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Counties
Rusk, Smith
Region
Pineywoods
Population
2010 Census - 2,554
2000 Census - 2,350
Nearby
Towns
Overton, Texas
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Overton Texas History:
Overton was platted in 1873 at the future site of the junction of the International-Great Northern Railway and the 16 mile long Henderson and Overton branch railroad. It was named after area landowner Frank Overton who donated land for the townsite. The Overton post office was established the same year. Overton became is shipping center for area farmers. Many residents of the towns of Rocky Mount, Belleview, and Jamestown moved to Overton when the railroads bypassed their towns. Frank Overton offered free lots to any Jamestown businessman who relocated to Overton. Overton was primarily a farming center until oil was discovered in the area around 1930. Residents helped raise funds for the drilling of C.M. (Dad) Joiner’s third well. When the well came in the town benefited financially; businesses, churches, schools, and a bank were built. Refineries, oilfield-supply companies, and an iron works contributed to the town's economy. The population reached 4,500 by 1936. It started dropping by the early 1940s; it remained around 2,000 during the 1950s-1970s. Overton is located on the Smith and Rusk County line at the intersection of SH 135 and FMs 3053 (Motley Drive) and 850, 41 miles northeast of Lake Palestine, 33.5 miles northeast of Flint, 23 miles northeast of Whitehouse, approximately 10 miles northeast of Tyler Lake, 59 miles east of Athens, 23.3 miles southeast of Tyler, 24 miles south of Gladewater, 23 miles southwest of Longview, 11 miles southwest of Kilgore, approximately 30 miles northwest of Martin Creek Lake State Park, 14.5 miles northwest of Henderson, 10 miles northwest of Joinerville, 4 miles northwest of New London, 40 miles northeast of Rusk, and 31 miles northeast of Jacksonville, Texas.
 
Daisy Bradford No. 3 Discovery Well, Joinerville, TX:
Oklahoma attorney and oil promoter Columbus M. “Dad” Joiner believed there was oil in Rusk County. At age 70, he had already won and lost two fortunes in oil. He began drilling on Daisy Bradford’s land, approximately 8 miles northwest of Henderson. All he could afford was inferior equipment. He abandoned the first will when he reached a depth of 1,098 feet. He also abandoned the second well. In January 1930, the third well was started by Joiner about 300 feet from his first attempt. On Oct. 3, 1930, the Daisy Bradford No. 3 blew in as a 300 barrel-a-day well at a depth of 3,592 feet, establishing the East Texas establishing the East Texas oil field, the largest oil field in the world at the time. From Henderson take SH 323 toward Overton; go left on CR 4136 and drive 1.6 miles to a white pipe fence on your right and the Texas Historical Marker for the Daisy Bradford No. 3 well and the original Discovery Well. From SH 64 just west of Joinerville, go northwest on CR 4105. Turn left on CR 4105/Miller Ranch Road. Go right on CR 4136. (903) 392-8232. (866) 650-5529.
 
1937 New London Texas School Explosion:
In 1932, the New London School District, one of the riches in the United States, built a large $1 dollar school of steel and concrete. Because the school was located on a hill, a large dead space of air was located beneath the building. Over the advice of the architect, the school board had elected to install 72 gas heaters throughout the building instead of building a boiler and steam distribution system. In early 1937, the school board cancelled their gas contract and had plumbers install a tap line to the Parade Gasoline Company’s gas line in order to save the school’s monthly $300 natural bill. This practice was not illegal and was widespread in the area. Natural gas is odorless, so teachers and students in the building were unaware that leaks had allowed gas to become trapped in the space underneath the building. At 3:05 P.M. on March 18, 1937, the school day had nearly ended, and the younger grades had been dismissed. Some of these children waited on school buses for older students to join them for the ride home. A PTA meeting was being held in the gymnasium located adjacent to the school. At approximately 3:20 pm, Industrial arts teacher Lemmie Butler turned on a sander in his shop and a spark ignited natural gas. The building was lifted in the explosion, and then crushed into rubble. Over 295 students, teachers, staff and visitors were killed. Of the approximately 600 students and 40 teachers in the building at the time, only about 130 escaped without serious injury. Within weeks of the disaster the Texas legislature began mandating that Thiols (mercaptans) be added to natural gas to give it an odor so leaks could be detected. From Henderson take SH 323 (6.8 miles) west of Henderson toward Overton. On the right you will see the modern brick building of the Pleasant Hill Baptist Church. The church cemetery located across the highway from the church is the burial site of 171 of those killed in the explosion. The New London (School) Museum and Cenotaph are located near the rebuilt school
 
New London Museum & Tea Room, New London, TX:
Located across from the rebuilt school, this small museum chronicles the horror of the March 18, 1937 school explosion that killed over 295 students, teachers, staff and visitors. The museum schoolroom is furnished with period pieces. Exhibits include clothing, books and photos. A tearoom serves light lunches on weekdays, and features an old time soda fountain. A cenotaph commemorates the school explosion and lists the names all those who lost their lives. The museum is open daily, 9am-4pm. The Tea Room is open Mon-Fri, 11am-2pm, and after hours and on Saturdays by appointment. A museum admission fee applies. (903) 895-4602. The museum is located at 10690 Main Street (SH 42), across from school. Email  New London Texas Map; Click to Enlarge  New London Texas Area Map 
 
Texas A&M AgriLife Research & Extension Center:
The center researches and offers education in agriculture, cattle, wild hogs, family and consumer sciences, youth, and economic development. (903) 834-7140. 1710 North FM 3053, Overton, Texas 75684.
 
McMillan Memorial Library:
The library provides traditional library programs, children, youth and adult programs, summer programs, public access computers with internet connections, and free Wi-Fi. The library is open Mon-Wed & Fri, 8am-5pm; Thu, 10am-7pm; closed Saturday and Sunday. (903) 834-6318. 401 South Commerce Street, Overton, TX 75684. Email  
 
Annual Overton Bluegrass & Gospel Music Festival, 2nd Fri-Sat in June:
The city did not hold this festival in 2014 due to financial constraints. Activities include live bluegrass music, workshops on individual musical instruments, a guitar raffle, and food and drink concessions. Camping is available at the Overton’s City Park, the D & D RV Park west of Kilgore, Lake Tyler, Tyler State Park, and Lake Tyler Marina (on Lake Tyler West) in Whitehouse. (903) 834-3171. This event is held at Overton City Park. SH 323 dead ends at SH 135 in Overton. Go right on SH 135 to FM 850 and the blinking light. Go left on FM 850 to Lakeshore Drive. Turn left into the park. Overton Lake and City Park Map