John Vest Folsom was born in Coryell County on November 11, 1898 to Agnes Ann Traller and Samuel Christopher Folsom. Samuel, the son of Nancy Cobb and Elias Folsom, was born in Georgia in 1857. Agnes, the daughter of Sara Steven-son and Joseph H. Traller, was born in Gatesville on July 5, 1869. Her father was born at sea on November 16, 1832 to German emigrants en route to America. Her mother was born on August 19, 1842 in Arkansas to Emily Jane and James Hall Stevenson.
Zula Skillern was born in Dallas County on August 29, 1899 to Mamie Jane Edwards and James Arthur Skillern. Mamie was born in Dale County, Alabama on September 6, 1864 to Elizabeth Jane White and William A. Edwards, both natives of Georgia. James was born in Bledsoe County, Tennessee on May 29, 1856 to Sarah and William Skillern. His earliest ancestor in America was William Skillern, born in Ireland about 1710. Mamie and James were married in 1884 in Den-ton County. He died in 1914 and she in 1935, and both are buried in the Oak Cliff Cemetery in Dallas.
Zula’s father, James Skillern, was in Lewisville by 1880, where he established a drug store in 1885. By 1910 the company was known as “Skillern and Sons Drugs” and had numerous stores throughout north Texas, with headquarters in Dallas. Her grandfather, William A. Edwards, was a prominent Methodist minister and a captain in the Confederate army. Between 1886 and 1900 Reverend Edwards served as pastor of many north Texas churches, including Cochran Chapel, East Dallas, West Dallas, and Haskell Avenue Methodist.
Samuel Folsom, father of John Vest, was a prominent farmer in Coryell County, who died in 1920 and is buried in the Mount Cemetery in Coryell County.
During World War I, J.V. was stationed with the army at Love Field and he remained in Dallas the rest of his life. On March 20, 1920 he and Zula were married. Zula had graduated from Oak Cliff High School and attended SMU and was active in a number of charitable, social, and women’s organizations in Dallas. Both Zula and J.V. were very active in the Oak Cliff Methodist Church and J.V. served as a leader of the North Texas Conference of the United Methodist Church and also as president of the Methodist Hospital Board.
J.V. worked with his brothers in Dallas during the 1920s and thirties at the Folsom Company, manufacturing attic fans and space heaters. The company also represented small national manufacturers as sales representatives in the southwest. In 1940 the organization was divided into two separate companies: brother Al took the manufacturing business and J.V. took the sales representative business. J.V. founded the J.V. Folsom Company, a manufacturer’s representative company for housewares and garden equipment.
J.V. died on November 18, 1976 and Zula died on September 16, 1983. Both are entombed in the Hillcrest Mausoleum.
J.V. and Zula had two sons, John, Jr. and Robert Skillern. J.V., Jr. was born on July 20, 1924 and attended SMU. He was a pilot in the U.S. Army Air Corps and died in December 1944 while serving in the Pacific area during World War II.
Robert Skillern was born in Dallas on February 15, 1927. He graduated from Sunset High School and attended the U.S. Military Academy at West Point near the end of World War II. He graduated in 1949 from SMU with a Bachelor of Business Administration degree and was a member of Kappa Alpha Order. Active in athletics, he lettered in football, basketball, baseball, and track.
Bob worked as a sales representative for the J.V. Folsom Company, but soon began real estate activity part-time. By 1954 real estate was a full-time job. He became a major developer of shop-ping centers, office buildings, apartments, individual areas, and residential subdivisions. His interest in golf led him to build Bent Tree and Gleneagles Country Clubs.
Bob Folsom served on the boards of many civic and charitable organizations, including the Cot-ton Bowl Association, the D/FW Airport, Methodist Hospital, and SMU. He was mayor of the City of Dallas from 1976 to 1981 and president of the Dallas Independent School District Board from 1964 to 1966. He was president of many organizations including Preston Trail Golf Club 1985, 1993-1994; Dallas Country Club, 1966; Texas Municipal League 1979-1980; and SMU Alumni Association 1971-1972.
He has received numerous awards for business and civic activities, including SMU Distinguished Alumnus in 1975, Headliner of the Year Dallas Press Club award in 1981, J. Eric Jonsson Aviation Award in 1990, SMU Lettermen’s Association Silver Anniversary Mustang Award in 1991, SMU Edwin Cox School of Business Distinguished Alumnus Award in 1995, and Award for Excellence in Humanities from the Dallas Historical Society in 2000.
Robert married Margaret Monet Dalton on March 7, 1949 and they have four children. Margaret Diane was born May 14, 1950 and married first Wayne Miller and second Robert Frank. Debbie was born November 9, 1953 and married Don Michael Jarma. John Vest, III was born May 1, 1956 and died May 30, 1983. Robert Stephen was born January 2, 1959 and married Sharon Marie St. Germaine.
By Steve Folsom for Proud Heritage, Volume III by Dallas County Pioneer Association. Additional Skillern History can be found here.