Last month, we published a story detailing for the first time how the Denton County Historical Commission was ordered to apply for a Texas Historical Commission marker to preserve the Confederate monument on the downtown Square.
The Denton Record-Chronicle obtained the county’s application and subsequent rejection documents.
With Denton County Judge Andy Eads promising last month that in the coming weeks the county will make a “special” announcement about the controversial monument, we went back through those documents and found some important things to consider as the community continues to debate what to do about its Confederate monument.
Here are five takeaways we found when the county’s Confederate monument was rejected for a historical marker.
1. The monument gained support with inaccurate history
To apply for a marker, the Denton County Historical Commission wrote a 12-page narrative explaining how the monument was erected.
The effort by the United Daughters of the Confederacy to place the monument largely “minimized” the role slavery played in leading the nation to the Civil War, the county commission wrote. “... The UDC simply avoided discussion of the issue at all, instead offering an alternative narrative of a war predicated upon abstract ideals.”
All along, people in Denton County have argued the Confederate monument stands for a narrow version of American history and overlooks the atrocities that were imposed on African American people.
2. Confirmed: The monument is in bad shape
The Texas Historical Commission rejected the monument, in part, because it was deemed “low in the integrity” because it’s missing an entire piece of the structure: one of the two orbs that sat on either side of the soldier atop the arch.
People have argued for years that the monument looks to be leaning, suggesting that it might need to be taken down.
With the THC being the state’s highest authority on historic sites, the county’s effort to preserve the monument actually shows how the structure itself is not that significant.
3. Denton County kept its application and rejection out of the public eye
The county sent its application on Nov. 14, 2018, and received its rejection email on Jan. 25 — all without having any discussion about it during Denton County Commissioners Court meetings.
Only when the Denton Record-Chronicle got a tip about the rejection and obtained the records did the general public learn about the county’s quiet effort to preserve the monument.
People who have debated county officials about the monument for years, such as Denton County NAACP President Willie Hudspeth, had no idea about the application or the rejection.
4. This newspaper wanted the monument to be built
The Denton County Historical Commission used several sources to form its 12-page narrative. The Denton Record-Chronicle‘s archives were among those sources.
“Part of a coordinated push by the [United Daughters of the Confederacy] to erect memorials throughout the south, the proposed monument received consistent support from the Denton Record and Chronicle, which argued that the proposed cost of $2,000 should easily be raised ‘as noble a band of men as ever went out from any country to fight for a principle,” the commission wrote, using our own archives.
5. Where are the documents?
Another reason the Texas Historical Commission rejected the county’s Confederate monument for a marker is that the county did not provide documentation about to how the monument was built.
That’s important because in the local debate about the monument, people have criticized the monument for being less than significant and likely a mass-produced structure.
So, where are the documents?