The Temple tree man
W. Goodrich Jones encouraged tree planting in Temple and surrounding towns.
Jones Park on Avenue H was named in honor of W. Goodrich Jones, a Temple banker and the father of Texas Arbor Day and the Lone Star state’s forestry division. David Stone photo graphic
DENISE KARIMKHANI | June 23, 2022
Forest preservation and management began in Texas through the efforts of a Temple man, W. Goodrich Jones.
Not only was he responsible for the designation of Texas Arbor Day, he also helped secure passage of a bill establishing a state forest agency.
Although he was not a trained forester, his childhood experiences with his father in walking through Germany’s Black Forest, visiting with German foresters and learning their forestry practices left a lasting impression on him.
Jones settled in Temple in 1888 with the intention of opening a bank. He was appalled by the lack of trees in the small railroad town and immediately made it his goal to encourage tree planting in both Temple and surrounding areas.
At the urging of Bernhard E. Fernow, head of the US Division of Forestry, Jones undertook a survey of the pine forests of East Texas and prepared an extensive report in 1900 on the condition and future of Texas forests.
He wrote: “Like the buffaloes, the timber is going fast: what escapes the big mill is caught by the little mill, and what the little mill does not get, the tie cutters and rail splitters have soon cut down.”
When President Theodore Roosevelt convened the White House Conference of Governors on Conservation in 1908, W. Goodrich Jones was among the Texas delegation. The conference helped stimulate conservation activity in the states.
Once the Texas Forest Service was established in 1915, Jones hired John H. Foster to head the TFS. Foster, a trained academician and experienced forester, became the first state forester of Texas and organized the first system of forest fire protection in Texas.
Goodrich Jones was not a “wilderness” advocate who wanted to lock up the forests and preserve them untouched. He believed in conservation for use in which forests were judiciously managed with selective cutting and reforestation. Jones was also concerned about the broader aspects of conservation such as soil, rainfall, wildlife, and grasses. In the 1930s, he welcomed the formation of the Soil Conservation Service as a complement to the Forest Service.
Throughout his life, Jones promoted the establishment of parks at the local, state and national levels. Remembering his time in Europe, he wanted every town to be “a green town” that would provide "breathing spots" for its residents.
In May 1915, Jones offered land for a city park on Avenue H, a main thoroughfare in Temple. Southside residents quickly appointed a committee composed of Tom Darling, RI Elmendorf, and W. Goodrich Jones to urge City Council to accept the park.
Present at the council meeting on May 26, Jones made one request of the city fathers: “Protect the park for all time to come, and that at no date in the future, will a council or government of Temple be permitted to disfigure the park by cutting down some of the trees growing on the site at the present.”
The city council wasted no time, and by June 9, an ordinance accepting the park site was passed. The ordinance provided that the City Council and its successors provide for the upkeep of the park and that no buildings would be constructed on the site other than those designed for park use.
Band concerts were the next item on the South Side Improvement Association’s agenda. By the 1920s, with the park in “first-class condition,” concerts became well-attended weekly events. The costs were generally absorbed by local businesses like Roddy Brothers. The music spanned the gamut from marches to fox-trots to selections from operas. The park was named Jones Park in honor of its donor.
The state of Texas honored Jones with a state forest in his name. The W. Goodrich Jones State Forest in Montgomery County was dedicated on May 19, 1949. W. Goodrich Jones died the following year on Aug. 1, 1950, and was widely acclaimed as the Father of Texas Forestry and president emeritus of the Texas Forestry Association.
Thursday’s best bets
Texas Red’s Taproom Trivia at Fire Base Brewing. 7 p.m.
Country & Western Dance at Sammons Community Center. 6-9 p.m. Take a whirl around the dance floor! Come scoot your boots and tap your feet to the lively music of local country and western bands on the 2nd and 4th Thursdays of each month. Coffee and punch provided. Bring a finger food or dish to share during intermission. Singles and couples are all welcomed. 18+ 2nd and 4th Thursday
Trivia Night at Fire Street Pizza in Belton. There will be 6 rounds of themed trivia to test your knowledge of all things trivia! Other categories will include Movies, Sports, music, and more! Play from your phone! FREE to play! Join anytime. Winners walk away with FSP swag, free pizzas and bragging rights! 6 p.m.
Holy Trinity Catholic High School will be hosting a Blood Drive from 10 am - 3 pm. Schedule your appointment to donate at https://ww3.greatpartners.org/donor/schedules/drive_schedule/133466. Walk-ins welcomed too. Unfortunately, the need for blood doesn’t take a summer break. Volunteer donors are the only source of blood and platelets for patients with blood disorders, trauma victims, and those experiencing difficult childbirths. A little of your time could make a life difference for someone.
Karaoke at Bo’s Barn. 8:30 p.m.
Spin Night at Corky’s. Spin to win specials, 4 to 10 p.m.