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CHILTON, TEXAS. Chilton is on State Highway 7 a mile east of U.S. Highway 77, twelve miles west of Marlin, and twenty-one miles south of Waco in northwestern Falls County. The first settlers in the Chilton area were five Missouri families who arrived in 1854. Newton B. Maxey, one of the early settlers, established a wagon line to Galveston to bring in supplies. In the first year of settlement John Wethers was mistakenly shot by another settler, who thought he was a bear. The man who shot him lost his mind and was sent back to Missouri. In 1873 the site was bought by James C. Gaither. The town was originally called Abney's Farm. In 1876 Lysias B. Chilton, in partnership with W. J. de Bardeleben, opened a store near the present site of Chilton. The post office opened in 1882 and was named after Chilton. When the San Antonio and Aransas Pass Railway built through the county in 1888, the town was moved closer to the tracks and officially designated Chilton by the Texas Townsite Company. Chilton then became one of several railroad stations in Falls County and served as a shipping center.
In 1884 it had a population of 100, a steam flour mill, a cotton gin, a Baptist church, a First Christian church, and a district school. By 1896 the Chilton school had three teachers. Population estimates for the early twentieth century vary widely, from 230 to 750 for the same period. They also fluctuate markedly afterward. By 1914 Chilton had a bank, three churches, a large lumberyard, two cotton gins, a new schoolhouse, a telephone system, and a weekly newspaper, the Chilton Homeland.
The first oil well in the county was brought in on Deer Creek southeast of Chilton in April 1922. During an attempt to find oil in 1924, hot artesian wells were discovered, and the water was piped throughout the town. In 1935 the Chilton school district had 585 students, 8 percent of the students in Falls County. By the mid-1950s, when the Chilton district was one of only four independent school districts in the county, the town's population reached 750. It stayed at that level until the mid-1970s, when the number of residents dropped to 310, which was still the reported population in 1990. In 2000 the population was 274. In the 1930s the town had twenty-five businesses, but by 1966 the number had dropped to eleven. In 1988 Chilton had ten businesses, six churches, one school, a town hall, and a recreation center. In 2000, however, the town had thirty-five businesses.
BIBLIOGRAPHY:William Leshner, "Rosebud, Lott, and Chilton, Texas," Texas Magazine, January 1911. Lillian S. St. Romain, Western Falls County, Texas (Austin: Texas State Historical Association, 1951).
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The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.Handbook of Texas Online, Lisa C. Maxwell, "Chilton, TX," accessed April 26, 2017, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/hlc27.
Uploaded on June 12, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.