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Wood County History

By LOU MALLORY — Chairperson, Wood County Historical Commission


The Life of Harry W. Meredith – Part II

For some time now, we have been seeking detailed and reliable information on the life of Harry Meredith, historically one of Mineola’s and Wood County’s most eminent citizens who became a prominent philanthropist and benefactor.

His various works have greatly benefited the city of Mineola and the county in general. This series, based on the work of Ora Bruner in her book “The Mayors of Mineola: 101 Years”, will likely extend to three, possibly four installments over the next few weeks. The material has been slightly edited for matters of style and clarity.

The Farmers State Bank remained the depository for city funds during the two years at H.W. Meredith served as mayor.

H.M. Landers, W.C. DuBose, and L.N. Bromberg served on the Board of Equalization for 1921. The city’s ad valorem tax for 1921 was set at 65 cents per $100 valuation of property.

Mayor Meredith and his commissioners hoped to pave the streets in the business district. State money was supposed to be available to assist. Though application was made, funds were not received so the paving was not accomplished at that time. However, the grading and red iron ore gravel improved the streets and provided a foundation for later work.

In July of 1920, the secretary was ordered to obtain proper blanks and a supply of dog license tags. For several months, a dog ordinance was enforced.

Mayor Meredith was certainly not against dogs. He was fond of them and usually owned an English setter. Even after he was unable to hunt birds, he acquired a fine setter which he called Jiggs. After Meredith’s death, the dog lived, until its death in 1970, with the Clarence Slayton family at 303 Krouse Street.

Clarence worked in the Meredith home for several years before World War II. He served three years in the U.S. Army and continued to work for the Meredith’s after his discharge. Clarence died in 1968 and his wife Varie continued to care for the dog until its death.

The Meredith Foundation (which will be covered later in this series) provided money for a chain link fence at the Slayton home and also paid for the dog’s food.

An ordinance which was being ignored by some was one prohibiting the firing of air rifles and sling shots within the city. The decision to enforce it was published in the Mineola Monitor along with the dog license law.

Even today parents buy guns for their children but sometimes fail to find the time to take them to the proper places to use them, or to teach them safety rules and city and state ordinances. Often children are hurt and property damaged.

Mayor Meredith instructed Secretary Bogan to write to the railroad companies and tell them that many complaints had been coming in about trains blocking streets for more than five minutes. Further, he said that if the practice continued, steps would be taken to punish those responsible for the infractions.

He also asked that the I. and G.N. Railway Company move a stock pen by their tracks which was obnoxious to those living nearby. This was done.

Secretary Bogan also wrote letters to eight citizens who had violated the fire ordinance in erecting buildings, and allowed them 20 days to correct the part in question.

In June 1921, Secretary Bogan, in his financial report, stated that he hoped to give the board information which might help them in making the tax levy for the next year. He estimated the tax roll for the year would show a valuation of about $1,250,000. With this information, the board set the tax at $1.00 per $100.00 valuation of property for 1922.

On examining the docket books of this time, it was noticed that drunkenness, affrays, and disturbing the peace was still causing arrests.
At the time, the increase in the number of automobile caused some difficulties, as reasonable speed and proper parking had to be maintained. It was necessary to pass an ordinance prohibiting drivers of cars from running over any fire hose that might be lying across a street while volunteer firemen were fighting a fire. The penalty was set at $5.00 and could be doubled on a second offense.

Like H.W. Meredith, H.A. Bowdoin was a very busy man, not only with his own business affairs, but also with other civic affairs. He was a dedicated member of both the First Methodist Church and the Masonic Lodge. His death on December 20th, 1933 was a great loss to the city of Mineola.

Harry and Henri Meredith enjoyed the social life in Mineola. Harry was a member of the Little Sandy Hunting and Fishing Club a few miles east of Mineola. He was also a charter member of the Mineola Country Club which was organized in 1929.

The club purchased the Jennings dairy farm property, and soon laid out one of the most attractive golf courses in East Texas. During the 1930s, a modern club house and a swimming pool were added..

On September 30th, 1932, Harry Meredith lost his beloved Henri. Having no children, he was alone until his half-sister Juanita Meredith left her teaching position in Kentucky and came to live in the Meredith home.

As time would allow, Harry went to his hunting and fishing club where he enjoyed duck hunting, bass fishing and fellowship with other members. He also spent some of his spare time at the golf links playing with friends such as Taylor Greer, Leonard Bruner, Dr. A.P. Buchanan, Dr. Theodore B. Reed, Emmitt Cullom, and others.

Juanita attended social affairs at the country club and other places with Harry. They often had friends at their home in the evenings for bridge and visiting. Juanita died at their home on January 19th, 1961 and was buried in the Mineola City Cemetery.

On September 21st, 1943, Harry had remarried, to Daisy Warren Nelson of Winnsboro, Texas. The ceremony was performed by his pastor, neighbor and friend, J.H. Malone, then the pastor of the First Methodist Church in Mineola. This was a good marriage and both were happy in the church and social life of the town.

Shortly after their marriage, both Harry and Daisy became interested in doing something for the children of the Methodist Home for Children in Waco, Texas. With much encouragement from Daisy, Harry had two beautiful homes built at the institution, one for boys and one for girls. Each provided space for house parents and about 22 children.

The first home completed, the one for boys, also included a suite of rooms for guests and the Merediths often used it when they visited the children.

On June 25th, 2954, Daisy Meredith died and was buried in the Mineola City Cemetery.

A few months later, Harry married once more, to another lovely Winnsboro lady, Jennie Burge Hurdle. The ceremony was performed in a small chapel at the First Methodist Church in Mineola by the pastor Dr. Durwood Blackwell. A large number of friends of the couple attended the wedding and the reception which followed in the Meredith home.

Harry had found happiness again, but sadly, it was not to last long. Jennie died on April 10th, 1958.

(The third installment in this series will appear in the next edition of The Gazette.)

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