On the northeast side of White Rock Lake, Reinhardt Elementary sits in a quiet neighborhood full of history. The work of a longtime Reinhardt Elementary teacher captured the rich history of the area and earned the school a state historical marker in 1994.
Janie Wilson taught at Reinhardt for 35 years, collecting pictures, memories and school programs along the way. She was the auditorium teacher, which was like an elective teacher that worked with the students on public speaking and performances. She passed away in 2013, but due to her meticulous record keeping, her story lives on.
After she retired, she stayed connected to the school community and sent a detailed history of the school and town to the Texas State Historical Commission. The report captures the history and growth of the area. The information below is a summary of her research, provided by the documents’ keeper, neighbor Lucan Watkins.
In the mid to late 1800s, what is now the Reinhardt neighborhood was a made of up large cotton farms, which were owned by families that current neighbors will recognize from street names: Chenault, Peavy, Zacha, Goforth and more.
Before 1872, John Chenault built a school for his children and nearby farms near where Ash Creek goes under Peavy today. The area began to develop, and residents built a few houses, a store and a cotton gin. The Ueckert general store was the only store of its kind between Garland and Dallas at the time.
Meanwhile, the Reinhardt family was fleeing Mississippi to escape the yellow fever epidemic in 1872. The parents and eight children planned to settle in California, but when one of the sons died of yellow fever on the train ride, they were expelled from the locomotive. The family’s patriarch, Isidore Reinhardt made the most of the situation by selling clothing, hats and furnishings at a downtown store, later running a store called Reinhardt and Sons.
When the Santa Fe railroad was built in 1886, it went through the young settlement, and Reinhardt offered the railroad officials nice suits in order to have a rail station named for him. They agreed, and the area has been known as Reinhardt ever since. It should be noted that the Texas State Historical Association differs from Wilson’s report, which sites “Proud Heritage – Pioneer Families of Dallas.” The association says Reinhardt was named for the president of the railroad at the time. Both might be true.
By 1890, Reinhardt’s population was 37. The area supported a telegraph office, rail station, general store and a local physician.
In 1900, the community built a school building near the Santa Fe Railroad behind the Ueckert store, which was on Zacha Street and later became an automotive shop. In 1910, a second school building was built across the railroad tracks near the present day school. In 1921, a two-story red brick building was built on the same property, complete with a bridge over the creek that was eventually covered on the school grounds.
The onset of the Federal Housing Administration in the 1930s encouraged home building, and the area began to develop, including Casa Linda Estates. The community grew and so did the school along with it. The nearby Hart family donated land for a new school building, built in 1941 at 10122 Losa Dr. In 1945, the Reinhardt community, with a population of just 100, was annexed into the City of Dallas. Reinhardt school became part of Dallas ISD.
Wilson joined the teaching staff in the 1950s. She taught auditorium for many years, clearly embracing all of the energy and creativity required of teaching elementary school students. Her research aided the Texas State Historical Marker that exists at the school today. See below for some more of Wilson’s pictures of the history of Reinhardt Elementary.
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