50th years strong: Celebration planned for Frontier Village

Frontier Village will celebrate 50 years of nonprofit stewardship with Frontier Days demonstrations at Loy Park where folks will dress up like the 1800s and show what life was like before modern conveniences took over.

One of Grayson County's most historic sites is celebrating an anniversary this week. The 11 homes and buildings that make up the Frontier Village at Loy Lake sit on 17 acres controlled by a nonprofit that is recognizing 50 years of service to the community this weekend.

At the location, Grayson County Historical Society meets at the location.

"Back in 1966 a group of county residents started looking around for ways to preserve the heritage of our early settlers and came up with a dream to construct a frontier village where structures, artifacts and the way of life could be preserved for future generations," the site's website describes the origins of the village.

"At a meeting of the Sherman Chamber of Commerce in October 1966, Otto Vehle, chairman of the conventions and visitors committee, reported that he had been approached by interested citizens concerned about the fate of Sherman’s oldest house, the Nettie Bass home at 215 West Houston," the site says.

In order to gain members and a possible location for the home to move to, Old Settlers Park Association on Grand Avenue in Sherman was contacted, and in January 1967, "the association voted to incorporate under the official name of Old Settlers Village of Grayson County and Vehle was named coordinator of all events," the site says.

"But on Aug. 18, 1967, plans were made to move the Bass house to Loy Park, where Old Settlers Village of Grayson County planned to build a typical frontier village of the middle 1800s. Only snag was that an Aug. 25 deadline was very near for a decision to be made. A quickie campaign of five days raised $5,129 by telephone."

On Sept. 9, 1967, the village began to take shape with the support of County Judge Les Tribble, Commissioner Tom McKee and Sheriff Woody Blanton.

About four years later, a new general manager took over the growing village and a big deal helped turn the site into a similar vision of what it looks like today. Site General Manager Alan Smith negotiated a 99-year lease of 17 acres with Grayson County Commissioners Court for $1.

"Commissioners paid $2,775 to have a chain link fence built around 14 acres at the site in November 1973, then the name was changed from Old Settlers Village to Grayson County Frontier Village in 1977 to avoid confusion with Old Settlers Park Association," the site says.

"The Nettie Bass House probably is the most historic in the county," the site continues. "It was the first house in the county to have glass windows. People came from miles around to see them in the early days with many traveling all day to get to Sherman, camping out at night the returning home another day."

Built in the 1850s, Ada and husband T.C. Bass moved into the house in the 1860s. Their daughter Nettie Bass lived in the house for 97 years. The house has an official Texas Historical Medallion.

But that is just the tip of the hat.

"Second building moved onto the site was the W.L. Holder cabin that was built in the early 1840s near the intersection of Crawford Street Road and Harvey Lane in Denison. The cabin actually is the Cold Springs Schoolhouse," the site says.

Information related to the house says that the Holders were among the first six families to settle in Grayson County.

"They lived in tents for two years waiting for their land grants to be approved by the Republic of Texas," the site says. "The little community built a school for their children, known as the Cold Spring School, believed to be the first school in the county."

Some time later, the house was donated to the village by Henry Sory, the namesake of Sory Elementary in Sherman, and family. It has also been awarded a Texas Historical Medallion.

There is also the Davis-Ansley log cabin, once owned by Micajah Davis, one of the original founders of Grayson County. It was donated o Frontier Village in 1973.

The Hendricks House was built in 1863. The Bradley-Bodkin House took shape in the late 1840s. The Evans-Carpenter cabin came to the park in 1985. 

"The Fitzgerald House received a Texas Historical Medallion in 1970 and came to the village in 1990," the site says.

Adding to the history of the area is the Lankford House and the James G. Thompson House. The village also includes a museum and a research room named in honor of 5th District Judge Retired R.C. Vaughan. 

Historic skills like blacksmithing will be on display as Frontier Village celebrates 50 years nonprofit stewardship with Frontier Days.

The celebration honoring the 50 year history of the nonprofit that runs the village will be held June 19-20 with a step back in time. 

"We're celebrating our 50th anniversary as a nonprofit this year and we are doing that in combination with our annual Frontier Days," Frontier Village President Charla Harris said.

The fun starts on at 10 a.m. June 18  and will continue till 4 p.m. with a school day. That is the date set aside for home school, digital learning students, and school groups.

Admission price is $3 each for students and staff. Then the next day, the village will be open to the public from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. 

"We will have demonstrators who will perform such chores as looming, blacksmithing, 1800s etiquette, and Dutch oven cooking," Harris said. "All of the homes will be open to the public to view how our ancestors lived in the 1800s".

In addition, there will be docents on site to explain the various things in the houses, and actors will be on site who will portray local luminaries like Olive Ann Oatman Fairchild, Nettie Bass and General George Patton. 

A bucket and a washboard were the items needed to keep the clothes clean back in the 1800s. These and other items can be seen and touched as Frontier Village celebrates 50 years of nonprofit stewardship with Frontier Days.

Presentations by other local museums will take place in the community room and an antique car show that will be set up outside the gates of the village. The Red River Valley Dulcimer's Club is expected to perform. A variety of vendors on site selling items that could be found in the 1800s as well as some more modern hand crafted items. 

Then on June 20, there will be a non-denominational service held in the historic church on the property starting at 9 a.m. The Rev. Mark Horner will serve as the pastor. Skirmishes will follow and the grounds will close at 1 p.m.

Harris is part of the second generation of her family to be involved in the village. She said her father was part of the original group of people who planned the site set aside to preserve the history of early settlers to the area. 

"It is very hard to get volunteers," she said. "It's very hard for a nonprofit to generate the funding to continue to operate and for us to have made it 50 years, it is definitely something to celebrate. We are very proud of that fact especially after the year of COVID when so many nonprofits did not make it."

Those under five-years-old are free. Those who are six to 17 years old will be charged $3 and adults are $7. Masks will not be required, but there will be COVID-19 stations located throughout the village and those will offer masks if people want them. 

Funding for Frontier Villages comes from donations, grants, memberships and admission fees. 

For more information about Frontier Village and the homes on the site, visit http://www.graysoncofrontiervillage.us/the-village.html.