Center City, on U.S. Highway 84 north of Bennett Creek in eastern Mills County, was settled about 1870. When the county was organized, the townsite was laid out with a large area in the center designated as the site for the new courthouse. Built around this square were various businesses, including several saloons, several dry goods stores, two blacksmith shops, a general store, and a drugstore. But Goldthwaite became the county seat. By 1874 Center City had a post office, a gristmill, and a school. After a survey in the early 1870s designated an ancient live oak standing in the town as the exact center of Texas, the name of the town, which had previously been Hughes Store, was changed to Center City. Controversy was to break out when the tree was later threatened with removal by construction of State Highway 7 (now U.S. 84). Citizens won out, and in 2003 the live oak was still standing fifty feet south of the highway in the middle of a dirt road between Goldthwaite and Evant. The tree is included in Famous Trees of Texas (1970, 1984). Although the tree's exact age is unknown, early settlers were said to have held justice court under its branches until a courtroom could be erected. Early school and church services were held there also. By 1880 Center City had a church, and in 1885 the community reported a population of 100. In 1910 it had three churches. By 1920 Center City's post office had been replaced by rural delivery from Goldthwaite. In the late 1940s Center City reported three stores and an estimated population of seventy-five. From 1970 through 2003 the community reported a population of fifteen. In 2003 Center City had two churches and a single business, a combination hardware store and gas station.
Adapted from the official Handbook of Texas, a state encyclopedia developed by the Texas State Historical Association (TSHA). It is an authoritative source of trusted historical records.
Claudia Hazlewood | © Texas State Historical Association
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