Texas State legislature officially established Ellis County on December 20, 1849 when it passed a bill sponsored by Gen. Edward H. Tarrant. It was drawn from Navarro County and is named for Richard Ellis. Today, Ellis County is home to over 152,000 residents. The County’s total area is 952 square miles, and is comprised of 15 cities, 7 towns, and the unincorporated areas that include Avalon, Forreston, and Telico. Please visit our Local Link tab to few each of them.
The County was named after Virginian-born Richard Ellis, President of the defiant 1836 Constitutional Congress that declared Texas’ independence from Mexico. The voters were told by the state legislature to name the county seat “Waxahachie,” a Tejas Native American word for “buffalo creek.” They determined the location of the county seat as the 62 acres bordering the Waxahachie Creek, donated by one of the earliest settlers, Emory W Rogers. William Hawkins was the first chief justice (county judge). Judge Oran Milo Roberts presided over the first term of the Ellis County district court during the fall of 1850.
Additional history about the County can be found by visiting the following link: http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/hce04
The County’s responsibilities are defined by the Texas Constitution and include:
- building and maintaining roads
- constructing and operating jails
- operating the judicial system
- maintaining public records
- collecting property taxes
- issuing vehicle registration and transfers
- registering voters
- providing law enforcement
- conducting elections
- providing indigent health care
Counties, unlike cities, are limited in their actions to areas of responsibility specifically spelled out in laws passed by the Legislature.
Additional information on Texas’ Counties can be found by visiting:
Historic Courthouse History
James A. Michener, in his book, Texas, best described the Ellis County Courthouse as “A fairy tale palace…replete with battlements and turrets and spires…and miniature castles high in the air… one of the finest buildings in Texas.” It is indeed a jewel of a building that has been designated as “number 8” on the list of outstanding architectural achievements in Texas. For more information on this magnificent structure, please visit the Historic Courthouse Page.
The Texas Constitution established a strong system of checks and balances by creating independent elective offices in each county. The major elective offices found in most counties include the commissioners court comprised of a county judge and four county commissioners, county attorneys, county and district clerks, county treasurers, sheriffs, tax assessor-collectors, justices of the peace and constables. As a part of the checks and balances system, counties have an auditor appointed by the district courts.
To learn more about your Elected Officials, please visit: our Administration page
To learn more about each elected official’s role in County government, please visit the link below and peruse through the left column:
Additional County Resources: