By Greg Ritchie
LOVELADY – The City of Lovelady, Texas celebrated its 150th anniversary Friday, Aug. 12. City Hall was packed with locals as they looked through the old pictures documenting the families who built the town and watched it grow.
The descendants of those families had loaned their old pictures and memories to the city for display during a special event held to celebrate the anniversary.
Lovelady city hall was in festive mood as visitors swapped stories, ate cake and looked through the pictures and documents displayed on walls and tables.
“That was me in the 1970’s,” one woman told a young boy as she pointed to an old photograph. He answered, “What happened to your hair?” “It was a ‘Farrah Faucett thing’,” she replied.
Houston County Judge Jim Lovell was on hand to meet old friends and congratulate Lovelady on their anniversary.
“I was invited by the Historical Commission and I was certainly honored to bring a proclamation proclaiming that Lovelady is now 150 years old,” Lovell explained. “It’s a great turnout and it’s good to see so many friends I have gotten to know over the years.”
Other attendees including Houston County Sheriff Randy Hargrove and District One Justice of the Peace candidate Mike McCreight.
Lovelady Mayor Byron Shoemaker’s family has been in Lovelady for several generations. He was happy so many people came to learn more about the city’s history.
“Yes I am very glad and surprised about the turnout that we have had,” Shoemaker said. “We really didn’t expect this many people. It’s just really, really nice.”
Another descendent of Lovelady’s oldest families is Mayor Pro Tem Kevin Fritze. Fritze was moved by the response from people celebrating the city’s history.
“It means a great deal to everybody,” Fritze said. “Lovelady is a loving, caring place. It’s like a family. The people are here to honor and recognize what everyone has done over these 150 years. It’s a great day to come together.”
In 1872 Cyrus Lovelady made the first grant to the Houston and Great Northern Railroad as a waypoint for the railroad. By 1876 there was a school and several businesses. Lovelady was originally known as a marketplace and shipping point.
One noted son of Lovelady was Tuskegee airman Howard A. Wooten. Wooten joined the famed fliers but the war ended before he could see service. Years later, a picture of Wooten was chosen by an advertising agency to represent the airmen. The picture was used by the U.S. Air Force in recruiting posters in the 1990’s. It has now been adopted by the Tuskegee Airmen Foundation.
As residents of days gone by gazed down at visitors from faded photos, the new generation of Lovelady tries to follow their example. Asked if he could imagine 150 years from now people looking at worn photos of him on this day, Mayor Shoemaker seemed humbled to now be a part of the great history of the city.
“I would say it’s an honor, but I don’t think about that,” Shoemaker explained. “I work as the mayor because I love the town. Because our families have been here forever and we just want to help the community. There are people who came before me who did a lot more for this community than I ever could.”
Asked how he felt about now being part of Lovelady history, Fritze thought for a moment before he answered.
“It is great to be a part of it,” Fritze explained. “The memory – what everyone has done to get us to this point. We look at Lovelady as a place that has given so much to us that we want to give back to it. Honor the town for what it has done for us.”
Greg Ritchie can be reached at [email protected]