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CELESTE, TEXAS


Celeste is on U.S. Highway 69 two miles southeast of the headwaters of the Sabine River and ten miles northwest of Greenville in northwest Hunt County. Like many towns in Hunt County, it was a product of railroad development. The townsite was platted in 1886 by the Gulf, Colorado and Santa Fe Railway three miles north of Kingston, on open prairie already crossed by the Missouri, Kansas and Texas line. This location was chosen in order to ensure that Kingston, whose elected officials had refused to offer incentives to attract the Gulf, Colorado and Santa Fe to build through their community, would be bypassed by the line as it put down tracks from Paris through Farmersville to Dallas. Celeste was named for the wife of a Santa Fe official. The two rail lines stimulated rapid growth. A Celeste post office opened in 1886, and a number of merchants moved their businesses from Kingston to Celeste. By 1888 three churches were holding services in the settlement. The population by the mid-1890s stood at 600, and the community maintained three gristmills and cotton gins, a bank, a weekly newspaper, and a graded public school. Celeste was incorporated in 1900, and its population increased from 671 that year to 850 on the eve of World War I.qv By 1914 the community had two banks, three cotton gins, a water works, an ice factory, and a weekly newspaper, as well as some thirty-five other businesses. It reported a population of 1,022 by 1926. Its high school and two elementary schools registered 500 students. Some fifty business establishments, including two banks and a newspaper, were in operation. After the 1920s, however, the population of Celeste fell from 803 in 1933 to 518 in the mid-1960s; businesses correspondingly declined, from thirty to sixteen. After the 1960s the town revived; in 1976 its population was 745. In 1982 the community, where World War IIqv hero Audie Murphyqv once lived, had a bank, four churches, ten stores, and a school that enrolled 300 students. The population in 1990 was 733.

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