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Texas | Columns | Bob Bowman's East Texas

Remembering Skin Tight

by Bob Bowman
Bob Bowman

In the early 1830s, when cattle buyer Henry Reeves and his partner, a man known only as Ball, built a store on the Rusk-Henderson road, visiting customers started calling the settlement “Skin Tight” because they were no match for Reeves’ close trading practices.

Reeves moved to Smith County and, on June 13, 1886, he was shot to death in Troup.

The unflattering town name,”Skin Tight,” was soon changed to Lone Star when a post office was established in 1883, and Lone Star thrived from cotton and tomatoes. At one time, the town had two cotton gins, a grist mill, several physicians, and a number of business establishments, including three saloons.

Shelly Cleaver, who was born at Lone Star, recalls that his father used a Model T “hoopy” to haul tomatoes to market. “He could haul more tomatoes in that ol’ hoopy than anyone else in Lone Star,” said Cleaver.

Cleaver and his family later moved to Jacksonville, but retained the home of his father, Henry Clay Cleaver.

During its hey days the town had a Masonic Lodge, Cherokee Lodge 680, which was chartered in 1890 with D.L. Murphey as the Worshipful Master. The lodge was moved to Ponta in 1928 and then to New Summerfield in 1961.

The town also had a two-teacher school which held classes on the second floor of the Masonic Lodge building. A private school, the Lone Star Institute, was established by Colonel Thomas A. Cache and Rev. Angus M. Stewart in 1889.

The Institute soon became so well-known in East Texas that families often moved to Lone Star so their children could attend the school’s classes, which emphasized cultural accomplishments in music and education. But the school lasted only four years.

Another popular lodge, the Woodmen of the World, also stood at Lone Star and met regularly on the second floor of J. West’s store.

By 1890, at least three general stores stood at Lone Star. But in 1893, a fire that began in a doctor’s office destroyed much of Lone Star’s business district. The Tipton Black store and a saloon were the only commercial buildings spared.

At one time, Lone Star had three church denominations--Methodists, the Church of Christ, and Universalists.

The town lost its post office in 1916 when the town began to lose population. When the Texas and New Orleans Railroad bypassed the town in 1903, many of Lone Star’s businessmen moved to newly-established Ponta.

Cherokee County Texas  1907 postal map
1907 postal map showing Lone Star and Ponta E of Jacksonville in northeastern Cherokee County
Courtesy Texas General Land Office
Today, Lone Star is only a ghost town standing about three miles from Lake Striker on Farm Road 35.

But the town site has been marked by a Texas Historical Marker standing on Farm Road 235 about four miles southwest of New Summerfield.

The only remnant from Lone Star’s old days is an abandoned and weathered blacksmith shop once owned by J.B. Cleaver.



© Bob Bowman
Bob Bowman's East Texas January 24, , 2010 Column
A weekly column syndicated in 70 East Texas newspapers


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