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 Texas : Towns A-Z / East Texas :

STARRVILLE, TEXAS

Smith County, East Texas
FM 757 and FM 16
3 Miles SE of Winona
17 Miles NE of Tyler
1 Mile NE of Starrville Mountain
Population: 00075 (2000)

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Starrville Tx - Methodist Church
Photo courtesy Barclay Gibson, July 2007
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History in a Pecan Shell

Starrville had been a stop on the stage line of the Dallas-Shreveport Road in 1849 when its post office was known as Gum Springs. The change of name came about a few years later (1857) when former Alabaman (the Reverend) Joshua Starr bought an entire section of land here.

The Starrville Methodist Church was built in 1853 and in 1859 the Baptist’s built theirs. The Starrville Female High School was organized in 1856 followed by a male high school and gender segregated colleges.

Starrville remained on the stage line to Tyler and was thriving. Beside the essential businesses, the town had second-tier businesses like a wagon maker, foundries and sawmills.

Starrville’s male and female high schools were merged to form the Union Academy in 1860. While hundreds of Texas towns were bypassed by railroads in the 19th century, Starrville was one of the few that refused the railroad (in this case it was the Tyler Tap Railroad) to build through their town.

It was proven an unwise decision when the new rail town of Winona sprang up, draining residents from Starrville.

The population in 1892 was still a respectable 200 residents and the community enjoyed the protection of two constables and a justice of the peace. The population decreased to 122 and in 1907 both the post office and Masonic Lodge moved to Winona.

By the mid 1930s, Starrville’s decline was hard to conceal, maps showed only a cemetery, scattered houses and a single business.

The population was just 100 for the 1950 census and in 1952 Starrville’s school merged with the Gladewater District for a time before consolidating permanently with Winona’s system.

In the early 1970s, Starrville’s population had reached 75 residents – the same number given for 1990 and 2000.

Starrville Historical Marker
Sunday Drive - From Tyler Through Starrville
Starrville Tx Community Center
Photo courtesy Barclay Gibson, July 2007
Historical Marker Texas

Starrville Community

In 1852 the Rev. Joshua Starr, a Methodist minister from Alabama, bought 640 acres of land here on the Dallas-Shreveport Road. Platting Starrville, one of the earliest towns in Smith County, he sold lots with deed covenants against gambling and liquor. In 1853 he helped organize Starr Lodge No. 118, A. F. & A. M.; Methodists and Masons shared a 2-story building which the church bought from Starr in 1854. The post office was moved from nearby Gum Spring to Starrville in 1857. The town thrived with stores and overnight lodgings for freighters. It had grist mills, sawmills, foundries, and a wagon factory; music teachers, dentists, physicians, photographers. Its churches and schools were highly influential. The Methodists supported a female high school; the Baptists founded Ann Judson Female School. A Union academy, male high school, and female college also existed before the Civil War (1861-65).

Bypassing of Starrville by the Tyler Tap Railroad in the 1870s brought population losses. In 1907 the post office and the Masonic Lodge were removed to Winona. The schools of Starrville and Baker Springs were consolidated in 1924, and later were merged with the Winona public school system.
Starrville Tx Historical Marker
Photo courtesy Barclay Gibson, July 2007

East Texas Sunday Drive - Tyler

By Bob Bowman
"... When you leave Tyler, continue your Sunday Drive by heading north on Farm Road 14, which will carry you to Tyler State Park, a jewel of a recreational area carved from the pine forests. The park offers facilities for swimming, historical intrepetration, camping and picnicking.

From the Tyler State Park, continue north on 14 until the road intersections with Farm Road 16. Start south on 16 until you reach the community of Winona, which was settled in the early l840s and named for Winona Douglas, the daughter of a prominent businessman.

At Winona, continue on 16 to the old town of Starrville, once an important overnight stop for stagecoaches and freight haulers, as well as a crucial manufacturing community. In l869, Starrville had the Texas Fair, said by some sources to have been the first state fair in Texas.

From Starrville, turn south on Farm Road 757 until you intersect with Farm Road 345 west of Arp. Turn south on 345 until it turns into 346 and follow the latter into Troup, a one-time planters village that was developed as a railroad stop in the l870s.

From Troup, head back toward Tyler on Texas 110..." more

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