Terrell, Texas

After the completion of the transcontinental line from Longview (in East Texas) to California, Terrell became a “depot town” along the route.

One hundred acres were given to the railroad company in 1873 by a group of landowners led by Robert A. Terrell, an early pioneer and surveyor in the area, in exchange for a depot. The town was planned around this historic district and the adjacent 100 acres to the north, all of which were owned by Terrell and his business partners.

Rapid expansion along the railroad led to the town’s incorporation in 1874 and the election of Col. J.W. Elder as its first mayor. The population was over a thousand by the time the town was re-incorporated in 1875 under the new Texas law. Public schools didn’t open until ten years after churches were established. In 1883, this location became a state hospital for the treatment of mental illness.

In the 1890s, when Colonel E.H.R. “Ned” Green led the Texas Midland Railroad to become one of the most successful short line railroads in the country, railroads once again played a significant role in shaping local history in Terrell. Ned Green was the son of the “witch of Wall Street,” Hetty Green, who was also the wealthiest woman in the United States at the time. Ned was a fascinating figure who gained fame not only for his business savvy but also for his many outrageous antics. The first time a car was driven in Texas was by Ned, who drove from Terrell to Dallas at speeds of 20-25 miles per hour. He was also involved in the first car crash in Texas. When traveling to Dallas, Ned and the auto company’s representative, George Dorris, were forced off the road by a farm wagon and into a ditch. Don’t forget to learn about Wylie, Texas here too.

In 1920, the Terrell State Hospital served the most people of any similar institution west of the Mississippi River, a total of 2,300 people. Terrell was the county seat, so farmers from all over would travel to town on Saturdays to shop, socialize, and conduct business. Outside of town’s urban core, cotton was the most valuable crop. During this time, more cotton than ever before left the port of Terrell.

The city’s southern outskirts served as home to the #1 British Flight Training School (BFTS) during World War II. After World War II, postwar industries moved into the airfield and its buildings, marking the beginning of the era of economic diversification that has brought so much prosperity to Terrell.

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