“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Commerce in Hunt County, Texas — The American South (West South Central)

East Texas State University

(Texas A&M University - Commerce)

East Texas State University Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Jesse Nelsen, January 26, 2021
1. East Texas State University Marker

Educator William L. Mayo (1861-1917) established East Texas Normal College in Cooper (16 mi. NE) in 1889 as a private school to train teachers. After an 1894 fire destroyed the single college building, Mayo moved his institution to Commerce, where it reopened that September. The college's most famous early graduate was Sam Rayburn, who served as Speaker of the United States House Of Representatives in the mid-20th century.

In 1917, the Texas State Legislature agreed to purchase the college from the Mayo family, and Randolph Binnion became president of East Texas State Normal College. He oversaw expansion of the facilities on the campus, but the administration of president James G. Gee (from 1947 until 1966) witnessed even more growth with the return of World War II veterans to the college campus. The scope of education broadened beyond teacher training, and the school became known as East Texas State University in 1965. A merger with the A&M system in 1996 led to a new name for the historic institution — Texas A&M University - Commerce.

The university has conferred more than 90,000 degrees in
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a variety of undergraduate and graduate fields. An important part of Texas educational history, Texas A&M - Commerce remains a significant institution of higher learning.
Erected 1967 by Texas Historical Commission. (Marker Number 7786.)
Topics. This historical marker is listed in this topic list: Education. A significant historical year for this entry is 1889.
Location. 33° 14.62′ N, 95° 54.536′ W. Marker is in Commerce, Texas, in Hunt County. Marker is on University Drive, on the right when traveling west. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Commerce TX 75428, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Centennial of Methodism in Commerce (approx. 0.2 miles away); President’s House (approx. 0.2 miles away); Birthplace of Maj. Gen. Claire L. Chennault (approx. half a mile away); Site of Commerce Churches (approx. half a mile away); First Presbyterian Church of Commerce (approx. 0.6 miles away); First Baptist Church of Commerce (approx. 0.6 miles away); Incorporation of Commerce (approx. 0.7 miles away); Historical Stop - Downtown Commerce (approx. 0.7 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Commerce.
Regarding East Texas State University. This marker appears to have first been placed in 1967 and then updated in 2001. The original text
East Texas State University and Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Jesse Nelsen, January 26, 2021
2. East Texas State University and Marker
was as follows:
Founded 1889 as the Mayo School, in Cooper (16 mi. NE). Reopened with about 35 students in a brick store on the public square here in Commerce in 1894, still under private ownership of William Leonidas Mayo (1861-1917), a gifted teacher from Kentucky. School was underwritten by public-spirited local citizens. Its most illustrious student, Sam Rayburn (1882-1961), gained international fame as Speaker of the United States House of Representatives. The Mayo School passed into state ownership in 1917 as East Texas State Normal College, Randolph B. Binnion, president. After name was changed (1923) to East Texas State Teachers College, presidents were Sam H. Whitley (1924-1946), Arthur C. Ferguson (1946-1947) and James G. Gee (1947-1966). The word "teachers" was dropped from the title in 1957; in 1965, it became East Texas State University. In 1966, D. Whitney Halladay succeeded to the presidency. East Texas State University has more than 26,000 graduates. It offers bachelor's and master's degrees in arts and science; also the Doctor of Philosophy degree. Its 1200-acre campus has 150 buildings. It is one of 23 state-supported colleges and universities in Texas enrolling over 150,000 students annually.
Credits. This page was last revised on January 28, 2021. It was originally submitted on January 26, 2021, by Jesse Nelsen of Farmersville, Texas. This page has been viewed 457 times since then and 268 times this year. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on January 26, 2021, by Jesse Nelsen of Farmersville, Texas. • J. Makali Bruton was the editor who published this page.

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Dec. 10, 2023