City Hall in Decatur
Location of Decatur, Texas
|• Total||7.0 sq mi (18.0 km2)|
|• Land||7.0 sq mi (18.0 km2)|
|• Water||0.0 sq mi (0.0 km2)|
|Elevation||1,102 ft (336 m)|
|• Density||860/sq mi (340/km2)|
|Time zone||Central (CST) (UTC-6)|
|• Summer (DST)||CDT (UTC-5)|
|GNIS feature ID||1373362|
The population was 6,042 at the 2010 census.
Wise County was established in 1856, and Taylorsville (in honor of Zachary Taylor) was made the county seat.
Absalom Bishop, an early settler and member of the Texas Legislature, opposed naming the town after a Whig Party member, and in 1858 arranged to have the name changed to Decatur, in honor of naval hero Stephen Decatur.
In 1857, a post office was opened, and the first school was established in 1857. In the early 1860s a courthouse was erected.
Early settlers to northern Texas came from a variety of eastern states, and only about half came from the "deep south". As a result, some sympathized with the Unionist side during the Civil War, and violent acts against them were common. One such act occurred in October 1862, when several Unionist sympathizers were arrested and taken to nearby Gainesville for trial on charges of treason and insurrection. Seven of those arrested were hanged, and 14 more were hanged without trial. A few weeks later, more suspected Unionist supporters were hanged without trial in several north Texas communities, including 5 hanged in Decatur. 'The Great Hanging at Gainesville' may have been the largest single incident of vigilante violence in U.S. history.
Post Civil War
In 1864, the Wise County Old Settlers held their first meeting. This has become an annual tradition in Decatur, and the reunion continues to take place during the last full week of July.
Decatur Baptist College (now Dallas Baptist University) established in Decatur in 1898, and was the first two-year institution of higher education in Texas. In 1965, the college moved to Dallas. The former Administration Building now houses the Wise County Heritage Museum, and is one of five sites in Decatur listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The Wise County Courthouse, was designed by James Riely Gordon, the master architect of Texas courthouses. Completed in 1896, the building is an example of Gordon's Signature Plan, using corner entrances (making for short halls) to draw in the breeze, which was pulled up thru a central atrium like a chimney, providing excellent circulation. The exterior is Texas red granite (like the state Capitol) with terra cotta ornamentation. The almost pyramidal mass harks back to thousand-year-old churches in the south of France. The building has been praised, with its 'sister' courthouse in Waxahachie, as "the zenith of Gordon's Richardsonian Romanesque work". It is listed on the National Register.
In 1962, Eddie Wayne Hill, lead guitarist for Tommy & the Tom Toms, and drummer Joel Colbert, were killed when their convertible collided head-on with a gravel truck on state highway 114 south of Decatur. Country singer Charley Pride was more fortunate, surviving a mid-air crash with another plane over Decatur in 1980, though two people died in the crash.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 7.0 square miles (18.0 km²). 7.0 square miles (18.0 km²) of it is land and none of the area is covered with water. The highest point of elevation in the county is at the location in Decatur which houses the courthouse. The intent of placing the town on this high point of elevation was to be able to sight and ward off any incoming attacks or raids by Native Americans.
As of the census of 2000, there were 5,201 people residing in the city. The population density was 747.6 people per square mile (288.5/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 81.64% White, 1.98% African American, 0.58% Native American, 0.73% Asian, 12.44% from other races, and 2.63% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 22.53% of the population.
There are 1,845 households out of which 37.6% have children under the age of 18 living with them, 56.1% are married couples living together, 11.7% have a female householder with no husband present, and 28.5% are non-families. 24.9% of all households are made up of individuals and 12.1% have someone living alone who is 65 years of age or older. The average household size is 2.67 and the average family size is 3.19.
In the city the population is spread out with 17.2% under the age of 18, 20.5% from 18 to 24, 38.1% from 25 to 44, 8.7% from 45 to 64, and 15.5% who are 65 years of age or older. The median age is 34 years. For every 100 females there are 97.3 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there are 86.7 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $34,449, and the median income for a family was $40,580. Males had a median income of $30,512 versus $21,213 for females.
In August 2008, Entegris acquired Poco Graphite, Inc. of Decatur, a supplier of specialized graphite and silicon carbide products for use in semiconductor, EDM, glass bottling, biomedical, aerospace, and alternative energy applications.
Parks and recreation
- Rucker Pond, a reservoir within the Lyndon B. Johnson National Grassland, is located nearby.
- The Sid Richardson Scout Ranch is a Boy Scout camp on Lake Bridgeport, near Decatur.
- Wildwood Naturalist's Resort is a family-oriented nudist club in Decatur.
- The Palo Pinto Mountains can be accessed from Decatur.
- Eagle's Canyon Raceway, an auto racing park in Decatur, was included on the 2011 LATAM Challenge Series.
The City of Decatur is served by the Decatur Independent School District (DISD), the largest district in Wise County. Decatur ISD is centered in Decatur and has six campuses: Decatur High School, McCarroll Middle School, Carson Elementary School, Rann Elementary School and Young Elementary. In the 2010-2011 school year, Decatur ISD had 3,011 students enrolled.
Weatherford College has a branch campuse in the Decatur.
- The Service Broadcasting Tower Decatur, a guyed TV-mast, belongs to world's tallest constructions.
- Decatur Municipal Airport is a city-owned public-use airport located two miles north of the central business district.
- Bishop Airport is a privately owned public-use airport located six miles east of the central business district of Decatur.
- LifeStar 4, of the Air Evac Lifeteam air ambulance company, is based at Wise Regional Hospital in Decatur.
- The City of Decatur has a full-service, award-winning public library, located at 1700 Hwy. 51 South.
- Harley True Burton, historian, college president, and mayor of Clarendon, Texas.
- John E. Hatley, former Master Sergeant in the U.S. Army serving a 40 year sentence in Fort Leavenworth for murdering four Iraqi detainees.
- Mike Lee, professional bull rider.
- James Manness, professional football player.
- Joseph Fort Newton, minister and author.
- Tom Pickett, 19th-century cowboy, professional gambler, lawman and outlaw.
- William Raborn, Director of the Central Intelligence Agency.
- Texas Ruby, country music singer.
- Phil Ryan, Texas Ranger and three term Sheriff of Wise County.
- Samuel M. Sampler, recipient of America's highest military award—the Medal of Honor—for his actions during World War I.
- Tommy Tatum, professional baseball player.
- Guinn Williams, U.S. Representative from Texas.
- Guinn "Big Boy" Williams, Western movie star.
Several Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association members are from Decatur, including:
- Trevor Brazile (12-time World Champion and All-Around Cowboy), Roy Cooper (8-time World Champion), Cliff Cooper, Clint Cooper, Tuf Cooper, Will Gasperson, Jake Halverson, and K.C. Jones.
In popular culture
- "Eighter from Decatur" is a slang phrase used by craps shooters who want to roll an eight as well as the title of a song (minus the "e" in eighter) by Western Swing legend Bob Wills. In 1949, Decatur mayor Sly Hardwick added the phrase to two signs welcoming tourists to the town.
- Decatur was a site for filming the second season of Prison Break in 2006.
- Lane Elenburg, an oil rig salesman in Decatur, was a houseguest on the reality TV show Big Brother.
The climate in this area is characterized by hot, humid summers and generally mild to cool winters. According to the Köppen Climate Classification system, Decatur has a humid subtropical climate, abbreviated "Cfa" on climate maps.
- "Table 4: Annual Estimates of the Resident Population for Incorporated Places in Texas, Listed Alphabetically: April 1, 2000 to July 1, 2008" (CSV). United States Census Bureau, Population Division. 2009-07-01. Retrieved 2010-05-04.[dead link]
- "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
- "US Board on Geographic Names". United States Geological Survey. 2007-10-25. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
- "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved 2011-06-07.
- Barton, Jim Tom. "DECATUR, TX". Handbook of Texas Online. Texas State Historical Association.
- "Under the Rebel Flag: Life in Texas During the Civil War". Texas State Library and Archives Commission. 2011.
- Meister, Chris (2011). James Riely Gordon: His Courthouses and Other Public Architecture. Lubbock, TX: Texas Tech University Press. ISBN 978-0-89672-691-8.
- "Charlie Pride Survives Midair Crash; 2 Die". Milwaulkee Sentinel. August 7, 1980.
- "Decatur Isd". U.S. Department of Education.
- Service Broadcasting Tower retrieved May 19, 2007
- Antenna Structure Registration #1040339 retrieved May 19, 2007
- Cooper brothers follow bootsteps of legendary father - San Antonio Express-News
- "Mayor Makes his Point: 'Eighter from Decatur' Signs to Greet Tourists". Miami News. July 19, 1949.
- Climate Summary for Decatur, Texas
- City of Decatur - Official Website
- Decatur Chamber of Commerce
- Decatur Main Street
- Wise County on the Web
- Decatur Independent School District