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SIMON SPRINGS, TEXAS
Pleasant Grove School, a Rosenwald School, was built in Simon Springs, Texas, in the 1920s and served as both a school and a church for the rural community. Courtesy Fisk University Rosenwald Fund Card File Database and included in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107.
SIMON SPRINGS, TEXAS. Simon Springs is located on County Road 3120, about seventeen miles west-southwest of Crockett in western Houston County and was established by former slaves shortly after the end of the Civil War. Though the precise origin of the name “Simon Springs” is unknown, descendants of the founders believe that the name has some connection to the many natural springs located throughout the community. In 1873 freedman Thomas Ard purchased land about two miles from the Trinity River, and that land became the homestead for the Ard family (some members used the spelling “Ards”). Other founding members of the community included the Bowens, Warren, Polk, Robinson, Easterling, Hollingsworth, Ford, Jackson, and Spurlock families. The town of Alabama, located two miles to the west, became the focal point of the community of Simon Springs. The Alabama ferry crossing transported people, livestock, and goods between Houston and Leon counties, and it promoted social interactions among people on both sides of the Trinity River. The Alabama ferry crossing remained a vital part of the community until the sudden death of its last ferry master in 1949.
Around 1925 a school, believed to have been a three-teacher Rosenwald School, was built in Simon Springs, and that building served both as a school and a church. In 1934 the Pleasant Grove Baptist Church constructed its own sanctuary on the site where the school was located. The school was closed in 1950, and its students were transferred to Williams High School in nearby Porter Springs. Williams High School was closed in 1970, and its students became part of the Crockett Independent School District. The church remained active in the 2010s.
The people of Simon Springs worked primarily as sharecroppers, day laborers, and carpenters. Cotton was the cash crop, and families raised chickens, cows, hogs, and gardens to provide most of their food. The population peaked in the 1930s with an estimated 300 residents. World War II, the Great Migration, and the use of cotton picking machines led to a sharp decline in the population. In 2016 about fifty residents remained in Simon Springs. Nealy Ards (1902–2001), great grandson of Thomas Ard, worked as a sharecropper until he finally quit the cotton business in 1975. He possibly was the last sharecropper in Houston County.
Donald Ards, “The Simon Springs Community,” unpublished manuscript, Community File Collection, Houston County Historical Commission Archives, Crockett, Texas. Houston County Historical Commission, History of Houston County, Texas, 1687–1979 (Tulsa, Oklahoma: Heritage, 1979).
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The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.Handbook of Texas Online, Donald Ards, "Simon Springs, Texas," accessed March 19, 2018, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/hnsim.
Uploaded on November 7, 2017. Modified on November 14, 2017. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.