Red Branch Settlement


Buffalo Express Nov 22, 2005
Taken from "The Flo News" Written by Norma Moore

     The Red Branch Settlement was established in 1856 by early immigrants, who came to Texas to find a place to live and freely worship God.
     The James, John Gilbert Smith, Louis Barnes, John Edward Irons, Ben Stevens, Obadiah Radford, Steve Hester, Patrick Anders, Will Magouirk, James Heatly, and William Eldridge families were some of the first settlers in this settlement.
     They traveled many long months to make it to Texas, fighting sickness, the heat, cold, Indians and the struggles of clearing pathways for others.  They fought hunger and thirst, and crossed many rivers to get to their destination before winter set in, so they could get their first crops planted and harvested.  They had to work hard to get a suitable type of shelter for the cold season.
     Settlers brought their seeds, supplies, and tools with them.  As soon as they arrived, the entire families would get busy at clearing and cleaning the land for roads, pathways and homes.  The men and boys would clear all available land for their cotton and corn crops.
     The women and girls used wagons as a makeshift home, cooking over open fires.  They then began clearing land for gardens and planted their vegetable seeds.  Everyone endured long hours of work, which was necessary for their survival.  There was no idle time because every hour was spent getting the land ready for crops and homesites.
     They worked like this Monday through Saturday but Sunday was set aside for the Sabbath.  They at first held services in their homes or outside if the weather permitted, until they could build a house of worship.  The people as a whole would work in harmony in building a church for their spiritual needs.
     The people also thought it very important to build a school for the children to get their education.
     As soon as the first summer and fall crops and produce were completed, the cotton and corn were taken to market.  Some of the corn was taken to be ground into meal.  The garden vegetables were canned or preserved.  Staple foods, farm and feed supplies were bought to prepare for the winter months.

December 6, 2005

     It is believed that J. J. McBride, an early land agent of the Navarro settlement, located near the Trinity River bottom territory, which later became Oakwood, actually envisioned a new township established on Christian family values.  He was a friend of Christopher Columbus Goodman, the remarkable pioneer gentleman who was a first Texas land agent, claiming Leon Co. as his new home and settling in the Navarro City.  He brought wealth of farming, land and business development. He welcomed J. J. McBride as a business partner and redeeming the Red Branch settlement into a commerce, farming and ranching business, populated with moral people who worshipped God.
     J. J. McBride was a leader of the established Mt. Pisgah Church of Red Branch.
     The Obadiah, Lucy Rogers Radford family was first homesteaders of Red Branch, owning over three hundred acres of land and were prosperous farmers.  They were devoted Christian who were actively involved in God's missions of the Mt. Pisgah church and neighborhood ministries.  Their children were born and raised in the Red Branch, Leon Co. areas.
     The Obadiah Radford descendant, Mary Radford, married Doug Stevens, the son of Elby and Rosa Stevens, important first time settlers of our Sand Lake, Flo community all their married lives.
     Doug, surrendering his life to God, became an ordained minister at the Mt. Pisgah Red Branch Baptist Church.  Doug is also a rancher and building contractor.  Mary and Doug have raised their family in the Red Branch, Oakwood areas and have been outstanding in the Christian family values.
     Doug's brothers, Johnie, Ben, Elby and his sisters Hazel, Selma and Ann have been honorable in serving God, mankind, and being excellent parents.
     Stanley and Kathy Stevens own a lovely home and property in Red Branch.  The Bonnie Stevens family are influential Christian, community and educational leaders of the Red Branch and Oakwood communities.  The Bennie Stevens family and family members are owners and operators of the Stevens Fertilizer business of the Oakwood community.  All of the Stevens give support and help of our Flo Community needs.
     The Mt. Pisgah Church of the Reb Branch Community was established in 1855-56 by Brothers and Sisters J. J. Haggard, M. M. Wallace, Jack Clabough, W. H. Reavis and Deacons T. J. Wiggins and W. T. Streetly.  They met at the school house, at this time known as the Board Shanty School House, about seven miles from Navarro City, for the purpose of the organization of Mt. Pisgah Baptist church.  The first sermon was preached by Bro. John Clabough.  Bro J. J. Haggard was elected as moderator and Bro. John Clabough was first church clerk.  Mary Driskell, Martha Little, Aselia Radford, Martha Coaker, Susan Orenbaum, Elizabeth Reavis, Mahaulda Orenbaum and Mary McInally were the first members of the church.  The first called pastor J. J. Haggard, the first Deacons, John Duncan and D. S. Drennon and added members E. C. Driskell, Ann Radford, G. W. Little, and Elizabeth Yarborough, joined by the previous brothers and sisters, held Sunday services at the church.  The first Mt. Pisgah Church was built a mile south of the Board Shanty School near the established Mt. Pisgah cemetery.
     Bro. W. T. Chase and Bro. J. S. Neyland preached at the Red Branch church and they were instrumental in the church being associated with the Trinity River Association.
     In 1892, the first Mt. Pisgah Church disbanded.  In 1902 and 1903 a group representing the Mt. Pisgah Baptist Church decided they would meet in the Red Branch new school house.  Later the new Mt. Pisgah Baptist Church was completed in 1960.  It is near the site of the Red Branch school.