Killeen History: Timeline

A timeline of Killeen (Texas, USA) history

Very Briefly

1834 • first settlers
1850 • Bell County created
1882 • Killeen created/named by railroad company
1882-1942 • economy of cotton and wool
1942 • Camp Hood opens
1950 • Fort Hood becomes permanent installation
1942-present • economy based on soldier spending

1825Mexico authorities grant permission for 800 families to settle in an area that includes present-day Bell County. The empresario was originally called "Leftwich's Grant", the contract sold by Robert Leftwich to the Texas Association.9 10
1830Sterling Clack Robertson of the Texas Association begins recruiting families in the Nashville (TN) area to settle in the "Nashville colony" (Leftwich's Grant), but a new Mexican law prevented them from doing so. The families settled in Stephen F. Austin's colony.9
1831After legal wrangling, the area is called "the upper colony" of the Austin contract.9
May 22, 1834A Mexican official canceled the Austin contract's association with the upper colony and awarded a new contract to Robertson. The area was then called Robertson's Colony9
Oct. 20, 1834First land grants issued for Robertson's Colony, but the outbreak of the Texas Revolution in 1835 resulted in the closing of the empresario colonial land offices. Robertson was given credit for having settled 600 families in Central Texas.9
1836• Settlers abandoned their lands upon hearing of the fall of the Alamo to Mexican armies.11
• Present day Bell County is part of the newly formed Milam County.7
1836-7Bell County area is reoccupied, but abandoned again due to regular Indian attacks.12
1843-4Settlers return to the area after treaties with Indian tribes.12
1850600 whites and 60 black slaves live in Bell County, according to the Census.12
Jan. 22, 1850Bell County created from part of Milam County7, and named for Texas Governor Peter Hansborough Bell.8 12
1860• County lines are resurveyed. Bell County assumed its present (2013) boundaries.12
• Most of the county land is divided into privately owned farms.12
1881 or 1882• Gulf, Colorado & Santa Fe railroad platted the township of Killeen with 70 blocks, naming it for assistant general manager Frank P. Killeen.1
• GC&SF purchased the 360 acres from Susan Spofford for $9606
• City lots are sold for $75 apiece.1
• original town boundaries: Rancier (N), College (W), 190B (S), and 8th St. (E)6
May 15, 1882First train arrives in Killeen1
July 1882E.M. Spencer lists 40 citizens, most having come from nearby Palo Alto and Sugarloaf.1
Oct. 5, 1882first baby born in Killeen: Agnes Pearl Tankersley.1
1884• First public school opens1
• 350 residents6
1886300 residents1
1890• 800 residents1
Killeen Herald established by W.E. Bennett1
1890s• Cotton and wool are the main cash crops (until 1942)1
• Citizen vote the town "dry"1.
June 10, 1893Killeen incorporates1 6
July 1, 1893W.E. Hudson (first businessman in town and first school teacher) is elected mayor6
1894First telephone company (Rural Telephone Company) established by D.C. McDowell.1
1895School has more than 250 students1
1896700 residents6
1904-5First electric wires strung1
1905iron bridges completed over several nearby rivers (Cowhouse, Leon, Lampassas, etc.), ensuring Killeen wasn't cut off during floods1 6
1907competing phone system installed1
1908• first automobile in town
• fire began at Spivey & Fry's drugstore, burned much of downtown
1• William Jennings Bryan visited town1
1914city installs first water system1
1918city's power plant (Rancier-owned) burned up; city was powerless for eight months, except for the privately powered Texas Theater1
post-1918no longer considered "natural" to wear a gun1
1920scotton prices dropped1
Oct. 9, 1920First National Bank (Rancier-owned) closes1
March 1923Public school burns down1
May 1924New public school completed (later an elementary school, it closed in 1981)1
June 5, 1924School Board grants PTA's request to teach the Bible in public school1
1925rainless year produced no cotton1
1926rainy year produces much cotton, but prices drop further1
1927lines laid for city sewer system1
May 6, 1935City purchases a 1908 building on Sixth Street (later Gray), which had been a hardware store, for about $1,750. It became city hall until replaced in the '60s.6
1936Killeen H.S. adds football program1
1939• First street-paving completed (nine blocks, "from curb to curb")1
• U.S. Highway 190, newly constructed, is 12 miles from Killeen to Nolanville1
1942• 1,265 residents in Killeen1
• Town swells as 50,000 workers come through to build Camp Hood1
• Many workers sleep in their cars or on cots alongside the highway1
• first blacks, Jews, Catholics, and Syrians arrive (town had previously been "all-white, all-Protestant")1
• 160,000 acres bought from 300 families at Depression-era prices (paid after World War II)1
Sept. 18, 1942Camp Hood (later Ft. Hood) opens on Killeen's western edge.1
19436Ft. Hood acquired 57,551 additional acres1
Oct. 31, 1947Natural gas turned on in Killeen1
March 3, 1949Voters approve switch from mayor/alderman form of city government to council/manager. First city manager (Raymond Baca) hired in April.6
1950first traffic light in town1
April 15, 19506Camp Hood designated "Fort Hood", becoming a permanent installation1
1950-51100 new commercial buildings are constructed2
1951first hospital-clinic in town1
1952• Killeen and Ft. Hood school districts consolidate1
• Killeen H.S. football team goes 12-01
April 1953Nationally advertised "open house" drew 10,000 out-of-town visitors1
1954• Belton Dam completed1
• Marlboro Heights Elementary (all-Negro) opens1
• Killeen H.S. football team is State runnerup (Class 2A)1
1955• 21,076 residents and 224 businesses2
• first "Mickey's" store opens, on Rancier. By the 2010s, there were 15 Mickey's stores in the area.
1956• school board votes to integrate the blacks, the first school in Central Texas to do so1
• sophomore Joe Searles III chose to attend the all-white K.H.S. that first year; he went on to be an All-American at Kansas State, and later earned a seat on the New York Stock Exchange, the first black to do so.1
April 23, 1957flood (7 inches in 2.5 hours) kills three and devastates much of town, leading to better drainage control in the 1960s.1
March 28, 1958Elvis Presley arrives, stationed at Ft. Hood. He rented a house in town for his parents and visited them daily.1 The rented house was that of Chester Crawford, at 605 Oakhill Dr. He departed Sept. 19, 19586
1959first H-E-B opens, 14,500 square feet, on Gray, between Green and Sprott.6
June 19596
Sept. 19591
first city-run public library opens
1960s• Oleo Strut (coffee house) opens, center of anti-war movement.1
• Municipal Golf Course opens1
Dec. 1960Robert Gray Air Force Base reduced to 71 airmen1
Dec. 1961Cordus Jackson is the first black police officer in Killeen
Aug. 1962Cowhouse Hotel, an 80-room community hotel, opens to the public.1 (In 2013, the building — on the west side of Gray St. between Ave. A and Church — is occupied by the "Upstairs Club" (Korean) and a couple of small businesses.3)
June 1963Robert Gray AFB turned over to Army1
1964Municipal airport established adjacent to Skylark Field1, finished in 19666
May 1965City hall and police department move to new 22,000 square foot building at Second Street and Ave. C6
1966troops departing for Vietnam leave 2,000+ empty houses1
Nov. 20, 1966Killeen Public Library opened at 711 N. Gray1 6
Sept. 19, 1967Central Texas College opens its doors to over 2,000 students.1
Dec. 12, 1967U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson visits Killeen for the dedication of Central State College1
Aug. 1969Robert Gray Army Air Field turned over to MASSTER program, redesignated "West Fort Hood"
(U.S. Army Project Mobile Army Sensor Systems Test, Evaluation and Review)1
1969-70Leo Buckley Stadium built; all Killeen-area high schools share its use1
1970• 42,000 residents1 (or 35,5072)
• Mid-Town Mall opens (22 stores) on (old) U.S. 190, just west of 28th St.1
• LBJ revisits Central Texas College.1
Aug. 1970Killeen Municipal Golf Course opens on 100-acre site on city's eastern boundary, near Skylark Field.6
1971Two war protest marches held, one including actress Jane Fonda.1
May 17, 1971groundbreaking for new US190 highway (opened in 1976).6
Nov. 31, 19716Became part of the "Killeen-Temple Standard Metropolitan Statistical Area" (SMSA), later the Killeen-Temple-Fort Hood MSA.1 6
1972Community Center Park established6 along Business 190, where W.S. Young would eventually cross.3
197530th St extended south from Rancier to Business 190 and renamed W.S. Young Blvd6, and later (when?) extended on past US190 all the way to Stagecoach Rd.3
1976• new U.S. 190 opens from Belton to Copperas Cove1 (190's former path through Killeen became "Business 190" and later "Veterans Memorial Blvd."3)
• Vive Les Arts Societe founded by Ted and Diane Connell, puts on plays at the old (but renovated) Texas Theater6
July 1976Lady Bird Johnson unveils statue of LBJ at Central Texas College1
March 1978groundbreaking for new two-story terminal at the Killeen airport (Skylark Field). It opened in Nov. 1979.6
Fall 1978Ellison High School (Elms & Trimmier) opens1
Oct. 1, 1978Metroplex Hospital opens on Clear Creek Road1 6
Nov. 1980ribbon-cutting for Scott & White Killeen Clinic1
March 25, 1981Killeen Mall opens at U.S. 190 and W.S. Young1 6
July 198147,300 residents (estimated)1
Dec. 1981Walmart opens first store in town, with 120,000 square feet of shopping area. It was located on 190's access road. (It moved to Lowes Blvd. in 1999, with 208,750 square feet.)6
1982• 98 years after first public school opened, the Killeen school system consists of 22 schools (15 elementary, 5 middle, 2 high), several other building, and fleet of buses, with a grand total of 17,139 students1
• Collum Killeen (great-great-great-nephew of Frank P. Killeen) visits city during 100th Anniversary celebration.6
Nov. 13, 1987City offices move into renovated buildings in 200 block of E. Ave. D6
Aug. 14, 1990KEDC (Killeen Economic Development Corporation) is formed by city council.6
1991Vive Les Arts Societe moves to new 400-seat facility at 3401 South W.S. Young, built on land acquired in 1984.6 14
Oct. 16, 1991Luby's Massacre:
George Hennard crashed his pickup truck through the front window of a Luby's cafeteria and shot 50 people (killing 23) before killing himself in a bathroom.4
Dec. 1991Killeen Kangaroos win Class 5-A Division I state football championship, beating the Sugar Land Dulles 14-10 in the Astrodome.2 6
1995• Stan Schlueter Loop (FM3470) opens6, extending from Clear Creek Rd in the west (at Old Copperas Cove Rd) to US190 in the east (at Bacon Ranch Rd)3
• Elms Rd widened to four lanes with a center turn lane6
April 30, 1995City offices move into historic school building at College and Ave. D, after $2.7 million in restorations.6
1997Lions Club Park (66.7 acres) established on Stan Schlueter Loop6
May 1, 1999SH195 (south to Georgetown) begins major construction, eventually (2010s) resulting in a four-lane divided highway.6 3
Oct. 199914-screen movie theater opens (Killeen Stadium 14 Cinema), owned by Hollywood Theaters6
2000• 2000 U.S. Census reports Killeen's population as 86,9112
• first female mayor (Maureen J. Jouett) elected; serves six years6
• Killeen Marketplace opens (Home Depot, Staples, Ross, Best Buy, etc.)6
April 2000The "HOP" bus service begins with seven 26-passenger buses6
June 2000Dept. of Army and Killeen sign agreement to "joint use" of Robert Gray Airfield.6
March 7, 2001Copper Mountain Branch of the public library opens on South W.S. Young6
April 26, 2002Killeen Civic and Conference Center opens on South W.S. Young (just north of Elms Rd), with 63,000 square feet. It became self-sustaining in 2008.6
June 2003H-E-B opens 83,000 square foot store on Trimmier and converted it to an H-E-B Plus in 20096
Aug. 4, 2004Killeen-Fort Hood Regional Airport opens ($82 million project) at the site of Robert Gray Airfield6, designated "GRK"3
2005Municipal golf course reopens as "Stonetree Golf Course" after extensive renovations.6
Oct. 5, 2005Central Texas State Veterans Cemetery opens on SH195 (at Chaparral Rd)6
2006Timothy Hancock elected, first black mayor (held office until 2012).13
2007Coldwell Banker ranks Killeen as the most affordable housing market in the U.S. with an average cost of $136,7252
Nov. 5, 2009Fort Hood Shooting:
A lone gunman shot 43 people (killing 12 soldiers and 1 civilian), beginning in the Soldier Readiness Processing Center of Ft. Hood. Major Nidal Malik Hasan was charged with 13 murders. Despite senators and general calling it a "terrorist attack", the Department of Defense classified the mass-murder as "workplace violence" and have refused requests to re-classify it as an act of terrorism.5 6
2010• 2010 U.S. Census reports Killeen's population as 127,921, the 21st most-populous city in Texas.2
• KPD moves to new 80,000 square foot facility at Featherline and Chaparral3 6
June 2012Seton Medical Center opened along U.S. 190 in Harker Heights (just at Killeen's eastern border).3
2012-13• Road constuction projects widen and add sidewalks to Cunningham Rd. and Stagecoach Rd. (both on the south side), add lanes, bridges and interchanges to Highway 195 (southwest edge), and add lanes to U.S. 190 (east-west through center)3
• A dozen new businesses open along Stan Schlueter Loop (FM 3470), including two gas stations and a new McDonald's.3
July 30, 2013City Council votes (4-3) to create Bell County Municipal Utitility District #2, which will allow developer Bruce Whitis to construct 3,750 homes in a 4-mile long tract south of Chaparral's intersection with E. Trimmier.15
1. Duncan, Gra’Delle. “Killeen: Tale of Two Cities”, 1984.
2. Killeen, Texas, Wikipedia.
3. Personal observations of Wil C. Fry.
4. Luby's Massacre, Wikipedia.
5. Ft. Hood Shooting, Wikipedia.
6. Skidmore, Gerald D., Sr. “Historic Killeen: An Illustrated History”, 2010.
7. Miller, Rick. “Bloody Bell County”, 2011.
8. Bell County, Texas, Wikipedia.
9. Robertson's Colony, Texas State Historical Association.
10. Robertson's Colony, Wikipedia article.
11. Runaway Scrape, Texas State Historical Association.
12. Bell County, Texas State Historical Association.
13. City Owes Hancock..., Killeen Daily Herald, May 13, 2012.
14. Vive Les Arts ("Our History" page).
15. City Council Says Yes To MUD-2, Killeen Daily Herald, July 31, 2013.