Bell County, Texas

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Bell County
The Bell County Courthouse in Belton
The Bell County Courthouse in Belton
Map of Texas highlighting Bell County
Location within the U.S. state of Texas
Map of the United States highlighting Texas
Texas's location within the U.S.
Coordinates: 31°02′N 97°29′W / 31.04°N 97.48°W / 31.04; -97.48
Country United States
State Texas
Founded1850
Named forPeter Hansborough Bell
SeatBelton
Largest cityKilleen
Area
 • Total1,088 sq mi (2,820 km2)
 • Land1,051 sq mi (2,720 km2)
 • Water37 sq mi (100 km2)  3.4%
Population
 (2020)
 • Total370,647
 • Density340/sq mi (130/km2)
Time zoneUTC−6 (Central)
 • Summer (DST)UTC−5 (CDT)
Congressional districts25th, 31st
Websitewww.bellcountytx.com

Bell County is a county in the U.S. state of Texas. It is in Central Texas and its county seat is Belton.[1]

As of the 2020 census, its population was 370,647.[2][3] Bell County is part of the KilleenTemple, Texas, Metropolitan Statistical Area.

The county was founded in 1850 and is named for Peter Hansborough Bell, the third governor of Texas.

In 2010, the center of population of Texas was located in Bell County, near the town of Holland.[4]

History[edit]

In 1834–1835, Little River became part of Robertson's Colony, made up of settlers from Nashville, Tennessee, led by Sterling C. Robertson; they were the families of Captain Goldsby Childers, Robert Davison, John Fulcher, Moses Griffin, John Needham, Michael Reed and his son William Whitaker Reed, William Taylor, and Judge Orville T. Tyler.[5] This area became known as the Tennessee Valley. Soon after (1836) the settlements were deserted during the Runaway Scrape,[6] reoccupied, deserted again after the Elmwood Creek Blood Scrape, and reoccupied. Texas Ranger George Erath established a fort on Little River.[7]

During 1843–44, settlers began returning.[5] The next year, the Republic of Texas founded Baylor Female College (since developed as University of Mary Hardin–Baylor).[8]

In 1850, Bell County was organized and named for Texas Governor Peter Hansborough Bell. The population then was 600 whites and 60 black slaves.[5] Belton[9] was designated as the county seat in 1851.

The last serious Indian raid in the area occurred in 1859.[5] Bell County assumed its present boundaries[5] with the 1860 resurvey of the line between Bell and Milam Counties.

Confederate statue at Bell County Courthouse

In 1861, the county voted for secession from the Union.[5] Residents were divided, as many yeomen farmers did not support the war. From 1862 to 1865, Union sympathizers and Confederate deserters holed up in "Camp Safety".[5] Following the war, new social movements developed. In 1867, the Belton Women's Commonwealth, the first women's movement in Central Texas, was formed by Martha McWhirter. The group provided shelter to women in abusive relationships.[5]

During the early years of the Reconstruction era (1865–1877), so much violence occurred in the county, the government stationed federal troops in Belton. Some racist whites attacked blacks and their white supporters. Corruption, lawlessness, and racial divides were severe. As in many areas, a local version of white paramilitary insurgents developed who were similar to the KKK; they worked to suppress black and Republican voting.[5]

The coming of railroads in the late 19th century stimulated growth across the state. In 1881, the Gulf, Colorado and Santa Fe Railway, the first railroad to be built in Bell County, established Temple as its headquarters.[5] Reflecting growth in the county, in 1884, the Bell County Courthouse was built. It is still used. The ambitious Renaissance Revival design was by architect Jasper N. Preston and Sons.[10] As another improvement, in 1905, the Belton and Temple Interurban electric railway was completed, providing service between the cities.[5]

During the 1920s, the Ku Klux Klan underwent a revival in Bell County. In many areas, it was concentrated on nativist issues, opposing Catholic and Jewish immigration from eastern and southern Europe. After a scandal involving the leader of the KKK, the group's influence declined markedly by the end of the decade.[5]

In 1925, Miriam A. Ferguson, a native of the county, was inaugurated as the first woman governor of the state.[11] She won re-election in 1932 for a nonconsecutive second term.[11]

The county and state supported founding Temple Junior College in 1926. The entry of the United States in World War II stimulated war spending across the country. In 1942, Fort Hood was opened as a military training base. It drew recruits from across the country.[5]

The postwar period was one of suburbanization in many areas. In 1956, the Killeen school board voted to integrate the local high school. This followed the Brown v. Board of Education (1954) ruling by the US Supreme Court that racial segregation in public schools, supported by all the taxpayers, was unconstitutional.[12]

The state founded Central Texas College in 1965 in Killeen.[12]

Since the late 20th century, new retail development has taken the form of large malls. In 1976, Temple Mall opened.[13] By 1980, Killeen had become the largest city in Bell County.[12] The next year, the Killeen Mall opened, adding to retail choices in the area.[14] In another type of development, in 1987, the Bell County Expo Center opened.

Since the late 20th century, the county has been the site of several mass shootings. On October 16, 1991, in the Luby's shooting, George Hennard killed 23 people and wounded 20 others before killing himself. It was the deadliest mass shooting in the United States at the time.[15] On November 5, in the 2009 Fort Hood shooting, Army Major Nidal Hasan killed 13 people and wounded 30 others before being paralyzed in return fire. On April 2, in the 2014 Fort Hood shooting, Army Specialist Ivan Lopez killed three people and wounded 16 others.

Geography[edit]

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 1,088 square miles (2,820 km2), of which 1,051 square miles (2,720 km2) are land and 37 square miles (96 km2) (3.4%) are covered by water.[16]

Adjacent counties[edit]

Demographics[edit]

Historical population
Census Pop.
18604,799
18709,771103.6%
188020,518110.0%
189033,37762.7%
190045,53536.4%
191049,1868.0%
192046,412−5.6%
193050,0307.8%
194044,863−10.3%
195073,82464.6%
196094,09727.5%
1970124,48332.3%
1980157,88926.8%
1990191,08821.0%
2000237,97424.5%
2010310,23530.4%
2020370,64719.5%
U.S. Decennial Census[17]
1850–2010[18] 2010[19] 2020[20]

2020 census[edit]

Bell County, Texas - Demographic Profile
(NH = Non-Hispanic)
Race / Ethnicity Pop 2010[19] Pop 2020[20] % 2010 % 2020
White alone (NH) 157,289 156,780 50.70% 42.30%
Black or African American alone (NH) 63,380 80,759 20.43% 21.79%
Native American or Alaska Native alone (NH) 1,484 1,448 0.48% 0.39%
Asian alone (NH) 8,350 10,884 2.69% 2.94%
Pacific Islander alone (NH) 2,245 3,454 0.72% 0.93%
Some Other Race alone (NH) 500 2,063 0.16% 0.56%
Mixed Race/Multi-Racial (NH) 9,977 21,792 3.22% 5.88%
Hispanic or Latino (any race) 67,010 93,467 21.60% 25.22%
Total 310,235 370,647 100.00% 100.00%

Note: the US Census treats Hispanic/Latino as an ethnic category. This table excludes Latinos from the racial categories and assigns them to a separate category. Hispanics/Latinos can be of any race.

2010 Census[edit]

As of the census[21] of 2010, 310,235 people, 114,035 households, and 80,449 families resided in the county. The population density was 295.2 people per square mile (87/km2). The 125,470 housing units averaged 88 per square mile (34/km2). The racial makeup of the county was 61.4% White, 21.5% Black, 0.8% Native American, 2.8% Asian, 0.8% Pacific Islander, and 5.0% from two or more races. About 21.6% of the population was Hispanic or Latino of any race; 14.9% were of Mexican, 3.6% were of Puerto Rican, 0.2% Cuban, and 0.2% were of Dominican descent.

Of the 85,507 households, 40.10% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 56.60% were married couples living together, 12.30% had a female householder with no husband present, and 27.50% were not families. About 22.30% of all households were made up of individuals, and 6.50% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.68 and the average family size was 3.14. As of the 2010 census, about 3.6 same-sex couples per 1,000 households were in the county.[22]

In the county, the population was distributed as 28.90% under the age of 18, 13.40% from 18 to 24, 31.90% from 25 to 44, 17.00% from 45 to 64, and 8.80% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 29 years. For every 100 females, there were 100.80 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 99.30 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $36,872, and for a family was $41,455. Males had a median income of $28,031 versus $22,364 for females. The per capita income for the county was $17,219. About 9.70% of families and 12.10% of the population were below the poverty line, including 16.30% of those under age 18 and 9.80% of those age 65 or over.

Education[edit]

Bell County is served by several school districts:

Transportation[edit]

Major highways[edit]

These major highways run through Bell County:

Mass transit[edit]

The Hill Country Transit District operates a regularly scheduled fixed-route bus service within the urban areas of Killeen and Temple, as well as a paratransit service throughout the county.[23] Amtrak also has scheduled service to Temple.

Communities[edit]

The Bell County Expo Center, located off Interstate Highway 35 north of Belton

Cities[edit]

Towns[edit]

Village[edit]

Census-designated place[edit]

Unincorporated communities[edit]

Ghost towns[edit]

Politics[edit]

United States presidential election results for Bell County, Texas[24]
Year Republican Democratic Third party
No.  % No.  % No.  %
2020 67,893 53.30% 57,014 44.76% 2,468 1.94%
2016 51,998 54.33% 37,801 39.50% 5,902 6.17%
2012 49,574 57.36% 35,512 41.09% 1,339 1.55%
2008 49,242 54.36% 40,413 44.61% 935 1.03%
2004 52,135 65.39% 27,165 34.07% 424 0.53%
2000 41,208 65.11% 21,011 33.20% 1,072 1.69%
1996 30,348 53.20% 22,638 39.68% 4,063 7.12%
1992 24,936 45.27% 18,684 33.92% 11,457 20.80%
1988 29,382 61.79% 17,751 37.33% 418 0.88%
1984 31,117 69.52% 13,322 29.76% 323 0.72%
1980 20,729 54.72% 15,823 41.77% 1,333 3.52%
1976 15,126 45.96% 17,499 53.17% 287 0.87%
1972 17,525 71.79% 6,848 28.05% 38 0.16%
1968 5,705 26.98% 11,893 56.24% 3,547 16.77%
1964 2,938 16.78% 14,557 83.13% 17 0.10%
1960 4,606 30.13% 10,651 69.67% 31 0.20%
1956 4,285 30.76% 9,603 68.93% 44 0.32%
1952 4,862 33.86% 9,484 66.05% 12 0.08%
1948 1,069 11.73% 7,548 82.83% 496 5.44%
1944 763 8.52% 6,960 77.72% 1,232 13.76%
1940 1,050 12.40% 7,418 87.60% 0 0.00%
1936 475 7.17% 6,119 92.42% 27 0.41%
1932 724 8.67% 7,607 91.06% 23 0.28%
1928 3,366 52.17% 3,079 47.72% 7 0.11%
1924 1,632 17.26% 7,273 76.91% 552 5.84%
1920 483 7.94% 3,595 59.12% 2,003 32.94%
1916 356 8.54% 3,615 86.75% 196 4.70%
1912 128 4.01% 3,024 94.68% 42 1.31%


Politically, Bell County tends to support Republican Party candidates for office. It has voted for the Republican presidential nominee every cycle beginning with Ronald Reagan in 1980.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Archived from the original on July 12, 2012. Retrieved June 7, 2011.
  2. ^ "U.S. Census Bureau QuickFacts: Bell County, Texas". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved January 31, 2022.
  3. ^ "Bell County, Texas". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved January 30, 2022.
  4. ^ "Centers of Population by State: 2010". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved April 29, 2014.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m Connor, Seymour V; Odintz, Mark. "Bell County, Texas". Handbook of Texas Online. Texas State Historical Association. Archived from the original on December 21, 2010. Retrieved November 30, 2010.
  6. ^ Covington, Carolyn Callaway. "Runaway Scrape". Handbook of Texas Online. Texas State Historical Association. Archived from the original on November 12, 2010. Retrieved November 30, 2010.
  7. ^ Cutrer, Thomas W. "George Bernard Erath". Handbook of Texas Online. Texas State Historical Association. Retrieved November 30, 2010.
  8. ^ Brackney, William H (2009). Congregation and Campus: Baptists in Higher Education. Mercer University Press. p. 147. ISBN 978-0-88146-130-5.
  9. ^ "Belton, Texas". Texas Escapes. Texas Escapes - Blueprints For Travel, LLC. Retrieved November 30, 2010.
  10. ^ "Bell County Courthouse". Texas Escapes. Texas Escapes - Blueprints For Travel, LLC. Retrieved November 30, 2010.
  11. ^ a b Huddleston, John. "Miriam Ferguson". Handbook of Texas Online. Texas State Historical Association. Archived from the original on December 21, 2010. Retrieved November 30, 2010.
  12. ^ a b c Leffler, John. "Killeen, Texas". Handbook of Texas Online. Texas State Historical Association. Retrieved November 30, 2010.
  13. ^ Urban Retail Properties: Temple Mall Archived March 17, 2013, at the Wayback Machine Center Information. Retrieved December 31, 2011.
  14. ^ Jones Lang Lasalle (March 2010). "Killeen Mall" (PDF). Jones Lang Lasalle. Archived from the original (PDF) on March 4, 2016. Retrieved March 25, 2010.
  15. ^ Woodbury, Richard (October 28, 1991). "Crime: Ten Minutes in Hell". Archived from the original on April 8, 2008. Retrieved April 6, 2018 – via www.time.com.
  16. ^ "2010 Census Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. August 22, 2012. Retrieved April 19, 2015.
  17. ^ "Decennial Census of Population and Housing by Decades". US Census Bureau.
  18. ^ "Texas Almanac: Population History of Counties from 1850–2010" (PDF). Texas Almanac. Retrieved April 19, 2015.
  19. ^ a b "P2 HISPANIC OR LATINO, AND NOT HISPANIC OR LATINO BY RACE - 2010: DEC Redistricting Data (PL 94-171) - Bell County, Texas". United States Census Bureau.
  20. ^ a b "P2 HISPANIC OR LATINO, AND NOT HISPANIC OR LATINO BY RACE - 2020: DEC Redistricting Data (PL 94-171) - Bell County, Texas". United States Census Bureau.
  21. ^ "U.S. Census website". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved May 14, 2011.
  22. ^ Leonhardt, David; Quealy, Kevin (June 26, 2015), "Where Same-Sex Couples Live", The New York Times, retrieved July 6, 2015
  23. ^ "The Hop General Info". Hill Country Transit District. Retrieved March 17, 2014.
  24. ^ Leip, David. "Dave Leip's Atlas of U.S. Presidential Elections". uselectionatlas.org. Retrieved April 6, 2018.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 31°02′N 97°29′W / 31.04°N 97.48°W / 31.04; -97.48