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DOWNSVILLE, TX

DOWNSVILLE, TEXAS. Downsville is on Farm Road 434 eight miles southeast of downtown Waco in southeastern McLennan County. William Woods Downs owned the land in the 1850s and used slaves to work it; after the Civil War he gave each family a house and some adjacent land. Former slaves established the Mount Pleasant Missionary Baptist Church there in 1866. When the San Antonio and Aransas Pass Railway laid its track from Waco to Lott in the late 1880s, it passed through this community, where a post office called Price was established in April 1890 with William P. Sparks as postmaster. Later that year the community was renamed Downsville, in honor of Downs and his son, John Wesley. By 1892 Downsville had three flour mills, a general store, two grocery stores, and 100 residents. In 1896 the community had a one-teacher school with seventy-three white students. County school records also indicate the existence in the area of a school called Mount Pleasant, which had one teacher and 126 black students; although maps did not show it, it may have been located in Downsville and named after the church. The population of Downsville was estimated at 134 from 1900 to the late 1940s. The post office was discontinued in 1907, and mail for the community was sent to Waco. The number of residents fell to fifty by 1949 and to thirty-five by 1964. The Southern Pacific abandoned the track between Waco and Rosebud in 1967, thus depriving Downsville of rail service. In the 1980s county highway maps showed three churches, two cemeteries, and two or three businesses at the site. The population was still thirty-five in 1990, but grew to 150 by 2000.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: 

Dayton Kelley, ed., The Handbook of Waco and McLennan County, Texas (Waco: Texian, 1972). William Robert Poage, McLennan County Before 1980 (Waco: Texian, 1981). Vertical File, Texas Collection, Baylor University.

Vivian Elizabeth Smyrl

Citation

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

Vivian Elizabeth Smyrl, "DOWNSVILLE, TX," Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/hnd39), accessed April 21, 2014. Uploaded on June 12, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.