Rooted and Planted, 7 Generations Later

Recently, on an early Saturday morning, we met with the Tate and Stacey families at one of their homes that the family has owned for years. With Gran Stacy’s house still next door, memories of playing in the yard and miles of farmlands before there were roads, shopping centers, or even a town square, and the Bicentennial Park. These cousins, brothers, their wives, and kids, reminisce about what it was, while looking ahead to what still is to come, yet still remaining deeply aware of their roots, blessings, and the family legacy.

Their family story began way back in the 1860’s when a young couple, Robert Mitchell Tate and Martha Ellen Hall, got married in Tennessee and later moved to Texas in 1893. Their oldest son, James Arthur –  our great-great grandfather, was two years old when they traveled the 900+ miles on a three month wagon ride to Texas. From there onward the next generations all lived in Tarrant County around Coppell, Grapevine, Southlake, Flower Mound and mainly all-around Denton Creek before it was dammed to make Grapevine Lake in 1948.

Since WW2 there have been Tate family descendants who have owned retail stores on Main Street in Grapevine. Seventy plus years ago the Stacy family would buy their groceries at Tate Grocery on Main Street. Mitch’s grandfather, RJ Stacy, bought their first TV and window unit air-conditioner at the Tate Hardware on Main Street in the 50’s.  The family has had multiple businesses within the community over the years but currently, the ones standing are Stacy’s Furniture and Tate Family Dentistry.   The families have also served the community over the years and even today a cousin is the current Fire Chief of Grapevine and Mayor Tate has been the City of Grapevine’s Mayor for as long as one can remember. The William D Tate highway is even named after him.  Rick Stacy served 2 terms as the mayor of Southlake and Town Square is here because of him.

Great Grandparents Arvel & Hazel Tate rented a house on 114 in the 40’s, then built and moved off Dove Road. Merrill and RJ bought the Southlake land and built on it in the mid 60’s.  

Arvel went to school at Carroll making the children 5th generation Dragons!  You couldn’t graduate from CISD at the time their great grandfather and grandmother were enrolled because CISD only went to 10th grade.  You had to transfer to Grapevine to complete 11th and 12th grade!

Looking at what keeps the family ingrained in the community it’s clear that the things that draw so many people to this town are a result of what these families have invested in over generations. It’s because of their deep roots, unwavering devotion to God and family and a vision they had for the area, for the community and for their future families.  Building and raising children in a way that would make not only the family proud but the Southlake community and beyond too. Next to God, “family” was the most important thing to Grandparents, RJ & Merrill Stacy. 

When asked “Are you proud to be from Southlake?” The answer is a resounding “Of course we are, it’s our heritage” and the Tate and Stacy families continue trying to make sure that their children have the same opportunities they had.  They believe that’s why they are still here, because of the respect for their legacy and their heritage.  “We are all, in a humble way, very proud of it.” The recipe remains the same as the one created by Robert and Martha way back when – grow and build the community, sustain great schools, attend church on Sunday and be actively involved.

Seven generations on, the family looks back at how hard the families before had worked – they worked on the land, they were cotton farmers and ranchers and it wasn’t an easy life.a bit different from the type of work found in Southlake now.  Many of the families were large and they were able to stick together as a family unit and thrive, which was and is a great attribute.

“Years and years ago, when people would move into town, my grandfather would humbly say ‘Welcome, we are so glad you are here.  We hope that you love this place as much as us.  And if for some reason you don’t, we wish you the best in your endeavors as you move on.” Mitch remembers fondly.

Asked about what the family loves about Southlake they share that there are so many good things about Southlake that people should know. People here are really kind, welcoming, and want the best for everyone. Dragons donate in a heartbeat and always give back by serving the community.  People are quick to help anyone in need, no matter who they are.

“The one thing that stands out to all of us is that we are all dragons, no matter what age you are, We have a senior high and high school to ensure we all dragons, when I think dragons, I think pride”  Christy Stacey mentions. When it comes to the Carroll ISD school district, pride is definitely the a word that comes to mind. Pride in academics, sports or just being part of the community – plain and simple, we are proud to be Dragons. Years back, the middle school students were known as the Knights and the elementary students, the Koala Bears.  The cousins and their wives chuckle at these names now and even though they couldn’t seem to agree on when the change was made, they love that all schools now, no matter the grade, are Dragons.

Michael said, I just can’t live anywhere but Southlake.  I want the kids to finish up school being Dragons because there is just something about being a Dragon that you can’t replicate anywhere else.  Chad adds “when we walked Ashton into Kindergarten for the first time at Johnson Elementary, it was like walking back in time because it was the same exact cubbies that were there when he attended school there.” Many of the younger Tate and Stacy kids don’t know any different. They haven’t yet realized how special it is that they’ve had great grandparents, grandparents and parents go through the same school and many of them have the same teachers and coaches that we had at school. 

To be able to walk through the hallways and see our ancestors on the walls, what they’ve done and accomplished.  Being able to plants roots in this town – it was important to me and my hope is that it will become important to our kids.  I think the Stacy’s would say the same thing about their kids. Mentioned Chad. “Oh yeah” says Ashton. “I love going to Carroll ISD for many reasons, but the main one is just because our family went here and when I’m walking through the halls and I see my Aunt in basketball, Dad being a drum major, Aunt Anna in Belles, some were valedictorians and salutatorians and their pictures on the walls I’m filled with pride” 

The family knows there are a lot of communities like Southlake and the world is a very connected place so their kids know so much more about the world than the generations before. They hear kids say they want to live overseas instead of saying I want to stay here and become multi-generational and it’s a good feeling when the parents hear that their kids, love Southlake and want to stay here and be close to family and do what generations before them have done.  Mitch says “It’s seldom we go somewhere that people don’t know about Southlake or that we were Dragons.  No matter how old anyone gets or where they’re from, when they come back, they have the same mindset – they get to go to a football game and they are still going to put on their Dragon Green.” 

The Stacy’s and Tate’s remain close and connected as they have for generations.  Even nowadays when there is a family member that’s sick or in the hospital they visit or make sure they are in their daily prayers. The families still have an annual reunion every September.  “It’s hot, really hot.” says Kelly  “but all of the extended family comes.  It’s really important to see the families that don’t live in the area and it’s really about the kids.” The annual get-together helps keep us connected and the kids love this time too.

Protecting the legacy and the tradition is something the families talk to and share how they are actively fighting for this community and its traditions and values. It’s agreed that the community has grown and there is change. They hope that when other families come here that they also come to add value, serve the community and raise their kids right. 

Mitch closes by sharing, “The citizens of our community right now are harvesting from the work that the generations before us planted. There was so much sown over generations to establish what exists today – the heart, sweat, blood, and tears from not just our families but many others. Everyone living here today is blessed to be reaping from all of that, so it’s very important that we continue to sow towards the next generations so that they too are able to harvest the fruits of our labor.”

This is the tradition we’re protecting.

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