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History of Waxahachie

The City of Waxahachie was officially organized on the banks of the Waxahachie Creek, from which the City derived its name in the year of 1850. Its history is one which is interwoven with the history of Texas.

The famed Shawnee Trail, which once resounded with the bellow of cattle being driven north to Kansas City from South Texas, ran through the center of town, now known as the Historic Downtown District.

The earliest inhabitants of the area were Tonkawa, Kickapoo, Bidai, Anadarko and Waco Indians. The first white settler to this area was Emory W. Rogers who came to this open expanse of prairie in 1846. His land gifts for the town site materially aided the selection of Waxahachie as the county seat of Ellis County in 1850.

Ellis County was created by the legislature of the State of Texas; the act being signed by the Governor on December 20, 1849, from the territory of Navarro County. It was named after Richard Ellis, a noted jurist, president of the Constitutional Congress which declared the independence of Texas from Mexico and a member of the congress of the new republic.

The very name “Waxahachie” creates a great deal of interest and many inquiries as to its origin. The name is derived from the Indian word meaning “Buffalo Creek.”

Until recently, the economy of Waxahachie and Ellis County was one of almost complete reliance upon agriculture and cattle. Around the turn of the century, cotton played such an important role in the early development that Ellis County was known as the “Banner Cotton County of the World.” As a result, many cotton related industries, including one of the state’s first textile mills, was established in the town.

The strong economy of the late 1800s and early 1900s largely contributed to a construction boom that resulted in the rapid development of the downtown area, as well as large residential neighborhoods with beautiful Victorian homes. In 1895, the historic Ellis County courthouse was completed, and remains as the town’s most impressive landmark today. Visitors from all over the world travel to Waxahachie each year to visit the historic courthouse.

As a result of the Great Depression of the 1930s, demand for cotton greatly decreased, and most of the gins and textile mills were forced to close. Post World War II, Waxahachie entered the automobile age, along with the rest of the nation. Fortunately, when this occurred, Waxahachie benefitted greatly from its location. At the time, U.S. 77 and U.S. 287 met at the northwest corner of the downtown area. With the construction of Interstate 35, Waxahachie has continued to benefit from its proximity to these major roadways. Throughout the years, these highways have proven to be a tremendous asset to the economy of the community, providing easy accessibility for commercial facilities and residential development.

In 1997, the Texas State Legislature designated Waxahachie as the “Crape Myrtle Capital of Texas." Each summer, the city’s historic streets are lined with hundreds of beautiful Crape Myrtles in full bloom.

Waxahachie is a certified Texas Main Street community. The city applied for and received Main Street designation in 1983 and participated in the program until 1990. In 2002, the city became re-certified as a Texas Main Street City. Since that time, Waxahachie has been recognized as a National Main Street City fourteen years out of the fifteen they were eligible to receive that distinction.

Waxahachie is one of only ten cities in Texas to receive the First Lady’s Texas Treasures Award!

Waxahachie is an attractive tourist destination. The charm of the historic homes and buildings brings thousands of visitors to the city each year. While here, visitors enjoy numerous unique shopping opportunities, including antiques, specialty shops and boutiques.

Just a short drive from the Metroplex, Waxahachie also has a number of festivals and events throughout the year for residents and visitors to enjoy.

The current population is just over 30,000, with a healthy average growth rate of 3.7%.
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