History in a Pecan Shell
Dugansville after the first settler - Daniel Dugan who came
to the area in 1835. In 1871 it had enough people to warrant a name
and Dugansville was selected. The name was changed in 1879 for reasons
Bells was connected to the outside world by two railroad connections
in the 1870s - the Texas and Pacific running East to West and the
Missouri, Kansas and Texas railroad which was the first to enter Texas
from outside the state.
By 1900, Bells had a healthy population of 400 and a weekly newspaper,
plus the usual assortment of business like hotels, grocers and blacksmiths.
Prior to the Great Depression, Bells hit the 600 population mark before
entering the period of decline felt by most Texas
Bells High School in Bells TX....it was built in 1935. It is no longer
used and is empty at this time."
- Stephen Taylor, May 19, 2006
"Mile of Dollars" Church
You will probably hear about the "Mile of Dollars" Church. It's
the Methodist church that burned to the ground in 1950. In fact,
I may as well give you the story as written up many years ago and
is always used in the history of the church. ... There are still
quite a few people in the church who participated in the events.
Here it is - with some notations of my own:
"The church was established in 1880 at Bailey Junction in northwest
Bells. Rev. A.L. Miller, great grandfather of Lois Everheart (who
is still an active member), was the first pastor. In 1889, the church
moved to south Bells on land given by Mr. W.B. Dugan (g or gg? -grandfather
of another very active member).
Day, 1950, Rev. Baxton Bryant (Rev. Bryant passed away in 1996 at
his home in NC) was burning trash when sparks caught in a high wind
and ignited the dry grass. In a matter of minutes the grass was
a torch destroying the church building. Only a pile of ashes was
left. The church, insured for only $5,000, needed twenty-five thousand
dollars to rebuild. The congregation pledged $10,000, yet an additional
$10,000 was still needed.
and his friend, Rev. Ashley Jamison, Methodist minister of Whitewright,
had the idea of finding 10,000 people to donate one dollar each,
which after much figuring was determined to measure one mile. This
"mile of dollars" idea received nation-wide publicity, including
an article in Life Magazine. Donations and best wishes came from
all over the United States and foreign countries.
On May 6, 1951
a mile of dollars was strung out along U.S. Highway 69 south toward
Whitewright. The first service in the new brick "Mile of Dollars"
church was held January 6, 1952."
In 1980 the
church celebrated its 100th anniversary by burying a time capsule
containing, among other things, a copy of the 1951 issue of Life
Magazine with the article in it. I've never seen it but figure that
at least Fairy Ramsey (mother of the tax collector) has one. Fairy
recently celebrated her 90th birthday and kept the nursery in the
church for over 60 years until just a few months ago when she broke
her hip. I have seen a photo of the church in flames along with
an article which was published in the Sherman newspaper.
... I've always
found it to be a fascinating story - especially since I know many
of the people who were part of it. - Margie Jackson, September 22,
Escapes, in its purpose to preserve historic, endangered and vanishing
Texas, asks that anyone wishing to share their local history
and vintage/historic photos, please contact