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Carole E. Christian

UNION HILL, TEXAS (Washington County). Union Hill was a town on the wagon road between Houston and Austin near Carr's Crossing on Yegua Creek and just northwest of the present site of Burton in Washington County. Nearby Kerr and Mayfield Creeks and a deep well dug by an unknown Indian tribe provided plentiful water, while forests to the north furnished fuel and building material. The altitude of Union Hill, 585 feet, augmented the security of the location. Originally known as the Kerr Settlement, this community in Stephen F. Austin's colony was the site of the first Methodist prayer meetings in Texas, and Methodist preacher John Wesley Kenney was a frequent visitor. In 1841 Dr. H. Gantt named the community Union Hill for its location on a hill and for the lack of discord among its residents. A post office was established in September 1854 in the growing town, which served as a supply center for a populous hinterland. That year the area population was 879, and by 1855 Union Hill had a Masonic lodge. Lucy Kerr gave land for a Methodist church in July 1857; that year a private grammar school began operating. In 1858 the state legislature chartered Union Hill High School, one of the first schools in Texas to receive the designation of high school. This private institution, supported by the Masons and the local community, retained the educational curriculum of an academy. In 1860 the population of Union Hill numbered about 130, with a German immigrant minority; the town supplied an agricultural and stock-raising area of 1,000 to 1,500 residents. On the eve of the Civil War, town residents included seven merchants, four doctors, two lawyers, two ministers, two teachers, a mechanic, a shoemaker, and various stonemasons, cabinetmakers, wagoners, and carpenters. In September 1868 the Union Hill post office closed. Prominent citizen John Burton helped obtain extension of rail transportation to the area after the Civil War, with the construction of the Houston and Texas Central section between Brenham and Austin. The railroad came through the area in 1870, and the new town that sprang up on the rail line two miles from Union Hill was named Burton. Most Union Hill citizens moved to the new railroad town, and the town church, school, and commercial buildings, including the drugstore, were eventually transferred to Burton. Union Hill ceased to exist after 1871; in the 1980s only the well remained.

Annie Maud Avis, ed., History of Burton (Burton, Texas, 1974). Ed Ellsworth Bartholomew, The Encyclopedia of Texas Ghost Towns (Fort Davis, Texas, 1982). William Carey Crane, Centennial Address, Embracing the History of Washington County, Texas, July 4, 1876 (Galveston News Steam Job Printing, 1876; rpt., Brenham, Texas: Banner-Press, 1939). W. O. Dietrich, The Blazing Story of Washington County (Brenham, Texas: Banner Press, 1950; rev. ed., Wichita Falls: Nortex, 1973). Mrs. R. E. Pennington, History of Brenham and Washington County (Houston, 1915). Charles F. Schmidt, History of Washington County (San Antonio: Naylor, 1949). Homer S. Thrall, History of Methodism in Texas (Houston: Cushing, 1872; rpt., n.p.: Walsworth, 1976).

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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, Carole E. Christian, "UNION HILL, TX (WASHINGTON COUNTY)," accessed May 26, 2019,

Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
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