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PLEASANT RETREAT, TX

PLEASANT RETREAT, TEXAS. Pleasant Retreat is a small church community located just west of Tyler, north of State Highway 31, and south of State Highway 64 in central Smith County. Originally part of the George Myers Survey, the area was settled by 1859 when Blackfork Church reported a membership of thirty. In 1861 the name of the church was changed to Pleasant Retreat Society, and records indicate that blacks were allowed to join as early as 1863. It became the Pleasant Retreat Church in 1875. On June 23, 1877, John Jones donated two acres of land for a cemetery, and the following month William F. McClure gave six acres. A tabernacle, camp houses, and cooking areas were built on the McClure acreage so that it could be used for camp meetings, which began on the Friday preceding the last Sunday in August. By 1897 the settlement and congregation had grown considerably, necessitating a larger church building. Under the leadership of S. T. Shelton and Reverend T. B. Vinson, the new structure was soon completed. In the early years classes had also been held in the church. The new building allowed Pleasant Retreat School to have a separate facility in the old building, where all grades continued to meet. By 1903 county records showed two common schools in the town, each having one teacher. Fifty-nine white students attended one, and fourteen black students attended the other.

The Methodist church continued to grow, as did the community. In 1927 the young people in the congregation formed an Epworth League, now the Methodist Youth Fellowship. The following year a fire partially destroyed the church roof, and for a while services were held in the nearby Dixie School auditorium. On June 8, 1930, Reverend L. F. Meadgen conducted the first services in a new $3,000 brick building adjoining Dixie School. The fellowship made this move because the school was close to the old site, the location was more convenient, and Walter Beaird had donated the land. By 1936 the school had closed, and the settlement was not identified on maps. There was a cemetery in the area, as well as a cluster of farms on the dirt roads. By 1946 the congregation had become too large for the church facility, so a new $44,000 structure was planned. Under the guidance of Reverend John Wesley Hardt, it was finished in 1948. By 1952 local children were attending the Dixie Independent School District. In 1955 the church constructed an educational building costing $33,000 and a new $18,000 parsonage for Reverend L. B. Broach III. Maps for 1966 show that the major access road had been paved, the number of farms had declined, and the airstrip north of the community had become the enlarged Tyler Pounds Airport. In 1974 the church was still large and active. Organizations included the Women's Society of Christian Services, the Methodist Youth Fellowship, and the Methodist Men. Average Sunday school attendance was 245, and the average enrollment for summer Vacation Bible School was 100. Pleasant Retreat still appeared on county maps in 1985.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: 

Edward Clayton Curry, An Administrative Survey of the Schools of Smith County, Texas (M.Ed. thesis, University of Texas, 1938). "Pleasant Retreat Methodist Church," Chronicles of Smith County, Summer 1974. Smith County Historical Society, Historical Atlas of Smith County (Tyler, Texas: Tyler Print Shop, 1965).

Vista K. McCroskey

Citation

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Vista K. McCroskey, "PLEASANT RETREAT, TX," Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/hrpak), accessed October 30, 2014. Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
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