Jim Wells County, located on U.S. Highway 281 west of Corpus Christi in the Rio Grande Plain region of South Texas, is bordered by Live Oak and San Patricio counties on the north, Nueces and Kleberg counties on the east, Brooks County on the south, and Duval County on the west. Alice, the county seat and largest town, is located near the center of the county.
Cities, Towns & Communities
Collins, the first sizable American settlement, was established in 1878. The town, located about three miles east of the site of present-day Alice, became a stop on the Corpus Christi, San Diego and Rio Grande Narrow Gauge Railroad, when tracks were laid through the area the following year. By 1885 Collins had a post office and five stores. But a few years later, when the Texas and New Orleans bypassed the town, the buildings were loaded onto train cars and moved to the junction of the new road with the Texas-Mexican Railway, three miles to the west. The new town, originally known as Bandana, was renamed Alice and soon became the busiest shipping point for cattle in South Texas. Because of the long distance residents had to travel in order to conduct business at the county seat in Corpus Christi, they petitioned for the formation of a separate county. The request was approved by the legislature in early 1911, and the county’s first commissioners’ court meeting was held on March 18, 1911. The new county was formally organized in 1912, and named for James B. Wells, Jr., who played an important role in the economic development of the lower Rio Grande valley. When the county was established, its population of 887 was chiefly resident in Alice, which was made county seat. Jim Wells County was divided into school districts in 1914. By 1920 the population was estimated at 6,587. Read Jim Wells County History from the Handbook of Texas Online >>
The Lower Rio Grande Valley of Texas, 1954, by J. Lee and Lillian J. Stambaugh.