Legends of St. Paul's
Compiled by Joe Leonard
Lew Allen Jr.
Lew Allen, Jr. was born on September 30th, 1925 and was baptized a few weeks later in St. Pauls Episcopal Church in Gainesville. His mother, Zella Allen, also was a member of St. Pauls from birth. Lew had most of his early education in Gainesville and graduated from high school in 1942, followed by one year at Gainesville Junior College (NCTC). He etnered the U.S. Military Academy in 1943 and graduated in 1946 with a bachelor of science degree. He was awarded his pilot wings upon graduation from flight training.
He had a meteoric rise in the Air Force, as well as being assigned to the nuclear weapons test division located at Los Alamos for several years. In 1961 he was assigned to the Office of Secretary of Defense, Space Technology, as the director of Research and Engineering. In June 1968, he moved to the Pentagon as deputy director of space systems. In 1973, he became director of the National Security Agency for four years. In 1978, he became Chief of Staff of the United States Air Force, responsible for 750,000 persons under his command. During this period 1978-82, he was appointed to the rank of General, four stars. He is the only four-star general Gainesville has been able to claim.
Upon retirement from the Air Force in 1982, he became Director of Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, serving in that capacity until 1990. Under his direction the company participated in space missions with NASA to Uranus and Mars. From 1993-95 he served as a member of the President's Foreign Intelligence Board.
In his career he was awarded three Distinguished Service Medals and four Legions of Merit.
All in all, he is the most distinguished citizen Gainesville can claim for the last 100 years, a Man of the Century. He is now retired and living in Virginia, but he still claims Gainesville as his home. He is proud to still have an account at the First State Bank, which he has kept since he was a youth. He has also remained a devout Episcopalian.
R.W. & Katharine Briscoe
R.W. "Pete " Briscoe and wife Katherine Richards Briscoe were members of pioneer Cooke County families that moved here in the 1800's and established businesses in Gainesville that prospered, one of which, Richard Monument Company, has been under family ownership since 1906. The Briscoe family also started a retail business, the Commerce Street Store, in the early 1900's, and son Pete owned and operated it until his death in 1995. He was working at the store when he suffered an abdominal aneurysm and died the following day. His wife, better known as "Kotchie," died in 2001.
Pete and Kotchie fell in love at Gainesville High School, and were married in March 1933 on the day President Roosevelt ordered all banks closed for three days. Their planned honeymoon was untimely cut very short, and they had only twenty-three cents in their pockets when they did get back home. Their only child, Kaye, was born in November, 1935.
Pete and Kotchie were devout and highly-involved members of our church, and at a time when it was faced with many problems. During the time of the Depression, especially the years 1932-1936, St. Paul's had to be closed. The main reason for closing was the absence of visiting priests. However, the Briscoes were members of a faithful group that never stopped working, and these families held together until it was re-opened.
Pete's active membership was only interrupted by World War II when he entered military service and was sent to Pearl Harbor, and remained in the Pacific Theater of Operations until Japan was defeated. Upon his return home he took an even more an active role in church activities. He held many different job, two of which seemed to never end, ushering and finance. He was elected to the vestryman times for terms only apart by the years required. He either headed or had a key role in two large projects, the building of the Parish Hall in 1954, and the acquisition of the Rectory at 507 Lindsay Street a few years later. Kotchie spent many years as a member of the Altar Guild, and keeping the Book of Remembrance.
We welcome the Briscoes to our group of St. Paul Legends. I give special thanks to Kay Briscoe King for her contribution of the detailed account of this family history.
George J. And Dora Carroll
George J. Carroll, Sr. founded the George J. Carroll and Son Funeral Home in Gainesville in 1900. He had been employed before in Chicago as an embalmer. The family name is still used except in recent years it has been operated by a different owner. Agnes Witherspoon Stephen arrived in Gainesville in 1926 to takeover as Superintendent of the Texas State School for Girls, are form school. Thus begins the interesting saga of these families in the life and times of St. Paul's.
Agnes Stephen descended from a long line of Anglicans, so quite naturally she and her teenaged daughter, Dora Eva, joined St. Paul's. In her professional life she was a shrewd businesswoman and could be as tough as nails, which was warranted on many occasions at the reform school. At St. Paul's she was a prominent layperson and took on many assignments, which was significant for a woman in her generation at that time. Her grandchildren named her Aggie and to them she was a wonderful gentle and loving person. She was confirmed July 15, 1936 and died on January 3, 1962.
Dora married George Joseph (Joe) Carroll, Jr. in 1929. She remained very active in the church, serving on the Altar Guild, and chairman of Bazaars and many fundraisers.
Husband Joe, being a lapsed Roman Catholic, seldom attended church until Fr. J. Presley Pound became Rector, and touched off a burning desire. He joined in 1952, and became actively engaged in parish affairs. Joe led an evening adult Bible study group, served on the Vestry several times and was Senior Warden, and chaired the building committee for the then new Parish Hall. In 1930 he had joined his father in the funeral business, and upon the death of his father became the sole owner. In 1958 the firm was elected to membership in the prestigious association of National Selected Morticians, based on the firm meeting rigid professional standards. He was also active in community affairs, serving as Chairman of the Gainesville School Board and as President of the Gainesville Rotary Club.
Joe and Dora had three children: Pat Ware, Joseph Stephen, and Cynthia Clarice (now Mrs. C. William Rogers). The three were baptized by Bishop Harry T. Moore and later confirmed by Bishop C. Avery Mason. The brothers were active acolytes and Cynthia sang in the choir. Pat died in 1999. Cynthia and Steve are active communicants in their parish churches, as are their children and grandchildren. Steve allowed that Aggie would indeed be proud of this family, and added "something took".
Not only did Aggie keep her grandchildren active at St. Paul's, but there was a period during WWII when the church had no rector, and she then took them to Sunday School at the First Methodist Church! When there was Sunday School at St. Paul's in the 1940's it was taught by Maureen Buchanan. Other young people the Carrolls remember being in the class included: Larry Kuehn, Terry Brown, Bill Crary and his sister, and the Mitchell's (Robert, Mary, Margaret, and Eileen)
We welcome the Carroll/Stephen families to our larger family of St. Paul's Legends. Special thanks to Steve and Cynthia for their detailed accounts of the family as used in this article.
Robert Russell "Rusty" Duncan
Robert Russell "Rusty" Duncan was born May 17, 1940 and died at his home in Gainesville on May 13, 2011. A mass celebrating his life was held at St. Paul's Church on May 17, 2011, a date on which he would have been age 71. He was raised in Corpus Christi, Texas and graduated from Corpus Christi Ray High School as well as Del Mar Junior College.
East Texas State University was his choice for college and of which he was a graduate in 1963, and was the college at which he met his future wife, Margaret, and married in 1964. In 1966 he received a Law Degree from the University of Houston and after serving as President of his class. Rusty began his practice of law in Denison in 1966 which lasted 10 years followed by 35 years in Gainesville. He and his family joined St. Paul's in 1976.
Russell Duncan was a very civic, community, and church-minded individual. He served as President of both Grayson County Bar Association, and the Cooke County Bar Association. He was a member and President of the Gainesville Rotary Club; President of the NCTC Board of Regents; a Cooke County Judge; and member of the Economic Development Foundation. Yet with all of these activities he gave most generously of his time in behalf of St. Paul's, having served as both a member and Senior Warden several times of the Vestry, member of the Finance Committee, Lay-Reader, Chalice Bearer, and general counsel for the legal affairs.
Rusty is survived by his wife and two sons. Rusty is hereby recognized and honored as a Legend of St. Paul's Church, and Margaret is also to be honored and recognized for her support and work with the Women of St. Paul's, the Altar Guild, and the Priest Search Committee.
Owen & Mary Elizabeth Mitchell
In July 1946 a family moved to Gainesville (more specifically Walnut Bend) and St. Paul's from Breckenridge, Texas and their influence and imprint has been lasting and ever-present to this day. This was the family of Owen and Mary Elizabeth Mitchell and their six children, Joseph, James, Robert, Mary (now Mrs. Kenneth Kaden), Margaret and Eileen. Mr. Mitchell was the warehouse manager for Sinclair Oil and Gas Company.
The entire family immediately started participating in the affairs of their new church home. Owen served as acolyte at the altar, on the vestry, and many other jobs needed by the church. The three sons all served as acolytes, cross bearers, and candle bearers. Mary Elizabeth, Mary, Margaret and Eileen all sang in the choir, which was directed by Joan Lamb with organist Rex Waggoner. This female group also taught Sunday School, and the girls served in the Junior Altar Society while Mary Elizabeth was in the Altar Guild. While on the Altar Guild Mrs. Mitchell sewed many hours helping others make vestments and altar hangings. Margaret was church organist for many years, too, and still plays for the Episcopal Church in her hometown of Evansville, Indiana. She is the wife of Clark Kimberling, PhD who in 1976 wrote new music for the Sanctus and Agnus Dei which is now used in our Episcopal service.
Two of the boys, James and Robert, are now Episcopal priest, and the Mitchell family was responsible for another acolyte, William A. Crary, becoming an Episcopal priest. He is now Rector of St. Laurence Church, Grapevine, Texas.
Owen and the family along with other Sinclair employees moved to Houston in 1958, and later to Tulsa before returning to Gainesville in 1974 upon his retirement. They took up their life again at St. Paul's and were active in church affairs until Owens death in 1990 and death of Mary Elizabeth in 1994. Until their deaths they were never apart from each other.
But the Mitchell legend has not ended. It continues with their granddaughter, Diane Kaden, daughter of Kenneth and Mary, and great-granddaughter Suzanne Kaden. Diane has become one of the most active members in this parish. She is a lay reader, choir member, vestry member, chalice bearer, and acolyte in a pinch. Her daughter, Suzanne, age 12 is an acolyte. St. Paul's is indeed proud of the Mitchell family.
I wish to give special thanks to Mary Kaden for her contribution of detailed family information.
Effie Adair Sanders was born in 1908 in Adair County, Oklahoma, the daughter of Sabina Buffington and Frank Clark Adair, both of the Cherokee nation. She married Travis I. Sanders of Marietta, Oklahoma in 1933. They have one daughter, Jane Sanders Gait, wife of Freeman P. Gait, who reside in Ardrnore, Oklahoma. Grandchildren are Diane Dodson Gait and John Travis Gait.
Effie became a member of the Episcopal Church in Oklahoma early in life, and although living in Gainesville most of the time and attending services at St. Paul's', did not transfer her membership until July 6, 1961. However, that did not hinder her interest and support of this church for many years prior to 1961.
In 1954 Effie Sanders joined in the church fundraising event to build a new parish hall. She gave a very large amount of money and in return the vestry voted to name the building in her honor. That is and has been our Sanders Hall for many years. In 1968 there was another large fundraiser, and this was the time that the church bought a new electronic organ. Not only did the Sanders head up the list of givers, but Travis Sanders, who was a member of the First Christian Church in Marietta, Oklahoma, sought out donors in the oil patch which helped over-subscribe the money needed! Travis, or T.L., as best known, was one of the most successful oil men in the area, and a wildcatter to boot. For many years oilfields had been difficult to find in Love County, Oklahoma, but T.L. never gave up and he finally made a major discovery that opened up a flood of new and profitable wells in that area of the state.
Years later, when Fr. Try Mitchell was rector, he found a real friend and supporter in Effie. In 1986 Fr. Try had learned that the vacant lot nearby on California Street was for sale. It was owned by RD. Clack who had used it to sell used cars, but Fr. Try reasoned that it would be our solution for a parking lot and perhaps any expansion we might need in the future. So he approached Effie with the idea that it would be a wonderful gift to St. Paul's and she readily agreed to buy it and do just that. The lot is ¼ of the block in size and thought to be around $50,000 in price paid. Several years later when Bill Williams was Senor Warden he negotiated a lease contract with US Postal Service to lease it for parking, with certain exceptions in favor of the church, and so it has remained as a profit maker and valuable holding to this day.
We welcome Effie Sanders to our group of St. Paul Legends. Our thanks to Jane Sanders Gait for helping with family history and information.
Luther Turner's father, David H. Turner, moved to Gainesville in 1880 from Point, Texas, to manage the LaClede Hotel at Dixon and Broadway. He bought a frame residence at the corner of Jefferson and California, just where St. Paul's Episcopal Church would be built. In 1884, after being urged by a being a traveling salesmen to start a hotel, he added a kitchen and dining room and began operating as the Turner Cottage. Next in line was adding five more rooms as the reputation of Turner Cottage spread for having clean rooms and great food. Over the years, the cottages were moved and a very modern six story, Turner Hotel, was built on this site by the sons, Luther and Edgar, and then operated by their families for many years. In 1979, after a period of ownership by another group following the Turners, the hotel was purchased by the Gainesville Housing Authority and converted into a splendid public apartment. Many different St. Paul members have been residents there, and welcomed.
It is not certain what year Luther Turner and his wife Fay became members of St. Paul's. His brother Painter Turner, born October 19, 1881, was baptized May 17 confirmed 1910, and May 19, 1910. Luther was confirmed on April 14, 1918. They had two children who both became members: David Painter Turner, born December 24th 1908, baptized October24th, 1909, confirmed April 14th, 1918, and William Clark Turner, born November 13th 1915, baptized May 6th, 1916, and confirmed June 18th 1933. David's wife, Dorothy, was also a member of the church.
Luther and Fay were both active members in the church. Luther served on the Vestry in 1910, and Fay served on the Vestry for a number of years. The sons, David and William, served as acolytes when they were young, and later on many different committees. They planted and cultivated the red oak tree which now stands on the corner of the southeast church lot. While the family devoted many hours to church work, they spent time and money in promoting Gainesville and many civic works projects. Luther was elected to the city council in 1920 and was one of the charter members of the Rotary Club. In 1917, with World War I airplanes becoming commonplace, Luther Turner, then chairman of the local Red Cross unit, decided that he should help out. He contacted Army Aviation officials in Fort Worth to offer and provide a much needed alternate landing strip in Gainesville to assist in pilot training. Gainesville was just the right distance away for the training planes to practice landings and field takeoffs. A large open area on Weaver Street was named Turner Field, and became the answer. A shack was built for the Red Cross unit to offer the pilots and crews sandwiches and hot coffee on their brief stopovers in cross-country flight. As many for as fifty planes a week for months used the Gainesville facility.
The Turner's middle name could have been "Service." We welcome Luther, Fay, William, David, and Dorothy Turner, to our family of St. Paul Legends. This posting owes thanks to Cooke County The First 100 Years by A. Morton Smith for its many historical references.
William J. "Bill" and Rosemary Williams
Bill and Rosemary moved to Gainesville in 1987 and for them the first order of business was to become members of St. Paul's Episcopal Church. Thus begins the story of a 23 year membership of dedicated Christians whose tone of the highest of standards in service to this parish we have seen in recent years. In his very first year Bill was elected to the Vestry, and became Senior Warden a few years later. This would be just one indication that this family was ready and willing to place service above self as regards to their love and devotion for and to all phases of membership in St.Paul's.
For Bill we find there was no job too large or too small to be tackled and brought to a successful conclusion. In many years he was appointed Junior Warden , but appointed or not he would find time to be our electrician, plumber, carpenter, Hi-Fl wizard, pancake ticket seller and helper, and for a number of years managed our bingo parlor business which was one of the best parish moneymaking projects we ever had! Still in other phases of service we find him as usher, lay reader, chalice bearer, and evangelical leader.
In Rosemary we find someone who sought and found many ways in which to serve the church. She was active in the Women's Group and was also a member of the Altar Guild. She was a lifetime Episcopalian, baptized in 1925, and when Bill retired from the Navy, they moved about and became members of different churches, where he taught Sunday school and was a choir member.
In addition to his church, Bill found time to be a very active civic worker in Gainesville. He was a 33'' degree Mason, and devoted over 60 years of his life including time in the Gainesville Lodge, and other lodges in Cooke County. He was a member of the Kiwanis Club, the Citizens Police Academy of Gainesville, and avid supporter of Habitat for Humanity, Scottish Rite Hospital for Children, and Salvation Army.
Following high school, Bill joined the Navy in 1939, and was stationed as a radioman aboard the U.S.S. Aiwyn in Hawaii. He survived the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7th, 1941 and saw heavy action throughout the Pacific during World War II. He retired from the Navy in 1964 with the rank of E-9, Master Chief, but remained on-call as a member of the Naval Fleet Reserve for many years.
Bill and Rosemary were married on December 8th, 1943, and spent 59 years together before her death in Gainesville on November 18th, 2002. They had one child, Sandy Williams, of Plano, Texas. Bill died unexpectedly on April 1st, 2010. Funeral services were held April 8th, 2010 at St. Paul's with Father Chuck Hough officiating, and the service concluded with a Masonic rite. Interment was with full military honors at the DFW National Cemetery.
We welcome Bill and Rosemary Williams to our family of St. Paul's Legends. They will be remembered.
Neva McCain Yost
Neva McCain Yost was born in 1905 in the home of her grandfather, J. Russell Washington, who built "Washington House", in 1867, with lumber hauled by oxen from Jefferson, Texas. The main structure, although added on at different times, remains today as the home of Washington and Yost family members. The large Washington cattle ranch surrounding the home was named Sycamore Creek, just north of Dexter, Texas, which name still survives. In 1890 Dexter had a population of 200, and was a thriving town with eight saloons, two drug stores, two merchandise houses, cotton gin, barbershop, flourmill, newspaper and jail.
Neva's early education, at age nine, was gained by attending North Texas Female College in Sherman, Texas. At age 13, she attended St. Mary's Hall in San Antonio, Texas. At college age, she was taking business courses at the University of Colorado and the University of Washington in Seattle.
In 1930 Neva moved to Longview, Texas and helped form the Newark Oil Company in association with her brother, James McCain. It was through the oil business that she met her future husband, Kenneth B. Yost. In 1931 they were married and then moved to Houston, where they continued in the oil business.
Neva became a member of Christ Church Cathedral and not only became an active communicant of this Episcopal church, but very active in Houston Community affairs, which included; Houston Symphony Society, Pin Oaks Charity Horse Show, Lakewood Yacht Club, Garden Club, Houston Country Club, and the Historical Society.
Shortly after her husbands death in operate Sycamore Creek Ranch in which she had become sole owner. She became expert in running this ranch and had the first Certified Purebred Santa Gertrudis herd in Cooke County, and she won numerous conservation awards for the improvement both in land and cattle. She was a colorful figure around the ranch sporting a wide brimmed white Spanish Gaucho hat, the same style hat that actress Barbara Stanwyck wore in scenes of the 1960's TV serial, "Big Valley". In fact, she looked so much like Stanwyck, that friends decided Neva could easily be her stand-in! What a winner!
Shortly after moving to her ranch, Neva joined St. Paul's, and it took very little time before she was active in the church and community affairs. She was first elected to the vestry, and we believe she may have been the first woman to have served in that capacity. She was also first and a founding director of the Cooke County Historical Society, and also helped pioneer efforts that led to the establishment of the Morton Museum. She was also a leader and worker in the Republican Party, not only loving her country, but her family, her friends, her church and her land.
She died in 1987 and is buried in Fairview Cemetery. Her daughter, Lynda, and husband David Lindh, moved to the ranch after her death and now operate same. Both are members of St.Paul's.
We welcome Neva McCain Yost to the family of St. Paul Legends. Thanks to Lynda Yost Lindh for furnishing much information on the family history.