Bristol

Bristol is on Farm Road 660 eighteen miles northeast of Waxahachie in northeastern Ellis County.  Joshua W. Brock and two of his brothers were among the first settlers in the area in the early 1840s.  A post office operated under the name of Brockville from 1854 to 1869, and later the community was unofficially known as "Heelstring.".  Dancing was a popular diversion in the area's early social life.

Some twenty years later, Captain Steven Mills arrived.  He did not believe "Heelstring" would be an asset in reaching the town's full potential, so he named his store "Bristol" since he had done busness in Bristol, England.

Community development revolved around a steam gristmill, a sawmill and a cotton gin constructed by the Sparkman family in the late 1860s.  The first community building, a log church, school and lodge room, was constructed in 1870.  The post office opened on August 15, 1872.

Farming was prevalent, crops  being cotton and  sugar cane along with cattle raising. In 1881,  Bristol had a population of 150.  By 1890 there were 200 residents served by a half dozen businesses, a bank, two churches, and an elementary school.

In the early 1920s, the ferry service was discontinued, and when the automobile began to appear, there was a "jitney." or taxi service, one being operated by Jim Brazier, a local resident. (Jim's two brothers, John and Charles, had a mercantile business in the 1920s and 30s in Ferris, and later in Ennis.)  Navigation of the Trinity River was always a possibility but never became a reality.

The population reached a high of 300 in 1933, but dropped to 200 by 1950 and below that number in the mid 1960s.  A few years ago there was a serious fire, which destroyed downtown Bristol. The mercantile store, the barber shop, and doctor's office of yesterday is gone.  But the community still lives, now boasting 2 convenience stores, located on the corners near the old down-town square.

Bristol SchoolThe school building also stands, much like it was and the cemetery is just a few yards away.  The dedication of the school building was on September 16, 1940.  Mothers of the community prepared the hot lunch until the W. P. A. workers were secured for that purpose.  About 100 students were fed each day in the lunch room.

From 1972 through 1990, the community reported ninety-four residents.  In the late 1980s Bristol continued to serve as a supply and service center for area farmers and as a school and church community.

The Bristol school received a historical marker in 1995.  Dedication was held on  at 10:30 a.m. Nov. 23, Thanksgiving Day.  This is the day the former and present residents of Bristol call "Homecoming Day."

References:

Edna Hawkins, et al, History of Ellis County, Texas, Texian Press, Waco,. 1972.
"BRISTOL, TX" The Handbook of Texas Online
Excerpts from Searchers & Researchers, pub. by Ellis County Genealogical Society, sub. by Susie Toal and the following references listed:
Sims Library Files, History of Ellis County by the Ellis County Historical Society, Ellis County Genealogical files, articles written in earlier years by Mrs,. Randall Jones and Mrs. Ora Harold
Family stories and personal interviews

 

Copyright 2002 Ellis County TXGenWeb All rights reserved.
Home