column by Mike
Star of Mills County
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 that name?”
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.
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
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 star.
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
or Goldthwaite. And unless
they needed gas, people driving from Waco
to Brownwood 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.
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
“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.”
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 is free.
Cox - "Texas
5, 2011 column
| History in a Pecan
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 built.
1910: Star gets a bank - but after a robbery in
the 20s, it is closed.
1944: Star had eight businesses and a population of
The Star Historical
Road 1047, south of US Highway 84
Hours - Sunday 3:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m. Free
Contact the museum for special tours.
Vacation Bible School Group Portrait July 1951|
by the famed Waco Photographer
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, 2007
Subject: 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 hours.
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 12, 2007
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, 2007
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 Cameron,
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 email@example.com. 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
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
I stumbled 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
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
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
Escapes, in its purpose to preserve historic, endangered and vanishing
Texas, asks that anyone wishing to share their local history, stories, and vintage/historic
photos of their town, please contact
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