Founding Families

The Beginnings of Ellis County and Midlothian

In the early 1800s, settlements began to take place in the area that would one day become Ellis County; however, full colonization of this area was slow until 1843, when Sam Houston finalized peace treaties between several of the Indian inhabitants of the region and the Republic of Texas. The earliest Indian inhabitants of this area were the Tonkawa Indians, but other Indian tribes also hunted in this area including the Anadarkos, Bidias, Kickapoos, and the Wacos.

Photo Courtesy of Bob Worley

Larkin Cabin.jpg
The future Ellis County area of the young Republic of Texas was known as the Peters Colony, named for a Louisville, Kentucky-based land grant company consisting of English and American investors. The young Republic empresario grant program encouraged settlements in North Texas in 1841. The few settlers who lived in this region trapped animals and sold their pelts, and would also trade goods with Indians. The majority of Ellis County’s original settlers came from the southern half of the United States. They arrived with their cultural and educational traditions, their methods of farming and care for farm animals and for a few their slaves.

Among the earliest settlers, in the area that would later become Midlothian included the families of William Alden Hawkins and Larkin Newton, who moved to the area in 1848. For Hawkins to claim his 640 acres of land from the Peters Colony group, he was required to build a house on the property he chose along the mouth of Waxahachie Creek before July 1, 1848. The structure was built before the required deadline and the land near the present day Hawkins Spring went to the Hawkin's family. For Larkin Newton, who moved his wife Mary and their eight children from Missouri, the same requirement was given. Larkin met the due date and became owner of his 640-acre claim.

Ellis County was officially established by the Texas legislature on December 20, 1849, on a bill sponsored by General Edward H. Tarrant, a popular Texas Ranger and Indian gunfighter during this period. Organized in February 1850, the County was carved out of Navarro County and likely named for Richard Ellis, the president of the Texas.

In 1883 the name ‘Midlothian’ was accepted by the local population. According to local legend, the area was named Midlothian when the Chicago, Texas, and Mexican Central railroads, which would eventually connect Dallas and Cleburne, arrived in the area and a homesick Scottish train engineer stated that the local countryside reminded him of his homeland in Scotland and the location served as the midpoint between Dallas and Cleburne, and between Ennis and Fort Worth. With the coming of the railroad, Midlothian grew and was incorporated in April 1888.