AXTELL, TEXAS. Axtell is on Farm Road 1330 between U.S. Highway 84 and State Highway 31, eight miles northeast of Bellmead in eastern McLennan County. It was established in 1881, when the Texas and St. Louis Railway laid track from Corsicana to Waco. A post office, called Axtell in honor of a railroad official, opened in 1882 with Edward P. Rino as postmaster. By the early 1890s Axtell had a population of 200, a gristmill and gin, two general stores, and a hotel. In 1896 Axtell schools had two teachers for eighty-five white students and one teacher for seventy-nine black students. The population had risen to 250. The Axtell State Bank opened in 1912 and provided an economic boost for local businesses by attracting customers from outlying areas. Population estimates for Axtell reached a peak of 400 in 1914. Severe storms and floods in the fall of that year damaged or destroyed crops and property throughout the region, making it impossible for many area farmers to meet their loan payments. The bank at Axtell was forced to close in 1914. In spite of this setback and the Great Depression a few years later, Axtell managed to hold its own as a small railroad town. The community became the focus of a rural high school district in 1915. The district grew to include the Billington and Watt common school districts of Limestone County and the Elk common school district of McLennan County. Population estimates for the Axtell community remained at 220 from the 1920s through the 1960s; a population of 105 was reported from 1970 through 1990. By 2000 the population reached 300. Axtell had three churches, a post office, and several businesses in the mid-1980s.
Charles Leroy Hinkle, A History and Analysis of Rural Banking in McLennan County (M.S. thesis, Baylor University, 1959). Dayton Kelley, ed., The Handbook of Waco and McLennan County, Texas (Waco: Texian, 1972). William Robert Poage, McLennan County Before 1980 (Waco: Texian, 1981). Vertical File, Texas Collection, Baylor University.