in a Pecan Shell
Settled in the
late 1840s, Omen has gone under many names – including Canton, Old
Canton, Round Hill, Clopton, and Troup – all before finally settling
on Omen in 1880. In late 1849 the Round Hill post office was
opened in the home of Arnold O'Brien, the community’s first resident.
In 1851 the new postmaster changed the name to Canton – which
caused confusion with the Van Zandt county seat, necessitating the
second change to Clopton. After a brief closing, the post office
reopened as Troup, Texas.
The International-Great Northern railroad arrived in the 1870s, bypassing
the town by four miles, forming the new town of Zavalla. The
post office joined other residents in moving to the new town, although
they retained the name Troup.
In the penultimate change of name, Troup’s post office was renamed
Old Canton – a name still in popular use by residents. Finally,
in 1880, the town settled on Omen.
The population was estimated at 550 in 1892 and in 1906 the much-named
post office closed it’s doors for good – but leaving the permanent
By 1912 the town was down to two businesses and in time, the justice
of the peace moved to nearby Arp, along
with the local Masonic lodge. By 1933 the population was down to 150.
Omen’s last store closed in the 1960s and the population continues
to be given at the 1933 level.
Douglas, Thomas Weatherby, and Mitus White platted the townsite of
Canton in 1850 near the junction of two main roads, one leading to
the county seat at Tyler.
Although the post office was renamed Clopton in 1852 and the name
was changed to Troup in 1854, the village continued to be known as
Canton for many years. The first store opened in 1852 and soon the
community had a tanyard, blacksmith shop, cabinet and wagon shop,
hotel, school, several doctors, churches, and a Masonic Lodge. The
1860 census showed 34 households in the town.
When the International & Great Northern Railroad bypassed Canton in
the 1870s, many businesses moved away. In 1880 the town and post office
adopted the name Omen. For 30 years, Omen was the location of the
Summer Hill Select School, a coeducational boarding school directed
by A. W. Orr (1849-1924) of Georgia. This highly-regarded institution
drew students from all parts of Texas
as well as from out of state.
The closing of the post office in 1906 and the school hastened Omen's
decline. Oil discoveries during the 1930s revived the community briefly,
but with the depression the population dwindled further and Omen became
a rural village.
by Bob Bowman
Omen, 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... more
County 1907 postal map showing Omen
SE of Tyler
Texas General Land Office
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