Smiley, also known as Smiley Lake, is at the intersection of U.S. Highway 87 and Farm roads 3234 and 108, twenty-one miles south of Gonzales in southwestern Gonzales County. It was established in the early 1870s, when trader and sheepherder John Smiley settled by a long narrow lake that became known as Smiley's, Smileys, or Smiley Lake. The lake became an important watering point for cattle herds on the way to market, and several businesses, including a cotton gin and a sawmill, were started in the community by the early 1880s. The names Smiley Lake and Smiley seem to have been used interchangeably during the early years, but by 1900 the community was labeled Smiley on maps. In 1884 the Smiley post office was established. In 1894 the settlement had a tanyard and a wire-fence factory and was probably the third largest town in the county. By 1896 the community had several hundred residents, Baptist and Methodist churches, two general stores, two grocers, and a gristmill-gin. A number of schools in the community dated back to the 1870s, and in 1896 the Smiley school district was organized. The community received a big boost when, in 1905, the Galveston, Harrisburg and San Antonio Railway built through the north edge of town. Smiley's business district shifted closer to the new railway depot. The town incorporated in 1911 but was also devastated by a fire that same year. By the 1920s Smiley had an estimated population of 600. In the 1930s and 1940s it became a poultry-processing center. In 1940 the community had twelve businesses, two factories, two churches, and an estimated 500 people. After reaching a peak population of 697 in 1950, Smiley shrank to 495 inhabitants in 1964 and remained at about that level thirty years later. The railroad line was discontinued about 1970. In 1990 Smiley had a population of 463 and thirteen businesses. The population was 453 in 2000. Among the newspapers published in the community have been the Smiley Lake News, the Smiley Reflector, the Smiley News, the Sun, and the Tabloid.