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All Those Pleasant Hills

by Bob Bowman
Bob Bowman

Could Pleasant Hill be the most popular name for towns in East Texas?

With nine communities named Pleasant Hill in the more than 40 counties that constitute East Texas, it certainly qualifies--and that doesn't include cemeteries.

None of today's Pleasant Hills are large towns. Most, in fact, are forgotten places.

One of the most interesting Pleasant Hills was a rural community nine miles south of Gilmer in Upshur County. The community took its name from a small rise of land before the Civil War and is said to have been one of the earliest Anglo settlements in the county.

John Holloway founded a church around 1865. The town grew rapidly after the Civil War and soon had a church, a store, a cotton gin, a grist mill and a blacksmith shop. When the St. Louis Southwestern Railroad was built in the l890s, it bypassed Pleasant Hill and most of its residents moved to nearby Pritchett.

In Hopkins County, another well-known Pleasant Hill was settled in the l840s six miles south of Sulphur Springs in Hopkins County. The town also derived its name from a small rise.

A Methodist church was founded in 1854 and a new two-story building was built in the 1880s with the lower floor used for church services and the upper level was used by the Grange and other societies.

A school also operated in the community and when it was consolidated with Sulphur Springs, the town declined and today it is only a dispersed community.

In Nacogdoches County, Pleasant Hill was also known as The Bogg, a name taken from a small pond. The rural community stood twelve miles north of Nacogdoches and in the early l900s had schools for black and white children.

When the Caro Northern Railroad was built in the area, the community began to grow with the two schools and two churches. About 100 families still live in the dispersed community.

Houston County's Pleasant Hill, also known as Antrim, was a rural settlement ten miles northwest of Grapeland. The community grew up around Antrim school organized in 1864 as one of the county's earliest schools.

Like its namesake in Upshur County, this Pleasant Hill began to decline when its people moved to Grapeland to be near the International-Great Northern Railroad. Today, it's a ghost town.

Smith County's Pleasant Hill was a church community south of Tyler in Smith County. The town had a school with 112 students in 1903, but the school was consolidated with Whitehouse. In the 1970s, the community had a church, four businesses and a cluster of homes. Today, little of the town remains.

Cherokee County's Pleasant Hill was settled during the Civil War about 24 miles northwest of Rusk. It had a church and a school, but today only a cemetery and a few buildings are left.

In Van Zandt County, Pleasant Hill stood a mile east of Edom. A Baptist church was founded in the late l800s. Today, the community lies in the shadows of Edom.

In 1897, Lamar County's Pleasant Hill was founded with a school 12 miles west of Paris. The town declined after World War II and only a church and a few homes reman.

The ninth Pleasant Hill in East Texas is eight miles northwest of San Augustine. In 1900, the town had a black school and by 1904 it added a white school. Today, the community's only landmarks are cemetery and a church.

If I have overlooked other Pleasant Hills, let me know.


All Things Historical March 4-10 , 2007 Column.
Published with permission
A weekly column syndicated in 70 East Texas newspapers


Forum
Subject: Pleasant Hill


My name is Reagan and I was looking at your pleasant hill(s) you have posted, and I know of 1 more in Rusk county. I go to school at the historic West Rusk, in New London, Texas. In 1937, London school exploded due to a gas leak, and it ended up killing around 300 children and staff. Most were buried in Pleasant Hill Cemetery outside London. In New London, there is the school (which the main building is all original since the rebuilt in 1938), a post office, a museum, some houses, and an old run down gas station that now only serves burgers and such for students, and a monument honoring those who passed in the disaster. Down the road, where those who perished are burried, there's only a church and the cemetery. So sad, just thought I'd let yall in on a bit of history. Love the site! :) - Reagan Windsor, March 18, 2017


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