MELISSA, TEXAS. Melissa is on U.S. Highway 75 seven miles northeast of McKinney in north central Collin County. The rich soils of the Blackland Prairie and the waters of the Elm Fork of the Trinity River attracted settlers to the area in the 1840s, when the Peters colony was opened to settlement. The town was laid out in 1872, when the Houston and Texas Central Railway reached the area. The settlement was probably named either for the daughter of George A. Quinlan, an official of the railroad, or for the daughter of C. P. Huntington, a prominent railroad executive. After the organization of the Melissa community, residents of Highland, 2½ miles north, moved there. Melissa received a post office in May 1873. Its population was estimated at 100 in 1884. Beginning in 1908 the community was connected by the Texas Electric Railway to surrounding Collin County towns and to Dallas. This transportation network made Melissa a commercial and community center for area farmers. By 1914 its population had reached 400. Unlike many rural communities in Texas, Melissa had electric lights, a telephone exchange, and paved roads before 1920. It also had five churches, a large school, and a number of businesses, including a bank and two cotton gins that shipped 3,000 bales of cotton annually. A tornado struck the town on April 13, 1921, killing thirteen people, injuring fifty-four, and demolishing many businesses. Eight years later a fire destroyed many of the buildings that had been rebuilt after the tornado. The Great Depression, the mechanization of farming, and job opportunities in the Dallas metropolitan area after World War II further slowed community growth. The population of Melissa declined from a high of 500 in 1925 to 285 in 1949. In 1966 it was 375. Melissa was incorporated in the early 1970s. In 1980 it had a population of 604 and nine businesses. In 1990 its population was 557. The population more than doubled reaching 1,350 by 2000.