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Williamson County TX
Williamson County

Bell County TX
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Williamson and Bell Counties, Texas Hill Country

30°47'44"N 97°25'50"W (30.795621, -97.430680)
Highway 95 and FM 487
6 miles E of Schwertner
6 miles S of Holland
24 miles S of Temple
5 miles N of Granger
16 miles N of Taylor
48 miles NE of Austin
23 miles NE of Georgetown
Population: 2,776 Est. (2017)
1,623 (2010) 1,675 (2000) 1,439 (1990)

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Bartlett Texas landscape  and  view of  watertower
The Bartlett landscape with water tower seen in the distance.
Photo courtesy Genevieve B. Shockley, April 2006

History in a Pecan Shell

Bartlett was officially formed when the Katy Railroad started their survey in 1881. Earlier settlers had been living in the area for the 30 previous years.

One J. E. Pietzsch donated land for the townsite although it was actually named after John T. Bartlett. Lots were sold in 1881 and the railroad reached the town the following year. There were two stores in operation by the time the railroad arrived and the post office opened in 1882.

The population was around 300 in '84 and the town was established as a shipping point for cotton. There was also a cotton gin, hotel, grocer, butcher and school.

Bartlett incorporated in 1890 when it was a thriving town with two weekly newspapers and a bank.
Bartlett Texas public cotton yard
Bartlett Public Cotton Yard - Postmarked 1908
Courtesy The Will Beauchamp Collection
More Cotton | Texas Cotton Gins
Bartlett outgrew its second school building and plans were made for a new building to be built at the same location. When the time came to begin construction on the new building, the old building first had to be moved. The contract was let to move the old school to the southwest corner of the block so that work could begin on the new building and classes could continue. The architect for the building was A. O. Watson of Austin, and a local contractor, Flick and Son, won the bid to build the school.

The building, which was actually Bartlett’s third school building, was completed in 1909 at a total cost of around $21,000. It was located on a full city block and centered diagonally on that block. It featured ten rooms, three offices, and an auditorium. It housed all grades from 1909 until 1917, the elementary grades from 1917 through 1966, and the primary grades from 1966 until 1988.

The doors of our building opened for classes the first time on September 13, 1909. Enrollment on opening day was 250 students and the faculty.
TX - Bartlett high school faculty and alumni
Photo courtesy Bartlett Activites Center
The Bartlett School
An Abbreviated History of the Bartlett School Building

Bartlett School Today
Bartlett Western Railroad, Texas, 1912
Bartlett Western Railroad, 1912
Photo courtesy Clyde Crews
A railroad running from Bartlett to Florence was charted in 1909. The logical name of Bartlett-Florence Railway Company was changed to the Bartlett Western.

Being the eastern terminus of this busy shortline railroad only added to Bartlett's prestige and economy. In 1914 the town reached its population zenith of 2,200 citizens. The town had two railroads, three banks, three gins and four churches.

The decline of cotton in the 20s and 30s, forced the railroad into bankruptcy in 1935.

In 1931 Bartlett had 1,873 people with nearly 100 businesses. With the Great Depression, the town lost 25% of its businesses although the population loss was a mere 10%. It reached a low of 1,556 in 1988 and has increased slowly to the present 1,623.
Bartlett Texas bank eagle
An eagle on the former Bartlett Bank
Photo by John Troesser, July 2002
The Bartlett Bank Robbery That Wasn't
by C. F. Eckhardt
Bartlett, Texas - First National Bank Building
The First National Bank Building in downtown Bartlett.
Note the elevated downspout just to the left of center.
Photo courtesy Genevieve B. Shockley, April 2006
More Texas Banks
Bartlett, Texas 1903 building
"1903" with modern Christmas lights
Photo courtesy Genevieve B. Shockley, April 2006
More Texas Pitted Dates
Bartlett Texas business cast-iron threshold
Cast-iron threshold of a former business
Photo courtesy Genevieve B. Shockley, April 2006
Photographer's Note:
"I grew up in Holland, Texas and remember seeing this same type of doorway plate on the older buildings there, as well. This type of doorway plate is on many of the Bartlett buildings." - Genevieve B. Shockley
A vacant church in Bartlett, Texas
Photo courtesy Barclay Gibson, July 2005
Churches in Bartlett
Wrigley's painted sign in Bartlett, Texas
Photo courtesy Barclay Gibson, July 2005
Bartlett Ghost Signs

Bartlett, Texas Chronicles

Phantom Alligators by Clay Coppedge
The old community of Alligator, a few miles east of Bartlett, lives in legend, lore and in the memory of ...

Bartlett Western Railroad by Clay Coppedge

The Bartlett Bank Robbery That Wasn't by C. F. Eckhardt

Little Mysteries by Mike Cox
In 1936, Dr. R.S. Sutton of Bartlett knew exactly where a silver Swiss watch once owned by Gen. Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna's could be found-in the good doctor's personal collection...

Bartlett as Movie Location

Bartlett's long (and wide) commercial strip of buildings built during its heyday has made it a natural for shooting movies. Stars Fell on Henrietta, The Newton Boys, and The Whole Wide World (based on the short life of Texas author Robert Howard) were shot in Bartlett as well as several of the familiar truck commercials.

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Star Fell on Henrietta
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The Newton Boys
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The Whole Wide World

Bartlett, Texas Forum

  • Bartlett's Old Red Brick School First Annual Event
    My husband Paul and I wanted to give Texas Escapes and its readers an update on the restoration of Bartlett's old red brick school.

    We joined the BAC with the idea of starting an annual festival/benefit to help fund the continued renovation of the school. We are having our first fundraiser on June 24th from 3 to 8 pm with musical entertainment, a dance, silent auction and art displays. We will also have a coloring contest for the kids (what if the school was any color you wanted it?), face painting and snow cones.

    We are hoping to draw in crowds, but are mainly interested in getting the "new" Bartlett and "old" Bartlett residents interested in their city again. Hopefully we will get volunteers that will be interested in hosting a much bigger event next year. We hope to attract more local artists to use the auditorium for concerts and maybe even get a community theatre started. By the way, almost all of Barlett's downtown buildings have been bought and now house antique stores and a coffee shop soon. It went from nearly extinct to thriving! Thanks for such a wonderful [magazine]. - Cindi and Paul Reaka, Bartlett, Texas, June 12, 2006

  • I remember Bartlett
    ...I remember taking my shoes off, walking near the tracks, and feeling the exhilaration and excitement of laying out pennies to be squished. When we got home, my feet were black, and my cheeks were bright red from the heat... more - Carolyn Ripper, May 07, 2006

  • Take a Road Trip

    Bartlett, Texas Area Towns:
    Holland | Temple | Granger | Taylor | Georgetown
    See Williamson and Bell Counties

    Texas Hill Country

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