Years before this community was named Forest Grove, the cemetery was started on the hill west of the present church building and was called Hat Prairie. Two stories were related to this name:
1. The open space on the hill was shaped like a hat.
2. A fellow riding by on horseback lost his hat and sometime later found it on top of the hill.
The first train on the S.A.&A.P. [San Antonio & Aransas Pass] Railroad came through in 1888 Ė no railroad left now.
At the protracted meeting held by C. S. Watson and C. A. Leecraft in August 1898, a congregation was organized by appointing as a board of elders, W. W. Kyle, J. R. Lothlin, and R. S. Stanley and as deacons, Richard Boswell, H. B. Duncum, Frank Bounds.
The congregation met at Oak Hill schoolhouse on Sept. 13, 1902, and reorganized with W. W. Kyle and J. W. Crim as elders, and Frank Bounds, J. B. R. Smith, J. P. Keen as deacons. The old church building was built in the fall of the same year at a cost of approximately $300 and was paid for except $25. W. W. Kyle suggested the name Forest Grove because he knew a place in Missouri by that name. The building was dedicated on the 4th Lordís Day in January 1903.
Forest Grove had the first homecoming on October 15, 1956, and started a building fund for a new church. On the third Sunday of September 1959, the last services were held in the old church house with James Diamond preaching. The free-will offering on that day was $1,600 for the fund. The old church was moved the following week and the recreation building was used for all services until the new church was finished. The first services in the new one was on January 24, 1960. Dedication services were on April 24, 1960, with five preachers in charge: James Diamond, James Mantooth, Edward Fraim, Charles Jarmon, and Hollins DuHon.
Hicks was a very active part of the community for years. In the 1920ís there were a section house, a depot, two stores, a cotton gin, a coalmine, several small rent houses, a three-teacher schoolhouse, a blacksmith shop, a post office, and a commissary. Now none of these are left. In 1917 and 1918, rows and rows of cordwood were stacked beside the railroad near the school and several said they would walk through the stacks on their way to school each day.
Some of the senior people told from memory some of these facts. Two doctors were in the Hicks community: Dr. T. L. McLarty and Dr. J. P. Sparks. Joe Magee was one of the managers of the coalmine. Robert Stence, Tom Paul, Will Crim helped operate the commissary. Lee Scarbrough, W. O. Hollowell, and Will Alexander were owners of the stores. Charlie Gard operated the gin. Teachers were Winnie Fitzgerald, Betty Childs, Myrtle Browder, Carrie Spence. A Woodman Hall stood southeast of the church and had active members. A Literary Society used the hall for meetings too.
There was another school in the area, Oak Hill, located on the southeast corner of the now Fritz Doss farm on Highway 77. Children who attended had to walk, some several miles. Teachers were Guy and Fred Eads, Edna cook, Ruby Aldridge, Ruby Hickman, Bolivar Carlyle, Johnny Cherry.
For entertainment baseball games were played, house parties held, basketball games, dominoes, etc.
Looking at the markers in the Forest Grove Cemetery the oldest one with printing that is readable is D. B. Hughes, died 1856. (relative of the Overmans)
At this writing, the church building is paid for and citizens are paying for the new three-bedroom parsonage. Besides the regular church funds, the Forest Grove Memorial Fund was started at the death of Henry Spence, Sept. 1969, and the cemetery fund is used for upkeep.
SOURCE: Marshall, Ida Jo (ed.), Rockdale Centennial: A History of Rockdale, Texas, 1874-1974. Rockdale, TX: Rockdale Reporter, 1974. (p. 95-96)
Forest Grove is a rural church community located on U.S. Highway 77, about 7-miles south of Rockdale in southern Milam County.
Its population was reported as 40 in 1966 and as 60 in 1990.
BIBLIOGRAPHY: Lelia M. Batte, History of Milam County, Texas (San Antonio: Naylor, 1956); Milam County Heritage Preservation Soc., Matchless Milam: History of Milam County (Dallas: Taylor, 1984); Handbook of Texas On-Line
Created on 15 Feb 2001 and last revised on 4 March 2003.