Bullard, also known as Etna and Hewsville, is on the St. Louis Southwestern Railway at the intersection of U.S. Highway 69 and Farm roads 2493, 2137, and 344, twelve miles south of Tyler in extreme southern Smith County and northern Cherokee County. The area, originally occupied by Caddo Indians, was later on the line between the William H. Steel and the Vinson Moore surveys. The William Pitt Loftin family settled in the area around 1850, and the Etna post office, located to the west of the current townsite opened in 1867. In 1870 John H. and Emma Eugenia Erwin Bullard settled in the area. In 1881 Bullard opened the Hewsville post office in his general store. In 1883 the Etna post office closed and the Hewsville office was renamed Bullard. That same year the Kansas and Gulf Short Line Railroad laid track from Tyler through Bullard to Lufkin. The Bullard railroad station was completed in August 1884. The community soon became a shipping point for cotton, vegetables, and fruits. By 1890 the population was 200, and businesses included a sawmill, two general stores, a physician, a smithy and wagon shop, and a telegraph office. John Bullard owned a cotton gin and gristmill. There was also a local school, a Baptist church, and a Methodist church. At this time the railroad was known as the St. Louis, Arkansas and Texas Railway. By 1892 the rail line had become the Tyler and Southwestern Railway, and the town had one grocer, a constable, a justice of the peace, a druggist, a physician, a feed store, and a new general store. In 1903 the community had a school for White children with two teachers and sixty-eight pupils and two schools for Black children with three teachers and 118 students.
Bullard’s African American community centered around Corinth Missionary Baptist Church. Established in 1864 by slaves on the nearby Jones Farm, it was the oldest church for Blacks in the area and later was moved to land donated by William “Jim” Bates on the outskirts of Bullard. The church served as a community center for African American residents, and the Corinth School, which started in the church, eventually opened across the street to serve the children of the community in the early twentieth century.
In 1914 Bullard had 400 citizens and several new businesses, including a telephone company, a bank, another cotton gin, four more general stores, three groceries, and a hardware store. The local newspaper, the Bullard Herald, was published on a weekly basis, and the railroad had become the St. Louis Southwestern Railway. In the 1920s additional businesses included several packing sheds, restaurants, and boarding houses. A movie theater had opened, and a band also provided entertainment. A traveling jail, seven feet in diameter and made of a barred round tank on wheels, held prisoners until the county sheriff could escort them to Tyler. By 1936 the town had twenty-one businesses, and a large residential community had developed to the west. The Bullard Independent School District included two elementary schools for six teachers and 288 Black students and a school offering grades one through eleven with ten teachers and 237 White students.
The population was 450 in the post-World War II years, when the town again became a shipping point for fruit and vegetables. In 1948 Bullard elected a city council and the first mayor, Jap Jones. Residents voted for a $50,000 bond that funded one of the few water systems in Texas using spring water. The number of residents declined to 300 by 1964. In 1973 Bullard had 573 inhabitants, only twenty-seven of whom resided below the Cherokee county line, and a cemetery, four churches, a water tank, an athletic field, and clay pits. In 1981 the community was concentrated around the junction of the highways. Most residents worked in nearby Tyler or other larger towns. In 1990 the population was 890 and in 2000 Bullard had 1,150 inhabitants and 158 rated businesses. Population figures more than doubled to 2,463 in 2010. In the summer of 2014 Corinth Missionary Baptist Church held a series of events to celebrate its 150th anniversary.