Chappell (Chapel) Hill is located at the junction of Farm roads 1155 and 2447, fifty-seven miles northwest of Houston in southeastern Washington County.
By 1847 the site was a trading locality, one mile from Cedar Creek settlement, an early Methodist center. Trader Jacob Haller’s wife, Mary Hargrove Haller, bought 100 acres for the townsite; she named the town for her grandfather, Robert Wooding Chappell, an early settler. In 1849 she laid out and sold town lots. In the 1850s Chappell Hill grew rapidly as the center of large cotton plantations. Mary Haller established a post office in 1847, and missionary Robert Alexander organized the Chappell Hill Methodist Church the same year. In 1851 the Hubert Masonic Lodge (still functioning in 1988) was chartered. An academy was organized the previous year. The Methodist Texas Conference established Chappell Hill Male and Female Institute (1852) and Soule University (1856). Between 1854 and 1878 five Texas Methodist conferences were held at Chappell Hill. The town was incorporated on April 7, 1856. To obtain better transportation for their growing cotton harvests, Chappell Hill residents held a meeting in 1852 to encourage Houston businessmen to construct the Houston and Texas Central Railroad. In 1856 Chappell Hill planters William M. Sledge and Col. W. W. Browning organized the Washington County Rail Road, which held stockholders’ meetings in Chappell Hill. With extension of the Washington County Railroad to Chappell Hill in 1859, the town became a distribution center. During the Civil War Chappell Hill had a Confederate quartermaster depot and a military hospital; Camp Felder was in the vicinity. The Twenty-first Texas Lancers were raised at Chappell Hill. The Texas Ranger newspaper was published there from 1851 to 1853.
From 1868 to 1870 the town had a Freedmen’s Bureau school. Emancipation severely disrupted Chappell Hill’s economy. The high mortality of the 1867 yellow fever epidemic resulted in the exodus of many surviving residents. The arrival of industrious Polish immigrants, principally farmers, beginning in the early 1870s and increasing after 1884, helped Chappell Hill remain a supply point. The population increased from 318 to 800 by 1878. Between 1853 and 1909 the town furnished seven state representatives, including two African Americans. In the 1870s the Grange, black and white Greenback clubs, and the temperance movement flourished. In 1889 Polish immigrants organized St. Stanislaus Catholic Church, one of the earliest Polish parishes in Texas. Town residents organized the Chappell Hill Circulating Library Association in 1893. The library was restored in 1964 and is in use today. As Brenham developed, however, Chappell Hill declined. Soule University closed in 1888, and Chappell Hill Female College closed in 1912. Continue Reading the History of Chappell Hill from the Handbook of Texas Online >>
Chappell Hill, named for Robert Chappell, a pioneer, was known as early as 1849 as a trading point. Among the first people were Robert Alexander, one of the founders of the Methodist Episcopal church in Texas ; H. S. Thrall, who wrote a history of Texas ; O. Fisher, B. T. Kavanaugh, F. C. Wilkes, George W. Carter, William Haisey, C. C. Gillespie, J. E. Carnes, F. A. Mood, W. G. Conner, John C. Moore, C. G. Forshey, Pinckney Hill, Williamson S. Oldham, Gabriel Felder, W. W. Browning, R. T. Swearingen and Terrell Jackson. It came into prominence with the establishment of Soule University, which was chartered in 1856, and the founding of Chappell Female College a few years later. This University was consolidated with the Southwestern University at Georgetown in 1875 ; and the Female College was discontinued a few years ago. Chappell Hill was incorporated April 7, 1856, and John D. Wallis was elected mayor. This form of government, however, was abandoned within a few years. – The History of Washington and Brenham County, 1915, by Mrs. R. E. Pennington.