History of Forest Grove, church found with letter

On Jan. 30, 1937 F. D. Gibson of Waco sent a letter to N. E, Alford. Accompanying the letter was an oral history written by O. B. McNeill, a prominent citizen of the Rockdale Tanglewood area. McNeill wrote:

Near the middle of the 1700’s Mr. and Mrs. Dock Hughes and a young single man by the name of Harnis, who worked for the Hughes, settled eight miles south of where Rockdale now stands.

Mr. Harnis married a Yeagua Indian of the Cherokee tribe. They had one daughter named Nancy. Mr. and Mrs. Hughes had a son named Merain.

Merain married the half Indian daughter of the Harnis couple. Merian Hughes and wife bought a tract of land near a cemetery named Hat Prairie.

The first person buried in Hat Prairie Cemetery was a young unknown wrangler. He worked for people in the area breaking horses, which is how he was killed. He was buried in an unmarked grave. The second gravesite was Merian Hughes’ wife.

Townsens Cemetery was at the southwest corner of Hat Prairie Cemetery on the old Brenham and Belton road. By the mid-1800’s families settled in this area with sir names of Alford, Overman, Windlens and Richards.

About a mile north of these two cemeteries a school was built known as Oak Hill. In 1869 N. F. Overman built a tread cotton gin and a brick plant one-half mile east of the Oak Hill School.

In 1879, when railroads built south, the SA&AP railroad built its line a mile southeast of Hat Prairie and a new community named Hicks developed.

In 1898 the first church in the area organized with 63 members. The actual church building was built in 1902 on land donated by Bill Young. In January 1903 at the dedication the official name of Forest Grove Christian Church was chosen and the community of Forest Grove and Forest Grove Christian Church history began.

This activity wasn’t unusual as new seekers were always seeking a homestead, but it is unusual is to find a documented history of the sequence of how all this took place.

Oak Hill School was torn down many years ago and today there is a home with large oak trees at that same location.

Because of O. B. McNeill’s written oral history we have a sequence of how this community of Forest Grove came into being.

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