column by Mike
Star of Mills County
Twinkle, twinkle, little star
How I wonder what you are!
In Mills County, at least, the answer’s easy. Star is a small community
on U.S. Highway 84, just east of the Hamilton County line. Not so
easily answered is how Star got its iconic name.
The Handbook of Texas says Star is named for Star Mountain,
but that begs the question, “OK, so why did someone give a mountain
Billie Gail Soules Day saw first hand how Star came to be Star one
day in 1947 after she went for a spin in a military-surplus biplane
against her father’s wishes.
“Some of the local high school boys and recent graduates had repaired
an old Army plane so it could fly again,” she recalls. “My father
told me not to go up in it, but I did.”
With a slightly older male friend at the controls, Day sat in the
open seat behind the young pilot and got to look down on a nearby
mountain that from above appears to lay in the form a five-pointed
“Alec Street laid out the town in the mid-1880s and is the
first person who explored the mountain,” Day continues. “He figured
out from the ground that it was spread out like a star and said our
town should be called Star Mountain. There was already a post office
by that name, so they decided to call this Star, Texas.”
only did Street stake out Star’s streets, he operated the town’s general
store and cotton gin. Calvin Skinner became the town’s first post
master when mail delivery began in 1886. By 1895, Star had two more
stores, a drug store, a blacksmith shop and a saloon-pool hall.
Star continued to grow at a modest rate, though it experienced a set
back in May 1904 when a tornado swept through the town. The storm
leveled five houses and killed a couple of residents.
The town recovered from that blow, but the advent of paved roadways
made it easier for folks to do their shopping in the larger nearby
town of Hamilton
And unless they needed gas, people driving from Waco
on U.S. 84 didn’t have any compelling reasons to stop in Star.
Then the Great Depression hit. The local bank losts all its cash and
some negotiable bonds to an armed robber who never got caught, but
following a chance in ownership, the bank survived the economic downtown.
In 1939, Star’s population high point, it still had three grocery
stores, a general merchandise store, a variety store, two garages,
a beauty shop, a barber shop and a café.
retired teacher, Day returned to her hometown in 1999 and became the
prime mover in getting a 1938-vintage stone building converted into
a museum. She is curator of the museum and the go-to person for historical
information on Star.
For years, the town’s cotton gin was the town’s economic engine, but
the gin shut down in 1950. By that time, Star had long since seen
its most prosperous days. For those who still lived there, life went
on at a pretty slow pace until the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department
started building its game warden training academy on a nearby ranch
that had been donated to the state agency. The first cadet class graduated
from the new facility in 2009.
While Star is certainly no boom town, it is the closest town, with
the nearest convenience store, to the academy. Off-duty cadets, staff
members and visiting instructors add to the town’s economy.
“We’re delighted to have the game warden academy here,” Day says.
“It’s really helped our post office and our one café at the Mini-Mart.”
Indeed, after they’re through for the day, game warden cadets or game
wardens at the center for in-service training, often drop by Star’s
lone café for semi-home cooking ranging from chicken fried steaks
to burgers with the house-specialty onion rings and from-scratch pecan
and buttermilk pies.
The Star Historical Museum is open from 3-5 p.m. on Sundays. Admission
Cox - "Texas
5, 2011 column
| History in
a Pecan shell
The town was named after nearby Star Mountain.
A timeline of important events in Star's history:
In the 1880s - the town was laid out by a man appropriately named
Street (Alex Street).
1886: The post office was granted and Calvin Skinner was the postmaster.
The previously mentioned Alex Street ran a store and a cotton gin.
1905: The zenith of prosperity for Star. First permanent church is
1910: Star gets a bank - but after a robbery in the 20s, it is closed.
1944: Star had eight businesses and a population of 171.
Farm Road 1047,
south of US Highway 84
Hours - Sunday 3:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m. Free admission.
Contact the museum for special tours.
Bible School Group Portrait July 1951
by the famed Waco Photographer Gildersleeve
Photo courtesy Nancy F. Payne
Dear TE, I found [your page on] Star, Texas, and I was impressed.
My father was the Methodist Minister there from 1954 to 1956. His
duties also included Center City, and Pear Valley Methodist Churches.
We moved to Star from South
Texas and my brother and I attended school in Star. During the
time my father was minister there a new parsonage was built and
an educational building that I still have pictures of. Back in 1987
I made a trip to Star and stopped at the one service station there
and met James Clary who I went to school with and spent time on
his parent's ranch. We caught up on a lot of old times and history.
Again thank you for putting the history and commits about Star on
the internet. - Bobby Barth, Friendswood, Texas, November 26,
Star, Texas 1970's
Dear TE, I was a teacher in Star, Texas in the 1970's and the first
woman to coach basketball there. We lived on the old Jim Soul's
place before some of the diversion terraces where put in. One July
4th, there came a heavy rain out toward Goldthwaite
and Center. It had rained
about 6 inches and all the water came down the creek at one time.
We raced to the creek from the house to pull the irrigation pipe.
The chain broke on the release and I had to dive into the pool of
water to release the water from the tube. I got it just in time.
As I climbed out of the water to the upper bank, fifteen feet of
water was making its way to where I had just been. The water came
up to the top of the banks and blocked the crossing for several
Another time I
was driving the old pick-up to school and it rained so much that the
Slaughter Branch was up. I was caught at the high water but my husband
brought up our horse and took me across the flooded branch on that
horse (with me dressed all in pink). When we got to the other side,
a neighbor, who was the school board president happened to be driving
by on the "main" road and he took me to school. I have about a million
stories to tell about Star, the people who lived there and the wildlife
(rattlesnakes, deer, wild turkey, and bobcats). Thanks for the opportunity
to remember that happy and carefree time. - Jerry Harris, June
I was surprised but happy to find a site about Star, Texas. My fathers’
family is from there and my father and grandparents and probably
great grandparent are buried there. My aunt recently contacted me
and sent me some old photos of my families connection to Star, here
they are... - Nancy F. Payne, Carbondale, CO, January 16,
I graduated in 2004 from Star High School, there was 8 of us that
graduated. Star school still plays Basketball, Six man football,
Tennis and Track. We are a very small community, but our school
is still running, this year (2006) Star is a favorite to make the
playoffs in football for the first time in 21 years. So anybody
that attended this great school we invite u to come and support
your alma mater and cheer them on a great season. - Gerardo Martinez,
August 11, 2006
Star, TX / George Thomas Lovelace
A couple of weeks ago I finally drove through Star, TX on my way
from Llano, TX area to
Grand Prairie, TX. It is a neat place and I plan to return to the
Star Historical Museum when it is open. I was born (1945) in Brownwood,
TX and then moved to Odessa,
TX when I was 7 years old (1952). My grandfather was George
Thomas Lovelace (1881 - we think he was born in Hix Community and
TX area) and he told me he lived in Star, TX also. He would
travel by horse and wagon to Indian
Creek, TX to court my grandmother, Katie Sandol Martin. They
were married 29 June 1905 in Indian Creek, TX. g-grandfather was
Socrates Martin of Indian Creek, TX. After my grandparents married
they lived at Indian Creek, TX, Buffalo, TX (close to Bangs, TX),
Zephyr, TX, and
Brownwood, TX. My g-grandfather was William Henry Lovelace, born
in Alabama on their way from Georgia to Texas. My g-g-grandfather
is buried (lost grave) at Hix Community close to Caldwell,
TX. Would like to learn more about my grandfather living in
Star, TX. Relatives are bured at Indian Creek Cemetery and Ebony
Cemetery. If anyone can help me please e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
As a young girl in the 1950s, my parents and grandpartents would
drive to someplace close to Goldthwaite,
TX and we would lay down in the Uranium beds and they would
cover you up with Uranium. They said it helped joint pain. That
was an experience I have never forgotten. I can hardly wait to come
visit the museum and drive around Star, TX again. - Sincerely,
Georgia Park, Grand Prairie, March 11, 2006
Elliot Autry Street the founder of Star Texas was my Great-Great-Grandfather
I found your interesting web-site today regarding Star, Texas. I
have only been to Star once and plan to go back soon when the small
museum is open.
According to a 1955 bio-letter written by my Great-Grandmother Lucinda
Street Henry; my Great-Great-Grandfather Elliot Autry Street named
Star after a "mountain" on his property that had the shape of a
5 pointed star. The Streets came to Texas from Snow County Mississippi
in 1882 or 1883 and had several businesses there as well as ranching.
My Grandmother Seleta Cordelia Henry Evans (1900) and my dad Dow
Evans (1923) were born in Star so I have a strong mental tie to
the town. - Thanks, Steve, March 29, 2005
across your excellent site while looking for information about one
of my favorite childhood memories of time spent on a ranch near
Star. Ahhh, the marvel of the internet. To stir memories of childhood
and loves past.
I lived on a ranch that was run (rather shoddily, no doubt) by my
stepfather Ed Bridges. I do not recall the name of the ranch but
it was purchased by Don and Martha Vincent from the previous owners
by the name of Street or perhaps Streeter? The man the Vincents
purchased the place from was in Dairy Queen commercials or perhaps
some of the commercials were filmed on the ranch. This was close
to 30 years ago now so my recollections on such details are a bit
foggy in spots.
What I do clearly recall was the freedom a 12 year old boy found
in those Texas hills. Countless hours spent with my faithful dog
Ginger exploring the wooded mysteries. A boy, his dog and a .22
bolt action rifle. Supposedly squirell hunting. More akin to squirell
watching. Hours spent stretched out on a boulder watching lazy clouds
drift by. Finding that awesome swimming hole down at the creek.
Even the time spent on that Massey Fergusen tractor pulling a brush
hog or helping build fence....supposed to be work......was all magic
to me. That and of course the fact that I was madly in love with
one of the owners daughters, Nicole, etches those awkward yet wonderful
years in my memory still.
If anyone knows the name of that ranch based on these clues I'd
love to hear from you. I remember there was a big 2 story house
we lived in at the bottom of a long hill.....gravel road. I crashed
my bicycle more than once flying insanely down that long gravel
hill. - Stephen Mims, February 11, 2005
I spent many
a summer on my Granddaddy's ranch in Star. His name was James F(Jim)
Soules. From picking up pecans to swimming and fishing in Bennet
creek, some of my best childhood memories are from there. The rock
that built most of the town and school came from his ranch. There
was a book written about Mills county back in the late 70's that
had a lot of history in it. One was the story of Jim Soules and
partner starting the first electric service in Star---DC electricity
from glass batteries. - Audrey Soules, December 06, 2004
I have a lot
of good memories about Star, Texas. I never lived in Star, but I
spent a lot of summers down on the Lampases River at my Grandad's
Farm. His name was Cyrus Fields. I have heard about the Museum at
Star, from my brother, Tommy Hamilton. ... I think that the picture
of the two story building is one that I remember and I think the
Masonic lodge used to be upstairs. If there is a Hamilton or a Fields
in that part of the country, I am related to them, probably. R.N.
Hamilton of Evant is my 1st cousin. Thanks for listening. - Bill
Hamilton, November 19, 2004
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