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Milam County, Texas - Communities
New Salem

New Salem
(Researched by Mrs. Ernest Foster)

New Salem is a rural community 5-miles southeast of Rockdale. For a umber of years it was rather thickly populated area with a family for about each one-hundred acres of land. Farms were rented on a basis of third and fourth with the tenant paying the landlord one-third of the cotton and one-fourth of the grain. Gradually the community turned from farming to stock-raising and today there are only a few families living in the area.

A voting precinct was established in the community in 1886.

The first telephones were installed about 1910.

Oakdale, New Salem and Lewis rural schools were consolidated and a two-story school building was erected near Harmony Church. The school trustees at that time were Y. A. Gjedde, Howard Richards and S. B. Ford.

Harmony Baptist Church was organized in 1875 by combining New Salem Baptist Church and Briar Branch Baptist Church with Elder W. T. H. Beasley as pastor. Membership of the church was twenty- four members. Rev. Beasley served as pastor for twenty years. Another pastor and outstanding citizen was Reverend J. D. Shelton who served the church for about sixteen years. He was also an excellent surveyor whose service was used by many citizens. Other pastors through the years were Reverend Spradley, J. M. Rankin Scales, L. S. Darling, W. G. Jackson, O. J. Morgan, Elvin Dickey, J. L. McRae and J. A. Harvey.

Y. A. Gjedde was Sunday School superintendent for many years. With the untiring efforts of himself and his wife, Emma, they managed to keep the Sunday School active.

After a period during which members were few and the church inactive the few members met and held a conference. They voted to disband the church and to sell the building. The money from the sale was to be used for the upkeep of the Harmony Cemetery which had been established about the same time as Harmony Church. The cemetery is kept nicely and an occasional funeral is still held there.

A distinguished citizen who worked faithfully in the church and community was Dr. T. E. Riddle. He was the only physician in the community. He rode horseback to serve his patients and later traveled by horse and buggy all over the area. He received little or no pay for his services.

SOURCE: Marshall, Ida Jo (ed.), Rockdale Centennial: A History of Rockdale, Texas, 1874-1974. Rockdale, TX: Rockdale Reporter, 1974. (p. 103)


New Salem was a rural community located about 4-miles southeast of Rockdale and two miles east of Farm Road 908 in southeastern Milam County.

It served as a voting precinct in 1886. The school at New Salem had 51 students and one teacher in 1903. A school, a church, a cemetery, and several scattered houses were shown in the community on the 1941 county highway map. The school was consolidated with the Rockdale Independent School District in 1954, after which no further information was available.

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

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Created on 15 Feb 2001 and last revised on 4 March 2003.