Bell County is in east central Texas. It’s located along the Balcones Escarpment about forty-five miles north of the Capitol in Austin. The county is bordered by Coryell, McLennan and Falls counties on the north. Bell is bordered by the east by Falls and Milam counties, on the south by Milam and Williamson counties and on the west by Lampasas and Burnet counties. Belton is the third largest town in the county and currently serves as the county seat. It is about sixty-five miles away from Austin.
The Bell County Charter Oak stands along the east bank of the Leon River, close to the city of Belton. It’s on private property so please respect privacy by viewing the tree from the road. The Bell County Charter Oak was the spot chosen for the first election in Bell County. At the time, it was located nearly 50 yards east of the log cabin home of William F. Hill and about 200 yards south of where the Old Military Road crossed the Leon River.
On that historic day in either April or May 1850, the oak stood strong as three men were voted as special judges and thirty of forty others voted for five special commissioners. The commissioners were tasked with organizing the new county. They had to survey it, locate a county seat, figure out the town site, sell lots at public auction and see to the erection of public buildings.
Organization of the county was completed August 1, 1850. The county seat was originally located on Nolan Creek, west of the Bell County Charter Oak. It was named Nolanville. On December 16th the following year, the seat was moved to Belton. The county itself was named in honor of Texas’ third governor, Peter Hansbrough Bell.
Many years have passed since Mr. Hill’s cabin was claimed by the river. The Bell County Charter Oak still serves as a living reminder of the first election held in Bell County.
Got oaks that needs taking care of? Call Austin Tree Service at 512-341-8888 so our certified arborist can come out and take a look and determine the best course of action to take.