GAY HILL, TEXAS (Washington County). Gay Hill is on Farm Road 390 twelve miles northwest of Brenham in the rolling hills of northern Washington County. The town was an educational and religious center on the La Bahía Road in early Texas. Rev. Hugh Wilson established the second Presbyterian church in Texas there in 1839. Presbyterians from throughout the republic met in the community, then known as Chriesman Settlement, to organize the Brazos Presbytery in 1840.
By 1840 the Republic of Texas established a post office in the new town under the name Gay Hill, after the owners of the town store, Thomas Gay and William Carroll Jackson Hill. The beautiful forested hills and healthy climate attracted prominent early Texans, including residents Horatio Chriesman, R. E. B. Baylor, John Sayles, and Dr. George C. Red. Horticulturist Thomas Affleck’s Glenblythe Plantation was located in the Gay Hill vicinity. Old Gay Hill served as the supply point of a moderately prosperous agricultural area.
In 1854 a Masonic lodge was founded there. Between 1853 and 1888 Rev. James W. Miller operated Live Oak Female Seminary in Gay Hill. By 1860 the town had flour and lumber mills and a population of 280. After the Civil War a cotton gin augmented the town’s prosperity; retail establishments continued to thrive. The Masonic lodge and Presbyterian and Baptist churches were active.
During the 1870’s the town had a Grange and a Democratic Club. The Republican party remained strong among Gay Hill’s black residents, despite Greenback party efforts. When the Gulf, Colorado and Santa Fe Railway extended to the Gay Hill vicinity in 1881, residents moved the town to its present location, two miles west of the original site. The former location is sometimes called Old Gay Hill. Gay Hill’s population was 120 in 1890.
By 1900 Germans were the dominant ethnic group. The town became a distribution center by the early twentieth century. Cotton buying and ginning sustained this station on the Santa Fe through the Great Depression.
By 1936 Gay Hill had an estimated population of 250 and ten businesses. The nearby Sun oilfield, which opened in 1928, and its pipeline enabled the town to maintain a variety of retail and commercial establishments through the early post-World War II era. The decline of cotton and rise of ranching in the area hastened the town’s demise as a distribution center and supply point.
The population declined to 200 by 1958, and businesses decreased to five. The last store closed in 1971, when many residents had moved to Brenham. In 1993 the estimated population was 145, and the community had no businesses; its economy depended on ranching. It had two churches, a cemetery, and lodge hall. The population remained the same in 2000.
BIBLIOGRAPHY: Mrs. R. E. Pennington, History of Brenham and Washington County (Houston, 1915). Charles F. Schmidt, History of Washington County (San Antonio: Naylor, 1949). Vertical Files, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin. Washington County Scrapbook, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin.~~~Carole E. Christian
My Maternal Grandparents, Harry William Linderman and Phyllis Eugenia (Palen) Linderman owned a weekend place by the name of “Sunset Ridge” and they ran their tavern by the name of “Saturday’s Tavern” at the same place. My parents, Leroy Eugene Frederick and Jean Marie (Linderman) Frederick, Yvonne Phyllis(Linderman) Burgess, Yvarra Irene “Billie” (Linderman) Jackson and Kenneth Edward “Ken” Jackson, and John Elva Cook and Patricia Mae “Patsy” (Linderman) Cooke, all helped build and run the house and the tavern. My Grandfather, Harry played the violin and tended bar. My Grandmother, Phyllis sang and played the piano. My Uncle Kenneth, and Aunt Patsy sang too. My Mother and Aunt Patsy sang “Whispering Hope” together.
My Mother told me that the spinster sisters were from the Wolfe family who owned the store. I was born near there in Brenham, Texas in 1954. We had many a fun weekends there. Lots of food and family. We had many parties and barbecues. My Grandfather built his own barbecue grill out of bricks. We got to enjoy life in the country when life was simpler and slower.
GAY HILL, TEXAS Central Texas Ghost Town Washington County Farm Road 390 (aka La Bahia Road) 12 miles NW of Brenham Population: slightly over 100 (est) Old Gay Hill School, Texas The former Gay Hill School – relocated to Independence, Texas TE Photo, 3-02 Gay Hill is a historic town with strong business and cultural ties to Independence, Texas. Once known as Chriesman Settlement – the name was changed when the Republic of Texas established a post office in the town sometime before 1840.
I took this pic of a beautiful tree that me and my son saw on one of the farm roads in “Old Gay Hill”. We drove through Gayhill, Texas, and took pics of all the old buildings and the ghost town of Gayhill. That was a fun trip, I let my son drive for the first time on the old dirt road. He was so happy!