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Stephenville, Texas
Stephenville City Hall
Stephenville City Hall
The "Ville"
Location of Stephenville, Texas
Location of Stephenville, Texas
Erath County Stephenville.svg
Coordinates: 32°13′13″N 98°12′49″W / 32.22028°N 98.21361°W / 32.22028; -98.21361Coordinates: 32°13′13″N 98°12′49″W / 32.22028°N 98.21361°W / 32.22028; -98.21361
Country United States
State Texas
County Erath
 • Type Council-Manager
 • Total 11.91 sq mi (30.85 km2)
 • Land 11.89 sq mi (30.79 km2)
 • Water 0.02 sq mi (0.06 km2)
1,273 ft (388 m)
 • Total 17,123
 • Estimate 
 • Density 1,787.41/sq mi (690.14/km2)
Time zone UTC-6 (Central (CST))
 • Summer (DST) UTC-5 (CDT)
ZIP codes
Area code(s) 254
FIPS code 48-70208
GNIS feature ID 1347894
Website Stephenville, Texas

Stephenville is a city in and the county seat of Erath County, Texas, United States. As of the 2019 U.S. Census estimate, the city population was 21,247 and is the principal city in the Stephenville Micropolitan Statistical Area 42,698. Founded in 1854, it is home to Tarleton State University. Stephenville is among several communities that call themselves the "Cowboy Capital of the World".


Presbyterian Church at Stephenville, TX, Museum Picture 2234
Presbyterian Church at the Stephenville Museum
Stephenville, TX, Museum Picture 2235
Historical House Museum in Stephenville is an 1869 Victorian home with period furnishings and relics of area history. There is also a carriage house and a reconstructed log cabin.

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 / 32.22028°N 98.21361°W / 32.22028; -98.21361 (32.220168, -98.213630).

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) is land and 0.04 square miles (0.10 km2) is water.

Stephenville is bisected 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, abbreviated "Cfa" on climate maps.


Historical population
Census Pop.
1860 120
1880 725
1890 909 25.4%
1900 1,902 109.2%
1910 2,561 34.6%
1920 3,891 51.9%
1930 3,944 1.4%
1940 4,768 20.9%
1950 7,155 50.1%
1960 7,359 2.9%
1970 9,277 26.1%
1980 11,881 28.1%
1990 13,502 13.6%
2000 14,921 10.5%
2010 17,123 14.8%
2019 (est.) 21,247 24.1%
U.S. Decennial Census
Stephenville Historical House Museum August 2017 1 (Berry House)
Historical House Museum in Stephenville is an 1869 Victorian home with period furnishings and relics of area history, and a carriage house and a reconstructed log cabin.

As of the census of 2020, 20,897people, 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 75.3% White, 5.9% African American, 0.5% Native American, 1.4% Asian, 0.1% Pacific Islander, 16.8% from other races, and 1.7% from two or more races. Hispanics or Latinos of any race were 20.8% 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.

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. Some observers reported military aircraft pursuing the objects.

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 a high rate of 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." 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. 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". Herald Tribute writer Billy Cox wrote that inquiries made about the incident on his personal UFO blog have been "stonewalled" by the USAF.


Public library

  • Stephenville Public Library

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)

Postsecondary education

  • Tarleton State University (member of the Texas A&M University System)
  • Ranger College (Erath County Center)

Notable people

  • Art Briles, former football coach at Baylor University
  • Dustin Hodge, television producer and writer
  • Ty Murray, world champion pro rodeo cowboy
  • Jewel (singer), singer-songwriter, lived on a Stephenville, TX ranch while married to Ty Murray. She makes reference to the town in the song "Stephenville, TX".
  • Carey Wentworth Styles, newspaperman, founder of The Atlanta Constitution, editor, managing editor, or special writer at "more than a dozen Texas dailies and weeklies". West End Cemetery.
  • Jess Lockwood, Professional Bull Rider World Champion.
  • Brock Holt, professional baseball player, graduated from Stephenville High School.

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