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JAMESTOWN, TX (SMITH COUNTY)

JAMESTOWN, TEXAS (Smith County). Jamestown, also known as Berrien, Jimtown, and Old Jamestown, was just south of Wilds Creek in eastern Smith County three miles north of Overton in Rusk County. The site, settled in 1846, was part of the Edward Pierce survey and was located at the intersection of Mound Indian Trail and the Starrville-Omen Road. In 1853 David and Elizabeth Steber began laying out streets and selling lots at the townsite-with the stipulation that no taverns be opened-and in 1855 the settlement was granted a post office called Berrien; J. B. Hall was postmaster. Hall changed the post office name to Jamestown in 1856, and that same year a Masonic lodge was chartered. By 1858 the community had three blacksmiths, two wagonmakers, two general stores, and a cabinetmaker. The 1860 census listed Thomas Hall, B. F. Skinner, and J. T. Kenedy as teachers in the Jamestown common school. The area was served by five Methodist ministers and one Baptist minister; the twenty-seven members of the Baptist congregation met every two weeks.

In 1861 Dr. W. M. Bradford raised a military company at the community, and Company G of the Fourteenth Texas Voluntary Infantry was mustered in under Capt. D. C. Laird. Home-front patrols were also organized. After the Civil War, local residents engaged primarily in producing and shipping cotton, and the community remained fairly stable. In 1867 the Stebers donated two acres for a Methodist church. They had already established the Steber, Butler, and Company Storehouse, and other businesses soon included a gristmill and gin. Jamestown's population was seventy, including one teacher and two doctors.

When the International-Great Northern Railroad built through Rusk County in 1873, Overton was established as a rail town. Company executives offered Overton town lots to area settlers, and Jamestown began to decline. In 1884 it had only a steam gristmill and gin, two physicians, and a teacher; by 1890 it had gained a gristmill and gin and lost a physician. As the town grew smaller, its school became the center of community activities. In 1903 a one-teacher school served Jamestown's nineteen white students, while two one-teacher schools served its 157 black students. That same year the post office was transferred to Overton. Though the population continued to be reported as seventy-five, by 1936 a three-teacher elementary school, which served eighty-four black students from the area, was all that remained at the site. By 1952 the Jamestown Independent School District had consolidated local rural schools. A 1959 map showed only a church, a cemetery, and a few occupied houses at the site. The last business closed in 1964, and the next year three dwellings and the Jamestown Cemetery remained. The school system had been absorbed by the Chapel Hill Independent School District. By 1973, maps no longer showed the site of Jamestown.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: 

Edward Clayton Curry, An Administrative Survey of the Schools of Smith County, Texas (M.Ed. thesis, University of Texas, 1938). "Post Offices and Postmasters of Smith County, Texas: 1847–1929," Chronicles of Smith County, Spring 1966. Donald W. Whisenhunt, comp., Chronological History of Smith County (Tyler, Texas: Smith County Historical Society, 1983). James Wilkins, "Jamestown: Profile of a Smith County `Ghost Town'," Chronicles of Smith County, Fall 1965. Albert Woldert, A History of Tyler and Smith County (San Antonio: Naylor, 1948).

Vista K. McCroskey

Citation

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

Vista K. McCroskey, "JAMESTOWN, TX (SMITH COUNTY)," Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/hnj03), accessed December 20, 2014. Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
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