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JOY, TX (SMITH COUNTY)

JOY, TEXAS (Smith County). Joy is a small church community at the crossing of Farm Road 1252 (old Thunderstruck Road) and an unnamed thoroughfare, north of Interstate 20 in extreme eastern Smith County. Prairie Creek flows to its north and west, and Wright Mountain is to its south. The area, originally part of the Oscar Hawkins League, began to develop when small farmers moved in after the Civil War. Subsistence crops such as corn, field peas, and ribbon cane were grown, as well as small amounts of cotton. The cotton was hauled by wagon overland to Starrville, Browning, or the W. C. Smith gin in Gregg County. Joy was granted a post office on April 29, 1892, with Silas F. Meritt as postmaster. He served for only seven months before the office moved to nearby Gladewater on November 18, 1892.

In 1904 local residents organized a church. Although the congregation was called Calvary Baptist Church, it featured interdenominational sermons, usually delivered by itinerant preachers. But after five years the Baptists became the dominant force and changed the name to Joy Baptist Church. There was also a one-room grade school at this time, but classes were held only between crops. The old school building was replaced in 1910, and in 1923 ten girls and nine boys attended; Hal Gary was teacher. In 1935 the elementary school employed two teachers and had forty-six white students. The eighty-five black children in the area were not enrolled there, but probably attended nearby New Siloam School. The Joy school closed in May 1935, but a new two-room school opened in 1936 and served local students until 1940–41, when the Joy school closed and its students were sent to the Gladewater schools. In 1935 the first community store was built. It was an eight-by-ten-foot tent with a counter where customers could place orders. A tin roof and walls were added later. Jimmy Reeves soon built the second store, which included a gas pump. After three months he sold his business to Claude Gatlin.

Joy had a church, the school building, the store, a sawmill, and a cluster of farms at the intersection of two dirt roads in 1936. The old schoolhouse was later moved to Gladewater and converted to a bus barn. In 1937 the Baptist Church held the largest brush arbor meeting in the history of the community. There were 140 attendees, and twenty-nine became baptism candidates. On November 20, 1938, the congregation dedicated their new building and called W. M. Baxter as the first permanent pastor. The next year they hosted the Smith County Baptist Association for two days in the fall. In 1973 Joy had one business, the church, and three homes. The store closed in February 1975, and by 1978 the church fellowship had decreased to twelve. Joy still appeared on maps in 1981.

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. Smith County Historical Society, Historical Atlas of Smith County (Tyler, Texas: Tyler Print Shop, 1965).
Vista K. McCroskey

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Handbook of Texas Online, Vista K. McCroskey, "Joy, TX (Smith County)," accessed December 07, 2016, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/hvj28.

Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

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