. Others recognized in the photograph are Joe and Ann Fulcher, Bill Henderson, Dr. C.J. Wise, Kennard Fleming, Mr and Mrs Lewis Rogers and Lee Roy Franklin. Others I recognize, but cannot put a name to the face. Can you help me out??





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Another angle taken at the above function. These photos were taken circa 1948.





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This photo of the old Naples courthouse was taken circa 1960. It was located in the block directly behind where the Morris County National Bank is now located. The city jail was located in a separate building just to the rear of this building. The jail building was probably not more than 15 feet square and contained two cells. It was a very small building. The only "prisoners" I ever saw were men who had too much distilled spirits to drink and were put in there to "sleep it off". I even watched two youngsters break a drunk out of the jail one Sunday afternoon in the early 1950's. The drunk fellow still lives in Naples, so won't name him, and one of the "youngsters" still lives in the area, so won't name him either. The drunk fellow was later found by "Papa" Jim Presley, the city constable at the time, sitting on the curb near the theater. Since the lock on the jail had been broken, the drunk was told to walk on home. He had probably walked to town in the first place, since he lived close enough that driving a car to town would have been a waste of time.





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Another shot of the courthouse probably taken from the top step to the entrance of the old First Methodist Church. The house on the right is still occupied.





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This is a photo taken inside the old courthouse. You can see the primary activity which took place in the building. Photo was taken circa 1960.






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