There’s a street in Lake Highlands named Goforth where an old stone house sits, its history more complex and reaching back farther than a passerby could possibly guess. Long before the first stone was set, the Goforth family was struggling along the path that would lead them here.
Samuel Cecil Goforth was a man of principle, says his grandson, David Luther Goforth of Athens, Texas, who was born in Garland in 1924. The elder Goforth believed slavery was wrong, and when the Civil War broke out, he fought for the North and his brothers, Thornton and Columbus, fought for the South, “brother against brother,” explains the retired cotton farmer.
“The family still remains split to this day,” says Goforth. “My granddaddy used to tell my daddy that ‘selling a woman for breeding purposes was just plain wrong’ and he wouldn’t have no part in it.”
A passionate man, the elder Goforth got caught up in the expansion westward fervor sweeping the land after the war, and like many others, he followed the sound of wagon wheels rolling toward “Texas, the Promised Land,” rich with black soil for growing cotton.
Goforth’s father, Campbell David Goforth, one of Samuel’s seven children, was just nine at the time, but plenty big enough to be a good farmhand. The year was 1875.
Times were hard, says Goforth. “Within two years my granddaddy was dead, and my grandmother had to raise the kids alone.” He recalls his daddy telling the story of how he and his mama would cut and sell firewood to make ends meet. “A chord of firewood sold for 50 cents, and the cotton gin operation in the little town of Rheinhardt [once located just north of Peavy] was their best customer,” Goforth adds.
“My daddy built the family home on what is now known as Flagpole Hill,” says Goforth. “It wasn’t always grass. It got that way because the original stable owner dumped horse manure on it all the time. Flagpole Hill was just one big rock back then.”
By the turn of the century, White Rock Creek represented a potential lake and park for the community, but, most importantly, a new water supply for the city . . . with just a little engineering.
In 1909, at a cost of 176,420 dollars, the city acquired White Rock Park and the following year entered into a contract with the Fred A. Jones Company to build a dam at a cost of 253,070 dollars.
In general, the city’s plan had public support, however, when the city council attempted to condemn 30 acres of Campbell Goforth’s property, the rock hill and its adjacent land, he demonstrated the same Goforth passion that his father had displayed concerning slavery.
First, he moved his home to its new location, Peavy and Van Dyke, by placing it on telephone poles, and then he sued the city, demanding 100 dollars per acre for his land. “Whenever we’d drive past Flagpole Hill, my daddy would tell me, ‘I won that one, son,’” Goforth remembers.
Campbell Goforth deeded a piece of property to his nephew, Ira Goforth, who in 1910 built a modest, but unique, stone home. One of the first homes built in the Lake Highlands area, the stone was shipped here from Central Texas. Ed Doran, Jr., the home’s current owner, says he “ . . . loves the privacy of the place and the opportunity to keep horses.”
The vista from Doran’s backyard deck is today is mostly lost, taken over by the roofs of homes recently built in the valley below his property line. However, when he sits on the old front porch swing, he claims this view remains the same. The only difference between today and 89 years ago — the hedge that frames the front yard has grown tall and thick.