The history of the Garden of Eden began over 100 years ago. It sits in the middle of Fort Worth and Haltom City, Texas, down in the valley. On a clear day, when you are stopped at the railroad track on Carson Street, to allow the Trinity Railway Express (TRE) to pass, you can see the downtown Fort Worth skyline. The area is bordered by Haltom City to the West, Anderson Road to the North, Elliott Reeder Road to the East and from the Trinity River to Elliott Reeder Road to the South. The community is located a quick 15 minutes from the DFW Airport and 30 scenic minutes from Dallas, “Big D.”
Birdville was the first functioning settlement in the county in 1848. Its earliest residents were farmers and cattle ranchers. The State Legislature selected Birdville as the county seat when Tarrant County was established in 1849.
Tarrant County settlement began in the northeastern corner of the County’s 860 square miles which range from prairies to rolling hills. This land included the Eastern Cross Timbers, known for its mild climate, good soil, frequent and lush prairie grasses. Before white men began settling Tarrant County, Indians, primarily Comanche, Caddo and Kiowa occupied the land.
In February 1841, during Lamar’s presidency of the Republic of Texas, a contract was made with W. S. Peters, an Englishman; D. S. Carroll and eighteen others, known as “Peters’ Land Grant Colony,” to bring at least 250 families per year to Texas. The Peters’ Colony originators were located in Louisville, Kentucky. Major Cheney was an heir to 300 plus acres of land that was granted to the Cheney family of pioneer settlers (through the Peters’ Colony Land Grant) by the Republic of Texas while Governor Pease was in office. The Cheney/Sanders families have been residents on the property since 1860. Major Cheney married into another Tarrant County pioneer family; the Loyd’s who owned large tracts of land nearby. He married Malinda Loyd in 1881. Major Cheney’s parents were from Tennessee and his wife’s parents were from Kentucky. His grandson, James McKinley Sanders, Sr., inherited the homestead currently occupied and located at 1400 Carson Street.
The land on the Cheney Ranch (as it was sometimes called) was farmed and harvested for the family’s use and for the marketing of cotton, packaged shelled pecans, cords of wood, home made butter, peas, corn, tomatoes, watermelons, peaches, pears, plums, spinach and other greens. The crops were sold at area farmer’s markets in Fort Worth and Birdville. Even today, some of the land is still used for growing crops. In addition to farming, cattle was raised and later sold at Hodge Station, which was an extension of the Fort Worth Stockyards. Ranch hands were hired to assist with the ranching and farming duties. Major Cheney provided housing for the hired hands. During the early 1900’s Major Cheney and his wife Malinda leased land to Fort Worth Sand & Gravel, now known as Texas Industries, Inc. (TXI, Inc.) for the purpose of mining sand and gravel.
The original home of Major and Malinda Cheney was destroyed by fire, but the memory has been preserved and kept alive by renderings. Many of the houses built by family members have remained within family ownership. The houses on Carson Street were constructed in a simple folk plan, which was fairly common in the evolution of American building. Family members built the structures by hand with wood made from pine trees and bois d’arc trees, which grew on the properties.