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UNIVERSE, TEXAS. Universe is a community on State Highway 64 a mile east of Tyler Loop 323 and a mile west of Bascom in central Smith County. The area, originally part of the Polinio Chireno survey, was settled as early as 1861. During the Civil War the Headache Springs Medical Laboratory, Confederate States of America, operated there. It was one of only nine such facilities west of the Mississippi River and was under the direction of one Dr. Johnson, a native of Virginia. Confederate physicians used local herbs, barks, and roots, as well as the waters of nearby Headache Springs, to make medicine and whiskey for the blockaded South; by 1990 the area had become the Headache Springs Natural Park. The vicinity remained sparsely inhabited, and there was no local school recorded even in 1903. The 1936 county highway map, however, showed a school, a church, a cemetery, and a collection of dwellings at the site. At that time the Universe School had thirty-six black elementary students and one teacher. By 1952 it had been absorbed by the Tyler Independent School District, and in 1969 children from Universe were still attending classes in the Tyler ISD. In 1972 Universe consisted of a sizeable residential area, three businesses, the Universe Church, and the Universe Cemetery. Several businesses operated on Highway 64 in 1981, when the cemetery was still accessed by a dirt road.


Edward Clayton Curry, An Administrative Survey of the Schools of Smith County, Texas (M.Ed. thesis, University of Texas, 1938). Dallas Morning News, March 24, 1974. "School Sights," Chronicles of Smith County, Fall 1969. Smith County Historical Society, Historical Atlas of Smith County (Tyler, Texas: Tyler Print Shop, 1965).

Vista K. McCroskey


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

Vista K. McCroskey, "UNIVERSE, TX," Handbook of Texas Online (, accessed November 25, 2015. Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

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