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HOMER, TX

HOMER, TEXAS. Homer, an incorporated community on U.S. Highway 69 six miles southeast of Lufkin, was the third of the four county seats of Angelina County. In 1858 county residents voted to make Homer the county seat instead of Jonesville and to rename Homer as Angelina. Townspeople, however, continued to call Homer by its original name, and in 1862 its name was officially changed back to Homer. In 1858 the log county courthouse was moved to Homer from Marion, which had been the first county seat. Construction on a brick courthouse at Homer began in 1861, but soon halted because of the Civil War. Only one wall was finished, and it was later razed. A two-story frame courthouse was erected at Homer in 1873. From 1858 through the early 1880s Homer was the most important center in the county and had the first established church and most of the county's major businesses as well as its first mechanical sawmill. In 1881 the Houston, East and West Texas Railway built through nearby Lufkin, Homer's chief economic rival. Stories circulated for many years that the railroad's survey crew, infuriated for being arrested in Homer after a drunken brawl, deliberately bypassed the town. A number of sources, however, contradict this story, noting that the surveyors decided to build the line through Lufkin because the route was more direct and because several leading Lufkin citizens donated large parcels of land for the project.

Even at its height, Homer never reported a population larger than 500. After many businesses moved to Lufkin to be near the railroad, attempts were made to move the courthouse to Lufkin as well. An election in 1885, however, resulted in a resounding vote to keep the courthouse in Homer. Even with the railroad located six miles to the north, Homer prospered in the 1880s. In 1884 it had a population of 300, three churches, two gristmills, two schools, a steam sawmill, a cotton gin, and daily mail service. The town's chief products were lumber, livestock, and cotton. In November 1891, however, the courthouse at Homer burned. A leading merchant is said to have run en déshabillé to the fire, shouting "This is the work of Lufkin!" Lufkin became county seat in 1892, and Homer quickly lost population. In 1900 its dwindling population was reduced by two in a bloody feud between the Scroggins and Borden families. In 1904 Homer reported 166 inhabitants, and by 1914 its population had dropped to 75. A population of 130 was reported for Homer in 1925. By the late 1960s Homer had begun to grow again, and in 1969 it had a shopping center and several new houses. Homer's location on a main thoroughfare to the Sam Rayburn Reservoir facilitated the town's development. In 1971 Homer residents voted to incorporate their community. During the early 1990s Homer reported a population of 360. The population remained the same in 2000.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: 

Ed Ellsworth Bartholomew, 800 Texas Ghost Towns (Fort Davis, Texas: Frontier, 1971). Bob Bowman, "Lufkin: A Century of Locomotives, Sawmills, and Industry," East Texas Historical Journal 19 (1981). Richard W. Haltom, History and Description of Angelina County, Texas (Lufkin, Texas, 1888; rpt., Austin: Pemberton, 1969). Thomas Clarence Richardson, East Texas: Its History and Its Makers (4 vols., New York: Lewis Historical Publishing, 1940).

Megan Biesele

Citation

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

Megan Biesele, "HOMER, TX," Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/hlh52), accessed April 18, 2014. Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
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