a Pecan Shell
The Union in
the name didn’t proclaim loyalty to the North, although the community
began in the 1860s. It came from the establishment of a “union”
(Sunday) school, where different religious denominations could share
a common building. The second part of the name comes from the school
teacher’s surname of Bowers.
The community may have also been known as Hawks Chapel according
to the Handbook of Texas. Union Bower was its own school
district (annexed by Dallas
in 1952) and the population of twenty residents was absorbed into
Irving with an annexation in the
Bower is a "Ghost Town" that has been absorbed (annexed) into Irving.
Many of the buildings (homes) remain, as does the cemetery. The
cemetery is called the "Smith Cemetery". The first headstone is
for a John Smith.
Many of the names on the headstones are also the names of the area
streets. The numbering system of the homes in the area reflect the
old town numbers and not the hundred blocks of Irving.
In some places the houses are numbered 102, because they are from
the original town, but the other side of the same street has homes
build after annexation, and have four digit numbers. For example,
The street, Union Bower is just south of the Loop 12 / Hwy 183 intersection.
This means that the old Texas Stadium was likely in the Union Bower
It was annexed by Irving in 1956." - Mica Calfee, October 10,
Bower, TX was another city but now it's a road in Irving."
- David Cole, October 09, 2011
(Location: 2500 E. Grauwyler, Irving, TX)
Attracted to the
fertile land along the Elm Fork of the Trinity River, settlers first
came to this area in the mid-19th century. William and Virginia Smith,
of Pennsylvania, arrived in 1879. Soon thereafter, Charles and Lucy
(Santerre) Voirin bought land north of the Smith's property. The families
worked together to establish what became known as the Union Bower
Community. Residents cut wood from the riverbank thickets and hauled
the wood and their farm products, including cotton, corn, vegetables,
and fruit, to market in Dallas.
In 1885, area families organized a non-denominational Sunday school.
Later, the Methodist Church sent the Rev. W.E. Hawks to establish
a church, which was dedicated in 1907. Originally called Hawks Chapel
and later named Union Bower Methodist Church, it continues today as
Oak Haven United Methodist Church. After the death of their daughter
in 1886, the Smiths established the cemetery for community use.
As early as 1890, Mark Callister Lively founded the Lively School
at today's Britain and Union Bower Roads. Area Catholic and Church
of Christ families held services in the school building. The Union
Bower School, established on land donated by the Smiths, opened in
1891 and served the community until the 1960s. When Irving was established
along he Rock Island rail line in 1903, the area's rural communities,
including Union Bower, declined in population. After the Elm Fork
channel was rerouted, various industries developed in the area. By
the time Irving annexed Union Bower in 1956, little remained of the
agricultural roots of the community. Decades after the Union Bower
School closed, alumni continue to meet and share their memories of
the once close-knit farming settlement.
Escapes, in its purpose to preserve historic, endangered and vanishing
Texas, asks that anyone wishing to share their local history and vintage/historic
photos, please contact