Category Archives: Travel

Texas: Keller, Part 2

Fort Worth on the Trinity River

Keller, Texas, located in the Eastern Cross Timbers region, is on U.S. Highway 377 approximately fifteen miles north of Fort Worth in northeast Tarrant County. The town was settled in the early 1850s, although some pioneers had come to the area prior to this date. One of the earlier settlers was Daniel Barcroft who founded Mount Gilead Baptist Church in 1852. One street near the church is named after him, but was misspelled and reads Bancroft Road.

In 1879, rumors spread that the Texas and Pacific Railway planned to push into the northern district of the county prompting more pioneers to gravitate to the region to be close to the railway route. They called their settlement Athol.

Hoping to have a permanent stop on the line, and supposedly at the urging of a Texas Pacific official named Keller, the settlers agreed to name their town Keller if Athol became a stop on the rail line. Evidently, Athol got their whistle-stop. In 1882 the town abstracts show the town as Keller.

Earlier settlers described the Cross Timbers region as being a dense forest of oaks, so impenetrable that they could not pass on horseback without felling some trees. Here the new Texans built homes, grew their gardens, raised peaches and pears, and—hogs—for the area had a plentiful supply of acorns from all the oak trees. Grapevines grew wild and profuse and the close proximity of the Trinity River supplied them with game, but more importantly the water source they needed for cattle raising and farming. 

Today, those early pioneers have long departed this earth, but I have to wonder, did they leave behind a feral legacy? You decide: Southlake Feral Hog Population

Side note: At 710 miles long, the Trinity is the longest river that flows exclusively in the state of Texas. Its four branches include the West Fork, Clear Fork, Elm Fork and East Fork.

Texas: Keller, Part 1

The reason for these forthcoming series of blog posts is to introduce our readers to the “live locations” for particular scenes in our fourth thriller—CLON-X.

In chapter one, the setting is Bear Creek Park in Keller, Texas. It’s here that Bullet finds a canvas sack submerged in the water. 

When I moved to Texas in the fall of 1990 I had heard that Keller had a great trail system, but back then I wasn’t interest in biking or hiking. Instead, I had my sights focused on setting up house, landscaping our new yard, and most of all, planting a vegetable garden. 

That changed, and in a big way, after we bought our first giant schnauzer—Shotz. An exuberant bundle of nonstop energy, the feisty three-month old wore me out day after day. “Don’t worry,” some dog owners reassured, “she’ll calm down as she ages.” Truth be told, she did, soon after her fourteenth birthday. Granted, none of this advice had come from giant schnauzer owners. They, on the other hand, chuckled and wished me good luck. 

It soon became apparent that I had to channel Shotz’s boundless energy into something more productive; otherwise, my working pup would find her own tasks to keep herself busy, some that would definitely test my patience. I had bonded deeply with my mischievous kid and my idle threats of returning her to the breeder fell on deaf ears. She was more interested in getting into trouble than worrying about a return trip to Northern California where she had been bred. 

By now, the house was comfortably habitable, the yard landscaped, and my vegetable garden thriving. So, lo and behold, I had a brilliant idea for wearing her out besides watching her swim in the backyard pool to amuse herself. Time to check out Keller’s trail system, a pleasant change for her and for me, because every once in a while writers need to leave their computers to exercise their bodies rather than their minds. 

It was on one of these four-mile long walks that Shotz discovered a trash bag bobbing in Bear Creek and book four of the Darcy McClain and Bullet Series—CLON-X—was born. 

These daily hikes also fueled my brain cells and from them the literary juices flowed; seeding plots for current and future novels in my thriller series. At the time of these most recent walks I was  already well over a hundred pages into Gadgets and it dawned on me that my main character, Darcy McClain, should have a canine partner. Great idea, but like most great ideas, they often come with major challenges, as did this one. 

Although the two previous books in the series—Brainwash and Genocide—had not been released for sale, the thought of reworking them to incorporate a canine partner for Darcy meant extensive rewrites of both thrillers. The thought alone put my brain on overload. But I knew that as much as I fought the addition of a full-time canine, I’d end up losing the battle, so the rewrites began. Adding Bullet, I later discovered, transformed the entire series and in a key way. Going forward, from CLON-X on, he has played a significant role in shaping the plotlines. 

Texas: The Missouri Colonists

Despite being a Texas resident for over thirty years, I hadn’t delved deeply into the local history of the Lone Star State until I began to write book four in the Darcy McClain and Bullet Thriller Series—CLON-X. Then, the more I dug into the history of the surrounding towns in my locale, the more intrigued I became.

For generations, Native Americans lived in the dense forests and windswept prairies of what we now call North Texas. In 1836 the new Republic of Texas claimed the frontier. To encourage migration, the Republic hired an investment company—the Peters Colony—to recruit families to settle in north-central region. The area later became the counties of Tarrant, Denton, Parker, Wise, Palo Pinto, and most of Dallas and Grayson.

The Peters Colony used handbills and advertisements to spread the word: Bring your family to Texas, establish a farm or ranch, stay for a minimum of three years and get your land—free! Good deal, but most weren’t willing to face the dangers of the frontier. However, in 1844 some brave souls made the perilous and arduous journey for Texas with settlers originating from Alabama, the Carolinas, and Tennessee. 

They braved swollen streams, suffered illness, and fought hostile Native Amerians. Most turned back, but a few pushed on to return a year later to Missouri to talk up the wonders of Texas. Convinced of the opportunities that the Lone Star State held for them, the families again set out for Texas. About two months after leaving Missouri the settlers arrived in what is present-day Southlake and Grapevine. They were the first white settlers and were known as the Missouri Colonists.

Married men who had signed with the Peters Colony received 640 acres, and single men 320 acres. They lived in “starter homes,” simple log cabins with no windows until months or years later when they had the time to build log houses. 

In 1847, Hall Medlin led another group from Missouri to the area, but by 1857, discouraged by drought, and by how “crowded” the area had become, some Missouri colonists left for California while others lived out their lives in North Texas. Of the deceased, many rest eternally in Medlin Cemetery in Trophy Club, a neighbor to Southlake, and a few of their descendants still live in the area.

History of the Medlin Cemetery
In 1847 Charles Medlin (1807-1864) and his wife Matilda (Allen) migrated from Missouri with their household and 20 other families to take up land grants on Denton Creek. Also in the wagon train and colony were Charles Medlin’s widowed mother and his brother Lewis. 
Floods broke up the first Medlin settlement, at times called “Garden Valley.” Moving to higher grounds in this vicinity, the settlers formed a new neighborhood that was to grow into the town of Roanoke (1.5 miles west). Charles Medlin’s daughter Mittie Ann (Born 1828) admired the beauty of this hill, saying she would like to be buried here. The cemetery was opened at her death in April 1850. 
Her parents, 13 brothers and sisters, and many other close relatives also rest here along with neighbors and others from the locality. This is one of the oldest cemeteries in Denton county. 
In 1900 James W. Medlin, son of the original land donors, Charles and Matilda Medlin, enlarged the area to more than ten acres, and began selling lots to bring in maintenance funds. Medlin Cemetery Association was formed in 1947. A new access boulevard and other improvements were provided for this cemetery in the 1970s. 

Source: http://medlincemetery.com/history.asp]