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Weekend festival offers insight into Arlington history

Saturday's Front Street Festival in downtown Arlington will offer a glimpse of how the city's settlers lived.

The festival, organized by the Arlington Historical Society, will include historical re-enactments and workshops at Knapp Heritage Park, including blacksmithing, wood turning, corn husk doll making and horseshoe pitching.

The historic Jopling-Melear and P.A. Watson log cabins, which were built in the mid-1800s, and a one-room schoolhouse from around 1910 will be available for tours.

The festival is scheduled for 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

"Residents will get a chance to look at how Arlington operated in its beginning," society director Geraldine Mills said. "Before you go anywhere, you have to know where you come from."

This is the seventh year for the event, Mills said. Activities will also include campfire-cooking demonstrations by Civil War re-enactors from Johnson County. There will be train rides on the Choo Choo Express, and period toys and games will be on display, along with quilting demonstrations and historic military units.

The festival focuses on Arlington during the late 1800s and early 1900s, including when it was a booming railroad stop.

The Jopling home was erected by George Washington Jopling in 1863 in what was known as the Johnson Station Community for his wife, Catherine, and their large family. Jopling, a farmer, cattleman and cotton gin owner, was a community leader, according to the Texas Gen Web project.

After his wife died in 1882, Jopling remarried and deeded the cabin to his daughter and her husband, Z.T. Melear, a farmer and blacksmith. It was moved to its current site in 1970, according to the website.

Patrick Alfred Watson, whose wife had died, built his cabin in 1885 for himself and his six children. Later, he married his wife's niece, and they had six more children, according to the website.

Watson, a surveyor, educator and religious leader, donated the land for the P.A. Watson Community Cemetery and for a church and school building.

The Watson family descendants occupied the home until 1961, and it was moved to this site in 1976.

Nathaniel Jones, 817-390-7742

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