Lancaster Historic MKT Depot and Rose Garden

Lancaster Historical Society is on a mission to preserve the heritage and to protect the historic buildings and sites of Lancaster, Texas. The Society is responsible for preservation and maintenance of the historic 1888 Missouri, Kansas and Texas Depot and the Memorial Rose Garden located on East Pecan Street south of the town square. As a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, the Society depends on the commitment of the community for funds in the form of donations, memberships, and support of community-based fundraising events.

MKT Depot and Rose Garden – 225 East Pecan Street   map

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Rockin’ & Rollin’ in the Rose Garden

LHSRocknRollaFriends and Members of the Society
are invited to our annual fund raiser
featuring nationally recognized
Shake Rattle & Roll

$55 per person
Reservation and payment due by May 12th

Purchase Tickets Now
limited seating, no sales at the door

Entertainment generously sponsored by Corner Stone Credit Union

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John W. Pope – First Superintendent of LISD

photo - John PopeJohn Winfred Pope was the oldest of the eight children of W.B. Pope and Elizabeth Shinault Pope. John was born Dec. 8, 1879 in Byhalia, Marshall County, Mississippi. His father, W. B. Pope, was a veterinarian and farmer, and brought the family to McKinney, Texas about 1881. John attended the public schools and continued his education at Southwestern University at Georgetown.

In 1905, Pope became the first Superintendent of Lancaster ISD, which was created by the Texas Legislature March 23 of that year, as the William L. White School was under construction. The brick school was funded with a $15,000 bond election. John’s wife, Carrie Loraine Sanders Pope, joined him as a member of the faculty for the first term.

Professor Pope had already made an impact in the area and participated as a speaker at the large Parks family reunion in Lancaster in 1904. On August 16, 1905, John was a speaker at a Woodmen of the World picnic that drew a crowd of 5,000 to Strain’s Grove.

After serving as Superintendent for two terms, he resigned on July 5, 1907, to serve as private secretary to Congressman Jack Beall of Waxahachie. Returning from Washington, he attended the Law School at the University of Texas – Austin, and later established his law practice in Dallas where he remained for his career. John W. Pope died in Dallas on October 12, 1954 at the age of 74.

William L. White School

John W. Pope (back row, far right) at the William L. White School

-photos and bio contributed by Virgil Pope, Parrish, Florida, grandson

Categories: Local History |

Rawlins Cemetery, est. 1848

photo Rawlins Cemetery entrance

Rawlins Cemetery

Rawlins Cemetery,  located on Main Street west of Bluegrove, is one of the earliest cemeteries in the Lancaster area.  It was established in March of 1848, following the death of Meredith Parks.  The tract was donated by William (Elder Billy) Rawlins.   While many Parkses and Rawlinses are buried in the cemetery, neither family regarded it as a family cemetery.  The oldest birth date found at the cemetery dates back to 1782 and is that of Meredith Parks’ mother, Catherine Reed Parks.

Learn more about the Rawlins Cemetery.

Categories: Historical Sites, Local History |

Wedding Planning Season Is Here

Lancaster’s historic MKT Depot offers a unique setting for bridal showers, rehersal dinners, receptions, and even weddings. The 125-year old building features two rooms and a galley-style kitchen. The attached Memorial Rose Garden provides the opportunity to extend your event outdoors. Give us a call, we will be happy to work with you to make it special! Carol can help you – 214-957-9666.

Find more information on our Depot Rental page.

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Annual Membership Drive

Our 2014 Membership Drive is under way. Please join us in preserving the history of our community. Membership dues directly support the maintenance and upkeep of Lancaster’s 125-year-old MKT Depot and the Memorial Rose Garden. Dues start at just $15 for an individual and $25 for a family. Patrons receive email invitations to history-related events in our area, to our program meetings that occur six times per year and to our special fundraiser events. Join now!

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Lancaster Bank Robbery Pivotal in Bonnie and Clyde Saga

Robbery photo

Dallas Morning News photo{1}

February 27, 1934. Clyde Barrow and fellow gang member Raymond Hamilton rob the R.P. Henry & Sons Bank, in Lancaster’s Town Square, taking over $4000. Olin Worley, a customer in the bank, and Laurence L. Henry, one of R.P. Henry’s sons and the cashier, were held at gunpoint while the bank was looted. Another gang member waited in the getaway car by the side entrance while Bonnie Parker waited in another car near Kleberg.{1} Less than 3 months later, on May 23, 1934, Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow would be dead, shot in an ambush in Louisiana.

It was in a disagreement over the splitting of the money from this robbery that Raymond Hamilton left the gang.{2} In a written statement witnessed by the Dallas County Sheriff Smoot Schmid, Texas Ranger Jim Shown, and other officials, John Mullen, one of the Barrow gang members, reported that Bonnie Parker had insisted on an equal share of the loot and that this angered Hamilton.{3} Blanche Caldwell Barrow also wrote of the incident. In her memoir, My Life with Bonnie and Clyde, she wrote that “it was Mary O’Dare, Hamilton’s girlfriend, who drove a wedge between Barrow and Raymond Hamilton. Barrow told Hamilton to dump his girlfriend or leave. Hamilton left.”{4}

It was not until April of that year that the public learned of the split. In a letter sent to Dallas attorney Albert Baskett, dated April 5, 1934, Hamilton asserted that he hadn’t been with Clyde Barrow since the Lancaster bank robbery. The letter, which was on hotel stationary, was intended to prove Hamilton had an alibi when the Barrow gang had committed a murder in Oklahoma.{5}

The R.P. Henry & Sons Bank was the first official bank of Lancaster. It was founded by Rene Paul Henry in 1889. The bank was located in southeast corner of the historic town square.{6} It was apparently one of only six daylight bank robberies by the Barrow gang in 1934 and the only one in Texas.{7}  The historic building was hit head on in the devasting tornado of April 1994 and was subsequently razed.

Read the articles:
“Bank Bandits, Thought to Be Barrow And Hamilton, Get $4,138 and Escape”
“Hamilton Parts Ways With Barrow, He Writes Lawyer, Remitting $100”
“Ex-Convict Bares Inside of Barrow Feud With Chum”
“Ask Death for Ray Hamilton”
“Funerals to Inscribe Finis On Bloody Saga of Outlaws”


Categories: Historical Sites, Local History |

LHS Program Chair to Lead Auxiliary Museum

Patricia at the Museum

Lancaster Historical Society is pleased to announce that member Patricia Siegfreid-Giles, LHS’s Program Chair, is now the volunteer in charge of the Lancaster’s Texas State Auxiliary Museum. Her goal is to make the museum a destination place and a vital part of the Lancaster experience. She is passionate about Lancaster, is knowledgeable about its history and is a dedicated volunteer for the city.

Patricia joined the Historical Society in 1974 and is proud of the fact that she was chosen in 1978 as one of several authors to write the first history book of Lancaster: History of Lancaster Texas 1885-1945. It was this experience, researching Lancaster’s history through original newspapers dated 1885 through 1945, which gave her an extraordinary look into the history, growth, and personality of Lancaster.

The official mission statement for the museum is “to collect, preserve and interpret the history of the State of Texas and the City of Lancaster for the educational enrichment of the public.” To accomplish that her plans include adding numerous visiting exhibits to the permanent collection, panel discussions and “Night at the Museum” events.

The Museum is open to the public Monday through Friday from 9am to 5pm and Saturday from 9am to 1pm and by appointment. The museum is located in Lancaster’s Historic District in the recently restored 1911 Interurban Building at the corner of Dallas Avenue and Main Street, 103 N. Dallas Avenue.

Categories: Information, Local History |

LHS Member Interviewed by WFAA

Lancaster Historical Society member and historical home-owner Jer Giles was interviewed by WFAA for a piece on the new Big Tex. Jer has a lot of history with Big Tex, having worked with him from the 1970’s to just this last year.

See the video.

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The Railroad Semaphore

Railroad Semaphore

Railroad Semaphore

We are fortunate that our Depot retains several of its original features. One of the most asked about is the railroad semaphore signal. A semaphore is a system of visual signaling, often using flags or lights.

On the east side of the building, trackside, the metal pole with semaphore still stands. The blade and colored lenses of the semaphore would signal engineers when they needed to stop at the Depot. Inside, the original control switch is located against the wall on a built-in desk in the former ticket office.

While our semaphore no longer signals the passing train engineers, semaphores are still used on rail lines today.

Depot Signal Pole

Railroad Signal Pole

Semaphore Control Switch

Semaphore Control Switch

Categories: Historical Sites, Local History |

September Program – Lancaster Picture Show

September 2013 Program flyer

Lancaster Picture Show – Double Feature

September’s program of the Lancaster Historical Society is a double feature on the history of the Lancaster Picture Show, also known as “the Big L” and it’s revival as the Lancaster Historic Theatre. Refreshments follow the theme with movie theatre snacks including candy bars, popcorn and lemondae. Wine courtesy of the Apartment Winery. Join us!

Sunday, September 15, 2013 at the Historic MKT Depot and Memorial Garden
3:30 pm – Refreshments, 4:00 pm – Program

If you can’t make the meeting and have stories or pictures you want to share, please contact Patricia at 972-227-5714 or email

Categories: Information |