Midlothian is on U.S. Highway 287 and the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe and Southern Pacific railways nine miles northwest of Waxahachie in northwest Ellis County. Settlers arrived in the area as early as 1800, but colonization did not occur until peace treaties between the Republic of Texas and the Indian inhabitants were finalized by Sam Houston in 1843. The William Alden Hawkins and Larkin Newton families were the first to obtain permanent land titles at the site, under the authority of the Peters colony in 1848. The locale became known as Hawkins' Springs after a spring on Hawkins's property. A log cabin with an earthen floor was the community's first school, church, and community hall. As better materials became available, more permanent buildings were constructed. A post office called Barker, probably after Charles Barker, was established in 1877. The name was changed to Midlothian in 1882 or 1883. Most accounts agree that the name was suggested by a Scottish train engineer after a location in his home country. The community was selected by the Gulf, Colorado and Santa Fe Railway to be a part of its proposed line. Tracks reached the area in 1883, and by 1884 Midlothian had two churches, a district school, and a newspaper, the Midlothian News. The population was 300. Midlothian was incorporated in April 1888.
By 1892 the population had grown to between 600 and 800. At least twenty-five businesses made up the business district, including two cotton gins, two general stores, a drugstore, a hardware and farm-implement store, a livery stable, a lumberyard, a saddle and harness shop, a millinery shop, a confectionery, a furniture store, three groceries, a hotel, a bakery, a barbershop, a blacksmith and wagon-repair shop, and a weekly newspaper called the Visitor. The Polytechnic Academy (later Institute), a private boarding school, offered a full curriculum with emphasis in the fine arts. It carried the names of Whitten Institute and Midlothian College before being consolidated into the public school system in 1903. A Texas historical marker is on the site in Kimmel Park. By 1896 Midlothian had a population of 1,000 and sixty-two businesses, including the Argus newspaper. The Midlothian Oil Mill and Gin, founded in 1898, was a three-press mill. At its peak it was a fourteen-gin operation.
Before 1929 and the Great Depression many businesses flourished. Some enjoyed substantial trade that included foreign markets. In the 1980s Midlothian, which called itself the "Cement Capitol of Texas," had major industries, including producers of Portland cement and steel. Midlothian also serves as a distribution center for foreign imports. The population rose gradually from 1,175 in the early 1950s to 5,087 in the 1980s, when the city had 120 businesses. Beginning in the mid-1970s Midlothian saw an influx of residents from Dallas and Fort Worth, who built homes on unused farmland outside of town. Though Midlothian proper was left essentially unchanged, the school district expanded to 20,000 students. In 1990 the population was 5,141. The population was 7,480 with 486 businesses in 2000.