Fallen Lone Stars: Chappell Hill

The Stagecoach Inn has been in continuous operation since it opened in 1850. (photo courtesy of Larry D. Moore)

The Stagecoach Inn has been in continuous operation since it opened in 1847. (photo by Larry D. Moore)

Chappell Hill, Texas — founded in 1847 on 100 acres owned by a woman — is located roughly halfway between Austin and Houston on part of the land Mexico granted to Stephen F. Austin in 1821. Mary Haller, the landowner, and her husband Jacob built a stagecoach inn on the site, at the junction of two major stagecoach lines. Soon, other folks from the Deep South migrated to the area and planted cotton, for which the climate and soil were perfectly suited.

By 1856, the population had risen to 3,000 people, eclipsed only by Galveston and San Antonio. The town included a sawmill, five churches, and a Masonic Lodge, in addition to two of the first colleges in the state — one for men and another for women. A railroad line followed soon after.

A longhorn dozes among bluebonnets outside Chappell Hill, Texas. (photo by Texas.713)

A longhorn dozes among bluebonnets outside Chappell Hill, Texas. (photo by Texas.713)

During the War of Northern Aggression (otherwise known as the American Civil War), the men of Chappell Hill served in both Hood’s Texas Brigade (infantry) and Terry’s Texas Rangers (cavalry), participating in most of the major battles of the conflict. Two years after the war ended, in 1867, many of the Chappell Hill men who survived the fighting perished in a yellow fever epidemic that decimated the town and the rest of the area around the Brazos River.

Chappell Hill never recovered, plunging from one of the largest, most vibrant communities in the state to little more than a memory.

Today, with a population of 300 in town and approximately 1,300 in the zip code, Chappell Hill is an unincorporated community that retains its fighting spirit and independent nature. A May 2008 special election to determine whether the community would incorporate drew two-thirds of eligible voters to the polls. Incorporation was defeated by a vote of three to one.

Today, Main Street in Chappell Hill, Texas, is a National Historic District. (photo by stevesheriw)

Today, Main Street in Chappell Hill, Texas, is a National Historic District. (photo by stevesheriw)

Widely regarded as one of the best historically preserved towns in Texas, Chappell Hill maintains its landmarks with admirable zeal. The Stagecoach Inn has been in continuous operation since the doors first opened. Main Street is listed as a National Historic District by the National Register of Historic Places. Restored homes, churches, and businesses offer tours to visitors, and the annual Bluebonnet Festival and Scarecrow Festival attract tourists from all over the state.

If you’re ever in the area, it’s worth a visit.

 

Kathleen Rice Adams header

 

Kathleen Rice Adams
A Texan to the bone, award-winning author Kathleen Rice Adams spends her days chasing news stories and her nights and weekends shooting it out with Wild West desperados. Leave the upstanding, law-abiding heroes to other folks. In Kathleen's tales, even the good guys wear black hats.

Her short story “The Second-Best Ranger in Texas” won the Peacemaker Award for Best Western Short Fiction. Her novel Prodigal Gun won the EPIC Award for Historical Romance and is the only western historical romance ever to final for a Peacemaker in a book-length category.

Visit her at the Hole in the Web Gang's hideout, KathleenRiceAdams.com. Or, connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest. Her Amazon author page is here.

5 Comments

  1. I would love to visit there some day. I always enjoy a town with a lot of history.

  2. ive been to Texas but not there sounds like a lovely place to go,,enjoyed the post very interesting and informative

  3. Hi Kathleen! Nice post on Chappell Hill! What a past that town has experienced. I didn’t know that complete towns were decimated by yellow fever even though I knew it was in the area there in southern Texas. So very sad. It sounds like a town that boomed and then busted without a goldmine or silvermine in sight!

  4. Hi Kathleen! Many eons ago, when I lived in the piney woods between Magnolia and Tomball, I used to drive to Chappell Hill every Friday just to do my banking. Why, you ask. Because the bank was something right out of the 1800’s and we thought it was the coolest thing ever. The teller’s cage still had the metal bars. I remember them saying, if we needed to make a deposit after hours, just slip the envelope under the front door, which sounds absolutely insane to me now. It was gorgeous. In hindsight, I wish I had taken pictures. The drive itself was awesome–gently rolling hills covered with bluebonnets dotted with splashes of Indian paintbrush. Don’t know if it’s still there, but we used to eat at a restaurant on the edge of town called the Bluebonnet Inn. At the time, it was owned by a famous ballplayer, whose name escapes me now. Anyway, when you ordered, they brought out bowls of food and sat them on the table and you served yourself. It was great. Chicken-friend steak, mashed potatoes, fried okra, and homemade biscuits. Yum!

  5. I am surprised such a well preserved historic area has not attracted more people to move there. The town I live near is also a restored historic district. It has had its share of disasters, it was burned at least twice, but was lucky enough not to be devastated as badly as Chappell Hill.
    I would enjoy visiting it. We will be in Texas this summer, but not in that part of the state.
    Thanks for an interesting post.

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