Pleasant Retreat is a small church community located just west of Tyler, north of State Highway 31, and south of State Highway 64 in central Smith County. Originally part of the George Myers Survey, the area was settled by 1859 when Blackfork Church reported a membership of thirty. In 1861 the name of the church was changed to Pleasant Retreat Society, and records indicate that Blacks were allowed to join as early as 1863. It became the Pleasant Retreat Church in 1875. On June 23, 1877, John Jones donated two acres of land for a cemetery, and the following month William F. McClure gave six acres. A tabernacle, camp houses, and cooking areas were built on the McClure acreage so that it could be used for camp meetings, which began on the Friday preceding the last Sunday in August. By 1897 the settlement and congregation had grown considerably, necessitating a larger church building. Under the leadership of S. T. Shelton and Reverend T. B. Vinson, the new structure was soon completed. In the early years classes had also been held in the church. The new building allowed Pleasant Retreat School to have a separate facility in the old building, where all grades continued to meet. By 1903 county records showed two common schools in the town, each having one teacher. Fifty-nine White students attended one, and fourteen Black students attended the other.
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