Ater is on the south bank of the Leon River nine miles northwest of Gatesville and one mile north of Farm Road 2412 in northwestern Coryell County. The site was settled in the early 1870s by families from Pontotoc County, Mississippi. The community, first named Sardis after a church at the settlers' former home, was renamed for Joe Ater, owner of the general store and postmaster from 1899 until 1907; in the latter year the office was discontinued and the mail rerouted through Jonesboro. The Stephenville North and South Texas Railway built through the area within a mile of Ater in 1911, but the company went bankrupt in the mid-1930s. The school at Ater was consolidated with the Jonesboro district in 1939. In the mid-1940s Ater was marked on county highway maps as having a church, a business, and a few scattered houses, and the population was reported as twenty-five. The population remained at twenty-five through 2000.
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