Founders Plaza | located at Levitt Pavilion
100 W. Abram Street
Arlington, TX 76010
Founders Plaza is located at Levitt Pavilion. The area pays tribute to Andrew Hayter, often considered the Father of Arlington, as well as six of the founding families.
Mr. Hayter, pronounced “high-der,” is honored with a Texas Historical Marker and bronze bust. Each of the families — Collins, Cooper, Ditto, Rankin, Rogers, and Rose — have a plaque telling their story. Stop by this area to learn more about the founders and early days of Arlington. Our city wouldn’t be the same without their accomplishments and sacrifices.
Reverend Andrew Shannon Hayter (1818-1900) was one of the earliest settlers in this area, and is considered by many to be the “Father of Arlington.” A native of Tennessee, Hayter left Alabama with his family in late 1850 and arrived in Texas shortly after, settling first in Nacogdoches. Over the next forty-nine years, Hayter would establish or serve sixteen Cumberland Presbyterian churches. As with many pioneer preachers, Hayter worked in another profession, as a surveyor, to augment his income.
The Hayters moved to Tarrant County in 1869, where Andrew quickly made a name for himself as a preacher, civic leader, and surveyor. During the early 1870s, a tiny settlement developed on the edge of Hayter’s property, and he petitioned for a post office in 1875. The post office was called Hayterville.
Hayter had already founded two churches, a school, and a Masonic Lodge in the area when he was asked in 1876 to locate the railroad through eastern Tarrant County and lay out a tiny, half-mile-square settlement between Dallas and Fort Worth. The railroad designers needed in-depth knowledge of the area and its terrain, as well as a plentiful source of timber to construct the road bed. Andrew Hayter could supply the necessary surveying knowledge, and also owned property filled with large timbers that could be furnished to the railroad. When the railroad offered to name their new town Hayter, the reverend declined the offer and instead gave the town the name Arlington, after Robert E. Lee’s Virginia estate. The birth of Arlington caused the demise of tiny Hayterville. The post office was soon moved to the new town and Hayterville was abandoned. (2009)
Four Collins brothers and their families migrated to the area, first leasing land on Arkansas Lane. By 1876, they had moved into the new town of Arlington.
William Joseph Collins (1830-1905) was a farmer. His farm was in the vicinity east of present-day Collins Street and north of Division Street. He was often referred to as “Uncle Joe” and was keenly interested in schools and education.
Rice Woods Collins (1838-1912) was a merchant. He opened the R.W. Collins and Co., a mercantile establishment located at the southwest corner of Center and Main Streets. As the need for a public well in the center of town became evident, R.W. took the lead in soliciting subscriptions for the cost of drilling. Unfortunately, the water was not drinkable because of the high mineral content. He was also a stockholder in Arlington College (UTA). His daughter, Mittie was the first baby girl born in the new town.
Thomas B. Collins served a time as County Treasurer and was Mayor of the City of Arlington from 1902 until 1904. Among the items discussed during his term were a curfew law and an ordinance regulating the boarding of interurban electric cars within the city limits.
Marshall Collins was in the real estate business. He also served as a school trustee for Arlington Independent School District after it was established. In 1905, Arch Woods Collins (A.W.), son of William, played a significant role in expanding the Arlington Light and Power Company, overseeing the installation of a system of waterworks all over the city. He was also one of several citizens who gave land for Arlington College in 1895. He continued to support Carlisle Military Academy in 1903 and Arlington Training School in 1913.
In March 1909, Dr. Joseph Donald Collins, also son of William, had the water from the mineral well analyzed and decided to build a sanitarium on South Center Street near Border, with the water used for treatment of patients.
Third generation Benton Carter Collins, descendant of Thomas B., served several years as City Secretary and is sometimes given credit for the naming of Collins Street.
The Collins Brothers left lasting impacts and a long line of descendants.
Inscription by Jerry Collins, descendant of Thomas B. Collins and JoAnn Somers, descendant of William Joseph Collins. 2008.
James Daniel Cooper (1841-1913) moved to Arlington in 1875 and settled on a several hundred-acre farm. In 1878, he built a home for his family about four miles outside the western city limit. Five sons, James Newton, William, John, Oscar, and Horace were raised on the home place.
Mr. Cooper was one of the thirteen men who met at Schultz Lumber Company in 1878 to form the Centenary Methodist Episcopal Church, South (First United Methodist Church.) His name is on the cornerstone. He was also an early contributor of land and money to build Arlington College, forerunner of the University of Texas at Arlington.
In the early 1920s, Cooper Street, once a pasture shortcut through the Cooper property, was named in his honor. By this time the property was within the city limits of Arlington.
His son, James Newton Cooper, built the Cooper Hotel in 1928. This historic building still stands on the northwest corner of Division and Center Streets. Two of James Newton’s children, Mary and Howard, were life-long residents of Arlington. Son Horace retained ownership of the original family home until 1953 when the property was sold to UTA. The home was given to the City and was relocated to a site near Meadowbrook Park on Willis Street for use as a library. When a larger library was needed by the City, the home was rented to the Arlington Woman’s Club for use as a meeting place. The women cared for it until it was destroyed by a vandal-set fire on Halloween 1998.
The house was designated a Texas Historical Landmark in 1965.
Inscription by Cooper Neil Tucker, great-grandson of James Daniel Cooper. 2008.
Michael Ditto was one of the earliest settlers and the first of the Ditto family to arrive from Madison County, Alabama. He located in the northeast part of present-day Arlington, even before the railroad arrived or the town site was laid out.
At age eighteen, Webster Ditto, Michael’s grandson (1850-1931), soon followed. After his arrival, Webster urged his father, James Ditto, Sr., (1823-1901), to join him. Webster eventually owned and farmed thirty acres, located between present-day Fielder Road and Davis Drive. Later, he would do much of the post office work in the new town of Arlington.
James Ditto followed his father and son to Arlington in 1873 as a widower, bringing children, Sarah “Sallie” and John with him. Married daughter Cordelia “Delia” and husband J.P. Rose joined them. James’s wife Elizabeth died prior to their leaving Alabama. James and Webster opened a general store in what is now the northeast part of present-day Arlington, in Rev. Hayter’s settlement. When the town site of Arlington was platted, James Ditto, or Uncle Jimmy, as he was known, decided to move his business to the new town. He built his new store, the first in Arlington, in the middle of the block on the west side of Center Street, half a block south of Main Street.
James became Arlington’s first Postmaster in 1877, with the post office located in his store. He is one of the persons given credit for naming the town of Arlington. He and his family were members of the Centenary Methodist Episcopal Church, South.
In 1895, James Ditto gave land for the founding of Arlington College, forerunner of the University of Texas at Arlington, to help bring a better source of education to the town’s children. The College served students from grades one through ten.
Inscription by James Ditto, great-grandson of James Ditto, Sr. 2008.
Edward Emmett Rankin (1840-1911) and his wife Edna Jerusha Broiles Rankin were encouraged to move to Arlington in 1874 by Dr. Stokley Broiles. They had five children: Rebecca, Wilson, Emmett Edward, Wallace, and Sue. They farmed on Arkansas Lane for eight years and then moved to town. Edward opened the Rankin Hardware Company which sold almost anything you could name. It was located in the 100 block of East Main Street and operated until it had to close because of the Great Depression.
By the late 1890s, daughter Rebecca had received her teaching degree and was teaching in Arlington’s under-funded and poorly equipped public school system. In 1895, Emmett Rankin encouraged others to join him in establishing Arlington College, a private school for students in grades one through ten. Over the years, the College evolved into the present-day University of Texas at Arlington.
The Rankins were very civic-minded and Emmett’s contributions included becoming the first Justice of the Peace in 1885, serving Director of Citizen’s National Bank, and serving as Mayor from March 10, 1885, until April 10 the same year. Because of this he was often called “Squire” Rankin. He also was instrumental in securing land for the building of the Christian Church (First Christian Church) at the corner of Mesquite and South Streets in 1893.
Thind generation Arlington residents included grandchildren Edward E. III, Robert, Edna, and Bess. Edward E. and Edna graduated from Arlington Training School, (1913-1916) the third incarnation of Arlington College. Bess taught in the Arlington Public Schools for thirty years and Bess Rankin Elementary School is named in her honor.
Inscription by Susie Peterson Dixon and David Peterson, Fourth Generation after Edward and Edna Rankin. 2008.
Caroline “Carrie” Coleman Rogers (1861-1947) spent her fifteenth birthday, (July 19, 1876) celebrating the first train to stop at what would become Arlington. Between 1876 and 1880, Reverend Lewis King, Carrie’s maternal grandfather, opened a small store, built a hotel on Main Street, and moved the family permanently into the town from nearby farmland. Carrie, involved in the daily operations of the family business, acquired skills that served her well throughout her life. In 1877 family became charter members of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South.
Andrew Jackson “A.J.” Rogers (1860-1919) came to Arlington in 1881, establishing the A.J. Rogers Dry Goods Company by 1882, later to become Rogers-McKnight Company, located on Main Street close to the King Hotel. A.J. and Carrie married March 27, 1883, and were blessed with five children. The couple eventually owned the largest chain of dry goods stores west of the Mississippi River, as well as, the Rogers Brick factory and interests in Arlington Cotton Oil Company, a cattle ranch, and an oil well. Their successful business ventures enabled the couple to become deeply involved in building Arlington socially, culturally, and philanthropically.
The couple built a seven and one half acre estate that included a barn, pasture land, several orchards, large vegetable gardens, large and extensive flower gardens, a green or hot house, a stock pond, Arlington’s first swimming pool built in 1892, and a structure in the front yard known as the “Owl’s Nest”– a dramatic spiral staircase ascending into a treehouse. The grounds of the estate were the site of many lavish social functions for the entire town, as well as, annual hosting of Juneteenth celebrations.
A.J. served as the first city secretary of the Town Council in 1884; as trustee, purchased the first stock certificates in Arlington College in 1895. By 1900 he was president of the Board of Directors of the College.
Carrie served her church, volunteered at the Berachah Industrial Home for the Redemption of Erring Girls, began the Ladies Aid Society, the Cemetery Society, the first Arbor Day, the Social and Dramatic Club, the Improvement Society, the Civic League, a “Flower Ministry,” wrote many articles for the Journal and other newspapers, and tirelessly urged the town council to focus on the betterment of the community.
After her divorce in 1902, Carrie remained in Arlington, retaining title to all the real estate the couple owned in Arlington. She continued to be a civic and business leader, especially in real estate, building rent houses and a second hotel. In 1914 she became the first woman City Marshall, later renamed Chief of Police, the first woman in the state of Texas to achieve that office in a time when women could not vote. Another first for the woman who was the “first woman” in so many other things.
Inscription and Rogers Family photos by Deborah “Deb” Gardner, Great Granddaughter of Carrie and A.J. Rogers.
James Preston Rose and his wife Cordelia “Delia” Ditto Rose, the daughter of James and Elizabeth Ditto, were married in 1869. James and Delia migrated from Guntersville, Alabama to Greenwood, Mississippi where they lived for several years prior to moving to Arlington, Texas in 1876. The family home was on the northeast corner of Abram and Mesquite Streets, not far from Centenary Methodist Episcopal Church, South (First United Methodist Church), where they were charter members.
William H. Rose, born in Arlington in 1883, was the son of James and Delia Rose. He married Ollie Gibbins, daughter of pioneer James Gibbins, who moved to what is now north Arlington in 1860. Ollie was born in Arlington in 1884, the same year that Arlington was incorporated. They were also members of Centenary Methodist Episcopal Church, South (First United Methodist Church).
William was a merchant, real estate developer, and Mayor of Arlington from 1919-1923. His vision for Arlington was great. During his administration, Arlington’s first City Charter was adopted in 1920, city audits were initiated, a variety of ordinances were passed, the first sidewalks were laid, a modern water system was established and new businesses were formed. Education was of utmost importance as evidenced by the sale of bonds for the building of Arlington’s first high school on Cooper Street.
In 1908, he and R.A. Mitchell were partners in the Rose & Mitchell real estate business. William and his brother Web owned and operated the Rose Brothers Realty Company. Among other areas in Arlington, William developed the 500-600 blocks of South Center Street, which is known as the South Center Street Historic District, listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2003. He resided with his wife Ollie Gibbins Rose and daughters Berta and Margaret Leslie in the first home constructed within this district.
Inscription by Martha Rose May Martin and Melissa Rose Martin, Granddaughter and Great-granddaughter of William H. Rose. 2008.
Page and photos by Jason S. Sullivan, 01-17-22