Cresson is at the intersection of U.S. Highway 377 and State Highway 171, seventeen miles south of Fort Worth on the Hood-Johnson county line. The town was named for John Cresson, captain of a wagon train that camped in the area before the Civil War. Cresson later built several houses and a general store on the site of the future town. Stagecoaches operated as early as 1856 from Jacksboro and Weatherford to Cresson and from Cresson to Cleburne, Waco, Granbury, and Stephenville. Around the town longhorn cattle grazed on land leased from the state. Early settlers included the Stewarts, who came from Kentucky in 1860, the Slocums, who operated the Stage Coach House, the Fidlers, who built the first hotel, and W. W. Wolf, who owned and operated the first cotton gin. In 1887 the Fort Worth and Rio Grande Railway was built through Cresson and extended to Granbury, the county seat. The railroad bolstered the economy in Cresson by opening the Fort Worth and Granbury markets to the town's agricultural products and livestock. When the Santa Fe Railroad was extended through the county in the same year, it crossed the Fort Worth and Rio Grande at Cresson. A post office was also established in 1887.
By 1890 Cresson had a population of thirty-five, a lumberyard, and three stores. The First Methodist Church was established in 1894; a tornado later destroyed the building, and a new one was built in the 1960s. The First Baptist Church was established in 1896. The population of Cresson reached 100 that year. By 1905 the town had two banks, eight general stores, a drugstore, a lumberyard, two doctors, a justice of the peace, and a constable who employed two deputies. In 1904 Cresson had a reported population of 279. The population remained fairly constant until the early 1970s, when it was reported at 208. In 1988 the town continued to have a population of about 200 and eight businesses and was primarily a ranching and retirement community. Two manufacturing companies were operating: Tex-Star Industries, which manufactures stucco, and a fertilizer company, Hyponex. Children in grade school are bused to Acton, and middle and high school students are bused to Granbury. Two museums—the Hal S. Smith Machinery Museum and Sturdy's Prairie Box Museum—have functioned in Cresson, but both are now closed. In 1990 and again in 2000 the population was 208.