Little Egypt was located just north of Northwest Highway between Ferndale and Audelia, near White Rock Lake within the city limits of Dallas in Dallas County. The community began after the Civil War, when the site was deeded to former slaves Jeff and Hanna Hill, when they were freed by their master in 1865. By 1870 they had built the Little Egypt Baptist Church, and the community became known as Little Egypt because the residents were delivered from bondage, as in the biblical story. Though Little Egypt was officially within the Dallas city limits, it remained a distinct community until 1962, when developers bought the thirty to thirty-five acre tract, which was across the street from Northlake Shopping Center, for retail development. This purchase followed a November 1961 rezoning of the area for retail use. At this time community residents were served by dirt streets and lacked running water, electricity, gas, and indoor plumbing. Of the twenty-eight families who owned land in the community, two-thirds wished to find new homes close to one another. Since the houses in Little Egypt were dilapidated and some residents feared the buildings would be condemned, they were in favor of selling the land. In May 1962 the 200 residents of Little Egypt moved to their new homes, led by community patriarch William Hill, who was eighty-nine at the time. The families were given enough money to buy new houses and most of them settled either in Oak Cliff or in Rockwall County. In the 1980s a controversy arose, in which the former residents of Little Egypt were portrayed as being taken advantage of for the commercial gains of White developers. The land is now occupied by the Northlake Shopping Center and large homes atop rolling hills.
Adapted from the official Handbook of Texas, a state encyclopedia developed by the Texas State Historical Association (TSHA). It is an authoritative source of trusted historical records.
Lisa C. Maxwell | © Texas State Historical Association
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