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Ovilla will celebrate annual Heritage Day Saturday

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MELANIE PETERSEN
The Ellis County Press
OVILLA - Ovilla will celebrate it's annual Heritage Day, Saturday, Sept.22, beginning with a parade at 9 a.m.

Dale Helm has been named this year's Grand Marshal and Volunteer of the Year.

Live music will begin at 10 a.m. behind City Hall and includes Texas Prairie Band, Encounter Band Cowboy Band of Ellis Co., Salt Rock Rounders and Blue Grass Jam.

This year's event will include food and craft booths, antique appraisal, games and pagentry.

A petting zoo and horse carousel by 'A One of a Kind Pony Party' assures old fashion fun for the whole family.

The following information was gathered from the Handbook of Texas Online which is an encyclopedia of Texas history sponsored by the Texas State Historical Association and the General Libraries at UT Austin with Dallas Morning News, Jan. 21, 1968 and Edna Davis Hawkins, et al, History of Ellis County credited in the bibliography.

Ovilla, on upper Red Oak Creek in northern Ellis County, is the oldest town in the county.

It began in 1844 as a fortified settlement and grew as settlers arrived in the area to attend meetings of the Shiloh Cumberland Presbyterian Church, which was started by Rev. Finis E. King in 1847.

The church met in a brush arbor until 1853, when a log cabin, which served as both church and schoolhouse, was built. A frame church building was finished in 1872; in 1984 about 190 members still met in the structure, which had been enlarged and remodeled.

Although Ovilla was a thriving farming community by the 1850s, it remained unnamed. Mrs. M. M. Molloy, wife of Rev. D. G. Molloy, formed the name from the Spanish word villa.

Ovilla continued to grow and by the early 1900s had a post office, a bank, a cotton gin, a pharmacy, a blacksmith shop and several dry-goods stores.

Its post office closed in 1906.

Fires in 1918 and 1926 destroyed most of the downtown buildings, and this destruction, together with the fact Ovilla was bypassed by railroads and major highways, led to a decline in growth.

As Dallas grew, however, and people started moving from the city to the suburbs, Ovilla once again began to grow.

To escape annexation by DeSoto or any other neighboring city, the town of Ovilla was incorporated in 1963.

In the first census after incorporation its population was 339; by 1980 it had risen to 1,067. Its 1984 population was estimated to be nearly 1,300.

In 1990 it was 2,027 and the community had extended into Dallas County.

The population reached 3,405 by 2000.

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