Van Alstyne is on State Highway 5, U.S. Highway 75, Farm Road 121, and the Southern Pacific line, twelve miles south of Sherman in extreme south central Grayson County. Settlers established the community of Mantua in the area during the 1850s. When the Houston and Texas Central Railway bypassed Mantua in 1872, many of that community's residents purchased land from the railroad company and laid out a townsite. They named the new community after either William A. Van Alstyne, a civil engineer with the railroad who surveyed the right-of-way and the townsite, or Mrs. Marie Van Alstyne, a shareholder in the railroad company. The community opened a post office in 1873 and grew rapidly for the rest of the century. Van Alstyne incorporated in 1890, when it had a population of 400, two gristmills, a flour mill, a newspaper, and a college. Around 1900 the town had 1,940 residents and a number of businesses, including several banks, a grain elevator, a roller mill, and a chemical company. Though the population of Van Alstyne declined somewhat during the early 1900s, it remained an active center for retail trade, banking, schools, and churches. Its population was 1,453 in 1936, when fifty-five businesses, including two banks and various stores, served the community. The town's population fell from 1,650 around 1948 to 1,608 by 1967; during this same period the number of rated businesses in the community increased from forty-two to forty-five. By the mid-1970s the town had 2,230 residents and some forty businesses, among them seven manufacturers, including producers of clothing, motor homes, and mattresses. By the late 1980s the population of Van Alstyne stood at 1,990, and it had some thirty-five businesses, including factories of plastics and aluminum products. In 1990 the population of the community was reported as 2,090. The population reached 2,502 in 2000.