The Herald Banner, Greenville, TX

June 17, 2012

EDITORIAL: Remember our roots

Hunt County’s stories should be preserved for future generations

Herald-Banner Staff

GREENVILLE — Our readers may be wondering why we devoted three full pages today to a story about something that happened 115 years ago.

Aside from the fact that it’s a great story — the kind of salacious, unsolved mystery that’s more often found in Hollywood than in our sleepy city of Greenville — we also think it’s important to remember the stories that are woven into the fabric of our community. It’s these old, well-worn stories passed from generation to generation that make up our city’s identity.

Longtime Greenville residents will be familiar with the tale of Tom King’s drowning, even if it’s just passed down through family histories. It’s a story that combines money, sex and murder in a way that has kept tongues wagging in Greenville for more than a century as people speculate on what really happened to the millionaire and his lady friends that left them dead in a cow pond.

No one knows the answer. Anyone who did took it to their grave decades ago.

But shared stories like this one remind us that we stand on the shoulders of our ancestors.

The people we see in those grainy, black-and-white photos from 19th-century Greenville were real people with real lives — sometimes dull, sometimes exciting, but always meaningful — and the decisions they made continue to impact us today.

Are we taking the steps in 2012 that will lead to a better Greenville for our children and grandchildren? What will our generation be remembered for accomplishing in the city?

It’s also a reminder to ask ourselves what kind of legacy we want to leave behind as individuals.

Mr. King’s life, for example, is remembered today more for its bizarre ending than for any of the considerable things he accomplished while alive. Yes, he was a wealthy and powerful man, but his mansion on Washington Street is now an empty lot and his beloved King Opera House is nothing but a dusty memory.

Maybe money and power isn’t all it’s cut out to be. Is that the lesson we learn from Mr. King?

Finally, we have to wonder if there’s one more thing to add in a series of strange, almost spooky coincidences regarding Mr. King’s tale — the Chamber of Commerce deciding to tell his story in a “ghost tour,” then an old newspaper showing up mysteriously last week, then his story being re-told in the newspaper precisely 115 years after it was first published. And the last coincidence might be this:

Today is Father’s Day.

For most families, the father is the breadwinner, the person inclined to spend an awful lot of time and effort acquiring stuff that, in the end, doesn’t matter one bit. The possessions Dad works to buy will be quickly forgotten, but his character will be remembered forever.

We hope that people across Hunt County will take the time to savor what really matters today. Share some family stories, love your local roots, and remember to leave a legacy that you’d be proud to see printed in the newspaper 115 years from now.