Special to the Reporter
Before the Comanche Peak Nuclear Power Plant altered Somervell County, Post Oak was another one of the tiny communities that sprang up after the Civil War and just about disappeared during World War II. This period between those wars was a time for pioneering and settling rural Texas, giving untold numbers of families a spot of land in hopes of freedom from civil strife and of building a degree of wealth. All of the land within the loose boundaries of Post Oak served as farm land - mostly cotton - with some stock raising. As roads became better and the automobile became the mode of transportation, families moved away from these farms to jobs in the cities. All that remained for many decades was the Post Oak Cemetery and the ruins of the school.
We do not know for sure when the area was first called “Post Oak,” but references in old newspapers refer to certain people “from the post oaks.” A strip of Cross Timbers breaks through the cedar-covered hills of Somervell and Hood Counties, and the strip is thick with post oak, black jack oak, live oak and burr oak, along with deep sandy loam. The naming School District No. 2 as Post Oak in 1896 solidified the name for the community. The wedge-shaped area of the school district was roughly bounded by the Hood County line on the north, Squaw Creek on the east (encompassing the present power plant), Glen Rose city limits on the south and Prairie Creek on the west, and within the eastern boundary of present Dinosaur Valley State Park.
Different churches, including Missionary Baptist, Primitive Baptist, and Christian, established congregations in the Post Oak community. Land donated by Dr. Scott Milam for the Christian Church was the earliest in 1895; the deed mentions graves within the two acres. This is the present Milam Chapel Cemetery in the Post Oak community. Later in 1907, Rev. J. S. Newman donated 3.42 acres for the Primitive Baptist Church and pastored there. These two denominations disbanded and worshiped elsewhere after a couple of decades or so.
From the 1850s on into the early 1900s, the Missionary Baptists worked fervently to establish churches across the rural areas of Central Texas. By the mid-1890s, there were twenty-three Missionary Baptist churches in Hood and Somervell Counties forming the Paluxy Baptist Association.
One of those ministers, Rev. Seaborn J. Foust, born in Blount County, Alabama in 1849, and wife Louisa Musgrove Foust moved and settled in Somervell County in 1884 in the post oaks a few miles north of Glen Rose. Rev. Foust became an ordained Baptist preacher in 1894 and pastored many churches in Hood and Somervell Counties. In 1892, Rev. Foust sold to Somervell County for $1 one acre of land from his property on the Glen Rose-Tolar road to build a school later named Post Oak.
Pleasant Point Missionary Baptist church was organized on August 18, 1893. It was in 1905 that Rev. Foust donated nearly two acres of land to build a church for the Pleasant Point Church, cornering on the school land he had previously donated.
The cemetery was already in place near the school, which we presume was also used for the church. The first marked grave in the cemetery is the infant grandson of Rev. S. J. Foust, Jessie O. Foust, who died in 1900. It wasn’t until 1913 that Rev. Foust donated one acre of land for cemetery purposes, cornering on the church lot, to the deacons of Pleasant Point Missionary Baptist Church. In that same year, Rev. Foust was laid to rest in Post Oak Cemetery with Masonic rites.
In 1931, the church and the school were burned. After the destructive fires, the Pleasant Point Church members struggled to meet and even tried to make up enough money to rebuild. But these were hard times, and the church disbanded. As for the school, the community rebuilt it in 1932, with rock instead of wood.
Classes were held there for another decade or so until all rural schools in Somervell County were consolidated with the Glen Rose Schools between 1943 and 1947. The little rock building became a dwelling at one point in time; then it was abandoned. It stood there beside the cemetery for about 50 years, just a shell of a building.
Businesses failed to develop around this center of Post Oak community. Dink Parham ran a general merchandise store for a few years in the early 1900s. The school children could shop there for their school supplies and/or treats. They called it “Dinktown.”
Otherwise, the community families grew cotton, picked it and sent it to the gin. In the early 1900s when cotton prices could be manipulated, and the farmer likely could be on the short end of the deal, leaders in the county urged farmers to diversify. The Glen Rose Herald praised those folks “in the post oaks” for planting fruit trees, mainly pears and apples, for another source of income. The Fine and Sullivan families, especially, raised excellent fruit. In more recent times when cotton no longer is grown, the deep sandy land of Post Oak lent well to peanut
production. This became the staple crop of the Post Oak area. Today this crop is rarely grown.
Cattle raising also has been a continuous venture for the landowners.
In 1972, Texas Utilities started construction of Comanche Peak Nuclear Power Plant on the eastern edge of the Post Oak community on Squaw Creek. The area blossomed with new housing, plus a daily barrage of traffic going to and from the plant entrance about a mile from the cemetery on FM 56. When construction of the nuclear plant was done, much of the population in the Post Oak community moved on, but many stayed, some of them working at the power plant.
Then in 1992, the Raymond “Brub” Mitchell family paid the expenses of turning the shell of the old school house into Post Oak Memory Chapel. They did this in memory of their ancestors buried in the Post Oak Cemetery. The hope and goal for the Mitchells was to make the cemetery and chapel a focal point and to help revive the community by having a gathering place for singings, church services, reunions, weddings, etc. Kate Mitchell Taylor spearheaded the creation of the Post Oak Memory Chapel.
Now the Post Oak Cemetery and Chapel tie the whole history of the community together, giving the settlers’ descendants a focal point in their own personal history. The church and school educated many young people in mind and spirit, who went on to become part of the whole fabric of our nation. Old-time families still bury their dead in the cemetery, which will continue into the future.
As for growth now and in the future, that is assured with the announcement that present owners plan to build another two units at the Comanche Peak Nuclear Plant site. Already there is a nice housing development and a municipal lake within the southern boundaries of Post Oak.