Taking root: Families that stayed

Members of the Deats family, including Ernie Deats, from back left, Doris Deats Burbank, Jane Deats Hayley, George Deats and Wyndell Deats, and Elizabeth Deats Jones, front left, and Phraulene Deats gather at Ernie Deats’ home in Dickinson. The Deats family settled in Dickinson in 1872.

Photo by Jennifer Reynolds

Since W.S. Deats settled in Dickinson in 1872, members of the Deats family have been instrumental in the kind of events and organizations that help define the community they love, his great-grandson Ernie Deats said.

W.S. built a house on the Dickinson Bayou and earned a living working the land and working with his hands. His descendants followed in the footsteps of the family patriarch, who became the first of many family members to serve Dickinson in an official capacity when he was elected to the county commission in the late 1800s. He was followed by his son Henry after the turn of the century. Phraulene Deats, who still lives in Dickinson, was a city councilwoman in the 1980s.

“So many of us have a very strong, almost passionate, love of community,” Ernie Deats said, adding that they want to see the community do well and help others. “You can track it back forever.”

Deats, a rancher and a former teacher, served on the College of the Mainland board of trustees and is chairman on the board responsible for the annual Empty Stocking charity event in Dickinson. He helped start the Dickinson Educational Foundation at Dickinson High School.

He was born and raised in Dickinson and will die there, too, he said. He’s one of many in his family to live in the city all their lives.

“Dickinson has a lot of good, everyday working type people who are part of the community and want to take care of each other,” he said.

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