Williamson County
Historical Commission

 

 

Allison - Friendship
Community History

 Williamson County, Texas


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and images of Friendship



 

In 1847 land was purchased on the banks of Willis Creek, approximately 4 to 5 miles east of the present town of Granger, Texas, by two Allison brothers, Elihu Creswell Allison and James A. Allison. Three of James A. Allison's sons built large 2-story homes here and the community of Allison was established. Allison boasted a cotton gin, a store, a Baptist church and a tabernacle.' A school was built circa 1873. This Allison School later became known as Friendship. It served as a meeting place for the Woodmen of the World Lodge. Church services in the Czech language were also occasionally held here by a traveling minister of the Czech Moravian Brethren Church from Fayetteville, Texas.

Here in the Allison/Friendship Community, the tabernacle was a popular place for revival meetings, which often lasted a week. People would sleep beneath their wagons with the children inside the wagons. Visitors came from miles around bringing enough food to last their horses for a week. Good spring water was handy, and fires were always going with beans bubbling in the big pots and cornbread baking in dutch ovens. The men cut trees to construct bases for benches, and local lumberyards would lend planks for the tops.

The great flood of 1921 destroyed some of the community, and it was then decided to move the community to higher ground, approximately 2 1/2 miles northeast. Two small country school (Centerville and Enterprise) consolidated with Friendship: In 1923, the new Friendship School, which now also contained a high school, opened. The school included an Agricultural/Home Economics building, and by 1936 a gymnasium was built. It was said to be the finest in the county.

This new Friendship Community soon had 2 stores, a service station, a blacksmith shop, a Baptist church, a tabernacle and a cotton gin. In later years, the service station was moved south of the corner store and converted into a tavern. The community grew quite a bit in the years following 1923. Many new people moved in, and it became a community of mixed ethnic origin. People became close neighbors and everyone helped one another. The name Friendship was exactly what it implied. The school and the church were the main gathering places. There were revival meetings at the church and box suppers at the church and the school. The men of the community did repairs and maintenance of the school building and grounds. Even the first school bus was built by a local resident, Henry Rozazky, the cotton gin manager. He converted a bobtail truck into a bus by building the bed, the sides and the hardwood seats. The attached canvas overhead was often seen flapping in the wind!

Some of the social events in the community were wiener roasts, parties, picnics and fishing trips. The big event was the Friendship Fair, which lasted 3 days. People would come from near and far to enter many exhibits. There were also airplane rides and rodeos."

The Friendship Grange, Lodge 1414 was established in April 1935.

The war years (1941-1945) included many young men from the Friendship Community and several lost their lives fighting for our country.

By 1942 the Friendship High School students were bussed to Granger to complete their education. Grammar school students remained at Friendship until 1958; then, they too were sent to Granger. Parts of the large Friendship school building were moved to Granger, but the smaller building, which had become the lunch room and the principal's office, became a community center. Elections were held there, and the building also served as a meeting place for the fanners and homemakers.

The historian for the Friendship Community was Stacy Mikulencak Labaj (1903-1977). She spent many years on the Williamson County Historical Commission. Her taped oral histories included many early residents of the area. Some of her tapes are at the Center for American Histories at the University of Texas, and some of her material is at the Institute of Texas Culture in San Antonio.

The last house to be moved from the village of Friendship was moved in 1970 to make way for the dam that was being built in the area. The house, belonging to the Winslow Cadan family, was moved to a hilltop about one mile north of the dam. From this hilltop, they could see the surrounding area below them, which included both the old and the new Friendship areas. At night they would see the lights as they came on in each home, but later as people left the area, there was nothing but a black void below them. Before their eyes was the reality of what had happened to their community!

T
he Friendship Community, beginning on the banks of Willis Creek and continuing on to the new area on higher elevation, was indeed a busy, prosperous and a congenial farming community with a variety of crops raised by hard working local farmers who became very displeased at seeing their lands taken away by the Granger Dam.

This community is remembered with very fond memories as is evidenced each third Saturday of October when the Friendship Exes gather for a reunion to reminisce about their beloved community.

Submitted by Geraldine Tallas Heisch, October 23, 2007

 


 

Allison/Friendship Community
Historical Marker Dedication

marker text


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FRIENDSHIP COMMUNITY
Historical  Marker text

BENEATH THE WATERS OF GRANGER LAKE, CONSTRUCTED BY THE U.S. CORPS OF ENGINEERS IN THE 1970s, LIES THE SITE OF AN EARLY AGRICULTURAL SETTLEMENT KNOWN AS ALLISON AND LATER AS FRIENDSHIP. BROTHERS ELIHU CRESWELL ALLISON AND JAMES A.

ALLISON BEGAN RANCHING HERE IN 1847, IN WHAT WAS THEN
MILAM COUNTY. A POST OFFICE NAMED CONEL OPERATED 1878-80, AND IN 1892 A NEW POST OFFICE OPENED FOR ALLISON. LOCATED ALONG WILLIS CREEK, ALLISON BOASTED A COTTON GIN, A STORE, A BAPTIST CHURCH, A TABERNACLE, A COMMUNITY CEMETERY AND THE ALLISON SCHOOLHOUSE, LATER KNOWN AS OLD FRIENDSHIP, SHARED WITH A WOODMEN OF THE WORLD LODGE.

THE DEVASTATING 1921 SAN GABRIEL RIVER FLOOD DESTROYED THE GIN, STORE AND TABERNACLE, AND THE NEW FRIENDSHIP COMMUNITY DEVELOPED NEARBY ON HIGHER GROUND. IT PROSPERED WITH BUSINESSES AND SOCIAL EVENTS, SUCH AS THREE-DAY FAIRS FEATURING POLITICAL SPEECHES AND RODEOS. FOLLOWING CONSOLIDATION WITH CENTERVILLE AND ENTERPRISE SCHOOLS, A NEW FRIENDSHIP SCHOOLHOUSE OPENED IN 1923. IN 1958, FRIENDSHIP MERGED WITH GRANGER SCHOOL, BUT THE BUILDING REMAINED A COMMUNITY CENTER FOR ELECTIONS AND A MEETING PLACE FOR FARMERS AND HOMEMAKERS. AGRICULTURE REMAINED THE ECONOMIC BASE OF THE COMMUNITY THROUGHOUT ITS EXISTENCE, AND LOCAL FARM AND RANCH FAMILIES REFLECTED DIVERSE CULTURES, INCLUDING ANGLO, CZECH AND AFRICAN AMERICAN.

MOST RESIDENTS DISPERSED IN THE 1970s, AFTER CONSTRUCTION OF THE LANEPORT (LATER GRANGER) DAM ACROSS THE SAN GABRIEL RIVER. ALLISON (OLD FRIENDSHIP) CEMETERY BURIALS WERE RELOCATED TO GRANGER CEMETERIES. MUCH OF THE RECORDED EARLY LIFE OF THE COMMUNITY WAS THE WORK OF STACY MIKULENCAK LABAJ (1903-77), WHO COLLECTED ORAL HISTORIES WITH LONGTIME RESIDENTS. TODAY, A REUNION OF FRIENDSHIP FAMILIES AND FRIENDS KEEPS THE MEMORIES ALIVE FOR FUTURE GENERATIONS.

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map of town

video clip
 


 

 

Allison Old Friendship Cemetery