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.
- February 1895 – Frank Brown and his family moved from Kansas to
- 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
- 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 International (http://www.evangelical-friends.org)
- One Hundred Years in the Promised Land by Marjorie Glines
- Friendswood, a Settlement of Friendly Folks by
Joycina Day Baker
- Friendswood Chamber of Commerce