JACOB ROUTH, Baptist minister for whom Routh Street in lower North Dallas was named, arrived in the North Texas area in 1851, settling on Spring Creek in what is today the city of Richardson. He came from East Tennessee and promptly bought one thousand acres of land straddling the Dallas—Collin County line between present Richardson and Plano, paying $2 an acre for the property.
Shortly before the outbreak of the Civil War, Routh built a two story white antebellum mansion on a wooded bluff overlooking Spring Creek, It was long a landmark visible to passengers on trains of the Central Railroad and then on cars of the Dallas-Denison interurban, and still later to motorists on Central Expressway before the house was destroyed by fire in 1965.
Born in Jefferson County, Tennessee, in 1818, Routh was a member of a southern family of Huguenot descent who had become Quakers by religious persuasion. Like his father and grandfather before him, Routh was a lifelong opponent of slavery. When the Civil War came he opposed secession. A mob of Southern sympathizers let it be known that they planned to hang Routh for his political views. He defied the would-be lynchers, sending word he would meet them at any time and place they specified. No one showed up to challenge him.
In the year of his move to Texas, Routh was thirty-three years old and unmarried, but head of the family, which included his invalid, widowed mother, his sister, Elizabeth, and a younger brother, Joseph. Living across the French Broad River from the Routh farmplace in Tennessee was Robert F. Campbell, a planter known as “Squire” by reason of his having held a minor county law-enforcement office.
In a series of articles published in the Richardson Daily News in 1964, the late Henry Coit of Dallas ( a grandson of Campbell’s) wrote: “Squire Campbell had lost his crops the previous year because of floods.” Campbell then decided to join the Routh party on its move to Texas, taking along his wife and several children. Campbell provided “quite a caravan consisting of one 2-horse wagon, two 4-horse wagons and a carriage driven by a Negro coachman carrying Routh’s invalid mother and the other women in the party.” Traveling together, the two families left Tennessee October 2, 1851, and reached their destination, about one thousand miles away on Spring Creek, forty-five days later. Campbell immediately bought two sections of land for his farm, most of which today are comprised of Richardson city lots along or near the road named for Campbell. En route to Texas, Routh and one of Campbell’s daughters, Lodemia Ann, fell in love. They were married in the fall of 1853.
On taking up land in Texas, Routh plowed his blackland prairies and opened a general store on his farm near the Dallas-McKinney road about where Renner Road today intersects Greenville Avenue just north of Spring Creek. Routh’s house also served as a stagecoach station on Sawyer & Fisher’s stagecoach line from Waco through Dallas and McKinney to Bonham.
In 1853 Routh also decided to become a Baptist minister. He founded a church in the one-room log cabin he had built for a schoolhouse on his farm. This was the Spring Creek Baptist Church, which later was moved a mile and a half north to become the present First Baptist Church of Plano. Four years later Routh was also drawn into John Neely Bryan’s town of Dallas to serve as the first pastor of a church organized October 19, 1857, by Elders J. M. Meyers and J. M. Pierce.
“Few townspeople attended its services,” Coit has written, “and most members, including its pastor, lived in the country. They had to ride horseback and it was simply impossible to attend when the rains were heavy.” In August, 1863, this church was moved by its congregation some four miles northeastward, the better to serve its rural communicants. It was located on the west side of White Rock Creek and became what is today known as the Pleasant View Baptist Church, at Mockingbird Lane and Fisher Road, the oldest Baptist church within the present city limits. (Dallas’s historic First Baptist Church dates from July 30, 1868.)
Curiously enough, nine other Dallas Baptist churches of today incorporate the word Pleasant in their names—Pleasant Heights, Pleasant Oaks, Pleasant Valley, Pleasant Wood, Pleasant Run, Pleasant Dale, Pleasant Grove, Pleasant Mound, and Pleasant Glade Baptist churches.
Jacob Routh lived until his sixty-first year, dying from tuberculosis at his home on Spring Creek in 1879.
Note: Jacob is buried in a private plot located about 200 yards north of the Routh Cemetery at Richardson, Texas.
Courtesy Dallas Yesterday by Sam Acheson. Photo courtesy Portal to Texas History.