Venus, formerly known as Gossip, is on State Highway 67 some twenty miles east of Cleburne in eastern Johnson County.
Venus is situated on the east edge of Johnson County in fine black land territory, has two good banks, fine brick schools, substantial churches and a population of about 2,000 people. - History of Texas, 1922, by W. Barrett Travis.
Though a number of families settled in the area in the late 1850s, a community did not develop there until the late 1880s. At that time J. C. Smyth purchased eighty acres in an abandoned cornfield and laid off town lots. He named the new community Venus in honor of the daughter of a local physician. In 1888 a post office branch opened, and by 1890 Venus had ten residents and was at the junction of the International-Great Northern and the Gulf, Colorado and Santa Fe railroads. By the mid-1890s Venus was one of the most prosperous towns in Johnson County, reporting thirteen businesses, thirty-one houses, a number of churches, a grade school, and Burnetta College. During the next decade three banks opened, a weekly newspaper named the Venus Express began, and the town voted to incorporate (1903). By the late 1920s its population had surpassed 800. But the Great Depression and the growth of the nearby Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex led to its decline. By the early 1940s it consisted mostly of empty buildings, with one drugstore. When the drugstore threatened to close, Venus residents, fearing for their town, donated five dollars each to keep it open. By the late 1940s, however, the town had recovered somewhat, and reported 300 residents and nearly twenty businesses. In 1990 the population of Venus was 977, and the town had expanded into Ellis County. The population was 910 in 2000.
Burnetta College, at Venus, operated from 1896 to 1906 under the sponsorship of the Disciples of Christ. The school was named for Burnetta Barnes. Its four-story frame building was built with contributions of $500 by the citizens of Venus and a $5,000 gift from A. D. Leach, who became the school's first president. The college opened with 250 students on September 7, 1896. At its largest Burnetta College had 350 day students, some boarders, and from eight to ten teachers. The building subsequently burned and was rebuilt, but the college was later abandoned, and the building became the property of the Venus public schools.
Venus, TX 32° 26' 0.5064" N, 97° 6' 9.0288" W
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