History of Melissa Texas

editBarkerHouseHDRMelissa is located seven miles northeast of McKinney just off State Highway 75, in north central Collin County. From this community came many individuals and families who have been prominent in the business and professional life of Collin County. Some of the first settlers came from the old Highland community, which is located two and one half miles north of the present day Melissa. It was here that C.H. Wysong settled as early as 1846. A Post Office was established and Isaac N. Foster became the first Postmaster on September 9, 1853. The location of the Post Office was located at Foster Crossing about 3 miles north of Melissa.

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. In 1872 the Houston and Texas Central Railroad was built through the community and the town of Melissa was laid out.  Many of the residents of Highland, which was not on the railroad route, moved to the new location. The pioneers who settled near Melissa were Dr. William Throckmorton, R. E. Moore, G. W. Taylor, T. M. Scott, John and William Fitzhugh, Albert Sherley, Lewis Shirley, James M. Graves, Hogan Witt, John Coffman, Thomas Rattan, Josiah Nichols, Jesse Martin, John M. Nicholson, Lindsey Lewis, J. M. Kincaid and the Orenduffs.

Sources disagree as to the origin of the name of the town. Some state that Melissa was named for Melissa Quinlan, daughter of George A. Quinlan, an official of the Houston and Texas Central Railroad, while others say that it received its name for Melissa Huntington, daughter of C. P. Huntington, a prominent railroad executive. On May 16, 1873, James R. Rogers was appointed to be Melissa's first Postmaster.

IMG_8286In 1886 Melissa had a flourmill, two cotton gins that shipped 3,000 bales of cotton annually and several business houses. It became a stop on the Interurban (The Texas Electric Railway), linking Dallas and Denison in 1908. 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. It also had five churches, a large school, and a number of businesses, including a bank.

800px-Tornado_hits_school_editedA tornado struck the town on April 13, 1921, killing thirteen people, injuring fifty-four, and demolishing many homes and businesses. Eight years later, August 8, 1929, 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.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: David Minor, Roy Franklin Hall and Helen Gibbard Hall, Collin County: Pioneering in North Texas (Quanah, Texas: Nortex, 1975). J. Lee and Lillian J. Stambaugh, A History of Collin County (Austin: Texas State Historical Association, 1958) and United States Postal Service.