This town was originally known as Head of Elm when it was established in 1856 on springs that were the headwaters of the Elm Fork of the Trinity River. It was later renamed for Joe Howell, who laid out the town site. Howell allegedly opposed the sale of liquor in town, thus giving both himself and town the name of "Saint Jo." The community on U.S. 82 between Wichita Falls and Sherman was an important watering stop where the Chisholm Trail and California Road crossed. It's the oldest town in Montague County.
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