City of Garland

From the Dallas Times Herald, January 2, 1985



Author:  Frank Burgos and Beverly Potter

When Garland historians recount 1984, the Dec. 13 tornado is sure to be at the top of their list.

But other, less dramatic events also will be remembered for their effect on the city, its government and its residents.

Over the last 12 months, the city got a new mayor and lost a city manager.  It was sued by members of its fire and police departments and by the federal Environmental Protection Agency.

A school nearly burned down, a major bond election was held, desegregation became an issue, and Garland obtained what no other city in Texas has – a municipal wave action pool.


At City Hall, the mantle of leadership was passed – several times.

Mayor Ruth Nicholson received only 30 percent of the vote in last spring’s municipal election and was forced into a runoff with Charles Matthews, the top vote getter.  Matthews emerged victorious and was sworn in last May.

The city bureaucracy also experienced a turnover in leadership.  In September, Fred Greene, city manager for more than five years, resigned without explanation.  The council named Assistant City Manager Dean Ransow as the acting top administrator and is still seeking a permanent replacement.

And after 20 years of service as city secretary, Aleta Watson announced her retirement last month.  She plans to leave City Hall Jan. 31.

The city’s building inspection division was tarnished in June when an inspector was fired after admitting he accepted bribes from a home construction company official.

Garland voters passed eight of 10 propositions in the largest bond election in the city’s history Oct. 13.  More than $88 million was raised for street and drainage improvements, public safety,  parks and recreation facilities, and other items.

Also in October, the City Council approved a utility rate increase for water, sewer and electric consumers.  But the council also cut taxes 0.7 percent for fiscal year 1984-85 after approving a $196 million budget in August.

Besides squabbles with the police department over promotions and the fire department over pay, city officials had legal problems on another front.

The EPA in February sued Garland officials for allegedly failing to meet deadlines to clean up Duck Creek and Rowlett Creek waste-water treatment plants.  Garland, in turn, sued the EPA for $25 million, claiming the agency was negligent in approving plans for Duck Creek and had no right to sue Garland over the missed deadlines.  Early in September, though, the council agreed to spend $11 million to modernize Duck Creek.

A water facility of a different kind opened in May.  That month, city officials cut the ribbon on the state’s only wave action pool owned and operated by a city.  The pool at Audubon Park had been the object of intense criticism from residents and city Council members.


The courts were kept busy this year with suits and counter suits between the city and its police and fire departments.

Late in 1983, Garland firefighters launched a campaign for higher pay, convincing a state district court to order a referendum on the issue.

Voters went to the polls Jan. 21 and narrowly approved the raise.  Meanwhile Greene reprimanded Fire Chief Bob Burkhart for dismissing a fire inspector who publicly opposed the pay increase.  The inspector was reinstated.

Also in 1984 the previously all-white and all-male fire department hired a woman and two blacks as a result of an affirmative action plan adopted by the city.  The three new firefighters started in early October.

Personnel controversies also boiled over in the police department.  Samuel Allen, a 10-year member, sued the city for a promotion from officer to personnel officer, a lieutenant’s position.  Allen won the promotion but was dismissed after allegedly interfering in an investigation.

City officials then hired Allen as a fire inspector.  But members of the Firefighters Association balked, charging in a suit that Allen was not qualified for the job.

The case has yet to be settled, but Allen is working as an inspector for the fire department.

The city was able to settle another police personnel dispute.  Former Assistant Police Chief Bob Wade received an undisclosed amount of money from the city to drop his suit challenging his 1982 suspension for supposedly leaking secret police documents to a citizens group.

Meanwhile, the city equipped its police cruisers with computers to cut down on a communications backlog and planned a reorganization of the department’s patrol and criminal investigation divisions that will begin this month.


The effect of last summer’s state education bill and school desegregation dominated local education in 1984.

Garland Supt. Eli Douglas emerged as a leader of a statewide group of school officials who vowed to change portions of the school law during the 1985 session of the Legislature.  Among other things, the group objected to what they called disruptive discipline procedures and lower class sizes.

Last spring, a federal judge, who 14 years ago approved the district’s desegregation plan, said the racial balance in Garland schools was “not what it ought to be” and predicted the plan would not withstand a court challenge.

As a result, the U.S. Justice Department challenged the plan and asked Garland for voluntary changes.  School officials reacted by extending the school day with special programs at four minority schools, hoping to attract more white students, and by planning to bus black students to white schools.  Black parents, however, rejected both ideas.  Freedom-of-Choice will continue for the new school year, school officials said.

In 1984, as in other years, the schools were plagued by vandals.  Perhaps the greatest damage occurred in February at Hillside Elementary School where a three-alarm fire set by an arsonist destroyed the library and several classrooms.  The school was restored in late October.  The arsonist was never found, police said.

In the classrooms, 1984 was the year of the computer.  Garland spent $6 million for computers in elementary and secondary schools.

City agencies weren’t the only source of news in 1984.

A meningitis scare arose when a 15-year-old boy died in February from the disease.  Hundreds of people received preventative treatments.

Former Garland Justice of the Peace Theran M. Ward was fined and placed on probation after he was convicted of driving while intoxicated in March.

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People opened a chapter in Garland in April.

Two Garland sisters were arrested and convicted for trying to hire a man to kill their husbands.  The women approached a man in a bar with the idea.  The man promptly notified police.

Rev. W.J. Davis was sued by members of his congregation to leave the church.  He and other congregation members started a new church in October.

A Garland woman was convicted in November for bilking nearly 700 people in a silver reclamation scheme.

And Christine Donelson, a 14-year-old baby sitter, saved the life of an 8-month-old boy with some quick life-saving techniques in November.

From Garland Daily News, June 17, 1973




Author:  Marsha Zapp

Father of Garland – A portrait of A.H. Garland, for whom the City of Garland was named, was presented to Mayor Don Raines this week by Bill Hadskey, right, president of the Local History and Genealogical Society.  Garland, an Attorney General under President Grover Cleveland, has another city, Garland City, Ark., named for his family.

When Garland’s Landmark Museum opens its doors in September, museum goers will view a painting of Augustus Hill Garland, the city’s name sake, thanks to the efforts of a Garland artist.

The painting was presented to Mayor Don Raines this week by Bill Hadskey, president of the Local History and Genealogical Society, on behalf of the painter, Ben Thompson of 613 Carpenter.

Thompson, a machinist by vocation and a painter by avocation, creates western landscapes and portraits.  His works have been shown at the Witte Museum in San Antonio and been critiqued by the curator of the Amon Carter Museum of Western Art in Fort Worth.

The subject of Thompson’s gift to the city was painted from the negative of a photograph of Garland.  The original, believed to be the only picture ever published in this area of the United States, was discovered in Dallas by Mrs. G.L. Davis.

Garland evolved as a name for the post office to serve the budding communities of Embree and Duck Creek, which were having a feud during the 1880’s over who would get the U.S. post office in this area.

Duck Creek first received the post office when Santa Fe put a rail line through.  The post office was transferred to Embree, located near Walnut and Fifth, when Missouri-Kansas-Texas came through.  The situation finally resulted in a U.S. judge asking a U.S. Congressman to travel to what is now Garland and settle the dispute.

The solution agreed upon was to locate the post office midway between Duck Creek, near present Central Park, and Embree and to name it for the Attorney General of the United States, Mr. Garland.

Mr. Garland has a colorful biography as the story of the naming of Garland.  Born in Tennessee in 1832, his family migrated to the Arkansas frontier a year later, settling near the present-day Garland City on the Red River.

The city namesake attended school in Kentucky, where he studied law and then returned home to Arkansas to teach school.

Ambitious of becoming a U.S. Attorney General, Garland favored the Constitutional Union ticket in the 1860 presidential election and was selected a presidential elector for John Bell and Edward Everett.  He was also admitted to practice before the Supreme Court in December of that year.

A year later saw Garland leading the conservatives in opposing radical action at the Secession Convention.  Opposing secession, the lawyer reluctantly yielded and voted for secession, becoming a zealous supporter of the Confederate cause.  He later aided in arguments incident to the forming of the provision Constitution of the Confederacy.

The native Tennessean served in the Confederate Army, served in the Confederate Congress, and at the close of the war, returned to his law practice in Little Rock, Ark.

However, he met obstacles in practicing law following the war, since the U.S. Congress had passed a law prohibiting those who had aided the South from practicing in the U.S. courts without taking the “Iron-Clad” loyalty oath.  In 1865 Garland pled his case before the Supreme Court, believing that Congress had no constitutional right to pass such a law.  He won his argument.

Garland eventually won election to the U.S. Senate in 1867, but was not permitted to take his seat owing to the post-war Republican set-up.  He was again elected to the U.S. Senate in 1877 and was re-elected with little opposition.  He resigned when he was appointed Attorney General under President Grover Cleveland during Cleveland’s first term, 1885-1889.

The attorney general died in Washington, D.C., in 1899 while practicing law before the Supreme Court.

From Garland Local History & Genealogical Society, Volume 5-Number 2, July 1977


Nov. 1, 1914


Terms and Conditions Under Which

Service is Furnished by

This Exchange

The Telephone Sets furnished to subscribers shall be carefully used in accordance with the rules of the management.

This service furnished is for the subscriber's immediate family and bona fide employees, and a charge of twenty-five cents for each call to others.

We do not guarantee the uninterrupted working of our lines or instruments and are in no way responsible for failure to work due to electrical disturbances, malicious mischief or discontinuances of service when reconstructing lines, or any other improvement, unless said service is discontinued for more than thirty-six working hours.

For non-payment of bills for local or long-distance the management holds authority to discontinue service after having given written notice.

If you do not desire to have long distance service charged to your phone, serve notice to the manager in writing. Otherwise, all calls originating at your telephone will be charged to you.

No rebates will be given for inferior service unless said service lasts for more than thirty-six working hours after written notice is given management.

When a telephone is installed it is located as desired by the subscriber and when moved thereafter is done at the expense of the subscriber. This expense is actual time of work and material used in wiring.

When reporting trouble do not simply tell the operator, but call No. 0 and someone will always be on hand to adjust your complaint.

Yours Truly,

Garland Telephone Exchange


It is our aim and desire to give the best service possible, and we admit that the best is none too good for you, but for us to give you service we must have your co-operation and assistance. By this we mean that we expect to extend every courtesy possible and you in turn to extend it to us.

One way of doing this is to use your directory, obtain the number of the party you desire connection with and give it to the operator. For No. 112 you should call one-one-two, not saying one hundred twelve. By doing the above you will make it so the operator can give you faster and more accurate service than if you call in the ordinary way, saying, "Give me the gin." or "Give me the McCallum's residence.", etc.

Always call by number and you will find your service fifty percent better, and enable us to change operators to allow vacations and in case of sickness.

There is yet another way of helping, therefore, from now on we will not permit any one holding a social conversation to be connected for more than five minutes, when another party is calling for the line.

Garland Telephone Exchange


Author: Lowell Lindsey

For older residents of Garland, May 9, 1927 is a date few can forget. On that date at 3:10 A. M. a tornado dropped from the sky and tore its way through the northwest corner of the city, demolishing over two blocks of homes before swerving back to the southeast where it struck again in the smaller Community of Nevada, Texas. In all, fourteen lives were lost in Garland including Mrs. Missouri Nicholson and her son and former mayor, S. E. Nicholson.

It was this tragedy in loss of lives and property that was to bring about the establishment of the Nicholson Memorial Library here in Garland.

The original Building, only recently demolished, was purchased by W. R. Nicholson of Longview, Texas, as a memorial to his mother and brother. Donated to the City in February, 1933, it was to serve as the City’s library until April, 1966. The library was originally established as a volunteer project by various groups and individuals and was opened for public use on December 23, 1933, with a collection of some 2,344 books. Mrs. J. H. White was named Librarian, a volunteer post which she held for about 2 ½ years. She was succeeded by Miss Edith Tally and later by Miss Mary Catherine Tucker.

In 1942 Mrs. Olin Talley transferred within the City from another position to become the first paid librarian. She was to serve in this position until March, 1965. Under her leadership the library was to grow and develop during the post war years.

World War II and the economic boom following brought tremendous changes to Garland. With increased demands being placed on all City services, permission was sought and obtained for the library to join the Dallas County Library program. Within this program, the County furnished permanent and revolving book collections as well as consultant services.

This participation with the County was to continue into the early 1960’s; however, the library was designated as a department within the City government’s structure in the 1956-57 budget. With this designation and resultant funding the library’s growth began to accelerate.

By the early 1960’s it was becoming obvious that the building could no longer provide adequate space for developing services and provisions were made for moving the library to new quarters.

In March, 1965 Lowell Lindsey was hired as Library Director as Mrs. Talley was nearing municipal retirement. Under his direction the old City Hall building at 504 State Street was remodeled as interim home for the library until new quarters provided under a bond program could be built. The new quarters were dedicated during National Library Week in April 1966. During the next four years the library was to begin an unprecedented growth period which included expansion of the book collection, the introduction of specialized business services, microform services and others needed to serve a growing city.

In September, 1970, the 20,000 square feet new facility was opened for service and in February, 1971, bonds were approved to open branch library facilities and further enlarge the main library.

This program along with growing use of the library’s services will ensure the City’s library program will continue to expand in the future.