Scranton


Scranton Academy

Traveling from Tennessee in 1875 to seek better lives for their families, David C. Lane and brothers Joseph and Aaron Brown settled in the western part of Eastland County and established the community of Scranton – named after a surveyor employed by the Houston & Texas Central Railroad.  By 1880 the community had enough school-age children to build its own school.  That same year a cotton gin was constructed to help the local farmers prepare their crops for market.  Elisha E. Chunn, recently arrived from Alabama, opened Scranton’s first general store in 1891 – the same year that the town received a post office.

Scranton was prosperous enough after the turn of the 19th Century that the area’s farmers raised money through subscriptions to build a college preparatory school.  In 1903 Alabama educator, Orrin C. Britton helped open the Scranton Academy for high school students on a 12-acre site.  The academy included a two-story main building, separate boys and girls dormitories, a dining hall and athletic fields.  At its peak, the Scranton Academy had a student body of more than 350, with some students traveling from as far away as Fort Worth.  World War I devastated the school when its oldest male students enlisted in the military.  As a result, the school closed in 1917.

Meanwhile, as the town became a regional trade center during the 1910s, a dry goods store, hardware store, and two grocery stores opened in Scranton.  The Scranton Reporter started publication in 1911.  A boll weevil infestation in 1917 crippled the cotton industry, forcing most farmers to switch to peanuts as a cash crop.  Despite discovery of the Ranger oil field in 1917, the cumulative effects of the Great Depression sent most Scranton residents to the cities for jobs.  The population decline continued after World War II, effectively sealing Scranton’s fate.

Scranton School Gymnasium – This concrete-framed stone structure was built during the Depression with funding from the WPA.  Owned by the Scranton School District, it was the center of activity for the community.  The building was destroyed by fire in the 1960s.

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8 comments

  1. Fascinating website! I love it! In Eastland County on my daughter’s husband’s family deer lease, there is the ruins of a school, built in much the same fashion, with small white round quartz pebbles embedded here and there as decoration in the stonework mortar, but only the cracked slab and shell remain–with the words, Bluff Branch school. Not far away is an ancient barn, falling down. Have you heard anything in your studies about this community?

    1. Karen,
      Thanks for your kind comments and for contacting me. I’ve never heard of the Bluff Branch school, nor can I find any reference to it in the Texas Handbook Online. It sounds interesting and I’d like to know more about it. Can you find out which road it’s on or anything more detailed about it’s location?

      Best wishes,
      Bronson Dorsey

      1. Bronson, Can you please send your email? I’ll send you a couple pictures of the place. I’ll have to ask my daughter’s family. The school is way off in the middle of an empty field on a private 1,000 acre ranch leased to hunters…near Cisco, I believe. I didn’t pay attention to roads when we went out there last spring. I too, had little luck in researching the place…but I did find this blurb: Maybe the courthouse has more information.

        Abilene News Reporter Tuesday, September 26, 2000

        CISCO – Emery Lee BOOTH, 80, died Monday, September 25, 2000, at an Eastland hospital.
        Services are 2 p.m. Thursday at the Redeemer Lutheran Curch with Pastor Martin Kaufman officiating, directed by Kimbrough Funeral Home.

        Mr. BOOTH was born September 10, 1920, in Bluff Branch Community of Eastland County, to Elbert Elamander and Bessy (BISBEE) BOOTH. He was a veteran of World War II and served with the US Army 54th Field Artillery 3rd Armored Division in Europe. He had also owned and operated a ranch south of Cisco. He married Pearl DEMKOVIC on July 3, 1943 in Reading, Pennsylvania. He was a member of Redeemer Lutheran Church of Cisco.

        Survivors include his wife, Pearl, of Cisco; one daughter, Kathy LOCKE and husband Don, of Highland Village, Texas; one brother, Don BOOTH of Wichita Falls; two step-sisters, Mozelle YEAGER of Cisco, Rita WILLINGHAM of San Angelo; three granddaughters, Susan BRANNON and husband Brent, of Corinth, Darsey SCOTT and husband Ian, of Lewisville, Nancy LOCKE of Highland Village, Texas.

        The family will be at the funeral home from 6-8 p.m. Wednesday for visitation. Kimbrough Funeral Home Cisco, Texas

        Submitted by:Kathy Booth Locke, Lewisville, TX

        Thanks,
        Karen
        I live and work in Irving. Are you near? Would love to meet up if you live in the area!

      2. Hi Karen, thanks for the info. My email is bronson.dorsey@gmail.com. I’ll look forward to seeing your photos.

        I live in Austin, but always looking for reasons to take driving trips – especially if there’s a photographic payoff at the destination. Next time I plan a trip to your area, I’ll let you know.

        Bronson

  2. I love this post! My husband’s family still own land in Scranton, where the family farm is. I did not know about the WPA gymnasium either, so that is another plus for my research!

    1. Thanks. I learned about a few new places while reading some of your posts today.

      I’ve got several shooting trips to do around the state this Fall. I’m trying to get to an interim stopping point by the end of the year so I can finalize photos and copy for a book submission. Once I get everything submitted (Jan-Feb) to the publisher, I’ll be back on the road, photographing more buildings.

      If you’d like to correspond directly, my email address is bronson.dorsey@gmail.com.

      Cheers

  3. Hello. I am Charles Elam the oldest son of Jasper and Bonnie Elam both are deceased. I grew up in the Scranton, Tx community and graduated from the Scranton school in 1949. I remember there were 112 students in 12 grades. There was 11 students in the graduation class. In the mid 1940’s my father purchased the Aaron and Joe Brown farm which was located about three miles east of Scranton. After graduating in May 1949 I joined the Air Force and was discharged in December of 1954.
    I remember spending time in the Bluff Branch community. My grandparents lived about a mile west if the old school building which was rock much like the Scranton gym. I don’t remember a school being there however I do remember attending church in the building. Bluff Branch community was located about 5 miles north of the Dothan community which consisted of a few houses in addition to a service station, a cemetery a small community of T&P railroad workers and a small lake, All of which is gone now except the lake and cemetery. All located about 5 miles west of Cisco, Tx on old hi-way 80 which at that time was the main route from Savannah, Ga to San Diego, Ca. It has been replaced by Interstate 20..

    1. Charles, thank you so much for comments. It’s always wonderful to hear from someone who lived in these old towns.
      Bronson

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