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Irving History: Union Bower Community

Nestled along the Elm Fork of the Trinity River, the Union Bower Community holds a rich history dating back to the mid-19th century. The story began when settlers, drawn to the fertile land, established their homes in this region.

In 1879, William and Virginia Smith, hailing from Pennsylvania, became early pioneers in the area. Not long after, Charles and Lucy (Santerre) Voirin acquired land north of the Smiths, and together, these families laid the foundation for what would later be recognized as the Union Bower Community.

Life in Union Bower revolved around hard work and agriculture. Residents harvested wood from riverbank thickets and transported their bounty, including cotton, corn, vegetables, and fruit, to the market in Dallas. The community spirit thrived, leading to the establishment of a non-denominational Sunday school in 1885. The Methodist Church later sent Reverend W.E. Hawks to set up a church, which was dedicated in 1907 and is known today as Oak Haven United Methodist Church.

Tragedy struck the Smith family in 1886 when they lost their daughter. In her memory, the Smiths founded a community cemetery in Union Bower, serving as a final resting place for generations to come. The commitment to education was evident with the founding of Lively School by Mark Callister Lively in 1890, located at the intersection of Britain and Union Bower Roads. This school also hosted services for Catholic and Church of Christ communities in the area.

The Union Bower School, established in 1891 on land generously donated by the Smiths, played a pivotal role in shaping the community until its closure in the 1960s. As the Rock Island rail line led to the establishment of Irving in 1903, the once-thriving rural communities, including Union Bower, experienced a decline in population. The rerouting of the Elm Fork channel brought new industries to the region.

In 1956, Irving annexed Union Bower, marking the end of its independent existence. The agricultural roots of the community had faded, replaced by a changing landscape.

Today, the legacy lives on through the Union Bower Community marker, number #14497, erected by the Texas Historical Commission in 2005. Located at 2500 E Grauwyler Road, Irving, TX 75061.

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