TIOGA, TEXAS. Tioga, twenty miles southwest of Sherman on U.S. Highway 377 in the southwest corner of Grayson County, was founded in 1881 when the Texas and Pacific Railway reached the site. The crew used water from the local well and named the site Tioga, a New York Indian word said to mean "swift current" or "fair and beautiful." When mail service began in 1881, Dr. J. S. Nichols, a physician and druggist, became the first postmaster. In 1884 the community had two churches, a school, a cotton gin, a grocery, a general store, a pharmacist, a carpenter, a blacksmith, and a population of sixty. By 1892 the town also supported a military academy, a gin and gristmill, a physician, and a restaurant. The population was 600. The town was incorporated in 1896.
In 1884 Matt Rains, a blacksmith, discovered medicinal qualities in the local water; after he bathed a burned hand, the hand reportedly healed quickly. As a result in the 1880s several companies-Tioga Mineral Wells Company, Radium Mineral Water, Tioga Mineral Water Company, Atlas Water, and Star Well-marketed the mineral water and attracted health seekers to Tioga. It was said that ten trainloads of visitors came to Tioga each day. In 1925 the population reached a peak of 777. In 1937 there was an unsuccessful effort to change the name of the town to Autry Springs, after Gene Autry, who was born in Tioga and graduated from Tioga High School in 1925.
The first local newspaper, the Tioga North Texan (1895–98) was subsequently published as the Tioga Tribune (1899–1904) and thereafter as the Tioga Herald. In 1955 it ceased publication. In 1940 Tioga had a population of 638, a post office, and sixteen businesses. In 1947 one of the bathhouses was destroyed by fire, and the wells were temporarily shut down. However, a new proprietor built new bathhouses and continued to boost the town as a health resort.
The resort business, however, declined. In the 1970s Jim and Deedie Wendover attempted to revive the town and bottle its water. They renovated old storefronts and started an antique trading center. Wendover also sold many of the town's commercial structures in a 1982 auction. In 1989 Tioga had a restaurant, a leather store, several convenience stores, and six churches. Many residents commuted to nearby cities to work. The Primitive Baptist Church has a historical marker which tells of the baptism (1956) and funeral (1961) of Samuel T. (Sam) Rayburn. The population of Tioga in 1980 was 380. In 1990 the town had 525 residents and six businesses. The population was 754 in 2000 with thirty-three businesses.
Ross Estes and Robert Duncan, eds., I Remember Things: An Informal History of Tioga, Texas (Quanah, Texas: Nortex, 1977). Texas & Pacific Quarterly, October 1912.