In the early 1800s, settlements began to take place in the area that would one day become Ellis County of Texas. The few settlers who lived in this region trapped animals and sold their pelts, and they would also trade goods with Indians. The earliest Indian inhabitants of this area were the Tonkawa Indians.
In 1848, Larkin Newton, his wife Mary and eight children settled in what is now known as Ellis County. In this community, the Newton’s raised three more children and helped the colony become a county. Over the years, Newton later operated a gristmill, served as postmaster and surveyed land.
At about the same time, Williams Hawkins settled at the mouth of the Waxahachie Creek or what is known today as Hawkins’ Spring. Hawkins became Ellis County’s first Chief of Justice for the county.
In 1883, the name “Midlothian” was recognized by the local population. According to local legend, the area was named Midlothian when a Scottish train engineer stated that the local countryside reminded him of his homeland in Scotland. Since the location served as the midpoint between Dallas and Cleburne, and between Ennis and Fort Worth, the name was accepted. With the coming of the railroad, Midlothian grew and was incorporated in April 1888.
During the mid-19th century, cattle-raising was the most profitable business due to the fertile soil, expansive grasslands and mild climate. When the railroad arrived new markets could be more easily reached. Suddenly, large-scale farming, which required new equipment, local brokers, warehouses, mills and cotton gins, was possible. As a result, between 1870 and 1880, the population of Ellis County almost tripled. By the early 1890s Midlothian’s population had grown to over 600 people and 25 businesses. Ellis County became known as one of the nation’s leading cotton-growing areas.
The first schoolhouse in Midlothian consisted of an earthen floor log cabin built in 1850. The schoolhouse was also used for a church and a community meeting place.
Kimmel Park, in the historic section of Midlothian, once served as the site for the Polytechnic Institute. Founded in 1883 by William Wesley Works, the Institute functioned as a private coeducational boarding school that offered a full curriculum. It emphasized the fine arts from grade school to primary school and included higher education.
In 1900, the school became Midlothian College and was eventually consolidated with the Midlothian public schools in 1903. Major C. Kimmel later bought the land, and his widow gave the property to the city for a park. Today, a historical marker in Kimmel Park serves as a reminder of this educational establishment’s short, but important, imprint to the history of Midlothian.
The arrival of the railroad played a major role in the growth of Midlothian. After the Santa Fe Railroad Company purchased the railroad in 1882, the Santa Fe Depot was built and was dedicated on July 4, 1883, when the first steam locomotive arrived at the station at noon from Cleburne on its way to Dallas.
On July 1, 1886, almost three years after the Santa Fe trains rolled through the community, the Fort Worth and New Orleans Railway (FWNO) reached Midlothian. This railroad was built to connect with the Central Texas and Northwestern Railway in Waxahachie.
In the early 20th century, two regional highways were built that cross at Midlothian. Commissioned in 1926, U.S. 67 starts in Iowa and runs south to the United States and Mexico border. U.S. 287 was first commissioned in 1935 and now extends from Port Arthur to Choteau, Montana.
Midlothian’s greatest asset was that it existed at the crossroads of two railroad lines and eventually two regional highways. By the early 1900s, several manufacturing companies had located facilities in Midlothian. This industrial growth was spurred by the development of the automobile and access to rail lines. An expanding regional market allowed Midlothian-owned companies to supply a broader market.
After World War II, Midlothian’s economic base would undergo another transition to become an industrial center serving the growing Dallas-Fort Worth market. The community would continue to enjoy its strategic location as the southern transportation crossroads with easy access to the Dallas-Fort Worth area, but lying beneath its productive agricultural soils was the bedrock of its future economic expansion.
Midlothian is located near the highest elevation in Ellis County atop the Austin Escarpment, a ridge that runs in a northeast to southwest direction. The Austin Escarpment represents a 600-year potential limestone reserve that has attracted three cement plant operations.
In 1959, Texas Industries, Inc. (TXI) began construction of its first cement plant in Midlothian. Other major cement operations in Midlothian include Ash Grove Texas, LP and Holcim (Texas), LP. Since that time, a steel manufacturing and recycling facility has been built along with several other manufacturing concerns along U.S. Hwy 67. RailPort and The Auto Park, two rail-served industrial parks, were established in more recent decades.
Midlothian has continued to progress into the city that it is today. Its economic structure is quite diversified - from blue-collar industry to a corporate headquarters. Midlothian has stood the test of time and is now a vibrant, growing city that has a vision for the future.