Updated pictorial history book documents Farmers Branch's
By RUTH HAESEMEYER
Published: 26 July 2013 08:11 AM
A Farmers Branch pictorial history book set for publication this September
is more than a record of the community; it is also a community effort.
Staff of the Farmers Branch Historical Park worked for years to gather
content; the Farmers Branch Woman’s Club gave money; and longtime Farmers
Branch residents shared treasured photos and memories for the book.
“It’s just neat that given that opportunity how willing everybody was to
share part of their history that makes up the community,” said Derrick
Birdsall, superintendent of Farmers Branch Historical Park.
The book, Farmers Branch, Texas: A History in Pictures, which is available
for preorder and costs $50, is an update of Farmers Branch, Texas: A
Birdsall said the first book, published in 1996, was all but sold out by the
time he began working for the park in 1999. Interest has remained high, he
said, and a few years ago the Farmers Branch Woman’s Club presented the park
with a grant to help fund an update.
The new book includes a few of the photos from the first book, but with many
additions and full color, instead of the first book’s black-and-white pages.
“It certainly brings things a little more to life, I think,” Birdsall said.
A yearbook of the city
The new book covers Farmers Branch history from the 1840s to present day,
Birdsall said. This includes information about recent city projects and a
listing of city parks. The book also contains special sections such as a
“Then and Now” portion comparing old photographs to new ones of the same
“It’s sort of a yearbook of the city,” said Jamie Rigsby, curator of Farmers
Branch Historical Park.
In particular, the book highlights Farmers Branch residents.
“These people might not have been famous, but their lives had real texture,”
Rigsby said. “I hope that comes through in the book.”
The pictures in the book come from the park’s files and the personal
collections of community members, some of whom also helped put names to
faces in the historical images.
“It’s been a project that the Historical Park has done, for sure, but
certainly we couldn’t have done it without the help of the community,
there’s no way,” Birdsall said. “It’s definitely been a community project,
and it’ll be neat to give it back.”
Sharing Farmers Branch
George Dennis Jr. is among those who contributed photos to the project. Born
in the Gilbert House, now part of the Farmers Branch Historical Park,
Dennis, 89, has lived in Farmers Branch nearly all his life and is part of
one of its historic families.
He said his parents had a value for family history that they passed down to
him. Now, he values his family’s heritage and many old photographs that tell
stories of his family through the years. He also treasures his hometown,
where he chose to live, “because of the people.”
“Everybody helped everybody,” he said.
He remembers, as a child, watching neighbors help one another through the
“That kind of stuck with me,” he said.
Dennis’ first cousin, Harold Wayne Dennis, 82, of Carrollton, who also
provided photos for the project, also remembers that same community
“If you ran into any kind of trouble, there was always somebody there to
help you,” he said.
Harold Dennis, who was born where Brookhaven Country Club in Farmers Branch
is now located and spent almost his entire life in or near the community,
remembers a Farmers Branch that was little more than a few shops and houses
surrounded by farms. He remembers the old downtown where he and other
children loved to pay visits to Mrs. Corbitt’s grocery store for candy and
cold drinks, which they would put on their parents’ charge accounts, or play
on the steps of the depot, located next to his grandfather’s blacksmith
“It’s just old memories like that that make Farmers Branch special,” he
The community’s size and intimacy made it hard to get away with mischief,
said Sharon Marsh Cozart, 68, whose family has been in the area since 1844.
Residents didn’t hesitate to check behavior in other people’s children, and
reports of their actions traveled fast.
“You were in trouble there and you were in trouble again by the time you got
home,” Cozart said.
Cozart shared some of her cherished family photographs for Farmers Branch,
Texas: A History in Pictures. She said she hopes it will show readers what a
good community Farmers Branch is.
“And that they ought to be proud of it and want to take care of it and
support it,” she said.
FARMERS BRANCH, TEXAS: A HISTORY IN PICTURES
What: Full-color volume including more than 500 historical photographs and
To reserve a copy, visit farmersbranchtx.gov. For more information, call