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The White Rose

 

 The White Rose, identified as the McCartney Rose, was used as fencing, able to keep back herds of cattle, larger wildlife, and even hogs off of dirt roads but also off of early asphalt roads. According to wildflower books, the white rose originated in China and was never original to this region. Pioneers from some of the Southern states where the plants thrived may have brought them along when they migrated West. One can imagine cuttings set out in buckets strapped to the outside frame of a Conestoga wagon and a wife or children caring for the plants along the way hoping that enough would last until they where they were going, but such a scene may be romanticized at best. Early nurserymen offered the roses, too for hedging, as a windbreak and a soil-binder. Even highway departments and road crews planted rose hedges in an effort to provide natural fencing along roadways just as they undertook the planting of Osage-orange, called bois d/ arc or horse apples. It is known that agricultural newspapers provided a variety or information to farmers on matters such as animal husbandry, cultivation, management, and farm facilities including fencing (Farrell "Advice to Farmers") Some Cross Timbers farmers subscribed to one such publication called  The Farm and Fireside published by Mast, Crowell, and Kirkpatrick. (From Wild Rose: A Folk History of a Cross Timbers Settlement)

There was until the summer of 1993 a hedge of wild white roses that grew along the southeast side of Highway 377 just beyond the bridge under which passes a walking trail joining Town Center to Old Town Keller. The thoroughfare was known as the main road when it was only a dirt and gravel way leading south to Fort Worth and north to Denton. The roses, referred to as "those ol' bushy things" when they were called anything at all, grew in thorny tangles some seventy-five feet or so in length and reached from four to six feet high. Scattered around the faint, reddish sandy soil to the east, south, and north were runners spreading prickly fingers into the prairie soil that eventually touches Bear Creek to the east, which in turn captures in its reflection a rocky, wooded hill of oak trees and a few native pecan. Companion to the road running from south to north are what were originally the Texas and Pacific Railroad tracks, and beyond the tracks to the west more of Bear Creek and its headwaters. The roses could never be described as beautiful as roses go. The pure white blossoms appearing in June, are composed of five petals with bright yellow stamen bunched in the center, and are about two inches or so in diameter. Neither are the flowers fragrant. If anyone noticed the flowers at all, it was to complain about the ferocious thorns on the twisting canes. Some declared them a nuisance and an eyesore. They were, after all, not proper roses of aesthetic value. Progress agreed and in 1993, a road-building crew with bulldozers and diggers cut and dug deep into the soil banks gouging out the roses in order to make way for the widening of the highway. They were found there, roots and canes clutching with monstrous twisted arms and fingers, and grabbing at the sky as they had once clung to the soil. Some of them are safe now, along with another pink variety, transplanted behind an old house--safe until their thorny story is told. Such places are remembered only as long as there are rememberers; or markers such as houses or barns, rock chimneys here or there, small cemeteries overgrown and with headstones askew, historical plaques; or old-timey things in in museums or exhibits; or photographs that return our stare speaking no words, offering optical pools of reflection in their eyes, and somehow asking of us as we implore of them; or in bits of poetry, folk wisdom, or song, or recipes and patterns from fragile publications; or old letters with the musty smell of time; or those who would capture time and place in words trapping them in a book; or blossoms of plain white roses gouged from their rightful place near Bear Creek, near the main road south, near the railroad tracks, near the beginning of the place once called Athol, now called Keller.