© 2009-2015 Bob Shrader
The first white settlers in the Scranton area arrived before 1875. Settlement around what is now the center of Scranton began that year with the arrival of the Lane and Brown families. By the beginning of the 20th century, Scranton was becoming a center for commerce and education. It’s not known how Scranton got its name, but records indicate one of the surveyors employed by the Houston & Texas Central Railroad in the area was named Scranton. By 1891 Scranton was large enough to have a postmaster appointed by the federal government, and there were retail businesses operating, also. E.E. Chunn, who lived east of Scranton in the Pisgah area, opened the first store in the community. The date is unknolwn, but we can infer it must have been open by the  time the post office was established. Farming in the area during those early years was lucrative enough to justify construction of a cotton gin and the formation of the Scranton Academy, a prep school that not only served locals but boarded students from as far away as Fort Worth. Through most of the first two decades of the twentieth century Scranton was a small-time boom town.
Downtown Scranton as it was at the beginning of the 20th century. A bustling community with a cotton gin, numerous stores and a prep school academy that took boarding students. Found in Cisco, where the old Scranton Post Office had been used as a storage shed in a back yard, Lynn Reese moved it to the family property in Scranton and restored the building as you see here. The old "Gin Tank," located on springs that ran through downtown Scranton, was the site of many baptism ceremonies in the early part of the 20th century. Oldtimers say the headwaters of one branch of the Leon River begin here. Downtown Scranton at the beginning of the 20th Century. Stell's dry goods store on the far left. Stone building behind it is Lee Ray's store. Gattis family stores accross the street on the right. A hotel/boarding house is behind the Gattis facilities. Downtown Scranton 1952. That's Harvey Boykin leaning against his car with Gattis Brothers Grocery in the background.
But World War I resulted in the closing of the academy and the boll weevil devastated the cotton crops. However, a school district with a high school was formed, and farmers eventually turned to peanuts as the main cash crop. The Great Depression took its toll, sending many from rural areas to the cities. The oilfields drew some families from Scranton. World War II continued the exodus. Some of the younger men who did not go to war moved to the cities to work in the defense industry. When soldiers returned, they resettled in the cities, too. A continuing decline in population forced the school system to disband in 1964, but the remaining inhabitants were resilient, and in 1968 they particpated in a statewide contest promoting revival of rural communities. Today, Scranton has a much different look. Row crops have been replaced by fields of coastal burmuda, raised for grazing and hay to feed cattle. Retirees from  the city with money to spend on new fences and new homes have spruced up the area. Despite the changes the pioneer spirit that led to the establishment of Scranton remains deeply rooted here.
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