History of the Lighted Cross on Kooken Hill
By: Judge Grace Campbell McKnight
According to Mrs. Mattie Mae Rice, about 1930 on World Day of Prayer, the women in the churches were meeting and they thought it would be a nice gesture to erect a cross for use in Easter Sunrise Services. A committee was appointed and eventually a wooden cross was made from two old telephone poles was erected on Kooken Hill. Later, Mr. Troy Wilson had a cross made from old boiler pipes, taken from the Mesquite plant of the Ferris Brick Company.
For the sunrise Easter Service in 1954, Rev. Hubert Crain, then pastor of the First Methodist Church, taped the cross with Scotchlite and arranged a light to shine thereon, using a battery since the nearest electricity was about a quarter of a mile away.
Brother Crain discussed the lighting of the cross with Ed McKnight and they got the Chamber of Commerce with R. H. Edwards as President, to give the project their backing. Ed McKnight was the catalyst that brought all the pieces together. The Texas Telephone and Telegraph Company contributed six of the poles necessary to string the electrical wires and Mr. Troy Wilson and the Ferris Brick Company furnished the other pole and supplied the labor for installing all of the poles.
The Texas Power and Light Company and the Chamber of Commerce secured the necessary wire and other material at cost and the labor for stringing the wire was graciously furnished by the Texas Power and Light Company – thanks to Roy Willis and Joe Patton, who did the work.
Mr. and Mrs. Ed McKnight volunteered to supply the Zeon, transformer and automatic time clock at their own expense. Mrs. McKnight was then employed at the Federal Sign Company of Texas in Dallas, and the employees of the sign company upon learning of this community project, volunteered their labor for the work in connection with manufacturing the tubing and installation. W. A. Mahaffey made the asbestos pattern; Pete Parrish bent the glass tubes; "Doc" Coursey pumped the tubes with gas; Guy Meade painted the double-back portions and Hoyt Butner, Metal Shop Foreman, made the metal box to encase the tube terminals and the transformer and connecting wiring. After working hours on Thursday, September 2, 1954, Hoyt Butner, Fred Leyer, Service Foreman, and Richard Button, installed the transformer box at the foot of the cross, erected the Zeon to outline the cross and tied in the automatic time switch – and so the cross was lighted.