Bell County History

Quick links

Print Request email notification when page changesNotify Me

County History

Bell County was created from Milam County just five years after Texas entered the Union.  County Commissioners chose a county seat on the banks of Nolan Creek and named it Nolandsville.   Two years later, January 12, 1852, the town's name became Belton and it was incorporated.

Belton's first settlers built houses, stores, saloons, and a hotel and prospered until the Civil War when they lined up behind the South.  When things went bad for the South, Belton also experienced tough times.  By the 1880s, Belton had recovered from the war and began to flourish once again.  It was the largest town in Bell County and had a brisk economy.  Belton would have become a boom town if it had a railroad, but it only reached its doorstep as the Santa Fe Railroad crossed the county line on the eastern edge near Rogers.

During the mid to late 1860s, the Chisholm Trail cut through central Bell County along a route between the present day cities of Belton and Salado.  The 1860's also saw the establishment of the female religious commune known as the True Church Colony which flourished until about 1900.

Between 1877 and 1915, ten railroads considered placing tracks through Bell County, but only two companies actually came to the area.  At a time when railroads made and broke rural communities, the acquisition of a railroad was important.  The Missouri, Kansas, and Texas Railroad, known as the Katy, went through Belton, while the Gulf, Colorado, and Santa Fe Railroad, known as the Santa Fe, established a new town just north of Belton, known as Temple.

To provide the railroad employees with health care, Santa Fe hospital became the city's first hospital in 1891.  Then in 1896, King's Daughters Hospital was established.  Temple Sanitarium began in 1897 and later evolved into Scott & White.  In 1983, Santa Fe combined with Scott & White.

The first woman elected as governor in the United States was Miriam Amanda Wallace Ferguson.  Ms. Ferguson was born near Little River and she served from 1925-1927 and 1933-1935.  Her husband, James Edward Ferguson was born near Salado and elected as governor from 1915-1917.

Alvin Ailey, the founder of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater is a native of Rogers.