The next time you travel Interstate 45 from Houston to Dallas, watch for a green freeway sign a few miles north of Conroe: Shepard Hill next exit.
If you are descended from any of the men who fought with Capt. Samuel D. Wooldridge, you might want to turn off the freeway, follow the sign, and see what is left of Danville.
Drive through the tall trees on Shepard Hill Road; turn right on the Old Danville Road and observe the peaceful pastures where the town once flourished. Turn right again on West Danville Road and return to the freeway .
You will not find a town or even a community in the vicinity of Shepard Hill and Old Danville Roads, only a few scattered homes and a cemetery.
Danville was, for a couple of decades, a thriving community. It supported several businesses and a number of churches.
The town was laid out in 1846 by Daniel Robinson, who was originally from Missouri. Town lots were bought and sold for homes, businesses, and speculation. Danville had its own post office, a notary, physicians, general stores, schools, and a sizable population.
The town began to decline during the Civil War, when all the young men were away fighting. But the townspeople made a fatal mistake shortly afterwards: they refused to allow the railroad to come through.
The railroad, therefore, bypassed Danville and built its own town, Willis, a few miles northeast. The decline of Danville was rapid, and within a few years, most Danville residents had moved to Willis.
In the latter part of the 1800s, Polish immigrants resettled Danville, built a Catholic church, and added a section to the Shepard Hill Cemetery. That settlement, too, finally disappeared. The only remnant of the community is the old cemetery on Shepard Hill Road and a nearby historical marker.
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© Karen McCann Hett All Rights Reserved 2003-2008
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Counter May 29, 2007