Thursday, November 17, 2011

Looking For Antrim Community in East Texas

Have you tried to find a place that no longer exists? Where was Antrim Community in Texas? What evidence can we find today that it was once a place where families lived their lives, were born, attended school, married neighbors, farmed their land, shopped for essentials, sang and prayed in church, went to the local saloon, and were buried in the nearby cemetery.

Sometimes our favorite memories are now parking lots, high rise buildings, or possibly an empty mound of earth on a dirt road or a run down home that was once the pride of the family.

Antrim Community in Houston County is like the last thought expressed above--just a few memories can be found from some who lived there and recorded their memories. Even those thoughts are not much in evidence. Antrim  was a place that had a school and a cemetery. The cemetery is still there. That's where my maternal great grandparents John Pinckney Willis and Lucy Jane Lamb are buried.

Antrim Community began in the 1864 according to all accounts. My direct line ancestors settled in this area in 1909 after leaving Calhoun County, Florida with 11 of their children. Antrim was nestled between Elkhart near the southwest corner of Anderson County, Texas and Grapeland, near the northwest corner of Houston County, Texas. Between the middle and late 1800s and the early 1900s, the settlers who built their homes and farmed the land didn't bother with the boundaries of the two counties. They walked, rode horses, mules, or in wagons to see their relatives and neighbors, go to town or church in both counties They raised their children who married others in the communities where they came from in Florida, Georgia, or Alabama, or new neighbors who were already settled in Texas.
A hand drawn map outlining the roads, railroad, churches, and cemeteries
near Antrim Community. North is to the left towards Elkhart in Anderson
County and south is to the right towards Grapeland in Houston County.  
Here is a description of the Antrim Community about its school from Armistead Albert Aldrich's book in 1943: Antrim School

"One of the early schools of Houston County was located about 8 or 10 miles northwest of Grapeland, and was first known as the Antrim School. The first teacher of the school of whom we have any information was a man by the name of Rowe. He was followed by Mr. Russell Wilson, the father-in-law of Colonel W. N. Sheridan. He lived for a while in the home of Col. Sheridan and taught the school about the year 1865 or 1866. He was the father of Zach Wilson, who married Mary, the daughter of Thomas P. Collins and died about the year 1869."

Two women teachers at the Antrim School

"The next teacher of the Antrim School was a Dr. Turner. The school at Antrim was taught in a large, one room, log schoolhouse, about 24 feet square. It had no glass windows, but one log was sawed out to make an opening for a window."

This photograph was shared with me by first cousin Ivey Maurice Brinson. It was taken about 1920
in front of the Antrim School with many of our ancestors who were young students at that time.
Many of them or their families are buried in the Antrim Cemetery across the road from the
former location of the Antrim School--a knoll of land backed by a line of trees.

          The 1920 Antrim School picture included the following students as near as could be read from the picture:
          Row 1: Estel Martin, age 5; Not identified; Kenneth Little (first cousin, once removed; Johnny Park Durnell; Wayne Little (first cousin, once removed); Bertha Mae Durnell; Ethel Avalon Willis (first cousin once removed); and West Florida Taylor (second cousin, once removed).
          Row 2: Earl Anthony Gray; Bernice Gray; Alma Kiser; Lois Durnell; Edith Brinson, age 7 (sister-in-law of first cousin once removed); and Not identified;
          Row 3: Ava Lee Brinson, age 9 (sister-in-law of first cousin once removed); Eva Simpson, age 6 (first cousin once removed); and Hubert Gray, age 9 (first cousin once removed);
          Row 4: Mrs. Landrum, teacher; John Pike; Mildred Martin; Lillie Ruth Durnell; Mildred Gray, age 7 (first cousin once removed); Bennie Gray, age 10 (first cousin once removed); and Porter Little, age 9 (first cousin once removed)

Notes from Linda Robbins: I have identified eleven of the children in the above photograph as my ancestors. I may be able to identify more ancestors in this photograph as I "dig" deeper into the collateral lines of my maternal family through more marriages in the community.

"The Antrim School was later moved to a new community known as Pleasant Hill. Among the old time citizens who supported the Antrim School were John A. Davis, a son of Bradford Davis, Reuben Matthews and John A. Williams."

Antrim School Students with teacher. Antrim School had one "big room".
(This caption was attached to the original digital photograph.)
"A little town grew up around Pleasant Hill, consisting of two stores, one blacksmith shop, one saloon and a schoolhouse, which was also used as a church house. Among those who preached there were the Rev. Matt J. Edmiston, the Rev. Barbour and the Rev. Richards, all Presbyterian preachers. Other prominent citizens of the community were: John McElroy, Jim Gray, J. H. B. Kyle and John Little.

B.F. Edens also was a merchant at Pleasant Hill and afterwards moved to Grapeland and became one of the most successful merchants and business men of Grapeland, accumulating quite a little fortune. The old Antrim and Pleasant Hill schools deserve a place in Houston County history."

Notes from Linda Robbins: John A. Williams was John Andrew Williams (1826-1877), my great-great uncle who married Catharine Amanda McElroy (1829-1916). John McElroy (1831-?) was John D. McElroy, the husband of my great-great aunt Sarah Jane Williams McElroy (1837-?). Jim Gray (1830-1922) could have been James Malachi Gray , my great-grandfather, who came to Texas before 1850 and married Henrietta Elizabeth Gray. He also served in the Confederate Army in the Civil War. There are four James "Jim" Grays who lived in the area of the Antrim Community during last half of the 1800s and early 1900s.

Antrim and Pleasant Hill Schools and Communities in NW Houston County, Texas
The History of Houston County, Texas: Together with biographical sketches of many pioneers and later citizens of said county, who have made notable contributions to its development and progress
by Armistead Albert Aldrich, The Naylor Company, 1943
Pages 80-81

If anyone can identify any of the people or make corrections in the photographs or from the Antrim community, please make a comment or contact me. I will be glad to add correct information in my writing.
Thanks to Ivey Maurice Brinson for copies of newspaper articles and photographs and thanks to Tom Streetman for copies of newspaper articles and photographs.

1 comment:

  1. Linda, Thanks for the information on the McElroy's, John D. & Sarah Jane (Williams) McElroy, buried at Antrim, I am trying to get them transferred to my management, they have been unfinished for a long time, your history has been of great help to me as I keep adding to my family tree, you know it is forever a work still in progress. You have a wonderful Web Site,
    Thanks so very much,
    Martha Vandver


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