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 Texas : Towns A-Z / East Texas :

OVERTON, TEXAS

Rusk County, East Texas
Hwy 135, FMs 850, 3053, 2089, and 918
10 miles SW of Kilgore
22 miles SE of Tyler
16 miles NW of Henderson

Population: 2,350

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Water tower in Overton, Texas
The watertower in Overton

Photo courtesy Lori Martin, January 2006
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History in a Pecan Shell

The town was named after Frank Overton, early settler and landowner who donated the townsite. It was platted in 1873 and a post office was granted that year.

Originally intended to be a crossroads for two railroads, in the mid 1870s the Henderson and Overton Branch Railroad, was completed and was later joined by the International-Great Northern. When the nearby towns of Rocky Mount, Belleview, and Jamestown were all bypassed by the railroad, Overton gained the businesses and people who felt a need to be connected to the rest of the world. The town offered lots for businesses to relocate and many took the offer.
Overton Texas Tandy Reid Post
Tandy Reid American Legion Hall

Photo courtesy Lori Martin, December 2005
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The Masons and Odd Fellows built the first school and a church was constructed in 1875. By 1888 the population had increased to 500 and had all essential businesses, including a newspaper. Overton prospered as an agricultural community and in 1904 the population had reached 568.
Overton Texas theatre
The old theatre in Overton

Photo courtesy Lori Martin, January 2006
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Oklahoman wildcatter C. M. (Dad) Joiner was drilling his third well in 1930 and the town of Overton helped raise the funds he needed to drill. When the well came in - Overton shared in Joiner's success. Churches, schools, and a refinery were built. The towns economy suddenly revolved around the production of oil.
Overton Texas School
Overton School detail

Photo courtesy Lori Martin, December 2005
Overton Texas School
Overton School

Photo courtesy Lori Martin, December 2005
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From 426 in 1931, Overton's population exploded to 3,000 in just two years. By 1936 it was up to 4,500 and the town went through the Great Depression relatively unscathed. But by the end of WWII the population had declined by half - reaching just 2,000 in the fifties and remaining at that level through the 70s. In the 1980s Overton was Rusk County's "second city" with a population of 2,430 in 1983. By the 1990s Overton extended into neighboring Smith County.

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