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CENTERVILLE, TX (LEON COUNTY)

CENTERVILLE, TEXAS (Leon County). Centerville (Centreville), the county seat of Leon County, is at the intersection of State highways 7 and 75, Interstate Highway 45, and Farm Road 1119, between two branches of Keechi Creek in central Leon County. When it became clear that Leona was an inconvenient county seat and did not meet the legislative requirement for centrality within the county, Centreville, named for its location, was laid out as the new county seat in 1850. In October of that year the county records were moved to the new community. A courthouse was also erected that year, and a post office was opened in December. From 1852 to 1856 the Leon Pioneer was published in the community. It was succeeded by a series of newspapers, including the Centreville Times, the Texas Times, the Experiment, the Leon Lone Star, the Democrat, and the Leon County News. In 1990 the community was served by the Centerville News. School was first taught in the community in 1851 in the back of a store, and a church, shared by several denominations, was built about the same time. In 1853 Frederick Law Olmsteadqv stayed in the Centreville Hotel, a drafty log cabin. The original courthouse was replaced by a brick building in 1858.

During Reconstruction a Freedmen's Bureau agent and an infantry company were stationed in Centreville. The community was dealt a severe blow when it was bypassed by the International-Great Northern Railroad in 1872. In 1884 Centreville had an estimated population of 300 and a church, a school, a saloon, two hotels, two general stores, a steam gristmill, and a cotton gin. Its courthouse burned down and was replaced by a new structure in 1886. The community had a population of 318 in 1900. In 1907 Centreville's black school district had 163 pupils and three teachers, while its white schools had 92 pupils and two teachers. A bank was opened in the community in 1910, and by 1914 Centreville had changed the spelling of its name to Centerville and comprised an estimated 600 inhabitants. A black man accused of murdering a white was taken from the county jail and lynched in the community in November of 1915. The community incorporated in 1930, when it had declined to a population of 388 with some twenty businesses. The courthouse square was paved in the 1930s by a Work Projects Administration project. Centerville established an annual Black-Eyed Pea Festival in 1937. The community had grown to 961 residents and 42 businesses by 1950, but slowly declined to 836 residents by 1960 and to 805 by 1980. In 1990 its population was reported as 812, and the community had some thirty-five businesses. In 2000 the population was 903 with 127 businesses.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: 

Leon County Historical Book Survey Committee, History of Leon County (Dallas: Curtis Media, 1986).

Mark Odintz

Citation

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Mark Odintz, "CENTERVILLE, TX (LEON COUNTY)," Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/hlc18), accessed October 22, 2014. Uploaded on June 12, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
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