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Larissa History 1934

Larissa History Written in 1934

Larissa. In 1846 a group of Tennesseeans, led by Thomas H. McKee, established what became known as McKee Colony in the northwest part of the county, near the Killough settlement. The following year he had a town site laid out on the southwest part of the Absalom Gibson survey, some five miles west of the present Mt. Selman. His son, Reverend T. N. McKee, gave it a name, the Greek word Larissa, prophetic of the high ideals which characterized its future citizens. Some four years later it was incorporated.

Among Larissa pioneers, widely known for their loyalty to the church and their love for education, were the McKees, Newtons, Ewings, Erwins, Bones, Campbells, Yoakums, and Longs.

During its earlier years Larissa rivaled Old Jacksonville as a trading center. Christine Rierson, a native of Norway, opened the first store. Among other mercantile houses around its public square were Dewberry & Johnson, Dunning & McKee, Wadley's Grocery, A. M. Denman, Billik & Westheimer, Clapp & Brown, Barnett & Harrington and J. W. Brooks. McKee Inn, operated by S. L. McKee, was a noted hotel. The Masonic Lodge (1849) and Royal Arch Masons (1852) had strong organizations. The Old School and the Cumberland Presbyterians, the Methodists, the Baptists and the Christians had churches. The famous Larissa College and Stovall Academy, named for Reverend S. K. Stovall, made the town an educational center.

According to local tradition the first match game of baseball ever played in Texas was played in Larissa in 1875, Larissa defeating Afton Grove. Millard Stevens and C. P. Linder, two Alabama settlers, introduced 'the game in Larissa and other Cherokee towns quickly organized teams.

Despite the loss of population due to the closing of the college and the subsequent building of a railroad through Jacksonville, Larissa continued its existence until the establishment of Mt. Selman. By 1910 the last white man was gone. Today the population consists largely of the descendants of old slaves, many of them occupying the decaying homes of former masters. No modern map even lists the aristocratic old town. Each August, however, ex-Larissonians and their descendants come together in a grove near the town site for one day of happy reminiscence. The spirit of Larissa is immortal.

A History of Cherokee County, 1934 by Hattie Joplin Roach


32° 3' 21.6" N, 95° 19' 29.82" W