Cedar Hill Museum of History

Cedar Street looking west from Main (about 100 years ago)
 

Where the past meets the present

Cedar Hill, first known as the cedar brakes, was founded around 1846 by a small group of settlers from the Peters Colony. They traveled to the Dallas area of North Texas on horseback and by ox-drawn wagon following trails beaten into existence by Indians, buffalo and explorers. They came seeking a place to build their homes, to socialize, worship and conduct business.

Attracted to the area by its lush natural beauty, the elevation and rocky slopes provided settlers a panoramic lookout and protection from intruders. The area also offered dense forests, rich Blackland soil, abundant creeks and streams, and opportunity.

Our forefathers turned this rugged territory into the thriving city it is today through hard work, ingenuity, foresight and sheer determination — a city steeped in family values, tradition and rich in history. See our page on the City of Cedar Hill website.

If you would like to join the Museum, download our membership application. The Cedar Hill Museum of History meets the first Tuesday of each month at 607 Cedar Street.

See our displays at the Cedar Hill Government Center, the Zula B. Wylie Library, and at the new Babe's Chicken Dinner House.

Outstanding Citizen – November 2011

W.S. Permenter grew up on a farm in Shelby County, Texas.  In 1946, at the age of 17, he joined the U.S.Army and served in Japan for 18 months, marrying his high school sweetheart, Ann, when he returned home.  Utilizing the G.I. Bill of Rights he received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, Texas.

He taught near Shelbyville for 5 years and in 1956 he and Ann moved to Cedar Hill (population 750) where he taught vocational agriculture and their daughter, Nancy, attended school.

For 11 years he was Ag teacher, then became Middle School Principal for 15 years.  He was well known for his ability to discipline with love.  In 1981 he became District Superintendent, eliminating debt and improving the bond rating.  He retired in 1985 having been with the CHISD 29 years.

He and Ann held many positions with civic groups through the years.  He served as Mayor two terms and he and Ann were founding members of the Chamber of Commerce and the Education Foundation  He developed a good working relationship between the city and CHISD which has continued through the years.

 He and Ann were instrumental in saving many of the historic structures in the town square.  During the 1980-90’s they operated Permenter Real Estate where they found selling Cedar Hill easy as they believed it to be the best place to call home.

W.S. and Ann traveled (mostly by RV) throughout every state of the U.S. and 8 foreign countries before moving to Forest, Virginia to be near their daughter and family.  In 2007 W.S.passed to his reward.  Cedar Hill has indeed been blessed that the Permenter family call Cedar Hill home.

Outstanding Citizen – October 2011

Ann Permenter grew up on a farm in Shelby County, Texas and finished high school at Shelbyville High School in 1946.  She graduated from Meadows-Draughan Business College in Shreveport, La, and worked in Shreveport until W.S. completed his military assignment.  They were married soon after his return.

In 1948 they moved to Huntsville, Texas where W.S. finished college and Ann worked at Texas Prison System in the records department.  She was a “stay at home mom” for a few years before the family moved to Cedar Hill where they daughter, Nancy, attended school.  Ann worked for the Cedar Hill school system for about four years, then for E & E Manufacturing almost 10 years.  She then worked for several accounting firms in Dallas, and with Henry S. Miller Real Estate.  After Nancy left for college, Ann attended Northlake College and received an Associate Degree in Real Estate.  She worked for several realtors before she and W.S. opened Permenter Real Estate.

It was during her studies in real estate that she became ambitious about the restoration of downtown Cedar Hill.  She says this was the most exciting work she was ever associated with.  So many dear friends were as enthusiastic and cooperative in the projects as she and W.S. were, and they were the encouragement needed to get the jobs done.  Ann says after their “next retirement” they traveled by RV throughout America.

Ann’s most appreciated claim to fame (aside from being married to W.S.) is the “Certificate of Commendation for Distinguished Service in the Field of Historic Preservation” awarded to her by the Texas Historical Commission in November 1980.  Ann says this certificate could not have been achieved without the wonderful Cedar Hill citizens.  Though Ann now resides with her daughter in Forest, Virginia she is still considered a most beloved citizen of Cedar Hill whom we we have been dearly blessed to have a part of our community.

Outstanding Citizen – September 2011

Frankie Lee served as Cedar Hill City Secretary for 24 years with more than 30 years of employment with the City, the longest serving employee at the time of her retirement in 2008.  She is a first-hand witness to the growth of Cedar Hill which grew from a population of 6,849 in 1980 to about 46,000 in 2008.

Frankie’s great-grandfather, Newton A. Carrell, and grandfather, John S.A. Carrell settled their families in the Cedar Hill area around 1871.  Newton A. Carrell served as Dallas County Justice of the Peace for several years in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s.  Her parents, James and Faye Carrell, owned and operated a wholesale dairy on 77-acre farm south of town for 24 years, then raised cattle after closing the dairy. James delivered mail for the Cedar Hill Post Office for 22 years.

Frankie is a member of First United Methodist Church of Cedar Hill, where the Carrell family has a long history of service dating back to the Charter Membership of her grandfathers.  Frankie is a member of the Cedar Hill Lions Club, serving on the Board of Directors, former Lion Tamer and long-time Chair of the Annual Pancake Breakfast.  She was the Cedar Hill Lions Club “Grass Roots Lion” for 2007-08 and “Lion of the Year” for 2009-10.  She serves as a Trustee and volunteer for the Cedar Hill Museum of History and is a member of the Texas Track and Field Officials Assoc., helping officiate track and field meets in Texas each year, including the annual Texas Relays at UT.

A 1966 graduate of Cedar Hill High School, Frankie attended UTA and is a graduate of the “Leadership Southwest” class of 1996-97.  She has two daughters, Leslie Lee and Melissa Jett, and three grandsons, Jerod Godwin, James Jett and Grayson Jett.  Frankie’s late husband, Charles Lee, was a building inspector for Cedar Hill many years.

Frankie was an active Member of the Texas Municipal Clerks Assoc., N TX Municipal Clerks Assoc.,and International Institute of Municipal Clerks.  In 2005, she was a Municipal Clerks’ Honor Roll “Honoree.”  She received continuing education in municipal government through these organizations and the Office of Secretary of State as well as the Office of Texas Attorney General.

At her retirement reception, Frankie was presented the City of Cedar Hill Official Seal that hung behind the dais in the old city hall, which she promptly donated to the Cedar Hill Historical Society.  She expressed great pleasure in having an opportunity to serve the citizens of Cedar Hill.   Cedar Hill citizens have been blessed to have Frankie Lee  as a part of the community.

Outstanding Citizen – August 2011

Chris Rose, D.V.M., a graduate of Texas A & M University, has served pets and owners in Cedar Hill for 28 years.  Many remember the small house on Texas Street where he opened his veterinary practice, Central Animal Clinic.  In 2004 the practice was moved to its current location at Highway 67 and Beltline Road.

Dr. Rose was Mayor (1991-96) and Councilman to Cedar Hill and has served on numerous city, school and civic committees.  He and the clinic have been involved as sponsors of the Pet Show at Country Day on the Hill which is always well attended and enjoyed.  He serves on the board of the Tri-City Animal Shelter and works closely with them in meeting the needs of many pets.

Dr. Rose has seen this small community grow into a thriving city in which he’s proud to have been a part.  His wife, Diane, is an elementary teacher and has been with the Cedar Hill ISD for 19 years.

Our community is blessed Chris and family call Cedar Hill home.

Outstanding Citizen – July 2011

 The history of Cedar Hill is no mystery to Dr. Joe Potter.  In 1865 the Potter history began in Cedar Hill and has continued through today.  Reared in Cedar Hill when there were only about 300 people in town, and with a heritage of grandparents, great-grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins, it was only natural that Dr. Potter would grow up loving this community.

Family businesses were in his blood working in his fathers lumber yard and before that his grandmother’s downtown grocery.  In those days, you knew everyone and everyone knew you.

So when it came time to settle down after college and dental school, the only place Dr. Potter could choose to set up his practice was Cedar Hill.  This was no surprise to his friends since they had often heard him refer to Cedar Hill as the “hub of the universe”.  And so it began….thirty nine years of practicing dentistry and serving the people of the community he cares for so much.

He and his wife, Sylvia, set up their home in Cedar Hill.  Sylvia taught for seven years at Bray and Plummer Elementary Schools following in the footsteps of Dr. Potter’s mother who taught here for 25 years.  They and their children, Clay aand Claire, have many happy memories of attending church at Cedar Hill Church of Christ where Dr. Potter was a Deacon, enjoying the lifestyle of Cedar Hill through city activities like Country Day on the Hill and establishing lifetime friendships both new and old.  They have always considered it a beautiful place, much like the hill country around Austin.

Dr. Potter invested both his time and belief in the city of Cedar Hill as a wonderful place to live.  He served on the City Council from 1980-1984 and was on the board of Directors for the Cedar Hill National Bank.  In 1976, he and Dr. Clark built their first office together moving from the old bank building downtown.  It was during those next years that Dr. Potter went on to serve as President of the Chamber of Commerce, Sec/Treasurer of the Chamber, Chairman of both the American Heart Assoc.of Cedar Hill and the United Way of Cedar Hill.

When Lake Joe Pool was being considered, Dr. Potter attended a Senate/House Subcommittee on Appropriations meeting in Washington, DC representing the citizens of Cedar Hill.  A favorite keepsake is the picture of Dr. Potter and his son standing in the dry lake bottom the day the dam was dedicated.

Today Dr. Potter practices dentistry in his newest investment in the community, his new office on Belt Line Road.  The office was built with the belief that the people of Cedar Hill will continue to care for and support each other.  And so, the history continues.

     Cedar Hill is blessed the Potter family continues to make Cedar Hill their home.

Outstanding Citizen – June 2011

Brenda Russell was born in Dallas in 1948 to Nettie and Harvey Rose and was the youngest of 10 children.  Due to her mother’s illness Brenda lived with her oldest sister Leona and her husband, Billie Ray Chambers in Cedar Hill.  The Chambers family was very important in her life.

When she became school age, she lived with her parents attending school in Oak Cliff and spending weekends and summers in Cedar Hill.  In 1964 she moved with her sister’s family to attend Cedar Hill High School.  When her brother in law was transfered she lived with Joyce and Willard Murdock to complete school in Cedar Hill.

Brenda married Allen Russell in 1966 and they have two sons, David and Christopher. Brenda worked in banking until she began working for the tax office of the City of Cedar Hill in 1978.  The town’s population was 1,800 with 4,200 tax accounts in the City and School District at the time.  She was named tax assessor  /collector for the City and School and was involved in the complicated matter of taking land for the Lake which included extensive agricultural backgrounds on the properties.

In 2003, after 25 years of service she retired with Cedar Hill’s population having grown to 46,000 and the accounts to over 16,000.

Brenda received her education through the State of Texas earning certifications as a Registered Tax Assessor / Collector, Certified Tax Administrator, and Certified School Administrator.  She served on many TML and State committees during her terms of office as:  President of Texas School Assessors Assoc., President of School Administrator’s Assoc., Chairman of the Certified School Tax Administrator.

Brenda believes in giving back and served as:  Education Instructor for State Tax Administrators (teaching administrative classes), Curriculum Committee for Tax A/C for the State (first working with Texas A&M; to write curriculum for those entering business of taxation).
President of CH Historical Society in 1986, Fire Department Auxiliary (actor in both fundraising plays), First ladies softball team, Member of Epsilon Sigma Alpha Charitable Sorority, Penn Farm Committee (serving on the first clean up), Writer of the Articles and Amendments for the CH Senior Citizen Organization and assisted County to bring Meals on Wheels to Cedar Hill senior citizens.

Since retirement Brenda enjoys taking care of the five grand children, Reagan, Jonah, Raylee, Allyson and Lindsey.  Cedar Hill is blessed to have Brenda and Allen continue to call Cedar Hill home.

Outstanding Citizen – April 2011

Brenda Kaye Raye was born in Cedar Hill in 1943.  Her father’s great grandfather settled on the southern edge of Cedar Hill in 1855 and her mother’s family settled in the Duncanville area in the 1860’s.

Brenda’s grandfather, “Cat” Switzer, attended Cedar Hill school in the 1910’s and Brenda along with her four siblings began and completed school in Cedar Hill.

Brenda married Marvin Taylor and they have three daughters, Donna, Sloan and Tessa.  Brenda has a grandson, Tristan, who is the 7th generation and two great grand children, Joseph and Kelsie, who are the 8th generation to attend school in Cedar Hill.

For many years Brenda was involved with the Volunteer Fire Dept.Wives Auxiliary who sold food at the annual Old Settler’s Reunion to raise funds.  In 1992 Brenda was a key volunteer in the restoration of the Pleasant Valley Cemetery where many of her ancestors are buried.  She acquired a Texas Historical Marker for the Cemetery in 1995.  Brenda was an avid fundraiser in the restoration and preservation of Penn Farm and helped with hayrides, cook outs, ice cream socials and the building of a “spirit” float.  Brenda was instrumental in the opening of the History Resource Center (1995-2010) at the Zula B. Wylie Library.  Brenda has been a “co-organizer” of the annual Cedar Hill School Reunion for many years.  Last years event at the Bray Elementary gym brought over 300 alumni together.

Brenda’s passion for Cedar Hill history is deep and she continues to build her collection of documents and photographs, sharing them with the Cedar Hill Historical Society and assisting the Museum in the acquisition of Cedar Hill artifacts.  Brenda is greatly loved and appreciated by the entire community.

Outstanding Citizen – May 2011

Archie Hall was born and raised in Dallas.  During the 1930’s when he was young he came to Cedar Hill with his parents to visit a friend.  He always remembered how beautiful it was and in 1947 he bought some property on the west side on the edge of the escarpment.  He loves Cedar Hill’s beauty and small town closeness.

In 1950, while he was an engineer with Vought Aircraft in Grand Prairie, he designed and built his first home in Cedar Hill (population 1250 at the time).  One entire wall was glass panels overlooking the valley.  Word got around that a night club was being built and there was grave concern of dancing and gambling.

Arch is a member of the Cedar Hill First United Methodist Church and has two daughters, one son and several grand and great grand children.  Arch and his wife, Amanda, opened A & A Real Estate in 1972.  He promoted Cedar Hill at the National Association of Builders where all were amazed the beautiful Valley was here in the Dallas area.  In 1984 they bought the building at the southwest corner of Cedar & Broad in the old town square to operate the realty business.  This had been the home of Shorty Hood’s BBQ for many years.
  
Arch was instrumental in halting the effort to turn 1200 acres on the west side of Cedar Hill into a seven city landfill.  It is now Lake Ridge Estates.  He went on to become President of the Chamber of Commerce,  Mayor of Cedar Hill, chairman of Planning and Zoning, Highway 67 Transportation Committee rep and Chairman of the 1984 Comprehensive Plan.

Arch enjoys life in Cedar Hill and the many friendships he has developed.  There is not much about Cedar Hill he can’t tell you….from the escarpment, towers, lake, growth, preservation to Country Day.  Shortly after Amanda passed away, Arch semi-retired and sold the business to Clark Stephenson.  Celebrating its 30th year in operation in 2011 the business was moved to 909 W. Belt Line.  Thank you to Arch Hall for being such a great citizen and community activist in Cedar Hill.

Welcome

Where the past meets the present

Cedar Hill, first known as the cedar brakes, was founded around 1846 by a small group of settlers from the Peters Colony. They traveled to the Dallas area of North Texas on horseback and by ox-drawn wagon following trails beaten into existence by Indians, buffalo and explorers. They came seeking a place to build their homes, to socialize, worship and conduct business.

Attracted to the area by its lush natural beauty, the elevation and rocky slopes provided settlers a panoramic lookout and protection from intruders. The area also offered dense forests, rich Blackland soil, abundant creeks and streams, and opportunity.

Our forefathers turned this rugged territory into the thriving city it is today through hard work, ingenuity, foresight and sheer determination — a city steeped in family values, tradition and rich in history. See our page on the City of Cedar Hill website.

If you would like to join the Museum, download our membership application. The Cedar Hill Museum of History board meets the first Monday of each month at 6:30 pm at 607 Cedar Street.  All members are welcome to attend.
See our displays at the Cedar Hill Government Center, the Zula B. Wylie Library, and at Babe’s Chicken Dinner House.

Outstanding Citizen – March, 2011

Dr. Frank Crawford was Cedar Hill’s town doctor from 1952 through 1975. He made house calls in the middle of the night and gave student athletes free physicals. He was the first President of the Chamber of Commerce in 1965 after having been City Councilman in 1960-62.

Among other civic activities he was City Health Official for Cedar Hill throughout his career. Crawford Park just off Straus road was named in his honor and he was honored by the City of Cedar Hill with the Distinctive Character Lifetime Achievement Award in January, 2011.

Dr. Crawford was a Staff Physician at the SMU Health Center from 1975 through 1979. He originated the Family Practice Residency Program for Methodist Hospital and Southwestern Medical School of Dallas in 1979-81. He resumed his practice in Cedar Hill in the 1980’s.

He and his wife, Elizabeth, who was raised in Duncanville, have been active in the First United Methodist Church for many years. His daughter and family reside in Midlothian and son and family in Dallas. Shortly after the much loved Elizabeth moved to a retirement home with alzheimers, Frank’s brother from Houston moved to Cedar Hill.

Our community is priviliged to have the Frank Crawford family call Cedar Hill home.

Outstanding Citizens – January & February 2011

Joe and Wanda Pitt have been a great asset to the community for years and have worked diligently with the School, City and Historical Society to help Cedar Hill maintain it high quality of life. Cedar Hill is blessed they continue to make Cedar Hill home.

JOE PITT was born in 1942 and has spent his lifetime in Cedar Hill except while obtaining his Architectural Engineering degree at UT Austin shortly after having graduated third in his high school class. He joined the firm of Nagler Engineers in 1967 which later became TMBP Consulting Engineers where he is a partner. Joe specializes in structural and civil engineering and provided structural design for many schools in Cedar Hill, as well as many major structures in Dallas. He also designed the connector bridges at the Reunion parking between the Jefferson St. and Houston St. viaducts.

Joe has been active in civic affairs many years having served on the Cedar Hill School Board 1974 to 1989 and he continues to serve on the Building Code Appeals and Advisory Board since 1989. His evaluation report of the escarpment area of Cedar Hill resulted in escarpment preservation legislated by the Cedar Hill City Council. He is a lifetime member of the Cedar Hill Historical Society and is active in the Rotary Club. His hobbies are antiques, photography and computers.

Joe’s stepchildren, Elaine Gage Gatlin, John Gage, Carolyn Gage Chaffin and Linda Gage, all graduated from Cedar Hill High School as did his daughter, Alison Pitt Karnes. Joe married Wanda in 1988 and they reside in the old barn his parents converted to a home in 1945.

WANDA PITT was born in 1943 and raised in Duncanville, Texas, the daughter of Jack Stanton and Carol Phillips. She first met Joe Pitt at church in 1954. At the age of 14 her family moved to San Jose, California. Wanda attended colleges in San Jose, Pensacola, FL, Meridian, MS, Sandiego, CA and Seattle, WA. She raised her children, Roger, Leigh and Elaine Harrison, in Seattle, WA where she was a teacher at Highline Community College. Upon returning to Texas in 1984, Wanda obtained a degree in Psychology at UT-Dallas and was employed by the Texas Rehabilitation Commission.

Wanda has been active in civic work throughout her life in California,Colorado,Washington and Texas, and was one of the first volunteers to Sesame Street in San Francisco in the 1960’s. She served as President of the Des Moines, Washington Chamber of Commerce in 1982. Wanda, a lifetime member of the Cedar Hill Historical Society, held active board positions from 1986 through 1996. She served on the Cedar Hill Comprehensive Planning Committee and helped write the History of Cedar Hill Book, published in 2002. She researched and documented the history of the First Methodist Church of Cedar Hill and obtained Texas Historical Certification of its first cemetery now named Crawford’s Tornado (1856) Graveyard.

In addition to gardening, cooking and restoring antiques, Wanda is an avid genealogist and traced her Phillips/Stallings family to th Revoluntionary War in North Carolina, descendants of Nicholas Stallings of Jamestown, Virginia 1635. She is also a 6th great grand niece of President Zachary Taylor and a cousin to President James Madison.

Outstanding Citizen of the Month – December, 2010

Shirley Switzer Hendricks was born in Dallas in 1946, and grew up in Oak Cliff graduating in 1964. She attended cosmetology school during high school, received a hair dresser license in 1969 and worked in that capacity for a few years. She married, had two children and worked several jobs in the Dallas area.

In 1979 she re-married a “Cedar Hill Boy”, Jerry Hendricks. In 1983 they built a home on the homestead of her paternal grandparents on Houston St. (legally called “Original Town”). In the 1940’s her grandfather, “Cat” Switzer, was the first volunteer fire chief in Cedar Hill. Shirley’s grandmother, Vester, helped organize the “Women’s Firefighters Auxiliary” group that assisted the firemen by bringing food and drinks to the men as they fought fires. They also helped homeless families with clothing, food and temporary housing.

Shirley’s paternal family continues back to the 1860’s, with some of the early settlers living in a cave on the west side of the escarpment when they first arrived in the area. Jerry is a member of the A. A. Hendricks family that settled in Cedar Hill in the 1840’s. A. A. Hendricks had a business in Old Town making farm equipment. This town is definitely in both of their heritages making Cedar Hill feel just like home.

Shirley worked for the Cedar Hill Schools for eight years as manager in the Food Service Dept. In 1996 she purchased “The Gingerbread House” restaurant and developed the “Bed & Breakfast” upstairs in the 1884 R. A. Roberts home on Broad Street. The Roberts home has two historical markers, one for the house and one for the community development of the railroad by Dr. R. A. Roberts.

Shirley worked as a labor of love for two and one-half years compiling, editing and helping write the Cedar Hill History Book which was published in 2001. The book is over 400 pages with more than 650 photos. The book was written and published for the historic education of the citizens of Cedar Hill and as a fund raising project for the Cedar Hill Historical Society which evolved into the Cedar Hill Museum of History. Copies of the history book are still available through the Museum or the Library. She worked on several boards for the city and serves as a historian for Cedar Hill.

We are especially proud Shirley and her family continue to make Cedar Hill home.

Our Next Event

The Cedar Hill Museum of History board meets the second Monday of each month at 6:30 pm at 607 Cedar Street. 

Hours and Location

(972) 293-3806
 

607 Cedar Street
Cedar Hill, Texas 75104
in Historic Downtown
 

11am-3pm
Friday-Saturday
and by appointment
(Call 214 769-8425)

Now on Display

Charles E. Finsley
Memorial Fossil Exhibit

Friday through Saturday
11 am to 3 pm
by Alan Peters,
Paleontologist

Paleontologist Alan Peters with Museum visitor Josh Porter