Shiloh, Gregg County, Texas
Shiloh is a small unincorporated farming community on Shiloh Road near White Oak in north central Gregg County, Texas, United States. Located just south of the Upshur County line, Shiloh was established by former slaves of Gideon Christian just after the end of the Civil War.
History of Shiloh
In 1870 almost all of the heads of household in the Shiloh community were African American, and only two heads of household were white. Nine heads of household were property owners, and, according to the oral histories of local families, the Christian family conveyed land titles to a number of emancipated slaves. The Shiloh Baptist Church, founded in 1871, served as the focal point of the community. After World War II the community declined, and in the early 1990s only a church and scattered dwellings remained at the site. At that time descendants of the original settlers still lived in the area.
Shiloh Baptist Church
According to local tradition, former slave Butcher Christian, his former master, Gideon Christian, and noted post-Civil War church organizer, the Rev. John Baptist, established the Shiloh Baptist Church in 1871. Services began in a log sanctuary located on 3 acres (12,000 m2) donated by Butcher Christian. A school for African Americans operated there until the 1890s. An adjacent cemetery with marked graves dating to 1882 is still active. Revenue from oil discovered on church land was used to build a new sanctuary on this site in 1936. Shiloh Baptist Church still serves the community with a variety of programs.
The newly freed African Americans of the Shiloh Community established a school for their children shortly after the Civil War. The one-room building was demolished in the late 19th century and classes were held at the Shiloh Baptist Church. With financial assistance from the Julius Rosenwald Fund, a new two-room school was erected in 1920. It was replaced by a large brick building in the 1930s. The High School was closed in 1949; the end of segregation closed the rest of the Shiloh School in 1966. Shiloh graduates became contributing citizens in Texas and the nation. Long vacant, the school building was later used to store chemicals for a plastics company, and burned in 1993. The remains of the school are still standing, and there is a historical marker in front of it.
Local legend tells of the Shiloh School being burned down by angered members of the Ku Klux Klan, killing several children that were trapped inside. At night you can hear voices and cries, and the air gets cold. It is also said that there is a broken down bus in the basement of the school in which the door opens and closes when people are near. The area is often patrolled around Halloween and Friday the 13th due to local teenagers and paranormal seekers who try to find ways into the school and cemetery.