Melissa Texas History and Information
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Melissa Texas, a History
Melissa is located at 33°17?01?N 96°34?19?W? / ?33.283534°N 96.571851°W? / 33.283534; -96.571851. This is on U.S. Highway 75 seven miles northeast of McKinney in north central Collin County. According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 4.6 square miles (11.9 km2), all of it land.
Some of Melissa's first settlers came from the old Highlands community, two and a half miles north of present-day Melissa. C.H. Wysong was one of the earliest settlers. The Houston and Texas Central Railroad was built in Melissa in 1872. The town was laid out at this time.
On May 16, 1873, James R. Rogers was appointed to be Melissa's first Postmaster.
The first school in Melissa was built on land purchased in 1882 by trustees James Graves, John Gibson, and George Fitzhugh, who were early settlers of the area. The first teacher was Mary Huckerston, who taught there for five years. The school began with 38 pupils. Church services were held there for all faiths on Sundays. A two-story brick schoolhouse was built on this site in 1910 to accommodate growth brought by the railroad.
The City of Melissa is served by the Melissa Independent School District. In 2004, McKinney ISD and Anna ISD refused to educate anymore Melissa ISD high school classes. In 2007, Melissa High School graduated their first class with forty-six students. Since the Melissa High School has been in service they have had the honor of being the school of choice to many quaified teachers and principles in the area. Harry McKillop Elementary School opened their doors as the second elementary school in the fall of 2008, housing pre-k to fourth grade.
The rich soils of the Blackland Prairie and the waters of the Elm Fork of the Trinity River attracted settlers to the area in the 1840s, when the Peters colony was opened to settlement. The town was laid out in 1872, when the Houston and Texas Central Railway reached the area. After the organization of the Melissa community, residents of Highland, 2½ miles north, moved there. Its population was estimated at 100 in 1884.
The railroad encouraged many families to come to Melissa. The town is believed to have been named for the daughter of a railroad executive, George A. Quinlan of the Houston and Texas Central Railroad. There is some disagreement about this as others argue that the town was named after Melissa Huntington, daughter of C.P. Huntington, another well-known railroad executive. Apparently, George Austin Quinlan did not have a daughter named Melissa. Anna, Texas is named after Anna Elizabeth Quinlan (1878-1952), the only daughter of George Austin Quinlan and his wife Mary Kate Saunders (1851-1884). In 1886 Melissa had a flourmill, two cotton gins that shipped 3,000 bales of cotton annually and several business houses.
Melissa was an important shipping point in the early 1900s. Corn, wheat, alfalfa hay, wood, and livestock were all sent out on the railroad. Beginning in 1908 the community was connected by the Texas Electric Railway to surrounding Collin County towns and to Dallas. This transportation network made Melissa a commercial and community center for area farmers. By 1914 its population had reached 400. Unlike many rural communities in Texas, Melissa had electric lights, a telephone exchange, and paved roads before 1920.
A tornado struck the town on April 13, 1921, killing thirteen people, injuring fifty-four, and demolishing many businesses. Eight years later a fire destroyed many of the buildings that had been rebuilt after the tornado. The Great Depression, the mechanization of farming, and job opportunities in the Dallas metropolitan area after World War II further slowed community growth. The population of Melissa declined from a high of 500 in 1925 to 285 in 1949. In 1966 it was 375. Melissa was incorporated in the early 1970s. In 1980 it had a population of 604 and nine businesses. In 1990 its population was 557. The population more than doubled reaching 1,350 by 2000.
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