“Glories of Linden: Remarkable Record.”

Could Linden be compared to the fictional town of Mayberry that was made popular by the television series from the 1960s, The Andy Griffith Show?  Mayberry, portrayed as “crime free,” had Andy, as the sheriff, who carried no gun.  Barney, his deputy, had a  gun but only one bullet, which he carried in his shirt pocket.  Otis, the “town drunk,” with his key, let himself into the jailhouse.

Thanks to Gail Dorgan, Linden Heritage Foundation Historian, we have the following article from the Fort Worth Record and Register (Fort Worth, Tex.) January 13, 1906 to make that comparison.  Period photos are provided by Sue Lazara from the collection of Charline Wiley Morris.

“Glories of Linden: Remarkable Record. Not a homicide has ever occurred in the Cass County Metropolis. Days of Desperadoes.  Not a single citizen of that little town has ever been charged with felony”

Cass County Courthouse. The Civil War Monument Dedication, October 1903

Linden, the county seat of Cass County has been on the map of Texas over half a century. It was founded in the early part of 1850.  The first courthouse was a two-story frame structure and now stands about 200 yards north of the original site. It has been used since its removal as a Baptist Church and Masonic Hall. The house has received necessary repairs from time to time and is now in excellent condition. 

Linden c 1910 as seen from the “old road to Daingerfield”

This old town perhaps has a history of which no town in Texas of its age can boast. Founded long before the war and while it was the scene of many stirring events before, during and after that episode and while many desperate characters infested this county just after its close and often visited Linden in squads, headed by such desperate characters as Cullen Baker and others, and while a great deal of whiskey was drank and many brawls were engaged in, yet there never has been a man killed on the streets in Linden. No citizen of Linden ever saw a man shot down or fatally stabbed. There were some street duels, however, but the bullets flew wide of the mark, and no one was ever seriously wounded.

North side of Linden town square, 1911

Not one of her citizens has ever been killed by an accident, save in two or three instances. Not one of her citizens has ever been convicted of crime or had any very serious charges brought against him. Linden has always had and maintained fine educational facilities and many prominent men throughout Texas owe their success in life to the early training received in this little village. This precinct adopted local option in 1878 and has been in the dry column since that time. As yet no railroad has come this way, yet it has always held its own, and today there is not a vacant residence here. The people are, upon the whole, self-sustaining, prosperous, contented, and happy.

As we look upon our world now we yearn for simpler times. Perhaps Linden native, Don Henley, said it best in “The End of the Innocence:”

“Oh, who knows how long this will last, Now we’ve come so far so fast, But somewhere back there in the dust, That same small town in each of us, I need to remember this, So baby, give me just one kiss, And let me take a long last look, before we say goodbye”


‘Invisible History’ brought to light in celebration

By Neil Abeles

Citizens Journal-Sun

With four stories of outstanding African-American citizens of Linden, history came alive for those attending the Martin Luther King Day of celebration Saturday, Jan. 13, in Linden sponsored by the Linden Heritage Foundation. Celebrants gathered in the trial courtroom of the historic Cass County Courthouse.

Mason Barrett, Linden- Kildare High School graduate of 1973 and now administrative judge for the U. S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Birmingham District Office, presented the stories under the descriptive title “Invisible History.”

Barrett took his audience on a journey to remember the four citizens and their examples which went from slavery to military hero, and from football star to inspiring educator. He told each story with the help of a “Sixty Minute-like” television production.

Ms. Rothwell and Professor Barrett with her book “Looking Back: A History of African-American Families and Slaveholders in Cass County……”

In the courtroom at the time and known to some, but not all, was Darlene Warren Rothwell who was holding her book “Looking Back: A History of African-American Families and Slaveholders in Cass County and East Texas from the Colonial Days and Slavery to the 21st Century.”

Books such as these keep the achievements of all people from being invisible, Barrett said. “They have helped me in my journey of life,” he said.

“This is work I will refer to often in my coming years,” Barrett told the audience.

The program took about two hours to celebrate King’s impact.  Several people attending stood to say at the end of the program, “We did not know this.”  Numerous people continued to stay in the courtroom and talk with each other at the program’s end.

The four individuals featured in the presentation were Emily “Mo” Smith, Billy Wayne Allen, Brigman “Brig” Owen and Audrey Mae Barrett,  Here is an abbreviation of their story.


Emily “Mo” Smith – “From slavery to freedom”

Emily “Mo” Smith had a dramatic life to live going from slavery to freedom and becoming a parent and respected leader of others. After being forced to work in various places, she settled in Linden to be honored and loved by her descendants. Her 1941 grave marker was found in the Macedonia section of the Linden Cemetery and is now marked with her name and flowers.

Billy Wayne Allen

Chief Petty Officer – USN

Although born to poverty, Billy Wayne Allen rose to become a Navy Chief Petty Officer, receiving numerous medals while at the same time earning the bachelor’s and then master’s degree from college as well.

A chief petty officer is the most senior enlisted leader and is seen on deck with sailors to provide technical and management advice at all Navy levels.

Brigman “Brig” Owens

Breaking Down Barriers

Brig Owens also rose from poverty to become an NFL star and attorney. He broke down barriers such as playing the quarterback position in football. He went on to star for the then Washington Redskins and is in their hall of fame.

He graduated from law school, owned his own business and led leadership programs especially after receiving an honorary doctorate from the University of Cincinnati.

Audrey Mae Barrett

Inspiring Educator

Mason Barrett took a moment of time from his presentation of others to include his mother, Audrey Mae Barrett, among those who are part of an “invisible history.”

Audrey, known simply as “Barrett” to her close friends, led her family as a loving wife, warm community leader and inspiring educator. Her home eggnog at Christmas was a tradition. She gave 45 years of service to education and served as a model to educators especially at Linden-Kildare Junior High which is now the Mae Luster Stephens Junior High.


















LHF Annual Meeting – MLK Day Presentation — Saturday – January 13 2024

Saturday, January 13 2024 at 2 pm join the Linden Heritage Foundation in the Courtroom of the historic Cass County Courthouse for a special event during the week of celebration of the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. 

History has lessons to teach us, if we will only read or listen. This is particularly true of the accomplishments of people of color. However, in some communities there is little evidence or knowledge of these achievements.

Invisible History:  Part II

1973 LK High Graduate, Mason Darrell Barrett,  Administrative Law Judge for the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in Alabama, and active member of the Fairview Community, will bring to the Courtroom again an oral history of the accomplishments of hidden figures with roots in the Linden African American community that will enlighten and inspire all.

In addition, an update will be provided on the placement in the Linden City Park of Historic Signage.

Following the program, the Linden Heritage Foundation will have its Annual Membership Meeting.  The Agenda for the Membership Meeting includes the election of Linden Heritage Foundation Directors.

A reception with refreshments will follow.

Linden City Park Historic Signage

In City Park looking west to Kaufman Street

“There’s something happening here…” begins the lyrics of a popular 1967 hit by Buffalo Springfield which applies to activity you see on the ground and slope adjacent to South Kaufman Street.

What’s happening there is the clearing of trees and brush by LPR Logistics of Marshall, Texas, engaged by the Linden Heritage Foundation (LHF) as the first step in erecting historic signage in Linden’s City Park.

The LHF has compiled a history of that area focusing on a stream bed you see lined with WPA rocks as it flows east from Main Street past Kaufman and toward Centerhill Road. The creek is referred to as “Ten-Yard Branch” in early Cass County records. It was important for Linden’s early settlers (1848) as it was a source of fresh water.

LHF President Sam Higdon holds a brick from the Patman Homestead

In 1854 the stream became valuable to J. T. Veal who established Linden’s early brickworks (kiln) there.  Thousands of bricks were formed and fired with much of the labor performed by enslaved persons. Documented 1850’s construction using Veal’s brickworks are the 1856 Cass County Jail, the 1858 Cass County Jailor’s House and the 1859-1861 Cass County Courthouse.  In 1860 the bricks were used to construct the first floor of the Sarah and Uriah Squires’ home, later named The Old Wright Patman Homestead.

Signage placement will be in the open area north of Linden’s Senior Citizen’s Center. Select trees remain within area cleared.

The signage will begin with the story of this important water source incorporating surviving bricks made during that era.  The cleared area will provide an unobstructed sight line to the important features of downtown Linden.

Conceptual drawings of the signage, historical language, proposed seating, lighting, and landscaping are being prepared and will be submitted at a Linden City Council meeting with the opportunity for public input.  Cost of construction will be through donations with no cost to the City (fundraising similar to placing lighting on the 1934 Water Tower).



Invisible History: A Slave, a School and a Scholar

Saturday, January 14th in the Historic Cass County Courtroom at the Linden Heritage Foundation Martin Luther King Day Celebration the curtains were drawn back to shine a light on parts of Linden’s past and present.

Keynote speaker, 1973 LK High Graduate Mason Barrett, chose as his topic – “Invisible History: A Slave, a School and a Scholar”.  

Honorable Mason Barrett with Cass County Judge, Travis Ransom, LHF President Sam Higdon and the speaker’s son, Alonzo Barrett (photo by Neil Abeles)

Judge Barrett received his Juris Doctor degree from the University of Denver College of Law and a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics from Prairie View A&M University. He has over 35 years’ experience in civil rights and equal employment opportunity (EEO) law. On October 1, 2018, he was elevated to the position of Supervisory Administrative Judge in the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s (“EEOC”) Birmingham District Office where he now supervises three (3) judges. His office’s jurisdiction includes the states of Alabama, Mississippi, and the northern panhandle of Florida.  Following in the footsteps of his parents, M. J. Barrett, and Audrey Mae Barrett, each an educator, Judge Barrett has formed The Bar Examination Academy to assist law students in studying for the bar examination. Locally, he is the Project Director for the Macedonia Rock School Preservation Project and a board member of the Fairview Junior-Senior High School Reunion Corporation and the Linden Cemetery Association.

“I am 126 years old. I have kept the faith & yield my soul to God and go home”

A Slave – Nancy Carter (Appx. 1785 – October 11, 1910)

Old Pleasant Hill (African American) (Linden) Cemetery – “In 1785, when the United States was a mere nine years old, a woman was born somewhere on the great continent of Africa. Her name would eventually become Nancy Carter.  In 1802 she was brought to the United States as a slave and sold to one Absolam Carter Sr. in Greenville, Alabama. Upon his death, Absolam Carter Jr. inherited her and moved to Cass County in 1854 just two years after Linden was established and became the county seat. This remarkable woman, who was brought to this country as a slave, would live to see the end of slavery.”  WAS CASS COUNTY HOME TO THE OLDEST WOMAN?  By Jamie Jeans – Crossroads Magazine.  Several of Mrs. Carter’s many living descendants were present at the meeting to include former Linden-Kildare (L-K) High School Home Economics teacher Mrs. Mary L. Shurn, retired nurse Carolyn Allen Craver (L-K 1970), and retired educator Linda D. Allen (L-K 1972).  Mrs. Carter also has many descendants who have served our country, including the late Pleasant Hill Baptist Church Deacon Adrain Allen (U.S. Navy), the late Macedonia Baptist Church Deacon George “Buddy” Allen (U.S. Army), and the late Master Chief Petty Officer Billy W. Allen (L-K 1971) (U.S. Navy).

Photo from Mason Barrett

A School – Macedonia Rosenwald School Campus

Little more than a century ago, deep in America’s rural South, a community-based movement ignited by two unexpected collaborators quietly grew to become so transformative, its influence shaped the educational and economic future of an entire generation of African American families. Between 1917 and 1932, nearly 5,000 rural schoolhouses, modest one-, two-, three-, and four-teacher buildings known as Rosenwald Schools, came to exclusively serve more than 700,000 African American children over four decades.  In 1926, a Rosenwald wood frame school was built in the Macedonia Community in west Linden.  The original Macedonia Rosenwald building ultimately was moved and became the band hall at the new Linden-Kildare High School campus located on F.M. 125 South after consolidation of the Linden and Kildare school districts in 1958.  In 1939, an additional building was constructed on the Macedonia Rosenwald campus of local iron ore rock which still stands and is in use to this day. Known as the Macedonia Rock School, it has been named by Preservation Texas as one of eleven rural African American heritage sites being provided reimbursement grant funding for needed improvements to ensure its survival.

Photo by University of the Incarnate Word, San Antonio, Texas.

A Scholar Dr. Arcelia M. Johnson-Fannin

Dr. Johnson-Fannin, affectionately known to her students and colleagues as “Dr. J”, was the 1964 Valedictorian of Fairview High School (FHS) and a former student of the Macedonia Rock School, Linden, Texas.  Dr. J grew up in a community that was poor in funds but rich in education, the power of positive thinking, and reaching for greatness. With the Grace of God, great things she has done. Dr. J is the founding Dean of the Feik School of Pharmacy at the University of the Incarnate Word in San Antonio, Texas. With this appointment, she became the first woman and only African American female to be founding dean at two new pharmacy schools. In 1997, Dr. J was selected to head the development of the pharmacy program at Hampton University in Hampton, Virginia.  The last FHS building and campus was constructed during segregation simultaneously (circa 1959-1960) with the Linden-Kildare High School.  Located on U.S. Hwy 59 South, the former FHS is now named the Mae Luster Stephens Junior High School after another prominent Linden African American educator.