Ward donates to St. John Colony Juneteenth facilities


By Kyle Mooty

LPR Editor

Saying he was “from these sticks,” Mitchell Ward returned to St. John Colony last week with a large check in hand in hopes he can continue coming home again to celebrate at a place with plans to become better than ever.

Ward, Chairman and CEO of MW Logistics in Dallas, gave $25,000 to the Juneteenth organization at St. John Colony, and promised to match up to another $25,000, or whatever can be raised.

Ward spoke before a gathering in the community at the Juneteenth grounds at St. John Colony.

“This is where my values come from,” Ward said. “They came out of these sticks. Some of us young ones are going to have to make sure and step up to keep what the 14 original families here intended this property to be. I want to spend that $50,000.

“I thought, if I’m gonna do this, I’m gonna do something at home. This is where my roots are.”

Ward noted that Azie Morton Taylor, the first African American to sign currency as Treasurer of the U.S, during the Jimmy Carter administration, was from St. John Colony, and basketball phenom Marques Haynes all lived in Caldwell County for a period. He also noted high school basketball coach Freddie Roland, known as “The Legend” for his success at LBJ High School in Austin, was from St. John Colony. Roland was one of many in attendance at the event last week at the Juneteenth grounds.

Marshall Hill, is the Juneteenth President at St. John Colony, with Doray Hill the Vice President:

“We are trying to get our area built up,” Marshall Hill said. “We are trying to make it look very presentable, very hospitable. We have several projects in the works. With help from the outside, this will help motivate other people to come in. Sometimes, you’ve just got only so much to work with. (Ward) not an outsider. He is from the community. He’s helped out before, but this time everyone can see what is going on.”

Ward was recently named as a Distinguished Alumnus at Texas State University in San Marcos.

Ward said he was a member of Lockhart High School’s Class of 1984, “The best class that’s ever come out of Lockhart.”

Also attending the St. John Colony Juneteenth grounds on this occasion were Caldwell County Sheriff Mike Lane, new Lockhart Police Chief Gary Williamson, County Commissioner Daryl Thomas, County Environmental Investigator Alberto Luna, and Lockhart City Councilmembers Jeffry Mickelson and Brad Westmoreland.

Juneteenth will be celebrated this year in Texas for the 158th year. St. John Colony was founded in 1872 by 14 families fleeing racist violence in Bastrop County.

“We’re here today because this is home,” Ward said. “This started out with 14 families. They had a vision that we would have something here, a piece of property that was owned that people could always come back to and some place to go for Juneteenth. Now it’s a national holiday, so we’re getting 300, 400 people out here and we need to improve the grounds. We continue to have more and more people out here. It’s pretty amazing. The Hills have done one heck of a job of maintaining what was left here. Putting in the work and doing what they’re doing is unbelievable.”

Marshall Hill said the $25,000 would help upgrade the Community Center, which needs air conditioning, among other things. The Community Center is 1,200 square feet.

“People that have full-time jobs come out here and help in the evenings and on weekends,” Hill said.

Ward, who founded MW Logistics in 2001, said he has been blessed and owes it all to his home.

“You won’t find me anywhere not talking about Lockhart,” Ward said. “You’re gonna know where I’m from and you’re gonna know where the best barbecue is. I’m always bragging about my home because I’m proud. Without coming up out of these sticks I would not be who I am today. I learned a lot. I learned a lot of good and I learned a lot of bad, but all of that made me who I was.”

There will be a work day on June 3 at the Juneteenth grounds and Hill asked that anyone that can help in any manner to please come to the St. John Colony Juneteenth grounds as they get things spruced up for the Juneteenth Day (June 17)

“There’s a lot of good people in Lockhart, Dale and St. John Colony.” Ward said. “A lot of people have come out of here with greatness. I do believe there are some kids in our community that are just as great as those who have come through already.”


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