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Waxahachie, Texas

Waxahachie, Texas
The uniquely designed Ellis County Courthouse in Waxahachie
The uniquely designed Ellis County Courthouse in Waxahachie
Nickname(s): "The Gingerbread City" "Hachie"
Location of Waxahachie, Texas
Location of Waxahachie, Texas
Country United States
State Texas
County Ellis City Type: Rural/City
Founded 1850
 • Type Council-Manager
 • City Council Mayor Kevin Strength
Mayor Pro Tem Mark Singleton
Chuck Beatty
David Hill
Mary Lou Shipley[1]
 • City Manager Paul Stevens
 • Total 41.2 sq mi (106.6 km2)
 • Land 40.0 sq mi (103.5 km2)
 • Water 1.2 sq mi (3.1 km2)
Elevation 558 ft (170 m)
Population (2014)
 • Total 32,287[2]
 • Density 536.1/sq mi (207.0/km2)
Time zone Central (CST) (UTC-6)
 • Summer (DST) CDT (UTC-5)
ZIP codes 75165, 75167, 75168
Area code(s) 972
FIPS code 48-76816[3]
GNIS feature ID 1349560[4]

Waxahachie is the county seat of Ellis County, Texas, United States, and lies just beyond the southern suburbs of Dallas. The population was 29,621 at the 2010 census.


  • History 1
  • Geography 2
    • Climate 2.1
  • Demographics 3
  • Economy 4
  • Arts and culture 5
    • Annual cultural events 5.1
    • Tourism 5.2
  • Parks and recreation 6
  • Government 7
    • State government 7.1
    • Federal government 7.2
  • Education 8
    • Primary and secondary 8.1
    • Private schools 8.2
    • Colleges and universities 8.3
  • Media 9
  • Infrastructure 10
    • Health care 10.1
  • Notable people 11
  • Superconducting Super Collider 12
  • In movies 13
  • Sister cities 14
  • References 15
  • External links 16


The United Daughters of the Confederacy Monument was unveiled in 1912 at the Ellis County Courthouse in Waxahachie.
A glimpse of downtown Waxahachie across from the courthouse
The Texas Theater across from the courthouse hosts community events in Waxahachie.
Historic Rogers Hotel is adjacent to the courthouse in Waxahachie.
Waxahachie City Hall
Waxahachie Daily Light newspaper office at 200 West Marvin Avenue

Waxahachie was founded in August 1850 as the seat of the newly established Ellis county on a donated tract of land given by early settler Emory W. Rogers, a native of Lawrence County, Alabama, who migrated to Texas in 1839.[5][6] It was incorporated on April 28, 1871, and in 1875 the state legislature granted investors the right to operate a rail line from Waxahachie Tap Railroad to Garrett, Texas, which greatly increased the population of Waxahachie.[7]

From 1902 to 1942, Waxahachie was the home of Trinity University, which was a Presbyterian-affiliated institution founded in 1869. Its present-day location is San Antonio.

The first syllable of the name Waxahachie is pronounced "wahks" or "woks," not "waks" as is the case with the similarly named Waxahatchee Creek in Alabama and the music group Waxahatchee. It is not the name of an "Indian tribe" as is sometimes assumed. Some sources state that the name means "cow" or "buffalo" in an unspecified Native American language.[5] One possible Native American origin is the Alabama language, originally spoken in the area of Alabama around Waxahatchee Creek by the Alabama-Coushatta people, who had migrated by the 1850s to eastern Texas. In the Alabama language, waakasi hachi means "calf's tail" (the Alabama word waaka being a loan from Spanish vaca).[8]

That there is a Waxahatchee Creek near present day Shelby, AL suggest that Waxahachie, TX shares the same name etymology. Many place names in TX and OK have their origins in the Southeast U.S. largely due to migration and/or forced removal of various southeastern Indian tribes. The area in central Alabama that includes Waxahatchee Creek was for hundreds of years the home of the Upper Creek moiety of the Muscogee Creek Nation. Again, this would suggest a Muscogee Creek language origin of Waxahachie. Waxahachie therefore may be an anglicized pronunciation of the Muscogee compound word "Wakvhvce" from the Muscogee words "Wakv" (meaning "cow" derived from the Spanish "vaca") and the Muscogee word "Hvce" (meaning "tail"). Nota bene: Many place names in the Southern U.S. end with "hatchee" or "hachie" such as, famously, "Tallahatchie Bridge". Whether "hatchee" or "hachie" these names oftentimes derive from either the Muscogee word "hvce" (tail) or "hvcce" (a river or a stream). For example, 'Tvlvhvcce (English "Tallahatchie") may be interpreted as River City from 'Tvlv (city or town) and "hvcce" (river or stream).

A second etymology that has been suggested for the name is insisted on by speakers of Wichita, the language of the tribe which used to live in the area but now lives mostly around Anadarko, Oklahoma. Wichitas claim the name comes from their word waks'ahe:ts'i (the apostrophe represents a glottal stop, like the middle sound in "oh oh"; "a" is schwa ("uh"); "e:" sounds almost like the "a" of "hat"; "ts" before "i" in this language often sounds like "ch" to English speaking ears; "i" has the continental value, like the one in English "machine"). It means "fat wildcat."[9]

The town is also the namesake of the former United States Naval Ship USS Waxahachie (YTB-814).



The climate in this area is characterized by hot, humid summers and generally mild to cool winters. According to the Köppen Climate Classification system, Waxahachie has a humid subtropical climate, abbreviated "Cfa" on climate maps.[10]


As of the census[3] of 2000, there were 21,426 people, 7,325 households, and 5,398 families residing in the city. The population density was 536.1 people per square mile (207.0/km²). There were 7,909 housing units at an average density of 197.9 per square mile (76.4/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 70.45% White, 17.10% African American, 0.76% Native American, 0.40% Asian, 9.33% from other races, and 1.96% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 19.74% of the population. The total estimated population as of June 2014 was 32,287.[2]

There were 7,325 households of which 36.1% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 54.7% were married couples living together, 14.5% had a female householder with no husband present, and 26.3% were non-families. 21.9% of all households were made up of individuals and 9.3% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.73 and the average family size was 3.18.

In the city the population was spread out with 26.9% under the age of 18, 13.3% from 18 to 24, 28.0% from 25 to 44, 19.4% from 45 to 64, and 12.3% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 32 years. For every 100 females there were 93.8 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 90.3 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $43,213, and the median income for a family was $50,048. Males had a median income of $32,597 versus $23,838 for females. The per capita income for the city was $19,003. About 10.5% of families and 12.8% of the population were below the poverty line, including 19.3% of those under age 18 and 11.1% of those age 65 or over.


Employment opportunities in the city are highly oriented toward industry. Owens Corning, Georgia-Pacific, Fortra Fiber Cement (James Hardie), GMP/GPPAW Rock Tenn, AEP Industries, Magnablend, Dart Container are located within a few miles of each other. Non-industrial employers include Baylor Scott & White Health, Waxahachie Independent School District, Walgreen Distribution Center, Wal-Mart, HEB Grocery, and Southwestern Assemblies of God University. The city's Economic Development Department provides a searchable database of available industrial and commercial properties at[13]

Waxahachie was the site of the proposed Superconducting Super Collider, a particle accelerator complex similar to the Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland. The project was cancelled in 1993 due to budget problems.

Arts and culture

Annual cultural events

The Scarborough Renaissance Festival (also called Scarborough Faire), a popular Renaissance fair theme park, is located southwest of the town. It opens annually during the months of April and May and has been in operation since 1981.[14] The city's annual Gingerbread Trail Festival features tours of many of the Gingerbread homes.[15]


Waxahachie is locally known for its elaborate Richardsonian Romanesque courthouse, considered by many to be among the most beautiful of Texas's older courthouses.[16] The town also features many examples of Victorian architecture and Gingerbread homes, several of which have been converted into bed and breakfasts. There is also the Children's Museum of Waxahachie (101 South College Street), Ellis County Art Association & Museum (Cultural Attractions- Events- & Facilities; 501 West Main Street).

Parks and recreation

Parks in Waxahachie include: Spring Park, Getzendaner Memorial Park, Richards Park, Sheaffer Full Life Center - Southwest Assemblies of God University, Southwest Assemblies of God University Football Field, Lumpkin Stadium, Southwest Assemblies of God University Baseball Fields, Chapman Park.[17]


The city of Waxahachie is a voluntary member of the North Central Texas Council of Governments association, the purpose of which is to coordinate individual and collective local governments and facilitate regional solutions, eliminate unnecessary duplication, and enable joint decisions.

State government

Waxahachie is represented in the Texas Senate by Republican Brian Birdwell, District 22, and in the Texas House of Representatives by Republican John Wray, District 10.

The Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) operates the Waxahachie District Parole Office in Sherman.[18]

Federal government

At the Federal level, the two U.S. Senators from Texas are Republicans John Cornyn and Ted Cruz; since 2003 Waxahachie has been part of Texas' 6th Congressional District, which is currently represented by Republican Joe Barton.

The United States Postal Service operates the Waxahachie Post Office.[19]


Primary and secondary

Aerial view of Waxahachie, looking north, about 1908

Waxahachie is served by the Waxahachie Independent School District. There are currently seven elementary campuses, two middle school campuses, a ninth grade center, and two high schools. WISD aims to offer all of its students a well-rounded education and offers AP and Dual Credit courses as well as varied Career and Technology courses.

Waxahachie Global High School, an ECHS T-STEM school emphasizing instruction in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics in a small-learning-community environment, as well as an Early College High School, opened on August 27, 2007.

FFA, Skills USA and TSA.

Several of the school's programs have achieved national recognition in recent years. The football program has made the playoffs every year from 1989 to 2010.

In addition to the district schools, Life School, a public charter school system, operates the 7-12 Waxahachie campus.[20] On April 15, 2014, Life School broke ground on a new high school in Waxahachie planned to accommodate approximately 1,000 9th-12th graders.[21]

Private schools

The area is also served by several private schools, including Waxahachie Preparatory Academy (WPA), St Joseph Catholic School and First Christian Day School. WPA and the First Christian Day School offer a K–12 education while St Joseph only has K-8.

Colleges and universities

Two post-secondary educational institutions have campuses in the city of Waxahachie. Navarro College, a community college based in Corsicana, Texas, has a campus in Waxahachie.

Southwestern Assemblies of God University is a private four-year university affiliated with the Assemblies of God offering accredited undergraduate and graduate degrees.


The Waxahachie Daily Light has served the town since 1867,[22] and the first newspaper in Waxahachie, the Waxahachie Argus, was established in 1870.[7] Additionally, there are 47 radio stations within close listening range of Waxahachie.[23]


Health care

Baylor Scott & White Health at Waxahachie provides emergency services as does Ennis Regional Medical Center about 14 miles away in Ennis, Texas.[17] Between 2003 and 2010, Waxahachie’s healthcare industry added 555 jobs, making it the city’s 4th largest employment sector.[24]

Notable people

Superconducting Super Collider

In 1988, the area around Waxahachie was chosen as the site for the Superconducting Super Collider, which was to be the world's largest and most energetic particle accelerator, with a planned ring circumference of 87.1 kilometers (54.1 mi). Seventeen shafts were sunk and 23.5 km (14.6 mi) of tunnel were bored[25] before the project was canceled by Congress in 1993.

In movies

In the mid-1980s Waxahachie became popular with the movie industry.

The majority of Tender Mercies, a 1983 film about a country western singer, was filmed in Waxahachie. Director Bruce Beresford deliberately avoided the city's picturesque elements and Victorian architecture, and instead filmed more rural locations that more closely resembled the West Texas area. The Texas town portrayed in Tender Mercies is never specifically identified.[26] Mercies starred Robert Duvall, who won the 1983 Academy Award for Best Actor for his role in the film.

The 1983 film Places in the Heart starring Sally Field was also filmed in Waxahachie. Unlike Mercies, it was filmed deliberately in the town square and utilized the Victorian and plantation homes still intact in the area. Field won the Academy Award for Best Actress in 1984 for her role in the film.

The 1985 film The Trip to Bountiful starring Geraldine Page was also filmed in Waxahachie. Page won the Academy Award for Best Actress in 1985 for her role in Bountiful.

Other movies made in or around Waxahachie are:

1918, directed by Ken Harrison[27] tells of the severe flu outbreak after soldiers returned from World War I. Local talent in the film include L.T. Felty, a former high school principal and local actor, who was cast as the mayor.

On Valentine's Day, also directed by Ken Harrison,[27] the central film in Horton Foote's semi-autobiographical trilogy that also includes Courtship and 1918. It is a nearly verbatim retelling of his stage play and the sets and costumes.

Missionary Man stars Dolph Lundgren and was filmed in downtown Waxahachie around the Rogers Hotel and vicinity.

Additionally, the long-running television series Walker, Texas Ranger, starring Chuck Norris, was filmed in Waxahachie on occasion. Some scenes in Prison Break were filmed in Waxahachie.

Sister cities

Sabinas in Coahuila, Mexico, has been proposed as Waxahachie's sister city. Sabinas is located about 70 miles south of Eagle Pass, Texas.[28]


  1. ^
  2. ^ a b
  3. ^ a b "American FactFinder".  
  4. ^ "US Board on Geographic Names".  
  5. ^ a b Margaret L. Felty, "WAXAHACHIE, TX," Handbook of Texas Online, accessed June 23, 2013. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
  6. ^ "Our History". City of Waxahachie, Texas. Retrieved 5 June 2014. 
  7. ^ a b "Waxahachie". exas State Historical Association. Retrieved 5 June 2014. 
  8. ^ On-line Alabama-English Dictionary
  9. ^ Dr. David S. Rood, linguist at the University of Colorado, who has been studying the Wichita language since 1965.
  10. ^ Climate Summary for Waxahachie, Texas
  11. ^ "Annual Estimates of the Resident Population for Incorporated Places: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2014". Retrieved June 4, 2015. 
  12. ^ "Census of Population and Housing". Retrieved June 4, 2015. 
  13. ^
  14. ^ "Scarborough Renaissance Festival". Scarborough Renaissance Festival. Retrieved 5 June 2014. 
  15. ^ "Annual Gingerbread Trail Tour of Homes". Waxahachie Downtown. Retrieved 5 June 2014. 
  16. ^ Unrequited Love Carvings—Waxahachie, Texas
  17. ^ a b "Waxahachie, Texas". 2013 Onboard Informatics. Retrieved 4 June 2014. 
  18. ^ "Parole Division Region II." Texas Department of Criminal Justice. Retrieved on May 15, 2010.
  19. ^ "Post Office Location - WAXAHACHIE." United States Postal Service. Retrieved on May 16, 2010.
  20. ^ "Contact Us." Life School. Retrieved on September 2, 2011. "950 South I-35E Lancaster, TX 75146"
  21. ^
  22. ^ "About Us". Waxahachie Daily Light. Retrieved 5 June 2014. 
  23. ^
  24. ^ “Economic Development Strategic Plan 2012,”
  25. ^ Staff, Wire services (December 29, 2009). "Q & A: Texas supercollider project scrapped".  
  26. ^  
  27. ^ a b
  28. ^ "Waxahachie, Texas". Daily Light. Retrieved 5 June 2014. 

External links

  • City website
  • ePodunk
  • Texas State Historical Association

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