Pleasant Hill Baptist Church
Monday, August 21, 2017

Community History

 

The town of Pleasant Hill was originally part of two sections of land granted by the United States Government to a Chickasaw Indian named Ta-to-yo on January 25, 1836. The land was later acquired by D. Fields and deeded to John McKean on March 30, 1838. George Anderson Robertson purchased the land in 1849 and the settlement was called Robertson’s Crossroads.

 

There are two versions of how Pleasant Hill got its name. The library version states George Robertson had a son named Pleasant and he changed the name to honor him. Mrs. D. W. Bridgeforth, whose life time extends over half of the historical period, takes issue with this version. “I remember hearing my father, the late P. M. Black, say that the town got its name during a meeting,” she said. The preacher said he disliked the name “Robertson’s Crossroads.” He said, “This is a pleasant place to live. This is a pleasant hill and they started calling it that.

 

The community grew. There was a well in the middle of the crossroads. A two story framed store was built. The store also housed a Masonic Hall and a post office. The area became a prosperous farm center.

 

Across from the store was Clyde Tarver’s blacksmith shop. He was also the town’s undertaker and Justice of the Peace. He was a familiar person around Pleasant Hill and lived to be 93.

 

Dr. Collins was the town’s doctor for many years. In 1895 Dr. S. M. Watson moved from Eudora and practiced medicine here until his death in 1913.

 

Mr. J. S. Slaughter bought the Williamson store in 1918 and operated it until his death in 1926. This store property was sold to the Methodist church and the store was torn down.

 

Also in Pleasant Hill was the Bridgeforth & Company Store and J. A. Summers & Son store. The Bridgeforth Bros. Furnishing Store was built by Byrd Bridgeforth and at his death in 1908, his sons took over the store. The brothers furnished the farmers around the area and it was the largest furnishing store in the county. Farmers were given credit according to the size of their families and how much cotton they were supposed to produce. In the fall when the crops were harvested, the bills were paid, and they would go to “Goldsmith’s & Schwab’s” in Memphis for their winter clothing. They went by horse and buggy/wagon.

 

Pleasant Hill became a prosperous community. There were two cotton gins as well as a saw mill nearby.

 

The oldest church was a Presbyterian church. It was the first to be built at Pleasant Hill, and used as a Union Church. This church was destroyed by a storm in 1905.

 

The Baptist Church organized in 1888 and was located across the road from the Old Presbyterian Church. The building was erected by members and the Ladies gave ice cream festivals to do their part in raising money for lumber and other materials. It is uncertain when this church was dissolved or destroyed. The current Pleasant Hill Baptist Church did not organized until October 18, 1940.

 

The Methodist Church was organized in 1888. It was north of the business part of the town, about one-third of the distance between the stores and the school building. The members of the church built the building while the ladies raised funds by having festivals and other fund-raising activities. In 1937 the Methodist church burned down and a new brick church was constructed.

 

In the early 1890’s, a bell was erected at the Methodist Church. It was originally purchased for $80.00. The money was donated by the cotton farm of Sledge & Horflet. The bell was rung almost every Sunday morning at 9:00 AM for the call to come worship. It was also rung for important events.

 

There were also three black churches: Adams on College Road, St. Matthews on One Way, and Shiloh on Bridgeforth Road. The Adams church also served as a school but was later torn down.

 

St. Matthew continues to exist today. The Liza Williford Family gave the land for the St. Matthew Church.

 

In its early days, Shiloh was famous for its quartet. At Shiloh it was a custom when one of their members died to beat drums which could be heard even in the heart of Pleasant Hill. Shiloh was probably the oldest and best known black church in the county.

 

D. F. Bristol taught at the first school in Pleasant Hill in 1867. The school was located just below the crossroads on Pleasant Hill Road. He was the only teacher. He taught only three subjects—reading, writing and arithmetic. Webster’s blue back speller book was one of the text books. About forty pupils attended this school.

 

Later in 1871, the Masonic Hall (completed in the late 1860s) was also used as a school. D. F. Bristol became the principal of this new school and in 1872 the name was changed to Pleasant Hill Male and Female Academy. There were about 100 students in this school during this time to 1879.

 

In 1879 this school was known as “The Pleasant Hill Academy.” It was the largest school in north Mississippi. Students boarded around in the community and attended this school.

 

In 1890, Professor S. S. Robinson became principal of the Pleasant Hill Academy. He taught for 6 years. He was the last teacher to precede the public school system and for many years the public schools were supplemented by a month or two of pay schools—the students paid a monthly fee.

 

The Pleasant Hill School became known as the Brick College. In 1957 the grammar school was consolidated with Olive Branch and both grammar and high school students were transported there.

 

After several years of vacancy, Pleasant Hill Baptist Church bought the school land and tore down the Pleasant Hill School. They later built a parsonage on the property. All that remains to remember the historic Old Brick College is the road that joins Pleasant Hill Road in front of the parsonage. It is called College Road in memory of the Old Red Brick College.

 

This information came from “The History of Pleasant Hill” by Ruby S. Watson. Her grandsons, Bobby Ray Watson and Robbie Neal Watson, assisted her in compiling this history.