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County
Austin
Region
Praries & Lakes
Population
2010 Census - 4,097
2000 Census - 3,794
Nearby
Towns
Bellville, Texas
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Bellville Texas History:
Thomas and James Bell, members of Stephen F. Austin’s Old 300 Colony, arrived in the area in 1822 and acquired approximately 2,000 acres of land in 1837. In 1846, voters accepted Thomas Bell’s offer of a 108 acres to form a new town site to replace San Felipe as the Austin County seat; his brother James donated 37.5 acres. The town was platted in 1846, and named Bellville after Thomas. The county’s first courthouse and jail were built in 1848. In 1849 the Bellville post office as established and the town’s first hotel was built. The town grew rapidly with the arrival of the Colorado and Santa Fe Railway in 1880, and the town became a shipping point for the area’s cotton industry. About this time brick structures replaced wooden ones, and opulent Victorian homes were built. By the mid-1880s the town had over 1,000 residents, many of them German. The town’s schools gave instruction in both English and German. The local Turnverein built an opera house in 1889, and in 1899 built a large music pavilion on the edge of town. In 1915, oil was discovered, and rapidly replaced cotton as the main industry. Bellville is located west of the Brazos River at the intersection of SH 36 and SH 159, 44 miles slightly northeast of La Grange, 39 miles northeast of Columbus, 34.5 miles northeast of Ellinger, 28 miles slightly northeast of Fayetteville, 25 miles northeast of Frelsburg, 9.5 miles northeast of Cat Spring, 34 miles southeast of Somerville, 31 miles southeast of Round Top, 18 miles southeast of Brenham, 41 miles southwest of Washington, 15.8 miles southeast of Hempstead, 55 miles northwest of Houston, 27 miles northwest of Wallis, 19.6 miles northwest of San Felipe, and 33 miles northeast of Eagle Lake, Texas.
 
Austin County Veterans Memorial:
The five walls of the memorial represent each branch of the U.S. Military. Individuals and groups may donate a memorial brick. The memorial is located in City Park at the Austin County Fairgrounds.
 
Austin County Courthouse, 1960:
This granite and concrete courthouse was designed in modern style by Wyatt C. Hedrick. The 2010 Austin County census was 28,417. (979) 865-5911. One East Main Street. The courthouse square is bounded by Holland, Bell, East Main, and West Main Streets.   
 
Austin County Courthouse, 1888:
This former courthouse was designed by Eugene T. Heiner for a total cost of $45,000. Today Lavaca and Wharton Counties have the only unaltered courthouses designed by Heiner. The courthouse tragically burned down in 1960. Some bricks, the bell and the cornerstone have been turned into a monument.
 
Austin County Jail, 1896:
This stunning jail was built in Romanesque Revival style by F.B. Hull & W.S. Hull. It is the twin to the Milam County Jail in Cameron, Texas. It was built by the Jail Building and Manufacturing Company of Saint Louis, Missouri for $19,970, and served as the Austin County Jail until 1982. The left side of first floor of the jail served as living quarters for the sheriff’s family; the right side served as the jail. The top three floors had cells; the gallows were on the 4th floor. The first and last time the gallows was used was in March, 1901 when Gus Davis was hanged for the murder of Herman Schlunz. The jail had no windows or doors on the first floor. Prisoners entered the second floor through the outside staircase or through a hole in the floor. The jail now houses the Austin County Jail Museum. The jail is listed as a Texas Historical Landmark, and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. (979) 865-9116. Open for viewing and tours on Saturdays, 11am-3pm, or by appointment; donations accepted. 36 South Bell Street, Bellville, Texas 77418.
 
Austin County Jail Museum:  
The museum features exhibits depicting the history of Austin County and Bellville. The jail is listed as a Texas Historical Landmark, and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. (979) 865-5911. (979) 877-8814. Open Saturdays, 11am-3pm, or by appointment. Donations are gratefully appreciated. 36 South Bell Street, Bellville, Texas 77418. 
 
Newman's Castle:
Located on a pond outside of Bellville, the castle features a molt, a massive working drawbridge, a 3,000 pound iron gate, a chapel, five 24 foot tall turrets, a courtyard, a central tower with a view of the surrounding countryside, and an 18 foot wall enclosing the castle. The reservable castle is available for tours by appointment; buses leave from Newman’s Bakery at 504 E. Main Street. (979) 865-9804. Email 
 
Bellville Tours:
For tour information call the Bellville Historical Society at (979) 865-9116 or (979) 865-3530. 
 
Bellville Historical Society Sculpture Garden:
This garden displays bronze sculptures; individuals may place sculptures in honor of loved ones. 15 North Masonic Street. (979) 865-0625. Email 
 
Bellville Public Library: 
The library provides traditional library programs, children, youth and adult programs, summer programs, public access computers with internet connections, and free Wi-Fi. Open Mon, 1:30pm-5:30pm; Tue-Fri, 9:30am-5:30pm; Sat, 9am-1pm; closed Sundays. (979) 865-3731. 12 West Palm Street. Email