- History of Kennedale
In early years, Native Americans hunted and fished along Village Creek near the present site of Kennedale. The Village Creek tribes and the Republic of Texas signed a treaty in 1843, and settlers began moving into the area. In 1882, John D. Hudson, C.B. Teague, and Oliver S. Kennedy bought land here at the site of a mineral well.
A local post office opened in 1884, and in 1886, the Town of Kennedale was platted and named for Kennedy. To attract a rail line to the community, Kennedy donated land to the railroad, and the Fort Worth & New Orleans Railway Company built a line through Kennedale to Waxahachie.
A central business district developed near the mineral well, with a train depot, hotel, general merchandise store, drug store, bank, post office, lumber company, and blacksmith. Kennedale had a public school by 1890 and formed a school district in 1909. The area surrounding the town consisted largely of farms, and the town maintained a rural character well into the 20th century.
As late as the 1940s, some homes did not have electricity. The first city water lines were installed in 1952, and sewer lines were installed in the early 1960s.
A fire in 1908 destroyed most of the business district, which was never rebuilt. State Highway 34 was built through the town around 1932, and business activity gradually migrated to this roadway, now know as Kennedale Parkway.
In July 1947, with a population of 300, Kennedale voted to incorporate. At that time, the city limits followed the school district boundaries and encompassed 13.5 square miles. By 1950 the population had increased to 500, and the State of Texas approved changing the status of Kennedale from "Town" to "City."
Another milestone occurred in 1998, when Kennedale adopted a Home Rule charter. In the second half of the 20th century, the city has become more suburban. The city's population continues to grow, and as of 2013, the population was 7,236.
Around 1886, the Fort Worth and New Orleans Railway (later Southern Pacific) built a rail line through Kennedale connecting Fort Worth to Waxahachie. The FW&NO also built a passenger depot and three section houses. Section houses served as residences for the foreman or hands who maintained assigned sections of track.
Kennedale's section houses were home to railroad employees responsible for the track running from Brambleton (near Forest Hill) to Bisbee (half-way to Mansfield). The depot and two of the section houses were gone by the 1950s. Around 1941, the railroad sold the remaining section house, and it was converted to a private residence.
The original section house was about 1,000 square feet and was clad with wood lap siding. It featured design details typical of homes of this period, but had a unique style. The home had three gables, each with a sunburst ornamentation.
In 2008, the section house was severely damaged by fire, but the city salvaged materials from the original structure and has used them to rebuild a replica in the TownCenter, which houses the Kennedale Chamber of Commerce.
The exact dates of when the Kennedale brick companies began are not known. Newspaper sources indicate that by 1886, K. M. Van Zandt and E. C. Schneider had established the Kennedale Brick Works. The land on which the Kennedale Brick Works was located was previously owned by John D. Hudson, Oliver S. Kennedy (who platted the original Town of Kennedale), C. B. Teague, and the Fort Worth and New Orleans Railway.
By 1888, John D. Hudson was operating a brick company as well. Both brick companies are thought to have been located near the Fort Worth & New Orleans railroad line, but it is the Kennedale Brick Works that is known to have been located at the site of what is now Sonora Park. The Hudson brick yard may have been located next to the Kennedale Brick Works.
By 1894, the Kennedale Brick Works had changed hands and was owned and operated by George Epple and his niece by marriage, Lucy Sargent. A newspaper article from that year indicates the business was doing well. And by 1899, the company had acquired additional land adjacent to the original site.
In 1896, George Epple and his wife conveyed to Ms. Sargent their interest in the Kennedale Brick Works, although Mr. Epple may have remained involved in the brick yard's operation for a short while. The brick yards were very much a family operation. A Fort Worth city directory from 1907 lists Miss Josie Sargent as one of the proprietors of the Kennedale Brick Works and Mr. Lemuel Sargent as a brick manufacturer. Lucy Sargent's cousin, John Payne, also managed the brick yards at one time.
Although the business appears to have done well in the last years of the 19th century, it fell into debt, and in 1908, a debt suit was filed against the Kennedale Brick Works. It may have been at this time that it was acquired by W. L. Boaz, advertised it for sale. The 1920 Census lists no Kennedale residents working at a brick yard.
The brick yard did not remain in operation for many years after she acquired it from George Epple, but Lucy Sargent was obviously an important part of the business, which in turn played an important role in the community. Some of the city's earliest residents worked at the brick yard, and many residents of Kennedale still refer to as "Mrs. Sargent's brick yard." For example, the Cooper family has been in Kennedale for many years, and three generations of Coopers worked at the brick yard. Without doubt, Ms. Sargant's brick yard was an important business and employment center in this city.
The brick yard had regional importance, too. Kennedale-made brick was well-known locally for its high quality. An 1887 edition of the Fort Worth Daily Gazette noted that Kennedale's
extensive brick yards…make as fine durable brick as was ever put in a wall…[The] Kennedale brick has proved of such superior quantity that it is generally used in recent construction. Several early structures in the city-including water wells-were made using Kennedale brick.
The site of the former brickyard changed hands several times after being sold by the Kennedale Brick Works, but mostly stayed within the Boaz family. In 1976, the land was acquired by the City of Kennedale.
Although nothing remains of the brick yard, it will forever be part of the history of the City of Kennedale.