Local History Of Friends In Friendswood
Fig orchards, Satsuma orange orchards, and rice fields once flourished where Friendswood homes now stand.
The last vestiges of them and the homes that the Quakers constructed are nearly gone, but the legacy left by those founders and early settlers remains. That legacy is the heritage of a way of life that did more to shape the character of the community than any brick and mortar buildings ever could.
In the spring of 1895, a Quaker named Frank Jacob Brown, who had been an adventuresome buffalo hunter, and a Quaker named Thomas Hadley Lewis, who was a college-educated man, felt directed to this area of the Gulf Coast to establish a community dedicated to God.
Starting Quaker colonies was a common practice of the religious sect called Quakers or Friends, as they were part of the westward movement across the nation in the middle-to-late 1800s. (The terms Quaker and Friends are synonymous and used interchangeably.)
When Brown and Lewis came upon this area in northern Galveston County, they found 1,538 acres of prairie, well-drained by Clear Creek, Coward’s Creek, Mary’s Creek and Chigger Creek, and beautifully framed with the dense woods along the creeks. Feeling this surely was their Promised Land,” they negotiated with the owner, Galveston banker J.C. League, for a deed of trust, and on July 15, 1895, they recorded the name of the colony at the Court House in Galveston. They named it Friendswood.
THIS COMMUNITY WAS FOUNDED IN 1895 BY A GROUP OF FRIENDS (QUAKERS) LED BY F.J. BROWN AND T.H. LEWIS. THEY ACQUIRED THE LAND FROM J.C. LEAGUE AND NAMED THE SETTLEMENT FRIENDSWOOD. FROM THE VERY BEGINNING, CHURCH AND SCHOOL WERE CENTRAL TO THE LIFE OF THIS COMMUNITY. IN 1900, AN ACADEMY BUILDING WAS BUILT ON THIS SITE WITH LUMBER FROM HUGE PINE TREES FELLED BY THE 1900 HURRICANE. THE FRIENDS CHURCH, WHICH UNTIL 1958 WAS THE ONLY CHURCH IN THE COMMUNITY, USED THE ACADEMY BUILDING FOR BOTH WORSHIP AND EDUCATION. IN THE EARLY YEARS, IT PROVIDED THE ONLY SECONDARY EDUCATIONAL FACILITIES FOR THE SURROUNDING AREA. THE LAST SCHOOL TERM WAS HELD IN 1938, BUT THE BUILDING CONTINUED TO BE USED FOR WORSHIP UNTIL 1949 WHEN IT WAS REPLACED BY A MORE MODERN STRUCTURE. THE HERITAGE OF THIS COMMUNITY, RECEIVED FROM IT’S FOUNDERS, IS BASED ON CHRIST’S WORDS, “YE ARE MY FRIENDS IF YOU DO WHATSOEVER I COMMAND YOU.” JOHN 15:14.”
- February 1895 – Frank Brown and his family moved from Kansas to Galveston County.
- June 1895 – The Brown family along with the families of T. H. and A.W. Lewis founded “Friendswood Colony.”
- August 1895 – The first Sunday school and church services were held in the partially-completed Frank Brown residence.
- Fall of 1895 – The Friendswood church received its first pastor, John Wright, who was both a recorded Friends minister and a medical doctor. Dr. Wright came into town unannounced, responding to an ad in a
- November 1895 – The Friends Meeting Cemetery was established out of necessity when Newton Knode, a young man in the community, was accidentally killed.
- December 1895 – A small combination meetinghouse (church building) and school was completed.
- March 1896 – The Friendswood Monthly Meeting was officially established under the Kansas Rose Hill Quarterly Meeting.
- September 1900 – The original meetinghouse and school was destroyed by the devastating hurricane that killed more than 6,000 people in Galveston.
- September 1902 – The “Academy,” a much larger meetinghouse and school, was opened. The lumber used in its construction came from trees felled by the 1900 hurricane.
- June 1949 – The original stone building composed of a sanctuary (now called the Chapel) and education facility was completed. The Academy was dismantled and the lumber used by a nearby Friends church.
- January 1963 – Friendship Hall, a two-story stone educational facility, was completed.
- October 1982 – Friends Center, a multipurpose building containing a gym, classrooms, and a kitchen was completed.
- December 1998 – The Worship Center was completed. A celebration service was held for the community in January 1999, a featured speaker being Mayor Harold Whitaker.
- Evangelical Friends Church International
- One Hundred Years in the Promised Land by Marjorie Glines Brown
- Friendswood: A Settlement of Friendly Folks by Joycina Day Baker
- Friendswood Chamber of Commerce (http://www.friendswood-chamber.com)