HOW IT ALL STARTED
Homes and businesses sprung up in the open prairie on the
east side of the M. K.& T Railroad when the plans for the Santa Fe
Railroad crossing became definite and was named Bradbury by D.H.
Meanwhile, on the west side, Maison Wolfe bought the
right-of-way for the Santa Fe Railroad. Lots were laid out and sold, and
this new location was named Celeste after a railroad official's daughter.
OLD SCHOOL DAYS
In 1887, the first year of Celeste as a town, a school
community was organized within an area of about seven square miles. The
first school was located in the south part of town near the Union Gin,
approximately where East Sweeney and Milton Streets are now. Outgrown in
eight years, a new brick building was erected where the school is
It changed its name to Hawthorn College but those days were
short-lived: one of the three dormitories burned and attendance was such
that they couldn't justify rebuilding it.
In 1899, the school became known as the Elmwood Institute
for the next four years. After Mr. J.C. Pyle came to town it was renamed
yet again: Celeste High School.
A fire claimed the 18-year-old school in 1913 but spared
the large sycamore planted on the right side of the grounds by the
Hawthorn graduating class of 1897. The school was again rebuilt, with a
new building added ten years later in the summer of 1923 to accommodate
the growing student body.
Source: From Tall
Grass to High Cotton, 1999, Wolfe City Chamber of Commerce
Audie Murphy, the most decorated soldier in World War II,
was born four and a half miles south of Celeste on June 20, 1924, the
sixth of nine children of tenant farmers Emmett and Josie Killian
Murphy. Although they lived on various farms in the area, Audie Murphy
attended school in their "hometown" of Celeste until he had to
quit school after the eighth grade to help support the family.
On his eighteenth birthday, after being rejected by the
Marines because of his size (5'7", 130 pounds), he enlisted in the
Army while working in Greenville.
For unusual courage and bravery, he received 24 decorations
including the Congressional Medal of Honor, The French Legion of Honor,
Chevalier, The distinguished Service Cross and a Silver Star.
After the war, he became a successful actor, with perhaps
his most memorable role as himself in the autobiographical film,
"To Hell and Back".
Following his untimely death in a plane crash in Virginia,
May 28, 1971, the United States Congress added another tribute: the
dedication of a Veteran's hospital in San Antonio.
Murphy's marker in Celeste is located near 308 Highway 69 South in front
of a lighted garden kept by Mr. And Mrs. Charles Combs. Surrounded by a
landscaped park bench, three flagpoles proudly display the US, Texas,
and Celeste Blue Devil flags.
Built in 1913 after a fire claimed its
predecessor, this Celeste High School - which faced South 7th Street -
also succumbed to the same fate in 1955. This picture was taken from a
1930 graduation invitation.