Leigh (10.6 miles north of U.S. 80 on FM 134 at FM 1999)
Leigh, also known as Antioch, is on a site said to have been the location of a large Indian village. In the early 1840s, J. J. Webster built a plantation home, Mimosa Hall, a mile southwest of the site; Webster’s descendants occupied the house until 1984, when the property was sold. The community of Antioch, which had a predominantly black population, was founded before 1900 and was centered on the Antioch Baptist Church. In 1900, the forerunner of the Louisiana & Arkansas Railway was built through Antioch, and Reverend James Patterson built a restaurant and a general store on land adjoining the railroad. Residents of Blocker, three miles to the northeast, moved to the railroad community. Antioch was renamed Leigh in 1901, after the wife of John W. Furrh, who owned much of the land on the railroad, and that same year the Leigh post office opened. In 1904, Leigh had one school with five white students and four schools with 297 black students. By 1914, the community had a population of fifty, three general stores, two cotton gins, a drugstore, a blacksmith shop, and telephone service. After attaining a peak population of 126 in the 1920s, Leigh declined to 100 in 1930, when it had a church, two schools, and three businesses. The railroad was rerouted to the north in the 1950s. By 1978, Leigh had two churches (St. Paul’s Episcopal and Antioch Baptist), a community center, the Antioch Cemetery, and a number of dwellings.[i]
[i] Leigh, TX; Texas State Historical Association; https://tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/hll33
Point of Interest:
Mimosa Hall (9.4 miles north of U.S. 80 on FM 134) (Private)
Virginia-born John Johnston Webster (1796-1854) brought his family to the Republic of Texas, petitioning for land on which to establish a home in 1842. Built in 1844, Mimosa Hall was part of a 3,000 acre plantation. The estate and one-hundred and fifty acres that went along with it was deeded to Douglas V. Blocker within a partition deed in 1932. Blocker continued to own the property until 1984 when he sold it to Michael Howard. At some point, Michael Howard deeded the property to his son Nicholas Leon Howard III, who then deeded it to his mother, Virginia Dyke Hamilton in 1989. Virginia sold the home in 1993 to the present owners, Andrew and Katherine Ann Hirsch. The Hirsch family have maintained the home and kept it in pristine condition. The front façade remains in its original state but the remainder of the home has had many changes throughout the years as well as a rear addition which was built on in 1932.[ii]
In 1844, Webster’s son-in-law, the Reverend George F. Heard, became the first person to be buried in the cemetery at Mimosa Hall Plantation. He was followed by Mrs. Mirriam (Brown) Webster. Other notable graves include those of the Reverend William Moore Steele and five Webster slaves or ex-slaves. Veterans of several wars also are interred here. The wall surrounding the oldest graves was constructed by plantation labor. The cemetery is located southwest of the house on private land.