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ST. ELMO, TX (FREESTONE COUNTY)

ST. ELMO, TEXAS (Freestone County). St. Elmo is on Farm Road 416 in northern Freestone County. About 1849 the area was settled by families from Georgia, Alabama, and Florida. A school opened around 1850 but was closed during the Civil War. The Little Hope Baptist Church was organized in 1872, the same year that a post office opened there with Theodore B. Newman as the first postmaster. The school was rebuilt three years later and named St. Elmo. By that time the community was also called St. Elmo, a name that supposedly came from a popular nineteenth-century novel. The local Baptist congregation held services in the schoolhouse until 1886, when they bought six acres that encompassed the schoolhouse grounds and the local cemetery. They constructed a building and changed the name of the church from Little Hope to New Hope. In 1893 the St. Elmo school had seventy-nine pupils. A school district was organized in 1906, and a new building completed in 1922. The population of St. Elmo began to decline in the early 1900s, when the Trinity and Brazos Valley Railway was built through the nearby town of Streetman. By the 1930s St. Elmo reported twenty-five residents and a church, a school, a cemetery, a business, and a few scattered dwellings. A school cafeteria and auditorium were built in 1941, when oil was discovered within the school district, but the district was annexed by Fairfield in 1948. The auditorium was used as a community center until it was destroyed by fire in 1972. The population of St. Elmo was listed at twenty-five until 1947. In the late 1980s the community consisted of the New Hope Baptist Church, the St. Elmo Cemetery, and a few dwellings. The church and cemetery received a Texas Historical Commission marker in 1974.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: 

Freestone County Historical Commission, History of Freestone County, Texas (Fairfield, Texas, 1978). Freestone County Historical Survey Committee, Official Texas Historical Markers of Freestone County (Fairfield?, Texas, 1974).

Chris Cravens

Citation

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

Chris Cravens, "ST. ELMO, TX (FREESTONE COUNTY)," Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/hrs01), accessed October 23, 2014. Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.