a small community of about 150 souls, may be the only town in East
Texas that once went by an alias.
Located on State Highwy 346 in southeastern
Smith County about two miles west of Arp,
the Omen area was settled by Arnold
O’Brien and his family in 1848.
The following year, the Smith County Commissioners
Court decided to build the Laarissa-Shreveport Road through the northern part
of O’Brien’s land, making the area accessible to other pioneers.
O’Brien established a post office in his home in 1849 the area was named Round
But when Thomas N. Gregory replaced O’Brien in 1851, the post
office got a new name, Canton. But the following year, the citizens named
the town Clopton because there was already a Canton
in Van Zandt County.
The post office was discontinued briefly in 1854,
but reopened with the name of Troup. Residents, however continued to call
the town Canton, even in legal documents.
1860, a deed called the town “Canton alias Troup” but a Masonic lodge was
officially known as Canton Lodge.
during the Civil War, especially with the arrival of the International-Great Northern
from Gregg County to about four miles south of Canton alias Troup.
of the town’s businesses moved south to Zavalla, a new railroad town, and
the post office moved, too, but kept the name Troup.
A.W. Orr did a lot to revive the community with a successful private school, Summer
Hill Select School, which attracted students from Smith and surrounding counties.
Many boarded with local families and others moved into the vicinity to attend
In April of 1879, Dixon Bonner petitioned the U.S. Post Office
Department to renew the local branch and the town got a new name, Old Canton.
But a year later, Old Canton was renamed Omen
at the suggestion of Dr. Orr.
In four years, Omen
had a population of 250, three doctors, a blacksmsith, two carpenters and two
grocers. By 1892, the town had 550 residents, including a justice of peace, a
mayor, a constable and a sawmill.
Summer Hill School had 335 students,
a courthouse was built on the town square, and the post office at Lock was transferred