Bell County, Texas
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Bell County, Texas
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
State Texas
Named forPeter Hansborough Bell
Largest cityKilleen
 o Total1,088 sq mi (2,820 km2)
 o Land1,051 sq mi (2,720 km2)
 o Water37 sq mi (100 km2)  3.4%%
 o Total310,235
 o Density295/sq mi (114/km2)
Time zoneUTC-6 (Central)
 o Summer (DST)UTC-5 (CDT)
Congressional districts25th, 31st

Bell County is a county located in the central part of the U.S. state of Texas. As of the 2010 census, its population was 310,235.[1] Its county seat is Belton.[2] The county was founded in 1850 and is named for Peter Hansborough Bell, the third governor of Texas.

Bell County is part of the Killeen-Temple, Texas, Metropolitan Statistical Area.

In 2010, the center of population of Texas was located in Bell County, near the town of Holland.[3]


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.[4] This area became known as the Tennessee Valley. Soon after (1836) the settlements were deserted during the Runaway Scrape,[5] reoccupied, deserted again after the Elmwood Creek Blood Scrape, and reoccupied. Texas Ranger George Erath established a fort on Little River.[6]

During 1843-44, settlers began returning .[4] The next year, the Republic of Texas founded Baylor Female College (since developed as University of Mary Hardin-Baylor).[7]

In 1850, Bell County was organized and named for Texas Governor Peter Hansborough Bell. The population then was 600 whites and 60 black slaves.[4] Belton[8] was designated as the county seat in 1851.

The last serious Indian raid in the area occurred in 1859.[4] Bell County assumed its present boundaries[4] 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.[4] Residents were divided, as many yeomen farmers did not support the war. From 1862-1865, Union sympathizers and Confederate deserters holed up in "Camp Safety".[4] 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.[4]

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.[4]

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.[4] 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.[9] As another improvement, in 1905, the Belton and Temple Interurban electric railway was completed, providing service between the cities.[4]

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.[4]

In 1925, Miriam A. Ferguson, a native of the county, was inaugurated as the first woman governor of the state.[10] She won re-election in 1932 for a nonconsecutive second term.[10]

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.[4]

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.[11]

The state founded Central Texas College in 1965 in Killeen.[11]

Since the late 20th century, new retail development has taken the form of large malls. In 1976, Temple Mall opened.[12] By 1980, Killeen had become the largest city in Bell County.[11] The next year, the Killeen Mall opened, adding to retail choices in the area.[13] 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 and unusual incidents of gun violence. On October 16, 1991, in what was called the Luby's shooting, disaffected employee George Jo Hennard, Jr., killed 23 people, and wounded 20 others, before killing himself. It was the largest mass murder by firearm in the United States to that time.[14] In 1995, Governor George W. Bush signed a new law easing restrictions on carrying handguns; it allows Texans to carry concealed weapons if they have a permit to do so. Texas overrode a 125-year-old ban on carrying weapons that had been signed and enacted by Governor E.J. Davis.[15] On November 5 in the 2009 Fort Hood shooting, Army Major Nidal Malik Hasan killed 13 people, and wounded 30. He was paralyzed in return fire. He had been described as mentally unstable. On April 2 in the 2014 Fort Hood shooting, Army Specialist Ivan Lopez killed three people and wounded 16.


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


As of the census[20] 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.[21]

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.


Bell County is served by several school districts:


Major highways

These major highways run through Bell County:

Mass transit

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.[22]Amtrak also has scheduled service to Temple.


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




Census-designated place

Unincorporated communities


Presidential elections results
Presidential elections results[23]
Year Republican Democratic Third parties
2016 54.3% 51,998 39.5% 37,801 6.2% 5,902
2012 57.4% 49,574 41.1% 35,512 1.6% 1,339
2008 54.4% 49,242 44.6% 40,413 1.0% 935
2004 65.4% 52,135 34.1% 27,165 0.5% 424
2000 65.1% 41,208 33.2% 21,011 1.7% 1,072
1996 53.2% 30,348 39.7% 22,638 7.1% 4,063
1992 45.3% 24,936 33.9% 18,684 20.8% 11,457
1988 61.8% 29,382 37.3% 17,751 0.9% 418
1984 69.5% 31,117 29.8% 13,322 0.7% 323
1980 54.7% 20,729 41.8% 15,823 3.5% 1,333
1976 46.0% 15,126 53.2% 17,499 0.9% 287
1972 71.8% 17,525 28.1% 6,848 0.2% 38
1968 27.0% 5,705 56.2% 11,893 16.8% 3,547
1964 16.8% 2,938 83.1% 14,557 0.1% 17
1960 30.1% 4,606 69.7% 10,651 0.2% 31
1956 30.8% 4,285 68.9% 9,603 0.3% 44
1952 33.9% 4,862 66.1% 9,484 0.1% 12
1948 11.7% 1,069 82.8% 7,548 5.4% 496
1944 8.5% 763 77.7% 6,960 13.8% 1,232
1940 12.4% 1,050 87.6% 7,418
1936 7.2% 475 92.4% 6,119 0.4% 27
1932 8.7% 724 91.1% 7,607 0.3% 23
1928 52.2% 3,366 47.7% 3,079 0.1% 7
1924 17.3% 1,632 76.9% 7,273 5.8% 552
1920 7.9% 483 59.1% 3,595 32.9% 2,003
1916 8.5% 356 86.8% 3,615 4.7% 196
1912 4.0% 128 94.7% 3,024 1.3% 42

See also


  1. ^ a b "State & County QuickFacts". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2013.
  2. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Archived from the original on 2012-07-12. Retrieved .
  3. ^ "Centers of Population by State: 2010". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2014.
  4. ^ 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 21 December 2010. Retrieved 2010.
  5. ^ Covington, Carolyn Callaway. "Runaway Scrape". Handbook of Texas Online. Texas State Historical Association. Archived from the original on 12 November 2010. Retrieved 2010.
  6. ^ Cutrer, Thomas W. "George Bernard Erath". Handbook of Texas Online. Texas State Historical Association. Retrieved 2010.
  7. ^ Brackney, William H (2009). Congregation and Campus: Baptists in Higher Education. Mercer University Press. p. 147. ISBN 978-0-88146-130-5.
  8. ^ "Belton, Texas". Texas Escapes. Texas Escapes - Blueprints For Travel, LLC. Retrieved 2010.
  9. ^ "Bell County Courthouse". Texas Escapes. Texas Escapes - Blueprints For Travel, LLC. Retrieved 2010.
  10. ^ a b Huddleston, John. "Miriam Ferguson". Handbook of Texas Online. Texas State Historical Association. Archived from the original on 21 December 2010. Retrieved 2010.
  11. ^ a b c Leffler, John. "Killeen, Texas". Handbook of Texas Online. Texas State Historical Association. Retrieved 2010.
  12. ^ Urban Retail Properties: Temple Mall Archived March 17, 2013, at the Wayback Machine Center Information. Retrieved 31 December 2011.
  13. ^ Jones Lang Lasalle (March 2010). "Killeen Mall" (PDF). Jones Lang Lasalle. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2016-03-04. Retrieved .
  14. ^ Woodbury, Richard (28 October 1991). "Crime: Ten Minutes in Hell". Retrieved 2018 – via
  15. ^ [1], On the Issues
  16. ^ "2010 Census Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. August 22, 2012. Retrieved 2015.
  17. ^ "American FactFinder". Retrieved 2019.
  18. ^ "U.S. Decennial Census". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on April 26, 2015. Retrieved 2015.
  19. ^ "Texas Almanac: Population History of Counties from 1850-2010" (PDF). Texas Almanac. Retrieved 2015.
  20. ^ "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on 2013-09-11. Retrieved .
  21. ^ Where Same-Sex Couples Live, June 26, 2015, retrieved 2015
  22. ^ "The Hop General Info". Hill Country Transit District. Retrieved 2014.
  23. ^ Leip, David. "Dave Leip's Atlas of U.S. Presidential Elections". Retrieved 2018.

External links

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

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