Stephenville, Texas

Stephenville is a city in and the county seat of Erath County, Texas, United States.[3] As of the 2018 U.S. Census estimate, the city population was 21,164 and is the principal city in the Stephenville Micropolitan Statistical Area 42,446. Founded in 1854, it is home to Tarleton State University. Stephenville is among several communities that call themselves the "Cowboy Capital of the World".

Stephenville, Texas
Stephenville City Hall
The "Ville"
Location of Stephenville, Texas
Coordinates: 32°13′13″N 98°12′49″W
CountryUnited States
  City CouncilMayor Doug Svien
Mark McClinton
Carla Trussell
Brady Pendleton
Rhett Harrison
Alan Nix
Sherry Zachery
Brandon Huckabee
  City ManagerAllen L. Barnes
  Total11.89 sq mi (30.79 km2)
  Land11.89 sq mi (30.79 km2)
  Water0.0 sq mi (0.0 km2)
1,273 ft (388 m)
  Density1,780.47/sq mi (556.1/km2)
Time zoneUTC-6 (Central (CST))
  Summer (DST)UTC-5 (CDT)
ZIP codes
Area code(s)254
FIPS code48-70208[1]
GNIS feature ID1347894[2]
WebsiteStephenville, Texas


Stephenville is named after John M. Stephen, who settled there in 1854, and donated the land for the townsite laid out by George B. Erath when the county was organized in 1856. In the first two years of its settlement, the townsite was successful; by 1858, the population reached 776. However, the townsite was located in Comanche territory and raids were common. Also, the hardships of the American Civil War forced citizens to leave. The population declined until 1871, when it grew after Stephenville became an agriculture and livestock center. Coal mining also became important to the area in 1886, and was a major segment of the economy for the following three decades.

Stephenville was incorporated in 1889, with the arrival of the Fort Worth and Rio Grande Railway. In the 1890s, many of the buildings around the town square were built, Tarleton State University opened, and the community's two newspapers merged to become the Empire-Tribune, which is still in existence. In February 1907, the Stephenville North and South Texas Railway was chartered by Stephenville and Hamilton business interests which later sold the line in 1910 to the historic St. Louis Southwestern Railway of Texas system. In the 20th century, industry became an important part of Stephenville, and the population has steadily increased since the 1920s.


Stephenville is located at 32°13′13″N 98°12′49″W (32.220168, −98.213630).[4]

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 11.89 square miles (30.8 km2), of which 11.89 square miles (30.8 km2) are land and 0.04 square miles (0.10 km2) is covered by water.

Stephenville is served by three major US highways - US Highway 377, US Highway 281, and US Highway 67 (which joins into US Hwy 377).


The climate in this area is characterized by hot, humid summers and generally mild to cool winters. According to the Köppen climate classification system, Stephenville has a humid subtropical climate, Cfa on climate maps.[5]


Historical population
Est. 201821,164[6]23.6%
U.S. Decennial Census[7]

As of the census[1] of 2010, 17,123 people, 6,276 households, and 3,351 families resided in the city. The population density was 1,440.4 people per square mile (556.1/km²). The 7,579 housing units averaged 637.4 per square mile (246.1/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 87.2% White, 2.2% African American, 0.5% Native American, 1.2% Asian, 0.1% Pacific Islander, 7.2% from other races, and 1.7% from two or more races. Hispanics or Latinos of any race were 15.7% of the population.

Of the 6,276 households, 25.2% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 37.1% were married couples living together, 8.8% had a female householder with no husband present, and 50.2% were not families. About 33.1% of all households were made up of individuals, and 10.1% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.27 and the average family size was 2.99.

In the city, the population was distributed as 27.8% under the age of 19, 21.4% from 20 to 24, 22.2% from 25 to 44, 17.2% from 45 to 64, and 11.2% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 25.3 years. There were 8,130 males and 8,933 females.

The median income for a household in the city was $33,175, and the median income for a family was $52,320. Males had a median income of $36,139 versus $30,007 for females. The per capita income for the city was $19,596. About 13.6% of families and 26.2% of the population were below the poverty line, including 23.1% of those under age 18 and 14.3% of those age 65 or over.


Public library

  • Stephenville Public Library[8]

Public schools

  • Stephenville Independent School District
    • Stephenville High School (grades 9–12)
    • Henderson Jr. High School (grades 7–8)
    • Gilbert Intermediate School (grades 5–6)
    • Hook Elementary School (grades 3–4)
    • Chamberlin Elementary School (grades 1–2)
    • Central Elementary School (grades PK-K)
    • Huston Academy (grades 7–12) (previously Erath Excels! Academy)[9]

Postsecondary education

Notable people

UFO sightings

On January 8, 2008, Stephenville gained national media attention when dozens of residents reported observations of unidentified flying objects (UFOs). Several residents described a craft as the size of a football field, while others said they were nearly a mile long, similar to the Phoenix lights mass sightings of March 13, 1997.[17][18] Some observers reported military aircraft pursuing the objects.[19][20]

CNN's Larry King covered the news story in the days following the incident, and according to Steve Allen, a private pilot who witnessed the UFO, the object was travelling at high speed which supposedly reached 3,000 feet in the air. Allen said it was "About a half a mile wide and about a mile long. It was humongous, whatever it was."[21] The History Channel show UFO Hunters featured a story about the UFO sightings.

On January 23, after initially denying that any aircraft were operating in the area, the US Air Force said that it was conducting training flights in the Stephenville area that involved 10 fighter jets.[22] The Air Force said they were merely F-16 Fighting Falcon jets conducting night flights from NAS JRB Fort Worth.

Washington Post blogger Emil Steiner reported that conspiracy theories had arisen claiming that reporter Angelia Joiner was fired from her job at the Empire-Tribune due to her reporting of the UFO story. Steiner added, "conjecture breeds conspiracy theories. Any official denial can be labeled a cover-up".[23][24] Herald Tribute writer Billy Cox wrote that inquiries made about the incident on his personal UFO blog have been "stonewalled" by the USAF.[25]

See also


  1. "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved January 31, 2008.
  2. "US Board on Geographic Names". United States Geological Survey. October 25, 2007. Retrieved January 31, 2008.
  3. "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved June 7, 2011.
  4. "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. February 12, 2011. Retrieved April 23, 2011.
  5. Climate Summary for Stephenville, Texas
  6. "Population and Housing Unit Estimates". Retrieved August 1, 2019.
  7. "Census of Population and Housing". Retrieved June 4, 2015.
  8. "Library". City of Stephenville. Retrieved April 12, 2018.
  9. "Huston Academy". Huston Academy. Retrieved April 12, 2018.
  10. "Erath County Center". Ranger College. Retrieved April 12, 2018.
  11. "Houston's Briles set to interview at Baylor". Houston Chronicle.
  12., Mark. "Storyteller: Erath native exploring 'expanse of possibilities' in film world". Stephenville Empire-Tribune. Retrieved July 16, 2019.
  13. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on February 22, 2014. Retrieved May 18, 2017.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  14. "Ty Murray's Saddle House". Texas Monthly. Retrieved April 25, 2018.
  15. Raymond B. Nixon (June 17, 1945). "Constitution's Founder Fought for Georgia with Pen and Sword". The Atlanta Constitution. Retrieved April 7, 2019.
  16. "Jess Lockwood wins second Professional Bull Riders title in 3 years at World Finals". Retrieved November 12, 2019.
  17. "Texans report seeing UFO", retrieved 18 Feb 2008
  18. "Dublin Stephenville Radar Report prime 2.pdf". Google Docs. Retrieved June 6, 2019.
  19. "Possible UFO Sighting", Stephenville Empire-Tribune, January 10, 2008
  20. "Dublin Stephenville Radar Report prime 2.pdf". Google Docs. Retrieved June 6, 2019.
  21. "UFOS: Questions & Controversy", retrieved 18 Feb 2008
  22. "UFOs? Nope. They were fighter jets, Air Force says", retrieved 31 Jan 2008
  23. Fired Reporter Angelia Joiner Sparks Conspiracy Theories Archived July 24, 2008, at the Wayback Machine
  24. Fired Reporter Angelia Joiner Sparks Conspiracy Theories (Washington Post blog mirror)
  25. – USAF Stonewalls Investigations

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