Above, left: Family photograph taken outside of Stephen and Lillie Heard’s home in 1907. Above, right: Bridal portrait of Kathryn Heard, who wed Thomas Edgar Craig in her family’s home on November 2, 1910.
The Heard Family: A Legacy oƒ Civic Benevolence and Gracious Hospitality
H For Charles and Henrietta Heard, married for 22 years and farming their land in Van Buren, Arkansas, nearby fighting during the first year of the Civil War resulted in the loss of most of their possessions. In fear of further violence, the couple and six of their 10 children—two sons, John and James, were serving in the Confederate Army, and two had died in infancy—fled to McKinney, Texas, in 1862. Here they established the first in a long line of family businesses, the City Hotel. Two of their sons and in turn, their children and grandchildren, became an integral part of McKinney’s development and growth. More importantly, each generation of Heards passed down a tradition of civic service, community fellowship, and philanthropy. John Spencer Heard, who came to Texas after the Civil War, and brother, Stephen Dudley, formed
Vo l u m e 3 2 0 1 3
a life-long business partnership and rose to prominence in McKinney’s commercial and industrial communities. The J.S. and S.D. Heard Mercantile was one of their early ventures and was in operation for nearly 25 years. The siblings also founded or invested in a wide range of industries, including banking and insurance, coal, transportation, cotton, and a revolutionary cottonseed-oil mill that helped the North Texas city grow and flourish. The Heard brothers were highly regarded not only for their business acumen, but also for their efforts to further education as well as improve the community and cultural offerings within their city. John’s wife Rachel and Stephen’s spouse Lillie were equally devoted to civic service, promoting a love for the arts and literature and charitable efforts. Rachel’s musical and artistic talents were said to be the inspiration
In 1865, Stephen Heard, pictured left, joined his older brother, John, right, in the livestock trading business, one of their many commercial partnerships. The men also promoted educational and cultural endeavors.
behind the Heard Opera House (later known as the McKinney Opera House), which opened in December 1884 and became a venue for entertainment and communal celebrations. In 1900, Stephen and Lillie Heard, along with their teen-aged children Fred and Kathryn (Katie), moved into their newly-built house in what is now McKinney’s downtown historic district. The family quickly established their home as a center for social, business, and art and literary activities, earning them a reputation for gracious hospitality. Fred later married and raised his family not too far from his parents. Katie wed Thomas Edgar “Tec” Craig in 1910, and the newlyweds relocated to Corpus Christi but returned to McKinney one year later. The couple first resided in their honeymoon cottage, but when Stephen Heard passed away in 1926, they moved in with Lillie. Upon her mother’s death, Katie inherited her parents’ home, which then became known as the Heard-Craig House. While her husband focused on his career as an engineering consultant and managed the Heard family businesses, Katie pursued her artwork and civic interests and activities. In 1914, she became a founding member of the McKinney Art Club, and two de-
cades later, the community leader began her 37-year membership in The Owl Club, a local literary group. Katie’s ongoing involvement in these organizations had instilled a strong belief in the benefits and opportunities provided by women’s groups and that inspired her to begin planning for her own legacy. Prior to her death in 1970, she put into place the necessary means that established the Heard-Craig Woman’s Club Trust, a nonprofit organization with a mission to promote fellowship, encourage education, and foster an appreciation for the arts. The HeardCraig House transitioned into a Center for the Arts. For the past 42 years, the property, now a Registered Texas Historic Landmark, has been serving as a nocost meeting space for local clubs and groups, a house museum, and as a venue for art education and social celebrations. Kathryn Heard Craig fittingly found the perfect way to ensure that the doors of her beloved home remain open in her family’s spirit of gracious hospitality and civic benevolence far into the future. –Pamela Murtha Family history from The Heard Legacy by Cathy Sagnibene Apple. All photographs courtesy of the Heard-Craig Center for the Arts, www.heardcraig.org. Vo l u m e 3 2 0 1 3 |